When the pursuit of knowledge threatens the “powers that be,” intolerance tramples the law and civil liberty and the torture and murder of the brightest and most noble Frenchmen becomes commonplace.
In his early to mid-forties, Henry, Duke de Guise is charming, arrogant and ruthless. With intolerance blessed, corruption erupts into violence when he and his followers commit mass murder. He is not arrested, but is instead greeted like a present day rock star hero as he is cheered on through the streets of Paris. He is both immensely ambitious and popular, and is often called “the people’s king.” Admiration for him is so great that a contemporary once wrote,”It is too little to say that France is in love with that man. She is bewitched by him.”
Wish List: Vincent Cassel, Ed Norton, Tom Sizemore, Paul Bettany, Joseph Fiennes.
The Queen Mother of France, Catherine de Medici tries to mediate peace, but is trusted by no one. Well-educated, with the heart of a humanist but a Machiavellian mind, Catherine tries to suffer the Guise’s intolerance and bigotry when faced with the possible loss of power for her and her children: King Charles IX, King Henri III and Marguerite de Valois.
Wish List: Isabelle Huppert, Sally Field, Judy Dench, Miranda Richardson, Helen Mirren.
In his fifties, Louis II, Cardinal of Guise exhibits a pretentious piety as he protects those loyal, while also trying to bring the full power of the Inquisition to France. He is devoutly loyal his brother, the Duke de Guise, and they both abuse power through tyranny and terror, opposing the more tolerant policies of Catherine de Medicis. It is the Guise arrogance and cruelty against anyone they deem “heretics” that directly leads to the French Wars of Religion.
Wish List: Alan Rickman, Geoffrey Rush, Jeremy Irons, Tim Curry, Tim Hutton.