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Richard II -- Printing history Date: Probably no earlier than 1595 First printing 1597. Printed twice more before Elizabeth’s death in March, 1603 (I think.

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Presentation on theme: "Richard II -- Printing history Date: Probably no earlier than 1595 First printing 1597. Printed twice more before Elizabeth’s death in March, 1603 (I think."— Presentation transcript:

1 Richard II -- Printing history Date: Probably no earlier than 1595 First printing 1597. Printed twice more before Elizabeth’s death in March, 1603 (I think both times in 1598). Fourth printing 1608

2 Richard II -- Sources Primarily Raphael Holinshed’s Chronicles, 1577, rev’d & enlarged 1587. Edward Halle’s chronicle The Union of the Two Noble and Illustre Famelies of Lancastre and York (1548) The Mirrour for Magistrates (1559) Samuel Daniel’s First Four Books of the Civil Wars (1595) the anonymous play Woodstock (1591 - 5?) Froissart’s Chronicle, trans. 1523 - 5 by Lord Berners an anonymous French ms chronicle entitled Chronicque de la TraVson et Mort de Richart Deux Roy Dengleterre (c. 1400) Créton’s Histoire du Roy d’Angleterre Richard (1399?) And possibly Marlowe’s Edward II as a dramatic model

3 Richard II -- Style “Written entirely in verse, Shakespeare forgoes stylistic variety in favour of an intense, plangent lyricism” (Wells, 367). The c20th actor Sir John Gielgud warns of “the danger of monotony in a drama whose ‘artificial’ and ‘tapestried’ style is often more musical than revealing of character” (Forker, 55 - 6).

4 Richard II -- Themes or topics of interest Stanley Wells has written that “the subject-matter of Richard II seemed inflammatorily topical to Shakespeare’s contemporaries. Richard, who had notoriously indulged his favourites, had been compelled to yield his throne to Henry Bolingbroke, Earl of Hereford: like Richard, the ageing Queen Elizabeth had no obvious successor, and she too encouraged favourites—such as the Earl of Essex— who might aspire to the throne.... In 1601, on the day before Essex led [a] rebellion against Elizabeth, his fellow conspirators [including the Earl of Southampton (Bloom Invention of the Human, 262)] commissioned a special performance in the hope of arousing popular support” (367). The Queen’s response to the 1601 production was “I am Richard II, know ye not that?” (Bloom, 262). I.e. the use of history in history, specifically the use of Richard II to offer public comment on the reign and succession of Elizabeth I.

5 Richard II -- Themes or topics of interest Pervasively lamenting, in the tradition of Mediaeval & Renaissance complaint literature (Forker, 56). I.e. the place of Richard II in the literary tradition of complaint literature Harold Bloom writes of the play that “Since we are not meant to like Richard, and no one could like the usurper Bolingbroke, Shakespeare has little trouble distancing us from the only actions of the play, abdication and murder” (Invention of the Human, 253).

6 Richard II -- Themes or topics of interest The poem’s fourth printing in 1608 was the first to contain the deposition scene (4.1.155 - 320). It was probably previously suppressed “because of the politically contentious subject of the queen’s succession” (Drabble, Richard II, King, 826). I.e. closely exam this scene, possibly extend your discussion to the broader cultural context The royal prerogative I.e. how far does the power of the Crown extend? What limits are placed on it?

7 History of Richard II Richard II reigned from June 1377 to September 1399 He became King while still a minor, at the age of 9 John of Gaunt dominated royal affairs during this period, and was the leader of a Lancastrian faction that sought to influence, & ultimately control the crown In addition to the Lancastrian faction, there were two others vying for power through Richard From 1386 - 89 Gaunt, a much more ambitious fellow than Shakespeare makes him out to be, fought in Spain in a failed attempt to enforce his own claim on the Castillian crown

8 History of Richard II Starting just before this time, a second faction, made up of friends & advisors of Richard’s own choosing, became more influential, and “from 1383 on, parliament frequently complained of the extravagance and instability of Richard’s behaviour and the evil counsel of the favourites who encouraged it” (Saccio, 20 - 1) After Gaunt’s departure for Castille, in 1386, a deputation of lords led by Richard’s youngest uncle, the duke of Gloucester (Thomas of Woodstock) rebuked Richard for misgovernment, & parliament impeached one of Richard’s favourites, Michael de la Pole Richard responded by touring in the north and consolidating a Royalist following to condemn the impeachment as treasonous behaviour violating the royal prerogative

9 History of Richard II This led to the birth of the third faction, the Lords Appellant, led by Gloucester This faction gathered an army of their own Two who joined this faction were Henry of Bolingbroke earl of Derby, and Thomas Mowbray earl of Nottingham, later duke of Norfolk In 1388 the army of the Lords Appellant defeated the Kings army, and in the so-called Merciless Parliament of that year won their appeal against the King’s favourites, with the result thatthe favourites were either executed or, effectively, exiled The Lords Appellant ruled for about a year

10 History of Richard II In 1389 Richard announced his intention to rule on his own, and the Appellants disbanded, Gaunt returned from Spain, and peace broke out, after a fashion In 1396 he secured a meaningful peace with France, with whom England had been at war since Edward III entered the Hundred Years War in 1337 In 1397 factional struggle recommenced, with some new actors, and with some who were involved before having shifted allegiances

11 History of Richard II The King’s friends now included Edward earl of Rutland, son of the Duke of York. Edward was soon to be created duke of Albemarle (Shpe’s Aumerle), Thomas Mowbray, and among others three members of parliament named Sir John Bushy, Sir William Bagot, and Sir Henry Greene The senior Appellants, Gloucester, Arundel, and Warwick remained hostile to the king; Henry of Bolingbroke’s allegiances are uncertain, but in any event he was mostly out of the country on crusade or pilgrimage For reasons that remain unclear, Richard suddenly arrested Gloucester, Arundel, and Warwick The three were convicted: Warwick confessed and was exiled, Arundel remained defiant and was beheaded.

12 History of Richard II During the trial Gloucester’s guard, the duke of Norfolk (i.e. Mowbray) announced that his prisoner had died in custody Almost certainly this means murder, but the question remains open as to the king’s degree of complicity in this murder This brings us, pretty much, to curtain rise on Richard II

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