This compact anthology, containing papers produced within the graduate program at the Centre d’Études Supérieures de la Renaissance at the University of Tours, takes a new look at the terrain of (mostly French) Renaissance studies from the vantage point of »order« and »disorder« in numerous realms of experience. The first two papers consider order in language, beginning with David Moucaud’s study of poetry and poetics as sites of linguistic disorder. In a society where the certainties of a medieval past have been thrown into disarray, perhaps the Renaissance trope of »poetic fury« supplies a rationale for the disrupted syntaxes, »metapositions«, etc., which accompany poetic attempts to reflect the troubled emotional, mental and social spaces. Next Thomas Tatem studies the attempt by Antoine Loisel in the »Institutes coustumières« to provide a guide to a more just, more humane society, supposedly subject to law and reason, while at the same time formulating a distinct French approach fit to serve as a buttress to the monarchy. A textual analysis reveals the order-inducing strategies of the writing, which joins separate ideas through syntax, vocabulary, assonance, and even numerology.

The next three papers consider the theme of reestablishing a realm of order that has been disturbed. Mathilde Cornu starts off this part with an examination of a single work, the imaginative recreation of a trial of Jesus by the devil and associates, written in the 1470s presumably by Simon Gréban, an unusually long mystery play in verse comprising some 60,000 lines, mixing material from the »Acts of the Apostles« with Jacobus de Varagine’s »Golden Legend« and much else. The accused’s counsel, Moses, turns the tables by unleashing a barrage of irrefutable charges entirely foiling the futile attempt by the devil and company to upset the status quo, which, the paper reminds us, would soon be once more threatened by the European witch craze. Next Manon Gac takes a stylistic and conceptual look at the writings of the radical Catholic priest Artus Désiré, especially »Les Articles du traité de la paix entre Dieu et les hommes«, a striking appeal in verse, first published in 1558 then again in 1562 and 1563 in the midst of wars abroad and at home, containing prescriptions on human behavior in regard to sexual mores, religious orthodoxy and even clothing seen in public, followed by variants on the refrain »Si en France on veult avoir paix« (p. 66). Charlotte Fuchs studies conjugal relations in the period of the »querelle des femmes« as a site of social order broken at times by violence and threatened by popular misconceptions. Whereas mariticide was practically viewed as a hierarchy-breaking crime against the state, uxoricide was seen in another light. Likewise, husband beating bore connotations of weakness on the part of the victim and was rarely reported, although widely condemned in official terms, inviting a reference to the modern work by Pierre Bourdieu.

Two other papers look at appearances of order and disorder in art. The human form, for instance, may appear in varying degrees of distance from the orderly appearance enshrined in standard canons of beauty, Diane Baustert suggests, so that at one extreme we find the shattering of order in the presentation of ugliness, with obligatory reference to the collection by Umberto Eco on this topic. Such playing with visual canons explains the frequent occurrence of deformed creatures, especially dwarves, as part of court culture, visual and otherwise. Jean Beuvier presents the ornate choir wall at the cathedral in Chartres, commissioned from the architect Jehan de Beauce in the early sixteenth century, as an example of the imposition of order in regard to a profuse variety of iconographical references and architectural details over 100 meters in length. The connection to the common theme here is more implied than explained, as the principal intention of the writing is to offer a thorough exercise in ekphrasis, made all the more challenging by the absence of illustrations in this publication.

The last two contributions are designated as referring to the reestablishment of order after episodes of disaster. Patrick Bordeaux takes a close look at how a city and region attempted to restore order in the midst of the religious conflicts of the 1560s and 70s. The focus is on efforts to meet the needs of a Protestant minority within the Catholic stronghold of Tours by establishing nearby Maillé (later: Luynes) in the Touraine region as the location of Protestant preaching. Royal policy calling for more decisive anti-Protestant action fails to affect the uneasy balance achieved amid tensions and insults, and a small Protestant population mostly survives the troubled century, evidencing a kind of order within disorder. Marie Lafont looks at the terrible fire of 1487 that destroyed much of the city of Bourges, tracing subsequent efforts to restore the cityscape while introducing changes aimed at preventing a recurrence, such as the abandonment of wooden shingles on buildings, and introduction of obligatory chimneys, along with improvements in public hygiene such as the provision of public wells and sewers. As the new regulations are being put in place the newly assertive municipal government stipulates also the construction of adequate quarters for itself, adding physical and visual reinforcement to the assumed role as guarantor of public safety and protector of property.

Accompanied by an index of names and a synthetic introduction by Clément Beuvier and Pierre Peresson, the volume itself could be considered an example of the orderly presentation of results achieved independently by students in a distinguished program.

Zitationsempfehlung/Pour citer cet article:

Brendan Dooley, Rezension von/compte rendu de: Clément Beuvier, Charlotte Fuchs, Jonas Kurscheidt, Pierre Peresson, Irvin Raschel (dir.), Ordre et Désordre. Perturbations et rétablissements de l’ordre à la Renaissance, Paris (Classiques Garnier) 2021, 170 p. (Travaux du centre d’études supérieures de la Renaissance, 9), ISBN 978-2-406-11309-6, EUR 23,00., in: Francia-Recensio 2022/2, Frühe Neuzeit – Revolution – Empire (1500–1815), DOI: