Book Series Late Medieval and Early Modern Studies, vol. 28


The Spread of Controversial Literature and Ideas in France and Scotland, c. 1550–1610

John O'Brien, Marc Schachter (eds)

  • Pages: 324 p.
  • Size:156 x 234 mm
  • Illustrations:6 b/w, 1 col.
  • Language(s):English, French
  • Publication Year:2021

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-58990-9
  • Hardback
  • Available
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-58992-3
  • E-book
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This collection of eleven essays by an international team of experts investigates the political, literary, gendered, and historical dimensions of sedition and seditious works in the French Renaissance.


“This edited volume is a fascinating exploration of the language and ideas of sedition.” (Emily Butterworth, in French Studies, 25/09/2022)


John O’Brien is Emeritus Professor of French and Marc Schachter is Associate Professor of French at the University of Durham, UK. The epicentre of their joint research is Montaigne and La Boétie. Their previous collaboration, La première circulation de la ‘Servitude volontaire’ en France et au-delà, was published in May 2019 by Honoré Champion.



This interdisciplinary collection examines the notion of sedition in the period of the French Wars of Religion (1560–1600) and focuses not only on France itself, but also on Scotland during the reign of the French-born Mary Queen of Scots. Composed of eleven chapters written by an international team of experts, this volume concentrates on the political aspects of sedition rather than religious heresy, and covers writings and publications in a wide range of fields: politics, history, law, literature, and gender. A complementary feature of this collection is the spectrum of writings studied; they include edicts and treatises, pamphlets, broadsides, legal documents, dialogues, and satirical prose and poetry. Several chapters also address visual representations of sedition.

An Introduction and a Conclusion provide synthetic analyses of the material studied in the individual chapters. This is a collection which will appeal to readers with interests in the history of political ideas and thought, the comparative study of monarchical government, and concepts of tyranny and resistance, discord, rebellion, and revolt.


Acknowledgements, List of Figures Introduction

Sedition: From Disobedience to Revolt — John O’Brien and Marc Schachter

The Language of Sedition

La sédition pendant les guerres civiles (France, 1560–1600): une histoire sans événement — Paul-Alexis Mellet

The Language of Religious Conflict: Seditions, Assemblies, Emotions, Violences… — George Hoffmann

Sources of Sedition

Heresy and Sedition in Pierre de Ronsard’s Discours des misères de ce temps (1562) and Pierre Boton’s La France divisée (c. 1595) — Andrea Frisch

The Role of John Knox and his Seditious Writings in the Outbreak of the French Wars of Religion — Éric Durot

Cicero the Revolutionary: Some Seditious Motifs in the Literature of the French Wars of Religion — John O’Brien

Genre and the Question of Sedition

‘Books with Sharp Teeth’: The Perception of Seditious Books in Early Modern France — Natalia Wawrzyniak

How Not to Be (and Sound) Seditious: The Prince de Condé’s Justifications for Starting the First War of Religion (1562–63) — Ullrich Langer

Political Crime in the Wars of Religion: François Brigard’s Sedition — Tom Hamilton

Gender, Sedition, and Literature

The Sempill Ballats: Gendering Sedition and Rebellion — Armel Dubois-Nayt

The Seditious Pleasures of the Prince in the Reveille-matin’s Denunciation of Tyranny — Marc Schachter

Styling Sedition in The Island of Hermaphrodites (L’Isle des hermaphrodites, 1605) — Kathleen Long


The Several Faces of Sedition — Mark Greengrass (with Dénes Harai)