This presentation examines correlations between historical representations of Catherine de Medici, Queen of France, dating back to the Renaissance and Romantic eras, with villainous female stereotypes, familiar from European fairy tales and folklore. The correlations between Catherine’ s historical representations and the folkloric archetypes become even stronger when examining them in cultural and historical context. The association of Catherine with evil at the height of the Black Legend, sustained, for example, in such influential works as Alexandre Dumas’ historical novel La Reigne Margot, is consistent with the rise of the Romantic fairy tale. Such findings raise more questions than they answer: how factual are historical representations when they come packaged in vicious prose and literary symbolism? Conversely, did the writing of history affect the evolution of European folklore?
Jeanna Kadlec, ’10 Menomonie, WI
Sponsor: Kirilka Stavreva