Uncovering a true story of murder in the Renaissance
Students in FRS 412, the Renaissance in France, had a weighty task ahead of them this semester: how to understand religious conflict from the perspective of the past. To approach this issue, they were asked to explore texts about the Wars of Religion from sixteenth-century France–written not only in a foreign language, but also in an older version of a foreign language. What’s more, they had to bridge a gap in time, between their own world of smartphones and constant connectivity, to an age where the norms and uses of the printing press where still in developments.
As part of this exploration, the group created and curated their own website about the scandalous story of Jean Chastel, a young man who, in 1594 at age 19, attempted to kill the French king Henri IV. This assassination attempt came as Henri was just establishing his rule in France after years of religious war. Much ink was spilled after Chastel’s attempted regicide, and the texts produced by the event demonstrate how the incident was viewed differently depending on the religious and political perspectives of the authors.