The Prince & The Return of Martin Guerre
It appears as though human beings did very little in shaping and controlling their own destinies in early modern Europe, and the works of The Prince, written by Niccolo Machiavelli in 1513 and The Return of Martin Guerre, written Natalie Zemon Davis in 1928 helps to exemplify this view. The Prince is a primary source recollection of Machiavelli’s thoughts on what makes a good ruler. He discussed his feelings on Princedom on how a prince should rule and conquer power and land, by defining the various types of principalities. He then ends by stating that he believed only Lorenzo de’ Medici, in which his book is dedicated to, can restore the fallen Italy. Completely different from The Prince, The Return of Martin Guerre is a secondary source novel written about the trials of Martin Guerre. Martin Guerre was originally from Hendaye a small village in the French Basque. At a young age, Martin, his parents and uncle fled their homestead leaving behind their ancestral property. When the family became well settled in the village of Artigat, a marriage contract between Martin, age 14, and Bertrand de Rols, a mere child, was drawn. After some years have passed, Martin reluctantly “stole” a small quantity of grain from his father, the guilt and embarrassing situation soon drove him out of the village. As his uncle quoted “The Basques are faithful; they believe that theft is the work of a debased soul, of a low and abject heart; it bears witness to the demanding neediness of a person ,” with that said Martin could not face his father and fled for many years leaving, his parents, wife, son and patrimony behind. Many years passed and “Martin Guerre” returned, the village was shock and was in disbelief. After some time however, close friends, including his uncle Pierre noticed traits on new Martin that old Martin could not posses, such as his need for riches. Two trials were set in place to see if this new Martin was the real Martin, during the 2nd trial the real Martin showed up with a wooden leg. After close observation of the two, the Guerre family was able to identify the real and genuine Martin, and realized the imposter was Arnaud du Tilh of Sajas. Real Martin was at war and was never at the locations stated by Arnuad. Arnaud was sentence to death by hanging outside of the marriage bed of Bertrand and Martin. Bertrand’s life was speared by Judge Cosas taking pity on her. After truly grasping the concepts within these two works, this paper is going to analyze how much of an effect family ties, social, and political institutions, as well as superstition shaped the lives of early modern European people and nation. Both works to a great extent prove that, rather than humans’ beings having the greatest authority of their own destinies, that assurance was place in the hands of family ties, social, and political institutions, and even superstitious circumstance. Family ties comes into play greatly in The Return of Martin Guerre because here we see that people are arrange to marriage simply by where they are from and what the opposite family had to offer rather than love. The Rols were well off and the Guerre were in good condition as well, this marriage proposal would leave the families more financially stable. Martin was said to marry Bertrand at a young age, taking away both their childhood, simply to keep their family names alive. The two did not have a say in this, it was simply expected of them to wed and perform marriage duties, mainly produce an heir to the family name. The Guerre and Rols family shows how much human beings do not have a say in their own destinies. Their children are to do as they are told rather than choosing their own pathways. Similar to what was mentioned in The Prince. Princes are heirs and it is their duty to take the thrown and lead their nation, being a ruler is not chosen by some, it is simply the way things had to be. Born a prince become a king, rule a nation,...
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