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

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

by Peter Saccio


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780195123197
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 04/20/2000
Edition description: REV
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 570,481
Product dimensions: 7.90(w) x 5.20(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Peter Saccio is Leon D. Black Professor of Shakespearean Studies and Professor of English at Dartmouth College.

Table of Contents

Prefatory Note to the Second Edition vi
Prefatory Note to the First Edition ix
I History And History Plays 3(226)
II Richard II: The Fall Of The King
Richard's reign to 1397
The Bolingbroke-Norfolk quarrel
The usurpation
The earl's rebellion
III Henry IV: The King Embattled
The usurper and his challengers
The battle of Shrewsbury
Gaultree Forest and Bramham Moor
The king and the prince
IV Henry V: The King Victorious
The English throne
The French throne
V Henry VI: The Loss Of Empire
Introduction to the Henry VI plays
The end of the Hundred Years War
History and I Henry IV
VI Henry VI & Edward IV: The Rival Kings
The disorders of the 1440s
The fortunes of Richard duke of York
Edward IV, 1461--1471
VII Richard III: The Last Plantagenet
Edward IV, 1471--1483
The accession of Richard III
Bosworth and the Tudors
VIII John: The Legitimacy Of The King
The Angevin empire
The limits of royal authority
Usurped rights
IX Henry VIII: The Supreme Head
Henry VIII and Henry VIII
Henry's reign to 1529
The English Reformation
Afterword To The Second Edition 229(10)
Appendix On Names And Titles 239(6)
Genealogical Charts 245(8)
Chronological Chart 253(4)
Bibliography 257(12)
Further Bibliography 269(6)
Index Of Persons 275

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Shakespeare's English Kings: History, Chronicle, and Drama 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
jmcgarry More than 1 year ago
I once had a high school English teacher describe Shakespeare's histories as "boring". Part of the reason for that is that it is easy to get lost in the murk of history. The events happened around 600 years ago, and seem like something out of a Renaissance Fair. This is what Dr Saccio's book works to explain. He very succinctly goes through the over 100 years of history discussed in the history plays, Henry IV parts 1&2, Henry V, Richard III, Henry VI parts 1-3. Richard II, King John, and Henry VIII. At times, it's hard to imagine how England could have survived. There were always questions over who was the legitimate heir to the throne, always battles over land, wars with France, arranged marriages, and bills of attainder prosecuting certain people for treason, many times on trumped-up charges. (This last part explains why the drafters of the US Constitution inserted a specific clause prohibiting bills of attainder.) Henry VIII also deals a bit with the Church of England's break with Rome. This is great material for any kind of dramatic play. Dr Saccio shows the differences between the actual history (as far as we know) and Shakespeare's version. Shakespeare occasionally telescopes events, has people present at certain locations who weren't actually there, and ages younger characters to be present for dramatic effect. In this, Shakespeare is no different than modern screenwriters, who will telescope events and composite characters to keep the movie under 2 hours. In Shakespeare's case, he was trying to show general themes--betrayal, murder, greed, incompetence--to show how the history evolved. The original book was written in 1977. Dr Saccio adds an Afterword, written in 2000, to explain the evolution of scholarship on Shakespeare since 1977. If you look at the current situation with England and France today, it's almost hard to believe things were any different.You wonder if all of drama described in Dr Saccio's book was necessary. All in all, this is an excellent book for those who want to know more about Shakespeare's kings.   If you look at the current situation with England and France today, it's almost hard to believe things were different. You wonder if all of drama described in Dr Saccio's book was necessary. All in all, this is an excellent book for those who want to know more about Shakespeare's kings.