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The Development of Modern Law: What ancient laws and codes shaped the world today

A Law 12 project.

Hannah Dodson

on 9 October 2012

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Transcript of The Development of Modern Law: What ancient laws and codes shaped the world today

Ancient laws and codes that shaped the world today. The Development of Modern Law The Code
of Hammurabi Mosaic Law Ancient
Greek Law The
Napoleonic Code Ancient Roman Law Early British Law Aboriginal Law Taken from http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e8/Prologue_Hammurabi_Code_Louvre_AO10237.jpg The Code of Hammurabi was one of the first written codes of law to be discovered. It was named after it's creator, King Hammurabi of Babylon, who wrote down nearly 300 laws covering everyday life in roughly 1700 BCE. This is one of the stone tablets that made up the prologue to the Code of Hammurabi Some of the more fair laws and punishments in the Code Of Hammurabi were:
-Anyone caught in the act of robbery would be put to death
-If someone knowingly falsely accused another of a crime, the accuser would be put to death
-If a judge delivers a verdict that is later proved to be incorrect he will be forbidden from presiding over another trial. It enforced the principal of retribution (vengeance and punishment) The above picture was taken from: http://www.charismaministries.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/10commandments.jpg An approximation of what the Ten Commandments might have looked like. Mosaic law comes from the Ten Commandments.
As written in the Bible, Moses climbed Mount
Sinai, and God gave him laws for the Hebrew
people to follow. The Ten Commandments
were the first of these laws, carved on two
stone tablets. They can be found in the
first five books of the Old Testament,
called the Torah, meaning "the law".
It was created 450 years after
Hammurabi's death. Some of the laws written in the Bible are:
-Thou shalt not kill.
-Thou shalt not steal.
-If a thief is found breaking in and be smitten that he die, there will be no blood shed for him. Because of this, some of the punishments Hammurabi set were unfair, such as if a man struck another man's daughter and she died as a result, then the attacker's daughter would be put to death. Up until this point in time,
civilizations passed their
laws from generation
to generation
verbally. This is a picture of the theater at Epidauros in Greece, where juries delivered verdicts on cases. Taken from http://www.historyforkids.org/learn/greeks/government/courts.htm The Greeks were the first western civilization to come up with the idea of a jury. Any citizen (any free adult male) could hear any case as long as there was space in the theater. One jury in ancient Athens had over 6000 members. Eventually, regulations were placed on the number of jurors allowed: there could be either 101, 501, or 1001. The Greeks were very democratic when it came to choosing a sentence (probably because they invented the democracy). If an accused was found guilty, both the plaintiff (the accuser) and the defendant would suggest a punishment, then the jury would vote on which was appropriate to the case. Taken from http://flickrhivemind.net/Tags/latinepigraphy/Recent A reproduction of the Twelve Tables from the Museum of Roman Civilization in Rome. The Twelve Tables Justinian's Code Roman law in general had two basic principals; the law should be recorded and the authority of the law should not belong to judges alone. Because of this, the Romans used a jury system like the one in ancient Greece. The Romans also acknowledged that the law has to be able to change to meet the needs of society. They were constantly adding and erasing and amending their laws. The Twelve Tables were among the earliest written Roman codes, first recorded about 450 BCE. They were implemented during the Roman occupation of England. The tables put a system of victim compensation in place, and protected the lower class from the upper class's abuse. They also started the tradition of public punishments. By 100 CE, Roman law had become extremely complex. There were laws that dealt with every aspect of life, from criminal acts, to contracts, to family arguments. Eventually, experts were needed to help citizens navigate the complications of Roman law. This was the birth of the lawyer. About 1000 years after the Twelve Tables were written, the Roman emperor Justinian decided that the law needed to be simplified. By 529 CE Roman law was condensed into four books, called Justinian's Code. The code mostly focused on civil law (laws that cover personal relationships), and became the basis for several future European laws. It also helped to develop the modern idea of justice. In fact, the word "justice" evolved from Justinian's name. A copy on the French Civil Code in the Historical Museum of the Palatinate in Speyer, Germany. Taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Napoleonic_Code Also known as the French Civil Code After the French Revolution, Napoleon Bonaparte commissioned new laws to help unify France. The French Civil Code was completed in 1804, and spread throughout Napoleon's empire. It was well liked by the people because it was simply written and easy to understand. It mostly dealt with civil law, specifically property, wills, contracts, and family law. Marital obligations and divorce were well covered under the Napoleonic Code. Some of the laws concerning them were:
-The husband owes protection to his wife, the wife obedience to her husband.
-The wife can do no act in law without the authority of her husband . . . After the Roman Occupation After the Romans left England, in about 410 CE, the Britons were left to administer the law as they saw fit. They left it to God to decide someone's guilt or innocence. Three types of combined trial and punishment became popular: trial by ordeal, trial by combat, or trial by oath helping. There were many types of trial by ordeal, but the most common were "trial by fire" and "trial by water" An example of what trial by fire using hot iron might have looked like. Taken from http://www.britannia.com/history/articles/coroner5.html Trial by water was just as barbaric as trial by fire. The suspect had to retrieve a stone from the bottom of a pot of boiling water. The premise was the same, God would heal their wounds if they were innocent. If it was decided that a suspect would undergo trial by fire they would be made to walk over hot coals in bare feet or hold hot iron in their bare hands. Then the suspect's wounds would be bandaged and left alone for a few days. If they were innocent of the crime, then God would have healed their wounds by the end of the allotted time period. If the suspect's wounds were festering when the bandages were unwrapped, then they would be declared guilty and either exiled or executed. Taken from http://darklair.dk/Medieval/Burning%20&%20Branding.asp An approximation of what trial by water looked like. Often a suspect facing trial by ordeal would be found guilty even if they were innocent of a crime because of the horrible sanitary conditions throughout medieval England. Unsterilized bandages led to infected wounds, resulting in a wrongful conviction. Trail by combat was a popular way of determining the guilt or innocence of both parties. Essentially, they would fight it out. Since it was expected that God would support the innocent side, that person was "guaranteed" to win. However, the stronger opponent usually was the victor, innocent or not. Eventually, it became customary for a weaker person to hire someone to fight for them. An example of what trial by combat looked like. Taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trial_by_combat Trial by oath helping was the fairest and most reliable of the three types of trial found after the end of the Roman occupation in England. It was also the most simple, but it needed the testimony of someone other than the suspect. If someone swore on the Bible that the suspect was innocent, then it was assumed that they were. This might not seem like a very reliable system, but it worked because people feared that they would incur the wrath of God if they lied when they swore on the Bible. Under William the Conqueror After he invaded England in 1066, William the Conqueror rearranged how English law was administered yet again. He established the feudal system, where England was divided into different pieces of land. Each piece was governed by a noble, who owned everything within it's borders, including animals and people. A noble was also in charge of administering the law within the borders of his land. This created some problems. Each noble handled this responsibility differently. Punishments differed from village to village, and they weren't always fair. Nobles gave no thought to the rights of the accused commoner, and would often deliver a guilty verdict in spite of evidence to the contrary. Eventually, the people of England started to complain to the King, who, by then, was William's grandson, Henry II. Henry the Second's Reforms When King Henry realized how inconsistent the law was, he ordered judges to travel from village to village and settle disputes. Since England didn't have any written laws at this point in time, the judges had to rely on their own sense of right and wrong. They listened to the people of the community to decide on a fair punishment. Eventually, the judges noticed similarities between cases, and they decided that similar crimes should be treated the same way. To make sure of this, they started to write down their cases and their verdicts. This became the basis for the rule of precedent (applying a previous decision to a case that has similar circumstances). First Grand Council by John Kahionhes Fadden . It shows the Peacemaker presenting the Great Binding Law to the Iroquois Confederacy Taken from http://mohawkworkers.wordpress.com/kayanerehkowa-the-great-law-of-peace/ Aboriginal law has been passed from generation to generation by word of mouth. Usually the laws were in the form of stories and myths, which could be unique to each tribe. Around 1450, five First Nations tribes came together to form the Iroquois Confederacy, and with it the Great Binding Law. It outlined the people's rights, duties, and responsibilities, and contained laws regarding adoption, emigration, treason, and secession (formal withdrawal from the tribe). A picture of the first book in Justinian's Code Taken from http://smshistoryjustinian1.blogspot.ca/p/political-influence.html These are the ancient laws and codes that helped shape today's world. They gave us what we consider to be the foundations of modern law. We can still see their influence around the globe, in many different countries, even after thousands of years.
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