Honor, Vengeance, and Social Trouble: Pardon Letters in the Burgundian Low Countries

Honor, Vengeance, and Social Trouble: Pardon Letters in the Burgundian Low Countries

by Peter Arnade, Walter Prevenier

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Among the more intriguing documentary sources from late medieval Europe are pardon letters—petitions sent by those condemned for serious crimes to monarchs and princes in France and the Low Countries in the hopes of receiving a full pardon. The fifteenth-century Burgundian Low Countries and duchy of Burgundy produced a large cache of these petitions, from both major cities (Bruges, Ghent, Antwerp, and Dijon) and rural communities. In Honor, Vengeance, and Social Trouble, Peter Arnade and Walter Prevenier present the first study in English of these letters to explore and interrogate the boundaries between these sources’ internal, discursive properties and the social world beyond the written text.

Honor, Vengeance, and Social Trouble takes the reader out onto the streets and into the taverns, homes, and workplaces of the Burgundian territories, charting the most pressing social concerns of the day: everything from family disputes and vendettas to marital infidelity and property conflicts—and, more generally, the problems of public violence, abduction and rape, and the role of honor and revenge in adjudicating disputes. Arnade and Prevenier examine why the right to pardon was often enacted by the Burgundian dukes and how it came to compete with more traditional legal means of resolving disputes. In addition, they consider the pardon letter as a historical source, highlighting the limitations and pitfalls of relying on documents that are, by their very nature, narratives shaped by the petitioner to seek a favored outcome. The book also includes a detailed case study of a female actress turned prostitute. An example of microhistory at its best, Honor, Vengeance, and Social Trouble will challenge scholars while being accessible to students in courses on medieval and early modern Europe or on historiography.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780801479915
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Publication date: 06/04/2015
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 2.20(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Peter Arnade is Professor of History and Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. He is the author of Beggars, Iconoclasts, and Civic Patriots: The Political Culture of the Dutch Revolt and Realms of Ritual: Burgundian Ceremony and Civic Life in Late Medieval Ghent, both from Cornell. Walter Prevenier is Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Ghent (Belgium) and the author or coauthor of numerous books, including From Reliable Sources: An Introduction to Historical Methods, also from Cornell, and The Promised Lands: The Low Countries Under Burgundian Rule, 1369–1530.

Table of Contents

Introduction. The Forgiving Prince: Pardons and Their Origins1. Social Discord: Disputes, Vendettas, and Political Clients2. Violence, Honor, and Sexuality3. Marital Conflict4. Actress, Wife, or Lover? Maria van der Hoeven Accused and DefendedConclusion. People and Their StoriesBibliographical Note

What People are Saying About This

Wayne te Brake

"Honor, Vengeance, and Social Trouble will be of interest to both historians and a broader reading public intrigued by its often dramatic themes. Peter Arnade and Walter Prevenier present a valuable and compelling view of the social world of a vital and often under-illuminated part of late medieval Europe. This book clearly models the effective use of complex and often-compromised sources in reconstructing the social worlds of ordinary people, and for that reason it will be a useful supplement in both undergraduate and graduate teaching."

Walter Simons

"In this fascinating study of pardon letters, juridical records at the interstices of legal custom, literary construct, and social action, Peter Arnade and Walter Prevenier offer expert guidance as we ponder the questions they raise about sex and gender, family and personal honor, social networking and individual resistance. Even more important, they open up a rich world of human crime and passion ignored by most traditional sources."

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