The fifteenth-century civil war between the Burgundians and the Armagnacs traces its origin back to the aggressive dispute between John, duke of Burgundy (d. 1419), and his first cousin, Louis, duke of Orléans (d. 1407), in 1405–7. Presenting himself as a champion of the people and a reformer prince, John used his popularity to acquire more control over the royal government. As a case study for analyzing the intersection of political thought and action through the mediating force of communication in premodern France, this article compares John’s propaganda strategy to that of his Orleanist/Armagnac rivals. John’s propaganda benefited from speed, initiative, and consistency, and his rhetoric simultaneously attended to the anxieties of the king’s subjects and to wider trends in political thought. Conversely, his rivals were forced into emitting defensive counterpropaganda, which failed to inspire widespread support because it centered predominantly on their personal honor.

Le commencement de la guerre civile entre les Bourguignons et les Armagnacs remonte au conflit entre Jean Sans Peur, duc de Bourgogne (d. 1419), et son cousin germain, Louis, duc d’Orléans (d. 1407). Ce premier se présentait réformateur et champion du peuple. La popularité parmi les sujets du roi qu’il a donc atteinte lui a rendu de plus en plus de puissance au conseil royal. Son succès visàvis de ses rivaux, les Armagnacs, peut être attribué à une polémique constante et pénétrante qu’il diffusait toujours avec rapidité, et qui se conformait à la fois aux théories politiques courantes et aux intérêts du peuple. En revanche, la contre-propagande de ses rivaux qui se penchait plutôt sur l’honneur personnel n’arriva pas à émouvoir le peuple. Cette étude interroge le point de convergence entre la théorie et les actes politiques au quinzième siècle à l’aide du système de communication de l’époque.

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