Urbain Checcaroni

The Court of Miracles seems to correspond to an " intermediary geography " of the insane between the Ship of Fools and the confinement in General Hospitals. Gradually, from the Renaissance to the 17th century, the insane and the marginalized are no longer totally wandering, but neither are they totally locked up.They exist and live in an enclosed and precise place, but it is them who have produced the act of their enclosure in a specific area of public space. These places, in several cities in France and Europe, were called "Cour des Miracles".

The nobility's quarters were evaluated in terms of number of infirmities. To be a beauty queen in the Court of Miracles, "one had to show off a set of disfigurements likely to attract hideous male lice". This reveals that while copying the political model of their time, the monarchy, the inhabitants of the Court of Miracles introduced a great deal of subversion. Then, they had made a specialty of "miracles". In order to enjoy Christian charity, the members of this tinkered court simulated pain and suffering, but everything disappeared "as if by miracle" at nightfall.

(Chantal Dupille)

Maybe you've heard of that mythical place / Called the Court of Miracles

Where the lame can walk / And the blind can see / But the dead don't talk / So you won't be around / To reveal what you've found

Justice is swift in the Court of Miracles / I am the lawyers and judge all in one / We like to get the trial over with quickly / Because it's the sentence that's really the fun!

Now that we've seen all the evidence / We find you totally innocent / Which is the worst crime of all

So you're going to hang!

(Paul Kandel, The Court of Miracles)

by Urbain Checcaroni
May - June, 2020