Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. John R. Sommerfeldt

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


The Justification of Jehan Petit was composed as an attempt to explain the murder in 1407 of Louis, duke of Orleans, by his cousin John the Fearless, duke of Burgundy. The murder was politically necessary for John to be able to dominate the French government while the king, Charles VI, was mad.

Petit attempted to prove that the duke of Orleans had been a tyrant, and that the murder was justifiable as tyrannicide. The validity of Petit’s theory demanded that he be able to prove Louis' tyranny. In so doing, he departed radically from the medieval concept of a tyrant and introduced a number of charges against the duke which, though largely groundless, did fit the murdered Louis into Petit’s new definition. An examination of the new definition of tyranny and of the charges reveals the invalidity of the work.

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