Imagining Esther in early modern France

Nicole Hochner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


This study argues that the characterization of the biblical heroine Esther was instrumental in early modern France in challenging and renegotiating the monarchical institution. Literary and visual representations of Esther suggest that the queens involvement is critical in ensuring justice and peace in the realm as she successfully turns Ahasuerus into a genuine king able to listen, share, and free his people from oppression and tyranny. Despite her apparent humility and obedience, Esther provides a further argument in favor of a constitutional and moderate monarchy in which the queen's duty is to intercede to prevent abuses of power. It is argued that this reading of Esther was supportive of the political ambition of Anne of Brittany. The emergence of the character of Esther explains the general political debate over limits of royal authority and the reformation of the female court, mostly undertaken by the influential Queen Anne of Brittany.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)757-787
Number of pages31
JournalSixteenth Century Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2010


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