The Middle Ages are often reduced abusively to a dark period where violence would play a central role. The release of " Sovereign violence in the Middle Ages "Is an opportunity to take a new look at this subject, in particular because it emerged from the work of the former students of the great medievalist Claude Gauvard, specialist in violence as a historical object.
In homage to Claude Gauvard
The book is the first part of a triptych in tribute to the medievalist Claude Gauvard. University tradition dictates that a professor who is retiring should be offered "Blends", contributions from colleagues and former students to salute his departure and especially his work as a researcher and teacher. Regarding Claude Gauvard, the "Mélanges" are the second part of this triptych, released at the PUF under the title "A Middle Ages for Today". The approach of this work is therefore original because, if it is part of this tribute to the medievalist, it is through contributions only from her former students, hence the subtitle "Travaux d'une école historique ".
Historian Claude Gauvard taught at Paris I Sorbonne, where she is now Professor Emeritus. His specialty is the study of crime, justice and conflict in social bonds at the end of the Middle Ages. His 1991 state thesis, " "De grace especial". Crime, State and Society in France at the End of the Middle Ages », has just been reissued by Publications de la Sorbonne.
We therefore have here a collection of contributions which, to pay tribute to the medievalist who inspired them, is a sort of assessment of the work she carried out with her students, and which they continued by becoming researchers themselves. . The work is therefore presented in François Foronda's introduction as a "final research seminar" on the socio-political role of violence at the end of the Middle Ages. We can also note a presentation of each of the authors, and the title of their thesis, all between 1996 and 2006.
The articles are classified under three themes: first Procedures and judicial government, which deals with law, justice, and competition between jurisdictions and powers; we can cite among these articles « Pugio malignitatis. Violence of the trial and prudence of the procedure "(Yves Mausen) or" The application of the death penalty by municipal courts: the Berthe du Jardin affair in the Parliament of Paris (1369-1398) "(Sébastien Hamel).
The second axis is called The part of the negative and he chooses to broaden the field of sources, adopting a point of view that could be described as more "anthropological", emphasizing the question of behavior; we can cite here mainly « Some public cries that have gone wrong. The proclamation as a test of reality at the end of the Middle Ages ”(Nicolas Offenstadt).
Finally, the book tackles the role of the prince in the game Sovereign shock, how he takes responsibility for resolving violence, including in a conflictual manner. Among the articles to note : « Charles V facing his nobles: a test case for the imposition of majesty (1371-1373) ”(Michelle Bubenicek) and“ Political trial and confiscation: the fate of the library of Jacques d'Armagnac ”(Emilie Cottereau- Gabillet).
As we can see, "Sovereign Violence in the Middle Ages" is a collection of particularly precise and cutting-edge articles, a real scientific and academic work, which can be fascinating for the connoisseur but a little difficult for the neophyte. It cannot therefore be recommended as a simple "popularization" work for an audience interested in this subject of violence at the end of the Middle Ages.
Nevertheless, any fan of this period and obviously Claude Gauvard must know him and approach him with the necessary basic knowledge.
Sovereign violence in the Middle Ages (work of a historical school), under the direction of F. FORONDA, C. BARRALIS and B. SERE, Paris, PUF (Le node gordien), 2010, 284 p.