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JEAN ETIENNE MARIE PORTALIS (1746-1807)

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Originally appearing in Volume V22, Page 111 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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JEAN ETIENNE MARIE PORTALIS (1746-1807), French jurist, came of a bourgeois family, and was born at Bausset in Provence on the 1st of April 1746. He was educated by the Oratorians at their schools in Toulon and Marseilles, and then went to the university of Aix; while a student there he published his first two works, Observations sur Emile in 1763 and Des Prejuges in 1764. In 1765 he became an avocat at the parlement of Aix, and soon obtained so great a reputation that he was instructed by the duc de Choiseul in 1770 to draw up the decree authorizing the marriage of Protestants. From 1778 to 1781 he was one of the four assessors or administrators of Provence. In November 1793, after the republic had been proclaimed, he came to Paris and was thrown into prison, being the brother-in-law of Joseph Jerome Simeon, the leader of the Federalists in Provence. He was soon removed through the influence of B. de V. Barere to a maison de saute, where he remained till the fall of Robespierre. On being released he practised as a lawyer in Paris; and in 1795 he was elected by the capital to the Conseil des Anciens, becoming a leader of the moderate party opposed to the directory. As a leader of the moderates he was proscribed at the coup d'etat of Fructidor, but, unlike General Charles Pichegru and the marquis de Barbe-Marbois, he managed to escape to Switzerland, and did not return till Bonaparte became First Consul. Bonaparte made him a conseiller d'etat in r800, and then charged him, with F, D. Tronchet, Bigot de Preameneu, and Jacques de Maleville, to draw up the Code Civil. Of this commission he was the most industrious member, and many of the most important titles, notably those on marriage and heirship, are his work. In 18or he was placed in charge of the department of cultes or public worship, and in that capacity had the chief share in drawing up the provisions of the Concordat. In 1803 he became a member of the Institute, in 1804 minister of public worship, and in 1805 a knight grand cross of the Legion of Honour. He soon after became totally blind; and after an operation he died at Paris on the 25th of August 1807. The work of Portalis appears in the Code Napoleon, but see also Frederick Portalis's Documents, rap ports, et travaux inedits stir le Code Civil (1844) and Sur le Concordat (1845); for his life, see the biography in the edition of his Oeuvres by F. Portalis (1823) and Rene Lavolee, Portalis, sa vie et ses oeuvres, (Paris, 1869). His son, JOSEPH MARIE PORTALIS (1778-1858), entered the diplomatic service, and obtaining the favour of Louis XVIII. filled many important offices. He was under-secretary of state for the ministry of justice, first president of the court of caseation, minister for foreign affairs, and in 1851 a member of the senate.
End of Article: JEAN ETIENNE MARIE PORTALIS (1746-1807)
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