Thu, 23.05.2024 18:00

The Tree and the Forest

Evening Lecture by Élodie Lecuppre-Desjardin (University of Lille) in the context of the Kickoff-Conference of the SFB Managing Maximilian “Managing the Prince"

Military ordinance of Charles the Bold (1473), London, British Library, Add. Ms. 36619, fol. 5r

Some Reflections on the “Little Big Men” in the Construction of the State at the End of the Middle Ages

In the winter of 1459-1460, with rumors circulating in Picardy of new English threats, the captain of Amiens, Philippe de Saveuse, came up against several inhabitants who invoked a privilege of nobility to escape the watch, and appealed to the Duke of Burgundy himself to enforce the exemption. In a letter dated January 17, 1460, Philip the Good, at the request of two of the petitioners, granted the request of Jean Fourment, receiver of the domain, and Jean de Neuvillette, attorney for the King and the Duke of Burgundy. The case, closed by order of the sovereign power embodied by the Duke, could have ended there. But this was without counting on the pugnacity and sense of duty in the service of the State of a captain determined to fulfill his duties and defend the town, despite the prince’s procrastination. With a series of insistent letters to the ducal court, Philippe de Saveuse succeeded in bending the duke’s mind and putting the interests of the governed region beyond the networks of influence, so that on February 18, 1460, the solicitors were invited, like the others, to guard the town of Amiens.

This anecdote which can be considered as a medieval exemplum, shows that serving the prince could surpass the frailties of his humanity, and raises the essential question of the meaning of the State at the level of the man who embodies it and the men who govern it. This question, to which Françoise Autrand’s exemplary 1981 study of the People of the Parlement de Paris shed some light, remains, and places the prosopographical question somewhere between the philosophy of history and socio-political inquiry. Using a few examples from the Burgundian century that preceded Maximilian of Austria’s rise to power, we will explore the role played by State servants in the ideological development of power.



23 May 2024, 6 p.m.

on site at the Weltmuseum Wien Forum – KHM, Vienna

and online via Zoom


Kickoff-Conference of the SFB Managing Maximilian

Managing the Prince