Les Rois Maudits

Les Rois Maudits

The Accursed Kings (French: Les Rois Maudits), is a sequence of seven historical novels by Maurice Druon, of the Académie française, about French kings.

The seven books are:

I. Le Roi de fer (The Iron King), 1955
II. La Reine étranglée (The Strangled Queen), 1955
III. Les Poisons de la couronne (The Poisoned Crown), 1956
IV. La Loi des mâles (The Royal Succession), 1957
V. La Louve de France (The She-Wolf of France), 1959
VI. Le Lis et le Lion (The Lily and the Lion), 1960
VII. Quand un Roi perd la France (When a King Loses France), 1977

Plot summary

The novels take place during the reigns of the last five Direct Capetian kings and the first two Valois kings, from Philip the Fair to John II. The plot revolves around the attempts of Robert of Artois to reclaim the county of Artois from his aunt Mahaut.[1]


In 1972 a TV miniseries was made out of The Accursed Kings. Sets and costumes were kept minimal, giving the feel of a small theater production.

2005 remake

In 2005 a new miniseries, directed by Josée Dayan, was made as a joint French-Italian production, with Philippe Torreton and Jeanne Moreau.

Episode 1 - The Iron King (2005)

France, 1307.

With the royal coffers empty, and no formalised system of taxation, King Philippe IV (Tchéky Karyo) asks Jacques de Molay (Gérard Depardieu), the Grand Master of the Knights Templar, for a loan. When he is refused, the King has every member of the Order arrested on the same night (Friday the 13th of October), and seizes the gold anyway.

Under torture, the Grand Master confesses to spitting on the cross and is convicted of heresy. The King promptly has him burnt at the stake, coercing the Pope into greenlighting the whole affair. However, as Molay burns, he issues a curse upon the King and Pope Clement, and all of their descendants for 13 generations. When the Pope dies shortly afterwards, it seems as though the curse is at work.

Meanwhile, Robert of Artois, a French nobleman, feels that he has been cheated out of his inheritance by his aunt, Mahaut (Jeanne Moreau). Her daughters are married to the King’s sons, and when Robert learns of their infidelity, he enlists the help of the King’s daughter, Isabella, to bring them down.

His actions set in motion a series of events that are to have wide-ranging consequences for both France and England.

Episode 2 - The Strangled Queen (2005)

King Philippe is deeply affected by the deaths of the Pope and one of his most trusted advisors, Guillaume de Nogaret, which he blames on the curse of the Grand Master of the Knights Templar. Obsessed with the curse, Philippe starts wasting away and dies shortly afterward.

With Philippe’s eldest son, Louis X, on the throne, Robert of Artois intensifies his scheming to reclaim the County of Artois from his aunt Mahaut. To gain the support and trust of the new king, he allies himself with the king’s uncle Charles of Valois and plots to undermine the once influential chamberlain, Enguerrand de Marigny.

King Louis seeks a new wife to provide him with an heir and ensure the succession, but is hindered by the fact he is still married to Marguerite of Burgundy, who has been imprisoned for adultery in the Tour de Nesle Affair. Furthermore, a new pope has not been elected and so his marriage cannot be annulled.

He sends Robert of Artois to Marguerite in an attempt to coerce her into writing a letter stating that their marriage was never consummated and that her daughter is illegitimate. She writes the letter, but the king does not receive it, and another solution must be found…

Episode 3 - The Poisoned Crown (2005)

Episode 4 - The She-Wolf of France (2005)

Episode 5 - The Lily and the Lion (2005)

In popular culture

Les Rois Maudits was spoofed on French television in the successful 1973 series Les Maudits Rois Fainéants by Roger Pierre and Jean-Marc Thibault.

See also

Novels portal


External links

  • Internet Movie Database
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Official web site of the 2005 miniseries
  • The "rois maudits" in Medieval History of Navarre