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Vedrenne: Representations of Ruling Queens on the French Dramatic Stage 1560–1661

Article Citation: 
Cahiers du dix-septième: An Interdisciplinary Journal XI, 1 (2006) 253–268
Laetitia Vedrenne
Article Text: 

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Catherine and Maria de’ Medici, as well as Anne of Austria, were abnormalities on the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century French political scene: women could not rule France since the reinterpretation of the Salic Law and, indeed, none of those three women reigned in their own name, but as Regent queens. Even though they did not reign in their own name, the mere fact that the head of the state was a woman was a controversial issue. Art, both iconographic and literary, is where the anxieties created by female regencies could be played out.

A study of the tragedies published between 1550 to 1661, from the start of Catherine de’ Medici’s Regency to the end of Anne of Austria’s, has led me to establish a distinction among three categories of queens: active ruling queens, active ruling queens outside of their realm and consorts.1 The latter, as well as active ruling queens outside of their realm, are not represented as female characters exercising power and are, therefore, not comparable with actual French queens, which is why I have left them out of my corpus.

I will focus my analysis on the portrayal of ruling queens in order to reveal the linguistic and narrative patterns underlying their representation and I have chosen the emblematic cases of Dido and Elizabeth I to illustrate my point. Although the Queen of Carthage and the Queen of England belong to different literary traditions – Roman and contemporary history –, the plays in which they appear follow, indeed, very similar narrative and linguistic patterns.

I would like to argue that all active ruling queens on the French stage in the period defined above are threatened monarchs and that this threat manifests itself in the plays on on two levels: language and narration. The threat is presented in linguistic terms in Jodelle’s Didon se sacrifiant and Scudéry’s Didon for instance, in the use of titles and names refering to the Queen - such as reine, princesse, majesté or Didon.2 Comparison of linguistic patterns in two historically separate tragedies on the same subject will help to decipher both literary canons and socio-historical circumstances. It should be noted that the relevance of this analysis does not lie in the use of names and titles by the playwrights per se, but rather in the frequency of their recurrence.

In Jodelle's play, there is a preponderance of the names ‘Didon’ and ‘Elyse’ as the principal means to address or talk about Dido: the queen's first names appear forty times in the play, against only eighteen references to her royal status, including roine, Princesse, majesté and chere Dame.3 The most significant titles then attributed to Dido are that of sister (eleven references) and amante (seven references). Dido is also described as a hostess, a woman, a childless mother and a wife.4

Therefore, it can be concluded that the accent is less on the royal status of the character than on her mortal condition: Dido is not so much the Queen of Carthage, as a unhappy lover, a sister, a betrayed hostess and a childless woman. According to Enea Balmas, this emphasis stems from the fact that Jodelle is the founder of the French tragédie à l'antique, in which the characters symbolise a situation (Balmas, 241).

With Scudéry’s Didon, there is a major shift from the human to the royal: Dido is only referred to as Didon or Elise twelve times, whereas the number of allusions to her as a royal character amounts to thirty. She is only referred to as a sister and a woman twice and once each as a mother and a lover. The same trend continues with Boisrobert’s Vraye Didon. Beyond the evolution of literary canons, the overall evolution towards the preponderance of royal titles can be interpreted as a reflection of French society’s evolution regarding Regent Queens. Indeed, by 1643 there had been two Regent queens, paving the way for Anne of Austria’s regency. By then, the considerations of gender had become subordinate in the eyes of both the nobility and the common people to raison d’état. Who is best likely to preserve the kingdom and the interests of the future King but his own mother? 5

Narrative patterns, or topoi, can be found in the systematic use of threats against the kingdom as a way to create dramatic tension. Queens are, indeed, confronted with two types of situations in tragedy: either their realm is under internal or external threat; or else the people of the kingdom demand a male ruler. The definition of an external threat is not only limited to a military operation threatening the physical boundaries of a kingdom, but can be extended to the presence of foreign elements within it. On the other hand, another narrative pattern can be observed in the creation of typical roles and the presence or absence of specific characters on stage. In what follows, I propose to show that each of the plays I have selected the following narrative patterns or topoi are present: threatened realms and threatening characters.

It is important to consider the dynamic of female versus male power in the tragedies examined here, not so much as a gender issue but rather as the opposition of two contrasting forces. The realm can be threatened internally or externally: either men or the queen herself embody internal threats, while men alone are the source of external threat. In any one tragedy, there can be more than one menace to the integrity of the kingdom. I will first concentrate on internal threats to the state and look at men as a source of danger for its integrity in the case of Elizabeth I.

Montchrestien’s Reine d’Escosse (1601) features two queens:6 Elizabeth I and Mary Stuart. However, Mary Stuart is Queen in name only, as she has fled her kingdom of Scotland. A prisoner in Elizabeth I’s realm, Mary Stuart is depicted as a pathetic character whose unfortunate life is likely to inspire the audience’s pity. The bias of the author, French and Catholic, accounts for this perspective and the fact that “England exerted diplomatic pressure on the French authorities to ban performances of L’Escossoise” (Smith, 2). However, the depiction of Elizabeth I certainly could have been much more ferocious. Smith comments that Montchrestien’s Elizabeth “is not shown as a bloodthirsty virago, but as a woman who despite her scruples finally has no option” (Smith, 15). She eventually accepts the advice she is given. The first act of the play is dedicated to the exposition of Elizabeth’s perilous position at the head of her realm because of the numerous menaces threatening both her life and her country: “Jusques à quand vivray-je exposée au danger/ Du poison domestique et du glaive estranger?” (Smith, 93). To the obvious internal and external threats is added the bad advice of her conseiller, identified by Smith as William Cecil (Smith, 145). The latter strongly argues in favour of Mary’s execution in spite of Elizabeth’s reluctance. The conseiller can then be said to be instrumental in Mary’s death and, subsequently, as an internal threat, to be responsible for the endangerment of the kingdom, since the divine retribution for this unnatural regicide can only be catastrophic in the mind of an audience who look up to their sovereign as the representative of God. The retribution expected by the audience is not staged, yet they might well have known William Cecil’s actual fate: he had been banished from Court after Mary’s execution, if only temporarily, and died in 1598, at the age of sixty-eight. The fact that the real people the play was based on suffered little as a consequence of their involvement in a regicide explains why the divine retribution for their actions was not staged.

The interest of the audience and, therefore, of the playwrights for active female rulers is obvious when we consider that Elizabeth I and Mary Stuart feature together in another tragedy between 1560 and 1661 entitled Marie Stuard, by Charles Regnault (1639),7 while Elizabeth I appears again on the French stage in La Calprenède’s Comte d’Essex in the same year. In Regnault’s play, the Queen of England is confronted with a dilemma of having to choose between passion and duty. Regnault introduced male threats to the kingdom with the character of Morray, Mary Stuart’s step-brother. Although Morray’s death seems to signify the end of the male threat to the kingdom, it must be noted that it is accompanied by the death of Norfolk, the only character truly faithful to Queen Elizabeth, so that the end of the male threat and the end of male support are simultaneous.

In La Calprenède’s Comte d’Essex (1639), the character of the Count of Essex can only arouse a limited amount of sympathy in the audience because he embodies unredeeming hubris. The attitude of Essex towards the Queen is quite simply shocking and rude.8 He is also an unfaithful lover, betraying both the Queen and Lady Cecil, the adulterous wife of the Secrétaire d’Estat9. The lack of respect shown by Essex, as well as his potential political betrayal, dangerously threaten the integrity of Elizabeth’s realm.

Queens, as well as men, can be a threat to their own kingdom. For instance, all the tragedies dealing with Dido feature an identical pattern: Dido misconstrues an external force for an internal support and becomes responsible for her own demise and that of her realm. This misconception reveals Dido to be a disastrously poor ruler, with tragic consequences for her people and for herself.

In Jodelle’s Didon se sacrifiant, Dido’s inaccurate perception is clearly introduced in the second act. Æneas, indeed, denies having made any promise of alliance, nuptial or political:

Je n'ay jamais aussi pretendu dedans moy,
Que les torches d'Hymen me joignissent à toy.
Si tu nommes l'amour entre nous deux passee,
Mariage arresté, c'est contre ma pensee.
(Jodelle II, 709–12)

The inaccuracy of Dido’s interpretation is further highlighted by the reminder of the role Æneas is willing to play for his own people: “Ce n'estoit ce n'estoit dedans ta court royale,/ Où les Troyens cherchoient l'alliance fatale[…]” (Jodelle II, 719–20). The mention of the sovereign’s duty to his or her people is at odds with Dido’s passionate plea for Æneas to stay as well as her blatant disregard for her own people’s discontent:

J'ay mesprisé l'amour en tous autres éprise:
L'amour trop mise en un, comme je l'ay dans toy,
Est la haine de tous, et la haine de soy.
J'ay pour t'avoir aimé la haine rencontree
Des peuples et des Rois de toute la contree:
Mesmes les Tyriens de ton heur offensez
Couvent dessous leurs cœurs leurs desdains amassez.
(Jodelle II, 610–6)

Whereas Æneas is willing to give up Dido for the greater good, Dido is willing to give up the greater good for Æneas: to keep the Trojan Prince, she would happily sacrifice peace, by rejecting the local princes, and her people’s support, by ignoring their discontent. Dido’s scorn for both foreign suitors and her people’s feelings creates, in the eyes of the audience, both the external threat and the internal unrest. This is further illustrated in the final act, with Dido’s admission of guilt. The responsibility for Dido’s unhappiness, and through that for the kingdom’s disintegration, is ultimately attributed to Dido herself, thus showing that the most destructive threat to Carthage is its ruler.

Similarly, in Hardy’s Didon se sacrifiant (1624) Æneas denies having made any promises. In the third act, the scene of confrontation reveals the extent of Dido’s willing misconception as Æneas repeats he must obey the divine injunction: “Paravant que te voir j’ay sçeu leur volonté,/ Comme aussy tu l’as sçeus, l’esclandre raconté […].” (Hardy III, 1, 761-2). As in Jodelle’s tragedy, Hardy also lays responsibility for Dido’s demise at her feet, with her admission of guilt in the two final acts:

Que dy-je ? où suis-je ? et quelle excessive manie
Pipe d’un fol espoir ma misere infinie ?
Didon, pauvre Didon, ne sens, ne sens-tu point
De tes impietez le remors qui t’époint ?
Qui ne s’apaisera paravant que Sichée
Voye couler ton sang sur sa couche tachée ?
(Hardy IV, 3, 1335–40)

The themes of guilt (“le remors”), embodied by the stain (“sa couche tachée”), and adultery follow through into the final act with Dido’s allusion to her “forfait adultere.” (Hardy V, 1, 1738).

In Scudéry’s Didon (1637) Æneas expresses his love for the Queen mostly off the stage.10 The fact that the Prince obeys the divine decree requiring him to go to Italy, thus performing his moral duty, serves to accentuate Dido’s failings and leads to her own admission of guilt at the end of act IV:

Ne pouvais-je pas vivre exempte de tous blâmes,
Comme ces animaux qui n’ont jamais deux flammes?
Et par là, me sauver du céleste courroux,
Gardant la foi promise aux cendres d’un époux?
Et de quelque discours que mon cœur puisse user,
Ce sont prétextes faux, rien ne peut l’excuser (…)
Oui, oui, je le pouvais; mais mon âme trop coupable,
D’un sentiment d’honneur ne fut jamais capable;
Et de quelque discours que mon cœur puisse user,
Ce sont prétextes faux, rien ne peut l’excuser.
(Scudéry IV, 7, 1385–92)

Both lovers refer to their respective oaths, yet Æneas has to break his to obey the gods, whereas Dido has broken her vow of chastity to Sychaeus for the pleasures of the flesh. The discrepancy between the fates of the two characters is obviously justified by the reason for the breach of their respective oaths and shows that Dido is, again, the most threatening force for her own realm.

Equally, in Boisrobert’s Vraye Didon (1643), Dido is eventually depicted as the most dangerous threat to Carthage, as her strategic decisions are based less on reason than on passion. However, Boisrobert’s aim was undoubtedly to rehabilitate the character of Dido and this explains why the dilemma faced by the Queen is different from and more complex than that of both the earlier tragic Didos and those who will follow later (Delmas xlix). The complexity of the dilemma is exposed in the confrontation scene involving the main protagonists (Boisrobert II, 2). Hyarbas’s amorous passion is met with Dido’s stern refusal. However, this decision is presented as not only based on the oath made to Sychaeus’s ashes, but also as a necessity for the good of Carthage. 11This allows Dido’s rejection of Hyarbas to be justified both on the grounds of her love or passion for her late husband and also because it would lose her the support of her people. Dido’s dilemma has therefore shifted: until Boisrobert, Dido had to choose between duty and passion, but now Dido must make an impossible choice. If she chooses war and tries to preserve her honour, she will endanger her people. The alternative is peace, but it will mean breaking an oath, losing her honour and, therefore, endangering her people as well. What eventually dooms the Queen is her hubris, the passion with which she deals with the masculine intrusion into her realm. For, indeed, if Boisrobert did manage to fashion a righteous Dido, he also created a character driven by her passion for duty and honour. The excessive rage of the Queen who dares both mankind and the gods to wage war on her (II, 2, 557-569) to test her courage is representative of this hubris. Her choice of war over peace, rationalized by her passion, leads to the sacking of Carthage and the death of Dido, thus making the Queen responsible for the downfall of her city.

Like Dido, Elizabeth I also represents a threat to her kingdom in Montchrestien’s Reine d’Escosse (1601), Regnault’s Marie Stuard (1639) and La Calprenède’s Comte d’Essex (1639). In Montchrestien’s tragedy, for instance, Elizabeth listens to the flawed advice of her conseiller and agrees to have Queen Mary Stuart executed:

Reine: Combien qu’elle fust telle [homicide], elle est hors de nos loix:
De Dieu tiennent sans plus les Reines et les Rois.
Conseiller: C’est pieté d’occire une femme meschante
Aussi bien qu’un Tyran: de tous deux on se vante.
Reine: Considerez la bien; elle est mere d’un Roy,
L’espouse de deux Roys, et Reine comme moy.
Conseiller: Considerez la bien; c’est une desloyale:
Qui dément par ses moeurs la majesté Royale.
(Smith 99)

Queen Elizabeth unknowingly endangers herself also: she opens the door for kings and queens to be treated like their subjects.

Similarly, Regnault also created a Queen whose incapacity to distinguish good from bad advice leads her to perform acts unworthy of her status: Queen Elizabeth is, indeed, led to have her faithful favourite, Norfolk, and her cousin, Mary Stuart, executed. Finally, from the first scene, La Calprenède leaves little doubt concerning Queen Elizabeth’s responsibility in the kingdom’s endangerment with the mention of the abnormal amount of royal favours bestowed on the Count:

Et ce degré superbe où ma faveur ta mis
Te rend le plus cruel de tous mes ennemis.
N’ay-je avec un sujet partagé ma puissance
Ne l’ay-je relevé par dessus sa naissance
N’ay-je soulé son cœur de gloire & de grandeurs.
Et ne l’ay-je honoré de mes propres faveurs,
Pour aymer un ingrat ne me suis-je haye,
Que pour me voir de luy si laschement trahie.
Et tout ce que j’ay fait n’a pas eu le pouvoir
De tenir un vassal dans son premier devoir.
(La Calprenède I, 1, 3–12)

The favours given to Essex to compensate for his lower birth fail to make him a suitable partner for the Queen, while weakening her position. These favours have, in turn, given ideas of grandeur to Essex, who now threatens Elizabeth and England. The questioning of the Queen’s powers is inevitably followed by the questioning of the Queen’s ability to rule her kingdom (La Calprenède II, 1, 23-7): she has created the new threat represented by Essex and the author shows the audience that the Queen is ultimately responsible for the endangerment of England.

To return to representations of Dido again, in Jodelle’s Didon se sacrifiant (ca 1558-70), an obvious external threat is mentioned, yet remains faceless. King Hyarbas is, indeed, alluded to as the main menace against Dido’s city (Jodelle, I), but never appears on stage. However, the role played by the Trojan Prince can be interpreted as an external threat as well, because he is a foreigner in Dido’s realm. The initial role attributed to Æneas and his men is to support Carthage against external threat: for instance, Dido calls Æneas the “seul support/ De ma Carthage […].” (Jodelle, II, 629-30). Yet, the foreign nature of the Trojans prevents them from being integrated within the realm and reveals their threatening quality. This is highlighted semantically: Æneas is, indeed, referred to as a foreigner on numerous occasions and his status as a host of Dido’s is also mentioned several times.12 Æneas’s foreign nature naturally renders problematic his suitability as a potential partner for the Queen and as ruler of Carthage. But what is striking is that even Achate identifies his King as a menace equivalent to that posed by Hyarbas. Jodelle’s tragedy opens with Achate’s long description of Dido’s misadventures. These are introduced in the first act by similar expressions: “Sa peine…” introduces the story of Dido’s husband’s death; “L’autre mal la troubla…” starts the story of Hyarbas’s unrequited love and subsequent hatred for Dido, while “Plus estrange malheur encor…” signals the beginning of the story of Æneas, whose eyes “De cent traits venimeux blesserent l’effrenee […].” Jodelle puts on the same level the death of Sychaeus, the threat represented by Hyarbas and the arrival of the Trojans, in spite of the fact that the latter come to Carthage in peace. The text does, therefore, substantiate the identification of the Trojans as a danger for Dido. The departure of the Trojans reaffirms their identity as both foreign and a threat. Their intrusion within the realm of Carthage has allowed them to destroy the kingdom from within, in the manner of a Trojan horse. It is interesting to note that, in all Dido tragedies, the troop of Trojans is uniquely composed of male characters, a historical inaccuracy. This entirely male presence then leads me to interpret the presence of the Trojans in Carthage as the irruption of a male dominated world – the rulers of Troy descended from paternal lineage – in a female world. Carthage is, indeed, not only ruled by a woman, but was founded by one, in an act assimilated to procreation.

In Hardy’s Didon se sacrifiant (1624), the external threat manifests itself in the form of King Hyarbas, as in Jodelle’s tragedy. Hardy did not keep the foreign prince off the stage, yet he limited his presence to one scene (Hardy II, 1). Hyarbas poses an imminent but not immediate threat to the kingdom. Hardy is the only playwright, until Boisrobert, to give Hyarbas a role on stage. Although this role is limited, it still serves to create in the mind of the audience or reader a more tangible threat to Dido and her kingdom. Yet, as in Jodelle’s Didon se sacrifiant (ca 1558-70), it is Æneas who is a greater danger to Dido’s kingdom. His status as a foreigner is highlighted in the exact same way, semantically, and the same conclusions must then be reached regarding the Trojan Prince’s natural identification with an external threat.

In 1637, in Scudéry introduces numerous faceless external threats to Carthage in the very first scene of his Didon:

Et en songez-vous point entre quels ennemis,
Dans ce nouveau climat, votre sort est soumis?
Les Gétules vaillants, ces hommes invincibles,
Les Numides hautains, les Syrtes insensibles,
Peuples fiers et cruels, regardent d’un côté
Cet Asile qui reste à notre liberté;
De l’autre, les déserts de l’ardente Lybie;
La ville de Barcé, dont la rage ennemie
Ne voit qu’avec regret votre Empire naissant,
S’afflige de son heur, et le va menaçant.
Vous dois-je encor parler de l’appareil de guerre,
Que le peuple de Tyr fait par toute sa Terre?
Et du frère cruel, qui s’arme contre vous
D’un fer, qui fume encor du sang de votre Epoux?
(Scudéry I, 1, 51-64)

However, it is Dido’s inability to integrate the Trojans in her kingdom, turning Æneas from an internal support into an external threat which, again, seals the fate of Carthage. Æneas, indeed, brings about the disintegration of the kingdom as his presence provokes the rise of popular dissent:

Et tous les Tyriens sont offensés de voir
Que je mets en tes mains mon Sceptre et mon pouvoir.
(Scudéry IV, 1, 1071–2)

It is interesting to note, however, that Scudéry introduced only one clear allusion to Æeneas as a potential support for Carthage against external threats, unlike Jodelle or Hardy. Dido’s accusations in the tragedy are centred on the individual relationship of the characters, the ingratitude Æneas is showing in abandoning her and the breach of his promise to her.13

In Boisrobert’s Vraye Didon (1643), there is no doubt that Hyarbas is the most obvious manifestation of external threat to the city of Carthage, as the battle between the Carthaginians and the Getulians is about to take place at the beginning of the play (Boisrobert I, 1, 5–24). Boisrobert gave the character of Hyarbas a more essential role in his tragedy than any playwright before him, as Hyarbas is present on stage in a total of nine scenes. It should be noted, firstly, that this is a similar number of scenes to the number of scenes in which Pygmalion features (eight scenes) and, secondly, that this is a smaller number of scenes than those in which Dido (eleven scenes), Anne (thirteen scenes) and Forbante (ten scenes) feature. However, Forbante is the brother of Hyarbas and his role is mainly to offer a sounding board to the King’s feelings, but also to act or speak on his behalf.14 Forbante makes Hyarbas’s presence felt on stage even without his actually being there. Boisrobert gave Pygmalion, King of Tyr and Dido’s brother, the same role, in terms of narration, as Æneas in the other Dido tragedies. His initial show of intention gives him, like Æneas, the role of internal support to Carthage against external threats. The “grand secours de Tyr” (Boisrobert I, 1, 24) is, however, questioned from the start by the Queen who describes Pygmalion as “ce frère barbare,/ Qui feint d’avoir pour nous une amitié si rare.” (Boisrobert I, 1, 69–70). And, indeed, this initial support transforms into an external threat when Pygmalion, who after all is a foreigner in his sister’s realm, offers his help to Hyarbas in the first act and eventually takes part in the sack of Carthage (Boisrobert V, 2, 1296–1300). This is where the roles of Pygmalion and Æneas differ fundamentally: if the role of Æneas can be interpreted as that of an external threat disguised as an internal support, at least Æneas does not loot Carthage; yet the outcome is ultimately the same. This difference can be explained by the playwrights’ attempt to preserve the traditionally positive image of Æneas, whereas there was no such established tradition for the character of Pygmalion.

Narrative and linguistic patterns help the playwrights create expectations in their audience. Ruling queens will always be threatened either by men or by themselves. Nevertheless, even when queens are threatened by male characters, female weaknesses still account for at least part of their failure as sovereigns. This is to be expected and reflects, to a certain extent, the controversial nature of female rule at the time. The fact that successful female rulers are extremely rare in tragedy in the period of time I focused on seems to confirm this.

The case of Elizabeth I is different for two reasons. Firstly, the queen on stage does not symbolise any other queen than the real English monarch; there is no subtle attempt by the playwright to make allusions to French contemporary queens. Secondly, Elizabeth I was contemporary to Montchrestien and what was written about a living monarch was subject to much more scrutiny, as can be seen by the diplomatic pressure exerted on the French authorities to ban the play. There is, therefore, a certain amount of moderation in Montchrestien’s assessment of the English monarch’s flaws. This moderation is not shown by his successors. The reader also needs to take into account the relations between France and England to understand the choices made by Regnault and La Calprenède. When these two playwrights wrote about Elizabeth I, she was still in the mind of the audience a Protestant Queen whom Catholics had unsuccessfully attempted to assassinate on numerous occasions. Exposing the Protestant Queen’s flaws and errors would have been perfectly acceptable. Hence the topoi of the threatened kingdom and threatening characters could be thoroughly explored, with the Queen being represented as the creator of the other threatening characters in the plays—Morray in Regnault’s play and Essex in La Calprenède’s—and therefore ultimately assuming the entire responsibility of the kingdom’s endangerment. Once again, literary topoi reflect the contemporary socio-political context.

In the case of Dido, there is a definite evolution in the representation of a ruling queen, at least in linguistic terms, and this can also been seen as a reflection of the popular change of attitude towards French female regencies. The fact that female regencies were becoming more common means that the audience more readily accepted these both in reality and on the stage. The tragic queens could, therefore, gradually be referred to as queens rather than merely human beings: this is the shift we witness between the language used by Jodelle and that used by Scudéry and Boisrobert. This evolution of the language symbolises the strength of the link existing between the actual queens and fictional representations of their function, or the influence of sixteenth and seventeenth-century socio-political circumstances on literature.

Durham UK


1The list of tragedies examined was established based on Lancaster’s work, Dr Jan Clarke’s fount of knowledge and my own findings from the BNF collections.

2 Jodelle’s Didon se sacrifiant was first published between 1558 and 1570. Hardy’s Didon se sacrifiant was first published in 1624. Scudéry’s Didon was first published in 1637 and Boisrobert’s Vraye Didon was first published in 1643. I will be using the modern editions referenced in the list of works cited from now on.

3Although “chere Dame” does not refer directly to Dido's royal status, it has been included in this section as it is used as a mark of respect.

4Four occurrences, all in a negative context: III, 1235; IV, 1770 and 1775; V, 2126. Three occurrences lay the emphasis either on her physical appearance (I, 183) or weak moral constitution (IV, 1773 and 1990). Two allusions by Anne who refers to Dido as potentially pregnant (III, 1448 and 1453); the allusions are meant to persuade Æneas to stay. One negative reference as a wife by Barce: she predicts the death of Dido, grief-stricken by the loss of Æneas.

5For details of internal strife and detailed role of Regent Queens, see Cosandey, Delorme, Dulong and Gibson.

6La Reine d’Escosse was first published in 1601. I will be using the modern edition referenced in the list of works cited from now on.

7For a comparison of Montchrestien, Regnault and Boursault’s 1691 Marie Stuard, see Paulson.

8 For instance, in act I, scene 1, 132-5: Essex takes and tears apart a letter held by the Queen as proof of his collusion with the Irish.

9In an almost comical sequence of scenes, Essex first complains about the Queen’s wavering affections (act II, scene 4), before receiving his mistress in his prison cell and swearing his undying love for the latter (act II,scene 5).

10Between act II, scene 2 and scene 6.

11Dido mentions her oath and the fact that “tous nos Tyriens n’en ont jamais douté.” (act II, scene 2, 492) thus making the breach of her oath a sin not only in the face of the gods but also in the face of her people.

12There are nine references to Æneas as a foreigner, five as a host and four as a Trojan, thus defining this character as definitely foreign to Carthage and Dido.

13The transformation of Æneas into an external threat happens in the last two acts. See, act IV, scene 1, 1075; scene 2, 1169; scene 7, 1355; act V, scene 4, 1586 and 1594.

14This is the case in act III, scenes 5 and 6, where Forbante is on stage, while Hyarbas is not.

Works Cited

Balmas, Enea. Un Poeta del rinascimento francese, Etienne Jodelle : la sua vita - il suo tempo. Firenze: Leo S. Olschki, 1967.

Boisrobert, François de. La Vraye Didon ou la Didon chaste in Delmas, Christian, ed. Didon à la scène. Toulouse: Société des Littératures Classiques, 1992.

Cosandey, Fanny. La Reine de France. Symbole et pouvoir. Paris: Gallimard, 2000.

Delorme, Philippe. Histoire des Reines de France : Marie de Médicis. Paris: Pygmalion, 1998.

Dulong, Claude. Anne d’Autriche. Paris: Perrin, 1980.

———. La Vie quotidienne des femmes au Grand Siècle. Paris: Hachette, 1984.

Gibson, Wendy. Women in Seventeenth-Century France. London: Macmillan, 1989.

Hardy, Alexandre. Didon de sacrifiant. Genève: Droz, 1994.

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