Hammurabi's code of law
Nov 11, 2011
Imagine what it would be like if we didn't have any laws. If people did just as they pleased without any regard for others, life would probably get pretty chaotic. The defendant in this case has been indicted by the law is one of society's most basic institutions. And one of the most necessary. It establishes a person's rights and obligations. The law also sets penalties for those who violate these rules. Equal justice under law reads this inscription on the Supreme Court of the United States. Although specific laws change over time, most people agree justice is one of law's guiding principles. One of the earliest known attempts to institutionalize law occurred in ancient Mesopotamia, a region between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. It's where Iraq is today. This ancient king hammurabi ruled over Babylon from 1792 to 1750 BC. At the beginning of his reign, Mesopotamia was divided into many city states, all with their own pattern of shifting rules. But Hamburg eventually brought the entire region under his control. He collected laws from the various city states and wrote down a set of codes that soon governed the entire area. Hammurabi's written code allowed law to be a matter of public knowledge, and so helped advance the rule of law in society. His code dealt with issues of taxes and trade, marriage and divorce, and theft and murder. He assigned specific punishments to fit specific crimes, the Old Testament reflects hammer rabi's approach, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Hammurabi's empire eventually fell apart, but he's credited with establishing justice in the land. And the idea of codified law was just beginning. The codification movement reached its peak under the French ruler Napoleon Bonaparte. After he crowned himself emperor in 1804, Napoleon wanted to bring a new order to France. He restructured France's legal system into a new unified collection of laws, known as the Napoleonic code. A great military leader, Napoleon soon conquered most of Europe, just as hammurabi unified laws across Mesopotamia, Napoleon's ideas and reforms spread across Europe. He established new constitutions in the countries he conquered, and so the Napoleonic code helped modernize an entire continent. And today, a small town in Texas attempts to bring justice to its community. They discovered here that the majority of crimes were committed by juveniles. So for first time offenders of misdemeanors, a teen court was put into action. Here, teenagers are prosecuting, defending, and sitting on the jury. Punishment takes the form of community service, an important message is sent. The first message is that laws are important and that they should be upheld. That young people have a role in both being law abiding and seeing that the values of the community are enforced. As civilization evolves, it leaves behind specific rules and laws established by past leaders and governments. What survives is the quest for law, order, and justice.