The Napoleonic Code, or Code Napoleon, is the French civil law code, established at Napoleon's behest. The Napoleonic code was the first legal code to be established in a country with a civil law legal system. Other such countries soon copied this idea, and developed their own codes, of which the Swiss and German codes were the most influential.
The intention behind the Napoleonic Code was to reform the French legal system in accordance with the principles of the French Revolution. The vestiges of feudalism were abolished, and the many different legal systems used in different parts of France were replaced by a single legal code.
The Code Napoleon dealt only with civil law issues; other codes were also published dealing with criminal and commercial law.
The development of the Code Napoleon was a fundamental change in the nature of the civil law legal system. While the development of these codes made the law much clearer, they were different in each country, and thus destroyed the legal unity of Continental Europe which had existed in the Middle Ages.
The term "Napoleonic Code" is sometimes used to refer to legal codes of other jurisdictions that are derived from the French Code Napoleon, especially the civil code of Louisiana.