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HIST 1001-B Jan 22,2013.docx

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HIST 1001
Hal Goldman

Hist 1001B Return of Martin Guerre • Settings: 16 century France • Basque country area, in the French side, called Langdac • The region is an independent area, borderland • 1500s is significant because the boarders between noble and commoner is starting to break down • Period of social transition • The major event that dominates the 1500s is the protestant reformation • Period of change in Europe according to behaviour, religious order • The story about the people who themselves are living in a boarder land • In the town, there is no local noble lord to whom the peasant owes dues • There is a microcosm of larger trends • Natalie wrote about this book because she was the historical advisor on the French version of the movie • As an academic, she was appalled that they did not adhere to the historicalness of it • The story is interesting as historians because most of these people are supposed to be neither seen nor heard, only call when needed • There is a record of all these people because they were involved in this highly unusual event • As historians, we should be conscious about the fact that it is “extraordinary” • Thought the peasants were usual and worth writing about • 1983 – year published • Basic story: • Live in the Basque country, neither French or Spanish, their language has no connection to any other European language • No idea where they came from • Martin Guerre’s father moves to Northern Spain (Artigas), they changed their names to Guerres and moved to a small town • They did pretty well, married off Pierre, Martin’s father’s brother, and Martin (the son) marries off to a famous family, the Rols • Problem that they were impotent  goes on for several years (Martin is 14, Bertrande is 8) • Everyone wanted them to separate for several years • Would make fun of them for not consummating the marriage • The family is pressuring Bertrande to divorce Martin • But eventually, they conceive and she gives birth to a son • Martin is not happy, runs away and joins the Spanish Army • They transformed themselves from Basques to French peasants and get involved in the commercial economy, raising their status • Able to transform themselves and succeed • Bertrande suffers more as Martin leaves, her status is now completely degraded in society • She’s in a difficult position and has had a terrible life already (loveless marriage and then husband runs off) • Arnauld de Til shows up -> Is a French peasant • Could have become a priest, but he was not a good enough person • He ends up fighting for the French army • Someone said that de Til looked like Martin, so he hatched the plan to go back and impersonate Martin • He
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