Franciszek Ksawery Szaniawki on legal regulation of divorce in the Napoleonic Code
Keywords:Napoleonic Code, Duchy of Warsaw, civil divorce, Franciszek Ksawery Szaniawski
This paper concerns Franciszek Ksawery Szaniawki and his interpretations of legal re- gulation of divorce in the Napoleonic Code. In 1808, the Napoleonic Code was enforced on territory of the Duchy of Warsaw. This modern civil code included regulations of divorce unknown in traditional Polish law (there was no institution of divorce). Soon it appeared that Polish society, especially the Catholic Church but not only, was strongly opposed to divorce in the newly restored Polish State. Szaniawski was both Catholic priest and state oﬃcial working in the Ministry of Justice. As the very ﬁrst translator of Napoleonic Code into the Polish language, he took part in national debate on the regulation of divorce under the Code. Szaniawski pointed to several general disadvan- tages of divorce; the ruination of family life, the negative impact on social customs and behaviour and the uncertain future for the children of a broken marriage. However, In spite of these disadvantages, Szaniawski stated that the institution of divorce, used under limits protected by judges in Polish Courts, is highly compatible with other pro- visions of the Napoleonic Code and should remain in place. According to Szaniawski, divorce can be applied but only when it is necessary and in a very precise and narrow way. Exercising such a pragmatic view on divorce was very uncommon for a Catholic priest. Szaniawski eventually popularized a new hybrid idea of marriage in the Duchy of Warsaw reﬂecting its religious and civil aspects separately.