William Shakespeare, the Wars of the Roses and the Historians

Author(s): Keith Dockray 

ISBN: 9781781554159
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How and why William Shakespeare ensured immortality for the Wars of the Roses.
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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.

BOOK ISBN 9781781554159
FORMAT 234 x 156 mm
BINDING Paperback
PAGES 208 pages
ILLUSTRATIONS 24 black-and-white photographs



Keith Dockray was formerly a senior examiner in medieval history and early modern history at the University of Huddersfield.

Peter Hammond is a medieval historian and leading authority on the reign of Richard III. For thirty years, he was the research officer of the Richard III Society and is currently a vice president of the society. He is probably best known for his books The Battles of Barnet and Tewkesbury and Food and Feast in Medieval England. With Dr Anne Sutton, he wrote The Coronation of Richard III: The Extant Documents and Richard III: The Road to Bosworth Field. As an editor, he has compiled a new edition of Historic Doubts on the Life of Richard the Third by Horace Walpole. He has also written and contributed to many other books and magazines on medieval and local history.