"King and Colony in Pierre Corneille's Le Cid"

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  • This is the accepted version of the following article: True, Micah. “King and Colony in Pierre Corneille’s Le Cid. French Studies, vol. 71, no. 1, pp. 1-14., which has been published in final form at https://doi.org/10.1093/fs/knw262. Pierre Corneille’s tragicomedy Le Cid often has been interpreted as the story of medieval Castile’s transition from feudalism to a strong monarchy, a story that clearly resonates with France’s own domestic political concerns under Louis XIII. This article focuses instead on Castile’s external political engagements in the play, and how they reflect France’s efforts to establish colonies during the seventeenth century. It is argued here that reading Le Cid alongside France’s record of colonization in North America allows the play to be understood not only as an exploration of a fraught moment in French domestic politics, but also as a reflection of the kingdom’s efforts to maintain and expand control over foreign lands. Several aspects of Le Cid—Rodrigue’s duel with Don Gomès and the events surrounding it, Castile’s conflict with the Moors, and King Don Fernand’s mostly ineffective efforts to maintain order—appear on close inspection to have stakes for affairs external as much as internal, a feature of Corneille’s tragicomedy that distinguishes it from the Spanish play that inspired it. More broadly, this article shows how accounting for France’s colonization of the New World may help cast the famously insular French seventeenth century in a new and revealing light.

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    Article (Draft / Submitted)
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    Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International
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