The return of martin guerre review

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the return of martin guerre review

The Return of Martin Guerre by Natalie Zemon Davis

In the autumn of 1560 Arnaud du Tilh was executed in front of the house, deep in southern France, where he had lived for the past three years. He had been found guilty of impersonating one Martin Guerre, a local man who had walked out of his marriage and life in the village over ten years previously, and had not been heard of since. Du Tilh had succeeded in convincing Guerres uncle, sisters and wife that he was in fact the long lost Martin Guerre. His testimony in court was convincing, he had the scar on the forehead and the warts on his fingers that Martin Guerre was said to have had and when the real Martin Guerre turned up hobbling on a wooden leg (view spoiler)[ true to his name, gained in war (hide spoiler)], the imitator was found to have a better memory of the intimate details of Martins marriage prior to his disappearance than the real Guerre.

The case was so striking and extraordinary that Coras, the investigating judge, and La Sueur, a lawyer from the region both had books out in press about the case within a year. These were printed and reprinted in French and Latin in legitimate and bootlegged editions.

Working on the film Le Retour de Martin Guerre the author was troubled by its necessary departure and simplification of the historical background and that experience led her to write this book.

Im not sure that it is a micro history in the style say of Montaillou, it is rather a reconstructed tapestry with missing sections filled out by must haves and would haves (view spoiler)[ this regions court documents from this period are lost (hide spoiler)]. The twist is that Coras amazement was in part at how wrong his own judgement had been here was a case where the best witnesses turned out to be mistaken, hearsay evidence turned out to be true, and the judges almost went astray (p106), and the same realisation of the uncertainity of judgement then applies to this book. All the careful and well reasoned inferences, the must haves, the would haves, the differences in attitudes between the Guerre family with their Basque background and their neighbours, and the influence of Protestantism are just that, insubstantial inferences. The only difference is that this time there is no real Martin Guerre who can turn up at the eleventh hour to stomp through them all on his wooden leg.

Michel de Montaigne turned to the case in his 1588 published essay On the Lame, the uncertainty of our ability to judge and the difficulty of knowing the truth about things were central to his outlook which gave him a starting point to criticise Coras for his original presumption that du Tilh was innocent. The case of the return of Martin Guerre is one of the odder examples of the provisional nature of knowledge, yet this emphasis on the point of view of the judging outsider overlooks something else that the author pays attention to: the role of Martins wife Bertrande de Rols.

De Rols was herself at risk during the trial as a potential adulterer if she had been aware of the deception. The delicacy and precision of how she positioned herself as a deceived person and an innocent victim is carefully brought out. The same attention is brought to how refusal to seek an annulment of her marriage to Guerre during the long early years of their infertility, or possibly just his, impotency (she was to say that they were both bewitched), and her later acknowledgement of du Tihl as her husband were decisions that worked for her and made sense in her social context. She emerges as, if not a winner, than as one who came closest to making the most of the circumstances in which she found herself, which is no more maybe than we all try to do with varying degrees of success.

Very short, very readable. Not an exploration of the spread of Protestantism in Southern France in the middle of the sixteenth century nor of the structure of the rural economy , but a singular, very human, story.
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The Return of Martin Guerre (Le Retour de Martin Guerre)

The story is simple but compelling. He married a local girl, Bertrande de Rols, when they were in their early teens; ten years later, he disappeared. Eight years after that, a man came to Artigat and announced himself as the long-lost Martin. He was accepted by Bertrande, and, at first, by the Guerres and by the village, but after a time the rumour spread that the real Martin, who had lost a leg in the wars, was elsewhere, and that this one was an impostor whose real name was Arnaud du Tilh. The village split on the issue: when it eventually came to a trial, over thirty witnesses came forward to testify that the man was indeed Martin Guerre, while more than forty said that he was not. The court found against him, but he appealed. At the second trial, at Toulouse, the prisoner seemed to have convinced the court, but just as sentence was about to be pronounced, a man with a wooden leg stumped into court, claiming to be the real Martin Guerre, back from his year odyssey.

Welcome sign in sign up. The biographies of peasants and especially the autobiographies of country people are a longstanding problem. We owe to the habits of Protestant introspection the fascinating life history of the Swiss mountain dweller, Thomas Platter, written in the sixteenth century; for the seventeenth century, as far as I know, nothing of the kind exists, at least in French. During the eighteenth century, Jansenism as an almost Calvinist exercise of self-examination provided us with the memoirs of the expeasant Restif de la Bretonne. The picaresque tradition produced the recollections of Jamerey-Duval, an obscure vagabond who tramped for many years through the regions of Champagne, Burgundy, and Lorraine.

In the s in Languedoc, France, a rich peasant named Martin Guerre left his wife, child and property and was not heard from for eight years. Upon returning, Guerre lived in relative marital bliss with his wife Bertrande, until three years later when Bertrande declared that she had been tricked by an imposter and brought her purportedly fraudulent husband to court. The case garnered so much attention that it was referred to the high court in Toulouse.
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THIS is, as they say, a true story. In a young peasant named Martin Guerre disappeared from the small village of Artigat in the foothills of the Pyrenees in southwestern France. He left behind his wife of seven years, Bertrande de Rols, a young son, his parents and other members of a large, comparatively prosperous family. All had not been going well for Martin, who seems to have been something of a misfit and a joke. He was able to consummate his marriage only after the village priest had exorcised his ''demons. Eight years later, after his parents had died, Martin Guerre returned to Artigat to reclaim his wife and property.

Thank you! A scholarly speculative reconstruction of a celebrated episode from 16th-century Languedoc that shapes a mass of dusty archival records into a relaxed, fast-paced, and charming narrative. That work in turn drove her to do the minute, exacting research that resulted in this fine little book. Martin Guerre was a peasant of Basque origins who married Bertrande de Vols in the village of Artigat in Both bride and groom were well-to-do and very young, perhaps 12 and 14 respectively. After more than eight years of impotence, Martin succeeded in consummating the marriage and begetting a son. Not long after that he fell out with his father committing the unpardonable act, for a Basque, of stealing grain from the older man and then suddenly disappeared.

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