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Conference papers

La honte de l'endetté (Paris, XVe siècle)

Abstract : Private debt which appears to have been a widespread phenomenon as related by archival documentation of the 12th and 13th centuries, has developed in medieval and modern studies over the last fifteen years a reputation as both an economic and social reality. These studies have emphasized the fact that credit, be it as a survival measure or as part of a financial strategy, created a complex social dynamic, combining trust, friendship and domination. The relationship put the reputation of both partners on the line. Creditor and debtor needed to distance themselves from the images of the usurer and the prodigal mauvais ménagier. Such a social relationship was certainly risky for those who entered into it : could it inspire shame ? Whereas historiography, since Jacques Le Goff's pionieering works, has always focused on the figure of the usurer, this paper deals with the emotions of the debtors : of those who have been arrested by sergeants, of those who must abandon their worldly possessions to repay their debts. Founded mostly upon an investigation of the Châtelet records (civilian records of 1395-1455 and prison records of 1412 and 1488-1489), this paper studies the parisian ritual of 'surrender and forfeiture of property", including the swearing of two oaths (of one's inability to pay and one's intent to pay as soon as possible) and the symbolic gestures of divestment. This ritual has changed after the 15th century : the emphasis was placed on publicity and the manifest desire to humiliate the debtor. No doubt that the shame of the indebted became then more marked.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, January 8, 2014 - 3:35:00 PM
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  • HAL Id : halshs-00925789, version 1


Julie Claustre. La honte de l'endetté (Paris, XVe siècle). Shame Between Punishment and Penance. The Social Usages of Shame in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Times, 2010, France. pp.229-246. ⟨halshs-00925789⟩



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