Bouchard's new book examines medieval France
Dr. Constance Bouchard's latest book, "Rewriting Saints and Ancestors: Memory and Forgetting in France, 500-1200" is described as the fruit of her deep engagement with a range of issues relating to early medieval memory in the area that would become France.
Working backward through time, Bouchard, distinguished professor of history, discusses 12th century scribes contemplating the 9th century documents they copied into cartularies or reworked into narratives of disaster and triumph, 9th century churchmen deliberately forging supposedly late antique documents as weapons against both kings and other churchmen, and 6th- and 7th-century Gallic writers coming to terms with an early Christianity that had neither the saints nor the monasteries that would become fundamental to religious practice.
As they met with political change and social upheaval, each generation decided which events of the past were worth remembering and which were to be reinterpreted or quietly forgotten. By considering memory as an analytic tool, Bouchard not only reveals the ways early medieval writers constructed a useful past but also provides new insights into the nature of record keeping, the changing ways dynasties were conceptualized, the relationships of the Merovingian and Carolingian kings to the church, and the discovery (or invention) of Gaul's earliest martyrs.