Monday, July 5, 2010

We forbid anyone to wage war during our war

"In the fourteenth century the kings of France, wishing to concentrate their forces against the English, called upon their barons to curtail their own feuds and vendettas:  'We forbid anyone to wage war [guerre] during our war [guerre].'"

Robert J. Bartlett, "Lords of 'pride and plunder,'" a review of The crisis of the twelfth century:  power, lordship, and the origins of European government, by Thomas N. Bisson, New York review of books 57, no. 11 (June 24, 2010):  48 (47-50), on "the worrying doubt that states and kingdoms, indeed all lawfully constituted governments, are just the most successful of the robber gangs", "the thin line between the gunslinger and the sheriff," "the poignancy of the bandit turned law officer", and so forth.  I think there can be a distinction ("Nowadays, we make a sharper distinction"), but like the quote.

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