Skip to navigation – Site map

Archiver la Cour, XIVe-XXe siècles

Journées d'études, 2015 et 2016, université de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines et université Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée
Archiving the Court, Fourteenth to Twentieth centuries. Study days, 2015 and 2016, Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines and Université Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée

What place did the written word have at court, a space generally associated with ceremonial gestures and verbal exchanges? Asking this question makes it possible to freshly approach the court’s nature, an abstraction manipulated by numerous discourses, but also an aggregation of practices: looking at the written word and the rationale of its manifestations and sedimentations is a way of studying both aspects of this dual nature together. From this initial question asked in 2015 during the first study day, held and the University of Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, and from the different types of writings, a problem centred on court archiving emerged, notably developed during the second study day, held at the University of Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée in 2016. Each of the many courtly writings fixed, in their own way, the state and functioning of the court, a result of the archiving practices that this report – containing the revised contributions of these two days – seeks to highlight, both in terms of archiving’s modalities and objectives. How do such practices establish the court? How could one act within the court by archiving it?

Thus, the notion of archiving makes it possible to both analyse the court as a collection of writings, sometimes held in storage, sometimes well known, and to study the series of archives as a whole and the writings that contribute – de facto or according to a clear rationale – to the court’s institutionalization, without essentializing a written culture specific to the court. By archiving, we mean both the implementation, in a singular document, of a narrative or inventory-taking approach, as well as the administrative production of a series of documents, or even reordering operations after the fact in the form of a collection or compilation. This report makes it possible to decompartmentalize two traditions of study that are themselves based on documentary traditions – consideration on the fixing power of the written word and reflection on the modes and uses of the organized accumulation and conservation of documents related to procedures.

Considering the court through the prism of archiving also implies bringing together different temporalities, leading to a long-term perspective – from the development of court documentation in the fourteen and fifteenth centuries to its post-revolutionary reinvention. This chronology makes possible the highlighting of the way things were done both at the time of the endeavour and its recording, as it underlines the important moments of archival reordering as occasions for court reinvention. Finally, the many actors, the abundance of objects and media simultaneously reflect the implementation of regulated archiving practices, the diversity of archival areas, and even, the perpetuation of memory holes, which contributes to courtly socio-political identity, and thus to the rationale of the government of the court and by the court.

For the complete programs of the study days:

– “Definitions and Uses of Court Writings (17th–18th Centuries)”, 19 June 2015, University of Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines
– “Archiving the 14th–20th Century Court”, 4 November 2016, University of Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée

Publication coordinators: Pauline Lemaigre-Gaffier and Nicolas Schapira

Electronic publication: 30 April 2019

  • Logo Centre de recherche du château de Versailles
  • Logo DOAJ - Directory of Open Access Journals
  • OpenEdition Journals