The Invention of the Eyewitness: Witnessing and Testimony in Early Modern France
In an examination of eyewitness travel writing in thirteenth- through sixteenth-century France, Andrea Frisch studies the figure of the witness at a historical juncture and in a cultural context in which that figure is generally thought to have begun to assume a recognizably modern form and function.
Whereas most accounts of early modern travel literature tend to read modern presuppositions about witnessing and testimony back into the material, Frisch approaches the early modern witness in terms of the cultural legacy of the Middle Ages. Through primary readings in law and theology, Frisch documents the tension between the ethical witness (the characteristic witness of premodernity) and the epistemic witness (the modern witness) and explores the impact of that tension on the figure of the witness in pre- and early modern French-language travel literature.
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Thus , I wish here to set aside the question of whether Mandeville “ really saw ”
everything the text implies he has seen ; rather , what shall interest me are the
ways in which Mandeville attempts to establish the reliability of his testimony .
He suggests that as justice became more centralized , it did indeed become more
disinterested ( since one was no longer necessarily tried by one ' s peers ) but
since the English jury was originally predicated on familiarity and “ interest ” on ...
... interest in criminal prosecution and made it the charge of the procureur du Roi ,
who , by the sixteenth century , was the only one allowed to initiate “ serious
criminal sanction ” even when there was a formal private complainant (
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THE WITNESS AND THE JUDGE
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