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Chapter 5 - ‘What Is This Monster?’ The ‘Bad’ Politique

from Part III - C. 1588–94

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 June 2021

Emma Claussen
Affiliation:
University of Cambridge
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Summary

Chapter 5 is a key turning point in the narrative of the book. It analyses radical Catholic pamphlets printed in Paris and Lyon c. 1588–89, during a period in which the king was assassinated and the Catholic League controlled Paris and many other French towns. These pamphlets attack a now monstrous figure, the politique, for duplicity and for linguistic and moral flexibility. They confirm that the politique is shadowy and hard to define; this is part of the new politique problem of the late stages of the wars, which did much to create the historiographical legend of the Politique party. In these works, politique shifts from object of knowledge and knowing subject to object of opprobrium – but some qualities of the knowing, linguistically capable politique subject are retained. I argue that longer-term trends and influences are also present in source material as well as the immediate concerns of the crisis of c. 1589. This chapter also brings visual sources to bear on the politique problem, including two of the only known representations of the politique figure, found in Pierre de L’Estoile’s Drolleries collection.

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Politics and ‘Politiques' in Sixteenth-Century France
A Conceptual History
, pp. 167 - 202
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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