The History of Law

By: Nathaniel Anderson

Code of Hammurabi

The code of Hammurabi was one of the many milestones in the advancements of the history of law. The code of Hammurabi was made in 1792-1750 B.C. All 282 laws were written in stone so the king could not alter it. The laws were based on the saying "eye for an eye" and "tooth for tooth". This meant the laws were fair. If someone stole 10 apples from you, by law the person accused of stealing the apples would have to give you 10 apples in return. This code influenced law systems after this time period because they were the first to group their laws. Dividing laws into groups is a method still used today.

Mosaic Law

The Mosaic Law or Law of Moses was created 1240 B.C The law was based Christian beliefs such as the Ten Commandments, the ordinances, and the worship system. The laws were also very protective of family. For example, swearing at your parents was punishable and adultery could be punished by death. If you committed a crime you could also have to pay a fine and repay the person for the crime you committed. The Mosaic law also helped the development of criminal law with commandments such as "Thou shall not kill" and bearing false witness.

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Ten Commandments


In 1066 a feudal system was introduced by King William of England. This divided his land into lords, noblemen and vassals. Vassals were servants and could be punished however the lords felt and had no input on it. This created problems as some lords were more strict than others and punishments were not consistent or fair. The noblemen then forced King John to sign The Magna Carta which established the rule of law. This made no one above the law, not even the king which was revolutionary and is even today still true in many places.

Common Law

Common law was created by the decisions of judges over many centuries. It is used all over Canada except for in Quebec where French Civil law is used. Common law was used in the 1964 case, New York Times v. Sullivan. $500,000 was awarded to Sullivan for publication of a political advertisement that allegedly defamed Montgomery County Commissioner L. B. Sullivan. This case still keeps people from restricting their speech from fear of liability.
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Roman Law

In 451 B.C. the 10 men wrote down the law for the first time in Rome. They were called the decemvris. In 449 B.C. they produced the 12 tables which had all the laws written on them. The twelve tables were used as the Roman law system. The laws touched on civil law that applied to citizens, areas of religious law and areas of public law. The Roman law affected the world today because they were the first to divide the legal system into different parts which is a system we still use today.
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Twelve Tables