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Shakespeare’s Histories and the Monarchy Wars of the Roses.

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Presentation on theme: "Shakespeare’s Histories and the Monarchy Wars of the Roses."— Presentation transcript:

1 Shakespeare’s Histories and the Monarchy Wars of the Roses

2 “Traditional” view of 15 th c. England: England was decadent society, torn by bloody civil war between Houses of York and Lancaster Between 1455 – 1485 crown changed hands 5 times Resolved when Henry Tudor of House of Lancaster became King Henry VII, married Elizabeth of York, ended the civil wars, and brought peace and prosperity to England.

3 Traditional view challenged in 1981 study by John Gilligan who argues England was “the most peaceful country in Europe.” The 16 th c. was free of religious controversy and the economy was strong. Literacy increased and technological developments abounded.

4 Gilligham’s Argument “Wars of the Roses” caused by: 1)Shortcomings of Henry VI, 1459 – 61; 2)Discontent of Earl of Warwick, 1469 – 71; 3)Ambitions of Richard III, 1483 – 87 The dynastic struggle did not create the conflicts but rather channeled them and permitted them to be resolved. Most English were not involved in the fighting, and the battles had few casualties.

5 Shortcomings of Henry VI Dominated by his wife, Margaret of Anjou, and his counselors, the Dukes of Suffolk and Somerset Ignored the wealthiest landowner of England, Richard of York Suffered first mental breakdown in 1453 and was unable to speak or use his limbs for 18 months

6 Act of Accord (24 October 1460) allowed Henry VI to keep the throne but decreed it would pass upon his death to Richard and his heirs. Richard of York was killed at the Battle of Wakenfield in December 1460, but his son was proclaimed Edward IV in March 1461 after the Yorkist defeat of the Lancastrians at Towton.

7 Discontent of Earl of Warwick, 1469 – 71 Upset by Edward’s marriage to Elizabeth Woodville and allied with Edward’s brother George, Duke of Clarence Attempted in 1469 and 1470 to overthrow Edward Forced Edward IV to flee to Holland in October 1470 and Henry VI returned as king Killed by Edward’s forces at Barnet in April 1471; Margaret captured and son Prince Edward killed at Tewkesbury in May

8 Ambitions of Richard of Gloucester (Richard III) Disliked Elizabeth Woodville and her allies Argued Edward & Elizabeth’s marriage was null and void and thus the Princes were illegitimate Kidnapped Edward V and his younger brother and had himself crowned Richard III in July 1483 Defeated by the Lancastrian claimant to the throne, Henry Tudor, at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485

9 Shakespeare’s Histories and the Monarchy

10 First Performances of the History Plays King Henry IV Part 1 - 1597-98 King Henry IV Part 2 - 1597-98 King Henry V - 1598-99 King Henry VI Part 1 - 1592 March 3 King Henry VI Part 2 - 1592-93 King Henry VI Part 3 - 1592-93 King Henry VIII - 1612-13 King John - 1596-97 Richard II - 1601 February 7 Richard III - 1600-01

11 Fact or Fiction. Richard III _ 5/5

12 Henry A. (Harry) Payne: Choosing the Red and White Roses in the Temple Garden, 1910Payne Of all the incidents that are associated with particular places, none stands out more vividly than the scene told by Shakespeare, of the first beginning to the Wars of the Roses in the Temple Garden. Richard Plantagenet, with the Earls of Somerset, Suffolk, and Warwick, Vernon, and a lawyer, enter the Temple Garden ("Henry VI." Pt. I. Act 2, sc. iv.). Suffolk. Within the Temple Hall we were too loud; The garden here is more convenient. Plantagenet. Then say at once if I maintained the truth, Or else was wrangling Somerset in the error ? The direct answer being evaded, Plantagenet continues- Since you are tongue-tied and

13 (continued) so loath to speak, In dumb significants proclaim your thoughts; Let him that is a true-born gentleman, And stands upon the honour of his birth, If he suppose that I have pleaded truth, From off this brier pluck a white rose with me. Somerset. Let him that is no coward nor no flatterer, But dare maintain the party of the truth, Pluck a red rose from off this thorn with me. Warwick. I pluck this white rose with Plantagenet. Suffolk. I pluck this red rose with young Somerset. Vernon. I pluck this pale and maiden blossom here, Giving my verdict on the white rose side. Lawyer (to Somerset)... The argument you held was wrong in you, In sign whereof I pluck a white rose too. Plan. Now, Somerset, where is your argument ? Som.

14 (continued) Here, in my scabbard, meditating that Shall dye your white rose in a bloody red. Plan. Hath not thy rose a canker, Somerset ? Som. Hath not thy rose a thorn, Plantagenet ? Plan. Ay, sharp and piercing to maintain his truth; Whiles thy consuming canker eats his falsehood. Som. Well, I'll find friends to wear my bleeding roses, That shall maintain what I have said is true. Warwick. And here I prophesy this brawl to-day, Grown to this faction in the Temple-garden, Shall send between the red rose and the white A thousand souls to death and deadly night.

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