La Reine Margot (novel)
in collaboration with Auguste Maquet
|Original title||La Reine Margot|
|1844- 1845 (serialised)|
|Followed by||La Dame de Monsoreau|
Although La Reine Margot is based on real characters and events, certain aspects of the novel may be inconsistent with the historical record; historians have attributed that to artistic licence and the fact that Dumas might have been influenced by propaganda against certain historical figures, notably Catherine. Written in French, it was almost immediately translated into English, first anonymously and soon afterward by David Bogue as Marguerite de Valois: An Historical Romance.
The story begins in Paris in August 1572, during the reign of the Valois King Charles IX, it is the French Wars of Religion. The protagonist is Marguerite de Valois, better known as Margot, the daughter of the deceased Henry II. The antagonist is the scheming Catholic power player Catherine de Medici.
Although Margot herself is excluded from the throne by the Salic Law, her marriage to a Protestant prince offers a chance for domestic reconciliation during the reign of the neurotic, hypochondriac King Charles IX, while Catholics are vying for political control of France with the French Protestants, the Huguenots.
Catherine decides to make an overture of goodwill by offering up Margot in marriage to prominent Huguenot and King of Navarre, Henri de Bourbon, which is supposed to cement the hard-fought Peace of Saint-Germain. At the same time, Catherine schemes to bring about the notorious St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre of 1572 and assassinate many of the most wealthy and prominent Huguenots, who are in the largely-Catholic city of Paris to escort the Protestant prince to his wedding. The massacre begins four days after the wedding ceremony, and thousands of Protestants are slaughtered. The marriage goes ahead, but Margot, who does not love Henri, begins a passionate affair with the soldier La Môle, also a Protestant from a well-to-do family.
Murders by poisoning follow, as court intrigues multiply and Catherine's villainous plotting to place her son, the future Henry III, on the throne threatens the lives of La Môle, Margot and Henri.
- Coward, D. (1997). Note on the Text. In A. Dumas, La Reine Margot (p. xxv). Oxford: Oxford University Press.