'La querelle Anglaise' : diplomatic and legal debate during the Hundred Years War, with an edition of the polemical treatise 'Pour ce que plusieurs' (1464)
This dissertation offers a study of the fifteenth century French polemical treatises written by authors such as Jean de Montreuil, Jean Juvénal des Ursins, Noël de Fribois and Robert Blondel, together with an edition of perhaps the most important of these works, Pour ce que plusieurs (1464). This treatise may have been written by Guillaume Cousinot II, who had been personally involved in the events surrounding the attack upon Fougères in 1449, a subject addressed in highly partial terms by this text; moreover, Cousinot had visited the Lancastrians in exile in Scotland, which might explain how Sir John Fortescue was able to learn of Jean Juvénal's Tres crestien, tres hault, tres puissant roy (1446), and how Pource que plusieurs in turn drew upon the pamphlets of Fortescue. The polemical texts went beyond moral and chivalric discussion of the war, to address the complex legal and historical issues underpinning the conflict. In response to the English claim to the French throne, Jean de Montreuil adopted the Salic Law, a highly dubious and problematic authority, but one that achieved great fame particularly through the influence of Pour ce que plusieurs. Similarly, the polemical writers rejected English demands for Aquitaine and Normandy in full sovereignty by arguing that no French king could alienate the sovereign rights of the crown. In the sixteenth century, both of these principles were elevated to the status of Fundamental Laws. These texts were not intended to serve as propaganda, but were generally produced by royal officials to serve as manuals for their fellow administrators and diplomats, and perhaps also for the king and other members of the court involved in negotiations with the English. Only in exceptional circumstances were such works disseminated beyond the narrow circles of the government and court, though royal officials did draw upon them when speaking at public assemblies.