The return of Martin Guerre by Natalie Zemon Davis

The return of Martin Guerre by Natalie Zemon Davis is another well known example of microhistory. This is a great book for historians because of style and research, but also for non-historians because it is a fascinating case and it’s lovely written.

The return of Martin Guerre by Natalie Zemon Davis

The book is about Arnaud du Tilh, a peasant living in mid-1500s France, who impersonated Martin Guerre. He lived for a while with Martin’s wife, Bertrande de Rols, who was an honourable peasant woman. He was accepted by all the family. Until something happens and he gets on trial. As the judge was about to give his judgement, the real Martin appears in court. Yes, this is what actually happened!

This case, I will not say more because of spoilers, was recounted in a book written by someone who took part in the courts. He wrote a book and published it at that time. It was popular and it was reprinted many times. It was translated – two versions exist – French and Latin – and those circulated abroad. Natalie Zemon Davis was a great historian and she wrote beautifully about this case. She tells a lot of details on the one who wrote about this case, Jean de Coras.
It’s a short book and a real page turner, so do read it if you can get a copy.

The return of Martin Guerre by Natalie Zemon Davis

Details about the picture: –
My rating: 5/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: yes
Published by: Harvard University Press
Year it was published: 1983
Format: Paperback
Genre(s): History of France – microhistory
Pages: 162

About the author: Natalie Zemon Davis, was an American-Canadian historian of the early modern period. She was the Henry Charles Lea Professor of History at Princeton University. Her work originally focused on France, but it later broadened to include other parts of Europe, North America, and the Caribbean.
Natalie was Eastman Professor at Balliol College, Oxford, in 1994-5, the first woman to hold the Chair.
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