Don Bertrand de Cabrère
As seen in many other plays, particularly those of Pierre Corneille, the shifting position of the relationship of the aristocracy to the monarchy was a topic of much discussion in the 17th century. Whereas during the Middle Ages, the relationship of the vassal to the king was clear - the vassal fought on behalf of the king - in the 17th century the vassal shifted towards more of a political and diplomatic asset. Don Bertrand de Cabrère by Jean Rotrou explores the tail end of the more militaristic relationship and the shift towards the political station. What strikes me about this play in particular is the treatment of the king as mortal and fallible. In the later plays of the 17th century, it would be unheard of to treat the king in such a comic and irreverent way. Perhaps it is only my reading, but the first few acts of this play read like a comedy of errors where the vassals are trying to communicate something serious with their king, but he is too distracted by his personal entanglements to pay attention. At one point he falls asleep during someone's story. Throughout the play the king repeats the fact that he is a mortal man. All this together seems to me to undermine the "divine nature" of the monarchy, even if this is a foreign monarchy. It seems to me that all monarchies are a metaphor for the current monarch, and by extension the institution of monarchy itself. It may simply be my reading, but I imagine that this play would have been quite politically scandalous upon its performance.
10/17/2022 03:23:44 pm
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10/28/2022 05:42:20 am
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M.A. French Literature Florida State University