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Proposition 1803
June 10, 2012 2:59 AM   Subscribe

In the early 19th century, a man named Charles Fanaye and his lover Marie-Hélène sought to wed in Southern France. He was a former Napoleonic soldier, back from the Campaign in Egypt. She was an Ethiopian woman who had rescued him from the Mameluks and followed him to France. Like many other interracial couples, Charles and Marie-Hélène begged for an exception to the 1803 decree that banned marriage between blacks and whites. It was only after 16 years, when the ban was silently lifted in 1819, that they could finally marry. A (long) paper by Jennifer Heuer on the arbitrary definitions of race in post-Revolutionary France and on "the persistence of certain couples in legitimizing their bonds".
posted by elgilito (22 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm afraid the link is down. Has it been MetaFilter'd?
posted by Zarkonnen at 3:52 AM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Damn. Here's the google cache version and the paywalled version (for those who can access it)
posted by elgilito at 4:05 AM on June 10, 2012


Stuff like this is what makes one stop for a moment, from griping, and acknowledge why we should be grateful for a) living in today's world and b) all those who've gone before, fighting for change.
posted by infini at 5:05 AM on June 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh man... can you imagine how Fanaye and Marie-Hélène felt when they could finally legally get married? I'm imagining the original rescue too... Wow.

Anyway, their story sounds more romantic, to me, than most period romances I've read lately. I would love to see a proper novel or movie about them. I know it's not likely to happen.

But a girl can dream, right?
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 6:10 AM on June 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


suburbanbeatnik: I'd love a dramatization of this story. But you're right: Hollywood has a hard time even with contemporary interracial romances, much less obscure historical romances. A novel's probably the most viable route.
posted by Cash4Lead at 6:38 AM on June 10, 2012


Great link. And relevant to the present time.

Stuff like this is what makes one stop for a moment, from griping, and acknowledge why we should be grateful for a) living in today's world and b) all those who've gone before, fighting for change.

Some people want to take us back... Proposed new UK legislation prevent most British people getting married to non-EU citizens, by setting an income requirement so high that most British people would fall short of it.
posted by plep at 8:34 AM on June 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


That was an interesting article. I'm familiar with the history of race in the U.S., but know much less about other countries. It fascinating to see the similarities and (drastic) differences. I should probably also read about the history of the French colonies.

I hadn't even realized that Napoleon reinstated slavery. That's crazy.
posted by Area Man at 8:55 AM on June 10, 2012


acknowledge why we should be grateful for a) living in today's world and b) all those who've gone before, fighting for change

It's always been a pendulum, back and forth over the centuries. Complacency comes just before the swing backwards. Eternal vigilance, and all that.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:24 AM on June 10, 2012


Proposed new UK legislation prevent most British people getting married to non-EU citizens, by setting an income requirement so high that most British people would fall short of it.

Marriage and ease of cross border travel has ever been the unspoken privilege of the rich.


It's always been a pendulum, back and forth over the centuries. Complacency comes just before the swing backwards. Eternal vigilance, and all that.


True dat, but at least I don't worry about being stoned for having a beer with a white man in public.
posted by infini at 9:38 AM on June 10, 2012


Some people want to take us back... Proposed new UK legislation prevent most British people getting married to non-EU citizens, by setting an income requirement so high that most British people would fall short of it.

Wow.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 9:50 AM on June 10, 2012


The decree, which seemed to reinstate a 1778 edict, went hand in hand with the reestablishment of slavery after the French Revolution.

Good ol' Napoleon.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:14 AM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I hadn't even realized that Napoleon reinstated slavery. That's crazy.

Sugar lobbyists. You have no idea how profitable sugar was back in the day. (And even today, for that matter.)
posted by IndigoJones at 10:57 AM on June 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


I read that as being stoned and having a beer...
posted by adamvasco at 12:50 PM on June 10, 2012


Sugar lobbyists. You have no idea how profitable sugar was back in the day

Indeed. But they were also quite literally in bed with Bonnie.
posted by Skeptic at 2:00 PM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bonaparte started a series of pointless wars of conquest which extinguished several sovereign states and resulted in the deaths of about 5 million people. Re-legalizing slavery isn't even the half of the evil he spread in the world.

It's always amazed me that the French people can tolerate the Arc De Triomphe in the middle of Paris. If the Nazis had succeeded in their plans to build a huge triumphal arch in Berlin, would the modern German people be able to look upon the list of countries destroyed, armies vanquished, and cities sacked (which is what the Arc De Triomphe does) with pride? Or with shame?
posted by 1adam12 at 2:48 PM on June 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


1adam12, I am not Napoleon's biggest fan in the world... he was a warmongering megalomaniac, but I am skeptical of attempts to conflate him with the Nazis and the Third Reich, especially since I have read so many Anglophiles' attempts to demonize Napoleon and to elevate Wellington et al. to saintly heights. IMO, the French empire and the British empire seem to be about on the same ethical plane, especially given the latter's record in India and how many native governments they destroyed.
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 3:33 PM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


1adam12: the Political effects section in the Wikipedia page about the Napoleonic wars sums up pretty well why Napoleon is not the hated figure in continental Europe one would expect him to be. Basically, he brought war, but he also brought long-lasting political changes, both in Europe (including Sweden, of all places) and in the Middle-East. And in France, a number of major institutions, including the Napoleonic civil code (which was adopted and adapted in other countries) and parts of the educational system, are brainchildren of Napoleon. So... it's complicated.
posted by elgilito at 4:40 PM on June 10, 2012


Proposed new UK legislation prevent most British people getting married to non-EU citizens, by setting an income requirement so high that most British people would fall short of it.
But, despite the contrast in colour between us, I can still marry my partner and I don't see that fact ever changing.

I always found it kind of hopeful that miscegenation was never illegal in the UK. And I always found it kind of horrifying that mixed race marriages were illegal in some US states up until 1967. That's only two years before I was born and it's 150 years after France did the right thing.

Europe has its problems with mixed marriages, but it's still streets ahead of the rest of the world.
posted by zoo at 5:01 PM on June 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


suburbanbeatnik: "Oh man... can you imagine how Fanaye and Marie-Hélène felt when they could finally legally get married? I'm imagining the original rescue too... Wow.

Anyway, their story sounds more romantic, to me, than most period romances I've read lately. I would love to see a proper novel or movie about them. I know it's not likely to happen.

But a girl can dream, right?
"

Zoe Saldana as Marie-Hélène! Who plays the guy? Someone with a rugged face, that's seen & barely survived war...
posted by IAmBroom at 7:41 PM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


suburbanbeatnik: "1adam12, I am not Napoleon's biggest fan in the world... he was a warmongering megalomaniac, but I am skeptical of attempts to conflate him with the Nazis and the Third Reich, especially since I have read so many Anglophiles' attempts to demonize Napoleon and to elevate Wellington et al. to saintly heights. IMO, the French empire and the British empire seem to be about on the same ethical plane, especially given the latter's record in India and how many native governments they destroyed."

I'm not sure that the guilt or innocence of Britain has anything at all to do with whether or not it's fair to hate the evil that Napolean wrought. The British Empire AND the Napoleanic Empire can be simultaneously awful.

And, while ordinarily I would disdain Godwinning comparisons to Hitler et al, Napolean was intent on, and nearly successful at, bringing all of Europe and surrounding countries under his despotic control. The two regimes share more than a passing similarity.
posted by IAmBroom at 7:48 PM on June 10, 2012


This post just in time for Loving Day, which is tomorrow!
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 1:04 AM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Whoa now, I'm not saying up with Wellesley just because I'm saying down with Bonaparte. Wellesley was a monstrous person in his own right, an anti-semite who spent much of his career waging wars against faraway peoples who posed no threat to Britain and amassing a vast fortune in plunder in the process. No reason they can't both be wrong.
posted by 1adam12 at 9:19 AM on June 11, 2012


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