contributor.author: Joëlle Rollo-Koster

title.none: Aurell, ed. Convaincre et persuader (Joëlle Rollo-Koster)

identifier.other: baj9928.0811.007 08.11.07

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Joëlle Rollo-Koster, University of Rhode Island, Joelle@uri.edu

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2008

identifier.citation: Aurell, Martin, ed. Convaincre et persuader: communication et propagande aux XIIe et XIIIe siècles. Actes des colloques de Fontevraud, Oxford, Barcelone, Saintes, Octobre 2004-Novembre 2006. Civilisation Medievale v. XVIII. Poitiers: Université de Poitiers-centre d'études supérieures de civilisation médiévale, 2007. Pp. 724. 75. ISBN: 2-95251-2-2.

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 08.11.07

Aurell, Martin, ed. Convaincre et persuader: communication et propagande aux XIIe et XIIIe siècles. Actes des colloques de Fontevraud, Oxford, Barcelone, Saintes, Octobre 2004-Novembre 2006. Civilisation Medievale v. XVIII. Poitiers: Université de Poitiers-centre d'études supérieures de civilisation médiévale, 2007. Pp. 724. 75. ISBN: 2-95251-2-2.

Reviewed by:

Joëlle Rollo-Koster
University of Rhode Island
Joelle@uri.edu

It is tough to find fault to such an important book, published under the auspices of the increasingly recognized Centre d'études supérieures de civilisation médiévale of Poitiers (France). This volume is important by its size, close to 730 pages of a large 27 by 20 centimeters format, and by its focus: propaganda and communication, convincing and persuading in the twelfth and thirteenth century, a topic that medievalists are just starting to discover.[1] This volume culminates and recapitulates a series of meetings that took place between 2004 and 2006 in France, Great Britain, and Spain. The volume's geographical and chronological scopes span the European central Middle Ages, and its general focus lays on the genesis of the modern concept of propaganda. One of this book's best qualities is to showcase many talented French and Spanish medieval historians little known outside of Europe.

Martin Aurell offers readers an exemplary methodological and historiographical introduction to the topic, where he defines the fields and linguistics of propaganda,[2] communication, and publicity; the actors (patrons, creators, intermediaries and public); and the media (writing, sound, gesture and/or image). Aurell defends the study of propaganda and communication by the new perspectives that these topics open to medievalists. Both are at the heart of social life, politics, social affirmation, and religious practices. Aurell proposes several binomial concepts of analysis to place propaganda in its indigenous medieval context. Firstly, it can be concrete that is circumstantial, on the one hand, or extemporal or general on the other. Secondly, propaganda can be explicit or implicit (to serve the distinction between propaganda and communication), and finally it can be what Aurell labels servile versus free propaganda, that is, whether it serves a "master" or is the direct voice of a creator.

The volume is divided into four large sections, each of excellent quality and with an embarrassment of the riches in the details of texts, appendices, and footnotes. Due to the constraints of this review I can only list the papers (I translated the titles for convenience in order to lead readers to their specific interests) and then spend very little time with each article. I strongly advise anyone interested in the topic to run and get this book.

The first section, the thickest with 9 papers, deals with the "voice" of propaganda: harangue, sermon, and prophecy. Xavier Storelli, in "Convince to Win: The Place and Function of Military Harangues in Anglo-Norman Historiography (XI-Beginning XIII Centuries)," initiates the collection. Xavier Storelli's discussion of military harangue will certainly interest military historians and others, because as with many other medieval documents we can assume that harangues were not a reality but a re-composed discourse. Their stated aims were to galvanize soldiers into not fearing death on the battlefield but in the impossibility of knowing whether they were ever uttered they can be studied for the message their authors transmitted (communal values, their ideological and psychological framework). As Storelli concludes, harangues magnified vassalic and political ties, and common identity-- hence, propaganda. But the author also warns us about the shortcomings of his study: the analysis of the reception, diffusion, and audience of the discourses is yet imperfect. His appendix of harangues adds a very nice touch to the soundness of his essay. Maté Billoré, in "Christian Ideology and Political Ethics through the Dialogue between King Henry II and the Abbot of Bonneval of Peter of Blois," discusses royal pedagogy as found in the "mirrors of the prince" where a king is entreated to lead his subjects politically and morally through a criticism of the prince's leadership that in turn becomes religious and political propaganda in favor of that same leadership. Angeles Garca de la Borbolla, in "Hagiographical Discourse as Means of Propaganda: The Model of Gonzalo de Berceo," treats the hagiographical production that advertised specific religious centers as it edified, entertained, and taught catechism to its readers. Beatriz Marcotegui's "Transmission of the Evangelical Message in the XIII Century: Eudes of Cheriton" frames preaching within the boundaries of propaganda when convincing the audience to act as and be Christian, but also when serving as models for sermon collections. Catalina Girbea, in "Persuasive Discourses and Religious Consciousness in Arthurian Romances (XII-XIII Centuries)," traces the evolution of one of the most salient medieval contradictions, the Christian propaganda imbedded in the "pagan" Arthurian romances, from Chrétien de Troyes who knew how to balance adventure and religious morality to his successors who tipped the scale toward moral instruction. With the same irony, Catherine Daniel, in "The Merlin Prophecies: A Propaganda Tool of the XII and XIII Centuries," traces the life of Merlin's prophecies, from tales directed at the Britons fighting foreign invaders (like the Germans) to serving foreign invaders whether Normans or Plantagenets. In a minutely sophisticated article Martha Ganéva, in "A Spiritual Itinerary through French Tales of the XIII Century (Paris: Bibliothèque Nationale de France n. acq. Fr. 4276)," returns to the original fide in propaganda (the only meaning that the Middle Ages knew) and searches for the rationale behind a collection of texts now found at the BN. With exquisite detail, Ganéva guides us through the collection until its meaning unravels. The collection was to lead a reader through prayers, conversion, and contemplation. Isabelle Rousseau-Jacob's "The 'Apocalypses of Faction': Instructions" and François Foronda's "The Monarchic Propaganda in Thirteenth-Century Castile: Some Considerations on the Libro de los Doze Sabios" continue with a discussion of prophecies and history. Rousseau-Jacob looks at the relationship between prophetic texts and historical reality, taking into consideration the long life and adaptability of many predictions. Her edition of two prophecies (Biblioteca de Catalunya, ms. 490, fol. 100v., opus magistri Arnaldi de Vilanova, and Biblioteca del palacio, ms. II/3096) will also satisfy interested readers. François Foronda uses texts issued from the Castilian monarchy to argue for a history of consensus within the history of propaganda. In short the author suggests rightfully that successful propaganda appeals to and reinforces social cohesion. Again, his transcription of the prologue and chapters I-XXVI of the Libro de los doze sabios will interest his readers.

The second section focuses on information--gathering and hiding information--and the spreading of rumors. Francesc Rodrguez Bernal's "On the Letter of Sexton Pere de Vic to the Viscountess Guillerma de Cardano (circa 1150): Attempts at a Contextual Framework" initiates this section with a study founded on the name identity of the Catalonian lords of Montcada, the Cardonas. The article offers several illustrations, maps, genealogy, transcription, and photographs that will interest readers. The capture of Richard the Lionhearted by Leopold of Austria and the ensuing anti-Riccardian propaganda is the focus of Egbert Trk's "A Kingdom without a King: Pierre de Blois and Aliénor d'Aquitaine." The author discusses the epistolary invectives of Peter of Blois, who was at the service of Alienor, against pope Celestine's lack of support for the famous crusader. An edition and French translation of Peter's letter 146 follows the essay. At the risk of sounding partial, I wholly appreciated the essay of Myriam Soria Audebert on papal propaganda during the twelfth-century schisms. Soria Audebert's "Pontifical Propaganda during the Schisms: Alexander III to the reconquest of Church Unity" makes evident that schisms entailed double allegiance hence propaganda to bring the opponent over to the "other" side. The essay discusses Alexander III's propaganda in France, to keep the country in his obedience. The elegant title of Laurence Moulinier-Brogi's article "Defamation (délit d'opinion) and Heresy (déni d'orthodoxie) in Thirteenth- Century Europe" indicates its concentration on language. In an original essay, Moulinier-Brogi studies the linguistic existence of heresy, during the century that saw the creation of the inquisition. Using Renard le Bestourné, Claudio Galderisi, in "The Opinionated Poet between Propaganda and Satire: Context and Reader Sloth in Renart le Bestourné," studies urban "poetry," communal culture, and the channeling of public opinion through satire. Elodie Lecuppre- Desjardin, in "From Invective to Consciousness: The War between Douai and Lille (1284-1285)," uses a lesser-known war between the cities of Douai and Lille in 1285 to revisit Jacques Le Goff's enunciation of four categories for the circulation of propaganda (oral, written, image and gesture) and focuses on what she labels insidious propaganda, when based on provocation, defiance, taunt, outrage, and harassment. Aude Cirier's "Communication and Politics in Northern and Central Italy at the End of the Middle Ages: For a History of the General Intelligence" concludes the second section with an important article on the history of spying in central and northern Italy. The study leads to a focus on the conception of maiestas, the authority of podestas and captains, and the administrative, military, and diplomatic organization of the state.

The third section deals with transmission and alteration of memory. It starts with the article of Damien Carraz, "Ancestral Memory and Monastic Archives: The Bourboutons and the Commanderie of Richerenches." Damien Carraz frames his discussion of memory within the ideological dimension of charters, using a Provençal lineage's association with the foundation charters of a Templar commanderie. An important appendix containing a genealogy, cartulary structure, tables, photographs, drawings, and an edition of the principal documents follow his presentation. David Crouch, in "Biography as Propaganda in the 'History of William Marshall'," continues with a discussion underscoring the propagandistic elements of biographies. He focuses on a life of William Marshall, asking more specifically why, in this case, a poet was chosen to write this biography. Gilles Lecuppre, in "The Capetian Order and Germanic Confusion: Royal Competition in French Sources of the XIII Century," contrasts the smooth succession of the Capetian dynasty with the chaotic state of affairs of the Holy Roman Empire electoral system, wondering how the difference was felt in contemporary writings. Thomas Deswarte, in "To Justify the Unpardonable: The Elimination of Spanish Liturgy in Literature XII - Middle XIII Century)," initiates his essay with Pope Gregory VII's injunction to Castile, Leon, and Navarre to follow Roman rites. He then studies how this liturgical innovation was received in Spain, suggesting that it was presented as a monarchic rather than papal initiative. Marta Lacomba closes the section with "Historiography and Propaganda in Castile at the End of the XIII Century: The Example of El Cid" where she discusses historiography and propaganda, opening her essay with King Alphonso X's ordering a history of Spain and a general history. El Cid is at the core of her study and she unveils his exploitation by the historiography of the Spanish monarchy from Alphonso to Sancho IV.

The fourth and last section focuses on the visual aspects of propaganda with images, paintings, displays, and the valorization of ritual. Esther Dehoux, in "Paintings of Canons: Images and Messages at Saint-Jacques-des-Guérets," locates her essay within the confines of visual propaganda in the Loire Valley, unraveling the iconographic messages found in south-west Vandmois, more especially in Saint- Jacques-des-Guérets. There, the church's canons chose to represent on their walls Catholic dogma, social hierarchy, and communal identity. Several maps, diagrams, and photographs conclude the essay. Using the fleur-de-lys, Laurent Hablot's "Under the Fleurs-de-Lys: The Use of Royal Armorials as a Tool of Governance from Philip Augustus to the Last Capetian" proposes to enlarge the study of heraldic's function. He looks further than heraldic's identifying function on the battle or tournament field and focuses on the Fleur's symbolic political association with the Capetian monarchy. In his words heraldic was a governing tool. Hablot demonstrates how several social groups were allowed to carry the arms (or a variation thereof) according to their social functions. His presentation is followed by several photographs of seals and stain glasses depicting the symbol. Vincent Debiais, in "Display to Persuade: The Construction and Promotion of Memory in Inscriptions as a Means of Medieval Propaganda," concentrates on the propagandistic-communicative function of funerary and commemorative epigraphy. He is concerned with the text itself, the text's support (form and space where and on which the text is inscribed), and its audience. Several photographs of epitaphs and inscriptions follow his article. The volume closes with Alain Rauwell's "Liturgical Treatises and the Exaltation of Roman/ness from Bernold of Constance to Innocent III" where he discusses the expositiones missae, which offered liturgical explanations of texts and ceremonies of the mass. Rome, its papal court, and its pope weigh heavily in most texts, to such a point that Rauwell may be calling these liturgical documents Roman propaganda. Hence Rauwell hypothesizes on the possibility of using concepts like propaganda in the analysis of ecclesiastical literature.

Robert Halleux concludes this rich volume recapitulating the many analytical concepts applicable to the religious or political world of propaganda and communication: persuasive, seductive, invasive, insidious, verbal, iconographic, or gestural. Again, this volume is necessary and essential to anyone interested in the various means of medieval communication. One should praise the high standards of this collection and the originality of the research.

-------- Notes:

1. The most salient medieval examples are: Martin Aurell, Culture politique des Plantagenêt, 1154-1224: Actes du colloque tenu à Poitiers du 2 au 5 mai 2002 (Poitiers: Centre d'études supérieures de civilisation médiévale, 2003); Convegno storico internazionale (Todi, Italy), La propaganda politica nel basso Medioevo: Atti del XXXVIII Convegno storico internazionale, Todi, 14-17 ottobre 2001 (Spoleto, Perugia: Centro italiano di studi sull'alto Medioevo, 2002); Thelma S. Fenster and Daniel Lord Smail, Fama: The Politics of Talk and Reputation in Medieval Europe (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2003); and George Makdisi, Dominique Sourdel, and Janine Sourdel-Thomine, Prédication et propagande au Moyen Age: Islam, Byzance, Occident: Penn-Paris-Dumbarton Oaks Colloquia, III, session des 20-25 octobre 1980 (Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1983).

2. At the basis of propaganda are the religious and often coercive elements of the Congregatio de propaganda fide of the Counter- Reformation.