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(MARITIME LAW). ~ Ordonnance de Louis XIV, roy de France et de Navarre. Donée à Fontainebleau au mois d’Aoust 1681. Touchant la Marine. Paris: Denys Thierry and Christophle Ballard, 1681.
First edition of Colbert’s famous codification for Louis XIV, the basis of modern maritime law in all parts of the world.
Derived from a combination of Roman law and from a mass of local custom and usage, the history of French maritime law thus codified represents an interesting case of the persistence of distinct Roman models alongside non-Roman law practiced in other fields.
The Ordonnance also occupies an important place in the history of insurance, both in the field of marine insurance (which is fully described) and life insurance, since maritime law was one of the earliest instances in which lives may be insured as opposed to goods. It has been suggested that this resulted from the need for shipowners to insure cargos of slaves or against the possibility of the ransoming of captured passengers and crew. Slaves were legally ‘goods’ rather than people in their own right, so could be insured under the Ordonnance, while ransomed individuals would acquire a monetary “price”. The codification of proceedure in these cases began a culture in which human life could be valued in monetary terms for the purpose of insurance.
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