Napoleon and his far-reaching effects on our lives

Genealogists owe a great debt of gratitude to Napoleon Bonaparte. As the French Emperor conquered Western Europe, his ideas of civil law spread as well. He placed the civil government officially in charge of recording births, marriages, and deaths in France in 1792. Countries that he conquered were the next to follow suit.

  • 1792 – France
  • 1796 – Belgium
  • 1796 – Luxembourg
  • 1798 – Switzerland
  • 1804 – Italy
  • 1808 – Poland
  • 1811 – Netherlands
  • 1812 – Slovenia
Joachim Murat
Joachim Napoleon Murat as King of Naples

Joachim-Napoleon Murat was born in France in 1767 and became the King of Naples from 1808-1815 by virtue of being Napoleon’s brother in law. He married Napoleon’s sister in 1800 and they had 4 children, two of whom ended up in America.  One was the Grand-niece of George Washington.

Catherine Daingerfield Willis Gray Murat (August 17, 1803 – August 6, 1867) was an American socialite and preservationist who was the great-grandniece of George Washington.

Italian Civil Records were established by Joachim Murat in application of the Napoleonic code, Since 1809 therefore, in the areas of southern Italy under Murat’s rule, Civil Records were to be kept by each municipality and have been ever since.

 After the Unification of Italy in 1861, the keeping of Civil records was extended from the Kingdom of Naples to the rest of the country. This means that in the former Vatican State and in central and northern Italy before 1861 (or 1871 in the Vatican state) the only vital records were those kept by the parishes.

*The civil law systems of the countries of modern continental Europe, with the exception of Russia and the Scandinavian countries have, to varying degrees, been influenced by the Napoleonic Code. The legal systems of the United Kingdom (except Scotland), Ireland and the Commonwealth including the United States are largely based on English Common Law rather than the civil code system of Napoleon which has its roots in Roman law.

*But the state of Louisiana is unique in having a strong influence from Napoleonic Code and Spanish legal traditions on its civil code. The 10th Amendment to the US Constitution grants individual American states control of laws not specifically drawn up by the Federal government, so Louisiana’s legal system retains many French elements. Louisiana being the only American state to practice forced heirship of a deceased person’s estate; which means some of Louisiana’s laws are clashing with the Uniform Commercial Code practiced by the other 49 states.

*Source: wikipedia

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