First edition album (Belgium) published in 1939.
In this adventure, everything begins with a briefcase left on a park bench in Brussels. The case belongs to Professor Alembick, a sigillographer (a specialist in the study of stamps and wax seals). Doing his good deed for the day, Tintin returns the briefcase to the professor, and it is not long before he joins Alembick on a trip to Syldavia!
Upon his arrival in the Balkans, Tintin begins to uncover a plot aimed at dethroning King Muskar XII, the ruler of Syldavia. In Syldavian tradition, the king maintains his power by presenting the royal sceptre of his ancestor, King Ottokar, to his people on Saint Vladimir’s Day each year. Fascist plotters plan to steal the sceptre and force the king to cancel the traditional ceremony, which would create political instability.
The plotters are working for the interests of Borduria, a neighboring country determined to annex Syldavia. The mastermind of the plot is a certain Müsstler. Tintin undertakes to recover the stolen sceptre and foil the coup. But will he triumph over the bad guys?
King Ottokar’s Sceptre can be linked to two historical events: the reign of Carol II of Romania, and the Anschluss of 1938.
During his reign, Carol II of Romania tried to break the authoritarian power of the fascist “Iron Guard,” who were admirers of Nazism (in King Ottokar’s Sceptre, the king is threatened by a political group of the same name). Carol II reinforced ties with Western allies, but under the growing pressure of Nazism, his position became precarious. In 1940, a coup d’état forced him to abdicate power to Nazi supporters. Around the same time, Hitler’s annexation of Austria to Nazi Germany, known as the Anschluss, had captured the world’s attention. While Hergé tells the story of a failed Anschluss, Germany actually succeeded in engulfing Austria in 1938.
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