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12 - Jean Domat


Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 May 2019

Olivier Descamps
Pantheon-Assas University, Paris
Rafael Domingo
Emory University, Atlanta
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Jean Domat, magistrate and lawyer, started in the late 1670s to draft what would become The Civil Law. Domat continued this work from 1682 until his death, by publishing The Civil Law in Its Natural Order, from 1684 to 1689, and posthumously The Public Law, in 1697. Defender of a natural law that is more classic than modern, he refused to remove God while laying down a rational systematization of the law. He remained faithful to the Christian conception of an objective order responding to Creation, founded on humanitas, caritas, and all of the Christian principles. Jansenist and Gallican, Domat’s originality lies in the reconciliation of the seeming paradox of building a legal corpus between Christian thought and modern rationalism. The legal science of the civil law is for him primordial because it proceeds from the analysis of human behavior in society and of humanity’s divine destination. He wants the double law of love of the sovereign good – love of God – and love of one’s neighbor to reign over all laws. He deduces from this divine order a plan of exposition that breaks with the legal tradition. This presentation falls into parts, books, titles, and sections. This publication form is close to the future corpus of the French Civil Code. He was therefore refounding and restructuring the law in order to establish links among the natural rules. The construction of a streamlined, structured civil law would be Domat’s major legacy to the eighteenth century, and later to the great codifications of the early nineteenth century, such the Code Civil of Napoléon.
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

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Recommended Reading

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