History of Law Assignment

Time periods

The Code of Hammurabi

Hammurabi's Code was created to set up equality for all citizens of the Babylonian society, regardless of the class. The code separated Babylonian society into three different classes, creating laws that focused on people's actions within each class. It included a level of protection for each member of the different classes, which also incorporated slaves and women, who ended up outside of the law for many years afterwards. Penalties for committing a crime by the lower class against people of the upper class were a much worse punishment and a person from the upper class committing a crime against the lower class. Hammurabi's Code tries to fix many class differences by punishing different groups by what they can afford. In relation to the modern day tax system, Hammurabi's Code is the government trying to put the citizens on a level playing field. Although trying to accomplish social class equality, but still creates different social classes, it's a bit hard for Hammurabi's Code to fulfill its goal. It tries, but it seems as though Hammurabi's Code favors the upper class more than the other classes. In Hammurabi's code there are numerous social values. One that trade should be fair and honesty and justice are very important. For the latter an example is that one has to have proof that the person they are accusing actually did the crime.

Hammurabi's Code

Roman law (Roman Prisons)

Romans did not use prisons as now days. The wealthy accused were kept under house arrest. The poor found justice swift and usually fatal. In the country, a villa might have two areas to keep problem slaves, one for those shackled and one for those allowed a bit more freedom. Actual prisons truly served as a holding place for those condemned to die. Occasionally one might be detained to await trial, but usually those awaiting trial were encouraged to go into voluntary exile. Those awaiting trial were called "carcer" or "publica vincula." The most famous Roman prison can still be visited today. It is located just outside the Forum Romanum buried at the foot of the Capitoline Hill. It was Ancus Marcius, the fourth king of Rome, who, sometime during his reign (640-616 BC) had constructed this dark, damp and foreboding subterranean structure. If someone enters the prison today by following steps down from the Capitoline. Looking ahead one sees, on a sunny day, the remains of the glistening white marble of the Forum. By contrast, a turn to the left and down a few more stairs finds the visitor at the entrance to the prison. It is a small room, with a hole in the floor. This was the entrance to the dungeon, constructed by the orders of the 6th king of Rome, Servius Tullius.

The Napoleonic Code

Of Napoleon’s many great accomplishments his Code Napoleon is the longest lasting legacy that he has left on the Atlantic World. Since the end of Feudalism France had been without one single body of laws that were standard around the country. This caused many problems in different parts of the country and created some very unfair legal situations especially for the poor. The Napoleonic Code was mostly based off of Justinian’s Code which was Roman law. The code divided Civil Law into three categories; Personal Status, Property, and Acquisition of Property. These were the main ideals of the French Revolution. They wanted the entire country to be on equal footing despite whether one was rich or poor. The Napoleonic Code ensured that one would have a chance to gain wealth and status. Other than Great Britain, Russia, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, every country in Europe has based some aspect of their body of laws on the Napoleonic Code. The Code itself is still in use today in former French colonies such as Quebec and Louisiana. The Napoleonic Code was Napoleon’s greatest civil achievement. Its basic principles represented that of the entire revolution. Napoleon’s institution of the code secured France’s many accomplishments through the revolution and influenced many countries around the Atlantic World to add the same fair body of laws.

Napoleonic Code

The Rule of Law / King John 1199-1216 (Historical Roots of Law )

Canada’s legal system has been greatly influenced the earlier and some ancient systems of law. For example the use of jurors by the Greeks and the use of lawyers by the Romans have both played a large role in the Canadian judicial system. Other system which have greatly impacted the judicial system include The French Civil Code (created by Napoleon Bonaparte) which has been the bases for the Québec Civil Code, the Ten Commandments which have played a larger role in the moral values of our law, the retribution portion of the Code of Hammurabi and the Great Laws of Manu which influenced mostly the creation of the legal system.

Although these legal systems played a large role in shaping the face of the Canadian legal system, the one system which has had the greatest impact is British law. The Rule of Law which derives from the Magna Carta (signed in 1215 England by King John) is the fundamental principle of Canadian law. The adversarial system was born from the trial by combat method, in which the opposing parties would physically duel to determine the innocent. Of course this method has developed over the years and now involves opposing parties and impartial judge “dueling” in a non physical manner within a court. The use of common law (in which judges use previous cases to help determine the verdict of another case) has also derived from British Tradition. Common law was created during the reign of Henry II. At this time there were no written rules to guide judges who traveled from towns and villages to determine the verdict of a dispute or crime, (these types of courts were known as “assizes” while the judges themselves were known as “circuit judges”) the judges had to rely on their judgment and common sense. Eventually the practice of treating similar cases with the same verdict came into effect. This eventually led to the principle known as stare decisis (a Latin term meaning “to stand by the decision”). This principle led to the process known as rule of precedent.

Influences on Canadian Law

Laws are rules and regulations that help a country run smoothly and prevent humans from doing anything we wish for. Canadian law is a set of laws compiled from different civilizations that consists of the code of Hammurabi, the Mosaic Law, the Greek Law, the Roman law, British law etc. Canadian law consists of many different aspects. These include common law, Magna Carta’s influence to the development of the Canadian charter of rights and freedom, and the trial system. The development of Canadian law has been influenced mostly by the British law. Canadian law has inherited a lot of different principles from Great Britain. One of the things that the law has taken is the common law is common law which relies on case law and is common to all people. It does not matter who is breaking the law, whether it be the queen herself, everyone has to abide by the rules. The rule of Precedent has also been influenced by the British case law which is a method of deciding cases based on recorded decisions of similar cases. The jury system of Great Britain has influenced our jury in Canada. In olden times (In England), they consisted of 12 members. Now the jury consists of 6 people. Canada’s rules reflect British rules in a great way. The Canadian charter of rights and freedom is a book which reflects on rights a Canadian is guaranteed to. The book resembles Magna Carta, which was a charter of political and civil rights signed by King Henry in 1215. This book was signed because of the abuse of power done by the king. This book ensured that kings did not have authority over everything (limited power). The book was the first step on establishing basic human rights for the people of England. It also developed the rule of law. The rule of law is acknowledged by Canadian law and it means that no one is above the law. Magna Carta also established habeas corpus which was a court order signed to prevent unlawful arrest.

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