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Journal > Volumes > 41 (2010) / 3 (Autumn)
Imagining Esther in Early Modern France
Nicole Hochner
Hebrew University of Jerusalem

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 queen’s 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.

Pages: 757 - 787