Date of Award

Summer 8-15-2018

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department

Romance Languages and Literature: French Language and Literature

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



This study compares the writing of history in a corpus of crits du for priv (ego documents) written at the end of the last War of Religion (1589-1598) in Brittany, France, by little known authors Jean Pichart, Duval, Jean Moreau, Jrme dՁradon, and Jean du Mats de Montmartin, to the famous historiographies of the time: Jacques-Auguste de Thouճ Histoire Universelle (1604-1620), Agrippa dՁubignճ Histoire Universelle (1616-1620) and Pierre Victor Palma-Cayetճ Chronologie novenaire contenant lՈistoire de la guerre, sous le regne du tres-chrestien Roy de France et de Navarre Henri IIII (1607).

This analysis elucidates how the telling of local history and its effect on their community and on themselves allows the five men to reclaim their place within history. By repurposing various genres within the for priv, the authors recount the history not available through the official channels, away from the usual binary opposition between political and religious conflict. The first chapter examines the new historical method born in the 16th century and its failure to be applied in practice. It shows, by examining the prologues and prefaces of three prominent historians of the time, that the laws of oubliance, a doctrine and practice of legal amnesty, and the destabilizing force of the League at the end of the century defeated most attempts at proposing a history that would go beyond

serving the prince. The second chapter shows in detail how the concept of oubliance worked within the official historical texts, using the war in Brittany as an example. It demonstrates how hagiography was used to create a unified history of the time that seamlessly included the enemy of the crown, the Duke of Mercoeur, in order to promote an encomiastic history that endlessly reflected a positive image of the king and his kingdom. The third chapter focuses on the texts left by five authors recounting the war in Brittany. It begins by providing an inventory of the unusual corpus, comprised of manuscripts copies and printed documents. This chapter also includes a genre study of the texts that demonstrates that they do not belong to the historical or the literary genre, as they show qualities of both groups. Instead, they belong within the group of crits du for priv (ego documents) and specifically within the livre de raison, the journal, and the memoirs. Chapter four illustrates the different writing strategies adopted by these unofficial and polyphonic histories, such as the emphasis on personal voice and knowledge, the archival process, the fama, and the references to antiquity, which allows the authors access to a common frame of references and to express the counter-stories of the war of the League. It is also shown that, by repurposing common methodological elements of history, these texts provide an implicit criticism of the traditional historiography at the time. Finally, the epilogue deals with the editorial fate of these texts. The study of editorsՠprefaces and prologues across various editions of the texts reveals the paradoxes surrounding the creation of lieux de mmoires, and the fashioning of the people of the past to suit later political wills.


French (fr)

Chair and Committee

Colette H. Winn

Committee Members

Seth Graebner, Pascal Ifri, Emily Thompson, Elosa Palafox,


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