Publication Date

January 1991


Posted with permission from Medieval Perspectives, a journal of the SouthEastern Medieval Association (SEMA),


This essay, which is excerpted from a longer initial study of L’Advocacie Nostre Dame, is primarily expository and exploratory in nature. Little has been written about this fascinating text, and the bulk of what has been done dates from the second half of the nineteenth century. This slim body of critical writing is, to say the least, out-dated and deserving of a fresh look. L’Advocacie is critically interesting, highly entertaining, and rather puzzling in a number of aspects, particularly in those related to its genre. Work on it has the potential to provide us with new insights into a range of related areas, such as early French drama, law (and its place in literary production), and the connection between legal societies and Marian Devotion. This paper is intended as a first step toward such future research and toward situating the work in context. After briefly summarizing the plot of this relatively obscure text, I survey critical opinion on L’Advocacie’s textual history, including the problems of dating, authorship and genre. I then outline what I consider to be the two primary aspects of its cultural context, those which seem to have made its composition possible: the medieval cult of the Virgin Mary and the Basoche―the association of advocates, registrars, and law clerks―which had its genesis in early fourteenth century France.


English Language and Literature