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FT-58220-10
France on the Page: Portraying the Wars of Religion
Kendall Tarte, Wake Forest University

Grant details: https://securegrants.neh.gov/publicquery/main.aspx?f=1&gn=FT-58220-10

"Mapping Heresy in François de Belleforest’s Cosmographie Universelle" (Book Section)
Title: "Mapping Heresy in François de Belleforest’s Cosmographie Universelle"
Author: Kendall Tarte
Editor: Gabriella Scarlatta and Lidia Radi
Abstract: This article examines illustrations of Huguenot violence in the book that is arguably the most important sixteenth-century geographical text on France, François de Belleforest’s Cosmographie Universelle (1575). Working with printers Nicolas Chesneau and Michel Sonnius, Belleforest adapted and expanded Sebastian Münster’s geography (Cosmographia, first published in German in 1544) for a French audience. Drawing on information collected from sources all over the country, Belleforest composed an entirely new section on France. Here geography and history interact. In this long and detailed text, the Catholic author engages with contemporary events – the ongoing civil wars – in images that mark the spread of heresy through France. These include images of the Huguenots themselves – those Belleforest designates as heretics – and, especially, images of places attacked and ruined: the text accumulates examples of destroyed churches, monasteries, convents, and towns. The resulting description presents a country ravaged by those the author names “heretical Huguenots.” My analysis situates these examples of physical devastation within Belleforest’s larger geographical project. He uses these examples in two notable ways: as a mapping strategy, to identify the many locations of destruction; and as a polemical gesture, to highlight the firm Catholic convictions of the inhabitants of many towns throughout France and, ultimately, of the author himself. Strikingly, most of the woodcut engravings of cities and towns that accompany the written description of France do not show any evidence of the physical devastation. This examination concludes with a consideration of one fascinating exception: a city view that displays destroyed sites in an otherwise empty landscape, a striking visual rendering of the absence caused by Huguenot and Catholic violence.
Year: 2017
Primary URL: http://crrs.ca/publications/representing-heresy-in-early-modern-france/
Publisher: Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies
Book Title: Representing Heresy in Early Modern France


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