The Hollow Crown saison 2 photo

The Hollow Crown saison 2

Quatre ans après la première saison, The Hollow Crown est de retour sur BBC2.

Cette seconde saison est sous-titrée “The Wars of the Roses” (les Guerres des Roses) en référence à la période de l’histoire qui correspond aux événements des épisodes.

Cette saison se base sur la première tétralogie de Shakespeare : Henry VI, Part I; Henry VI, Part II et Henry VI, Part III sont condensés en seul film; et Richard III, dont le personnage est joué par Benedict Cumberbatch.

Les nobles anglais se querellent au sujet des guerres avec la France. Les nouvelles de la défaite des Anglais à Orléans parvient jusqu’au Duc de Gloucester et des autres nobles. Après les funérailles d’Henry V, c’est son fils, le dauphin Henry VI, qui est proclamé roi.

Dix-sept ans plus tard, Henry est sur le trône alors que les rivalités à la cour continuent et la défaite des Anglais à Rouen par Jeanne d’Arc met le feu aux poudres entre les deux maisons : les York et les Lancaster, qui se retrouvent en opposition.

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Le squelette de Richard III retrouvé sous les fondations d'un parking à Leicester photo

Le squelette de Richard III retrouvé sous les fondations d’un parking à Leicester

Des archéologues affirment que les restes du corps qui ont été excavés en dessous d’un parking à Leicester le 4 février 2013 appartiennent au roi anglais Richard III.


Le squelette, retrouvé en septembre 2012, présente au niveau de la colonne vertébrale des signes de scoliose, que Richard III avait certainement, et des blessures de guerre qui correspondent aux récits de la mort de Richard III au cours de la Guerre des Deux-Roses.

C’est ce qui a poussé les archéologues à demander des tests plus poussés afin de vérifier son identité.

Les chercheurs de l’Université de Leicester ont donc conduit une série de tests, dont un test de l’ADN extrait d’une dent et d’un os de Michael Ibsen, un descendant actuel de la soeur de Richard III, Anne of York.

Ce test a confirmé la relation génétique entre l’ADN d’Ibsen et celui du squelette. Ces restes sont donc bien ceux de Richard III.

Richard III et la Guerre des Deux-Roses

Richard III est né en 1452 et a gouverné l’Angleterre de 1483 à 1485. Son règne se termina par sa mort à la bataille de Bosworth Field, la bataille finale dans la guerre civile anglaise que l’on connait sous le nom de Guerre des Deux-Roses, opposant la maison royale de Lancastre à la maison royale d’York.

La guerre prend fin en 1485, quand le dernier des rois Plantagenêt Richard III d’Angleterre meurt au champ d’honneur, et qu’Henri VII devient roi.

La maison de Lancastre descendait de Jean de Gand, duc de Lancastre et 3e fils du roi Édouard III.

Celle d’York descendait de son frère Edmond de Langley (1341-1402), 4e fils du roi Édouard III, devenu duc d’York en 1385.

L’emblème de la maison de Lancastre était la rose rouge, tandis que celui des York était la rose blanche, ce qui est à l’origine du nom donné a posteriori à ce conflit.

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English Literature


Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad

Macbeth by William Shakespeare

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

Richard III by William Shakespeare

World War One Poetry

Regeneration by Pat Barker

Richard III : the ambiguity of Richard's evil photo

Richard III : Order and Disorder, the Elizabethan problem

It is very often an issue in Shakespeare’s plays. It deals with order and degree: each thing in the Universe has a place in a scale of things.

It is more than a political doctrine: it implies a metaphysical organization of the Universe, which is also linked with theology. We can”t find an exponent of this doctrine, it is everywhere at the back of people’s minds. It is a world picture in the collective unconscious consciousness.

Disorder is the equivalent of the original chaos (as opposed to cosmos). God sustains the world as ordered, holding everything into place: he did not create it once and for all.

Order is the means by which you can judge disorder. The notion of sin also intervenes, at several levels (in the Bible…) :

  1. Revolt of the Bad Angels with Satan
  2. Fall of Man from the Garden of Eden
  3. Murder of Abel by Cain

It constitutes frames of references for the Elizabethan. Sin is the reason for chaos and disorder. The ordering of the world is very complex and means a very specific organization. Every thing has a place, even the slightest one.

They conceived the world as a scale, an infinite ladder with infinite degrees: each thing is both superior and inferior to something else. It is a hierarchical order of things, known as “The Great Chain of Beings”.

One can notice that only Hell escapes this ladder.

Great Chain of Beings

Man has all the possibilities of the earthly existences (he forms a microcosm in the macrocosm of the Universe). The inanimate class nourishes the vegetative class that nourishes… and so on.

Man aspires to the spiritual class. It is very closely linked: the bottom of one class is connected with the top of another class. It is a system of infinite diversity and unity of the Universe.

There is a primate in each class :

  • Birds: eagle
  • Trees: oak
  • Elements: fire
  • Man: King
  • Stars: sun
  • Values: justice
  • Body: head

Man is close to animals in sensuality and to angels in understanding: he is a nodal. For the Elizabethan, man was really himself when he was social. That is why morals and politics were far more important at that time than science.

Man is between Matter and Nature. It is a source of internal conflict because he is always trying to bridge the cosmic gap (to reconcile) the angel and the beast within him.

Macbeth is representative of the human condition but Richard is definitely evil. This brings us to make the difference between being amoral and being immoral.

Someone who is amoral does not have a moral because he does not know what moral is. On the contrary, someone immoral knows exactly what is moral but chooses to turn his back on it. Richard is definitely immoral.

For the Elizabethans, Nature and Creation had done things for the best. That is why Richard accuses Nature and puts the blame on the Creation for being deformed. If he had accepted his rank in the order of things, he would have been alright.

The order of things -the Cosmos- is also based on a series of correspondences between the several levels of beings.

  • heavenly order: God
  • macrocosm: World, Nature (“sub-lunar level”)
  • the state: body politic
  • the body: body natural

Each element at a certain level has another correspondence in another level. In Richard III, Richard the Tyrant (state) is a cripple (body) and at the beginning, the King is sick because the State is sick. In Macbeth, there is an eclipse after Duncan’s death.

The question of evil

The main problem is the question of Evil. How can Evil be possible in a perfect world? Man yielded to the temptation of Evil and sinned. God allowed havoc as a punishment for man’s sins.

Man is the only creature who was given freedom of will and the choice of his own actions. He chose transgression and brought about Evil. Havoc happened because of man but it was also part of God’s plans. Everything is determined by God for the Elizabethans.

In the end, we realize that transgressors are always punished by God, whereas they were successful in the beginning.

In fact, this was not the Elizabethans” picture but the Middle Ages” one. In the 16th and 17th centuries, this world vision has already been questioned by several thinkers and especially by Machiavel, who believed neither in law and order nor in man’s basic goodness.

On one hand, man was capable of understanding what was good (Erected Wit) but on the other hand, there was evil temptation (Infected Will).

For Machiavel, man is basically prone to Evil and disorder is the natural state of man, not the exception. Man is not idealistic but completely cynical.

Machiavel said that through will and determination, man could reach power. The success story of Richard is the mere illustration of The Prince.

Richard’s role is that of the Scourge of God. From the start, he is determined by God but does not realize it.

In the end, machiavellian success is always part of God’s success. See the Wheel of Fortune, ruled by Providence and therefore by God.

Richard III : the ambiguity of Richard's evil photo

Richard III : the ambiguity of Richard’s evil

I. The Vice

The Vice was the favourite character in medieval morality plays. He is both an intriguer and a deceiver. He creates laughter and engages the audience’s sympathy in a conspirational relationship.

Richard generates a special relation between word and deed. He tells the audience what he is going to do, then does it, and finally recalls what he did: his soliloquies and asides create a feeling of conspiracy.

The Vice was also a figure of carnival, who fights the established authority and embodies the audience’s anti-authoritarian impulses. He is an outlet for the people’s frustration.

II. A Monster

Shakespeare has added a physical deformity to the character of Richard because Richard was not a hunchback.

In fact, at that time, deformed people were said to be willing to take revenge against Nature: because they cannot change their lot, they want to bring people down.

Another reason is that showing fairground attractions on stage was a trick often used by Shakespeare to incite people to see his plays. A character both deformed and mobile was a very scary monster.

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