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:
  • Anjou:
  • My Lords of Poland I must needs confess,
  • The offer of your Prince Elector's, far
  • Beyond the reach of my deserts:
  • For Poland is as I have been inform'd,
  • A martial people, worthy such a King,
  • As hath sufficient counsel in himself,
  • To lighten doubts and frustrate subtle foes.
  • The Massacre at Paris, Scene X.1-7

The Massacre at Paris

The Massacre at Paris

Scene X

Anjou Accepts the Crown of Poland

Location: A Diplomatic Meeting in France

The play now switches temporarily to the historical narrative, with a brief and functional scene that comprises little more than a speech from Anjou, the French king's younger brother, who accepts the crown of Poland. Marlowe again appears to have switched the order of events here, although for no obvious dramatic reason that can be seen in the extant text. In reality,1 Anjou was offered the Polish crown in the middle in the following year, 1573, and yet the following scene in the play reverts to the Massacre in August 1572.

Anjou, who we have just seen murder Ramus in cold blood in the previous scene, makes a diplomatic speech, modestly claiming the offer is "far / Beyond the reach of my deserts" (X.2-3). He recognises that a Polish king must be a strong military leader, noting wars against two of Poland's enemies, the Muscovites to the east (Russia at that time was ruled by Ivan the Terrible) and the Ottoman Empire of the Turks on their southern border. Marlowe has Anjou insert an exit clause in his acceptance "that, if by death of Charles, the diadem / Of France be cast on me, then with your leaves / I may retire me to my native home" (X.23-25). This may have simply been for dramatic expediency, for there is no known source for such a covenant. Alternatively it might just be considered circumstantial evidence of Marlowe originally plotting to have Charles IX murdered, as is also hinted at by Catherine in the following scene (XI.43-44). But the extant text does not follow through on this plot line, and it is perhaps unlikely that such a story-line could have been forgotten or dropped by the reporter(s).

  • Note 1: Anjou was in charge of the unsuccessful Siege of La Rochelle, which ended when he was offered the Polish Crown - see historical summary of the Fourth War. Back to Text
 
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