Author: Keith Dockray
Publisher: Tempus Pub Limited
For historians of the Wars of the Roses William Shakespeare is both a curse and a blessing, a curse because he immortalized Tudor spin on fifteenth-century civil wars that helped justify Elizabeth I's legitimate occupation of the throne; a blessing because, without Shakespeare's eight-play Plantagenet history cycle, hardly anyone beyond the confines of a few elite schools, universities and the Richard III Society would even know of their existence. Moreover, no mere historian will ever paint a more compelling and dramatic picture of England's Lancastrian and Yorkist kings, and the Wars of the Roses, than William Shakespeare. This book begins with an examination of the context, content and significance of Shakespeare's Richard II, Henry IV Parts 1 and 2, Henry V, Henry VI Parts 1, 2 and 3, and Richard III. It then considers the contemporary, near-contemporary and Tudor sources on which Shakespeare drew; how such authors chose to present fifteenth-century kings, politics and society; and why, and in what ways, historians since Shakespeare have sought to reinterpret the Wars of the Roses era. The book ends with a retrospective assessment of Shakespeare's Plantagenet plays, both in performance and as a result of their impact on historical writing.