Shakespeare's English Kings: History, Chronicle, and Drama

Shakespeare's English Kings: History, Chronicle, and Drama

Shakespeare's English Kings: History, Chronicle, and Drama

Shakespeare's English Kings: History, Chronicle, and Drama

Synopsis

Far more than any professional historian, Shakespeare is responsible for whatever notions most of us possess about English medieval history. Anyone who appreciates the dramatic action of Shakespeare's history plays but is confused by much of the historical detail will welcome this guide to the Richards, Edwards, Henrys, Warwicks and Norfolks who ruled and fought across Shakespeare's page and stage. Not only theater-goers and students, but today's film-goers who want to enrich their understanding of film adaptations of plays such as Richard III and Henry V will find this revised edition of Shakespeare's English Kings to be an essential companion. Saccio's engaging narrative weaves together three threads: medieval English history according to the Tudor chroniclers who provided Shakespeare with his material, that history as understood by modern scholars, and the action of the plays themselves. Including a new preface, a revised further reading list, genealogical charts, an appendix of names and titles, and an index, the second edition of Shakespeare's English Kings offers excellent background reading for all of the ten history plays.

Excerpt

This new edition is not prompted by fresh discoveries about the rudimentary facts of English medieval history: the same kings fought the same battles and died in the same years. The chapters that follow, recounting the events of these kings' reigns and the changes Shakespeare made to put them on the stage, remain the same, save for errors and infelicities that I have amended. But over the past two decades a great deal of work has been done by historians, Shakespearean scholars, and the people who create Shakespearean theatre. This edition also provides access to what I consider to be the most enlightening of that work.

The most important statement that I must make as I introduce a second edition is this: no longer is the fifteenth century a neglected period of English history. Since Shakespeare's English Kings appeared in 1977, for example, the English Monarchs series of biographies (now published by Yale) has added impressive volumes on Richard II, Henry V, Henry VI, and Richard III. Detailed studies have altered and enriched the way we understand the nature of royal rule and the way kings arrived at the decisions they did. The Afterword at the end of this second edition discusses what historians have lately taught us about the Plantagenets. It also speaks of new interpretations in Shakespearean scholarship. The Further Bibliography serves as a . . .

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