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Massacre Woodcut

The Massacre at Paris

The Massacre at Paris

History:

History:

Interpretation:

Interpretation:

Plot:

Plot:

References:

References:
  • Cardinal:
  • Yet lives my brother Duke Dumaine, and many more,
  • To revenge our deaths upon that cursed King,
  • Upon whose heart may all the furies gripe,
  • And with their paws drench his black soul in hell.
  • The Massacre at Paris, Scene XXII.8-11

The Massacre at Paris

The Massacre at Paris

Scene XXII

The Murder of the Cardinal of Guise

Location: The Royal Chateau at Blois

Following the King's command in the previous scene, the murderers who have just killed Guise, now murder his brother the Cardinal.1 Curiously, there are now just two murderers, who respond with some darkly amusing retorts as the Cardinal pleads for his life. There are no obvious cast-doubling restrictions in the extant text that would necessitate one less murderer; perhaps the nervous timidity already exhibited by the third murderer has given him cold feet!

The scene opens with the murderers "dragging in the Cardinal" (XXII.0.1 SD), who desperately cites his ecclesiastical office as reason why he should be spared. "Wert thou the Pope, thou mightst not 'scape from us" (XXII.2) replies the first murderer. Aghast, the Cardinal cannot believe they will "[de]file your hands with churchmen's blood?" (XXII.3). No blood will be shed, the second murderer assures him, for they intend to strangle him (just as King Henry explicitly ordered back at XXI.130).

The Cardinal is resigned to his grim fate, but holds out hope that his brother Dumaine and the rest of the Catholic League will exact revenge on "that cursed King, / Upon whose heart may all the furies gripe, / And with their paws drench his black soul in hell" (XXI.9-11). The two murderers set to their task and strangle the Cardinal, the first commenting blackly that "he is hard hearted, therefore pull with violence" (XXII.13).

  • Note 1: The Cardinal was killed at Blois the day after his brother Guise, 24 December 1588 - see a historical summary of these murders. Back to Text
 
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