According to Dr Karl:

And in 16th century Naples, in Italy, kissing was an offence that carried the death penalty.

Is that true?


2 Answers 2


That exact phrase is repeated numerous times on what appears to be thousands of web sites. However, in the 50 that I took a look at, none of them sourced it. The best I have found is reference to a law passed on March 9th, 1562. Apparently an anti-obscenity law. As to how strictly it was enforced, I again am only getting references to the law itself (without any actual text of the law).

Given this pattern, I would suspect that perhaps an anti-obscenity law was passed on that date in Naples, but it was not strictly aimed at kissing, but other behaviour deemed immoral by the local magistrates/clergy/rulers. Kissing was just one thing mentioned.

I will continue to search for the original text of this law, but History is not my greatest subject, so I am leaving this as a wiki for the community.

  • 13
    Absence of evidence is evidence of absence.
    – Sklivvz
    May 3, 2011 at 6:38
  • 1
    I've found this on many Italian websites too but none of them has a source either.
    – nico
    Oct 7, 2011 at 17:41
  • An anti-obscenity law would seem to suggest that the crime was "kissing in public", rather than just kissing. Is that fair?
    – Oddthinking
    Mar 9, 2017 at 23:23
  • @Oddthinking A 1992 book says "1562 In Naples, kissing in public is made punishable by death" books.google.com/…
    – DavePhD
    Mar 10, 2017 at 0:06

The book The Kiss and Its History, translated into English in 1901, says:

The question of kissing by main force can be treated not only from an ethical, but also from a juristic point of view. Holberg relates that in Naples the individual who kissed in the street a woman against her will was punished by not being allowed to approach within thirty miles distance of the spot where the outrage had taken place

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