William Shakespeare, the Wars of the Roses and the Historians

William Shakespeare, the Wars of the Roses and the Historians

Product no.: 978-1-78155-415-9
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For historians of the Wars of the Roses, William Shakespeare is both a curse and a blessing: a curse because he immortalized the Tudor spin on fifteenth-century civil wars that helped justify Elizabeth I's occupation of the English throne; a blessing because, without Shakespeare's eight -play Plantagenet history cycle, hardly anyone beyond specialists in the history of the period would 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.

The book begins with an examination of the context, content and significance of each of the plays from Richard II to Richard III, and 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 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.

The Plays: Richard II, Henry IV Parts 1 and 2, Henry V, Henry VI Parts1, 2 and 3 and Richard III.


Keith Dockray was formerly a senior lecturer in medieval history and early modern history at the University of Huddersfield. He has written extensively on fifteenth-century history and appeared in numerous television documentaries including the Channel 4 'courtroom' programme Trial of Richard III.

Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm
Binding: paperback
Pages: 208
Illustrations: 24 b/w illustrations

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