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Shakespeare's Edward III: a consolation for English recusants.

With the publication of three new editions in the past five years, The Raign of King Edward the Third has reemerged as a prominent candidate for inclusion in the Shakespeare canon. (1) Nonetheless, the play still continues to be received with suspicion. Critics recognize it is written in a genre, the chronicle history, that Shakespeare dominated in his day and admit the play has the same variety of imagery, a similar texture of vocabulary, and verbal parallels to Shakespeare's other dramas. (2) Notwithstanding, few scholars are willing to embrace the play wholeheartedly as Shakespeare's own. The problem, they claim, is the play lacks dramatic unity. As they see it, the play appears to be divided into two poorly integrated halves. The first two acts focus on the king's campaign to seduce the Countess of Salisbury; then, the theater of operations shifts abruptly to France and the Hundred Years' War to detail the English conquests at Sluys, Crecy, Calais, and Poitiers. This largely unexplained bifurcation within the play between love and war, shame and honor, England and France, has cast the play and its playwright into disrepute for centuries, and it is upon this legacy of censure that skepticism about Shakespeare's authorship of the play has its most secure foundation. (3)

Among those who see Shakespeare's hand in the play, this perceived lack of dramatic unity has generated a wide range of special pleading. To explain this singular fact, A. F. Hopkinson has told us that Shakespeare's "sublime genius spurned at arbitrary rules and restraints," (4) that the two plots in themselves must be considered as separate plays, and as the dramatic unity in each is perfect, the play as a whole is therefore in Shakespeare's manner. (5) Kenneth Muir has told us that Shakespeare collaborated with another playwright, as yet undiscovered. (6) Melchiori and others have told us that Shakespeare contributed the king and countess scenes to a play already written. (7) J. J. M. Tobin has told us that Edward III stages an education of princes, its two episodes tied together by a concern for self-mastery. (8) And Eric Sams, to support his contention that past complaints about Edward lies lack of dramatic unity are overstated, has argued that "each [subplot] is adroitly aligned as a separate aspect of one single unifying topic, namely the rights and wrongs of vows and promises," (9) in the process conflating unity of theme with unity of plot. Such descriptions of "Shakespeare's" craftsmanship, however, leave this play a broken thing. In neglecting the rationale that necessitates the sequence of action, the play's defenders inadvertently confirm the century-old hypothesis that "[t]hough there may indeed exist a sort of interior connexion between the episode and the principal plot, yet it appears more than doubtful whether the link joining the two parts was easily, if at all, discoverable by the play-going public of the age." (10)

In actuality, this century-old hypothesis is unfounded. In sustaining it, critics do not merely consign this play to ignominy. Edward III is most cohesive as a brilliantly incisive critique of the official propaganda sustaining the persecution of English recusants after the Invincible Armada's defeat. Denying the unity of the play and thus Shakespeare's authorship perpetuates the myth of Shakespeare as a Tudor apologist unconcerned with the course of the English Reformation. Allusions to the Armada's defeat within Edward III have been used to date the play, but critics remarking on them have tended to assume that the play was originally written to exploit swelling patriotic feeling. (11) But this reading of the play is entirely too naive. Certainly to Elizabeth, as to other members of Shakespeare's audience who were educated in medieval history and who had seen in Mary's last year on the throne the loss of Calais, Edward's victory in France was but a temporary highpoint, a peak in the long and tumultuous Hundred Years' War. Just as educated viewers would have known that the Black Prince would break his health in later years while pursuing the claim to France, finally dying in 1376, so too they would have been aware that Edward III finally succumbed to his lust, wallowing in the shocking affair with Alice Perrers, misconduct which encouraged the Good Parliament to impeach the King's lack of restraint and introduce constitutional limitations on the monarchy. In ending Edward III at a high point in this monarch's history, the play's author was demonstrating to his audience how palpable was the enthusiasm that accompanied Edward's early French campaign; however, as his educated audience would have known just how transitory were the blessings of Edward's victory, the parallels between the victories of the 1340s and 1350s and 1587 to 1588 would have served as not so much a celebration of the past victory as a caution against contemporary enthusiasm.

The nature of the enthusiasm after the Armada's defeat was religious, specifically Protestant. For Protestants in England, the Armada's defeat had the quality of an apocalyptic moment, a manifestation of God's hand shielding his Chosen. In 1589, the courtier Richard Robinson began collecting treatments of the Armada's defeat circulating at court into his commonplace book, Robinson's Eupolemia, Archippus and Panoplia, that is to say his good warfare against Satan (1576-1602), British Library MS. Royal 18 A. 66. He opened his own description "Of the Spanish Navyes and English Fleetes Conflict upon the Coaste of England in anno domini 1588, and of Gods gracyous good Success given unto youre Maiestyes fleete over the sayde Spanish navy in August Anno thirty" with an exegesis of the event: "Most admirable and therefore most memorable are the mercyes of God son unto mankynde above all merite and expectation of Man, but specially towards those most often and appearently embracing his pure Religion to the advancement of His glory" (fol. [19.sup.v]). Quoting from Numbers 24:20 concerning the Israelites' triumphs over the Amekelites and Kenites, Robinson insisted the Battle of Gravelines was an occasion no less miraculous than the biblical Deborah's victory: "The same prophecy may be by all similitudes most aptly applyed unto the present action sent now at hand, as by the Spanish Amelek and Roman Kenite.... But praysed be the God of Hostes, of our English ships onely some 7 are worse for beyng by youre Maiestyes politike commandment" ([20.sup.r]). In Robinson's discourses on the Armada's defeat, Her Majesty Elizabeth emerges as both "the virtuous Deborah" who had "wonderfully overcome the Spanish Sicera, and put to flyght all his forces" and the "Holy Judith," who "conquered the huge hoste of the Spanish Olofernes, even by Gods powrefull extreme and your ffaythfull prayirs." The scriptural quotations in the margins become poems in themselves arranged to reconstitute the sinking of the Armada into an apocalyptic event by which God revealed his opposition to the Roman Catholic faith. (12)

Such interpretations of the event were hardly restricted to Elizabeth's court. In 1594, Henry Smith preached in Clement Dawes Church, "As surely as Ionah sought to arive at Tarshish, so surely the Spaniards thought to arive in England. But as Ionah's companie wondered at this tempest, so at these Spaniards destruction, their fellows at home wondered, how their invincible power could be destroied, but God is strong inough for them that kicke against him, and disdaineth to be crossed of dust and ashes." (13) Repentance was the theme, and it had domestic applications. It was antagonistic toward faith and not just nationality. Perhaps the intolerance is understandable. The sailing of the Armada was not simply an attempted large-scale invasion of the British Isles: it was a Crusade published first by Pope Gregory XIII and renewed by Pope Sixtus V designed to restore the Roman Catholic Church in England. The Cardinal Archduke Albert personally blessed the fleet and named it the "Armada Fortunata," and the Pope promised to finance one-third of the expenses of the fleet and offered full pardon and indulgence to those who joined it.

The rhetoric was widely available in English. In 1588, John Wolfe had printed in London The Holy Bul and Crusado of Rome: first published by the Holy Father Gregory the XIII, and afterwards renewed and ratified by Sixtus the fift: for all those which desire full pardon and indulgence of their sins, and that for little money, and Cardinal William Allen had printed in Antwerp A Declaration of the sentence and deposition of Elizabeth, the usurper and pretensed Queen of England. Framed as a fight between faiths, the Spanish invasion was also framed as a war of rightful succession. According to the Papal Bull, the illegitimate Queen Elizabeth had usurped the throne from the rightful ruler of England, Philip of Spain, the husband of the late Queen Mary and a direct lineal descendant of John of Gaunt. In response to Sixtus V's Bull of Interdiction, the Bishop of London, John Aylmer, excommunicated the Pontiff, and on 1 July 1588 Elizabeth issued the proclamation Against Bulles from Rome that identified the Holy Father as a foreign enemy.

In the atmosphere of a looming showdown over the course of the Reformation, the apocalyptic interpretation of the Armada's defeat actually began, oddly enough, in the year preceding it. In 1587, Thomas Greepe wrote a poem characterizing Sir Francis Drake's assaults on Spanish cities in the New World and Europe as victories "whereby it may be seen unto the world, that God which hath alwayes defended his servaunts in former ages hath not let to shew a miracle in these latter days." (14)

In praising Drake's victories in 1587 against greater numbers with the verses "If wynde and waves had not so wrought / Full deerely they theyr pride had bought," Greepe implied that the elements themselves were allies in Drake's cause, forged into obedience by God to advance the Protestant faith throughout the world. (15) This faith was shared by the English privateer himself, who in the concluding epistle appended to Greepe's poem, urged the Protestant martyrologist John Foxe to continue with his efficacious praying, "that our purpose may take that good effect, as God may be glorified, his Church, our Queene and country preserved, and these enemies of the trueth utterly vanquished, that we may have continuall peace in Israel." (16)

The rhetorical strategy already prepared, once the English fleet was victorious at the Battle of Gravelines and the rest of the Armada had been scattered or destroyed by storm at sea, balladeers, naval commanders, foreign governments, and prominent Protestant theologians immediately celebrated the event as a miracle rebuking the pride of Philip of Spain and illustrating the impropriety of the idolatrous Catholicism he espoused. The popular ballad writer Thomas Deloney entitled his 1588 ballad on the event "A joyful new Ballad, declaring the happie obtaining of the great Galleazzo, wherein Don Pietro de Valdez was the chief, through the mighty power and providence of God, being a speciall token of his gracious and fatherly goodnes towards us, to all that willingly fight in defence of his gospel and our good Queene of England." Those who served in the navy interpreted the event similarly. Writing to Sir Francis Walsingham from the Nonpareil on 29 July 1588, reporting on the Battle of Gravelines, Thomas Fenner declared that "God hath mightily protected her majesties forces with the least losses that ever hath been heard of, being within the compass of so great volleys of shot, both small and great." Fenner concluded his letter "not doubting that but the world shall know and see that her Majesty's little army, guided by the finger of God, shall beat down the pride of his enemies and hers, to his great glory." Not two hours later Fenner added a postscript about the turning of the Spanish ships by a strong Southwest wind away from the coast of England, writing, "Mine opinion is they are by this time so distressed, being thrust so far off, as many of them will never see Spain again; which is the only work of God, to chastise their malicious practices, and to make them know that neither the strengths of men, nor their idolatrous gods can prevail, when the mighty God of Israel stretcheth out but his finger against them." (17)

Such religious enthusiasm was not confined to England. On 18 August 1588, the Council of State of the United Provinces addressed Elizabeth in a congratulatory letter as "the defender of God's church," declaring their belief that "God hath, in his goodness, given your Majesty the victory over your enemies, and, before the whole world, everlasting glory such as is fitting to your royal virtues." (18) In that same year, King James VI of Scotland published a sermon describing the battle as a phase of the biblical Armageddon, 19 and the great Protestant theologian Theodore Beza published a broadside with verses in Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Spanish, French, Dutch, and English that declared before the whole world that Elizabeth had fought alongside God to defeat Philip in his vanity. (20)

God was in the winds and seas. "If Gods hand do evidently appeare, or if any where it be fearefull, it is in being at sea," preached the future Archbishop of Canterbury George Abbot while he was still teaching geography at Oxford; "If Gods hand be present anywhere to punish or preserve," he continued, "it is in the huge ocean." (21) Adverse winds that had scattered the Armada and wrecked it were given scriptural precedents. "It is well said by David that God rayneth on the wicked fire and brimstone and stormy tempest [Psalm 11:6]" Abbot preached,
 But more fitly to my purpose, that fire and haile, and snow, and vapours,
 and storm wind do execute his word [Ps. 148:8]. For these and other
 meteors, are his creatures made by him: his subjects that live under him:
 his messengers sent from him to punish or to helpe, to execute his will.
 The voyce of the Lord is upon the waters, the God of glory maketh it to
 thunder [Psalm 29:3].... The wind and the tempest depend not on chaunce, or
 anie blind fortune, but on the soveraigne power of the Almightie
 Creator.... Whoso walketh by the land, or passeth by the sea, if winds
 promote his businesse, or hinder his purpose, and disquiet him in his
 enterprise, let him assigne it to his Providence who ruleth all with power,
 who sent that tempest here to Ionas; for from them they do all come.
 (Abbot, An Exposition, 45)

As storm had aided the English Protestants and destroyed the Spanish Roman Catholics, the Armada's defeat was an interpretable moment of crisis that glorified the English Church and impugned the faith of the Roman Catholics. "Our God," declared Henry Smith, "thought upon us in the time of trouble, he thought upon us & layd the tempest when our enemies called upon their gods, saints and angels" (Smith, "The Calling of Jonah," 151).

This reasoning was not new. For centuries, Protestant theologians had identified the workings of God's providence in the power of the winds. A Wycliffite sermon had equated destructive storm winds with God's power to indict the pride of the endowed Catholic Church following the Great Storm of 1362. (22) In the Tudor period, Protestant Jonah sermons comparing England to Nineveh urged in apocalyptic tones the need for England to reform its church. From the casting of Jonah into the sea, reasoned John Hooper, Bishop of Gloucester, in his 1551 sermon before King Edward VI, "learneth every magistrate & king their office to caste out of their commune wealth, as many Jonasses as they fynde stubborne, & will not amend theyr lyves." (23) Having already determined that the devil "wyll do the best he can to preserve a myxte and myngled religion" (Hooper, An Oversight, sig. + [ii.sup.v]), claiming that the worship of the saints and the elevation of the Host in the Mass were such mixed practices, and declaring that "whosoever or what so ever degre he be, that is or sheweth hymselfe to be offended wyth thys my free and indifferent speakynge of Goddes word, he or they be what they maye be, are the verye Jonasses and troublers of this commune wealthe" (Hooper, An Oversight, [43.sup.v]), Hooper developed his discourse on Jonah into an anti-Papist diatribe.

Hooper was not alone. Modeling their sermons on the preface to Thomas Tyndale's English translation of the Book of Jonah, Protestant preachers of the sixteenth century (and even later) used the Jonah story, first, to show how storm winds obeyed God's direct command; second, to characterize the veneration of the saints as comparable to the idolatrous and ineffectual prayers of the mariners; third, to assert the equivalence between Nineveh and England; and finally--the scriptural sea voyage providing an easy transition into the Ship-of-State metaphor--simultaneously to protect their conclusions from rebuttal and urge magistrates to quash recusant dissent and traditional Catholic forms of piety and so to avoid impending doom. (24) Though Henry VIII had banned Tyndale's Book of Jonah in 1531 and continued to enforce edicts against Protestants through 1547, he had approved the Ship-of-the-Church metaphor for use in the "Prayer for the Peace of the Church" published in the Authorized Primer of 1545. Morever, this prayer concluded by encouraging the congregation to call on God as "Thou [who] sparedst the Ninivites appoynted to be destroyed assone as they converted to repentaunce" (sig. S3). Thus, in the name of furthering the peace of the Church of England, the Protestant sermon on Jonah, beginning with a discussion of the natural winds and ending with a discussion of the winds of dissent, became both a means to level accusations at the Catholic Church for distorting Scripture and an argument to quash recusant nonconformity.

The frequency of Jonah sermons delivered orally is impossible to discern, but in Elizabeth's reign, the timing of their publication and thus their widespread circulation as sermon texts coincides conspicuously with the renewal of official efforts to suppress Roman Catholicism. Following the rebellion of the Northern Earls of Northumberland and Westmorland in 1569, Elizabeth and her privy council sent out letters to Justices of the Peace in several counties requiring them to sign a declaration that they assented to the form of common prayer established by the Act of Uniformity and that they would themselves attend church and receive communion. In answer to the 1570 Bull, Regnans in excelsis, which declared Elizabeth no queen, the Parliament of 1571 extended the law of treason to priests arriving from abroad. After the hanging of the first Douai martyr in 1577, Elizabeth's government began to step up its policy of keeping the leading recusants in prison or under constant surveillance. Increasing the pressure to conform, 1581 saw the passing of the act "To retain the Queen's Majesty's subjects in their due obedience," which increased the penalties for saying and hearing Mass and imposed a fine of twenty pounds per month for a continuous month's absence from Common Prayer. To encourage the magistrates to enforce these policies, Jonah sermons written by John Brentius, Rudolf Walther, John Calvin, and Arthur Dent were made widely available in English in 1570, 1573, 1578, and 1582, respectively. (25)

The logic of suppression advanced in Jonah sermons was largely metaphoric. It was generally held among Protestants that Catholic non-conformists represented a danger to the English ship of state. "No storm so dangerous to a ship on the sea, as is discord and disorder in a weal public," wrote John Foxe in his epistle To the True and Faithful Congregation of Christ's Universal Church. "What countries and nations, what kingdoms and empires, what cities, towns and houses, discord hath disolved," Foxe went on to say, "in stories is manifest; I need not spend time in rehearsing examples." (26) As repentance saved Niniveh, so Reformation might save England: "If therefore we repent us truly," wrote John Brentius in 1570, "that is, we faithfully and unfeynedly imbrace the gospell, and amend our lives publickely and privately, generally and perticularly, from the hyest to the lowest, then shall we escape the punishment and tyrannie of the Turke, Pope, and all the enemies of God" (Brentius, Newes, 68ff).

In the 1580s and 1590s, belief that Reformation would save England from disaster influenced the progress of England's military preparations. Though English recusants had volunteered to show their loyalty in fighting in the queen's defense, in June 1588, with the Armada's invasion looming, the Privy Council had ordered the imprisonment of the most prominent nonconformists, and in July they were committed to the diocesan palace at Ely. (27) In the eyes of the public, they were traitors, and in Ely demand for their execution was widely voiced though the nonconformists continuously affirmed their loyalty to the queen. The defeat of the Armada did not bring about the end of the fear, and it became the goal of the Privy Council to unite England beneath the queen in a single unified belief. Toward this end, in October 1592, the queen and the Council laid down the decision that recusants and conformists with recusant wives or sons living at home were debarred from the commission of the peace. (28) The philosophy of governance of this act stemmed less from the law (29) than from natural philosophy: "For if the unitie of the elements, humors, or qualities maintaineth the life either of the bodies natural or politicke," wrote Edward Daunce in 1592 to Charles Lord Howard, Lord Admiral of the Navy, "it cannot be, but a disagreement doth breed a resolution, spasm, or some other most daungerous infirmitie in both." (30)

In this atmosphere of intolerance for religious dissent, the play Edward III offered England different counsel. Invoking an historical example, it argued that the absence or successful suppression of recusant dissent might incur more dire consequences than adherence to traditional religion. Juxtaposing Edward's lecherous conduct with his greatest victory at sea, this play demonstrated to the queen that while the naval victory may have indeed been the result of the reformation of the monarch's conduct, the reformation of the monarch's conduct in this particular instance had been effected only by his vassal's wife's willingness to resist him to the death in embracing her traditional belief, the belief that the sanctity of wedlock outweighed her obligation to the king.

Ironically echoing Beza's polyglot broadside, Edward III describes the victorious English king, not his defeated enemy, leading the "proud armado" (3.1.64). Having seen Edward's lasciviousness in the previous two acts, this pride the audience would have understood less as Edward's pressing of his rights in France than as the king's attempt to woo the Countess of Salisbury into an adulterous relationship. In this attempt, King Edward privileges his will above and against the teachings of the Church: he rejects arguments that plead for him to honor the sanctity of wedlock; he rejects the virtue of chastity; and he even rejects the biblical example of Judith and Holofernes. Abdicating his own sworn responsibilities, the king nonetheless attempts to compel the countess to his sinful desires by calling on the oath she has made as a subject to her sovereign (2.1.244). Likewise, he compels her father, Warwick, by his oath as vassal to undertake "that devil's office" to persuade her to adultery (2.1.338-40). The countess, however, denies her obligation to uphold her oath sinfully, and her father demonstrates only pro forma obedience in chastising her dedication to her marriage. Their dissension from the interpretation of marriage Edward would uphold obviously denies his supremacy over the sacrament. Nonetheless, the play suggests this defiance is both proper and useful, for the play shows Edward could not have achieved his victory in France had his subjects' defense of matrimony's sacred character been less obstinate.

The ironic juxtaposition of Edward III's English and French episodes indicates unmaking the historical foundation of Armada theology was part of this playwright's aim. Among the material tokens that survived from Edward III's reign into Elizabeth's was the gold noble commemorating his victory at Sluys. The obverse showed a king standing in a ship at sea with his sword upraised, his shield bearing the arms of England quartered with the arms of France, his titles to the realms of England, Ireland, and France inscribed around its edge. The reverse of the coin had an elaborate cross, its coin-edge inscribed with Psalm 6:1, Domine ne in furore tuo arguas me, "Lord, rebuke me not in thine anger," ostensibly to discourage coin-clipping.

Though still circulating as gold coinage in the Elizabethan period, the noble may have had more currency as royal propaganda. Its features, connecting "King, Ship and Swerd, and power of the see," had been celebrated in the Libelle of English Policy, a fifteenth-century trade policy poem advising the young monarch Henry VI that his rights to the English throne ultimately depended on naval supremacy. The poem circulated in manuscript form in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Immediately relevant to the larger agenda of increasing England's naval power, this poetic essay on the noble was included in Richard Hakluyt's Principal Navigations (1598), and Hakluyt referred to it as "the true processe of English policie" in his Preface to the Reader. Hakluyt glossed the noble's first mention in the margin, "Quatour considerantur in moneta aurea Anglica, quae dicitur nobile: scilicet Rex, Naris, gladius &, Mare: Quae designant potestam Anglicorum super mare." (31) After the Armada's defeat, the inscription on the noble served Protestants as a happy confirmation drawn out of English history that God determined rightful kings upon the seas. Richard Robinson, for instance, had recalled the triumphs of Edward the Black Prince in France in praising the more recent English victory (fol. [19.sup.v]). So contextualized, the noble's inscriptions, Rex Angliae Hiberniae et Franciae and Domine ne in furore tuo arguas, argued Sluys, an earlier Gravelines, a fourteenth-century precedent for reasoning that God showed his hand by means of naval victory to indicate his Annointed's rights.

Protestant reasoning about the noble was predicated on the belief that Edward intended the face of the coin to refer to the naval victory at Sluys and the reverse to give God credit for the triumph. The countess scenes in Edward III imagine a different history for its inspiration and, consequently, an alternate interplay of meaning between the coin's two sides and the memory of the naval victory it preserved. In act 2, the countess asserts the sanctity of her marriage vows in an analogy that recalls the coinage Edward minted, and her reasoning refashions the historical meaning of the noble's future titular and biblical inscriptions into the tenor and vehicle of a sacred metaphor for kingship:
 He that doth clip or counterfeit your stamp
 Shall die, my lord; and will your sacred self
 Commit high treason against the king of heaven
 To stamp his image in forbidden metal,
 Forgetting your allegiance and your oath?
 In violating marriage's sacred law
 You break a greater honour than yourself. (2.1.256-62)

As the countess calls upon the punishment for counterfeiting to protect the sanctity of marriage, the scene itself encouraged its audience to imagine that the noble was coined to memorialize the soul-searching that preceded the English king's invasion.

This argument of the countess would have caught the queen's attention, especially when the countess promised to stab herself to sustain it. In the early years of her reign, she had issued several proclamations protecting and regulating the metallic content and value of English coinage. A Proclamation for reforming the deceipts in ... coines of Gold currant within the Queenes Majesties Dominions of 12 October 1587 designated penetration to be the fate assigned false pieces. What Elizabeth would have thought of the countess's self-comparison to an alloyed blank is another question. With her statement, "I am Richard II. Know ye not that?" offered after the Essex rebellion, Queen Elizabeth revealed her penchant for placing herself in the monarch's role and feeling out the play from this position. Elizabethan history plays by their very nature encouraged this approach. The Mirror for Magistrates, reissued several times since its initial suppression in 1555, grew out of the De Casibus genre and invited English magistrates to identify with past governors of England. Yet in extending a similar invitation to the queen's gaze, Edward III offered a subtle manipulation of it, for the conflict between Edward and the Countess of Salisbury opposed the official rights and dignities pertaining to the royal majesty to the personal ethos of chastity Elizabeth herself espoused. In essence, the queen saw staged here a conflict between her own two royal bodies: her official body as the Queen's Majesty, which extended her rights and sovereignty; and her persona as the Virgin Queen, which gave rise to the ethos of her court.

Chastity was part of Elizabeth's courtly ethos. Elizabeth had a low opinion of the seduction of her ladies at court and exiled from her presence those noblemen and women whom she discovered to have transgressed her official code of sexual abstinence, including one-time favorites Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton, and Sir Walter Raleigh, captain of the Queen's Guard, and their brides. On a personal level, then, the Countess of Salisbury's bold resistance of the assault upon her chastity would have endeared this character to the queen.

Yet in order to protect her chastity against assault, the countess had been compelled to argue that the sanctity of her marriage outweighed the sovereignty of the Crown. There seems no other way for her to justify her noncompliance with the king. Nonetheless, to assert this principle in the 1590s was highly controversial, for, in essence, the countess articulated that her vow to her husband before God outweighed her obligation to her king. This sacramental understanding of marriage, though appropriate in a fourteenth-century context, articulated in Elizabethan times what could have been described as recusant views. In Elizabethan England, marriage was not a sacrament but a civil ceremony sanctioned by the royally governed Church. (32) The playwright's sympathetic portrayal of the countess as a woman who insists upon a sacramental interpretation of her vows while her chastity is under siege appears intended as a casuist argument to create empathy in Elizabeth for noblemen's wives who sought to maintain their observance of the Old Faith. Such sympathy was politically important, for in 1592 the Privy Council had taken measures against precisely this segment of the population.

A foil to Queen Elizabeth, King Edward III also enjoys two selves in conflict. His, however, seem more like those Paul allows himself in Romans 7--the Spiritual, which is the divine part of the king, and the Fleshly, which would use the law for evil. Indeed, while trying to violate marriage's sacred law, the play's King Edward shows him breaking himself in half, compromising not only his rights in France with delay but his very ability to rule his own mind. A meeting with his nobles shows the King so preoccupied with the countess that, to his own embarrassment, he confuses her with the emperor aloud. No simple error of preoccupation, in his own thoughts he readily admits she is his emperor and in this admission betrays that quality of plasticity his lust inclined him to, that weakness of character that Dame Alice Perrers was to take advantage of in his later years. Far more important to Edward than his pursuit of rights in France at this juncture is conquering this woman. And when he believes she will yield to him, he claims in self-defeating triumph, "That very smile of hers / Hath ransomed captive France, and set the king, / The Dauphin and the peers at liberty" (2.2.103-05).

What brings about the king's repentance and returns to him his capacity for leadership is not simply the countess's belief that the sanctity of marriage outweighs her duty to her king but her willingness to die before the king in order to preserve this principle. (33) "Either swear to leave thy most unholy suit / And never henceforth to solicit me," the countess says most boldly to her sovereign, "[o]r else, by heaven, this sharp-pointed knife / Shall stain thy earth with that which thou wouldst stain, / My poor chaste blood" (2.2.182-86). Shamed back into control of himself, the king declares, "I am waked from this idle dream," and then, as if his lust had actually deprived him of his senses, he calls out for his war council, "Warwick, my son, Derby, Artois, and Audley, / Brave warriors all, where are you all this while?" (2.2.198-200)

In so resolving this conflict with the countess against her king, the play shows that noblewomen who embrace recusant views do so not to defy the goodness of the royal majesty but to protect themselves, their marriages, and even their queen's life from assault in the event a king less chaste than Elizabeth, reasoning in his sinful flesh, employs even the majesty of his kingship to satisfy his pleasure. Permitting noble women to deny the Crown's supremacy over wedlock, Edward III shows dramatically, does not detract in the least from the prerogative of the Crown, for Edward does not suffer loss of majesty from the Countess of Salisbury's noncompliance.

Indeed, this stage-poet was wise enough to follow the countess's civil disobedience with Edward's return of martial resolution, leading in the end to swift and decisive achievement of his rights. The transition from bedroom eyes to battle fury may be abrupt, but it leaves no doubts as to the benefits of the countess's chaste resistance. This sudden transformation of Edward's focus would have questioned the wisdom of recusant persecution. In the milieu leading up to and following the Armada's defeat, Protestants sought to define English recusancy as an ontological impediment to English military victory. Staging two sides of the same coin, Edward III showed this syllogism false. Only after the countess's resistance of the lecherous person of Edward returned him to his regal bearing did His Majesty allow himself to pursue his royal rights in France. Thus, the play's juxtaposition of the succession of military victories and the unsuccessful seduction scenes which delayed them allowed Elizabeth to bear witness to the good fortune that attached itself to the royal majesty when a subject was empowered to speak of wedlock as a sacrament. No threat to the king of England's rights abroad, the countess's rigorous defense of her marriage vows was a necessary prerequisite for the victories the English monarch achieved in France. Asserting a causative relationship between the countess's resistance and Edward's victories, the outcome of the play's marital and martial conflicts allowed recusants to point to Sluys and the noble to validate their beliefs. Quite obviously delivered before the naval victory the noble was to commemorate, the countess's speech inflects the psalm verse Domine ne in furore tuo arguas me, "Lord, rebuke me not in thine anger" (Ps. 6:1), with a meaning more personal to King Edward's repentance. In the context of the coin established by the play, the allusion insists that the minting of the noble was Edward's public acknowledgment that he was God's vassal, its inscription a confession that he had nearly violated his liege lord's law and not his testimony that he had experienced a miracle at sea. Edward III thus lent those who maintained traditional views on marriage a patriotic color that Armada theology had denied them.

The Raign of Edward III is hardly crippled by its alternation of the two most remarkable features of Edward's kingship. Rather, it derives its extraordinary political relevance exactly from this sequence. In flipping from Edward's moral crisis that threatens his reputation for martial prowess to His Majesty's sudden invasion and the successful assertion of his rights, the play imitates the noble and inscribes a new history for it by particularizing its inscriptions to each of the king's two bodies. Insisting that the extraordinary victories of Edward III could not have even occurred had not the countess sustained her sacramental view of marriage, the "double-plot" unites in its very suddenness both to redefine the rhetorical legacy of the noble and to undermine the evidentiary foundation that justified intolerance for recusants in the Elizabethan era.

Attributing this play to William Shakespeare is not a difficult task. He certainly would have been motivated to write such an argument. William Shakespeare's own family had suffered from Elizabeth's persecution of Roman Catholics. Unwilling to take the Oath of Supremacy, John Shakespeare, the playwright's father, absented himself from his duties as Alderman in 1576 and was fined as a consequence. Likewise, he refused to pay the levy of 29 January 1578 to strengthen the militia that was to be used to enforce anti-Catholic policies. In the same year, the playwright's father took legal measures to hide his property from the crushing fines leveled against recusants. Following the muster of 16 March 1580, John Shakespeare was summoned to Westminster to answer to the misdemeanor charge of a "breach of the Queen's peace," which, if the Jonah sermons preceding are any indication, was a civic penalty invented to punish recusant adherents. For his own nonappearance, John Shakespeare was fined twenty pounds. For his failure to bring John Audley, a recusant neighbor for whom he has stood surety, he was fined an additional twenty pounds. Fearing further persecution for his Roman Catholic adherence, John Shakespeare hid a spiritual will based on a Spanish form of a Spiritual Last Will and Testament in the roof of the family house. The trials of his wife's relations perhaps persuaded him toward such action. Mary Arden's cousins were convicted of high treason because of their connection by marriage to John Sommerville (the lone perpetrator of the so-called Sommerville Conspiracy) and the family's maintenance of a Roman Catholic chaplain. Though Sommerville's wife, Mary Arden, had her sentence to be burned alive commuted by the queen, Sommerville's father-in-law, Master Edward Arden, was executed as a traitor. From the tribulations of his family connections alone, William Shakespeare would have had ample reason to distinguish recusancy from disloyalty to the Crown, especially in 1592 when John Shakespeare's name twice appeared on a list of those absenting themselves from Anglican services at his parish church, allegedly for fear of arrest for debt. (34)

Edward III also conforms rather exactly to Shakespeare's attitude toward Elizabeth's foreign policy. Outside of Edward III, few arguments are more precisely constructed to disgrace the advice given to Henry VI in the Libelle of English Policy than Shakespeare's plays of the Contention. There, the cause for Henry's deposition lies not in his failing to control the seas but in the breach of trust in that branch of the nobility badged with the Bear and Ragged staff. Five times the traitorous Warwick is identified by this heraldic badge in 2 Henry VI until the whole play concludes by characterizing this device as the badge of treason. (35) In Shakespeare's day, this device was well known to belong to Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and his expansionist contingent in Ireland wore it. Out of respect for the Earl of Leicester, Sir Henry Sidney, lord deputy of Ireland from 1566 to 1579, "always displayed the Earl's arms (the bear and ragged staff) with his own, [and] had his servants decked out in Leicester's livery." (36) Far from a totem of respect in 2 Henry VI, Leicester's bear and ragged staff, worn by Warwick in a previous era, is refashioned as the heraldic image of rebellion. Thus 2 Henry VI did not simply refute The Libelle's chief argument in its analysis of history; the play taught its audience to most distrust those who were most dedicated to the piratical agenda the Libelle espoused. (37)

Inasmuch as Edward III oscillates abruptly between scenes of the monarch's moral conflict and military consequences of the monarch's resolution, the play conforms exactly to the manner of plot construction Shakespeare employed in the 1590s. In the victory at Sluys that follows hard upon the king's repentance, Edward III demonstrates the same manner of persuasion and the same questioning of Armada theology that Shakespeare employed in Henry V. Here, too, a major military victory described as miraculous follows hard upon the private rededication of an English king to traditional Roman Catholic views. After the king admits his father was wrong in the way he came to the throne (38)--an admission that compromises the principle of Armada theology that a miraculous victory against great odds always proves one's right to rule--Henry reaffirms in a prayer to the God of Battles his thorough devotion to traditional Roman Catholic practices of mourning:
 Five hundred poor have I in yearly pay Who twice a day their withered hands
 hold up Toward heaven to pardon blood. And I have built Two chantries,
 where the sad and solemn priests Sing still for Richard's soul. (Henry V

In the context of the Armada's defeat, the victory at Agincourt offers a counter-argument to the Protestant argument to abolish chantries. Just as the king's promise, "More will I do," links his very survival to the perpetuation of traditional Catholic beliefs, so too his victory ensures royal protection for the Church's endowment against the demands of the Commons (Henry V, 1.1). Thus, by allowing a glimpse into the private life of the king immediately before the battle, Henry V recovered the victory at Agincourt as a counter-example to the interpretation of the victory at Gravelines so that the contrast might generate a skeptical reconsideration of the more recent miraculous victory as unquestionable evidence that God despised Roman Catholic beliefs. Just as Henry's victory at Agincourt, so contextualized by Henry's traditional forms of penitence, would have embarrassed the disestablishmentarian significance Elizabeth's Protestant allies had found in the Spanish Armada's defeat, so too Henry's prayer to the God of Battles served to fashion the dedication of chantries and recusant mourning practices as part of Elizabethan England's patriotic memory. Edward III rehearses earlier English victories in France to urge tolerance for recusant beliefs in exactly this fashion.

Inasmuch as the recusant argument in Edward III lent evidentiary weight to the notion that a king jeopardized his rights of governance when he did not hold the institution of marriage sacred, it resembles the argument of one of Shakespeare's popular narrative poems of the period. Shakespeare argued the exact same point more starkly in The Rape of Lucrece (1596). There, unlike in Edward III, the lustful king's compulsion of his subject's wife succeeds but only to redound upon him. The violation of Lucrece not only costs Tarquin the loyalty of his generals in the field; outrage at the infamy compromises his title so profoundly that it brings the Roman monarchy abruptly to an end. As Shakespeare even searched out examples in Roman history for precedents to show the wisdom of the recusant position on marriage, it is entirely consistent that he would have fashioned out of English history a play like Edward III that drew parallels between Elizabeth's ethos of chastity at court and the recusants' prudent respect for the sanctity of marriage.

Since The Raign of Edward III provided its playwright with an opportunity to refashion an English military triumph into patriotic support for unpopular recusant positions, and since Shakespeare's other works of the 1590s supported these positions in a similar fashion, it seems unnecessary to invent another author for this play. Of course, the play does not end with the English victory at Sluys, nor does it end at Crecy. But as it draws to the high point of Edward III's reign, the play does little to dissuade us of either its value as a consolation for English non-conformists or its authorship by Shakespeare. Indeed, as it develops its consolation for recusants still further, the lessons it offers about success in battle cannot help but remind us of Shakespeare's later works.

Most notably, the play invites us to interpret its battles as a chastening of Tudor predictions of success. Predictions of success were polemical weapons Protestants leveled against Roman Catholicism. In 1583, these were so widespread and provocative that Henry Howard dedicated a three-hundred-page tome to Sir Francis Walsingham entitled A Defensative agaynst the Poyson of Supposed Prophecies, admonishing him to curtail the use of prophecy in the realm. As the Armada's invasion neared, Walsingham and Protestant allies in the navy nonetheless continued on this tack. In 1587, Thomas Greepe, as already mentioned, predicted English victory to come. From the miracle of Drake's successful attack on the assembling Spanish fleet, Greepe argued, "now may the enemie see what would come to passe if our gracious Queene would bende her whole force against them, therefore great cause have we to be thankfull to God for so gracious a Princess." (39) In 1588, Thomas Fenner, speaking of the Catholics sailing in the Spanish fleet, offered the hope that "their imaginations shall fall upon themselves, as a just plague for their wickedness and idolatry," (40) meaning that their Papist fantasies of saintly intercession would lead them to despair. In opposition to the papist hope in saintly intercession, he offered Anglicans his prediction that God would give them victory, "call[ing] upon him, with a faithful assurance that he will defend his from the raging enemy who goeth about to beat down his word and devour his people"(State Papers, 2:40). Also during the 1588 conflict, Sir Francis Drake, writing from the Revenge, prophesied, "Your Highness's enemies are many; yet God hath and will hear your Majesty's prayers, putting your hand to the plough for the defence of his truth, as your Majesty hath begun." (41) Made bold by such reports of the Invincible Armada's destruction at God's hand in 1588, English Protestants anticipated the like destruction of the Armadas of the 1590s, however great their numbers might be: "[f]or the Lord because of his covenant doth alwayes provide for his chosen," preached Henry Smith in 1594, "although they be but a remnant, like the gleaning after the harvest, or like a cluster of grapes on the top of the vine after the vintage" (Smith, Six Sermons, 182).

In contrast, Edward III shows that it is actually faith in providence and destiny that most jeopardizes military victories. Though two acts of battles are yet to be fought, it is immediately after the French retreat is sounded at Crecy in act 3 that Edward declares,
 Just-dooming heaven, whose secret providence To our gross judgement is
 inscrutable, How are we bound to praise thy wondrous works, That has this
 day given way unto the right, And made the wicked stumble at themselves.

The passage echoes Walsingham, Fenner, and Drake in granting the victory to God's providence. Yet, ironically, what makes the Black Prince's victory all the more heroic is that Edward III's belief that Providence is on his side comes too early. This faith encourages the king to be recklessly overconfident, seeking out further proof of God's predestined blessing. Indeed, when Artois, Derby, and Audley arrive, begging to reinforce the prince, King Edward prohibits them on pain of death. "This is the day ordained by destiny" (3.4.48), Edward pronounces, involving in his imprudence a perversely heightened sense that honor demonstrated in battle against great odds is more important than his son's life. Recklessly, King Edward declares tragically for those who knew the troubled reign of Richard II and the War of the Roses to follow, "We have more sons / than one, to comfort our declining age" (3.4.36-37). With his royal father tempting fate, putting his trust in Providence, and thus risking his first born son--a pattern that was unfortunately repeated in later years--Edward the Black Prince has to exhibit even greater personal heroism in pursuing the king's rights than had the king not believed in Providence so strongly. In revealing such a relationship between official propaganda asserting providential deliverance and the heroism offered by the king's soldiers, Edward III laid bare the strategic disadvantage and, indeed, injustice done to the armed fighting men by Protestant predictions of the Armada's defeat. Thus the struggles of the Black Prince became an admonition against the monarch trusting too much in Providence.

This poignant lesson is exactly the theme that Shakespeare was to develop more tragically in his play about the reckless prince of Denmark. It was precisely the sort of foolhardiness born of faith that leads Hamlet--interpreting his own triumph at sea as evidence that "[t]here's a divinity that shapes our ends / Rough hew them how we will" (Hamlet, 5.2.11)--to duel with Laertes. Rendered overconfident by this faith, a belief that God, in effect, serves as his personal guardian angel, Hamlet crosses swords with a skilled fencer whose father he has killed, whose sister he had deflowered, and with whom he has just brawled in his sister's grave. A more prudent prince might reject swordplay with an opponent who has already attempted a coup in an effort to have him punished. A more prudent prince might also shy away from a contest arranged by his father's assassin, especially when he knows this treacherous king has already conspired to have him killed. But too much faith that Providence will allow all to turn out for the best leads the previously wary Hamlet to abandon circumspection. Consequently, he puts himself in harm's way in the exact same manner trust in Providence impels Edward III to risk the life of his eldest son.

Edward's reckless trust in Providence does not lose his son or the field on this particular day. However, it is certainly not the cause of victory. Rather, the French lose the field because their belief in a predestined future is even stronger: while Edward's trust in Providence may jeopardize lives, what brings about the French defeat at Poitiers at the hands of so few men is a fatalistic belief that their destiny has been foretold. The prophecy that only "when feathered fowl shall make thine army tremble / And flintstones rise and break the battle `ray, / ... for that shall be the hapless dreaded day" (4.3.68-71), publicized initially to give the soldiers hope, becomes in the end an argument toward doom, as ravens rising out of the troops' way and desperate English soldiers throwing rocks encourage self-destructive panic in the French ranks. This ironic juxtaposition of the prophecy of security and the catastrophe stemming from overconfidence works no less effectively here than in Macbeth, where the promise of invulnerability betrays the king who lends it credence. The fate predestined for the French brings itself about: the prophecy encourages the imaginations of those who believe in a predestined future to fall upon themselves, and the soldiers crediting the prophecy embrace not fighting spirit but despair. Thus, the unlikely triumph of the Black Prince in Edward III made its audience aware that faith in God's protection jeopardizes victory more certainly than God's hand intrudes to protect it.

In attempting to determine which company this play was written for, critics have pointed out that Edward III was built on the same formula as the plays for the Admiral's Men about 1589. (42) In addressing this hypothesis, it should be pointed out that Edward III expresses, in its dramatic form, the same differences of opinion with Armada theology that Charles Howard, Lord Admiral of the Navy, expressed in his correspondence with Sir Francis Walsingham. Responsible for England's first line of defense, the Lord Admiral had the most to lose if the queen became overconfident in God's protection, and the queen's stinginess in respect to her defense was a sore point with him. Throughout the whole of 1588, Howard frequently wrote to Walsingham and the queen to urge them to purchase more and better quality food for the men. When sour beer resulted in widespread illness among his troops, Howard asked for reinforcements to relieve the ill and opened his own purse to buy better than usual supplies, an expense for which he did not seek compensation. On 7 April 1588, Lord Howard, writing to Sir Francis Walsingham, implied the cause of the queen's stinginess was her faith in God's protection, a faith that might be her undoing: "Sir--By your other letter I find her Majesty cannot be brought to have for her surety, to lie near unto her, the 4,000 footmen and the 1,000 horse. I am sorry her Majesty is so careless of this dangerous time. I fear me much, and with grief I think it, that her majesty relieth upon a hope that will deceive her and greatly endanger her; and then it will not be her money nor her jewels that will help; for as they will do good in tyme, so will they help nothing for the redeeming of time being lost." (43) It may be significant that the Black Prince, the most heroic warrior in the play, is placed in a similar position. Requiring reinforcements by the Crown, he comes forward with an emblem of the pelican in its piety "wounding her bosom with her crooked beak / That so her nest of young ones might be fed / with drops of blood that issue from her heart." In this case, the motto Sic et vos: `and so should you'" (3.4.123-26), upbraids both the overconfidence of Edward III, who denied his son reinforcements, and the parsimony of Elizabeth and Walsingham who failed, despite Howard's repeated requests, to provide the navy with sound food and drink and sufficient reinforcements for the queen's defense.

As it happens, the Lord Admiral had commissioned similar poetic arguments before. In Richard Robinson's florilegium, the 1589 poem by the Lord Admiral's gentleman, Master George Burk, is unique in its nonprovidential interpretation of the victory. While Sir Francis Drake's contribution opens, "Non nobis, (O Summe Deus) non gloria nobis" and continues in a similar Protestant direction (fol. [21.sup.V]), Burk's contribution, "Aquilae Nigrae Austrianae et Leonis Albi Norfolcici, pugna sive Illustrissimi Hoerois CAROLI HOWARDI,--Anglia Summi Admirali, &tc Victoria, contra illam Hispani Regis Classem," narrates an heraldic duel between the White Lion and the Spanish Eagle that assumes near cosmic dimensions. A clever piece of work, the poem opposes the heraldic animals so that they serve as omens for each other's character. As the bird is invested with pride, we read of the Lion seeing a hostile omen in the black eagle's flight. The battle turns when the Lion manipulates the omen and embraces it in a way that ingeniously recalls the same heraldic emblem of the pelican in its piety that Edward III's author was later to invoke:
 Marte, diu dubio, dum pectore saucius Ales, Hic fugit, Insequitur trepidum
 Velotior ille; Mergitur hostis atrox, Victorque revertitur albus Numina
 laudantur, quorum haec sunt nomine gesta. (44)

 (The battle was long in doubt, until the bird was wounded in its breast, He
 fled, the other followed the fearful one more swiftly; The terrible host
 was sunk, the victor came back pale The divine commands be praised, in
 whose name these things were done.)

In dismantling the role of Providence in determining the outcome of its battles, Edward III places a premium on heroic action similar to Burk's poem. Though the play concerns the reign of King Edward III, ultimately Edward III celebrates the heroism of the Black Prince, the Crown's lieutenant. After the victory at the Battle of Gravelines in 1588, only the Crown's lieutenant, the Lord Admiral, of all the naval commanders in correspondence with Walsingham, insisted that those who participated in the battle were heroes. In a letter written on 8 August 1588, he reminded Walsingham that some of these same Spanish had defeated the Turks at Lepanto and reported that the Spanish themselves admitted that the fighting with the English was far more fierce. As the leader of the naval defense, Lord Howard had the most to gain from an interpretation of events that emphasized the heroism of the participants, and the play, in compressing the sequence of events so as to allow the Black Prince's capture of King John to occur simultaneously with the Siege of Calais, privileges the lieutenant's heroism over historical accuracy.

Moreover, the play urged tolerance for recusant dissent at a time when the Howard family was emerging as the most visible of the traditional Catholic families, though the Lord Admiral had himself outwardly conformed. Staged at a time when a recusant wife called into question the reliability of her Anglican husband, the play not only shows the Countess of Salisbury's adherence to the sacrament of matrimony irrelevant to the quality of service her husband performs for the king, but it also characterizes her obstinacy as a virtue that had been in the reign of King Edward III a precondition to victory in France. As a piece, the play is united as an argument that might excuse the Howard clan from the proscriptions of 1592: it made a patriotic virtue of a recusant principle of defiance; it characterized as imprudent Protestant interpretations of the Armada's destruction by showing how such faith led in past circumstances to despair; it called into question the wisdom of the Crown's treatment of recusants that denied England's army loyal and willing Catholic reinforcements; and it underscored by analogy the Lord Admiral's own personal heroism. Rhetorically elegant and topically precise, its main plot develops like Shakespeare's other work of the 1590s, and its battles are risked and lost in a manner that looks forward to Shakespeare's Hamlet and Macbeth. A skillfully wrought counter-example that employed history to urge tolerance for Roman Catholic Englishmen and nonconformists with recusant wives in an era when Roman Catholics were treated as traitors, The Raign of King Edward III is a play worthy of Shakespeare's authorship. As the mechanisms of its plot look outward to so many of Shakespeare's other works, the loss is ours as a scholarly community that it ever was thought otherwise. (44)


(1) King Edward III, ed. Giorgio Melchiori, in The New Cambridge Shakespeare (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998); Edward III, ed. J. J. M. Tobin, in The Riverside Shakespeare, 2nd ed., ed. G. Blakemore Evans (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1997), and Shakespeare's Edward III, ed. Eric Sams (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1996), were published nearly simultaneously and largely without knowledge of each other's specific arguments. All citations from Edward III in this paper are from the Melchiori edition. For other Shakespeare plays I have used The Riverside Shakespeare.

(2) See, for instance, Eliot Slater, The Problem of The Reign of King Edward III: A Statistical Approach, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988).

(3) For centuries, the split nature of the play has been the chief grounds for doubting Shakespeare's authorship. Charles Knight, Studies in Shakespeare (1849), 279, quoted in Melchiori, 35-36, wrote: "If the writer of this play had more dramatic skill, he might have made the severance of the action less abrupt. As it is, the link is snapped short." In the 1891 edition of King Edward III (London: M. E. Sims, 1891), xiii, A. F. Hopkinson wrote, "I admit I cannot discern in this drama that ability in the manipulation of the plot which Shakespeare invariably shows in his works; also that it is a defect that the two parts are not interwoven," In 1908, Tucker Brooke, Shakespearean Apocrypha (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1908) wrote, "The play is broken-backed, falling into two irreconcilable halves," prior to attributing the play to George Peele. In his 1911 edition of the play, Hopkinson wrote again, "Judging this method by the method used by Shakespeare in his later plays, the one is as contrary to the other as it can possibly be, and it is a difficult manner to reconcile the defect with the hypothesis that Shakespeare was the author of it." Likewise, in 1960, Kenneth Muir, Shakespeare as Collaborator (London: Methuen, 1960), 54, wrote, "There is enough attempt at unity to make it fit uneasily into the class of chronicle plays, but not enough unity is achieved to allow it to rank with the History play as developed by Marlowe and Shakespeare." The accretion of such elegant condemnations of Edward III ought not disguise the fact that all the commentators are remarking on their inability to see dramatic unity in the play.

(4) Hopkinson, ed., King Edward III, 181, viii.

(5) Ibid., li.

(6) Muir, Shakespeare as Collaborator, 54.

(7) Melchiori, ed., King Edward III, 36ff. Melchiori has also suggested that bibliographical evidence supports the hypothesis of multiple authorship. "The contrast between the slovenliness in the treatment of directions and headings, and the comparative accuracy in the layout of the verse, can be explained if we assume that the copy for the quarto was neither authorial foul papers, nor prompt book or scribal fair copy, but an intermediate document, such as would be required if the play were not the work of a single author," writes Melchiori. "In such cases it generally happened that one of the collaborators in the work, possibly the `plotter' of the play, would take it upon himself to assemble the materials provided by the playwrights engaged in the communal enterprise, preparing a rough transcript that would be passed on to a professional book-keeper with a view to the compilation of a proper prompt book. It was a normal practice at this early stage, to transcribe first all the speeches one after the other, adding marginally after completion of each page or leaf, essential indications of the speakers, as well as centred head directions at the beginning of new scenes" (173-74). Thus, from the omission of a stage direction at the beginning of 2.1 and inconsistency regarding speakers' names, Melchiori concludes that the first quarto "is based on a manuscript which can be called authorial only in so much as it represents the first assemblage of the scenes of the play contributed by different authors" (174). While it is not my purpose to weigh in on bibliographical matters in this essay, I feel it important to point out that the peculiarities of the first quarto as Melchiori describes them are not proscriptive of other possibilities: good verse/bad headings, for instance, might have been found in a manuscript copied by an actor of the company whose corporate ownership of the play necessitated that he participate in its reproduction at the time of sale. Knowing the play by heart, such a copyist would have used the prompt book to augment his memory. Not wanting to interrupt the rhythm of his thoughts as he was writing, he went back later to copy in the rubrication, collating his copy against his exemplar hastily by sight rather than carefully in the sequence of his copying. Hardly indicative only of multiple authorship, a manuscript with such characteristics might have been produced by William Shakespeare alone, Cuthbert Burbage alone, or the Players in combination, each taking a section of the prompt book to accomplish the task more swiftly.

(8) Tobin, ed., Edward III, 1733.

(9) Sams, ed., Shakespeare's Edward III, 3.

(10) King Edward III, ed. Karl Warnke and Ludwig Proescholdt, in Pseudo-Shakespearean Plays (Halle: Max Niemeyer, 1886), xxviii.

(11) To Melchiori, for instance, the play was written to be "[a] celebration of the achievements of the earlier English conqueror of France" that shows at first his weak points and then his reformation and triumph (18).

(12) Robinson's margins read on fol. [20.sup.r]: Isay 59, "The enemie hath come lyke a flood, but the Spirite of the Lord hath chased him away]' verse 19. Deut. 32:31, "For theyr God ys not as our God, evyn ooure Enemyes being judges." Deut. 33:30, "How should one chase a thousand and putt tenn thousand to flight except theyr strong God had solde them and the Lord had shutt them up." And on 20v, Wisdom 10:19, "So the righteous took the spoyles of the Ungodly and praysed thy holy name O Lord and magnifyed thy glorious hand with one accorde." Judges 5:1, "Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam the same day saying Prayse ye the Lord for the avenging of Israel, & for the etc." Judith 16:2, "Begin unto my God wyth timbrels, singe to my Lord with Cymballes, tune unto him a psalm, exalt his prayse, &c" [quotation marks mine].

(13) Henry Smith, "The Calling of Jonah," in Six Sermons preached by Maister Henry Smith at Clement Dawes Church without Temple Barre (London, 1594), 182.

(14) Thomas Greepe, The true and perfecte Newes of the woorthy and valiaunt exploytes performed and done by that valiant Knight Syr Frauncis Drake (London, 1587), sig. A[2.sup.v].

(15) God was believed to have most directly enabled Drake's successes by his control of the weather, an advantage that Protestants linked directly to the blessed prayers of their Church. This, too, had its preparation. Robartes his Farewell to the right worshipful Syr Francis Drake, Knight and to his Gentleman Followers, who set sayle at Wolwich to depart towards their voyage the xv. day of Iuly, 1585 (London, 1585), was published prior to Drake's circumnavigation of the globe and offers the prayer:
 Set forwarde noble mind, God send thee winde at will,
 With coast full cleare and weather faire thy voyage to fulfill.
 And shield thee safe from foes and such as wi[s]h you death.
 Would that I might adventure life to reave them of breath.
 Good Eolus be friendly nowe, and send a happy gale
 That Captain Drake & all his men on seas may safely sale.
 And God that guides the heavens above, so prosper thee with hap
 That al the world have cause to say thou liest in fortunes lap. (sig.

(16) Epistle from Sir Francis Drake to M. John Foxe, in Greepe, True and perfecte Newes, sig. C4.

(17) State Papers Relating to the Defeat of the Spanish Armada, 2 vols., ed. Sir John Knox Laughton (Navy Records Society, 1894), 2:41-42. According to Laughton, there was nothing particularly miraculous about the event at all: England had the advantage in seamen and gunners, which translated into more maneuverability and a faster rate of fire. Likewise, though the Spanish ships were higher above the waterline, the combatants were roughly equal in the number of fighting men and the tonnage of the ships (ibid., 1:xli-li). Fenner reveals Walsingham's influence on his interpretation of the event, "I will ever hold myself bound for your honourable and godly points in your letter the 25th of July, so as to depend upon the good providence of God, unto whom I will, both in season and out of season, call upon him, with a faithful assurance that he will defend his from the raging enemy who goeth about to beat down his word and devour his people" (ibid., 2:40).

(18) Ibid., 1:71-72.

(19) James VI, King of Scotland, Ane Fruitfull Meditatioun on the 7, 8, 9, & 10 verses of the 20 chap of Revelatioun in forme of ane Sermon (Ediburgh: H. Charters, 1588), sig. B[2.sup.v].

(20) Carmina Reverensti Viri Doctoris Theodori Beza Wezelli, Impressa et Publicata Anno. 1588 ad Serenissimam Elizabetham Angliae Reginam.

(21) George Abbot, An Exposition on the Prophete Jonah. Conteined in Certain Sermons, preached in S. Marie's Church in Oxford, 1594-1599 (London, 1600), 39ff.

(22) The Wycliffite writer outlined the principle at length in a sermon of the Gospel text of Luke 10:16, "Qui vos audit, me audit," about which he declared, "This gospel tellith a lore of Crist, how he tauete his disciples to holde hem in mekenesse and to flee vayn glorie that is fendis sinne," before using the Fall of Satan to demonstrate that the physics of storm was intimately linked to the punishment of pride (Select English Works of John Wyclif, ed. Thomas Arnold, 3 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1869-71), 1:185. With storm-damaged churches serving as an iconographic backdrop for the sermons formerly attributed to Wyclif, the principle became part of the culture of reformation in the late fourteenth century. In Piers Plowman, for instance, the confession of the Deadly Sins is prompted when a priestly Conscience in A, an episcopal Reason in B, and a papal Reason in C declare univocally that "the southwestre wynde on Saterday at evene / Was pertliche for pryde, and for no poynt elles" (A V, lines 14-15; B V, lines 14-15, C VI, lines 117-18). For easy reference, see The Vision of William Concerning Piers the Plowman, ed. Walter Skeat, 2 vols. (1886; reprint, London: Oxford University Press, 1979), 122-23.

(23) John Hooper, An Oversight and Deliberation upon the Holy Prophete Jonas (London, 1551), sig.[61.sup.v].

(24) In the words of John Hooper, Bishop of Gloucester, preaching on Jonah before Edward VI in 1550, "that the kynge with his counsell inquire deligentelye of the authors of the trouble, or else the trouble will never cease" (An oversight and Deliberation upon the holy prophete Jonas [London, 1550], ii).

(25) John Brentius, Newes from Ninive to England brought by the prophet Jonas, trans. Thomas Thymme (London, 1570); Rudolph Walther, Certaine Godlie Homilies or Sermons upon the Prophets Abdias and Jonas, trans. R. Norton (London, 1573); John Calvin, The Lectures of J. Calvine uppon the prophet Jonas, trans. W. B. (London, 1578); Arthur Dent, A Verie Godlie and Profitable Sermon [on Jonah ii.8] (London, 1582). The paradigm of the Jonah sermon was clearly more far reaching than this sample indicates. Richard Madoxe's A Learned and godly sermon ... especially for all marryners, captayns, and passengers which travell the seas on Matthew 8:23-5, delivered at the port of Waymouth and Welcombe Regis on 13 October 1581, for instance, first preached against the cult of the saints to show that only God controlled the winds and then invoked the ship of the commonwealth metaphor at the sermon's end to urge public officials to quell disagreement with his conclusions.

(26) This epistle appears as part of the front matter of the 1570 edition of Acres and Monuments. See TheActs and Monuments of John Foxe, vol 1., ed. Josiah Pratt, (London: The Religious Tract Society, 1887), xxiv.

(27) Sir Thomas Tresham, Lord Vaux, the sole peer of the realm under suspicion because of his recusancy and no other cause, served as spokesman for the recusants in expressing their desire to fight in the front ranks against the Spanish enemy. Unlike his compatriots, Tresham was remanded to the custody of the Bishop of Lincoln rather than the Bishop of Ely. See W. R. Trimble, The Catholic Laity in Elizabethan England, 1558-1603, (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1964), 134-39.

(28) In the mind of the Council, a recusant wife called into question the reliability of her conformist husband, because the pro forma conformist would go to Common Prayer and then return home to have Mass for his wife. The conformity of the head of the family was often employed as a necessary ritual to save the affluence and position of the otherwise Catholic family. See Alexandra Walsham, Church Papists: Catholicism, Conformity and Confessional Polemic in Early Modern England, (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 1993), 78-84.

(29) Trimble, Catholic Laity, 151-53, points out that the common law subordinated the wife to her husband, but he was not responsible for her corporal acts, only her temporal debts. Because of this principle of subordination in the law, until the end of Elizabeth's reign, laws denying privileges to husbands of recusant wives remained a controversial matter, and the several authorities to whom their legality was referred never offered a definitive ruling on the matter.

(30) Edward Daunce, A brief discourse dialoguewise shewing howe false and daungerous their reports are, which affirme the Spaniards intended invasion to be, for the reestablishment of the Romish religion; for her Majesties succour given to the Netherlanders, etc., and for Sir Frauncis Drakes enterprise three years past into the West Indies (London, 1592).

(31) Richard Hakluyt, Principal Navigations ... of the English People. 1598-1600, 12 vols., (Glasgow: Robert Maclehose, 1903), 1:1, 2:115.

(32) The Anglican Church acknowledged only two sacraments, baptism and the Lord's Supper. John Foxe in "Of Sacraments, Baptism and the Lord's Supper," Acres and Monuments, 1:82, writes that the addition of sacraments is a symptom of the corruption of the Roman Catholic Church: "First, They err falsely in the number: for where the institution of Christ ordaineth but two they (contrary to the fourth principle above prefixed) have added to the prescription of the Lord's word, five other sacraments."

(33) Tobin argues in his edition that "[p]erhaps the most intransigent feature of Edward III insofar as acceptance of Shakespeare as the author of the whole text is concerned, and to some degree, as the author of the Countess scenes ... is the ease with which moral reversals occur, always from the corrupt to the ethically appropriate" (1733-34). From the perspective of the countess who threatens to kill herself rather than submit, there is nothing easy about effecting the king's moral reversal.

(34) An excellent account of Shakespeare's Roman Catholic connections appears in Heinrich Mutchman and K. Wentersdorf, Shakespeare and Catholicism (New York: AMS Press, 1969), esp. 43-62. A more recent discussion of the Catholicism of Shakespeare's family and a refutation of the doubters appears in Velma Richmond, "The Shakespeare's of Stratford," in Shakespeare, Catholicism and Romance (New York: Continuum Press, 2000), 79-96.

(35) 5.1.148-50; 5.1.151-56; 5.1.198-201; 5.1.202-07; 5.1.208-10.

(36) Vincent P. Carey and Clare L. Carroll, "Factions and Fiction: Spenser's Reflections of and on Elizabethan Politics," in Spenser's Life and the Subject of Biography, ed. Judith Anderson et al. (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1966), 34.

(37) The equation between the Leicester and Warwick may have been particularized even more directly. One of the conventions of the Elizabethan era was for noblemen to bestow their clothes after their deaths upon their servants. Because of sumptuary laws, these servants could not wear the clothes, but could turn them into ready money by selling them to players' companies. The clothes of these deceased noblemen, then, made up each company's on-hand repertoire of costumes. Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, died on 4 September 1588, whereupon it is suspected that his company of players, which almost certainly included the comedian Will Kempe, joined with Lord Strange's Men, perhaps in a body. In addition to the clothes those servants might have inherited from Lord Leicester upon his death, the now-defunct Lord Leicester's Men also brought to Lord Strange's Men the livery provided them by their now dead patron. As the company for whom the Contention plays were probably written was Lord Strange's men, it is quite possible, if not likely, that the costumes for Warwick were pulled rather than made. In other words, it is possible that the actor performing the role of Warwick was, in fact, wearing the clothing including the armorial bearings that had once been worn by the Earl of Leicester himself The possibility certainly lends a bitter edge to Robert Greene's complaint about an "upstart crow, beautified with our feathers, that, with his Tygers hart wrapped up in a Players hyde, supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blanke verse as the best of you" (Riverside Shakepeare, 1835 [Appendix B, no. 8]).

(38) Henry disavows his rights immediately before the victory: "Not today, O Lord, / O not today, think not upon the fault / My father made in compassing the crown" (Henry V, 4.1.292-94).

(39) Greepe, True and perfect Newes, sig. A[3.sup.v]

(40) State Papers, 2:40.

(41) "Drake to the Queen" from the Revenge, 8 August 1588, State Papers, 2:68.

(42) According to Sams, Edward III has a role in the king of England's part that is some three hundred lines longer than any other, suitable as a star vehicle for Edward Aleyn, the Admiral's Men's lead actor and manager, and no part written for a clown, making the play proportional to the plays the Admiral's Men performed in 1589 (148).

(43) State Papers, 1:133.

(44) Robinson, Eupolemia, fol.[21.sup.r]; translation mine.

(45) The play was first published in 1596 in quarto form for Cuthbert Burby about the time that England, fearing another Spanish invasion, began once again to imprison recusants. Its exclusion from the First Folio, even if written by Shakespeare, makes sense for several reasons. First, it would have offended King James in its portrayal of the Scots. Second, and perhaps more importantly, in its characterizations of oaths to the king and recusant dissent, it may have been seen to question official royal policy. In 1606, following the Gunpowder Plot, Parliament enacted by statute the Council's earlier recommendation that recusant wives disqualify their husbands' eligibility for public office. Further, lames issued a requirement for office that all magistrates take an Oath of Allegiance to the Crown. On 8 April 1609, James acknowledged his authorship of An Apology for the Oath of Allegiance, which, though it did not impinge on principles of conscience, defended the right of kings to insist that their subjects swear their loyalty to their native prince superseded their loyalty to the Bishop of Rome. Another more mundane reason, however, may explain Edward III's absence from the First Folio: if Edward III was written first for the Admiral's Men who became the Queen's Men, the King's Men may not have had the rights to print it.
J.P. Conlan
University of Puerto Rico--Rio Piedras
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Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Conlan, J.P.
Publication:Comparative Drama
Date:Jun 22, 2001
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