- Queen Jeanne and the Promised Land, Dynasty, Homeland, Religion and Violence in Sixteenth-Century France (review)
- Australian and New Zealand Association of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (Inc.)
- Volume 18, Number 2, January 2001
- pp. 136-138
- View Citation
- Additional Information
136 Reviews extent, in the dark, but the patterns of light and shadow created by the play and its characters allows us to see the work ofthe shadowy Bruno in a new light. Nerida Newbigin Department ofItalian University ofSydney Bryson, David M., Queen Jeanne and the Promised Land. Dynasty, Homeland, Religion and Violence in Sixteenth-Century France (Brill's Studies in Intellectual History 97), Leiden, Brill, 1999; cloth; pp. xiv, 385; R R P not known; ISBN 900411 43789. Dr Bryson is attempting a delicate and difficult task in extrapolating fro is at best a limited set of known relationships and events, to the ideas and emotions which motivated one of the key actors in the drama of mid-sixteenth century French history. Jeanne d'Albret, the mother of Henri IV who so famously decided that 'Paris was worth a mass', was one of the most powerful Protestants operating within the boundaries of what is modern France, particularly from 1562 to her death in 1572. To appreciate her vision for the southwestern quadrant where she held lands in a variety of ways, from the virtually independent principalities of Beam and Navarre to 'mere' viscountcies and lordships should illuminate our understanding of the early civil wars and the hierarchy and divisions in French society. The study is, however, very narrowly focussed. It includes very little comparative material which might provide a context within which some of the claims could be assessed. His account of the external situation is occasionally muddled. The implication that England and the L o w Countries were substantially Protestant in the 1530s and 1540s, for example, seems doubtful. This is afrustratingbook. It contains some interesting interpretations and a valuable reconsideration of some crucial primary material about the French Reformation, but it is poorly and clumsily constructed, repetitive and full ofminor errors, misleading statements and questionable translations. For this, Brill, which has done rather less than the impeccable editing job one expects of them, must take some of the blame. Surely a paragraph (p. 71) in which two different years are apparently ascribed to the death ofFrancis I could have been avoided? On p. 126 he says in M a y 1560 the king ofFrance had extended Antoine's government to include Poitou although on p. 60 he suggests that Poitou had been separated Reviews 137 from Guyenne. Is 'esquillonee' 'flavoured' (p. 318) not 'pricked' or 'plucked'? In either case his reader might be more enlightened had he pointed out that Renee of France was also a notable reformer. O n p. 136 Bryson quotes Psalm 101 in the Genevan psalter of 1561 from a modern version - h y m n no. 426 in the Australian Anglican hymnbook - which I cannot certainly identify from the psalters available to me. These randomly selected examples could be indefinitely multiplied. Critical to his interpretation is arguing for the basic authenticity of some copies of letters written to the viscounts of Gourdon found amongst the Valiant collection in B N F which has been a matter of historical debate for over a hundred years. His argument that despite misdating and misplacing they are not forgeries needstobe handled incisively, once. Instead it is scatteredrepetitivelythrough several chapters with constant hesitations about the possibility of later invention and no clinching proof. A short section on the widespread creation of different icons by opposing parties would have made a clarifying context for a cogent presentation of the problem. As it is his explanation ofan apparent error as Jeanne's faulty memory ofan event which he sees as critical in her religious development does not convince. Many ofthe chapters read like an oral presentation. Dr Bryson strays from his initial topic to interpolate a comment on an associatedbut not directly consequent matter, returning after a few pages to the original matter in hand. Thus he revises the birthdates ofJeanne's children (p. 72) in the middle ofa general account ofthe family estates and administration, then says the deaths 'may' have been a contributing factor to her evangelical conversion at that time which does not fit very well with his later more extended consideration ofher religious development. The easiest way in which to grasp his thesis is to...