- La convention ou l'empire des lois: le comité de législation et la commission de classification des lois
- Révolution française
- Document type
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam Institute for Humanities Research (AIHR)
La Révolution a énormément légiféré, c’est bien connu. Des milliers de lois ont alors été discutées et rédigées par le Comité de législation, qui touchaient à la justice pénale et criminelle mais aussi à la société civile et aux institutions républicaines. C’est de ce comité qu’il sera question ici, et en particulier, du comité sous la Convention et de son rôle dans les lois dites terroristes. S’y ajoutera un aperçu de ses autres missions, notamment celle qui concerne la classification et la simplification des lois, entreprises toutes deux sur ordre de la Convention de l’an II.
The period of the Convention has been one of the most studied and the most interpreted, but no research has been done on the whole body of legislation that it enforced. Too much importance has been attached to some of these laws - like the law of 22 Prairial - whereas others have been absolutely neglected. Furthermore, almost no attention has been given to the Legislation committee, although its members were the ones who proposed and drafted all these laws. Amongst them were two key lawyers, Merlin de Douai and Cambacérès, who were responsible for devising the civil and penal texts of this period - except for the law of 22 Prairial. Not only is it essential to know more about their proposals on this topic, but it is also salient to realize that the Convention was busy with the classification and simplification of all laws implemented since the very beginning of the Revolution. A commission was appointed to do the job. At its head was Louis Rondonneau, the great collector and publisher of revolutionary and imperial legislation - until the 1830s.
Such an approach can be useful to help us gain a better understanding of the French Revolution. Indeed, it allows us to rediscover some secondary actors who are considered moderates although they were the authors of the most repressive laws of 1793. They even wanted these laws to be perpetuated after Thermidor. Moreover, such an approach gives us concrete proof that the Convention was also preoccupied by common (civil) laws - or what they called ‘democratic laws’- and not only by penal and criminal issues - or what has been called revolutionary government. And this revolutionary government was maintained until the enforcement of the 1795 Constitution.
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