Tuesday, November 28, 2023

France, mère des arts, des armes et des lois (with apologies to Joachim du Bellay)

Want to liven up the dinner conversation at the O Club? Drop in a reference to Mercy at War: Military Violence and the Politics of Royal Pardon in Fifteenth-Century France, by Dr. Quentin Verreycken. From the website:

This article examines the construction of military criminality and the granting of pardons to soldiers in late medieval France. By the beginning of the fifteenth century, the offences perpetrated by men of war were a recurrent problem of public order for royal government. Criminal records as well as narrative sources used a rich terminology to qualify the military abuses suffered by the population, which distinguished criminal soldiers from ordinary offenders. Although these abuses were repeatedly denounced by political literature and were supposed to be severely punished according to legislation, the king of France frequently granted pardon letters to soldiers, allowing them to escape criminal prosecution in exchange for the continuation of their services. Far from being simply the result of a lax attitude of the king, these pardons reflected the fragile balance of royal power in the fifteenth century, which required the king to conciliate the exercise of justice and the conduct of warfare. Exploring the politics of royal pardon towards criminal soldiers and the reactions they provoked, the article demonstrates how the French Crown dealt with military offenders at the end of the Hundred Years’ War and during its aftermath.

Pertinent to some of former Presidrnt Donald J. Trump's court-martial pardons?

1 comment:

  1. Compare Helen Lacey, The Politics of Mercy: The Use of the Royal Pardon in Fourteenth Century England. PhD Thesis, Univ. of York Center for Medieval Studies, March 2005.

    The fundamental contention of this study is that the royal prerogative of mercy played a pivotal role in later medieval society, both in influencing the day-to-day application of the law in the royal courts, and in shaping relations within the political community. In
    light of the recent neglect by historians of the role of the royal pardon, this study suggests that medieval notions of mercy and grace deserve a more thorough and nuanced appraisal than they have so far received.



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