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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There is a fundamental distinction between the type of testimonial oath
characteristic of folklaw and the testimonial oath ... Folklaw oaths like the serment
purgatoire consolidate testimony into a single moment of truth , because the oath
and the ...
Regarding the status of the oath in 12th - 14th - century France , Jean - Philippe
LÚvy remarks “ Peu d ' institutions ont eu au ... few institutions enjoyed such great
success . . . one could say that in that period oaths were sworn at every turn ” ) .
Even in cases where the witness was obliged to confront the accused , this
confrontation took place only after his testimony has been signed , sealed and
delivered under oath . And it is at this moment , and only at this moment , that the