- I would the Guise in his stead might have come,
- But he doth lurk within his drowsy couch,
- And makes his footstool on security:
- So he be safe he cares not what becomes,
- Of King or Country, no not for them both.
- The Massacre at Paris, Scene XVI.39-43
The Massacre at Paris
Navarre Learns of the French Army's Advance
Location: The Court of Navarre
This scene is again a brief one in the extant text. It does not add a great deal to the plot, other than to remind the audience that, as he planned at the end of Scene XIII, Navarre has made his escape from France1 and, now back in Navarre, learns that the French Army organised by Guise is on its way.
The first half of the scene provides Navarre with a platform to reiterate to his followers (Pleshé and Bartus) the heart-felt righteousness of his protestant cause, and to once again declaim against the "the proud disturbers of the faith - I mean the Guise, the Pope and the King of Spain" (XVI.3-4). There are again hints at the reported nature of the text, with some awkward phraseology in places (XVI.7-9 for example), and the seeming corruption of Navarre's second brief speech on "the power of vengeance [that] now encamps itself / Upon the haughty mountains of my breast" (XVI.20-21): in particular, the repetition of "colour(s)" and "vengeance"/"revenge"/"revenge").
The stated desire for an opportunity at revenge is made imminently tangible by the arrival of a messenger, who brings news that "a mighty army comes from France with speed, / Which are already muster'd in the land / And means to meet Your Highness in the field" (XVI.28-30). Navarre is ready for the fight, but expresses his disappointment that it is the Duke of Joyeux (one of Henry's mignons) who is leading the French forces rather than Guise, who he accuses of cowardice, "lurk[ing] within his drowsy couch / And makes his footstool of security" (XVI.40-41).
- Note 1: Marlowe has greatly condensed real time here. Navarre escaped France in February 1576, and the battle anticipated here took place at Coutras in October 1587, part of an extended final phase of the conflict referred to as the Eighth War. In the intervening eleven years, the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh wars were waged. Back to Text