Olivier de La Marche and the Rhetoric of Fifteenth-century Historiography
Olivier de La Marche's Memoires of events in Burgundy in the latter half of the fifteenth century raise many questions for historians. Written piecemeal over a period of fifty years, individual passages must first be dated; then, questions of style and genre can be addressed: are the Memoires memoirs in the modern understanding of the term? How far can the text be read as autobiography? Is La Marche the eyewitness he seems? The relationship between the Memoires and the literary culture surrounding the Burgundian court is also examined, followed by examination of three key aspects of the Memoires: their status as didactic literature, the place accorded to religion (and within that, to Franciscan friars), and the presentation of combat. Far from being a naive and inaccurate account, the Memoires emerge as having specific polemical purposes, the polemic often strengthened by what have traditionally been read as confused chronology and material errors. BR> CATHERINE EMERSON is Lecturer in French, National University of Ireland, Galway.
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