Nicolas Offenstadt

Peacemaking in the Middle Ages Publication date : September 6, 2007

“When those at the top start talking of peace, the common people know that there will be war. When those at the top start cursing war, the travel warrants have already been filled in,” wrote Brecht. Why is peace constantly talked about in wartime, or when war is being prepared? How should those in power talk about peace in the public arena?

During the Hundred Years' War, peace was invoked by all participants from every social sphere: from the warring princes to ordinary subjects, from university scholars to urban authorities. Talk about peace was central to the peacemaking process. Peace also seemed to depend on a number of rituals (celebrations, proclamations, oaths, etc.) that were not purely formal:

Nicholas Offenstadt proposes a veritable “grammatolgy of peace” and describes the subtle rhetoric and practice of peace, as it was established in the Middle Ages.

This book recounts the history of eleven major negotiations and treaties, signed between France and England or between French princes, in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. It shows that the Middle Ages invented a new form of peacemaking, which continues to influence us today.

Offenstadt plunges the reader into a highly original exploration of the Middle Ages, particularly of the Hundred Years' War.

Nicolas Offenstadt is a senior lecturer at the University of Paris-I. He is the author of Les Chemins des Dames(2004) and of the highly acclaimed Les Fusillés de la Grande Guerre et la mémoire collective (1999).