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Shakespeare Connected - Shakespeare and Religious War

Geraldine McEwan as Princess of France.

Characters’ names in Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost come from the French wars of religion, including a King of Navarre. There is also a priest called Sir Nathaniel – some thought that ‘Nathanael’ and ‘Bartholomew’ in the Gospels were the same person.

The Saint Bartholomew’s Day massacre happened while a large number of French Protestants, known as Huguenots, were in Paris for the wedding of their leader, Henri of Navarre, with Marguerite of Valois (who was Catherine de Medici’s daughter and the sister of the King of France).

Thus, in Love’s Labour’s Lost, when Armado’s letter says that ‘the catastrophe is a nuptial’, meaning that the story’s resolution was a wedding, contemporaries might have read this in a rather darker sense.


Pen and pencil drawing of Geraldine McEwan as Princess of France, in Love's Labour's Lost, by David G. Phillips; commissioned by Waldo Lanchester, 1956.
© Waldo Lanchester.


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