The Return Of Martin Guerre Analysis

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The Return of Martin Guerre by Natalie Zemon Davis provides a unique look into the lives of commoners in sixteenth century France. The book follows the story of the disappearance, supposed reappearance and the court cases of Martin Guerre. Davis seeks to present why these events occurred by first placing them in historical context. Typically, peasants are depicted as not having much control over their lives, but Davis attempts to show that that is not necessarily true. Over the course of this book, she analyzes the role that emotions played in peasants’ decisions, and ultimately how those emotions shaped events. The story of Martin Guerre begins in 1538 when he married Bertrande de Rols, the daughter of a well-off family from Artigat. The two were quite young at the time; Bertrande’s exact age is debated but Martin was roughly fourteen years old. The two did not consummate their marriage for several years claiming that they were under “‘the charms of a sorceress’ so they could not perform the marriage act” (Davis, p. 21). Finally, eight years into their marriage, they consummated their relationship and…show more content…
After Arnaud asked for the remainder of Martin’s inheritance, Pierre seemed to have been highly offended which resulted in him setting out to prove that Arnaud was not Martin. Pierre’s hatred turned half the town against Martin. It may have even landed Arnaud in jail before Pierre had any real proof of Arnaud’s identity. In 1559, Arnaud was imprisoned after being accused of burning down the farm of Jean d’Escornebeuf. According to Davis, “in the course of [Jean’s] complaint – evidently tipped off by Pierre Guerre – he told the judge that the prisoner ‘had usurped the marriage bed of another man’” (Davis, p. 57). Arnaud had lived in Artigat in peace for three years. It was not until upsetting Pierce that his identity was called into
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