Joël Blanchard

Professor of French Medieval Literature


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Research Activity

Active research on five main themes :

1° The complete edition of the works of Philippe de Commynes

- The complete edition of the works of Philippe de Commynes is to be published in TLF, Droz, Geneva. Two volumes are already published : Lettres (2001), Mémoires (2 vol., 2007).
- Two other volumes are to be published : * the first one will be devoted to the judicial problems Commynes had – especially as a shipowner – with the business circles in Marseilles about the “galeasse” (big galley) Notre-Dame. Business law and regulations, relationships with Medicean financial circles and with different personalities in the mediterranean area will be considered. * the second volume will gather papers concerning the law-suits, autograph documents and a choice re-publishing of documents given in his edition by Lenglet-Dufresnoy (1747).
- Six books and more than fifteen articles about Commynes and mediaeval historiography were already published in previous years, in particular the first biography of Commynes (Fayard, 2006) which reached a much larger audience than is usual in this field.

2° Political trials and judicial problems

Edition of the draft of Jacques de Nemours’ trial was published with the collaboration of Jean-Patrice Boudet and Olivier Matteoni. This document (Bibliothèque Ste Geneviève, ms. 2000) appears as a real text-book of law-procedure, reporting with many details and day by day, for six months, this trial for lese-majesty and including examinations, testimonies, decrees, dispatches…a unique epitome of judicial history, which was written at the time of the trial, probably by Hugues Alligret, clerk of the ‘Parlement’, and specially intended for Louis XI. It is completely different from the documents (XVIth and XVIIth century summaries and compilations) known so far ! It will be published in the THR (Travaux d’Humanisme et Renaissance). This edition will be accompanied by a short monography on problems pertaining to judiciary procedur, the nature of the texts which are still available to day and the theoretical and practical definition of notions and key concepts in the political field in the late mediaeval period. Special attention will be paid to the use of lese-majesty and to the details of the political and law vocabulary during the reign of Louis XI. It is only thanks to the informations given by this unique trial that this study will prove possible.

3° Moral alchemy, hierarchies, social order, religion

The Songe du Vieil Pelerin by Philippe de Mézières (1389) will be edited and a study on moral alchemy and its political and religious implications in the late mediaeval period will be carried out. In a way, the Songe opens a long tradition of moral and alchemic treatises which was to reach its climax in the XVIIth century with paracelcism. This “archaeological” work on moral alchemy compels us to take into account a renewal of the dionysian notions of hierarchy and orders at the end of the XIVth century. This work, launched with the collaboration of Didier Kahn, will be published in 2012 in THR (Travaux d’Humanisme et Renaissance) and followed by the publication of the first edition of Mézières’ autobiography, entitled Oratio tragedica, (unpublished ms. n° 1656, Bibliothèque Mazarine), and written in the same year as the Songe. Before that, I intend to publish a complete modern translation of the Songe in the Agora series (Pocket) in january 2008.

4° Diplomatical techniques and financial circulations in late mediaeval Europe

Edition, with the collaboration of Mathieu Arnoux, of Girolamo Zorzi, the ambassador of Venice in France during the “Guerre Folle” (13 september 1485-24 september 1487). This correspondance is all the more valuable as the Venitian dispatches before 1500 were considered as lost. These letters, which have recently been acquired by the B.M. (Add 48067), shed a precious light on the judiciary intrigues after the reign of Louis XI and also on money circulation, sometimes, considerable amounts transited through the Medicean branches of the Italian banks in France and the hands of important people like Commynes. Few documents remain from the XVIth century informing us on the daily financial activities of theses investors belonging to the court circles and sometimes taking important personal risks. Such information sheds indirect light on the use made by the last of the Valois of the links with Italian bankers in order to fund their action abroad, the part played by go-betweens, the intertwining of their private interests and of the royal policy they were serving. Diplomacy, finances and justice are closely intermingled.

5°Theatre and politics

As a continuation of a series of previous works on political morality plays (Droz, TLF, 1987, Romania, 1991, Bibliothèque d’Humanisme et Renaissance, 1993, etc.) and royal entries (Littérature, 1983, Le Temps de la réflexion, 1984, Revue Historique, 2003 etc.) I am now resuming a research on political theatre under Louis XI and Charles VIII, which was initiated about ten years ago, mainly with the edition of the Moralité à six personnages, a polemical morality dating back to the Etats Généraux of 1484. This text, which has never been edited so far, is to be found in a compendium entitled “Petit La Vallière” (BNF fr. n. acq. 25460). In an exceptionnal and almost unique way in mediaeval theatre, it deals with a great variety of subjects such as scientific culture (there is a speech on astrology in the first hundred lines), problems of theatrical typology (nature of the texts which are half-way between morality plays and satirical farces), political and cultural history (circles of creation and diffusion, lawyers circles, political rings, judicial culture…).

All this research activity (about twenty books already published, the organisation of international symposiums, the supervision of several theses) elicit a thematic coherence : it is centered around the links between diplomatic, judiciary and financial practises in the late mediaeval period. It has been carried on for more than twenty years in a truly interdisciplinary spirit. Our major concern will always be to maintain these converging approaches which are, with the publication of rigorously edited texts, the only guarantee of true progress in our fields.