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Les enjeux de la mémoire dans 'The Conspiracy and Tragedy of Byron' de George Chapman (1608)

Abstract : Two years before the death of Henri IV of France, George Chapman, in The Conspiracy and Tragedy of Byron, staged the unequal political fight between the duke of Byron, still living in the dream of an idealised monarchy whose main function is to wage war, and Henry, a modern king who is determined to restore his kingdom to peace. The aim of this article is to show that the confrontation between the two characters mostly happens as a battle for the memory of the relatively recent events that took place between the death of Henri III and the beginning of the duke's conspiracy. Shamelessly manipulated by the duke of Savoy in his own interest, this memory helps to reveal Byron's and Henry's vanity, the duke and the king having no care for the reality of history. Indeed, the problem is first and foremost symbolic, and therefore political: Henry, who wants to assert himself as a "modern" and absolute king, will not let anyone - even Byron - deprive him of the sole benefit of the military glory he has harvested since 1589. This is done to the detriment of Byron, who naively thinks that the king owes him. As the duke will not yield, and perseveres in his treason, the king removes the debt by physically removing the rebel who too well embodied the memory of the years before the king came into his own. This presentation of Henry in the double play is strikingly reminiscent of the historic Henri IV who, in 1598, implemented the Edict of Nantes, the first two articles of which command to forget the past civil wars. It therefore seems that, for both the character and his model, history has more to do with oblivion than with memory.
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Contributor : Gilles Bertheau <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, May 13, 2014 - 11:13:35 AM
Last modification on : Wednesday, November 6, 2019 - 1:48:04 PM

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Gilles Bertheau. Les enjeux de la mémoire dans 'The Conspiracy and Tragedy of Byron' de George Chapman (1608). Shakespeare et la mémoire., Mar 2012, Paris, France. pp.27-42, ⟨10.4000/shakespeare.1919⟩. ⟨halshs-00990174⟩



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