Shakespeare and kingship

Representations of Kingship and Power in Shakespeare's Second Tetralogy Amanda Mabillard Since it is impossible to know Shakespeare's attitudes, beliefs, and play writing methodology, we can only present hypotheses, based upon textual evidence, regarding his authorial intention and the underlying didactic message found in the second tetralogy of history plays. In constructing his history plays, Shakespeare most likely relied upon the Chronicles of Froissart, and, primarily, Holinshed, but he altered and embellished the material found in these sources. Through an examination of both the plays and Shakespeare's sources, we see that many of the changes are implemented to promote a deliberate political philosophy.

Shakespeare and kingship

In constructing his history plays, Shakespeare most likely relied upon the Chronicles of Froissart, and, primarily, Holinshed, but he altered and embellished the material found in these sources.

The plays make the statement that the best possible ruler must be both anointed and politically shrewd. This philosophy seems to be a combination of Tudor and Machiavellian theories on the nature of kingship and power. Moreover, it is possible that this didactic message linking all four history plays in the second tetralogy was constructed as a reaction to the succession problem and the potentiality that Elizabeth and her council might choose an heir lacking in one or both of these areas.

Introduction

Thus, the plays, to a large extent, can be read as a collective guide to help Elizabeth select the next ruler of England. In order to assess the credibility of the argument that the plays contain the didactic message that a ruler needs the combination of divine right and leadership qualities, we must examine the three main characters, Richard II, Henry IV, and Henry V, as found in the chronicles and in the plays.

However, it is the small and subtle changes to the chronicles that so effectively reshape the focus of the play from a simple report on history, to a dramatic lesson on the responsibilities of monarchs. The first and most striking example is the way the character of Gaunt changes.

In the Chronicles, Gaunt is a disorderly and rapacious magnate. However, in Richard II, Gaunt is the voice of reason, wisdom, and, above all, patriotism.

It is likely that Shakespeare relied on the Chronicle of Froissart for his characterization of Gaunt. The duke of Lancastre was sore dyspleased in his mind to se the kynge his nephewe mysse use himselfe in dyvers thynges as he dyd. He consydred the tyme to come lyke a sage prince, and somtyme sayd to suche as he trusted best: Our nephue the kynge of Englande wyll shame all or he cease: The Frenchman are right subtyle; for one myschiefe that falleth amonge us, they wolde it were ten, for otherwise they canne nat recover their dommages, nor come to their ententes, but by our owne means and dyscorde betwene ourselfe.

And we se dayly that all realmes devyded are destroyed. John Froissart, Chronicles [London: In many of his speeches in the play, Gaunt emphatically expounds the importance of the Divine Right of Kings. To stir against the butchers of his life!

But since correction lieth in those hands Which made the fault that we cannot correct, Put we our quarrel to the will of heaven. The Tudors adopted the theory of the Divine Right of Kings in the attempt to maintain a strong government, and to counter the Papal authority as the state attempted to break away from the church.

The theory became the foremost doctrine of the time regarding the nature of kingship, and rests on four main statements: The vehicles for the expression of Tudor propaganda were usually homilies and sermons.

It declares the following: As quoted in B. God hath sent us a noble king in this his visitation; let us not provoke against him. Let us beware; let us not displease him; let us receive with all obedience and prayer the word of God.

I hear say ye walk inordinately, ye talk unseemly, otherwise it becometh Christian subjects: I will not make the king a pope; for the pope will have all things that he doth taken for an article of our faith. I will not say but the king and his council may err; I pray daily that they may not err.

It becometh us, whatsoever they decree, to stand unto it, and receive it obediently.

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Hugh Latimer, Sermons [Cambridge: Bolingbroke will make countless other English men and women feel the repercussions of his act of deposing the rightful King Richard. However, there are other additions in the drama that also work to this end. York then "came foorth into the church that stood without the castell, and there communed with the duke of Lancaster" Holinshed, Chronicles [New York: He clearly obeys his orders and tries to fight Bolingbroke, but he seems to change sides and join Bolingbroke without compunction or hostility.

Grace me no grace, nor uncle me no uncle! York, in the play, is outraged that Bolingbroke would consider rebelling against Richard. Having no choice, York goes along with Bolingbroke, but he is bitter:Shakespeare And Kingship In writing his history plays, Shakespeare was actually commenting on what he thought about the notion of kingship.

Through his plays, he questions the divine right of kings, which the kings and the aristocracy used heavily in their favour to win the people's love. In writing his history plays, Shakespeare was actually commenting on what he thought about the notion of kingship. Through his plays, he questions the divine right of kings, which the kings and the aristocracy used heavily in their favour to win the people's love.

Kingship in Shakesperean Plays Due to the powerful influence of the monarchy, the nature, duties and responsibilities of kingship were of particular interest to Shakespeare.

The mark of a bad king was the decline of the political, social and economic climates, while the mark of a good king was the blossoming of such worlds.

In writing his history plays, Shakespeare was actually commenting on what he thought about the notion of kingship. Through his plays, he questions the divine right of kings, which the kings and the aristocracy used heavily in their favour to win the people's love.

Shakespeare And Kingship In writing his history plays, Shakespeare was actually commenting on what he thought about the notion of kingship. Through his plays, he questions the divine right of kings, which the kings and the aristocracy used heavily in their favour to win the people's love.

Shakespeare and kingship

KEYWORDS: Kingship, Divine Right, Shakespeare’s King Richard INTRODUCTION William Shakespeare, the Bard of Avon, was an .

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