The Marlowe Society

Marlowe's Works

Marlowe's Works
Massacre Woodcut

The Massacre at Paris

The Massacre at Paris

History:

History:

Interpretation:

Interpretation:

Plot:

Plot:

References:

References:

The Massacre at Paris

The Massacre at Paris

The French Wars of Religion

Before looking at Marlowe's play in more detail, it is perhaps useful to provide a brief factual overview of this period of French history which sparked both the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre in 1572 and the other events dramatised in the play.1

All these events were part of the French Wars of Religion that took place between approximately 1560 and 1598, a series of eight brief civil wars interspersed by mostly fragile periods of negotiated truce. As the name implies, the primary conflict was between the two religions, as a nascent and persecuted Protestant population in France sought some basic religious and political rights, and the Catholic establishment moved to maintain their position of power and dominance whilst eradicating heresy. This overall picture is occasionally complicated (especially after 1572) by the political machinations and material self-interest of individual nobles (some of whom were able to raise their own armies locally), as well as the occasional uprising by the lower orders seeking social justice.

1. Background

2. Reference

3. Key Events: 1562 to 1572

4. Key Events: A Wedding and a Massacre

5. Key Events: 1572 to 1581

6. Key Events: 1584 to 1598

  • Note 1: Those wishing to learn more about the French Wars of Religion could do worse than read [Knecht-Essential] which provides a very readable overview of the 40 years of conflict. [Knecht-Seminar] contains some more detailed essays on various aspects of the Wars (including one on the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre) and also contains translations of some relevant contemporary documents. [Holt] provides a more detailed study of the Wars, with particular emphasis on the Religious aspects.Back to Text
 
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