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Allegorical Bodies

Allegorical Bodies: Power and Gender in Late Medieval France

Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Allegorical Bodies
    Book Description:

    InAllegorical Bodies, Daisy Delogu examines how gendered literary and legal language articulated new concepts of France and Frenchness during the tumultuous reign of the mad king Charles VI (1380-1422).

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-9006-6
    Subjects: History, Language & Literature, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-18)

    The over-forty-year (1380–1422) rule of Charles VI of France,le fou– known also rather poignantly as thebien aimé– was marked by turmoil.¹ The kingdom suffered the madness of its ruler, the riotousness of its princes, and the depredations of a rival monarch claiming to be the legitimate king of France. With the fate of France at stake, the writers and intellectuals of Charles’s reign imagined figurative, institutional, and legal solutions to the profound destabilization of French political legitimacy and identity wrought by the absence of their king. By means of poems and treatises, dream visions and sermons, the...

  5. 1 Allegory Is a Woman
    (pp. 19-44)

    If allegory is a woman, it is not, as has too often been claimed, simply on the basis of grammar. Rather, it is because the very processes of allegorical writing and reading are imagined by their practitioners in gendered terms. As the above quote from Hugh of St Victor shows, allegorical reading in the Middle Ages was a generative process, one in which the (male) exegete drew forth meaning from God’s fecund allegorical texts – Scripture and the world. The allegorical text¹ was often said to be veiled,² like a chaste or modest women, and it was the object of the...

  6. 2 From douce France to the dame renommée: Figuring the French Body Politic
    (pp. 45-84)

    When Primat characterized France in the preface of what would come to be known as theGrandes chroniques de Franceas a “dame renommée seur autres nations” [lady renowned beyond other nations] he was both drawing and building upon established cultural, intellectual, and literary conventions.¹ As we saw in chapter 1, any polity or community could be thought of, metaphorically, as a human body.² At the same time, Primat’s evocation of thedame renomméealso fits squarely within the long tradition – both classical and biblical – of imagining cities, provinces, or kingdoms in allegorical terms, as women.³ Isidore of Seville characterizes...

  7. 3 Jean Gerson and the University of Paris
    (pp. 85-124)

    In chapter 2, we considered the relevance and utility of the metaphor of the body politic in the poetry of Eustache Deschamps for conceptualizing the obligations and relationship of the elements of French society to one another and to the kingdom as a whole. In addition, we saw how the allegorical figure of the kingdom in the works of Deschamps and Christine de Pizan – depicted in feminine terms as fair beloved, honoured mother, vulnerable widow – served both to reorient political affection and loyalty from the absent king to the kingdom, and to confer a coherence and unity upon the latter...

  8. 4 Envisioning the Body Politic before and after the Treaty of Troyes
    (pp. 125-166)

    The accession of Henry V to the English throne in 1413, and his interest in pressing – both militarily and ideologically – the English claims to the kingdom of France, gave renewed urgency to the French responses to these combined challenges. In this chapter I shall examine how the conflicts that arose from the contested exercise of power came to be articulated through discourses that focused on gender. This is in part because the dynastic crises of the fourteenth century, and the English challenges to Valois legitimacy, raised questions concerning the rights of women to rule or to transmit such a right...

  9. Coda: What to Say about Joan of Arc?
    (pp. 167-178)

    Given the present volume’s concerns with the mechanisms by which structures of power, political authority, and legitimacy are naturalized and promulgated, and the processes by which myths of national identity are fashioned, it seems impossible not to talk about the improbable life, and rather more predictable death, of Joan of Arc.¹ Joan was born c. 6 January 1412 into a prosperous peasant family in the village of Domrémy, situated at the eastern border of the kingdom of France, near the duchies of Bar and Lorraine. She claimed to have heard, from a young age, voices from God calling upon her...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 179-234)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 235-264)
  12. Index
    (pp. 265-273)