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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Queen Margot



Spent some time today perusing the movies at Apple. One that caught my attention was La Reine Margot (Queen Margot) ...

a 1994 French period film directed by Patrice Chéreau, based on the 1845 historical novel of the same name by Alexandre Dumas. It stars Isabelle Adjani, Daniel Auteuil, Virna Lisi and Vincent Pérez. An abridged version of the film was released as Queen Margot in North America, and in the United Kingdom under its original French title.

I was intrigued because I read the Dumas novel when I was a teen., at the same time I was reading his other Three Musketeers novels.

It's set in a really interesting time, during the French Wars of Religion, fought between Catholics and Huguenots. I especially remember the Bartholomew's Day massacre from the book. it was ...

was a targeted group of assassinations, followed by a wave of Catholic mob violence, both directed against the Huguenots (French Calvinist Protestants), during the French Wars of Religion. Traditionally believed to have been instigated by Catherine de' Medici, the mother of King Charles IX, the massacre took place five days after the wedding of the king's sister Margaret to the Protestant Henry III of Navarre (the future Henry IV of France). This marriage was an occasion for which many of the most wealthy and prominent Huguenots had gathered in largely Catholic Paris.

The massacre began in the night of 23-24 August 1572 (the eve of the feast of Bartholomew the Apostle), two days after the attempted assassination of Admiral Gaspard de Coligny, the military and political leader of the Huguenots. The king ordered the killing of a group of Huguenot leaders, including Coligny, and the slaughter spread throughout Paris. Lasting several weeks, the massacre expanded outward to other urban centres and the countryside. Modern estimates for the number of dead across France vary widely, from 5,000 to 30,000.

The massacre also marked a turning point in the French Wars of Religion. The Huguenot political movement was crippled by the loss of many of its prominent aristocratic leaders, as well as many re-conversions by the rank and file, and those who remained were increasingly radicalized. Though by no means unique, it "was the worst of the century's religious massacres." Throughout Europe, it "printed on Protestant minds the indelible conviction that Catholicism was a bloody and treacherous religion".



- A Huguenot on St. Bartholomew's Day by John Everett Millais

The woman the film is about, Margaret of Valois, was interesting too. Shakespeare wrote a play touching on her: Love's Labour's Lost . Here's a bit about her from Wikipedia ...

Aside from being twice a queen—first of Navarre (1572), then of France (1589), Margaret was famous for her beauty and sense of style (she was one of the most fashionable women of her time, influencing most of Europe's Royal Courts with her clothing). She was also a gifted poet and writer, notable for both her own scandalous behavior and for revealing that of others. Margaret took many lovers both during her marriage and after her annulment. The most well-known were Joseph Boniface de La Môle, Jacques de Harlay, Seigneur de Champvallon and Louis de Bussy d'Amboise. When imprisoned by her brother Henry III for eighteen years, she took advantage of the time to write her memoirs, which included a succession of stories relating to the disputes of her brothers Charles IX and Henry III with her husband Henry IV. The memoirs were published posthumously in 1628.

Here's the trailer for the movie ...


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