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Divinity and State$
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David Womersley

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199255641

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199255641.001.0001

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The History Play Reformed

The History Play Reformed

1 and 2 Henry IV and Henry V

(p.300) 11 The History Play Reformed
Divinity and State

David Womersley (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Chapter 11 argues that the catalyst in Shakespeare's resolution of the formal difficulties which had characterized the middle phase of his career as a historical playwright was an insight he derived from collaboration on The Booke of Sir Thomas Moore with Anthony Munday, a writer to whose work we know Shakespeare paid close attention. Confessional transposition (the depiction of a Catholic as a Protestant) had deep roots in the historical and dramatic literature produced by the Reformation, and it is handled by Shakespeare in 1 and 2 Henry IV and Henry V with great finesse. The result is a series of innovative plays in which the forms of historical drama generated by reformed religion (in particular, the characters of the sanctified monarch and the martyred subject) receive surprising manifestations.

Keywords:   William Shakespeare, Anthony Munday, confessional transposition, monarchy, martyrdom, reformation, Lancastrian kingship, religion, politics

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