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BastardsPolitics, Family, and Law in Early Modern France$
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Matthew Gerber

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199755370

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199755370.001.0001

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The End of Bastardy

(p.184) Conclusion

Matthew Gerber

Oxford University Press

In 1793, during the most radical phase of the French Revolution, the National Convention extended full inheritance rights to extramarital offspring voluntarily recognized by their natural parents. These rights were gradually scaled back during the socially conservative backlash of the Directory, so the Code Civil of 1804 granted natural children only a partial right to inherit. Still, the Code Civil consistently preferred the expression “natural child” to that of “bastard.” More significantly, the French Revolution brought to an end the adjudicatory system of traditional law through which the rights and disabilities of extramarital offspring had been perpetually negotiated and contested over the course of the early modern era.

Keywords:   French Revolution, Law of 12 Brumaire II, code civil, bastard, natural child, inheritance

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