The Battle of Hernani  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The bataille d'Hernani (the battle of Hernani) is the name given to a polemic surrounding the opening night performance on February 25, 1830 of the romantic theatrical piece Hernani by Victor Hugo. As such it was an episode in the eternal quarrel of the ancients and moderns.

Alexandre Dumas has given a fine account of the events in his memoires, citing amongst other things, the quarrel between Hugo and the principal lady Mademoiselle Mars who did not whish to recite the lines "Vous êtes mon lion, superbe et généreux" which she wished to replace by "Vous êtes Monseigneur vaillant et généreux". This animal metaphor was unheard of in classical theatre.

Hugo had invited his clique Les Jeunes France and the performance ended in a physical battle.

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