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Robert Macaire (Chevalier Macaire) was a noted criminal and assassin who appears in French plays. His name is renowned in French culture as that of the archetypal villain.
Macaire was convicted of a murder in trial by combat with a witness in the shape of the dog of the murdered man. According to thebookofdays.com, the murdered man was Aubry de Montdidier of France, slain in the forest of Bondy. The trial reputedly occurred on October 8, 1361.
Aubry de Montdidier was a fictional French knight of Charles V. The only witness of the murder was Montdidier's dog, which acted so violently against Macaire in court that King Charles ordered a duel between the dog and Macaire. As the dog won, Macaire confessed and was hanged.
In popular culture
His is the name of the title character in the 1842 book Physiologie du Robert-Macaire written by Pierre Joseph Rousseau (James Rousseau) and illustrated by Honoré Daumier. From this topicality, a character of this name appeared in the nineteenth-century melodrama play L'Auberge des Adrets, or 'The Adrets' Inn'. An internationally successful comic opera, Erminie, was based on the play, premiering in London in 1885. Films were later made with the character Macaire, including Robert Macaire et Bertrand (1907) and The Adventures of Robert Macaire (1925). Lemaître's performance in L'Auberge des Adrets (courtesy of actor Pierre Brasseur) was featured in the French film Les Enfants du Paradis (1945). In the mid-nineteenth century, le Robert-Macaire was the name of a dance, similar to the cancan and considered daring.
- "Judicial Combat Between a Man and a Dog"
- "Physiologie du Robert-Macaire, par James Rousseau. Illustr. de H. Daumier By Pierre Joseph Rousseau"
- Robert Macaire et Bertrand at the Internet Movie Database
- Les Aventures de Robert Macaire at the Internet Movie Database