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Durham University

Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS)

Events and Outreach

Durham Early Modern Group -‘Traditions of Early Modern Revolts and Oral Cultures in Europe: A Few Questions and Perspectives’

9th December 2020, 17:00 to 18:30, Éva Guillorel (Rennes)

How were the periodic revolts experienced in Europe in the early modern period remembered by the communities that experienced them? How was that memory transmitted from one generation to the next? How did memories of social conflict shape subsequent political choices and actions?

Early modern insurgents and their descendants were often illiterate and their culture was primarily an oral one, drawing on a repertoire of songs, legends, anecdotes or proverbs. This oral culture was used to mobilize communities in revolt – song in particular acted as a powerful cohesive force – but oral traditions were also vectors of memory in which the legacy of rebellion could be transmitted within the communities directly affected. Such sources offer a version of events that can diverge significantly from that available in written archives. Their use by historians raises important methodological questions. This presentation will present some considerations based on the results of a collective research project conducted over the past seven years.

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