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Learn About the Origin Of Civil Law

Learn About the Origin Of Civil Law

Learn About the Origin of Civil Law: The Evolution of This Legal System

Civil law is a legal system that is based on written laws and regulations. This system originated from ancient Rome and has been adopted by many countries in continental Europe. In this article, we will explore the origins of civil law, its evolution over the centuries, and its impact on modern legal systems.

The Roman Origins of Civil Law

Civil law is rooted in the Roman Empire and the Corpus Juris Civilis, or the Code of Justinian. The Code of Justinian established fundamental principles of law that were used to resolve legal disputes. The Roman legal system was based on statutes and an authoritative legal code, which established legal principles and provided guidance to judges.

The Influence of Christianity

During the Middle Ages, the Roman Empire collapsed, and Europe experienced significant social and political changes. Christianity emerged as a significant cultural force, and the Catholic Church became the dominant institution. The church influenced the development of civil law by incorporating Christian principles into legal systems. Medieval civil law systems were based on canon law, which was a body of legal principles derived from religious sources.

The Rise of Nationalism

The modern civil law system emerged during the period of the Enlightenment in the 18th and 19th centuries. Nationalism was on the rise, and countries were seeking to establish their legal identity. The Napoleonic Code, created by Napoleon Bonaparte, played a significant role in the development of modern civil law. The Napoleonic Code established the idea of personal property rights and individual freedom and served as a model for civil codes in other countries.

The Evolution of Modern Civil Law

The 20th century saw the creation of civil codes in various countries worldwide, including Japan, Mexico, Brazil, and China. Civil law is now the dominant legal system in continental Europe and influences legal systems in Latin America and parts of Asia and Africa.

Impact of Civil Law on Modern Legal Systems

Civil law has influenced various legal systems worldwide, even in countries with a common law legal system. Countries such as the United States and Canada have borrowed legal concepts from civil law systems such as the use of codified laws, juries in civil cases, and the concept of judicial review.


In conclusion, civil law is a legal system that originated in ancient Rome and evolved over centuries, influenced by various cultural, religious, and political factors. The modern civil law system is based on the idea of written laws and regulations, and it has fundamentally shaped the legal systems of many countries worldwide. Understanding the origins and evolution of civil law is essential for anyone working in the legal profession across the world.

Civil law originates from the legal system established by the Roman Empire to administer the large territory over which it exercised authority through the first half of the first millennium A.D. Specifically, legal scholars trace the “civil” approach to legal systems, as can be differentiated from the other primary approach, common law,from the Code of Justinian (Codex Justinianus in the original Latin) which dates back to April 7, 529.

Civil law was further impacted following the Roman Empire’s fall by additional practices and principles adopted during the medieval period by such authorities as the Catholic Church and feudal lords. Many of the civil laws now maintained throughout the world can be traced back to the comparatively more recent document of the Napoleonic Code, which was enacted by Napoleon Bonaparte in order to standardize the legal codes of countries which he had conquered. Civil law provides for standardization and consistency.