Student Bill of Rights (and Responsibilities)
Abbreviations Common in Erlichian Grading
Format for Written Work in Shakespeare
Terms for Theatre, Film, TV
Chronology for Shakespeare's Histories

1. You are not required to agree with the instructor. (You are required to learn at least some of what the instructor has to teach.) Hence: You are free to express ideas other than mine, but in your writing it is discourteous to ignore me. If I've given you my understanding of a text (or whatever) and you have another idea, summarize what I've said, supply a transition, and then give your ideas. ("Erlich says thus and so; he's wrong. The correct reading is..."; "Erlich correctly says thus and so, but a better interpretation is..."; "Erlich is correct, but we can improve his reading ..."-etc.)

2. You have the right to feel what you feel when you feel it. (You are responsible for what you do with those feelings.)

3. You have the right to desire positive comments on your work and to expect them when your work is good. You have the right to feel hurt by negative criticism of your work. You have the right to get angry at the instructor. You have the right to tell the instructor if you feel hurt and/or angry, or, indeed, any important feelings. (You have the responsibility to talk to the instructor civilly, and with regard for the instructor's feelings. You have the responsibility to respect the instructor's right to respond to your expression of feelings with no more than "I have heard you.")

4. You have the right to believe whatever you believe. (You have the responsibility to check if your beliefs correspond to the world, and whether they correspond with the worlds of other people, including people who may not agree with you. If such "reality checks" consistently contradict your beliefs, you have the responsibility to rethink your beliefs.)

5. You have the right to express your beliefs. (You have the responsibility to allow others to express their beliefs-and to listen. You have the responsibility to express your beliefs with integrity and consideration for others' feelings, with honesty and compassion.)

6. You have an absolute right to be treated fairly and with the respect due a human being. (You have the responsibility to be fair and respectful in your treatment of others.)

7. You have the right to attempt to maximize your grades and minimize your work. (You have the responsibility to be gracious-if not compliant-if asked to do more work. )

8. You have the right to take from a course what you want from it. You have the right to get a lower grade in a course than you might if you worked harder. (You have the responsibility to recognize that instructors often have their own values and goals and may attempt to get you to get from the course what they think you should get from it.)

9. You have the right to argue with the instructor and with your classmates; you have the right to argue flippantly or passionately, as an exercise or game or with commitment. (You have the responsibility to argue with respect, courtesy, and integrity.)

10. You have the right to receive constructive praise and constructive criticism and the right to resent any criticism-and especially if it is correct. (You have the responsibility to recognize that people who only praise your work might not be taking it seriously.)

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agr = agreement (problem). E.g., Subject-Verb agreement, Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement

ambig. = ambiguous (in a way not useful): The grammatical unit can have > 1 meaning in a confusing way.
aud. = audience (problem). E.g., you assume more knowledge on the part of your audience than your readers are likely to possess.
CA = Case (mistake). E.g., using "I" when you need "me" or vice-versa.
cg = (in)congruity: two elements just don't go together.
cl = unclear, clarity (problem); Clarify.
comp = (incomplete) comparison/comparative or similar construction. E.g. "Gortox has more cleaning power!" (Than what? Beating clothes against a rock with a stick?). "They were so sweet!" (That you liked them? That you got suspicious?)
CS = comma splice (using a comma where you need a period or semicolon).
d = diction (problem), word choice (problem); Wrong word.
DM = dangling modifier (i.e. an introductory modifier doesn't go with the rest of the sentence, usually because of a change in subject [e.g., *"Walking down the street the buildings were seen."]) See below, MM.
DoD = Develop (this) or drop (it).
emph = emphasis; Emphasize.
esp. = especially.
frag = (unjustified) sentence fragment.
gen. = general, generally, (hasty) generalization.
id. = idiom (problem); We just don't say it that way.
inf. = (too) informal | Make less formal.
ital. = Italicize (or underline) word or phrase indicated. (See rom.)
k = awkward (construction).
MM = misplaced modifier. See above, DM.
NA = Not Acceptable; Re-write this (essay).
non seq = Non sequitur = "It doesn't follow": What you say may be true, but it isn't proved by your argument. (Or: Some logic problem.)
opt. = option, optional.
pass. = (misuse of) passive voice. (Unless you have a good reason to use the passive voice, use the active: "I dropped the butter" rather than "The butter was dropped." This is an ethical as well as a stylistic matter.)
poss = possessive (case); see below, apostrophe symbol.
Q = question
R(?) = Relevance(?)
R&R = redundant (and repetitive)
ref = reference (usually of pronouns), reference problem, referent (i.e., that which is referred to)
rhet = rhetoric, rhetorical | rhetQ = rhetorical question
rev. = revision / rev. opt. = revision option: You've got 7 days from the day the essays were returned to the class to get me a rev. for higher grade.
rom. = Put in roman type (remove italics or underlining)
s. = sentence
sic = thus ("This is what it says.") | sic? = thus? "Is this what you want?"
sp = spelling (error)
SST = some such thing: a suggested improvement
Stet or STET : Let it be; ignore attempted correction. "Never mind."
Thud! = anticlimax; Improve climax.
tr. = transposition
trans = transition (problem)
w = wordy
w/ = with | w/o = without
Cap(s) = capital(s); capitalized multiply underlined
lc = Reduce capital(s) from UPPER CASE to lower case.
Equals sign with question mark = Does X = Y? Are these equivalent?

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RESEARCH AND CITATIONS: You are not required to do any library (or other) research. You are required to have citations to anything you quote, paraphrase, or depend upon heavily (the tricky one). Please tell me which edition(s) of Shakespeare's plays you use: in a formal entry in a Works Cited (or endnote) if you want to be fancy; just written across the top of your first page if you don't want to be fancy (but not in a footnote; footnotes are an extinct species).

Once you've told a reader what edition you're using, citations can always be put in parentheses in the text, to act.scene.line(s); e.g., in current American usage lines 7-10 of the second scene of the first act of Romeo and Juliet would be: (1.2.7-10)--with Arabic numerals, periods, and no spaces. If your context doesn't make clear just which play you're talking about, use the standard abbreviation plus the act.scene.line(s), as in: (Rom. 1.2.7-10). Please note that one uses the act.scene.line business for citations only: when a reader might want to look up what you've quoted or paraphrased (or depended upon heavily). Except for easy references such as "in the first <last, second, next to last> scene of the play," refer to something in the plot of the play, or to any standard reference that might exist, e.g., "the Ghost Scene in Richard III" or "the Rejection of Falstaff." There's a question of courtesy here: few readers will understand a sentence like, "Juliet in 5.3 is a very different person from the girl in 3.5 or even 2.2"--and those few are either theatre people or plain weird. Far more courteous to say, "Juliet at the end of the play is a very different person from the girl who pleads with her parents not to marry Paris (3.5) or even in the Balcony Scene (2.2)." It's also far safer, since I'll assert that Shakespeare passed up the opportunity to have real acts in Rom. (and Henry V)--with the Chorus indicating each new act) and followed his usual practice of doing without acts and writing in scenes. To use the act.scene.line business for citations is a fine idea; to imply that most of Shakespeare's plays are really divided into acts is to get into an argument.


QUOTATIONS: Much of Shakespeare's dramatic writing is in verse; some of it is in prose. With prose, it doesn't matter where lines end; with verse, it matters.

Relatively short prose quotations (say, less than six lines or so) are run on with your regular text, within double quotation marks ("xxx"), with single quotation marks ('yyy') marking quotations within quoted materials. (If you're using a British text [e.g., The Pelican Shakespeare], note that the British convention is just the opposite: 'xxx "yyy" xxx'; do it the American way.) Please do NOT use single quotation marks for anything except quotations within quotations. Please note that plays are, in a sense, all quotes, so you place all run-on quotes from dramatic works just inside one set of double quotation marks ("xxx"), NOT double plus single ("'No! No!'").

Relatively short verse quotations (of no more than two lines or so) may also be run on with your regular text, in quotation marks and with slashes and spaces ( / ) indicating end of one line and beginning of a new line. (An alternative is to use a vertical line [ | ] instead of a slash, but use the vertical line only if you don't have slashes available.)


As early as the second scene of 1 Henry IV--indeed, in Prince Hal's opening speech--we learn of his lack of respect for Falstaff (lines 2-11).

Prince Hal condemns Falstaff's loose nature quite early on, asking him in his first speech, "What a devil hast thou to do with the time of the day? Unless hours were cups of sack, and minutes capons, and clocks the tongue of bawds . . . I see no reason why thou shouldst be so superfluous to demand the time of the day" (1H4 1.2.5-11).


Hal's very first speech is a condemnation of Falstaff, replying at length to Falstaff's simple request for the time:

Thou art so fat-witted with drinking of old sack, and unbuttoning thee after supper . . . that thou hast forgotten to demand that truly which thou wouldest truly know. What a devil hast thou to do with the time of the day? Unless hours were cups of sack, and minutes capons, . . . and dials the signs of leaping houses, and the blessed sun himself a fair hot wench in flame-colored taffeta, I see no reason why thou shouldst be so superflouous to demand the time of the day. (1H4 1.2.2-11)

Note that with run-on quotations in quotation marks, the citation goes after the closing quote mark but before the terminal punctuation for your sentence. With set-off quotes, the citation goes after the terminal punctuation.


In the opening lines of 1 Henry IV, King Henry complains of being so "shaken" and "wan with care" that he longs to find a time "for frighted peace to pant / And breathe short-winded accents of new broils / To be commenced in stronds afar remote."

Henry IV then presents an ambiguous image of the Lancastrian "utopia," where all his subjects

Shall now in mutual well-beseeming ranks

March all one way and be no more opposed

Against acquaintance, kinded, and allies. (1H4 1.1.14-16)

This utopia he hopes to achieve through a Crusade (lines 18-27).

In Shakespeare and his Comedies, John Russell Brown tells us that A Midsummer Night's Dream develops the theme of "Love's Truth," and "suggests that lovers, like lunatics, poets, and actors, have their own 'truth' which is established as they see the beauty of their beloved, and that they are confident in this truth for, although it seems the 'silliest stuff' to an outsider, to them it is quite reasonable . . . ." (90; quoted in Rich Erlich, "Study Guide for A Midsummer Night's Dream" [1]).

ON PC PRINTERS: (1) Ribbons on dot-matrix printers must be changed every 10,000 miles or so. (2) Please do not "justify"; leave the right margin ragged, as you see in this document.

In the set-off quotations above, the lines are not justified and still look fairly good. These lines are justified and have a regular right margin. Note however that the spacing between words is somewhat messed up and might confuse a human printer.

AGAIN: DOUBLE SPACE THROUGHOUT, INCLUDING SET-OFF QUOTES. See me if you have questions or problems.

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(note: General and Theatre terms underlined; FILM/TV terms in CAPS; "idiosyncratic" usages in quotation marks.)

Act: (1) A major division in drama (or opera), marked by an interruption of the action of the drama. (2) An editorial device useful for citations but otherwise without much critical significance.

Aesthetic (or Esthetic) Distance: Viewers' ability to distinguish between an artistic "reality" and external reality--their realization that the events of an artistic representation are simulated. See below, Point of View.

"Above": The acting area above an Elizabethan or Jacobean stage. (Sometimes called the "Heavens.")

Allusion: A reference to an event, person, fictional character, work of art, or portion of a work of art the audience will probably recognize.

AUTEUR: The maker of a film. In French film theory from the 1950s, a strong director who stamps his personality upon his films.

Aside: A brief speech in which a character expresses his thoughts in words audible to the audience but not (conventionally) audible to the other characters.

Block, Blocking Character: In the criticism of comedy, a character whose actions delay the happy ending.

Blocking: the planned movement of actors upon a stage (a kind of simple choreography for people who move but don't dance).

Chorus: In Elizabethan and Jacobean drama, one character who guides the audience through the action of the play. The Chorus is a character in the play, obviously, but not a participant in the play's action.

CLOSE-UP, CLOSE SHOT: A detailed view of a person or object, usually without much context; a close-up of an actor usually includes only the head.

Convention: The tacit acceptance of necessary or customary artificialities as "real" in a work of art. E.g., we hear background music and don't mind if no musicians are visible; or we hear people speaking in verse and don't ask why they're talking weird.

Cut: To remove a portion of a text; the text removed.

CUT: To shift from one shot to another; the shift from one shot to another.

JUMP CUT: A straight cut so abrupt as to disorient viewers.

STRAIGHT CUT: Instantaneous movement from one shot to another, classically achieved by splicing together two film strips with no transitional processing (fade, dissolve, wipe, or whatever).

DEEP FOCUS: Photography in which background and foreground are both in focus, with no loss of clarity or sharpness in objects that appear behind the plane of the screen.

Discover: To reveal.

Discovery Space: The area at the back of an Elizabethan or Jacobean stage in which an actor or tableau may be revealed. (The actor probably stepped forward to play.)

DISSOLVE (LAP DISSOLVE): The slow fading out of one shot and the gradual fading in of the successor shot, with a superimposition of images.

DOLLY SHOT, TRACKING SHOT (TRUCKING SHOT): Denotatively, a shot taken from a small moving vehicle (the dolly); by extension, any shot in which a moving person or object is smoothly kept up with.

DUBBING: (1) The addition of sound to film or tape, after the visuals have been processed. (2) The transfer of data from one medium to another, or from one tape, cassette, compact disk (or whatever) to another.

Editing: The establishment of a text for reading or acting, reproducing as accurately as possible the author's intentions.

EDITING (also MONTAGE): The joining of one shot with another. In classic film editing, done by physically splicing one film strip to another; more recently, done electronically.

Elizabethan: Referring to the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603)--but sometimes used loosely for longer periods (up to 1485-1642).

ESTABLISHING SHOT: Usually an EXTREME LONG or LONG SHOT at the beginning of a scene or sequence providing the viewer with the context of the subsequent closer shots.

EXTREME CLOSE-UP: A minutely detailed view of an object or person; if of a person, an extreme close-up usually shows just mouth or eyes.

EXTREME LONG SHOT: A panoramic view of an exterior location, photographed from a great distance (sometimes over 1/4 mile).

FADE: The slow fading from normal brightness to black is a FADE or FADE OUT (or FADE-OUT); from black to normal brightness is a FADE IN (or FADE-IN).

Frame: The "outer" tale of a "tale within a tale" or main play in which there is a "play within a play."

FRAME (1) The dividing line between the edges of a screen image and the enclosing darkness of the theater. (2) A single photograph on a filmstrip.

FREEZE FRAME, FREEZE SHOT: A shot composed of a single frame reprinted a number of times, giving the illusion of a still photograph.

FULL SHOT: A long shot showing the human body in full, head to feet.

HIGH ANGLE SHOT: A shot in which the subject is photgraphed from above.

Jacobean: Refering to the reign of King James I (1603-25).

LONG SHOT: A shot including within the frame a space roughly equivalent to what an audience would see on a theater stage.

LONG TAKE: A shot of lengthy duration.

LOOSE FRAMING: Shots photographed from distances sufficient to allow the characters a good deal of room in which to move, approaching the freedom of movement on a theater stage.

LOW ANGLE SHOT: A shot of a subject from below, increasing the apparent size of the figure.

MEDIUM SHOT: A relatively close shot revealing a moderate amount of detail. If of a human body, a medium shot usually includes the body from the knees or waist up.

Mise en scene (or Mise-en-scene): Most generally, the arrangement of volumes and movements within a given space. In film, the space is defined by the frame; in theater, the space is the stage and any other acting spaces. In theatrical usage, mise en scene can be used for all aspects of the staging of the drama, including scenery, properties, and the positions and gestures of the actors; the term is sometimes used in a more limited sense of the playing area with its scenery and properties (if any).

"Monolog": In the terminology of Bernard Spivack (Shakespeare and the Allegory of Evil), direct address to the audience by a character, opposed to soliloquy (q.v.).

MONTAGE: A series of rapidly shifting images, usually used to suggest the lapse of time or or series of events. Montage often employs dissolves and multiple exposures. In European usage, "montage" just means "editing."

Motif: A repeated element; any unobtrusive technique, object, or thematic idea systematically repeated during a film (or in any other work).

Point of View: The view from which a story is narrated.

First-Person Point of View: A story told by an "I"; outside of works allowing telepathy, a first-person narrator can only tell us of her or his own thoughts and the actions of others. A First-Person Observer only reports to us; a First-Person Participant is also a character in the story.

"Second-Person Point of View": A rare viewpoint in which the narrator addresses him/herself directly (and, in a sense, the reader).

Third-Person Point of View: A narrative about characters other than the narrator and audience. If omniscient, we get the thoughts of characters; if limited (or selective) omniscient, we get the thoughts of some characters but not other.

Dramatic Point of View / Objective Point of View: Very strict 3rd-person narration, in which we see only externals and get only spoken dialog. The characters are "objects" to be observed and reported on.

PAN, PANNING SHOT: From "panorama." A revolving horizontal movement of the camera from right to left or left to right, ordinarily through far fewer than 360 degrees but more than just a few degrees of revolution.

"Proscenium Arch": The arch above a stage from the late 17th through the 19th centuries, providing the physical support for a front curtain, hiding theatrical machinery and (later) spotlights--and often an aid in giving the acting space the appearance of an enclosed room with its fourth wall missing (which Rich Erlich considers an unfortunate idea).

REACTION SHOT: A cut to a shot of a character's reaction to the preceding shot.

Scene: (1) Location of an action. (2) In Elizabethan and Jacobean dramaturgy, the action on stage between one very brief clearing of the stage and the next clearing of the stage. Roughly equivalent to a paragraph in writing.

SCENE: A unit of film or TV composed of a number of interrelated shots, unifed usually be a central concern--a location, incident, or minor dramatic climax. Roughly equivalent to a paragraph in writing.

SEQUENCE: A unit of film or TV composed of a number of interrelated scenes and leading to a major climax. Roughly equivalent to a chapter in a book.

SHOT: Those images which are recorded continuously from the time a movie camera starts to the time it stops; an unedited, uncut strip of film. In electronic media, the electronic equivalent of a film shot.

Soliloquy: A speech by an actor alone on a stage, in which we overhear a character's thoughts; in Bernard Spivack's terminology, opposed to a monolog. (E.g., in general, Hamlet [in Spivack's jargon] soliloquizes; Richard of Gloucester directly addresses the audience in monologs.)

Stichomythia: Dialog consisting of quick alternation of very short speeches, producing the "cut-and-thrust" effect of a verbal duel.

Subtext: The dramatic implications beneath the text of the script. Roughly, the things that directors and actors must know about the characters that the audience doesn't need to know explicitly (e.g., the previous lives of the characters, what the characters do while off-stage, the relationships among characters not spelled out in the script).

Symbol: A figurative device in which an object, event, or technique has a significance in context in addition to its literal meaning.

TIGHT FRAMING: Usually in close shots. The mise-en-scene is so carefully balanced and harmonized that the subject photographed has little or no freedom of movement.

TWO SHOT: A medium shot of two actors.

WIPE: An editing device, usually a line travelling across the screen removing one image and revealing another.

ZOOM SHOT: A shot taken with the aid of a zoom lens, suggesting a dolly or crane shot (in which the camera quickly "dollies in" or the crane quickly descends toward the subject).

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August of 30 BCE: Octavius Caesar defeats Antony and Cleopatra, who commit suicide. Here Shakespeare ends Ant. O. Caesar becomes Caesar Augustus, the first Roman emperor.

30 BCE-180 CE: Accession of Augustus to death of the emperor Marcus Aurelius, period of the Pax Romana ("Roman Peace") and height of the empire: Rome rules the Mediterranean world and the Island of Britain.

306-337: Constantine the Great emperor of Rome, under whom the Empire (including Britain) is Christianized.

378 f.: Over the Rhine and the Danube, Germanic peoples enter the Roman Empire in large numbers, greatly speeding up and extending their historic migration to the south and west (Thompson and Johnson 65).

August 410: Alaric the Goth captures Rome and sacks the "Eternal City" (Swain 607), giving one date for the "fall" of the Roman Empire--except that the Eastern Empire lasted until the fall of Constantinople to the Turks on 29 May 1453 (Thompson and Johnson 947-48).

449: With Rome withdrawing troops from the frontiers to protect Italy, the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes invade Roman Britain (Whitelock 11). Britain becomes known as "Angleland" and then "England."

597: Pope Gregory the Great sends to convert the heathen Germanic peoples in England St. Augustine (the lesser [the biggie is Augustine of Hippo, an African theologian from the 400s]). Augustine succeeds.

600-800: Germanic peoples settle down in England and elsewhere, and things, well, settle down some as the "Dark Ages" end.

622: The Hegira (hijra) of Mohammed, marking "the transformation of Islam from a small group of religous enthusiasts into a larger political and religious community" (Thompson and Johnson 162)--one that would establish hegemony over much of what was the Eastern Roman Empire, plus North Africa and Spain, and into France until stopped by the forces of Charles Martel in the "Battle of Tours," actually fought near Poitiers in 732. So, by 800, Western Europe was fairly well cut off from the East, and developed Medieval culture.


"Dark Ages"

(Anglo-Saxon and Norman Periods in England)

800-1066: A period of migrations and invasions by Scandinavian peoples (Northmen, Norsemen, Normans) including expeditions and raids by Vikings to England, Ireland, and possibly even to North America in the west, and establishing a Viking kingdom in the east that again bears the Viking name of "Russia" (from the "Rus" tribe)--and Sicily in the South.

885-886: Vikings lay seige to Paris but fail to take it; Norse try for permanent possession of the area of France across from England.

911: Charles the Simple, King of the Franks recognizes that Hrolf the Viking (a k a Rollo) holds the north of France, so he gives him "Normandy" in fief, as first Duke of Normandy, a vassal to Charles. "This latter provision caused some trouble, for the chronicler reports that the new vassal Hrolf refused to bestow the required kiss upon his liege lord Charles's foot. '"Never,' said he, "will I bend my knees before anyone, nor will I kiss the foot of any Frank." Moved, however, by their prayers[,] he ordered one of his warriors to kiss the king's foot. The latter promptly seized the king's foot, carried it to his mouth[,] and kissed it standing, thus throwing the king onto his back. At that there was a roar of laughter . . . (Thompson and Johnson 275). There was also a living symbol for the relationship between the King of France and his theoretical vassal, the Duke of Normandy.

1066: William, Duke of Normandy, invades England and defeats Harold Godwinson at the Battle of Hastings (14 Oct. 1066). So William becomes William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy and King of England.

William marries Matilda of Flanders and has four children. He is succeeded by his second child, William II (Rufus), who ruled from 1087-1100, when he walked into an arrow (so to speak); "There was no investigation" (Thompson and Johnson 411). The third child is Henry I, who reigns 1100-35, married Matilda of Scotland, and sired Matilda the Empress. Matilda's rule was challenged by her cousin, Stephen of Blois, son of Adela, William I's fourth child. Stephen rules 1135-54 by cutting a deal with Matilda that her son will succeed. Matilda marries Geoffrey of Anjou, and they produce Henry II, an English king with a real last name: Plantagenet.


"Middle Ages"

1154-89: Reign of Henry II.

1154: Eleanor of Aquitaine, Queen of France from 1137-52, leaves her husband and runs off to Henry of Anjou, bringing with her as dower the French province of Aquitaine. Henry immediately goes on to take England, and Henry and Eleanor between them hold England, and, in France: Anjou, Aquitaine, Normandy, and Touraine--and then Henry begins the English conquest of Ireland. So the Duke of Normandy is King of England and holds more than half of France (Thompson and Johnson 479-80). This is the Angevin Empire, and much of English political history thereafter is very simple: the English try to hold France and Ireland and hold or expand the rest of the territories held by Henry II and Eleanor; the Irish and French will try to push them out.


1154-1485: The Plantagenet family holds the throne of England:

Richard I: 1189-99 John: 1199-1216

Henry III: 1216-72 Edward I: 1272-1307

Edward II: 1307-27 (murdered) Edward III (1327-77)

Now there's been a murder (as William II was murdered), but the succession is unbroken and, allowing for some wheeling and dealing, has been unbroken since William the Conqueror, King of England by Right of Conquest and, therefore, "By Grace of God." The reign of Edward III was a high point in the English Middle Ages, with Edward III and his eldest son Edward the Black Prince--the eldest of seven sons (surely a sign of something) making progress in taking all of France. They win a great victory at Crécy in 1346, where English cannon cause some terror, but, more importantly, the English prove to everyone except French nobles that their longbow can bring down armored knights.

1377-99: Edward the Black Prince (of Wales) dies before Edward III, so Edward III is succeeded by his eldest son's son, the young Richard II. Richard eventually has to take power from his uncles (and has one murdered) but reigns unchallenged until

1398: Bolingbroke vs. Mowbray and the start of Shakespeare's Second Tetralogy.


Works Cited and/or Consulted

Swain, Joseph Ward. The Ancient World. Vol. Two. New York: Harper, 1950.

Thompson, James Westfall, and Edgar Nathaniel Johnson. An Introduction to Medieval Europe (300-1500). New York: Norton, 1937.

Whitelock, Dorothy. The Beginnings of English Society. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin, 1952. Vol. 2 in The Pelican History of England.



I'll tell the rest of the story out of Shakespeare.

The Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485 is traditionally taken as the end of the Middle Ages in England and the (rather late) beginning of the English Renaissance. Shakespeare's history plays deal with royal politics in the period from 1398 to 1485, the birthing time of Shakespeare's era.

The great political theme in the background of the Histories is the attempt by the English ruling elite to re-establish (and maybe expand here and there) the Angevin Empire and form a United Kingdom of England and Wales, plus Ireland and most of France. That's what they wanted. What they got was constant unrest in Ireland, punctuated by rebellions, and the gradual loss of England's French possessions. The loss of France (from the English point of view), or the driving of the English from French soil (in the view of the French) is the Hundred Years' War.

The Hundred Years' War isn't an issue in Richard II, but an Irish rebellion is. But that gets a little ahead of the story of Richard II.

Richard came to the throne at a young age and with a bunch of uncles to help run his kingdom. That meant that he initially reigned without ruling and that his task (traditionally viewed) was to seize power from his uncles. (Who were also the major feudal lords of the realm, and every medieval king had to work to keep power centralized in himself and not go out to his theoretical vassals [see above on Hrolf and the King of France].) Richard did eventually get full royal power, but at a cost of some blood on his hands: he had murdered at Calais, in France, under the governorship of Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, his uncle, Thomas of Woodstock, the Duke of Gloucester.

NOTE: The names get confusing. Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, might be called "Thomas," "Mowbray," "Norfolk," "his Grace"--or maybe even "Tom." The titles go with the holders, so "Gloucester" can refer to any Duke of Gloucester. And the English recycle names a lot. You can learn it. After all, you might refer to me as "Prof. Erlich," "Dr. Erlich," "Mr. Erlich," "Richard," "Rich," etc.

By 1398, Richard II had established a great court (Geoffrey Chaucer worked for the family), but he had spent money without winning anything in France, in the manner of his Grandfather, King Edward III, and, preeminently, his father Edward, the "Black" Prince of Wales: the victors of the Battle of Crecy (1346), where many French nobles were slaughtered by English chivalry and the English longbow. And he had this major scandal, which--for whatever reasons--Richard's cousin Henry Bolingbroke chose to work on. Bolingbroke doesn't attack the King directly; he goes for the henchman and accuses Mowbray of murdering the Duke of Gloucester. Mowbray equivocally denies it but adds that he did try to murder the Duke of Lancaster, (John of Gaunt, Bolingbroke's father). But Mowbray is really sorry about that attempted murder and has apologized. After much rhetoric and chivalric gestures, Richard II cuts a deal: both Bolingbroke and Mowbray are to be banished, Bolingbroke for a few years, Mowbray for life. That happens and Richard prepares to suppress the rebellion in Ireland, and John of Gaunt dies. Richard needs money, so he extorts it in relatively novel ways, and he confiscates the Dukedom of Lancaster, disinheriting Bolingbroke. As N. Machiavelli says, you can kill a parent, but don't steal the inheritance. Richard commits these crimes and misdemeanors, and (in Shakespeare) Bolingbroke returns: Shakespeare refuses to tell if Bolingbroke knew of Richard's sins before or after he broke his exile and returned to England. Henry brings troops along; a lot more people join him (he has been wronged: if Richard is King by descent, Bolingbroke is the Duke of Lancaster). When Richard returns from Ireland, Bolingbroke is in charge, and Richard does little to resist Bolingbroke. Bolingbroke is aided especially by the Percy family--the Earl of Northumberland and his son, Henry Percy (nicknamed both "Harry" and "Hotspur")--and Henry Bolingbroke becomes King Henry IV. Almost inevitably, there is a conspiracy against Henry IV, and he insures his rule by having Richard murdered. Richard II ends with King Henry talking of repentence and leading his troops on a holy crusade to Jerusalem. And Richard II ends with news of rebellion against Henry.

Henry IV is about the rebellions against King Henry and his very effective handling of them. Significantly, the major rebellions against Henry are lead by his former allies, and it is unclear whether they initiated the rebellion or Henry goaded them into it. Henry stole the crown with the aid of the Percies, and the "moral" of these plays seems to be "Thieves fall out." A respectable bishop in Richard II predicted that no good would come of Henry's usurpation because it was a sin against God and God would punish England for it. Richard II himself presents the "Thieves fall out" prediction:

Northumberland, thou ladder wherewithal

The mounting Bolingbroke ascends my throne,

The time shall not be many hours of age

More than it is, ere foul sin gathering head* [military image

Shall break into corruption.* Thou shalt think, + zit image]

Though he divide the realm and give thee half,

It is too little, helping him to all,

And he shall think that thou, which knewest the way

To plant unrightful kings, wilt know again, * * *

To pluck him headlong from the usurped throne. (5.1.55-65)

The center of the Henry IV plays, though, isn't Henry IV but Prince Hal. The plays show "The Education of a Christian Prince"--but in the sort of politics later analyzed in Machiavelli's The Prince, and the Godfather movies. (For a modern analogy to feudal family politics, the Mafia can be useful.)

Shortly before the end of 2 Henry IV, the dying Henry gives Prince Hal two crucial bits of advice. First, keep the friends Henry IV has made, but be cautious with them because they "Have but their stings and teeth newly ta[k]en out." Picture that. Now picture the tooth extraction Medieval and Renaissance fashion. He also refers to how his friends's fierce (and nasty) aid was the way he was "first advanced" to the crown--the man has a way with euphemisms!--and how he feared "To be again displaced," as Richard predicted. "Which to avoid, / I cut them off," implying he goaded the Percies to rebel so he could kill them. Following my teacher, Robert Ornstein, I think Henry wanted to go on that crusade, but he tells Hal his desire for the crusade was to prevent trouble at home. He recommends Hal use a similar tactic and "busy giddy minds / With foreign quarrels . . ." (2H4 4.5.204-15). This is a major step in Hal's education. The culmination of that education is Henry V, where Hal seems to take his father's advice and returns to the Hundred Year's War.

The plot of Henry V can be summarized quickly, because you know it: it is the comic romance plot. The Hero goes off to war, wins a great victory, defeats the enemy, marries the enemy king's daughter, unites the two warring kingdoms--and they all live happily every after. Well, Henry V goes off to France and outdoes even the Black Prince: he "sees" Crecy and "raises" Agincourt. The French nobles rode into English longbows again (and in the mud to boot) and were slaughtered. Henry V ends with the marriage of Henry and Katherine of France and the prediction of a united kingdom going off to kick Turkish butt and regain the Holy Land for Christendom.

And that ends Henry V proper, leaving only an epilog to get us away from comic romance or romantic comedy and back to history.

The Battle of Agincourt was in 1415. Henry and Katherine of France were married shortly thereafter. Henry and Katherine had a son, whom they unimaginatively named Henry, and then Henry V dropped dead and "Henry the Sixth, in infant bands crowned King / Of France and England, did this king succeed"--and a few lines more to end the Second Tetralogy by summarizing Shakespeare's First Tetralogy, which covered the later reigns of Henry VI, Edward IV, (Edward V), and Richard III: in 1, 2, 3, Henry VI and Richard III.

1 Henry VI starts with the death of Henry V and shows the horrid inversion of the natural order (from an English point of view) when the French, under command of a woman, throw off the yoke of God-ordained English rule. From the French point of view, St. Joan leads patriotic French to throw out the English invaders (from most of France, anyway). Historically, although not explicitly in Shakespeare, what happened was a lot of mercenary troops went from France to England and were available for work. Work came along in the person of Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York.

OK, the King of England is Henry VI of the House of Lancaster; he's the son of King Henry V, who was son of King Henry IV, who was son of, well, John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, and fourth son of King Edward III. When Richard II went off to Ireland, he proclaimed Roger Mortimer "next of blood." Richard had no chidren, and Mortimer was Richard's first cousin once removed (by my count), descended from the next royal brother down the chain who had kids: Lionel, Duke of Clarence, brother number three. Richard Plantagenet, then, had a better claim to the throne than Henry VI: also a Plantagenet and a descendent of Edward III, but by a slightly younger son of Edward III. And one answer to "Who lost France?" would be "That loser, Henry VI!"

2 and 3 Henry VI show the civil war between Henry VI's family and allies against Richard of York's family and allies. Again, they're all Plantagenets, but Henry VI et al. are of the House of Lancaster, and they oppose the House of York. The symbol of the House of Lancaster is the red rose; the symbol of the House of York is the white rose. The Hundred Years' War being over, the Wars of the Roses had begun. By the end of 3 Henry VI the Yorkists have won. The King of England is Edward IV, eldest son of Richard of York and the Duchess of York. Richard of York had been taken POW and brutally murdered; surviving him are his Duchess, Edward, his second son George, Duke of Clarence, and the youngest son Richard, Duke of Gloucester.

Richard III shows the death of Edward and Richard of Gloucester's conniving and murdering his way to the throne. (Richard III is sheer slander, of course: Shakespeare following the Tudor line--what modern historians have called "The Tudor Myth"--first popularized by no less a propagandist that Sir Thomas More.) Anyway, Richard kills off large sections of his family (I was serious about that Mafia analogy), and most of the remaining generation of vipers from the time of the Wars of the Roses.

There is, though, a happy ending. With a Hero: Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond. Henry was the son of Edmund Tudor, the son of Owen Tudor, who took his obscure Welsh family a long way by marrying Katherine of Valois, widow of Henry V. Henry Tudor's geneological claim to the throne, came through his mother, who was a descendent of John of Gaunt, so Henry Tudor could claim to represent the Lancastrian line. He did claim that, and, what the Hell, he won at Bosworth Field (22 August 1485) married the Yorkist heir, certainly got rid of Richard III one way or another (killing him in personal combat in Shakespeare), eliminated other competition for the throne (a point Shakespeare moots by getting rid of them before Henry arrives), got accepted as King by Parliament, and became Henry VII by right of conquest, general acclamation, and, of course, the Grace of God.

And Henry VII begot Henry VIII who begot Mary, Elizabeth, and Edward. Being the boy, Edward got to reign first, as Edward VI (sic: Edward V got murdered sometime between the death of Edward IV and the coronation of Henry VII); and he got to die first. He was succeeded by Mary, who died and was succeeded by Elizabeth, the last of the Tudors, but a long-lived and very great monarch. So the story ends in The Golden Age of Elizabethan England.

Bosworth Field, to say nothing of Elizabeth, is a long was off at the end of Henry V. Shakespeare gives us in the Second Tetralogy the form of a romantic comedy informed with the content of some pretty grim history. The comic movement from the death of Richard II to the marriage of Henry V--but with a final note reminding us of the fast-approaching death of Henry V. Sic transit gloria mundi, "All fame is fleeting," all victory transitory. England is still going to bleed even after the triumph of Agincourt.

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