09 September 2008

The War of the Three Henries (1584-88) - Part 1

To avoid confusion, a quick note on the Henris involved. There's far more that could be said about each of them, of course, but what follows is a quick summary of their lives up to 1584: Henri de Guise (born 1550)

This Henri (hereafter referred to as "de Guise" to avoid confusion) was born to Francis de Guise, one of the uncles of Marie Stuart (Mary I of Scotland). A very zealous Catholic, de Guise was one of the instigators and leaders of the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, and leader of the Catholic League.[1] He was not what would be considered a terribly nice man -- a number of witnesses report him positively rejoicing in the slaughter of Huguenots.

He was, nonetheless, considered something of a hero to Paris, and his decisiveness, masculine virtues, and military ability were often compared quite favourably to those of Henri de Valois.

Henri de Valois (born 1551)

Although in his youth regarded as the best of Henri II and Catherine d'Medici's sons, this Henri (henceforth referred to as "de Valois" [2]), and was elected King of Poland in 1573. The sister to the previous king, Anna Jagiellon, had strongly influenced the Polish-Lithuanian parliament to elect Henri, with the understanding that they would be married thereafter in order to legitimise his reign. Less than a year after his election as King of Poland, however, Henri secretly left Poland, abandoning that throne in favour of assuming the French throne after his brother's death. Shortly thereafter, Anna herself was elected King of Poland.[3]

On his return, Henri began to indulge more prominently in rather irritating and politically destructive habits. Unlike the preceeding monarchs, Henri chose for his closest circle of courtiers sons of lesser noblility who became noted for their effeminate appearance and irksomely high-handed manners to the rest of the nobility. Indeed, the two so-called arch-mignons, Epernon and Joyeuse, recieved such extravagant patronage from the king that they in turn were were able to offer their followers and family positions lucrative enough to put them on par with far more established, older families.

This sort of patronage may not have been seen as quite as much of a threat, had France been in a more stable situation. Kings before de Valois had waged expensive wars in Italy, civil disorder and war over religion was a constant financial drain, and to make matters worse, and the seemingly arbitrary promotion of men seen as upstarts only accellerated popular disenchantment with the king.

Just as important was the king's inability to produce an heir. Despite hopes that his "powder will catch fire", the lack of a dauphin cast increasingly accusative doubts over de Valois' symbolic and literal potency as king.[4] Indeed, especially in light of the king's rather inappropriate penchant for cross-dressing and surrounding himself with courtiers he seemed to love overmuch, it was an easy connection to make: just as the mignons had usurped the rightful place of the nobility in the Valois court, so too might they be usurping the rightful place of the queen consort herself in his bed.[5] A poem composed after the amusingly named Duel of the Mignons suggests the level of contempt had for

Quelus not knowing how
To take men from the front;
If he'd taken Bussy from behind,
He'd really have stuffed it to him.

It was not a far step to insinuate that the mignon's misappropriation of royal favour might well be mirrored by their usurption of his most immediate reproductive duty. The lavish gifts and favours the king bestowed were unnatural -- and this was expounded on by the factions who had a decided interest in representing the king as unfit, weak, and in need of rather firm guidance.

Cue the de Guises -- who proved quite apt at fanning the rumours of sexual deviancy and royal impotency, particularly in light of the King's inability to produce an heir.

Henri de Navarre (born 1553)

This Henri (henceforth de Navarre) became Henri III of Navarre, later Henri IV of France. Navarre, under this Henri's grandfather, Henri II (not to be confused with Henri II of France), was remarkably tolerant of the new Protestant religion -- due, in large part, to the effort of Henri II (of Navarre)'s wife, Marguerite.[6] Under his grandfather's insistence, the young prince spent a good part of his youth in close contact with the "ordinary" people of his realm -- and seems to have been well-loved and admired by his subjects for his bravery, good manners, and intelligence.

Henri de Navarre's mother, Jeanne, became a staunch Huguenot in the first year of her reign, eventually banning Catholicism altogether from Navarre. Under her reign, Navarre provided military support to the Protestants in France during the Wars of Religion, which earned her son a great deal of respect and loyalty from the French Huguenots, and suspicion from the Catholics.

After the St Bartholomew's day massacre, Henri de Navarre was kept at the French court. At this point, the heir to the French throne was still the youngest Valois son of Henri II and Catherine d'Medici -- Francis, duke of Alençon and Anjou. Francis was disliked by his brother, and seems to have found common cause with de Navarre, as they both wished to see an end to the religious wars, and both were kept close at court and under suspicion of the King.[7] When Francis died in 1584 of malaria, de Navarre was the heir presumptive.


[1] Sort of an Early Modern French version of the Southern Baptist League. Hobbies include: making pamphlets, spreading rumours, and crediting natural disasters, famines, etc. with being God's Special Way Of Punishing His Faithful For Permitting The Continued Existence Of Heretics Among Them.

[2] I chose not to refer to him as Henri III of France because it is long and awkward to type, and shortening it to Henri III opens the door to all manner of confusion with Henri de Navarre, who (before taking the French throne) was Henri III of Navarre, but became Henri IV of France. Who says history is confusing?

[3] The Holy Roman Emperor Maximillian II was given a brief stint on the Polish throne before Anna -- mostly to spite the man who would later become her husband, Stefan Báthory. After only four days, Maximillian's election was contested, and he left Poland with even greater haste than that demonstrated by de Valois.

[4] to Villeroy (c 1586?), BN MS n. a. f. 1245, fol. 148.

[5] Admittedly, he usually had the excuse of a masquarade or ball, and royal cross-dressing wasn't _entirely_ without precident as an amusing joke to play on one's courtiers. That it was remarked upon with disapproval by his contemporaries, however, suggests that even if not indicative of sexual identity and preference, it was nonetheless a social abrasion he could ill-afford.

[6] This Marguerite (not to be confused with her grandson's wife, also named Marguerite) was the sister of Francis I of France, and by all accounts a truly fascinating woman. Like her husband and grandson, she would walk through the streets of Navarre unescorted by guards or nobles, and seems to have taken a genuine interest in trying to help relieve the daily needs and concerns of the (gasp common!) people she ruled. Both she and Henri II financed poor students, wrote plays and poetry, provided a safe-haven for protestants fleeing her brother's oppressive measures in France, and generally ruled Navarre as the embodiment of humanist and Renaissance ideals.

[7] Largely for his unfortunate habit of rebelling and scheming against his elder brother and king, and over-friendliness with Elizabeth I of England, with whom he had a rather prolonged and seemingly intense courtship.

04 September 2008

You Know You're In Trouble When

I ask you, what could a woman do, left by the death of her husband with five little children on her arms, and two families of France who were thinking of grasping the crown—our own [the Bourbons] and the Guises? Was she not compelled to play strange parts to deceive first one and then the other, in order to guard, as she did, her sons, who successively reigned through the wise conduct of that shrewd woman? I am surprised that she never did worse. (Henri IV, on Catherine d'Medici)

To understand the religious tensions facing Henri IV on his ascention to the throne of France, it is important to consider the strife that had evolved between the political and religious factions. For much of his reign, Francis I treated the early Protestant movement with tolerance. It was quite politically useful, as it caused tensions for and between two of his chief rivals, Henry VIII of England and Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor. Unfortunately, religious zealots in 1534 breached security to pin an anti-Catholic pamphlet to the door to the king's own bedchamber during the Affaire des Placards.[1] Responding to the affair as a conspiracy and affront to royal dignity and his own authority, Francis withdrew his protection, and Protestants were jailed, exiled and executed -- the so-called Chambre Ardente was established as a special judiciary to try heretics. When Francis died in 1547, his son and heir Henri II proved an apt successor in this regard.

The Edict of Chateaubriand (1551) declared that previous measures against heretics (read, Huguenots) had proven ineffective. It placed responsibility for finding and trying heretics on both civil and religious courts; confiscated the lands and property of those protestants who had already fled France; banned any non-approved books; forbade the public discussion of religion; and, most dangerously, encouraged people to turn on their neighbours by granting both immunity and one-third of property seized to informers. Six years later, the Edict of Compiègne applied the death penalty, and added to the earlier list of offenses such seditious activities as going to Geneva; having books published in Geneva; blasphemy against images; and participating in public _or_ private (non-Catholic) religious gatherings.

Midway through 1559, however, Henri II was killed in a joust by a shattered lance, leaving France under the regency of Catherine d'Medici, his wife and queen consort.

Henri II's first successor was his son Francis II, who was said to be so weak at his coronation that his crown had to be held in place by the nobles serving him. His wife's uncle, Francis de Guise, is worth mentioning for his son, who would later play a pivotal role in the War of the Three Henries.

Catherine continued her regency on the ascention of her next son, Charles IX (he was only ten years old at the time of his coronation). The retainers of the above-mentioned Duke of Guise provoked a renewal in military hostilities between Protestants and Catholics, and the first ten years of Charles' reign were marked by the seizure of many French cities by foreign-sponsored Protestant troops.

Catherine had made arrangements to marry her daughter, the princess Marguerite de Valois to the protestant Henri of Bourbon, prince of Navarre. Although this sounds simple enough, and like an (at least nominal) attempt to reconcile religious differences, there were several problems with the match:

  • Henri of Bourbon's mother, Jeanne d'Albret (Jeanne III of Navarre) was a particularly staunch and stubborn Protestant (read, zealot). After adopting Calvinism as the official religion of Navarre , she banished priests and nuns, burned churches and banned Catholic rituals from Navarre. In 1567, both she and Henri went to La Rochelle to support the (rebelling) city against royal (French) troops. She vehmently opposed the marriage of her son to the Catholic princess, but conveniently died two months before the marriage occurred, spurring rumours among both Catholics and Protestants that Catherine had arranged for her to be poisoned with perfumed gloves.
  • Marguerite was very much interested in Henri, and was possibly even his lover prior to the marriage. Except...it was the wrong Henri. Her dead brother Francis (II, King of France)'s uncle Francis (of Guise) had a son who was ALSO named Henri. And lots of ambition toward the French throne. To further complicate things, there was ANOTHER Henri involved in all this, Marguerite's brother (and heir to the current king, Charles IX). All three Henris were born within three years of each other: Henri de Guise (born 1550), Henri de Valois (born 1551) and Henri de Navarre (born 1553).
  • The Parlement of Paris, the Pope, and King Philip II of Spain all opposed the match. Paris was violently anti-Protestant. And, incidentally, full of nobles who weren't exactly keen on a Protestant foreigner being _quite_ that close to the throne, especially since Catherine's sons hadn't proven themselves overly gifted in remaining alive or siring legitimate heirs.

Predictably enough, the bridegroom came escorted by a number of his friends -- high-ranking Protestant nobles, content at the marriage that was planned and reassured by the 1570 Peace of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, which (theoretically) had ended hostilities between the two factions. Four days after the marriage, an assassin made an attempt on the life of one of the leading admirals (a Huguenot) in France. Who just happened, at the time, to have an army of about four thousand men waiting out the city. To further complicate matters, the shot was fired from a house owned by the de Guises.

The king went to visit Coligny (the admiral injured) with his court, promising that the culprits would be found and punished. By the night of the 23rd of August, Catherine and Charles IX met, and contemporary accounts seem to agree that the decision was made to destroy the Huguenots before they would have time to leave the city and retaliate for the admiral's life. Henri (of Guise) was put in charge of the soldiers who would lead the purge. Widely credited to Charles is the exclaimation "By God's death, since you think it is proper to kill the admiral, I consent; but (kill) all the Huguenots in Paris as well in order that there remain not one to reproach me afterwards. Give the orders at once."[2]

Coligny was murdered, successfully this time, by de Guise and his followers. An account of the time reports:

Meanwhile the conspirators; having burst through the door of the chamber, entered, and when Besme, sword in hand, had demanded of Coligny, who stood near the door, "Are you Coligny ?" Coligny replied, "Yes, I am he," with fearless countenance. "But you, young man, respect these white hairs. What is it you would do? You cannot shorten by many days this life of mine." As he spoke, Besme gave him a sword thrust through the body, and having withdrawn his sword, another thrust in the mouth, by which his face was disfigured. So Coligny fell, killed with many thrusts. Others have written that Coligny in dying pronounced as though in anger these words: "Would that I might at least die at the hands of a soldier and not of a valet." But Attin, one of the murderers, has reported as I have written, and added that he never saw any one less afraid in so great a peril, nor die more steadfastly.

Then the duke of Guise inquired of Besme from the courtyard if the thing were done, and when Besme answered him that it was, the duke replied that the Chevalier d'Angouleme was unable to believe it unless he saw it; and at the same time that he made the inquiry they threw the body through the window into the courtyard, disfigured as it was with blood. When the Chevalier d'Angouleme, who could scarcely believe his eyes, had wiped away with a cloth the blood which overran the face and finally had recognized him, some say that he spurned the body with his foot. However this may be, when he left the house with his followers he said: "Cheer up, my friends! Let us do thoroughly that which we have begun. The king commands it." He frequently repeated these words, and as soon as they had caused the bell of the palace clock to ring, on every side arose the cry, "To arms !" and the people ran to the house of Coligny. After his body had been treated to all sorts of insults, they threw it into a neighboring stable, and finally cut off his head, which they sent to Rome. They also shamefully mutilated him, and dragged his body through the streets to the bank of the Seine, a thing which he had formerly almost prophesied, although he did not think of anything like this.

As some children were in the act of throwing the body into the river, it was dragged out and placed upon the gibbet of Montfaucon, where it hung by the feet in chains of iron; and then they built a fire beneath, by which he was burned without being consumed; so that he was, so to speak, tortured with all the elements, since he was killed upon the earth, thrown into the water, placed upon the fire, and finally put to hang in the air. After he had served for several days as a spectacle to gratify the hate of many and arouse the just indignation of many others, who reckoned that this fury of the people would cost the king and France many a sorrowful day, Francois de Montmorency, who was nearly related to the dead man, and still more his friend, and who moreover had escaped the danger in time, had him taken by night from the gibbet by trusty men and carried to Chantilly, where he was buried in the chapel.[3]

The rioting and murder spread through Paris, already tense because of the wedding and a grain shortage earlier that year, and left three thousand Huguenots dead. On the second day of the massacre (August 25), Charles IX issued an order for the killing to stop, but instead it continued, spreading out to the provinces. There are wildly varying accounts of just how many were murdered through this period, though most accepted estimates range in the tens of thousands. Even the English ambassador had a hard time escaping, and when reports of the massacre spread, a renowned contemporary bastion of human rights and civil propriety in Russia wrote to Charles IX to condemn the "excessive cruelty" of the act.[4]

By the 29th of September, things were still tense enough in Paris that, although protected by the crown, on the 29th of September, Henri of Navarre pretended to convert, then was kept confined by the crown until early 1576, when he escaped and renounced Catholicism.[5]

Meanwhile, Charles IX, recognising his nation's need for a strong and competent leader, fell to alternately blaming his mother for the massacre, and bragging about it. His tuberculosis worstened, and by May 1574 he was on his death bed. He had Henri (of Navarre) brought to him, claiming:

"Brother, you are losing a good friend. Had I believed all that I was told, you would not be alive. But I always loved you...I trust you alone to look after my wife and daughter. Pray God for me. Farewell."[6]

On his death, his brother Henri (now elected King of Poland, and the same gallant who described Elizabeth I of England as "a public whore" during their [surprisingly] failed marriage negotiations) was summoned back to France to take the crown.

Next installment: The War of the Henris

[1] It is a shame that religious zeal for handing out pamphlets did not learn from this example.
[2] Guizot, The History of France, (London, 1887) Vol.III, , 296
[3] From De Thou, Histoire des choses arrivees de son temps, (Paris, 1659), 658 sqq, in J.H. Robinson, 2 vols. (Boston: Ginn, 1906), 2:180-183. Scanned by Brian Cheek, Hanover College, November 12, 1995.
[4] Ivan the Terrible. It's usually a bad sign, when you get criticised this way by the same despotic monarch who created the oprichniki, instituted serfdom, regularly ordered his soldiers to massacre his own cities and towns for fun, beat up his (pregnant) daugher-in-law and murdered his son.
[5] Ironically, "They discussed for some time whether they should make an exception of the king of Navarre and the prince of Condé. All agreed that the king of Navarre should be spared by reason of the royal dignity and the new alliance." [2]
[6] Guizot, The History of France, (London, 1887) Vol.III, 415.

28 August 2008

Node: Military Transformation

Reading: Women and Military Institutions in Early Modern Europe: A Reconnaissance Barton C. Hacker Source: Signs, Vol. 6, No. 4 (Summer, 1981), pp. 643-671 Published by: The University of Chicago Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3173736 This was definitely a worthwhile article, less for what it contained, and more for the ideas I had while reading it. It focusses a great deal on English, American and (to some degree) Austrian experiences, but the approach is interesting. Essentially, it's a discussion of the lives and social status of the women who followed armies around. There's a lot of reference to other works (which are probably worth looking up later) and not a lot of primary sources, so I'm not entirely sure yet how legitimate some of the figures quoted are (the claims that up to 50% of an army, as counted, might be made up by camp followers seems suspicious). Some interesting thoughts, and I'll put in a brief summary (again, in rough note form, since I have to leave soon) of what I found relevant: There were, of course, any number of morally legitimate reasons a woman might choose to follow an army. Wives might well follow husbands, and augment (unreliable) promises of pay by performing menial tasks such as cooking, laundering, mending and firewood-gathering. Others seem to have done a brisk trade in the supply of luxury goods like tobacco and alcohol. Some simply had no place better to be, or saw fit to provide nursing, such as it was, to friends and family. Even simple things like helping to relieve burden by carrying things were percieved as helpful, valuable contributions -- and certainly would have left men in less weary shape for battle. And of course, others sold themselves as prostitutes -- though not (Hacker suggests) as many as historical assumption (and contemporary prejudice) suggests. It would be interesting to see if this social accusation and assumption is at any way linked to the efforts to encourage self-sufficiency in soldiers. Sancho de Londono, in Discours sur laforme et maniere qu'on devroit user, pour reduire la discipline militaire a meilleur et son ancien estate [(1589) , link is spanish, ] argues for the tolerance of camp prostitution as a means of preventing an army of men from committing crimes against local populations. Which makes sense -- this isn't an issue that any current army can honestly claim to have solved -- but the fact that it's being discussed at all suggests that it is an issue AND that there were those who felt otherwise. Find them :) Look for information about Gustavus Adolphus on his military codes surrounding camp followers for other contemporary examples -- it's alluded in the article that he was fairly stringent on their expected roles and treatment, but the source for this wasn't overly telling. Sir James Turner (1615-1686, Scottish soldier and military writer): As woman was created to be a helper to man, so women are great helpers to armies, to their husbands, especially those of the lower condition, neither should they be rashly banisht out of armies; sent away they may be sometimes for weighty considerations: they provide, buy and dress their husband's meat, when their husbands are on duty or newly come from it; they bring in fewel for fire; a souldier's wife may be helpful to others, and gain money to her husband and herself; especially they are useful in camp and leaguers, being permitted (which should not be refused them) to go some miles from the camp to buy victuals and other necessaries. [uncited in the article, go find] Check to see if/when custom of being granted permission to marry is implemented in France c. 1650 and any limits on the number of followers a company was allowed. Nicolas Guerard (fl. 1680-1719) titled Soldats en arreste et sur la cheval de bois (engraving of two people (one, female) being punished on the wooden horse in the barrack yard) -- see if his engravings can be tracked down. (Gallica has quite a few of his engravings -- haven't had time to search yet) In 1840: French army barred army wives from serving as vivandieres, who were now issued uniforms and assigned regular duties -- out of time period certainly, but interesting bookend. Other possible routes to explore with this include: Filles du Roi and settlement in Quebec, Haiti and Louisiana (1663 - 1673?) and other examples of this policy (if any, and where/how it developed) Hmm. Been reading a bit about the Filles du Roi (I haven't studied them before, so want general knowledge). Interesting demographics (of an approximate 700 to Canada) : "After l'Ile-de-France, the provinces contributing most to the movement are: Normandy, with 120 girls, Aunis, le Poitou, Champagne, Picardy, Orléans, and Beauce. Only Alsace, Dauphiné, Provence, Languedoc, Roussillon, Béarn, Gascony and the county of Foix did not participate. " (http://www.civilization.ca/vmnf/popul/filles/18-en.htm, very basic site) I am eyeing the demographics from Normandy with a very thoughtful eye to the reading on Normandy customary law re. females. I wonder if that number is out of line for population distribution, and (if so) if there's any other factors that may have made this seem like a good and timely choice. Hmm. In today's fun day of odd web searches, this look utterly tangental and indulgent of the part of me that likes curious things: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Dieu-Le-Veut

26 August 2008

Directions - Domestic Abuse

structuring notes: A few places to start looking. Am inclined to divide female participation in violence as functions of economics (violence dealing with prostitution, domestic violence over acquisition and distribution), reproduction (infanticide, rape and infidelity), and religion (look into this later, not sure how relevant witchcraft really is in France during this period, though Huguenot/Catholic conflicts may provide possible direction)...definitely going to fall off topic, but as a node for future reference. Today's reading: Women before the Bench: Female Litigants in Early Modern Normandy (Zoë A. Schneider) Focussing primarily on the Norman experience, and a good outline on the strikingly disenfranchising economic restrictions placed on women. Not of particular usefulness at the moment, but interesting as a legal extreme. Of note: Wives explicitly may not sue husbands for battery unless he gouges out her eye or breaks her arm. (Ancien coustumier de Normandie, c. 1280) When reformed, the specifics are taken out but general principle still holds that “A wife may render a complaint to Justice for an injury made to her person, and pursue it even if she is disavowed by her husband, as long as the injury is atrocious.” (Coutume de Normandie, Art. 543, 1583) Would be interesting to see if there are cases of this being upheld -- and which situations (if any) are considered atrocious. Early Modern Perspectives on the Long History of Domestic Violence: The Case of Seventeenth-Century France (Julie Hardwick) Lots of potential here. Discusses the early modern distinction between corrective and abusive domestic violence within France and court-granted separations of person and property. She focusses a bit on the idea of class in motivating domestic violence -- economic motivations for lower classes, and reproductive motivations for higher. Likewise, judicial redress seems to have been sought more by lower classes (she suggests this is prestige-motivated, but it could be worth pursuing the possibility that courts were/were percieved to be more sympathetic to economic issues) It's mentioned that one fifth of the complaints are of men against their wives, but no examples are given -- investigate? The economic causes are interesting from a social level. Lower classes of men and women both are responsible for family income -- and in many of the cases Hardwick cites, it seems that it is the woman who is the principle bringer (and dispenser) of income (lineage properties as an example). Most of these cases that she cites follow the general theme of man-wants-money-for-socialising -> woman-refuses-or-criticises -> violence. Her suggestion through the work seems to be that lower class women had an overall easier time of coping with domestic violence -- certainly in terms of seeking redress and help. The densely packed living situations she alludes to, and instances of neighbours intervening and providing testimony, shelter and social pressure all were certainly more prevalent in lower castes than higher. While the nature of domestic violence is such that a true estimation of its frequency is nearly important, she does draw a good line between what was considered acceptable (ie, "rational" corrective violence, delivered upon provocation [verbal or otherwise] and without excessive anger. And, not surprisingly, social intolerance for any sort of violence when a woman is pregnant is far higher than when not) “The woman has not been formed from the foot of the man, but from one of his sides in order to show that she is a companion, not a slave.” (2121 ADR BP3985, folder 1654, February 10, 1654, and 1717 ADR BP5985, folder 1653, January 30, 1653) seems to have been popularly upheld -- another royal prosecutor seems to feel that at while light correction (? Define this.) are considered within a husband's authority, it is not a right that extends to "violence". There seems to have been an effort to judge each case on its merits and provocation, rather than developing a codified system of what was considered acceptable and beyond civility. Causing visible physical injury seems to be a line between correction and abuse. Cuts, black eyes, bruises, torn clothing or disheveled appearance are all cited repeatedly by witnesses, and instances of community intervention seem common -- she offers many examples of this. More interestingly, the impetus for secrecy seems to be far more the domain of the abuser vs the abused than in current society -- being the subject of a husband's violence does not seem to have the strong overtones of humiliation (at least, to the lower classes) to the wife, but rather the social shame seems to belong exclusively to the husband (unless, of course, provocation is considered a mitigating factor) Help seems to have been offered cross-class, from a non-legal point of vioew. She cites the case of Louise Desvignes: Over a period of fifteen years, "neighbors, family members, a doctor, a marquise, “several ladies of high rank,” and her parish priest all offered various kinds of help and mediation." (6259 ADLA B5833, July 31, 1680.60 ADR BP4045, June 2, 1720.61 ADR BP3985, folder 1641, December 21, 1641.62 ADR BP3984, folder 1682, September 22, 1682, and January 9, 1683.) More instances of higher class women (and perhaps men/religion) intervening are mentioned, and might be worth following up on. Allegations of sexual misconduct seem to be far more detailed (and cited) in higher-class society. This may be the lack of economic motivation -- social preoccupation with being seen as the head of the household -- or simply less fear of social censure. The example of Dame Anne Raoul and her husband Louis Delaroche is an extreme example of this -- in front of their staff, witnesses testify that they saw her slapped, kicked, locked in a small room for weeks with only bread and water, and quite abusively raped in a vinyard in front of fifteen or sixteen peasants. Fear (one assumes) and obedience to his orders even involves the servants in the abuse -- holding and tying her down to be beaten at his orders. To a friend, the poor woman confides (after just being slapped by her husband) that "he had “mistreated” her several times but that “she had not wanted to complain for fear of scandal.” When slapped in front of another woman, her friend's only response was to tell the husband that “if he did that in fun, it was too hard and if he meant to hurt her he had succeeded.” (ADLA B5842, May 31, 1690.) Should see if there's more to support this suggestion, or if it is a (relatively) isolated/exceptional incident, though the husband's lack of secrecy, and the complacency of both servants and friends suggests it is not. Further Reading to track down: B. C. Hacker, "Women and Military Institutions in Early Modern Europe: A Reconnaissance", (Signs, on jstor) Natalie Zemon Davis, Fiction in the Archives: Pardon Tales and Their Tellers in Sixteenth-Century France "Courting Families: Litigation and the Political Economies of Daily Life in Early Modern France" Julius Ruff, Violence in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge, 2001) Merry Wiesner, Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe, 2nd ed. (Cambridge,2000) Olwyn Hufton, The Prospect before Her: A History of Women in Western Europe, 1500–1800 (New York, 1996) Kristen B. Neuschel, “Noblewomen and War in Sixteenth-Century France,” Changing Identities in Early Modern France, ed. Michael Wolfe (Durham, NC, 1996) Frances Dolan, “Household Chastisements: Gender, Authority, and ‘Domestic Violence,’” in Renaissance Culture and the Everyday, ed. Patricia Fumerton and Simon Hunt (Philadelphia, 1999) Farr, “Pure and Disciplined Body.” Farr, Hands of Honor Julie Hardwick, The Practice of Patriarchy:Gender and the Politics of Household Authority in Early Modern France (UniversityPark, PA, 1998)

25 August 2008


Barring lack of a supervisor, I'm going to go with the violence topic. It has more potential and leaves me less stereotyped. Or possibly feeling less stereotyped. I spent the day thinking about the nature of biographical writing, and decided it's not something I'd be as good at. And if I'm doing a masters/doctorate, I want it to be my best work possible.

Decisions, decisions

So, in good news today, I heard back from another professor and it looks like the university has recently hired a specialist in the French Revolution and have a few French modernists not listed on the website (yet). This is particularly of note since the other possible thesis topic I'm considering is an exploration of Pauline Bonaparte -- Napoleon's younger, and slightly less-than-respectable sister. This has the decided bonus of opening up another possibility for me... ...and the setback of introducing another decision after I'd pretty much resolved on the ethics of violence topic. I suppose the decision is really a matter of what sort of history I want to get into -- and get a name for. The violence topic is far more macro-history: looking at sweeping cultural changes and trends, and how they filter down to a more personal level. I know already that this is a sort of history I'm very good at writing and researching: it has echoes of what I did in my baccelaurate for Robson, on a different subject, but the same general approach. I can see the path I want to follow -- not all the details along the way, of course, but I have a general idea formulating that I think is both solid and original without crossing into the rather murky uncomfortableness of revisionist history, and I think it definitely opens the way to a rather solid founding in the place where military and cultural history intersect. Which I find immensely interesting and could definitely devote my life to the subject: there's certainly no lack of things to research and paw over academically. The only hesitation I have in this topic is that some of the ground I'll be covering is well-trodden and established -- and while the approach I take is (I think) innovative, I'm hardly expecting to discover anything frightfully new or groundbreaking, though there is something to be said for lending new perspective. Pulling 125-150 pages out of this won't be any sort of difficulty at all -- nor will be defending my conclusions. Pauline Bonaparte is, however, something quite considerably different. I've not really put a lot of thought into biographical writing, and it strikes me as the sort of thing fraught with peril. How presumptuous it is, to cut into another person's life with the cold scalpel of historical analysis, tear it apart, expose things meant to be private to postulation and inference, and then neatly sew it back up with a neat conclusion that makes it seem as if it were all planned, all representative of deep political currents and trends, all indicative of a solid, consistent personality. And yet, for a thesis, that is exactly what needs to be done, though perhaps not quite so harshly, because not to analyse, not to postulate or conclude, is simply a regurgitation of events. The opposite difficulty, of course, is leaning too far the other way -- turning the world in which she lived into a splendid backdrop against which she is the principle actress, being too sympathetic, identifying too much and turning the lot into a rather bad collision of historical research with historical romance. Given Pauline's notorious reputation for boudoir intrigue, and the alternately scandalous and scandalised claims made against her by contemporaries, even the most clinical treatment will resonate with elements more appropriate to popular film than serious history. Which raises another problem: As a) a woman b) a woman married to another woman and c) a woman married to another woman writing about a historical figure renowned for her sexuality and flouting of convention it is almost inevitable that I will labeled a feminist historian. Which is hardly true (or a bad thing, in itself), it rather depends on the definition of feminist one happens to be using. Gender is undeniably a factor in social expectation and identity, but I think that the habit of many feminist historians (not all, of course) of rigorously working to reclaim the voice and identity of every female in history, while simultaneously reducing the opinions and actions of that great humbug "male dominated society" to nothing more than gender-influenced social robotics is disingenuous and ultimately flawed logic. It is no more appropriate to say "women played a passive role through most of history, because of their natural sexual receptiveness, they are meant and created by nature to be passive recipients of male ideas, male actions, and male society" than it is to suggest that the predominance of war and violence through history is the direct result of the shape and intended function of masculine genitalia. I far prefer the term equalist as a historian. If I write about Pauline, regardless of what I say, there is a very good chance of getting pigeon-holed this way. That said, Pauline is a very promising subject in that no one seems to have written seriously about her (except to express shock or admiration of her sexual habits), there seems to be plenty of primary sources to get into (letters, memoires, etc), and near-Byzantine levels of political agenda to sort out, which sounds both challenging and fun. I can certainly drag in some cultural history -- Corsican vs French vs Italian sounds likely -- and I think the primary trick in writing it will be to avoid being overly narrative and focus on analysis (with events as springboards). Hmm. Such joyous choice!

20 August 2008


Not nearly done. Will edit as I go. Comments welcome, of course.

The Etiquette of Violence in Early Modern France

Themes to explore (August 20, 2008)

In my thesis, I will explore how the shift in ideas about power influenced the perception and etiquette surrounding violent acts in Early Modern France. I will discuss how this shift occurred primarily as the result of philosophical and technological advances, and how it influenced social identity and values.

Violence itself is a tricky subject. For the purposes of this thesis, I will focus on three particular manifestations, though they are by no means exclusive to each other:

  1. Personal: The sort of violence that takes place on an individual level, but that has no broader social rammifications attached to the outcome. For the purposes of this discussion, it will refer only to violence occurring between members of similar social and economic status, as the dimension cast by such interactions between classes might be considered a far better expression of social violence.
  2. Social: The sort of violence occuring as the result of social factors, or for social change/benefit. While most sorts of crime might be classed as personal violence, the social punishments attached to the act would fall under this purview. Similarly, religious conflict could be classed as social violence, saving only that undertaken directly by, or at the orders of, the state. In general, this might be considered to be the sort of violence undertaken by otherwise unorganised groups of individuals, with the intent of defending or attacking established convention.
  3. Political: Violence undertaken in the name of, or for the benefit of, the state. Assassination, war, and the state-sponsored religious conflicts that occurred through this period might all be considered prime examples of political violence.

Approaches (August 21, 2008)

Outside Influences: Castiglione and Machiavelli

The Italian Wars (1494-1559) resulted in a great deal of cultural exchange between France and Italy. I will explore how the introduction to Italian thought, culture and technology began to influence French ideas about the concept of power -- and how several factors encouraged a change in the expression of power, both social and political, from a function of strength to one of flexibility and adaptation. This idea is echoed not only in politics, but also in the change in popular weapons (the heavier broadsword to the lighter, more flexible epee and, eventually, that great equaliser, the pistol); the development of faster, more flexible troop types (dragoons, hussars, and light field artillery), organisation and tactics; and even to a gradual redefinition of the concept of "honneur" itself, from a measure of title and wealth to an assessment of personal morality and quality. All in all, the continual reinforcement of the idea that focus, subtlety, position and speed are of greater importance and merit than overt displays of bulk and might dramatically changed the way that violence was viewed.

The Development of the Modern Army

It is during this period that the idea of a modern army is developed in France. The transition between a military as a company of individuals ranked by prowess and social status, to a military based on an internal hierarchy characterised by conformity and order was fundamental to the gradual redefinition of military etiquette and expectation. This shift was further influenced by the wide-scale implementation of consistent uniforms, drill, and merit-based rank -- and evolved into an understanding of (and expectations for) violence that gradually was emulated by the civilian classes.

With the dramatic increase in military size through the period, the political etiquette of force also bears examination. Expectations of behaviour -- both within and without one's own borders -- changed as a result of scale through this period. An examination of the enforcement of policies on looting, foraging, and behaviour to the civilian populace within occupied territory (whether domestic, foreign or colonial) offer insight into how the idea of the civilised army developed.

The potential for social advancement through this adoption of military etiquette and fierceness ought not be underestimated. Within the paradigm of the early modern army -- unnecessarily regimented and overly uniform, by previous standards -- the ability to follow commands and execute orders became more valued than personal feats of military prowess. As more and more men from the lower classes were integrated into the structure of the new army, the concept of rank became superimposed over the existing social differences -- early modern tactics depended more on the ability of its soldiers to work together as a cohesive unit, than as an exemplary group of individuals working to distinguish themselves. The military became at once less personal, and more social -- and, just as the currency of early modern warfare became adaptability and position, so too did the currency of the men within the military become the reputation they carried with each other, and their ability to correctly establish and defend their place within the internal order.

Many of the concepts developed within the military structure filtered out to the general population. The the demographic shift in social class within the military through the early modern period suggests that the potential for social advancement was not overlooked. Furthermore, the integration of military manners and etiquette into civilian life allowed for a blurring of the lines between the noblesse de robe and the noblesse d'epee that would not otherwise have been possible.

The Duel

The duel is the classic example of formalised personal violence. Very specific rules and expectations evolved through this time period, serving to elevated the act of personal revenge and murder to a ritualised, socially admired convention. Furthermore, despite numerous initiatives to ban (or at least limit) the pervasiveness of duelling became ingrained in French culture and identity through the period.

But why France? The social destructiveness of duelling was certainly recognised by many French polititians and philosophers through the period, yet it persisted long after the practice fell out of favour and acceptance elsewhere in the world. Attributing this phenomenon to something as wooly as national character and, as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would put it, the "blend of the many high-spirited nations which go to make up the French people" seems a bit lacking. The argument that the duel as a social expression of masculinity might well account for its acceptance, but certainly not the longevity or raging popularity it enjoyed in France long after expiring elsewhere.

Francis I - Henry IV? Investigate.

overview, but as a political form of violence -- military structure as personal/social -- integrate notes here

Crime and Punishment

not done but will likely be about :

  • assassination and murder
  • executions
  • domestic violence/rape
  • civil violence
  • change in the notion of blood as washing away sin/guilt -- a negation of any charge
  • affirmations of the courts for crimes of a husband against wife, lover or mistress

Gender roles/expectation (August 25, 2008)

That approach is certainly one I've been considering of late -- I'm noticing (in particular regarding the duel/honour branch mentioned above, it's what I've been doing the most recent reading on and is thus quite fresh in my mind) that ideas about male identity in this period are painted with a rather broad brush -- far more generalised statements seem to be implied than I would like to think many historians would make about women. I think that the way gender identity changes with socio-economic class, occupation, and identity is quite fascinating, and could certainly see focussing in on this interaction. In particular, my primary interest in this would be exploring the change in social expectation felt by the soldier and criminal classes -- as "outsiders" to regular society, their perspective (and indeed, the way they're viewed) is an interesting counterpoint to social norms, and it is, at the base, etiquette and rule that makes the actions of one socially valuable, and the other socially reprehensible. By "soldier class", I don't mean just men. The change in military organisation and size in the 17th and 18th centuries resulted in two significant changes that I can see focusing on: the recruitment of a much larger body of men drawn from the lower classes, and the drill-based training geared to make men-at-war as self-sufficient as possible. Volunteer recruitment necessitated a level of prestige associated with 'wearing the uniform' (which also underwent tremendous redesign and definition as a reflection of this change in dignity). In short, the idea of self-sufficiency seems to have taken a more prominent role in the social definition of manhood, and attempted on some levels to relegate the idea of organised violence to an exclusively masculine sphere. The adjacent identity change afforded to women (whether wives, daughters, or camp followers) would be something I would expect to see reflected in the social correspondence and memoires among the literate military populace, as well as significant comment on their behaviour from the civilian population with which they were housed. Likewise, the popularity of social and etiquette manuals of the time (there seem to be many) offers a host of potential leads. I would suspect, in fact, that part of the change in opinion surrounding the common soldier was motivated because the economic benefit outweighed the inconveniences and occasional violent behaviour military integration can sometimes bring -- the huge industry created by a large army has obvious benefit to the middle classes, and, perhaps, the presence of soldiers discourages crime that would be considered more inconvenient -- both just speculations I'll keep in mind while researching, but possible conclusions that might be drawn nonetheless. Violence and ideas of etiquette associated with the criminal classes will, I imagine, be a little more elusive -- court records, correspondence and comment about them, certainly, but as it isn't generally a class associated with a high degree of literacy, I suspect that value I'll find will be more in the change in perception regarding violent crime through these sources. Accounts and details of executions, likewise are of interest -- the notion of state-controlled violence as suitable vengeance for breaking social expectation. Sexual violence, and the way that rape is defined, punished, and viewed as both an act of violence between members of the same social class, and as an act of violence between disparate social classes would also be a possible route I could see taking. The ways that both military and criminal classes are treated in popular literature, art, and music may also open some room for speculation, as all three tend to be reflections of the social climate in which they are created.

Leads to follow:

Sources mentioned that look like they might have what I'm after -- investigate and integrate as I go.
  • Masculinity and Male Codes of Honor in Modern France, by Robert A Nye
  • Denis Crouzet's "Les guerriers de Dieu" and Jean Nicolas' "La rébellion française".
  • Sport and Society in Modern France, by Richard Holt
  • The History of Manners, by Norbert Elias
  • Dueling for Equality: Masculine Honor and the Modern Politics of Dignity, by Mika LaVanque-Manty (found)
  • Pierre Brantôme
  • Duprat, Baron of Vitaux
  • Lord Herbert of Cherbury (English ambassador to the court of Louis XIII)
  • petticoated Chevalier d'Eon
  • Monsieur de Reuly
  • Caylus and D'Entragues
  • Montesquieu
  • Kant
  • code duello
  • The Duel: Its Rise and Fall in Early Modern France, by Francois Billacois
  • "The Sixteenth-Century Italian Duel" by Frank R. Bryson, 1938 - source of dueling codes. "Infanticide, Child Abandomnent and Female Honour in Nineteenth Century Corsica" by Stephen Wilson, in Compatative Studies in Society and HIstory 30, no. 4, Oct 1988 Carroll - Blood and Violence in Early Modern France
  • Kant - "the woman's honour: what the world says....her honour: what people say; not what they think." and that reputation for honour should not trump life save for soldiers and women (R,XV:481)
  • look up information on gascon manners, etiquette, and the claim that they influenced the french court
  • A seventeenth-century account of “The Female Duell, or the Maidens Combate,” attributed to Thomas Toll
  • scienza cavalleresca
  • "When Charles de Bourg found his wife Denise in bed with a certain M. de Precorbin, he killed her, and later explained to the court, 'I was like a savage beast; when someone attacks my honour, I am the sort of man who is able to defend himself'" -> acquited, with a reproach to M., who fled the scene half clothed for 'having cost Mme du Bourge her honour and then not defended her." (177, Nye)

19 August 2008

This amuses me

1836: Two duelling politicians from Lower Canada were lucky to have sensible seconds. Clément-Charles Sabrevois de Bleury, a member of the Lower Canadian Legislative Assembly, insulted fellow politician Charles-Ovide Perreault. Perreault then struck de Bleury, and a duel was set. Both men were determined to settle the matter with pistols, but their seconds came up with a unique solution. The two foes would clasp hands and de Bleury would say, "I am sorry to have insulted you" while at the same time Perreault would say, "I am sorry to have struck you." They would then reply in unison, "I accept your apology." The tactic worked, and the situation was resolved without injury. Such a Canadian solution. source: Wikipedia