Friday, May 25, 2007

Stuart Carroll, Blood and Violence in Early Modern France

One of my scholarly interests is chivalry, and I've written quite a bit about formal combats, or "formal deeds of arms." Thus I was glad when a colleague alerted me to the existence of this book, and another ordered it for the library.

The dominant understanding of the early modern duel (16th-17th century) in France is that it was a more civilized and ritualized form of the more barbarous blood feud, one of the symptoms of that historiographical favorite "the rise of the modern state." Carroll disagrees. I quote from p. 159:

The early modern French duel thus differed from its medieval predecessor in its lack of rules and in its brutality...[at the end of the 16th century] "They do not fight," the Venetian ambassador explained, "as usually is the case in Italy to the first or second drawing of blood, with seconds who separate them when time is up." Instead they fought to the "bitter end."

This quotation comes at the end of a chapter on "Combat" that some of my readers will find interesting.

For more see the H-Net (H-Law) review by Howard G. Brown.

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