Adultery on Trial: Martin Guerre and his Wife, from Judge’s Tale to the Screen



The case of Martin Guerre fascinated sixteenth-century French audiences high and low, with its questions of identity, transgression, recognition, and revelation. What happened? No-one really knows. Martin Guerre, who had abandoned his wife and son, returned after some five years away at war, a changed man, a good husband and worker. Four years later he was accused of imposture; his case went to trial, and he was condemned; he appealed and was about to be acquitted, given the judges’ overwhelming doubt in the face of a mass of conflicting evidence as to his identity, when, as the original record has it, there was a ‘miracle’: the ‘real’ Martin Guerre arrived. Although he seemed much less convincingly ‘himself’ than did the accused, judgement finally went against the accused who was sentenced to be hanged and his body then burned, to destroy all trace of his person and crime.


Filmic Convention Love Story Scarlet Letter Early Modem Good Husband 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 5.
    S. Heath, ‘Narrative space’, in Questions of Cinema (London: Macmillan, 1981), 19–75 (41).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1997

Authors and Affiliations

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations