Jean-Jacques-Régis de Cambacérès (October 18, 1753-March 8, 1824), French lawyer and statesman. Born into a noble family in Montpellier, he studied law and succeeded his father as a counselor in the court of accounts and finances there in 1774. He supported the French Revolution and was elected to the National Convention in 1792, representing the department of Hérault and proclaiming the first republic the same year. De Cambacérès was a moderate, protesting the Convention’s right to sit as a court to try Louis XVI, but he did vote “guilty” at the end of the trial. In 1799, he was appointed Minister of Justice; in that capacity, he supported Napoleon Bonaparte’s coup of 18 Brumaire, in which Napoleon become First Consul and de Cambacérès was named Second Consul. Napoleon directed him to lead a commission to revise the nation’s cumbersome, confusing and outdated laws and the result was the Code Civil des Français, better known as the Napoleonic Code, which went into force on March 21, 1804. This code enshrined many of the most important principles of the French Revolution, such as abolishing privileges based on birth, allowing for freedom of religion, and establishing the idea of qualification for employment by merit rather than influence or purchase; however, the Code had a negative impact on the rights of women, as it determined the supremacy of the husband/father over his wife and children and abolished the right of mutual divorce. Through Napoleon’s conquest of much of Europe, the legal code written by de Cambacérès became law in most of Europe, and would influence legal concepts elsewhere, notably in the Middle East and Latin America. De Cambacérès was relatively open about his homosexuality, never marrying and sharing his life with several men; indeed, de Cambacérès’ penchant for cruising the Palais-Royal was so well known that it was even mentioned in debate in the National Assembly. As a result, many assume that the decriminalization of homosexuality in France is due to his influence; this is not the case: sodomy was decriminalized in 1791, during the early days of the Revolution and before he had entered the government; the laws were simply not reinstated. As Second Consul, de Cambacérès – whom Napoleon had named a prince of the Empire as well as the Duke of Parma in 1808 – was often the de-facto leader of the French Empire during Napoleon’s many military engagements away from the country. After Napoleon’s fall from power and the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy in 1814, de Cambacérès was briefly stripped of his citizenship and threatened with exile, but his status was restored in 1818 and he lived quietly in Paris until his death in 1824.
Ferdinand II armour. Created by Lucio Piccinino (1550-1589). Gift from Alessandro Farnese, Duke of Parma and Piacenza
He was an avid collector of art and the collection of the famous Castle Ambras near Innsbruck was started in his time. He had begun to work on it even during his time in Bohemia and subsequently moved it to Tyrol. In particular, the gallery of portraits and the collection of armor were highly expensive, which is why the archduke incurred a high level of debt.
Isabella (or Isabel) Farnesio (or Elizabeth Farnese) was born in 1692 in Parma, Italy, the niece and stepdaughter of the duke of Parma. In 1714 she married Philip V of Spain after the death of his first wife, the popular Maria Louisa Gabriela of Savoy. After the marriage, Isabella, a handsome, ambitious woman took complete control of King Philip. Her husband was so besotted by her that he sometimes struck her in a fit of jealous rage. However, Isabella was willing to overlook his capricious behavior in order to maintain her control over him. Her chief ambitions were to break France’s influence over the Spanish crown and to recover Italian possessions by exiling Austrians from Italy. Isabella and Philip had seven children. Since Philip had two sons by his first wife, Isabella had not much hope that her children would reign on the Spanish throne, so she spent much of her reign attempting to supplant Austrian power in Italy, securing Italian principalities for her children to govern. She was shrewd in her choice of ministers, selecting those who would carry out her foreign policy to the ends that Spain’s imperialistic gains in Italy were significant. Isabella made improvements in the country’s economy and enacted reforms in the military and administrative branches of the government. Her husband abdicated briefly in 1724 in favor of his oldest son, Luis, but returned when Luis died of small-pox that same year. Philip died in 1746 and was succeeded by Ferdinand VI, his son by his first wife. Isabella then retired from court. She died in 1766.
Elizabeth was an avid lover of music and during her lifetime a steady stream of Italian musicians settled in Spain, notably composer and teacher Domenico Scarlatti and
the famous opera singer Farinelli. In 1737 Isabel Farnese had asked him to come to distract Philip V from his melancholy. Farinelli’s magnificent voice had been heard at the Imperial, French and British courts and at nearly all those of Italy, and at the age of thirty-two he had reached the peak if his fame. Farinelli quickly gained the sovereign’s complete confidence, so much so that he was exempt from submitting to the authority of any other person on institution in the country but the king and the queen. It is curious that, according to the famous singer’s own confession, the man who had given him the most practical advice on his art was the Emperor Charles VI, Philip V’s rival, who would never have suspected that his words would go to help the singer to perfect himself and to sweeten the last days of his old enemy.
The family of Robert I, Duke of Parma, is rather interesting.
Robert fathered TWENTY FOUR children with two different women.
Ten married and had children, six were mentally disabled, three didn’t survive infancy, four became nuns, one was deaf, and one became the last Empress of Austria. Oh, and two sons fought in the Belgian Army while two fought in the Austrian Army during WWI.