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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Manuals of customary law from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries give us
some insight into the impact of the advent of inquisitional procedure on witnesses
and witness testimony . Of the surviving documents , the jurist and poet Philippe ...
Because one cannot evaluate their renommée , there is no choice regarding
which procedure to follow : their case must be settled with a duel ( “ Et s ' ils sont
estrange , que l ' en ne puist savoir leur renomee , li gage font a recevoir " ; 1815
Though one cannot yet speak of a single , unified “ French ” procedure by the end
of the sixteenth century , sixteenth - century French sovereigns , especially
François I and Charles IX , significantly expanded the role of the inquest in the