This play is unique in that it is a historical play that was performed contemporaneously with the events it portrays. It follows the scandal of Marie de Medici and her two Italian courtiers after the assassination of Henri IV and the assumption of her son, Louis VIII, to the throne. The two courtiers are convicted of sorcery and killed, and this is basically the entire plot, but what strikes me is the flagrant propaganda of this play. The final act begins with the line:
“Quelles harpes, quels luths mariés à nos voix, Chanteront maintenant l'honneur du roi des Rois”
Which one could loosely translate to “What harps, what lutes paired with our voices, will now sing the honor of our king of kings?” One might think this is referring to Jesus Christ, but in fact it is referring to the French king, who speaks this line himself. He goes on to compare himself ordering the assassination of this widowed female courtier to the triumph of David over Goliath. It is hard to tell here if that is sexism in the perceived sorcery of powerful women, or pure xenophobia against Italians (keeping in mind that Louis VIII’s mother was Marie de Medici, who was very much Italian.) Given the fact that the play was produced the same year that the courtiers were assassinated, one must think about the political culture that produced this play and what purpose it served. It is clearly propaganda, but who funded the production and where was it performed and what effect did it have on its audience? These questions surrounding the play strike me as far more interesting than a purely textual analysis.