This is an oft-cited "unusual law", e.g. from The Sun:
IN FRANCE it is illegal to name a pig Napoleon, almost 200 years after his death.
Experts say the odd law exists because calling a pig after the emperor would insult a head of state.
The best explanation I found is that it was once illegal to offend the head of state. This law changed very recently (emphasis mine):
Being rude to the French president is no longer an offence after parliament amended legislation dating back to 1881 in favour of freedom of speech.
Previously any rude remark risked a fine and criminal conviction for "offending the head of state". But the change was pushed through after criticism from the European court of human rights.
However, this doesn't make much sense:
- If the law dates back to 1881, then it didn't exist during Napoleon's reign.
- As far as unusual laws go, calling a pig after the head of state being illegal sounds just as unusual as calling it Napoleon, so it's odd a non-existent unusual law would become more well-known than a real one along the same lines.
- Why a pig specifically? I imagine naming other farm animals (e.g. a donkey) after the head of state would be equally (in)offensive.
Was there ever a law that would make some pig names illegal in France?