Martin Guerre Essay

Martin Guerre Essay-61
But in Martin’s absence, the uncle, Pierre, took control of the family lands and guardianship of Martin’s sisters.

But in Martin’s absence, the uncle, Pierre, took control of the family lands and guardianship of Martin’s sisters.

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And to undo the charms of whatever jealous sorceress had cursed them, it would take the charms of a very different kind of sorceress, a wise woman versed in the ways of magic but who remained true to god and church.

They sought the aid of several such women, and eventually, eight years into their failed marriage, one mysterious old enchantress told them how to defeat the spell they were under.

And in this quiet Languedoc hamlet, where the biggest quarrels were over matters of Catholic orthodoxy and doctrinal dispute, a scandal would emerge from family discord, involving accusations of desertion, betrayal, and imposture.

But more than any of this, it would cause some to call into question prevailing assumptions about guilt and innocence and the very nature of identity.*The Deguerre family were peasant Basques with ancestral lands at Hendaye, near the Bay of Biscay, one branch of which family ended up settling 162 miles or 260 kilometers away to the east in Artigat and assimilating, learning to express themselves in the Occitan language of the Languedoc and changing their name to the more French Guerre.

Rather than face the wrath of his father, he left Artigat, abandoning not only his heritage but his wife and infant son as well.

Bertrande’s position in the family and the village was much reduced in the absence of her husband.In this edition, in an effort to cite precedent supporting my pet theory about the Campden Wonder case—namely that the William Harrison who returned to his wife after an absence of two years may not have actually been the real Steward of Lady Campden—I share the story of the most famous case of imposture ever recorded.And it is a true precedent, for it did precede the events of the Campden Wonder by nearly a hundred years.And happy marriage seemed to come easily with the returned Martin Guerre.Within a few years, Bertrande had borne Martin two more children, daughters.They grew millet, oats, wheat, and grapes, raised sheep, cows, and goats, and forged a modest legacy from the land, such that successful peasant families passed their estates on to heirs much like their far wealthier seigneurial counterparts.And this facet of the culture would have great bearing on the famous case we shall be focusing on, as would their popular conception of marriage, which, with the rise of Protestantism dividing the community, was then much debated in that corner of France, where the idea of “clandestine,” or secret and common law marriage, had been common but was then being challenged.Then one day in 1556, news reached Artigat that a man claiming to be Martin Guerre had checked in to a hostel in a neighboring village.When the hosteller brought up the wife and child he had left behind, this Martin Guerre, it was said, had wept.Two brothers, Sanxi and Pierre, headed the Guerre family in Artigat, and in 1538, in an effort not only to further the family’s assimilation but also to make a fruitful bond with another affluent peasant family, the de Rols, Sanxi Guerre arranged a marriage between his son Martin and their daughter, Bertrande.Martin was 14 at the time, and Bertrande may have been as young as nine or ten.

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