Last Updated on May 8, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 405
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Christian II, a rather foolish, vapid, and childish monarch who rules Illyria until he is deposed after a revolution and forced to flee to Paris with Frédérique, his queen, and Léopold, his son. He spends his exile waiting for his restoration, frequenting Parisian theaters and cafes, and selecting and rejecting mistresses. A faction working for financial gain is at the point of securing his abdication when Frédérique, in a burst of hysterical melodramatics, dissuades him. At last he does abdicate, after an invasion of Illyria launched to restore him fails, in favor of his son, who becomes King Léopold V of Illyria and Dalmatia.
Frédérique (fray-day-REEK), queen of Illyria, who actively runs the affairs of the kingdom during the period of exile. It is she who attends to financial problems, selects a tutor for the prince, and prevents the king’s irrational behavior from destroying the royal family. Her platonic affair with her son’s tutor, Meraut, is dignified and poignant.
Élysée Meraut (ay-lee-SAY may-ROH), the prince’s tutor and a man of good taste and discretion. The warm friendship with the queen that Meraut enjoys is broken when an unfortunate accident occurs while the tutor and the prince are target shooting. The prince loses the sight of one eye, and the queen, holding Meraut responsible for the incident, discharges him. Later, the queen, learning Meraut is dying, visits him, with the prince, in time to reconcile their differences.
The Duke of Rosen
The Duke of Rosen, a former Illyrian minister who is deposed by Christian. The duke welcomes the royal family when they arrive in Paris, uses his own funds to see that they want for nothing, and remains loyal to the monarch, even though the duke’s daughter-in-law becomes Christian’s mistress.
Prince Léopold (lay-oh-POHL), Christian’s not particularly intelligent young son, who is Meraut’s pupil.
Séphora Lévis (say-foh-RAH lay-VEE), the wife of a commoner. Christian is enamored of her, and she promises to become his mistress if he abdicates. She is never in love with Christian, but his abdication would be financially profitable to her and her husband.
Tom Lévis, Séphora’s husband, an impostor who has made a fortune catering to the whims of exiled aristocrats.