A lady-in-waiting’s begging letter to her former employer (Paris, mid-sixteenth century)

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A begging-letter sent to Marie de Guise, Dowager Queen of Scotland, in 1547 by a former lady-in-waiting contains a number of linguistic features typically found in colloquial Parisian French in the mid-sixteenth century. It has hitherto been assumed that these forms reflect the author’s lower-class (Parisian) origins. In this paper we will present a new edition of the text, followed by an examination of the vernacular linguistic variants it contains. We will contrast this begging-letter with another letter sent to Marie de Guise in the same year: an autograph penned by a lower-status woman with significantly less proficiency in writing. This will call for a new explanation for the presence of so many vernacular variants in the letter.


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