Nov 26, 2007

Rapid Rhetoric: JACQUERIE

Raphael's depiction of Plato defining the difference between true and false rhetoric This is an irregular feature - both in frequency and oddness - dedicated to a word I came across that I have never previously used.

jacquerie (zhah-keh-REE) n. a peasant revolt; (capitalized) the 1359 peasant uprising against noble landlords.

Derived from the Old French word jacquerie ("peasantry"), the 1358 rebellion involved tens of thousands of peasants angry over being forced to pay higher taxes amidst the government's inability to protect the peasantry from marauding criminals and mercenaries during the Hundred Years' War.

The term jacquerie has its origin in the name "Jacques," as nobles were in the habit of referring to all peasants with this common name, much like we might use the name "Joe Six-Pack" today. French chronicler Jean Froissart provided a lengthy passage on the 1358 Jacquerie in his Chronicles:
Not long after the King of Navarre had been set free, there were very strange and terrible happenings in several parts of the kingdom of France. They occurred in the region of Beauvais, in Brie and on the Marne, in Valois, in Laonnais, in the fief of Coucy and round Soissons. They began when some of the men from the country towns came together in the Beauvais region. They had no leaders and at first they numbered scarcely a hundred. One of them got up and said that the nobility of France, knights and squires, were disgracing and betraying the realm, and that it would be a good thing if they were all destroyed. At this they all shouted: "He's right! He's right! Same on any man who saves the gentry from being wiped out!"

They banded together at went off, without further deliberation and unarmed except for pikes and knives, to the house of a knight who lived near by. They broke in and killed the knight, with his lady and his children, big and small, and set fire to the house. Next they went to another castle and did much worse; for, having seized the knight and bound him securely to a post, several of them violated his wife and daughter before his eyes. Then they killed the wife, who was pregnant, and the daughter and all the other children, and finally put the knight to death with great cruelty and burned and razed the castle.


microdot said...

Quel jacquerie!
Here in the North Eastern Dordogne, there is a long history of Jacquerie...all ending tragically.

A local folk hero who led a rebellion around 1820 was a fellow nick named Jacquou le Croquante. Croquante being another local term for a rebellious peasant.
A famous regional author, writing around the time of George Sand, Eugene Le Roy wrote a book about it using different locations for the story. I live near the site of the real castle burnt by the peasants, the castle is still standing in the village of Peyringnac.
The castle used by Le Roy was the much more ominous Chateau L'Herme which was in the middle of the Foret Barade and had been abandoned and a place thought haunted since the late middle ages. The Chateau is the site of another story all together of a family who destroys itself over greed.
The Story of Jacquou le Croquant was made into a glitzy movie last year which had limited releasze in America. It used some of the sites around here in cluding the village of Fanlac.
The movie was a fairy tale version of the book which I recommend. I have read it in French and it even has Le Roys glossary of a translation of Patois which he uses through the book.

I am back here in France after my stay in Toledo....I arrived in the midst of the transit strike and now we are experiencing a modern day jacquerie in Paris!

It's a tradition!

mercharp said...

I googled Chateau de L'Herme and found your post linking Jacuerie to Jacquou le Croquant and his link to the castle. I live in a house which was built as a dependence, perhaps hunting lodge for Le Chateau. The house is a short 8k from Chateau de l'Herme. I am writing the house's history - in blog form so far. I would love to hear more of your historic accounts.