In the Land of the Nameless (Giaccomo Todeschini)

A true catalog of the “infamous”, Giacomo Todeschini's work is a true reflection on exclusion and the social codes of society from the Middle Ages to the modern era. Through this book, the author gives the floor to these Nameless, the forgotten ones of the great History.

People of bad life, suspicious or ordinary people from the Middle Ages to modern times

It is on the basis of the works of theologians, magistrates and legislators that G. Todeschini catalogs and describes the condition of those excluded from society also considered to be infamous, that is to say the beings who have lost their reputation (the fama) and are therefore deprived of rights in a social life founded on honor. The numerous extracts from sources present within the work show us the multiplication of debates which push to establish codes and classifications between individuals and groups, which push to the exclusion of the Christian community. Many questions therefore emerge from the book and are the subject of real debate within the company of the Ancien Régime: should a buckwheat or a Jew be allowed in church? Christian servants in a Jewish house? Can we accept the testimony of a needy knowing that, precisely because he is in misery, he is corruptible and susceptible to being animated by a spirit of vengeance? The poor, moreover, who are they? Professional beggars, envious, lazy, "like flies or ravenous fleas", or, by religion or mimicry, sincerely aspire to poverty to imitate the apostles?

G. Todeschini draws an archeology of social exclusion through a catalog of infamous made up of infidels, Jews or heretics, sacrilegious, tomb rapists, incestuous, perjury, deserters, homicides, slanderers "devil's vivandiers", madmen, priests partners, foreigners, but also people whose profession is deemed dishonorable, but legal, such as executioners, jailers, butchers, surgeons, bakers, prostitutes or even usurer.

If the considerations and the social picture described by Todeschini seem rather distant and anchored in an outdated society, the author nevertheless suggests that this slow construction of social models is not foreign to the social organization on which the market was based. subsequent economic. Indeed, even before the syntax of social exclusion or abstract doctrines, the first vectors of the transmission over time of this logic of inequality, evident in the eyes of the intellectuals of the sixteenth century, were the objective difficulties which were to be encountered. faced the bulk of the so-called "citizens" in participation in the "market". This distrust, weighing on the greatest number, diffused by the different languages ​​of modernity, will produce forms of consciousness and self-representation strongly marked by insecurity and doubt about what should be understood by " value ”or belonging of individuals. The marginalized, institutionally defined as such by European societies through their stigmatization as mad, miserable, delinquent, contagious, will therefore appear more and more as the threatening frontier that the majority of citizens always have before their eyes and that they fear. of being able, or of having to, to override.

Our opinion

A true scholar's work, In the Land of the Nameless by Giacomo Todeschini is a rich work of many sources and documents which place it in a process of social history, but also of economic history. However, the work would have, perhaps, deserved the contribution of more varied sources such as the minutes of the trials or the legal archives which would certainly have allowed us to understand the point of view of these marginalized ones since it is from the point of view of view of the official sources that these people of bad life are presented to us. The work, although brilliant, is however quite difficult for a public which is not familiar with the historical scientific approach, the lack of popularization can be a brake although the book deserves to be known and studied by the enthusiasts of these questions.

Giacomo Todeschini, In the land of the nameless, people of bad life, suspicious or ordinary people from the Middle Ages to modern times, Verdier, March 2015, 400 p.

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