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      ‘En nous humblement requerant’: Crime Narrations and Rhetorical Strategies in Late Medieval Pardon Letters

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          Abstract

          The charters of pardon or ‘remission letters’ granted by the king of France and the duke of Burgundy in the late Middle Ages have often been interpreted as a valuable source material to access to the lives, memories, and even the ‘voices’ of the ordinary people who did not produce any other writing. The preamble of each letter was indeed a copy of the supplication submitted by the future pardon beneficiary, in which he narrated his crime and begged for the sovereign’s mercy. However, as with many other documents preserved in court and chancery records, remission letters engage historians with a series of methodological questions due to the nature of the documents and the context in which they were produced. Because they hoped to be granted the monarch’s mercy, petitioners used a series of legal and rhetorical techniques to describe themselves and elaborate their narrations, following the advice of the clerks and lawyers who helped them to compose their petitions. This article explores some of these strategies used by French and Burgundian pardon beneficiaries and compares them to those found in English petitions for pardon. It argues that rather than being considered as an obstacle to accessing to the truth behind the sources, these strategies should be analysed as the testimony of the legal and administrative practices of the time.

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          Most cited references 23

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          The Historian as Inquisitor: The Ethics of Interrogating Subaltern Voices

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            Les récits de rémission dans la longue durée. Le cas de l’Anjou du XVe au XVIIIe siècle

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              Langue, pouvoirs et dialogue. Aspects linguistiques de la communication entre les ducs de Bourgogne et leurs sujets flamands (1385–1505)

               M Boone (2009)
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                2056-6700
                Open Library of Humanities
                Open Library of Humanities
                2056-6700
                19 September 2019
                2019
                : 5
                : 1
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Harvard University, Cambridge (Massachusetts), US
                Article
                10.16995/olh.389
                Copyright: © 2019 The Author(s)

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

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                New approaches to late medieval court record

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