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Simon Schama on the history of satire in Europe


After yesterday’s horrific attack at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, Simon Shama offers a history of the “right to ridicule”:

The first great modern graphic satirist was Romeyn de Hooghe, enlisted by William III at the end of the 17th century in his relentless war to the death with Louis XIV. De Hooghe obliged with sprawling cartoons representing the wars against the French monarch and his allies as a battle between liberty and religious despotism. The satirists again saw themselves leading the cavalry charge against the bigots. And it was in the interests of the Protestant states to let them off the leash.

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