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The Western Codification of Criminal Law

A Revision of the Myth of its Predominant French Influence

  • Aniceto Masferrer


  • Investigates the codification of criminal law in the West

  • Examines the influence of the French criminal code on jurisdictions in Europe and Latin America

  • Pursues a revealing, comparative approach to the topic


Part of the Studies in the History of Law and Justice book series (SHLJ, volume 11)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-x
  2. Introduction

  3. Europe

  4. Latin America

  5. Prison Law Reform

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 411-411

About this book


This volume addresses an important historiographical gap by assessing the respective contributions of tradition and foreign influences to the 19th century codification of criminal law. More specifically, it focuses on the extent of French influence – among others – in European and American civil law jurisdictions. In this regard, the book seeks to dispel a number of myths concerning the French model’s actual influence on European and Latin American criminal codes. 

The impact of the Napoleonic criminal code on other jurisdictions was real, but the scope and extent of its influence were significantly less than has sometimes been claimed. The overemphasis on French influence on other civil law jurisdictions is partly due to a fundamental assumption that modern criminal codes constituted a break with the past. The question as to whether they truly broke with the past or were merely a degree of reform touches on a difficult issue, namely, the dichotomy between tradition and foreign influences in the codification of criminal law. Scholarship has unfairly ignored this important subject, an oversight that this book remedies.


Western Criminal Law Western Legal Tradition Influence of the Napoleonic Penal Code of 1810 Napoleonic Penal Code of 1810 on the Development of Criminal Law Austrian criminal code of 1852 1810 French Code Napoleon towards its reform in 1867 Belgium Portuguese Penal Code of 1852 roots of the Italian penal codification Code Pénal Criminal Codification in Latin America 19th-century penitentiary law reform penitentiary law reform in Latin America

Editors and affiliations

  • Aniceto Masferrer
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Law, Campus dels TarongersUniversity of ValenciaValenciaSpain

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