There is only one explanation for a woman of means, a comtesse no less, who considers all women her equals, deigns to teach these women how to read, write, and speak dead languages, and has no compunction about seducing a man she fancies. She must be a witch.
Ninon de Larroque was determined to do what she could to better the lives of the women around her. What was so fun to watch was the reactions of the men with whom she interacted. All of them took her seriously. Even the king wants to walk in the garden with her.
The Cardinal doesn’t seem to mind what she is doing. All he wants is her money and he is willing to do anything to get his hands on it. He starts with the idea of branding her a lesbian, yet even Milady, who will do just about anything to just about anyone, balks at the idea.
Until now, we have only had glimpses of exactly who the Cardinal is. Here we got to see him in all his glory. He is malicious; he is cunning; he is brilliant. Faced with the idea of being the Pope, he must weigh that possibility against being the de facto ruler of France. Fully cognizant of the fact that the Pope has no real power, his choice is clear.
Yet, he is willing to manipulate a trial and to burn a woman at the stake to ensure that Rome remains ignorant of his intentions. He tells us that he is not cruel, just practical. The fact that he believes what he is saying is a brilliant insight into this man’s character. The ultimate irony is, of course, that the Cardinal won. Yes, Ninon is still alive, but she is now living on an income that the Cardinal provides and she has been banished from Paris.
The other great moment of the trial was Athos discovering that Milady is alive and working for the Cardinal. The series has been leading up to this moment and it was worth the wait. The fact that this seismic event happened just as Athos was being seduced by yet another strong woman made the impact that much more.
Athos closely guards his heart, for good reason. Yet, Ninon clearly had an effect on him, try as he might to pass it off. Their parting in the woods was poignant. She is off to start a new life while he must confront his old one.
Ninon is not the only woman defending those less able to look after themselves. Constance convinces her husband’s cousin that his daughter is not just something to be married off, but that she deserves an education and the choice of husband.
All of this makes it clear that Constance had no such choice. But, she is choosing now and she is choosing D’Artagnan. The final scene between the two of them was great, from D’Artagnan’s inadvertent declaration of love to that consummation devoutly to be wished.
I have been waiting for these two to realize that they are perfect for each other, although we must not forget that she is married and that they are committing adultery. Not to mention that Athos is not the only man with a history of sleeping with Milady. I am convinced that something will pull these two apart before too long. It’s much too early in the story for the happily ever after.
Another good episode, one that addressed a timely subject and moved the story forward as we reach the beginning of the end of the first series. Three out of four poisonous knee bones.
Today’s History Lesson:
In a time when all that women were good for was to be dutiful wives and daughters, education was considered heresy. According to the strict religious dictates from Rome, a woman’s place was as far from the classroom as it is possible to get. After all, it is much easier to control the ignorant than it is the educated.
At this time, there was an enormous amount of discord between the Pope and the various monarchs of Europe. Although England had broken with the Church by this time, it was the only major political power to have done so. The conflict between the Catholic Church and the Protestant Church was becoming more severe as well as 1630 was right in the middle of the Thirty Years War.
The Pope at this time was Urban VIII. History has shown that he was one of the better ones, although his total devotion to and absolute conviction of the superiority of the Church led to quite a few problems and he did become overly involved in the politics of the time. He was not, in fact, Spain’s “performing monkey” as he was unable to control either it or Italy. Ironically, he had much more success with France, allying with Richelieu against the Habsburgs, the Catholic ruling family of Germany.
It is interesting that Sestini calls the Cardinal “Your Eminence” as Urban was the one who bestowed that title on the cardinals, in 1630 no less.
Luca Sestini’s story was a bit odd. His motivation for coming to Paris, let alone in trying to kill the Cardinal, was never fully explained. Was he sent by the Pope or was he just trying to take matters into his own hands?
Ironically, Sestini was a Jesuit. This order of priests was primarily concerned with education; although, to be fair, it was education for young men teaching them how to adhere to the edicts of the Church in order to live a holy life.
The relic Sestini brings the Cardinal is from Saint Anthony which is ironic in itself. The saint was a Franciscan, an order that is characterized by poverty and giving away all material possessions to become closer to God.
I love the direction the character of Aramis is taking. “A soldier who preaches love and a famous libertine who cherishes women,” he is able to flirt with Ninon and give her gifts while maintaining a true respect for her. The queen is certainly still interested.
Ninon: “She was sane as you or me. Well, me anyway.”
Louis: “Did she just refuse my company?”
Anne: “I believe she did, Sire.”
Louis: “Is that allowed?”
D’Artagnan: “Well, if that wasn’t flirting, I don’t know what is.”
Porthos: “Rubbish. She can’t stand him.”
Aramis: “One day, we’ll sit down and I’ll explain women to you.”
Porthos: “Does anyone really believe in witchcraft?”
Aramis: “The accusation is a fine way to stop the tongues of outspoken women.”
Athos: “She had the girls. She lied. She brought her fate on herself.”
Aramis: “You’re being too hard on her. She was protecting the girl, not deceiving you.”
Cardinal: “Be quiet, or you’ll be gagged.”
Ninon: “I was gagged the day I was born a woman.”
D’Artagnan: “You are the finest woman I have ever met. I don’t believe there is a more generous soul in all of France.”
Constance: “Stop that! You’re embarrassing me.”
D’Artagnan: “And, what if I want to embarrass you? Why shouldn’t I list all the reasons I love you? Of course, when I say that, I mean admire, respect.”
Constance: “Say it again.”
D’Artagnan” “I admire and respect you.”
Constance: “Not that part, you idiot.”
D’Artagnan: “I love you.”
ChrisB is a freelance writer who spends more time than she ought in front of a television screen or with a book in her hand.
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