Monday, July 27, 2009

On July 27

On this day in ...
1884 (125 years ago today), divorce was reestablished in France. Divorce first became legal in France on September 20, 1792. The divorce law, which was extremely liberal even by modern standards, reflected the French Revolution's commitment to the rights of the individual and its antipathy to Roman Catholicism. In 1816, with the rise of Napoleon and the return of Roman Catholicism, divorce again was abolished. Judicial separation became the only option. When France's aristocracy voted against the divorce bills proposed during this time, their votes were as much a rejection of the revolutionary heritage as of the social effects of divorce. The law passed on this day departed from the liberal model of 1792 and instead was conservative, based on Napoleonic law.
1740, Jeanne Baré (below right), botanist and explorer, was born. She was probably the 1st woman to have circumnavigated the globe. Disguised as a man, Baré enlisted as personal valet and botanical assistant to the expedition's physician and naturalist shortly before it sailed from France in 1766. (image credit) According to the account of the expedition's master, Baré proved an expert botanist who had a reputation for courage and strength, and who went cheerfully on the most troublesome excursions over rugged terrain. Her companions did not learn that Baré was a woman until they reached Tahiti; there she confessed that she knew when she boarded that the ship would go around the world, and that such a voyage had raised her curiosity.

(Prior July 27 posts are here and here.)

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