France: An End to Tears?

Woman is given to man to bear children; she is therefore his property, as the tree is the gardener's.

— Napoleon Bonaparte

Since 1840, when the Code Napoléon was enacted as France's basic civil law, married Frenchwomen have enjoyed all the legal privileges one might expect from the Emperor's opinion of them. Novelist George Sand watched in despair in the 19th century while her husband squandered her immense dowry and made her ask permission to spend the money she earned from her books and plays. A present-day French woman told her lawyer that her husband had just sold her...

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