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Telling Tales in Angevin Courts

Daniel Lord Smail
French Historical Studies
Vol. 20, No. 2 (Spring, 1997), pp. 183-215
Published by: Duke University Press
DOI: 10.2307/286888
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/286888
Page Count: 33
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Telling Tales in Angevin Courts
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Abstract

Angevin Marseille was wracked by a vendetta pitting loosely organized factions led by two noble families, the Vivaut and the Jerusalem. In grappling with this vendetta, the courts of Angevin Marseille unwittingly contributed to the very tensions they sought to suppress. By allowing the court to be used as a forum for the telling of tales, Angevin justice helped groups of unrelated men form a historical identity. By naming and prosecuting these groups, the court not only contributed to the grievances that fostered that identity but also helped create a language of group membership. Angevin justice in Marseille, then, did as much to institutionalize as it did to repress hatreds, rigidifying relationships of enmity rather than dissolving them.

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