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The Would-Be Commoner: A Tale of Deception, Murder, and Justice in Seventeenth-Century France
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The Would-Be Commoner: A Tale of Deception, Murder, and Justice in Seventeenth-Century France

3.29  ·  Rating Details ·  34 Ratings  ·  8 Reviews
In the tradition of The Return of Martin Guerre, a dramatic tale of false identity, murder, and bigamy that riveted France during the reign of Louis XIV

From the historian Jeffrey Ravel comes a scandalous tale of imposture that sheds new light on French politics and culture in the pivotal but underexamined period leading up to the Enlightenment.
In the waning days of the se
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Hardcover, 320 pages
Published July 10th 2008 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Susanne
Dec 22, 2009 Susanne rated it it was amazing
Not only an interesting tale, but I feel like I could carry on an intelligent conversation about 17th Cen. French law now. Very cool. :)
Shari
Oct 19, 2014 Shari rated it liked it
This is an investigation into a late 17th-century case of possible murder and of bigamy in the France of Louis XIV. It is also a cautionary tale warning us against unfounded gossip, and investigating greed during a time when the economy of France has suffered mightily due to plague (hence decreased populations), famine, and the plight of the lesser nobility when economy falters and primogeniture is still the rule, and all of the difficulties of nobility under absolute monarchy apply even though ...more
Larry Hostetler
Sep 29, 2013 Larry Hostetler rated it liked it
Well-researched, as expected, and well-written, but not sufficiently engaging in its telling to maintain interest for 231 pages. By the end I found myself wondering why such an apparently arcane story recommended itself to the historian/author, a point he answered on the last page. (I might have found it more interesting to have had the last page information in the introduction, but who am I?)

The story is illustrative of life and law in 17th century France, and for that reason deserving of three
...more
Bonnie
Nov 13, 2011 Bonnie rated it really liked it
This academic well researched account of Louis de la Pivarliere, a 17th century nobalman whose identity was questioned after he took up the life of a commoner, is interesting and amazingly easy to follow. The logical construction of details and background information sheds new light for me of the poverty of some regions of France at the same time as abundance in others.
Rachel
Apr 09, 2011 Rachel rated it it was amazing
This was a fantastic read! Would recommend to anyone interested in pre-revolutionary French history or fascinating true life mysteries. Thought the writing was great too - so compelling, I was up reading in the middle of the night.
Oneashley
Oct 24, 2008 Oneashley rated it really liked it
Interesting anthropological facts about seventeenth-century France and murder! Yes sir, may I have another?
Suzie Diver
Jun 10, 2012 Suzie Diver rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
An average read. Not awful, but no surprises or fascinating prose either. Good use of archival sources without major leaps in interpretation.
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