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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: February ::
Date of King John
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0379  Thursday, 24 February 2005

[1]     From:   Peter Bridgman <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 23 Feb 2005 22:41:37 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0370 Date of King John

[2]     From:   Bob Grumman <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 23 Feb 2005 20:18:05 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0370 Date of King John

[3]     From:   Jack Heller <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 23 Feb 2005 21:32:46 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0370 Date of King John

[4]     From:   Bill Lloyd <
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        Date:   Thursday, 24 Feb 2005 09:02:00 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0343 Date of King John


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Bridgman <
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Date:           Wednesday, 23 Feb 2005 22:41:37 -0000
Subject: 16.0370 Date of King John
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0370 Date of King John

Michael Egan writes ...

 >KJ however is a profoundly anti-catholic play: the
 >machiavillainous Cardinal Pandulph is the source of endless political
 >trouble. I don't know how the current trend describing Shakespeare as a
 >closet Catholic manages to ignore this.

I would say KJ is only superficially an anti-Catholic play.  This isn't
an evasion.  If you compare Shakespeare's play to his sources, if you
look at what elements WS has jettisoned and what new original elements
he has added, then it becomes clear that in rewriting his sources WS has
made the story less 'Protestant' and has introduced 'Catholic' elements.
  Unlike the patriotic hero of Foxe's Actes and Monuments, WS' King John
is a tyrant who degenerates into feverish madness.  His Pandulph is far
more dignified character than that found in other versions.  The
cardinal gives sound advice that saves England from invasion.  WS has
also removed the scenes of lechery between monks and nuns.

A 'Catholic' element that WS introduces (and a potentially dangerous one
at that) is the comparison he makes between John's victim Prince Arthur
and Elizabeth's victim, Mary Queen of Scots.  WS invents a will barring
Arthur from the throne.  While there was no such medieval will barring
Arthur, this would have reminded a contemporary audience that Henry
VIII's will barred Mary Stuart from the throne.  And when John orders
Hubert to murder Arthur, and pretends rage when he thinks the deed is
carried out, this again would have reminded the audience of how
Elizabeth put the blame upon her secretary William Davidson for
implementing Mary's execution (Elizabeth even put Davidson on trial),
when it was the queen herself who had signed the death warrant.

These are the words said over Arthur's body ...

"From forth this morsel of dead royalty
The life, the right and truth of this realm
Is fled to heaven".

Catholics in the audience will have grasped WS' meaning.

Peter Bridgman

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bob Grumman <
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Date:           Wednesday, 23 Feb 2005 20:18:05 -0500
Subject: 16.0370 Date of King John
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0370 Date of King John

 >To Bob Grumman: Please read Vickers' essay before disagreeing with it:
 >'The Troublesome Raigne, George Peele, and the date of King John,' in
 >Brian Boyd (ed.) Words that Count: Essays on Early Modern Authorship in
 >Honor of MacDonald P. Jackson (University of Delaware Press, 2004).

I'm not necessarily disagreeing with it, but finicky about the use of
the word, "conclusively" (or whatever the word or phrase you used was).
  I don't have to read the essay to know he didn't prove the play was
partly by Peele conclusively.

--Bob G.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jack Heller <
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Date:           Wednesday, 23 Feb 2005 21:32:46 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 16.0370 Date of King John
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0370 Date of King John

 >To Jack Heller:  It is quite true that there are more differences (and
 >similarities) between the two plays than this forum, quite properly,
allows
 >us to list. KJ however is a profoundly anti-catholic play: the
 >machiavillainous Cardinal Pandulph is the source of endless political
 >trouble. I don't know how the current trend describing Shakespeare as a
 >closet Catholic manages to ignore this. KJ also shows additions derived
 >from Foxe, many cited ironically enough (since they tend to confirm the
 >sequence TR-KJ) in Honigmann's edition.

Gary Taylor answered part of this in his mid-90s essay "Forms of
Opposition" (in which he does argue that Shakespeare was a recusant
Catholic). He claims that the portrayal of Cardinal Pandulph is less
anti-Catholic than opposed to foreign influence over British
sovereignty.  Whether one finds that a persuasive response, let me note
this-Shakespeare does not dramatize the most profoundly anti-Catholic
scene from John's life, his poisoning, which is dramatized by John Bale
in King Johan and in Troublesome Reigne and which is graphically
illustrated in Foxe's Acts and Monuments. The poisoning is reported in
Shakespeare's King John, but not dramatized. Why this moment of reserve
in his play?

Jack Heller

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Lloyd <
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Date:           Thursday, 24 Feb 2005 09:02:00 EST
Subject: 16.0343 Date of King John
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0343 Date of King John

Michael Egan and I agree with Chambers, Greg, Taylor and other
authorities that *The Troublesome Reign of King John* [TRKJ] and
Shakespeare's *King John* [WSKJ] were treated as the 'same' play for the
purposes of copyright when plays were being gathered for the First
Folio. We disagree on what that means.

Michael believes it means that "everyone connected with the theatre and
publishing clearly believed Shakespeare wrote T.R., or at least was
closely enough identified with it to claim possession."  Since Michael
accepts Brian Vickers' arguments that George Peele "was the verse
writer" in TRKJ, he suggests that Shakespeare plotted it before turning
it over to Peele to fill out, and that Valentine Simmes somehow knew
this and acknowledged it by adding "by W. Sh." (though not "& G. Pe.")
to the title page of his edition 20 years after the first, anonymous,
printing.

But see Peter Blayney, "The Publication of Playbooks" in *A New History
of Early English Drama*, ed. Cox & Kastan, p. 399. He explains how the
licensing process was used to protect a stationer from works covering
the same ground and threatening the salability of works they had
previously published. One of the instances he cites is closely parallel
to TRKJ. The anonymous *The Taming of A Shrew* and Shakespeare's *The
Taming of the Shrew* were also apparently considered to be the 'same'
play for purposes of copyright by the Folio syndicate-- so much so that
John Smethwicke who had held the copyright to *A Shrew* since 1607
reprinted *The Shrew* in quarto under Shakespeare's name in 1631,
apparently in that right. The Queen's play *The Famous Victories of
Henry V" (featuring Hal, Oldcastle & crew, and the Lord Chief Justice)
was printed by Thomas Creede in 1598, suspiciously close on the heels of
the popularity of Shakespeare's 1&2 Henry IV. Then Creede in 1600
printed, without re-entry, the abridged text of Shakespeare's *Henry V*.
  It appears that FVH5 and WSH5 may have been regarded as the 'same'
play for purposes of copyright. (And in 1617 "as it was acted by the
King's servants"-- almost certainly a lie-- was added the the *Famous
Victories* t.p.) By Michael Egan's logic *A Shrew* and *Famous
Victories* must have been considered by "everyone" to be at least in
part by Shakespeare.

Michael thinks I "insinuated" that Valentine Simmes engaged in "piracy"
and "forgeries", and gives a list of his legitimate Shakespearean
printings. But I said no such thing. Actually Simmes (and in 1622
Augustine Matthews) were only the printers of TRKJ. In 1611 the
copyright was held by John Helme, and in 1622 by Thomas Dewes. (And the
copyright to R2, R3 & 2H4 was held by Andrew Wise, not Simmes.)  So the
details of the title page may not have been determined by Simmes at all.
Michael does not address my point about the form and detail of the 1611
t.p. claims. Aside from assigning TRKJ to "W. Sh.", it also clearly
derives its language from the 1591 t.p. and, what's more, states that
the play was "lately acted" by a company that had disbanded eight years
previous. This at least calls into question the reliability of the other
information it provides.

Most printers, stationers and publishers were, like you and me, neither
complete paragons nor complete scoundrels. Simmes was at least once
penalized for printing an unauthorized book; while Nicholas Ling (for
whom Simmes printed the 1607 *A Shrew*) along with Smethwicke of the
Folio syndicate was fined for for publishing Thomas Dekker's *The
Wonderful Year* "without authority or license".  William Jaggard of the
Folio syndicate was involved with the production of the so-called Pavier
Quartos of 1619, an abortive attempt to 'collect' Shakespeare's plays,
complete with falsely backdated title pages, the inclusion of the
pseudo-Shakespearean *A Yorkshire Tragedy*, and the addition of a false
Shakespeare attribution to the t.p. of the anonymously printed *Sir John
Oldcastle* (by Munday et al).  It's not beyond belief that a generally
respectable publisher might exaggerate a bit on his t.p. to increase sales.

I don't think the Folio syndicate gave much thought to whether
Shakespeare had written TRKJ or *A Shrew*. What they knew was that the
copyright in these plays would serve for authorization to print the
texts of WSKJ and *The Shrew* that had been supplied to them by Hemminge
and Cundale. It's an interesting idea that Shakespeare may have plotted
TRKJ while Peele wrote the dialogue-- I wouldn't absolutely rule out the
possibility-- but the copyright equivalence of the two King John plays
isn't good evidence for it. By the way, Brian Vickers, whose
identification of Peele as the author of the verse of TRKJ is accepted
by Michael, presents strong arguments in a forthcoming paper (or
chapter) that Peele himself was responsible for the plotting of TRKJ,
that it is typical of his plotting, and that the idea that only
Shakespeare was capable of plotting that featured skillful use of
chronicle sources is misguided.

TRKJ may well have been acted (who knows how many times) after 1591, but
the derivative and inaccurate title pages of 1611 and 1622 are not good
evidence they were.  Some people (probably well short of "everyone") may
have thought that Shakespeare had something to do with writing TRKJ (and
*A Shrew and *Famous Victories* for that matter) but the intricacies of
copyright hardly suffice to force that conclusion.

Bill Lloyd

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