- Date de réalisation : 16 Septembre 2021
- Durée du programme : 24 min
- Classification Dewey : Droit international
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Jean-Romain Ferrand-Hus - Alphonse Royer (1803-1875), penseur méconnu de la codification ottomane
On 15 March 1856, as the Congress of Paris is opening, Alphonse Royer – a man of letters, an Orientalist and a traveller who had become director of the Imperial Opera – hands Napoleon III a note on the reform of the Ottoman Empire, and more particularly on its civil codification. While the reform of the old Empire and its inclusion in the Concert of Europe is actively discussed by diplomats, the author submits to Napoleon III a personal and original vision of Ottoman civil codification. A necessary initiative in the vast movement of secularisation of Ottoman law – that Royer called for –, this codification, far from being conceived as a work of regeneration of the common law of Turkey through the drafting of a code superseding Sharia law, is designed on the contrary to combine the European element with the Ottoman legal tradition, that is based on Islamic law and jurisprudence. For Royer, who is surprisingly a relativist and hostile to any form of legal acculturation, the "codification of current civil laws in harmony with the needs of the time" cannot mean the more or less faithful transposition of the provisions of the Napoleonic Code. The temptation of a codification project thought through the prism of the French model is discarded, but is soon replaced by another legal model. Thus, on 22 March 1856, just a few days after the Royer note was sent to the Tuileries, a circular issued by the Emperor's Civil Cabinet takes up the main lines of the note, but adds more evocative terms – instead of the "harmonization" and "codification of civil laws" soberly advocated by Royer, the pompous expression "Corpus iuris turc" is now preferred to designate the codifying initiative that fell to the Ottomans. The reference to the Justinian compilations which is therefore made by a jurist in the Emperor's Cabinet and not by Royer, appears to be an authoritative argument that gives a different tone to the initial text.
Beyond the originality and the historical and legal interest of the Royer note, it will be necessary to assess its posterity, or at least its scope, by confronting it with the turn taken by the Ottoman codification from the 1860s onwards. Whether it be the first note of 1856, its avatars or the Ottoman projects that succeeded it until 1868 – when civil codification was officially launched–, all these projects propose a method and a horizon for civil codification, converging in some aspects and diverging in others. Drawing on the the writings of French agents – those of Royer but also of official diplomats – as well as on reference works highlighting the forms of "re-elaboration of ancient models", the challenge of this presentation will also be to determine whether the invocation of Roman law as a legal model to be imitated is a mere rhetorical device or whether it reveals a deeper reflection on the part of those who use it on how to approach the codification of a foreign law.