The Accursed Kings

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The Accursed Kings
Le roi de fer-Maurice Druon (1955).jpg
Le Roi de fer (Book 1)
1955 French hardcover
  • Le Roi de fer (1955)
  • La Reine étranglée (1955)
  • Les Poisons de la couronne (1956)
  • La Loi des mâles (1957)
  • La Louve de France (1959)
  • Le Lys et le Lion (1960)
  • Quand un Roi perd la France (1977)
Author Maurice Druon
Country France
Genre Historical fiction
Publisher Del Duca/Plon
Published 1955–1977
Media type Print

The Accursed Kings (French: Les Rois maudits) is a series of seven historical novels by the French author Maurice Druon, of the Académie française, about the French monarchy in the 13th to 14th centuries. Published between 1955 and 1977, the series has been adapted twice for television.

American author George R. R. Martin called The Accursed Kings "the original game of thrones", citing Druon's novels as an inspiration for his own A Song of Ice and Fire series.[1][2][3]


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 primarily follows the self-destruction of the Capetian dynasty leading up to the Hundred Years' War.


In his youth, Druon had cowritten the lyrics to Chant des Partisans (1943), a popular French Resistance anthem of World War II.[4] In 1948 he received the Prix Goncourt for his novel Les Grandes Familles (fr). According to John Lichfield, The Independent‍‍ '​‍s French correspondent and a friend of Druon's, "Les Rois Maudits was written to make money very quickly ... [Druon] himself was not very proud of it."[2]

The series comprises the following novels:

# Title Author Publisher Date Genre
1 Le Roi de fer
(English: The Iron King)[5]
Maurice Druon Del Duca 1955 Historical fiction
French King Philip the Fair, already surrounded by scandal and intrigue, brings a curse upon his family when he persecutes the Knights Templar
2 La Reine étranglée
(English: The Strangled Queen)
Maurice Druon Del Duca 1955 Historical fiction
Philip is dead and his son has been crowned Louis X. But with his adulterous wife Marguerite in prison, Louis cannot remarry and father a male heir. 
3 Les Poisons de la couronne
(English: The Poisoned Crown)
Maurice Druon Del Duca 1956 Historical fiction
Louis, now a widower, marries Clemence of Hungary
4 La Loi des mâles
(English: The Royal Succession)
Maurice Druon Del Duca 1957 Historical fiction
Louis is dead at the hands of Mahaut d'Artois, leaving Clemence and their unborn child as the only obstacles in the way of Louis' brother and Mahaut's son-in-law Philippe de Poitiers claiming the throne. 
5 La Louve de France
(English: The She-Wolf)
Maurice Druon Del Duca 1959 Historical fiction
Louis and Philippe's younger brother Charles IV is now the French king, and his sister Isabella—called the "She-Wolf of France"—is married to the English King Edward II. When rebel Roger Mortimer flees to France to plot against Edward, Isabella follows and joins him as his lover and co-conspirator. 
6 Le Lys et le Lion
(English: The Lily and the Lion)
Maurice Druon Del Duca 1960 Historical fiction
In the wake of Charles's death, Robert of Artois has helped place Philip of Valois on the French throne. But instead of being rewarded, he is exiled to England, where he encourages English King Edward III's own claim to the French crown. 
7 Quand un Roi perd la France
(English: The King Without a Kingdom)
Maurice Druon Plon 1977 Historical fiction
John II "The Good" succeeds his father Philip as King of France, and his reign is a disaster. 

Television adaptations[edit]

The Accursed Kings was adapted twice for French television.[1][3]

1972 series[edit]

The 1972 TV adaptation of The Accursed Kings was broadcast by the ORTF from 21 December 1972 to 24 January 1973, and starred Jean Piat as Robert d'Artois and Hélène Duc as Mahaut d'Artois.[6] Dubbed "the French I, Claudius",[1][2] the series was "hugely successful",[4] and brought the novels "from cult to mainstream success".[2] Shot in the studio with limited scenery and with the feel of a theatre production, the series concentrated on the characters and acting and was widely acclaimed.[citation needed] It was later shown on British television with subtitles.[citation needed]

2005 series[edit]

In 2005, The Accursed Kings was again adapted in a joint French-Italian production directed by Josée Dayan, starring Philippe Torreton as Robert and Jeanne Moreau as Comtesse Mahaut.[7]


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

American author George R. R. Martin called The Accursed Kings "the original game of thrones", citing Druon's novels as an inspiration for his own A Song of Ice and Fire series, which has been adapted for television as Game of Thrones.[1][2][3] Martin's UK publisher HarperCollins began reissuing the long out of print Accursed Kings series in 2013,[1][2] with the author himself writing an introduction.[2][3]

Though Ben Milne of the BBC noted in 2014 that Druon is "barely known in the English-speaking world",[2] Martin called the author "France's best historical novelist since Alexandre Dumas, père".[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Martin, George R. R. (3 April 2013). "My hero: Maurice Druon by George RR Martin". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 June 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Milne, Ben (4 April 2014). "Game of Thrones: The cult French novel that inspired George RR Martin". BBC. Retrieved 6 April 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d Kamin, Debra (20 May 2014). "The Jewish legacy behind Game of Thrones". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 31 May 2015. 
  4. ^ a b Jackson, Julian (15 April 2009). "Obituary: Maurice Druon". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 June 2015. 
  5. ^ Le Roi de fer was also released in the US in paperback by Avon Books as The Ardent Infidels in 1956, 1970 and 1977.
  6. ^ Lentz III, Harris M. (7 May 2015). Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 2014. McFarland & Company. p. 100. ISBN 9780786476664. Retrieved 24 June 2015. 
  7. ^ "Official website: Les Rois maudits (2005 miniseries)" (in French). 2005. Archived from the original on 15 August 2009. 

External links[edit]