Saturday, September 20, 2008

Le Divorce

"French, Russian PMs Bond over Economy" (AFP, 20 September 2008). Maybe this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Little did we know that it would take the most American of all French presidents to initiate Europe's divorce from the Atlantic Alliance.

By the way, it was on 20 September 1792 when the French Revolution made divorce lawful, to the happiness of women, like Europe, trapped in unhappy marriages:
During the radical years of the Revolution a number of pieces of legislation were designed to improve family life, deemed hitherto to have been cruel and immoral, like the Ancient Régime itself. Family courts were instituted to deal with family conflict, penalties for wife beating were introduced which were twice as heavy as for assaulting a man, and the age of majority was reduced from 25 to 21. Of greatest importance was a divorce law voted at the last session of the Legislative Assembly, on 20 September 1792. This gave women remarkably broad grounds for leaving an unhappy or violent marriage. Nationally, perhaps 30,000 divorces were decreed under this legislation, especially in towns; in Paris, there were nearly 6,000 in 1793-5. (Philip G. Dwyer and Peter McPhee, The French Revolution and Napoleon: A Sourcebook, Routledge, 2002, p. 84)

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