The Return of Martin Guerre


Natalie Zemon Davis

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The Return of Martin Guerre Characters

Martin Guerre

Martin was born into a family from Basque country, an area of southern France near the border with Spain. When he was a child, his family moved further north, to the village of Artigat, where… read analysis of Martin Guerre

Bertrande de Rols

Bertrande was the daughter of a wealthy and prominent Artigat family. Her marriage to Martin Guerre when she was only a young girl was designed to solidify the alliance between the de Rols and Guerre… read analysis of Bertrande de Rols

Arnaud du Tilh

Arnaud grew up in a village about a day’s ride to the north of Artigat. His childhood was in some ways nearly the opposite of the man he would eventually impersonate, Martin Guerre. Martin… read analysis of Arnaud du Tilh

Sanxi the Elder

Sanxi Daguerre (later known as “Guerre”) was Martin’s father. Originally of Basque origin, he moved the family to the village of Artigat when Martin was very young. Davis depicts him as determined to adapt to… read analysis of Sanxi the Elder


Pierre was Sanxi the elder’s brother and Martin’s uncle. He moved to Artigat with the family and also changed his name to “Guerre.” Pierre was loyal and committed to the welfare of the… read analysis of Pierre
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Sanxi the Younger

Sanxi the younger was Martin and Bertrande’s son, named after Martin’s father Sanxi the elder. Since the couple had married in their early teens, Martin seemed to feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities of… read analysis of Sanxi the Younger

Bernarde du Tilh

Bernarde was the daughter of Bertrande de Rols and Arnaud du Tilh, conceived in the period when Arnaud was impersonating Bertrande’s husband Martin Guerre. Although she was technically illegitimate (since she was born… read analysis of Bernarde du Tilh

Jean d’Escornebeuf

Jean d’Escornebeuf was a local lord near the village of Artigat. He accused Arnaud du Tilh (as “Martin Guerre”) of arson and had him arrested. Although the charges were later dropped, it provided… read analysis of Jean d’Escornebeuf

Jean de Coras

Jean de Coras was a lawyer and university professor who served as a judge when the case of Martin Guerre was tried at the Parlement of Toulouse, the most powerful court near the village of… read analysis of Jean de Coras

Guillaume Le Sueur

Guillaume Le Sueur, like Jean de Coras, was also an eyewitness to the trial who wrote a published account of the story of Martin Guerre. Le Sueur’s book, Admiranda historia (1561), is mostly… read analysis of Guillaume Le Sueur

Michel de Montaigne

Michel de Montaigne was a famous Renaissance French writer who coined the term “essay” (French for “to try”) in regard to his short writings on various moral and philosophical topics. Like Jean de Coras and… read analysis of Michel de Montaigne
Minor Characters
Francisco de Mendoza
Francisco de Mendoza was a Spanish cardinal who employed Martin Guerre as a servant after he fled Artigat and settled in Burgos, Spain.
Pedro de Mendoza
Pedro was a Spanish general and Francisco de Mendoza’s brother. After his brother’s death, he began employing Francisco’s servants—including Martin Guerre. Martin fought in Pedro’s army in the war against France in the 1550s.