Little Bits of History

April 27

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 27, 2017

1578: The Duel of the Mignons takes place. During the French Wars of Religion, a group of men living in Paris and favorites of Henry III of France were derided by the press and the citizenry. Les Mignons is French for “the darlings” or “the dainty ones” and the men referred to were frivolous, fashionable young men who may or may not have been homosexual but were decidedly not  considered to be manly enough. According to writers at the time, they made themselves “exceedingly odious, as much by their foolish and haughty demeanor, as by their effeminate and immodest dress, but above all by the immense gifts the king made to them.”

The Malcontents were a group of men in the Fifth French War of Religion who opposed Henry of Valois, duc d’Anjou’s assumption to the throne as Henry III and allied with the Huguenots. They instead backed the old King’s brother, Francis, Duke of Anjou. They were unhappy (malcontent) with the way the King treated the old French nobility. Francis was the presumed heir to the throne as long as Henry III remained childless and it was he who seems to have stirred up a lot of the discontent within Paris over the Mignons and their misbehavior. There were fourteen young men who were singled out for popular disdain with special attention to Anne de Joyeuse who the young King had travelled with and now made Duke and Jean Louis de Nogaret de La Valette, another traveler who was also made a Duke.

Henry III and Henry, Duke of Guise decided to reenact the battle of the Horatii and the Curiatii, an ancient Roman legend where instead of two armies fighting, neighboring kingdoms would decide a winner based on a fight between the Horatii and the Curiatii – two sets of triplet fighters. The fight was to the death. On this day, Jacques de Caylus, Louis de Maugiron and Jean d’Arcès (representing the party of the King) engaged in a mock battle with Charles de Balzac, Ribérac, and Georges de Schomberg (representing the party of the Guises). Like the Roman battle, only one survived the day. Maugiron and Schomberg were killed in the mock battle. Ribérac died the following day. Caylus had as many as 19 wounds and took 33 agonizing days to die. D’Arcès received a head wound and was hospitalized for six weeks. Balzac suffered only a small scratch on his arm.

The meaningless loss of life enraged the public. The press of the day impugned the fighters, their leaders, and the entire idea behind the farce. The outcry continued and was seen as part and parcel of the abhorrent state of the Court and the spread of what the French considered to be the deplorable Italian and Gascon manners of Henry’s effeminate court. It also made the estrangement between the two noble Henrys much worse.

“Culture” is a finite segment of the meaningless infinity of the world process, a segment on which human beings confer meaning and significance. – Max Weber

So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they’re busy doing things they think are important. This is because they’re chasing the wrong things. – Morrie Schwartz

I would rather die a meaningful death than to live a meaningless life. – Corazon Aquino

Death gives meaning to our lives. It gives importance and value to time. Time would become meaningless if there were too much of it. – Ray Kurzweil

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