History as voyeurism: From Marguerite De Valois to La Reine Margot

Moshe Sluhovsky*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Queen Marguerite de Valois of France (1533-1615) is among the most vilified characters in French history. Accused of incest, corruption, insatiable sexual desire, murders, treason, and direct responsibility for the political disintegration of France in the Sixteenth Century, her image has never stopped intriguing historians. The historical Marguerite, however, is overshadowed by the popular heroine of Alexandre Dumas's novel Queen Margot (1945). The article traces the influence of the novel on historical scholarly biographies of the queen, arguing that professional historians have not been able to disentangle themselves from the literary poroduct. Neither have they been capable of overcoming the role of sexual desire in their shaping of the queen. The Marguerite historians have portrayed has been shaped by the sexual fantasies and the sexual politics of the nineteenth-century author, and by the historians' own voyeuristic gaze. In a time of professional anxiety and debate about the uniqueness of historical analysis and writing as compared to literary and artistic productions, the article questions the possibliity of distinguishing between these enterprises.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)193-210
Number of pages18
JournalRethinking History
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2000


  • De
  • Margot
  • Marguerite
  • Queen
  • Valois
  • Voyeurism


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