Henry V (Tom Hiddleston) Richard II (Ben Whishaw) BBC Television Series The Hollow Crown (2012) Henry IV (Jeremy Irons)
A Companion Course to the BBC Television Series Broadcast on Great Performances on PBS on September 20, 27, October 4, 11, 2013, 9:00 to 12:00 a.m./11:30 p.m The Hollow Crown
Note: Each episode will be available on line via streaming at the Great Performances website for about one month after broadcast: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf/episodes/the- hollow-crown-shakespeares-history-plays/about- the-series/1747/ The website also has links to previews of each episode, interviews with actors and directors, plot summaries for each episode, and other material. The course meets Thursdays, September 19, 26, October 3, 10, and 17, 2013 from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. in Room 313, University Hall, ISU
Course Schedule Thursday, September 19 First Hour: Introduction to Shakespeares English History Plays Second Hour: Shakespeares Richard II Thursday, September 26 First Hour: Discussion of Episode 1 of The Hollow Crown Second Hour: Shakespeares Henry IV, Part 1
Thursday, October 3 First Hour: Discussion of Episode 2 of The Hollow Crown Second Hour: Shakespeares Henry IV, Part 2 Thursday, October 10 First Hour: Discussion of Episode 3 of The Hollow Crown Second Hour: Shakespeares Henry V Thursday, October 17 First Hour: Discussion of Episode 4 of The Hollow Crown Second Hour: Discussion of the series as a whole
Instructor: Tom Sauer firstname.lastname@example.org@msn.com, 812-877-9282 Sponsor: Osher Life Long Learning Institute at Indiana State University
Shakespeares English History Plays The title of Shakespeares collected plays is Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies, otherwise known as The First Folio (1623). The ten histories in the First Folio are presented in the chronological order of the historical action they depict, not in the order in which they were written. While there is no definitive evidence of the precise date of composition of the plays, below is the proposed chronology of the editors of the Oxford edition of Shakespeares works, based on recent textual scholarship. The Second Part of King Henry the Sixt (1591) [1594 quarto title: The First Part of the Contention of the Two Famous Houses of York and Lancaster] The Third Part of King Henry Sixt (1591) [1595 octavo title: The True Tragedy of Richard Duke of York and Good King Henry VI] The First Part of King Henry the Sixt (1592)
The Life and Death of Richard the Third (1592-3) [1594 quarto title: The True Tragedy of Richard the Third] The Life and Death of Richard the Second (1595) [1597 quarto title: The Tragedy of Richard the Second] The Life and Death of King John (1596) The First Part of King Henry the Fourth (1596-97) The Second Part of King Henry the Fourth (1597-98) The Life of King Henry the Fifth (1598-99) The Life of King Henry the Eight (1613) [alternate title: All is True] Note: Shakespeares reputation in print began with an allusion to one of the history plays. In 1592, Robert Greenes Groatsworth of Wit contained a snide remark about another playwright which includes a reference to a passage from Henry VI, Part 3:... there is an upstart crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his tiger's heart wrapped in a player's hide supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blank verse as the best of you; and, being an absolute Johannes Factotum, is in his own conceit the only Shake-scene in a country.' [3H6, 1.4.138: O tigers heart wrapped in a womans hide!]
In the Elizabethan England (1558-1603), chronicle plays based on historical events were very popular, and the first English play to use blank verse was The Tragedy of Gorboduc (played before Queen Elizabeth in 1561), based on the reign of a (mythical) king of ancient Britain. In addition, English history became widely accessible through the publication of Raphael Holinsheds Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Wales (1577); the second, expanded edition of 1587 was Shakespeares primary source for his history plays. Moreover, Elizabeth was the granddaughter of Henry VII, who ended the Wars of the Roses by defeating Richard III in 1485 and united the Houses of Lancaster and York through marriage to begin the Tudor dynasty. In Holinshed and more so in Edward Halls The Union of the Two Noble and Illustre Famelies of Lancastre and York (1548; also a source for Shakespeare), the turmoil of the previous two hundred years of English history was seen as a foil for the political stability of Elizabeths reign.
King John and Henry VIII are both outliers to Shakespeares primary interests in writing English history plays. In 1590-91, Shakespeare began writing about the political chaos under the weak and ineffective Henry VI and completed his treatment of the Wars of the Roses with Richard III. Because the three Henry VI plays and Richard III all treat the Wars of the Roses, they are often called the first tetralogy, but Richard III towers above its three predecessors, notably in Richards characterization and rhetorical flourish. In all likelihood contemporaneous with Richard III, Christopher Marlowe wrote Edward II before he was killed in May 1593. Shakespeares next history play after Richard III was Richard II, which shows similarities to Marlowes play, moves back 85 years in English history from Richard III, and switches from depicting the downfall of a Machiavellian schemer and murderer to portraying a weak but legitimate king deposed by a usurper.
With Richard II, Shakespeare began what is known as the second tetralogy, made up of Richard II, 1 and 2 Henry IV, and Henry V. Shakespeares primary historical sources remain Holinshed and Hall, and he also drew upon a wildly popular play about Henry V. (I will discuss the issue of Falstaff next week.) The four plays contain textual links between each other; but each play also stands solidly on its own. In the introductory session for each play, I will highlight some of the ways in which each play does so as well as how the plays link to each other. The idea of the two sets of plays as tetralogies arose in the early nineteenth century, and by the middle of the twentieth century the second tetralogy was seen as a monument to a triumphant Britain. And in 1969 Alvin B. Kernan coined the term Henriad for the latter group (quoted in Bloom 211). Think Iliad and Aeneid when you read Henriad: Greece and Rome have their epic, and so does Britain... in a series of plays. Henriad makes Shakespeare Britains Homer.
Henry V Richard II Henry IV National Portrait Gallery, London (16 th century, artists unknown)
After 1599, Shakespeare wrote three more plays drawing upon characters from British history and legend, Macbeth, Cymbeline, and Henry VIII. But these plays are vastly different in their own ways from the history plays of the 1590s. Indeed, after Shakespeare completed Henry V in 1599, he began to write his great tragedies beginning with Julius Caesar and then Hamlet. Its as if after completing the triumphant story of Henry V, Shakespeare recollected that what followed Henry V was the painful history of Henry VI and Richard III that he had portrayed in his first four history plays... and with that recollection he abandoned history for tragedy.
The Life and Death of Richard the Second Historical Background Edward, Prince of Wales (the Black Prince), died in 1376. When King Edward III died the following year, the Black Princes son, Richard of Bordeaux, became king. He was 10 years old. Three of Richards uncles ruled as councilors during Richards youth: John of Gaunt (Duke of Lancaster), Edmund Langley (Duke of York), and Thomas Woodstock (Duke of Gloucester).
In 1397, when Richard II was 30 years old, the Duke of Gloucester was mysteriously murdered at Calais. Edward III had had seven sons, five of whom are mentioned in Shakespeares play. The second son Lionel (Duke of Clarence) had died in 1368. Lionels daughter had married Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March, and they had male heirs. Richard named their grandson Edmund (5 th Earl of March) the heir presumptive to the throne. Also, one of their daughters married Henry Percy (Hotspur), whose father was Earl of Northumberland.
Richards first wife, Anne of Bohemia, died in 1394 at 28, childless after 12 years of marriage. Richards second wife, Isabella of France, was 7 years old at their marriage and 10 years old in 1399, but Shakespeare makes her an adult. Because Richard had no son, he named Edmund Mortimer (Earl of March) his heir before he left to fight in Ireland. With no children and an entourage of male advisors, Richard elicited some suspicions regarding his sexuality (cf. Marlowes Edward II).
Medieval and Feudal Issues The king was ruler of England by Gods will. That will was expressed through inheritance. The king served for life and was succeeded by his first-born son or his first-born sons first-born son. If a first-born male line was broken, kingship passed to the second-born sons first-born male heir. If no son, the male line could pass through the eldest daughter. Inheritance was the basis of political order.
Although appointed by Gods will as expressed through inheritance, the king did not have absolute power. A kings sense of his authority deriving from God conflicted with the reality of the power of the feudal barons. Not surprisingly, money was a huge point of conflict.
Another source of conflict was who was able to influence the king. Richard II may have resented his uncles for their power over him in his youth and so later rejected them and selected his own advisors. The Welsh and the Scots were constantly fighting the English in the 14 th and 15 th centuries. The barons in the border areas of Wales (the Marches) and the north of England (Northumberland) were particularly politically powerful because they were chiefly responsible for protecting against and attacking the Welsh and the Scots. (Mortimer and Percy families.)
Major Characters (the action occurs in 1399-1400) King Richard II (32 years old) Queen Isabella (an adult) John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster (uncle of Richard) Henry Bolingbroke (son of Gaunt, Duke of Hereford, King Henry IV) Duchess of Gloucester (widowed aunt of Richard) Duke of York (uncle of Richard) Duchess of York Duke of Aumerle (Yorks son) Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk Bushy, Bagot, Green (Richards advisors) Northumberland and son (Percy and Hotspur)
Locations of the Action http://maps.nationalgeographic.com/maps/print- collection/shakespeares-britain-map.html Windsor Castle Ely House, London Coventry Between Ravenspurgh and Berkeley Wales Bristol Harlech Castle, Wales Flint Castle, Wales Kings Langley near London Westminster Hall Near the Tower of London Pomfret Castle
Selected Themes Pageantry vs. Efficacy / Rhetoric vs. Action Divine Right vs. Political Support / Legitimacy vs. Expediency Honesty vs. Deception Tragedy vs. Pathos
Selected Passages John of Gaunts description of England, 2.1.40-66 Richard at his return from Ireland, 3.2.6-26, 50-58, 140-173, 205-206 Richard at Flint Castle, 3.3.142- 158, 177-182 First Man in the Garden, 3.4.41- 48 Richard and Bolingbroke at the deposition, 4.1.180-200
Richard echoing Marlowe, 4.1.269-273 Queen and Northumberland, 5.1.83-84 King Henry on Prince Hal, 5.3.1-22 Richard in his prison cell, 5.5.31-41, 108-112 Henry learning of Richards murder, 5.6.34- 52
The Hollow Crown, Episode 1: King Richard II Tomorrow Evening, 9:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. WTIU 16 th Century 21 st Century
The Hollow Crown Four dazzlingly clear Shakespeares which figure among the best period dramas ever on TV The Hollow Crown feels as good as TV Shakespeare is going to get The Hollow Crown is... a wonderful achievement, bringing the Bard to vivid life showing what a great writer he was (and not just because your English teacher told you so) (From reviews of the BBC broadcasts in summer 2012)
I can hardly wait to watch the series, reflect on its treatment of the plays, and discuss with you our respective reactions to each episode and to the series as a whole.