Debating Divorce in Italy: Marriage and the Making of Modern by M. Seymour

By M. Seymour

The preferred referendum of 1974 which affirmed Italy's recently-won divorce legislations is broadly considered as a turning element in smooth Italian background, however the lengthy tale in the back of that fight has remained mostly strange. utilizing the debates over divorce as a lens, this publication is a learn of the search to modernize Italy, Italians, and Italian marriage.

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Additional resources for Debating Divorce in Italy: Marriage and the Making of Modern Italians, 1860-1974 (Italian and Italian American Studies)

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40 Coscioni, like Pisanelli, saw the civil code as the symbolic completion of the work that Garibaldi had begun, and hoped that it would once again give Italy the chance to reign as “Queen of nations” on the basis of the wisdom of its laws. While Coscioni praised the introduction of civil marriage, which he saw as a step in the right direction toward severing the ties between Church and state, he lamented the civil code’s exclusion of any possibility of divorce. 41 In this Coscioni was almost certainly right.

While the code took marriage away from the institution that had made it indissoluble, it created the “juridical monster” of indissoluble civil marriage. As many commentators were later to point out, this was an oxymoronic concept, and put Italy out on a limb in terms of international comparison. But however anomalous the adopted solution may have been, it would probably have been more surprising if Italy had actually introduced divorce. Making marriage an entirely civil affair had already fulfilled the Risorgimento ideal of the separation of civil and religious jurisdictions, and given the strained relations between the Church and the state, it would have been provocative to push civil marriage to its logical conclusion.

That custom had been imposed by the Council of Trent, and by 1860 it had been accepted for so long that it was easy for rhetoric to make it seem natural. Nor did those in favor of divorce argue that it was an undesirable custom. They merely claimed that in some cases the enforcement of the ideal of indissoluble marriage was cruel. Writers who were pro-divorce were far from advocating the dismantling of the family. For them, the fundamental question was which institution should regulate marriage and the family in civil society.

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