Trash Culture’s Dr. Who Reviews – The Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Eve (1966)

by Chad Denton

The Doctor and Steven arrive in a place the Doctor quickly figures out is sixteenth century Paris. Right away the Doctor wants to try to meet Charles Preslin, a famous apothecary (sort of the early modern equivalent of a pharmacist). Unknown to them they’ve arrived at one of the worst possible times to be in Paris this side of 1792; Huguenot noblemen are staying in the city to celebrate the wedding between the Protestant leader Henri of Navarre and the French princess Marguerite de Valois, and tensions are running high between the Huguenots and Catholics. Not knowing this, the Doctor reluctantly agrees to let Steven go sightseeing while he tries to find Preslin, but makes Steven promise not to talk to anyone unless he must. However, once the Doctor leaves Steven accidentally disobeys by getting into an argument with a bartender, which leads to him befriending a Huguenot named Nicholas. Meanwhile the Doctor finds Preslin, who is in hiding and is terrified of being persecuted by agents of the Abbot of Amboise, and encourages his research in science.

Nicholas offers shelter to a frightened servant girl, Anne Chaplet, who fled the service of her master, the Abbot, who had heard a rumor that there was going to be a massacre of Huguenots in Paris. To protect her, she is sent to work for the prominent Huguenot Admiral de Coligny; Nicholas also brings Steven to stay the night at Coligny’s quarters, in order to save him from being arrested for breaking the curfew. The next day Steven arouses Nicholas’ suspicious when he mistakes the Abbot for the Doctor, who are both dead ringers for each other. At least Nicholas agrees to help Steven find the Doctor, but has suspicions that Steven is a Catholic spy, which are exasperated when it turns out that Preslin has been missing for years. Steven escapes and tries to make his way to the Abbot, whom he’s convinced is the Doctor in disguise, and winds up embroiled in politics when he overhears members of the royal council discussing an order from the queen mother Catherine de’ Medicis to assassinate someone codenamed the “Sea Beggar,” who turns out to be Coligny…

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