BLAISE DE MONLUC: REMONSTRANCE AND ORATORY IN THE "COMMENTAIRES"
CAMERON, CLINTON BRUCE
Doctor of Philosophy
Although most critics view Monluc's Commentaires as an historical work, there remains a literary value which cannot be neglected. Monluc recognized that an historical or military treatise alone would not ensure success. He therefore sought to improve the literary quality of the general narrative by impregnating it with subjective comments on moral, social, and military issues. The medium through which these comments are expressed to the reader is most often presented in the form of a remonstrance or speech. The purpose of this dissertation is to show the importance of remonstrance and oratory in the Commentaires relative to the general narrative and to determine their literary value. Remonstrance is defined in Huguet's Dictionnaire de la lanque francaise du seizieme siecle as an "exhortation" or "enseignement"; the term "discours" is mentioned as a treatise (traite) or account (recit) of certain events. Monluc's use of remonstrance and discourse in the Commentaires adheres closely to the above definitions. The remonstrances and discourses are found in the Commentaires as interruptions in the historical narrative or, especially in the case of oratory, as an integral part of an historical situation as described by Monluc. Monluc uses remonstrance and discourse for didactic purposes as he tries to impart his military knowledge to the reader; elsewhere his oratory becomes a tool of persuasion in furthering his own designs within the descriptive setting of an historical event while remonstrance takes the form of a complaint as he seeks to justify himself against accusations of treason and extortion. This study shows that the literary value of the Commentaires lies primarily in the application of remonstrance and oratory to historical narrative. The work is unique in that few histories of the period use remonstrance and oratory for the purpose of self-interested exhortation, counsel and justification. For this reason the Commentaires can be set distinctively apart as representing something more than history, they now become literarily appealing because they represent a particular application of forms that can be interpreted, discussed and analysed as literature. This study has uncovered a Monluc who is no longer to be viewed simply as a cruel and relentless soldier-historian but as an orator and polemicist who, considering the time period and the purposes for which he wrote, achieved great success in the forms of persuasion that he chose to use.