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Henri III et sa cour

Henri III and His Court; The King's Gallant

drame/play, pub:1829, action:1578

Five-act historical drama in prose. Dumas' first well-accepted work. "Représenté sur le Théâtre Français, par les Comédiens Ordinaires du Roi, le 11 février 1829."

Part of Théâtre complet.

    Vers en Henri III et sa cour

Oeuvres/Related Works
    Williams, Henry Llewellyn, Jr.: The King's Gallant - New York, Street & Smith, 1902 (LOC# 02013634) (novelization of Henri III et sa cour)

Images (voyez tous/view all)
    "A rush of the mercenaries hedged in St. Megrin and Vitry, carried to the stairway foot."
    "In at the gap--dashed a score of men."
    "Ruggieri look at him so closely that their brows almost touched."
    "She became marble, and listlessly watched him pour some fluid into a cup of water on the table."
    "The rest rushed on the now prostrate body, like wolves on a stricken buck."
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    Louise Despreaux - The "page" of "Henri III et sa cour"

From Reviews (ADR) by Arthur D. Rypinski:
     Henri III et sa Cour was Alexandre Dumas' first smash hit play, and is of considerable interest, both as a landmark in the history of the French theatre, and also because it bears the seed of many themes that Dumas would explore in his later work.
     Henri III was the last of the Valois monarchs, effeminate, weak, corrupt, and treacherous. He surrounded himself with "mignons," perfumed young men who flattered the King and did his bidding, while he maneuvered to maintain his grip on the throne against equally powerful and unscrupulous rivals. Henri's elderly mother, Catherine de Medici, helped introduce the political techniques of the Borgias--poison, assassination, and betrayal--into French politics.
     Dumas assembled several incidents from Henri's reign into his play. As the play opens, Henri's rule is threatened by his cousin Henri, Duc de Guise and the ruler of then independent principality of Lorraine. The Duc de Guise is the leader of the militant Catholic party, the Holy League, which is conspiring to unseat Henri III and extirpate Protestants throughout France.
     Dumas successively introduces St. Megrin, a young knight in the King's court and conveniently resurrects one of the greatest swordsmen of the era, Bussy de Amboise, whose death some years before (!) Dumas describes in La Dame de Monsoreau.
     The Duc de Guise returns from the battlefield, and demands that Henri III name the head of the Holy League. St. Megrin challenges the Duc to a duel, and Henry outmaneuvers him by naming himself as head of the Holy League. The Duc, however, has no wish to risk his life in a duel with St. Megrin. The Duc visits his fiancée, Therine, Princess of Porcian, having appeared, of course, in Le Comte de Monte Cristo. Many of the characters in the play (including Henri III, Catherine de Medici, the Duc de Guise, Bussy de Amboise, Joyeuse, Crillon, and the duc d'Epernon) will reappear in Dumas' Valois trilogy La Reine Margot, La Dame de Monsoreau, and Les Quarante-Cinq.

From A Bibliography of Alexandre Dumas père by Frank Wild Reed:
     An historical drama in five acts, in prose. No accusation whatever of collaboration has been levied against Dumas as regards this, his first serious work to be staged. On the other hand, much has been said about his borrowings—too much in fact—which, moreover, he has freely admitted and pointed out. In spite of all that can be said, however, the play is a fine one, and well deserving of the success it obtained as the first truly romantic piece to be performed. It naturally shows some signs of the beginner ; the wonder is that they are not much more plentiful.
     Based on Anquetil and l'Estoile, it is yet astonishing that so young a beginner, and one whose education was deficient, should have succeeded so well in handling a by-gone era ; yet later years were to reveal the greatness of his gift in this manner.
     First performed at the Théâtre Français "by the actors in ordinary to the king" on the 11th of February, 1829. At this theatre alone, in 1829-1830, it saw fifty performances, and until 1894 a total of a hundred and fifty-three.
     Original edition, Paris, Vezard et Cie, 1829, 8vo., with vignette on the title and the emblems of the drama on the wrapper ; pp. x and 11 to 171 and one blank. It bore the dedication : "À Mon Honorable Ami le Baron Taylor, Membre de la Légion d'Honneur.—Mon Cher Taylor, C'est à vous que je dédie mon drame historique de Henri III. et Sa Cour; si je ne le faisais par amitié, je le ferais par reconnaissance. (1). ALEXANDRE DUMAS." This is followed by "Un mot" of four pages, signed by the author. At the foot of the list of dramatis personae is the following note :—" Toutes les phrases guillemetées ont été retranchées à la seconde représentation ; on trouvera au bas de chaque page celles qui leur ont été substituées." (2) These were the alterations required by the censor.
     (1) "To my honourable friend, Baron Taylor, Member of the Legion of Honour.—My dear Taylor, it is to you that I dedicate my historical drama of 'Henri III. et sa Cour' ; if I did not do so out of friendship, I should out of gratitude."
     (2) "All the phrases between inverted commas were suppressed at the second performance; at the foot of each page will be found those which have been substituted for them."
     Quérard says there was a second edition, same publisher and printer (Lenormant fils), in the same year ; and a third ; Paris, Vezard, 1833, 8vo., but this time of only 108 pages.
     This play was reprinted in the first volume of the collected edition of the dramatic works issued by Charpentier, 1834.
     It is now to be found in the first volume of both editions of the "Théâtre Complet" as issued by Calmann-Lévy.

         Parodies :—
     "La Cour du Roi Pétaud." (See page 31.)
     "Le Brutal," by Dartois, Barthélemy and Masson, Gaité Théâtre, 27th February, 1829. (Not printed.)
     "Cricri et Ses Mitrons," by Carmouche, Jouslin de Lasalle and Depeuty, Théâtre des Variétés. 7th March, 1829.
     "Le Duc de Frise, ou le Mouchoir Criminel," Luxembourg Théâtre, 3rd April, 1829. (Not printed.)

         References :—
     Dumas: "Mes Mémoires," Chapters CXVII.-CXX. (CXII. in particular).
     Parigot: "Le Drame d'Alexandre Dumas," pp. 67-69, 98-100, 148-59.
     Samson: "Mémoires," pp. 260-63.
     Sarcey: "Quarante Ans de Théâtre," Series IV., pp. 59-76.
     Albert: "Les Théâtres des Boulevards," pp. 290-91.
     Séchan: "Homme de Théâtre," pp. 95-111, 116.
     Weiss: "Drame Historique et Drame Passionnel," pp. 11-27.
     Quérard: "Supercheries Littéraires Dévoilées," Vol. I., Columns 1051 to 1054.
     Parran: "Bibliographie d'A. Dumas," pp. 18-19.
     Blaze de Bury: "Alexandre Dumas," pp. 19-22.
     Lecomte: "Alexandre Dumas," pp. 23-27, 112.
     Albertin: "Indications Générales pour la Mise en scène de 'Henri III. et sa Cour,' " Vezard, 1829.

         English Translations, etc. :—
     Lord Francis Leveson Gower published, and had performed on the London stage, a version of this drama, in blank verse. He compressed the five acts of Dumas into three, and changed the title to "Catherine of Cleves." The work was printed for J. Andrews, London, 1832. (Included in the same volume was an adaptation by the same translator of Hugo's "Hernani," rendered in rhyming ten-syllable lines.)
     Barham's "The Tragedy," in his "Ingoldsby Legends," is an amusing description of the performance of Lord Leveson Gower's "Catherine of Cleves," as mentioned above.
     "The King's Gallant; or, Henri III. and His Court," is a novelisation of this play by H. L. Williams, and was published by Henderson, London, 1902, pp. 303.
     An accurate translation, in which the stage directions were transformed into the connective matter necessary to make the whole read as a story, was published (with "Mademoiselle de Belle Isle" and "Antony" similarly treated) by H. A. Spurr, as "Stories from the Plays of Dumas." Cottingham, near Hull, Tutin, 1904.

From A Bibliography of Alexandre Dumas père by Frank Wild Reed:
     "Henri III. et Sa Cour " contains one piece of verse, sung by the page Arthur, in Act III., Scene ii. It consists of three six-line stanzas, rhyming a, a, b, c, c, b.

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