Not much is known about Desmares’s life and work. His Roxelane came out at a time when tragicomedies and Turkish plots were in vogue on the French theatrical stages. 2 This was the first French play, however, to deal with the Soliman-Roxolana plot, 3 or the story of how Roxolana tricked Soliman into marrying her in violation of an age-old Ottoman tradition, according to which sultans were not to marry their concubines. The story was originally related as Rosa’s (Roxolana’s) clever ruse in Moffan’s 1555 pamphlet on the murder of Prince Mustapha. 4 Desmares is believed to have relied on the later accounts of this story in several French Turkish chronicles and in Madeleine Scudéry’s novel Ibrahim Bassa published just two years before. These later accounts elaborated on the origins of the Ottoman custom: the story goes that when Bajazet I (1389–1402) and his wife were captured by Tamerlane, the Sultan suffered great humiliation from seeing his wife treated as a slave and servant. He then decreed that Ottoman sultans were never to marry their women in order to avoid such disgrace. 5