In 1685, the king of France Louis XIV passed the Code Noir (Black Code), a decree defining the conditions of slavery in the French colonial empire and the activities permitted by free Negroes.
The document comprised of 60 Articles and specified the following:


  • Jews cannot reside in the colonies.
  • Slaves must be baptized in the Roman Catholic Church
  • No other religion can be exercised other than Roman Catholic
  • Slaves masters must be Roman Catholic
  • Non-Catholic subjects must not interfere with the Catholic practices of other subjects
  • All colonial subjects and slaves must observe Catholic holidays regardless of their own faith and no one must work on Sundays and on holidays
  • Slaves markets must not not be held on Catholic holidays
  • Only Catholic marriages would be recognized
  • Married free men will be fined for having children with their slave concubines, as will the slaves's concubine's master. If the man himself is the master of the slave concubine, the slave and child will be removed from his ownership. If the man (free blacks only) is not married, he should be then married to slave concubine, thus freeing her and the child from slavery.
  • weddings between the slaves must only be carried out with the master's permission.
  • Slaves will not be married without their own consent
  • Children born between married slaves are also slaves, belonging to the female's slave masters
  • Children between a male slave and a female and a female free woman are free, while children between a female slaves and a free man are slaves
  • slaves should not carry weapons except by permission of their masters for hunting purposes
  • Slaves belonging to different masters may not gather at any time under any circumstances
  • Slaves should not sell sugar cane, even with permission of their masters
  • Masters must give food (quantities specified) and clothes for their slaves even if they are sick or old
  • A slave who strikes his or her master, his wife, children and/or mistress will be executed
  • Fugitive slaves absent for one month shall have their ears cut off and be branded. If they are absent for an additional month, one of their hamstrings will be served and they will be branded again. If they are absent for up to three months, they shall be executed
  • Masters of freed slaves who give refuge to fugitive slaves will be fined
  • Masters may chain or beat slaves, but may not torture or mutilate them (it's up to you to define torture)
  • Masters who kill their slaves will be punished (by a fine)
  • Slaves are community property and cannot be mortgaged and must be equally split between the master's inheritors, but can be used as a payment for a debt or bankruptcy , and otherwise sold
  • A slave husband and wife and their prepubescent children are not to be sold separately
  • Slaves masters 20 years of age (25 without parental permission) may free their slaves
  • Slaves who are declared to be sold legatees by their masters or named as executors of their will, or tutors of their children, shall be considered as freed
  • Freed slaves are french subjects, even if born elsewhere
  • Freed slaves must show special respect to their formal masters and their family members
  • Freed slaves have the same rights as French colonial subjects
  • Fees and fines paid with regards to the Code Noir must go to the royal administration, but one third will be assigned to the local hospital.

     "All laws, however just and humane they may be, in favor of Negroes will always be a violation of the rights of property if they are not sponsored by the colonists... all laws on property are just only if they are supported by the opinion of those who are interested in them as proprietors."