other_paths: (Default)
[personal profile] other_paths posting in [community profile] les_miserables
Hello

I've been lurking silently around this fandom for a while, and have decided to put a toe in by asking a question about French inheritance law.

As I understand it under the Civil Code / Napoleonic Code people were (I think still are?) very restricted in how they could leave their money, it has to go to descendents or in the absence of descendents to the nearest collateral relatives. Yet part of the Marius plot in Les Miserables depends on Marius' grandfather and aunt being able to disinherit him, it's the threat of disinheritance that causes Marius' father to give him up, and there are repeated suggestions later that the money might go to Cousin Theodule instead.

So am I missing something? Was there a way Marius' family could disinherit him? Or is Hugo just ignoring bits of law that don't suit his plot?

Date: 2014-04-13 06:33 pm (UTC)
miss_morland: (capable of being terrible)
From: [personal profile] miss_morland
Or is Hugo just ignoring bits of law that don't suit his plot?

I don't know much about the legal facts of the period, but I suspect this is the case, to be honest...

Date: 2014-04-14 01:24 pm (UTC)
genarti: Knees-down view of woman on tiptoe next to bookshelves (Default)
From: [personal profile] genarti
Alas, all I know about inheritance law at the time is that it was apparently complicated. (Helpful and detailed, I know.) But I'm definitely interested in the answer if anyone has it!

I agree that Hugo is certainly capable of ignoring bits of law (or history, or chronology, or internal timelines) that don't suit him. It may also be that if the rules were sufficiently complicated, then maybe very few people who weren't inheritance specialists really understood it, and then Gillenormand's threat only had to be plausible to himself and to Georges Pontmercy, not 100% accurate for legal restrictions.

Date: 2014-04-19 06:55 am (UTC)
genarti: Combeferre and Enjolras in the Cafe Musain. ([les mis] guide and chief)
From: [personal profile] genarti
I'm pretty sure that Gillenormand's general attitude is "HERE'S WHAT I'M GONNA DO, other people can sort out the petty logistical details." Someone who knew their inheritance law and was willing to argue toe-to-toe with him could probably point out when what he was proposing was totally impossible -- or even persuade him it was impossible when it wasn't, if they played their cards right -- but I don't think Georges is in a position to do that on this particular subject, unfortunately.

Date: 2014-04-19 11:50 am (UTC)
thjazi: Sketch of goofy smiling Enjolras (Default)
From: [personal profile] thjazi
I THINK, overall, the threat is meant to be serious? For one thing, Gillenormand could almost certainly choose to disinherit Marius in favor of Mlle. Gillenormand, at least, without too much trouble. For another, the bulk of the actual inheritable estate seems to lie with Mlle. Gillenormand, right? And not Gillenormand himself. And when she's thinking of leaving the money other than with Marius, it's presented as a serious issue, but she's not using it as a threat, except in her own head.

So if it wasn't possible, I think Hugo THOUGHT it was possible? Probably it was like a lot of law-- not easy, but possible with the right hired experts. And Gillenormand's definitely in a position to unleash the bees and hounds--er, lawyers.

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