The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1588  Thursday, 4 July 2002

From:           Brian Willis <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 3 Jul 2002 10:18:51 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 13.1578 King John's Second Coronation
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1578 King John's Second Coronation

> In King John, there are references to King John's
> second coronation at
> 4.2.1, 4.2.35, 4.2.157 (an oblique reference) and
> 5.1.1-4.  The first 2
> references are worded as though the event has
> already occurred; the last
> reference appears to be the event itself.  Is this
> simply a mistake on
> Shakespeare's part, or is there some logic to this
> sequence of
> references?
> Dave Johnson

There is logic but very subtle and intricate. The first two references
are to a re-coronation. The third
is to a prophecy which is fulfilled in the fourth reference. Pandulph
forces John to give up his crown because of his disobedience to the
Catholic Church.  His crown must be validated by the Pope; Pandulph
offers it back to him as a reaffirmation of his validity as sovereign.

The first "second" coronation is superfluous, as Salisbury and Pembroke
tell John immediately after.  John chooses this moment to reaffirm his
claim on the crown because Arthur is still alive. Hubert is about to
deliver the news that he has (John thinks) killed Arthur and John
believes the two perfectly timed events that are orchestrated by him
will shatter all doubts that he is the only claimant to the crown. His
official explanation - lines 42-48 - are oblique but in this play of
subtle semantics, I think the motivations are implied to the audience
because we are aware of what John has ordered. Brilliantly enough, we
are also aware that Arthur is still alive and this second coronation has
a hollow ring to it.

The second recoronation is actually unrelated and has to do with
validation through Rome. BUT it occurs immediately after Arthur dies in
reality and the perpetrator accused by the Bastard.

I hope we can discuss this play some more. It is highly underrated,
underperformed, and underdiscussed.  And the UCLA Shakespeare
Performance Group is performing it at the end of the summer. :)

Brian Willis

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