Late medieval and early modern pardon letters are among the best sources of ordinary people's voices in the premodern period. The stuff of social history, these legal documents allow us access to nonelite social actors and masculine spaces of sociability. Yet they also represent a genre of life narrative that profits from the insights of literary and feminist theory. This essay reads the rich harvest of fifteenth-century Burgundian pardon letters as collaboratively authored textual performances as it explores the relationship of these micronarratives to the writing of microhistory. Vehicles of self-presentation and sources of social history, the pardon letters expose the textual strategies through which those accused sought to perform their innocence. In so doing, the letters reveal something of the vast and shifting terrain of sex, station, status, and sociability in late medieval Burgundian cities.
Crime and Testimony: Life Narratives, Pardon Letters, and Microhistory
Peter Arnade, Elizabeth Colwill; Crime and Testimony: Life Narratives, Pardon Letters, and Microhistory. Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 1 January 2017; 47 (1): 147–166. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10829636-3716614
Download citation file: