The Return of Martin Guerre

by

Natalie Zemon Davis

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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 of unmarried parents), the court declared her legitimate and allowed her to inherit Arnaud’s property. This was because Bertrande claimed that she had been deceived by Arnaud; since Bertrande had thought Arnaud was her legal husband, the court decided, the product of their union was a legitimate heir. In this way, Davis argues, the court was lenient with Arnaud by providing for the future welfare of his daughter.
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Bernarde du Tilh Character Timeline in The Return of Martin Guerre

The timeline below shows where the character Bernarde du Tilh appears in The Return of Martin Guerre. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 5
Women, Honor, and Power Theme Icon
...and night.” In the next three years, they had two daughters, only one of whom (Bernarde) survived infancy. It may have been easier for them to justify this “invented marriage” because,... (full context)
Chapter 9
Identity and Property Theme Icon
...ways treated with lenience, perhaps demonstrating the court’s respect for his extraordinary performance. His daughter Bernarde was declared legitimate and allowed to inherit his property, since Bertrande had not been aware... (full context)
Narrative and Authority Theme Icon
Women, Honor, and Power Theme Icon
...property, even initiating a civil suit against some du Tilh family members to ensure that Bernarde would receive her inheritance. He began by asking for pardon before the church and in... (full context)