On the trail of the past
When she first encountered Les Tragiques, an epic poem published in 1616, senior Von Rolon-Gonzalez was intimidated. The text was tricky since the poet–Agrippa d’Aubigné–wrote his poem in a linguistically challenging middle French. Professor Kitty Maynard, who worked with Von on her independent study, said that the two came up with a solution: “We decided that the best way to approach the work might be to make it tangible, and after reading the text carefully, we thought that one possibility would be to map out the places in the work.”
Aubigné’s epic, which tells the story of the French Wars of Religion from the perspective of the Protestant underdog, makes note of the locations of battles, martyrdoms, and other significant events of the wars. The care with which the poet notes these events is not arbitrary. To prove this point, Von created a map on Google Tourbuilder that listed all the battles mentioned by Aubigné along with their historical context. “As I mapped the various battle scenes, it became more and more obvious that Aubigné was following a geographical pattern, and that this pattern was perhaps more important than the chronological order of events.”
Von presented her findings at the Virginia Military Institute in December as part of an undergraduate presentation connected to the Biennial Conference of the Seiziémistes of the Mid-Atlantic. With the theme “Words of War, Wars of Words,” the presentation included cadets from VMI and professors from around the region.