Adoption and commoners
After the fall of the Roman Empire, the cultures that came to dominate Europe denounced the practice of adoption. In medieval society, bloodlines were of the utmost importance; if a ruling dynasty didn't have a “natural-born” heir, they would be replaced. This was a stark contrast to Roman tradition. The evolution of European law reflects this change in attitude towards adoption. For instance, English Common Law did not allow for adoption since it went against the customary rules of inheritance. The Napoleonic Code, which was put into place in France, made adoption more difficult by requiring adopters to be over the age of 50, sterile, and at least 15 years older than the person they were adopting. Although some adoptions still continued to happen, they
became more informal and based on contracts. For example, in 737, three adoptees were made heirs to an estate in a charter from the town of Lucca. The agreement, like other similar arrangements at the time, placed the emphasis on the responsibility of the adopter rather than the adoptee. It focused on the fact that, under the contract, the adoptive father was responsible for caring for the adoptee in his old age; an idea that is similar to conceptions of adoption under Roman law.