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A code is, in the field of law, all systematic legal standards on some matter in a unitary way. The commercial code, for example, bring together standards and precepts that govern trade relations (business).
The civil code consists organized, systematized and unitary standards belonging to private law. That said, it's the standards that govern the civil relations of physical and legal persons, as well private public (in this case, when people act as individuals).
The Codex Maximilianeus Bavaricus Civilis of 1756 was the first body of laws has used the designation of civil code. The concept has evolved over time and, from the 19th century, most countries have begun to enact their own civil codes.
The first civil code modern and which more closely resembles the current codes is the French Civil Code promulgated by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1804. Napoleon wanted to consolidate the different aspects of the French legal tradition in a legal body, so that the legal structure of the old Regime lost its effects.
The Napoleonic Code has inspired and encouraged, so to speak, the development of the civil codes of most European and American countries.
In addition to the differences in each case, a civil code relates generally to the right of the persons, obligations (such as contracts) and things (goods). Regarding its structure, there is necessary to distinguish between people (personam), things (res, divided in turn in succession and obligations) and actions (actiones).