Vengeance fascinates us because it is always ambivalent. Ambivalent because it has two registers: one, vindictive, derives from instinct and comprises an impulse for revenge driven by passion and appetite; the other, vindicatory, derives from law and human society and incorporates retribution as a form of reciprocity or compensation that restores equilibrium. A study of vindicatory violence that crosses the traditional medieval-early modern divide and covers the age of absolutism is important for empirical reasons alone. While accepting that many violent exchanges between feuding groups may not involve bloodshed, this study is based on the assumption that blood taking is integral to the process of feuding, but that not all acts of blood revenge are necessarily indicative of a feud. This book investigates the causes and dynamics of vindicatory violence in early modern France, the role of kinship and honour in the process, the nature of combat, and how it was experienced, represented, and legitimised.
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