Is it (il)legal to call your pig Napoléon in France?

Written by Anthony Lucas, French teacher since 2007

pig Napoléon

In the event that you live in France, own a pig and want to call it Napoleon (I know that many of you are in this situation 😜 ), I have some very good news to tell you: contrary to popular belief, there is no law that forbids you to do so.

pig napoleon

I thought until now, like many French people, that it was indeed forbidden in France to call your pig Napoleon. This belief was not the result of a thorough research due to my willingness to acquire a pig and call it that. No.

It was just an unverified belief propagated on the so-called serious French media (for example an article in Le Monde on 7 February 2013).

A French historian, Sophie Muffat, therefore decided to sort out the truth from the false by researching old legal texts to see if this idea was correct. In fact, she found no trace of such a law.

It seems that this belief was based on George Orwell’s 1945 book Animal Farm, in which a pig named Napoleon leads the revolt against humans.

When the French version was published in 1947, the French publisher categorically refused to keep this name for a pig. So the name of the pig was changed to “César”. The name Napoleon was rightly reassigned to the revolutionary pig from the 1981 editions onwards.

Justice is done!

Pig Napoleaon in Animal farm

Fun fact

in 2014, an intrepid restaurateur decided to defy a law that doesn’t exist. The restaurant’s mascot is a pig… which he named… Napoleon!

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