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The Accursed Kings by Maurice Druon is a series of seven historical novels that detail the destruction of the Knights Templar, then the subsequent deaths of Phillip the Fair and his sons, the ensuing succession crises and the beginning of the Hundred Year War, set up against the backdrop of France spiraling down into a veritable Crapsack World after it gets hit by disaster after disaster. The visceral B-plot of Robert D'Artois and his attempts to (re)gain his father's county also gets a lot of attention, to the point where it can hardly even be called secondary, and there are other minor plots which are intertwined with the two major ones and each other. While the period is described (quite aptly) as France's Darkest Hour, there is a lot of Black Comedy and ham involved.

Tropes in this work:

  • Alas, Poor Villain : well done for Robert of Artois and Mahaut d'Artois, but somewhat difficult when it comes to mourn the less evil, but much more annoying Charles de Valois.
  • Anyone Can Die : pretty much unavoidable for a historical series encompassing such a large period. The final chapters of the sixth installment (which at the time was supposed to end the series) are mainly devoted to kill off all the survivors of the starting cast - not that they were so numerous.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Most of the front characters, anyway. There are some serious dick moves in these books.
  • Big Eater : Mahaut d'Artois. Not played for laughts.
  • Big Screwed-Up Family : allegedly, it all comes from the curse launched by the Knights Templars' Grand Master Jacques of Molay while burning on the pyre.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Robert D'Artois, until he is kicked out of France and turns Grimdark.
  • Break the Cutie : the assassination of baby Giannino, who impersonated John the Ist for his presentation to the Barons.
  • Broken Bird : Isabella of France.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Every single character.
  • Corrupt Hick: The Cressay family, half a millenium or so before there even were hicks.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Happens to some characters. Easily the most remembered are the executed squires of the first book.
  • Defrosting the Ice Queen : Isabella of France.
  • The Ditz: Louis X, Phillip's eldest, can't be called retarded per se, but he's just plain dumb as a brick.
  • Doorstopper: The seven books, taken together.
  • Finger-Licking Poison : John the Ist falls victim of that. actually, it was an impersonator.
  • Grey and Gray Morality : Borderline Black and Gray Morality, in that the protagonist is on a very dark shade.
  • Knight in Sour Armor : Enguerrand de Marigny, just before being hanged : "for just causes, I have done unjust actions". Philip IV the Fair and Philip V the Tall could also qualify.
  • Large Ham: Robert D'Artois and Charles de Valois almost make it a World of Ham, and they get some help from other characters.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters : most of them sporting similar first names and titles, so be very careful about family names and serial numbers !
  • Magnificent Bastard : Robert d'Artois. Textbook example.
  • Master Poisoner : Beatrice d'Hirson has some good records at that game, including a minister and two kings (supposedly), and even her own employer and her daughter.
  • Only Mostly Dead : invoked and played with : Mortimer tricks his own brother into believing Edward II isn't dead, only to make him uncover his plans of rebellion against his puppet king Edward III.
  • Prince Charmless : pretty much Louis X.
  • The Baroness : Mahaut d'Artois.
  • The Knights Templar: Jacques de Molay, the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar, is a central character of the first book.
  • The Magnificent: Philip IV the Fair, Louis X the Stubborn, Philip V the Tall, Charles IV the Fair and Isabella the She-wolf of France.
  • The Middle Ages: It takes place between 1307 and 1356, which falls somewhere between The High Middle Ages and The Late Middle Ages.
  • The Neidermeyer : In the seventh book, John II.
  • The Pope: Clement V.
  • Succession Crisis: The plot for the second part of the story, after Charles IV of France dies. This happens after a previous, smaller succession crisis declares that Joan II of Navarre, daughter of Louis X of France, is declared ineligible for crowning because she is a girl.