The Return of Martin Guerre-David and Finley

The Return of Martin Guerre-David and Finley

The Return of Martin Guerre is unique because it is about a peasant. Most history during that time was written about the elite of society. The book is about an imposter, Arnaud du Tilh, coming back and impersonating Martin Guerre. He claims to be him and even came back and slept with Bertrande, Guerre’s wife. This impersonation continues for years, du Tilh had multiple children with Bertrande. Questions of his real identity only really began to arise when du Tilh tried to make claims to land, causing the father to become suspicious. Tu Tilh was then arrested for impersonating Guerre. The case is almost appealed when the real Guerre shows up and du Tilh is executed.

Davis wrote a rebuttal on Finlay’s book. Her focus was on how Finlay portrayed the wife, Bertrande, as an innocent unknowing victim. Davis believes this is unrealistic. She gives several reasons for why she does not believed Finlay’s description. One being that it is simply improbable that Bertrande would go that far and that long without realizing it was not the real Guerre. Davis believed that Berttande was in on the plan, she knew it was not Guerre but she pretend because it benefited her in the long run. Davis also states that Bertrande’s testimony at the trials was an act, a script that she and du Tilh had come up with long before the trial. Part of Davis’ viewpoint in her analysis may be because she is a woman. She does not agree with the idea that women are victims by nature and wanted to bring forward a different inerpretation.

Finlay then wrote a response to Davis’ work. In this, Finlay states why Davis is essentially wrong. His first and overarching point is that there is simply no evidence. He describes her argument as the fact that Bertrande just should have known it was not Guerre. There is nothing from that time period to support the idea of Bertrande being in on the deception. At that time, her innocence was never in question and because of that, there is no evidence to support that idea. All evidence portrays her as an innocent victim to du Tilh’s deception. He also calls attention to the fact that Davis is trying to fit todays views on Bertrande, rather than the views of that time period. Overall, Finlay rejects Davis’ arguement and resoldifies his own that he made in his orginal book.


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