Le Siège de Calais, hailed by its author in 1765 as France's 'première tragédie nationale', rolled into Paris like a storm. Pierre-Laurent de Belloy's play about French bravery during the Hundred Years' War (1337-1453) appeared on the heels of France's defeat in the Seven Years' War (1756-1763). Le Siège de Calais was performed throughout Europe and published numerous times during the second half of the eighteenth century. De Belloy emerged as a national hero, receiving prizes from Louis XV, accolades from the city of Calais, and membership to the prestigious Académie française. Since the French Revolution, however, the popularity of Le Siège de Calais has eclipsed, owing to its overt glorification of France's royal machine. Several hundred years later, the play warrants a fresh look from a holistic perspective. De Belloy's tragedy and the varied responses it provoked - many of which are included in this edition - offer complex representations of French political history and patriotic sentiment. Le Siège de Calais reveals conflicting images of gender roles, political debate and family values during the twilight of the Ancien régime; it also constituted one of the last moments when serious drama asserted its role as a popular force.