Code Noir(Black Code)

Code Noir or Black Codes passed March, 1685 by France, governing the treatment of slaves. The code governed aspect of religion, security, health, societal do's and don'ts of slave. Code Noir was applied to all French territories--Caribbean, Quebec, Louisiana. 

In terms of religion slaves had to be baptised. Roman Catholics were the only ones owning slaves. Slaves were not allowed to work on Sundays or religious holidays. Marriage was encouraged among slaves with approval of owners. Unions between free and slave would acquire the status of the mother. 

Slaves were forbidden to assemble at night. First offense would be flogging. Habitual offenders could be execution. Owners who tolerated night assembly were fined. 

In terms of the health of slaves, the Code required slaves to be fed weekly rations of 2.5 pot of cassava farine(2.5 lb), 2 lbs of salt beef or 3 pounds of fish. Two suites of cloth or four ells of linen were to be given each year to slaves. If these conditions were not met slaves could file a complaint with kings agents. Old and sick slaves were to be fed and taken cared of by the owner. 

Legally, slaves could not own property. They could not sell produce without master's permission. Slaves could not hold public office or bear legal witness. If a slave struck his master, he would get the death penalty. Runaway slaves were punished harshly. First offense would result in one ear being cut or branding on the shoulders. Second runaway offence would result in the buttocks being cut or the other shoulder being branded. Third offense would result in death. 

Owners could punish slaves if they felt it was deserved by flogging with rods or cords. Torture and mutilation of slaves were not permitted. The penalty for violation of the latter was confiscation. Slave owners, if they murdered a slave, would be prosecuted criminally. 

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