The Fatal Night (1914) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • Catharine, the Queen Mother of France, urged by the noble and influential house of Guise, became jealous of the growing strength and popularity of the Huguenot, or Protestant party, the head of which was Henry, King of Navarre. The wily Italian Queen of France found that to make any success in her plots against this rising party, she would have to get the main body of them to Paris, and she therefore arranged a marriage between Marguerite De Valois and Henry, the Huguenot King. Thousands of the flower of the Huguenot faith flocked to Paris to witness the welding together of the two political and religious factions. The marriage was performed, while the Huguenots were feted and flattered until no vestige of suspicion of treachery could enter their minds. The feast of St. Bartholomew was nigh and all was ready for the blow to be struck. The King, a weak, hysterical boy of but 23 years, tried to stop the tragedy but was overruled by his mother and gave the order for the massacre of the Huguenots on the eve of the feast of St. Bartholomew. Never in the history of the world has a plot, known to practically every Catholic in Paris, including the scum of the streets, been kept so absolutely secret as was this one against the Huguenots. During the evening the streets of Paris were practically deserted, save for a few bands of priests and soldiers who nailed white crosses on the houses of all Catholics, to shield them from the fury of the blood-mad mob. Nobles mingled with beggars, hiding in tenements and archways and, in fact, anywhere which would be a vantage point for the killing of the hated Huguenots. At midnight the stillness of death spread over the city, and suddenly to the waiting thousands came the ringing of the bell of St. Germaine which was the prearranged signal for the massacre to commence. For the next twenty-four hours. Paris was a charnel house. Marie de Mornay. the daughter of a Huguenot nobleman, has been betrothed against her will to a childhood friend of the family. She loves her finance as a brother but not as a wife should love a husband, yet to save her father from financial ruin she consents to become the wife of the wealthier Huguenot noble. The two families attend the royal marriage, and there the king himself presents to her the dare-devil Catholic noble. Raoul de Tournay, a close confident of his majesty. On "The Fatal Night" he plans to save Marie's life from the general massacre, and forces her to become his wife in return for his services in saving her whole family and fiancĂ© from death. She agrees, and in a well-told story of the thrilling events of the next few days, we see how Marie learns to love her husband, whose nobility and generosity find expression in his every act, despite the harshness of his wooing.


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