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Why is Falstaff fat?

In 1990 Barbara Everett published an essay entitled `The Fatness of Falstaff', In which she explored the notion that Falstaff's corpulence is the signature of his opaque reality as a character.(1) This is the most recent example of a tradition of writing about Falstaff which goes back over two hundred years. It originated in Maurice Morgann's an Essay on the Dramatic Character of Sir John Falstaff (1777), and passed through Hazlitt's essay of 1817 and Bradley's lecture of 1902.(2) It is a tradition, that is, which began in sentiment, traversed Romanticism, and persists into present-day Oxford. Throughout Its length, however, if Falstaff s the word, Shakespeare is the theme: Morgann, Hazlitt, Bradley, and Everett all use Falstaff as a means to their common end, a meditation on Shakespeare's creative genius. Like Hal, they finally reject the fat old knight, as they pass on to higher matters.

I hope to resuscitate a still older way of looking at Falstaff and the group of plays in which he occurs. The tradition inaugurated by Morgann's essay cannot equip us with either the ideas in which to conceive, or the words in which to express, what Shakespeare thought he was doing when he remodelled the existing character of Oldcastle into Falstaff, or how that redrawn character was received by Its first audiences; the Ideas of dramatic character and of the playwright around which the tradition was built are anachronistic to the 1590s. If we could put, to an audience of 1597 or 1598, the question, `Why is Falstaff fat?', It is unlikely that they would reply with Morgann that Shakespeare made him so to give them an insight into the principles of human nature; or with Hazlitt that Falstaff's fatness showed nature to be the plaything of Shakespeare's imagination; still less with Bradley that in watching Falstaff they were blissfully relieved from the burden of the categorical Imperative.

Yet the question `Why is Falstaff fat?' must surely have occurred to those audiences, even if they would not, and could not, have answered it in those terms. Fat characters per se were nothing new on the Tudor stage: both the Riot of the Interlude and the Lord of Misrule were probably fat, as was Bacchus in Nashe's Summer's Last Will and Testament. John Dover Wilson and C. L. Barber have explored the significance of these parallels to Falstaff in important studies of, respectively, the dramatic and the anthropological contexts of the Henry IV plays.(3) But neither Dover Wilson nor Barber reflected on the significance of the fact that it was the historical figure Shakespeare inherited under the name of Oldcastle, and eventually renamed Falstaff, rather than any other character, that was chosen to assume the role of Riot or Vice, and to bear its corpulence. It is a shortcoming in the work of Barber and Dover Wilson that, were it suddenly to be discovered that Shakespeare had made Poins, rather than Falstaff, fat, they would need only to tinker with a few proper names.

An Elizabethan audience might have been more stubbornly curious about the fatness of Falstaff than the fatness of any other character, because Oldcastle was already well known to them, both on the stage, and in books of history; and there he was not fat at all. There is nothing in the Famous Victories to suggest that the Oldcastle of that play is intended to be fat.4 The chronicles make no mention of Oldcastle's size. In John Foxe's Actes and Monuments (1563), he is a heroic martyr and (as the woodcut of his execution shows) is given an appropriately muscled, though not at all corpulent, body. The fatness of Falstaff, then, seems to be a matter entirely of Shakespeare's own devising. It would appear that no one, before Shakespeare, had associated that character with that girth.(5)

But in fact there is a work earlier than Shakespeare's plays in which Oldcastle was Imagined as fat. In 1566 the Catholic theologian and polemicist Nicholas Harpsfield, writing under the name of his friend Alan Cope (`Alanus Copus'), published his Dialogi Sex, in which he branded as pseudo-martyrs a number of the figures, Oldcastle amongst them, who had been celebrated in Foxe's Actes and Monuments. In 1570 Foxe riposted by inserting a refutation of Harpsfield into Actes and Monuments, included in every subsequent reprinting. This refutation was largely a point-by-point rebuttal of Harpsfield, but Foxe also commented more generally on the disparity between the charges of treason and heresy Harpsfield levelled at Oldcastle, and Oldcastle's acknowledged soberness of character. For a moment, Foxe's imagination played sarcastically with stratagems Harpsfield might have used to make his calumny more plausible:

As if he had first declared the Lord Cobham to haue bin before in secret confederacie with the great Turke, or if he had made him some termagant or Mahound out of Babylonia, or some Herode of Judea, or some antichrist out of Rome, or some grandpanch Epicure of this world: and had shewed, that he had recieued letters from the great Souldan, to fight against the faith of Christ and law of God, then had it appeared somwhat more credible, that the saide sir John Oldcastle with his sect of heresie, went about to adnull, destroy, and subuert the christian faith, and law of God within the Realme of England, & c.(6)

It was with the phrase Foxe coined to express his Pauline idea of the height of ungodliness, `some grandpanch Epicure of this world', that the shadow of a fat Oldcastle, evoked in derision and only to be dismissed, first fell, albeit momentarily, across the Elizabethan page and mind.(7) Falstaff, then, is not the pure offspring of a godlike creative imagination. His lineage lies in the bitterness of religious altercation.

Let me be clear about what I am saying. I am not asserting that Shakespeare took the hint for Falstaff from Foxe's phrase, and it is not necessary to the argument I shall advance in the rest of this article either that he did, or that I prove that he did. There is, of course, the possibility that he might have done. Actes and Monuments was the likely source for the exposure of the false miracle by Gloucester in 2 Henry VI; Shakespeare would return to Foxe when writing Henry VIII; and he had just written two plays - King John and Richard II - which rejected Foxe's vision of the English past, and in which Foxe consequently had a ghostly presence as implicit adversarius. Moreover, no likelier suggestion holds the field.(8) Nevertheless it is a conjecture, and for the moment it is beyond me to improve it into anything more solid. But what cannot be denied is that a fat Oldcastle was first imagined, not in the Henry IV plays, but in a work of religious and historical controversy.

It has, of course, long been known that Falstaff, for all Shakespeare's disavowal of the fact at the end of 2 Henry IV, is a character with a religious past.(9) Two explanations have been offered for why Shakespeare transformed the Lollard martyr Into the carnal Falstaff. The first says that Shakespeare lampooned Oldcastle in order to deride his sixteenth-century descendants, the Brooke family.(10) The second, not incompatible with the first, suggests that Shakespeare mocked the Protestant hero because of his own Catholic sympathies.(11) However, that glimpse of the outline of Falstaff in the pages of Foxe invites us to construe Falstaff's fatness differently; to situate the history plays Shakespeare wrote in the last years of the sixteenth century In a debate about the English present carried on in narratives of the English past, over which considerations of religion exerted a dominant influence. Seen in this light, the fatness of Falstaff is broader in its implications than could be explained by an attack on a single family. The group of plays from King John to Henry V emerge as the work of a man who, if indeed he harboured Catholic sympathies, could nevertheless put his private beliefs to one side when he picked up his pen. Shakespeare's realization, in the character of Falstaff, of Foxe's scornful fantasy of Catholic imposture seems at first sight to support the theory that these plays are the product of a recusant milieu. The facts of the case are, I think, rather different. In the second tetralogy Shakespeare elaborated a decidedly Protestant historical narrative of great originality. I shall first explain how and why a Protestant philosophy of history was constructed in Europe during the early sixteenth century, and exemplify how, in its English setting, it interacted with the indigenous chronicle tradition to create the opportunity for a latitude of historical interpretation within what were nevertheless firmly Protestant narratives. I shall then look closely at Henry V, IV. i, the scene on the eve of the battle of Agincourt, to show what happens when we consider Shakespeare's histories against the backdrop of the varieties of English Protestant historiography.


Before the Reformation, history in England outside the monasteries was written to serve the dynastic interests of aristocratic patrons. As those patrons changed, so would history be revised. The career of John Hardyng (1378-? 1465) is instructive. Sent to Scotland by Henry V to find documents proving the subservience of the Scots to the English, he forged six papers purporting to be admissions by past Scottish kings of the homage they owed to the English monarch. Then, with superb effrontery, he also forged a document apparently given under the great seal of the present Scottish king, James I, offering to buy back the damaging admissions for one thousand marks. The same persuasion, that present utility is not a quality to be slighted in a document, was as active in his historical as in his diplomatic career. Although he had been bred in the household of the Percys, and as a young man had witnessed the death of Hotspur at the battle of Shrewsbury (1403), he wrote his Chronicle initially in the Lancastrian interest, and dedicated it to Henry VI. Later he revised it to make it acceptable to the Yorkists, presenting it first to Richard, Duke of York, and then finally to Edward IV.

After the religious crises of the 1530s, such trimming was impossible. In the 1540s and 1550s, the historical culture of the whole continent was suffused with religious Ideology. The province of historical writing became a battleground between Protestant and Catholic, as each Church sought the sanction of the past. Protestants, however, had a double motive to rifle history. In the first place, they were eager to uncover in the past the traces of the persecuted True Church. So armed, they might refute the common Catholic charge that theirs was a Church of recent date and undoubted heresy.(12) Secondly, they constructed an ambitious explanation of the whole of human history, resting on the Book of Daniel and the Book of Revelation, in which the tribulations of their forebears - the Waldensians, the Albigensians, the Lollards, the Hussites - were reconciled with the providential destination of history in the establishment of the True Church, and (just as important) with the Identification of the Pope as Antichrist. This Protestant scheme was first seen in the work of German historians such as Johann Sleidan and the Centuriators of Magdeburg, and it was imported into England when the Marian exiles recrossed the Channel after 1558.(13)

The implications for English historiography were immense: nothing less than a complete reconceptualizing of the national past. In 1544 John Bale had indicated the scope of the task with which the Reformation confronted English historians. `I wolde wyshe some lerned Englyshe manne ... to set forth the Englyshe chronycles in theyr ryght shappe.'(14) And it was Bale's protege, John Foxe, who in his Actes and Monuments rose to that challenge, and wrote, not just a history of these last perilous days, but a general English history going back to Saxon times. It is important to appreciate that Actes and Monuments was not conceived as some kind of ecclesiastical supplement to the chronicle tradition. The division of ecclesiastical from civil history was a seventeenth-century innovation which historians of historiography have misleadingly extended backwards Into the sixteenth. Actes and Monuments was Intended to replace the chronicles, condemned on the double charge of incompetence and ungodliness.(15) Their nationalist vision, secular values, and dynastic allegiances had to make way for an account of the national past remodelled in the light of Reformation.

Early Protestants were much interested in Sir John Oldcastle, whom the Reformation had transformed from a rebel to a martyr. In 1530 Tyndale had edited William Thorpe's Examinacions of Thorpe and Oldcastell, the first of a series of Protestant redactions of Oldcastle's Interrogations at the hands of the clergy. He was followed in 1544 by John Bale, with his Brefe Chronycle, and later by Foxe himself. These radical Protestant narratives bear a strong family resemblance. Oldcastle is Christlike in the wisdom of his answers to the malicious questioning of the latter-day Caiaphas, Archbishop Arundel, and exemplary in his rejection of a selection of the Catholic doctrines most odious to the Reformed Church. transubstantiation, the need for confession, the efficacy of pilgrimage. Henry, by contrast, was cast as a fifteenth-century Pontius Pilate, a dupe of the clergy who washed his hands and delivered the godly man over to his enemies. And as this Protestant interpretation passed from writer to writer, it became steadily more polarized. Oldcastle became more saintly, the clergy more diabolical, Henry more serviceable to the pope'.(16)

However, this radical Protestant tradition did not attain hegemony: the chronicle tradition, in the person of Edward Hall, proved initially resilient in its ability to digest and adapt the historiographic implications of the Reformation. In 1548 Grafton published Hall's The Vnion of the two noble and illustre famelies of Lancastre & Yorke, a book which therefore fell between the publication of Bale's Brefe Chronycle (1544) and Foxe's Actes and Monuments (1563). Although Hall had read Bale's work, he entitled his account of Henry's reign "The victorious actes of Kyng Henry the fifth', and thereby announced the return of military matters to a central position.(17) Relying initially on an earlier chronicler, Fabyan (whom Foxe would later excoriate for his scholarship), Hall both used and adjusted his predecessor's description of the famous change which had occurred on Henry's accession: `[He] determine with hymself to put on the shape of a new man, and to vse another sorte of liuyng, turnyng insolencie and wildnes into grauitie and sobernes, and wauerying vice into constant vertue.'(18) Fabyan had also commented on Henry's amendment of life, but with an important variant:

This man before ye deth of his fader applyed hym vnto all vyce and Insolency [vertical bar] and drewe vnto hym all Ryottours & wylde dysposed psones [vertical bar] But after he was admytted to the Rule of the lande [vertical bar] Anone & sodaynly he became a newe man [vertical bar] and tourned al that Rage and wyldnes into sobernesse [vertical bar] & wyse sadnesse [vertical bar] And the vyce into constant vertue.(19)

`Insolencie', `wildnes', `sobernes', `vice', `vertue': Hall's moral lexicon is the same as Fabyan's. Yet he presented the reversal in Henry's character quite differently. Fabyan had remarked the change, but offered no explanation of how it came about: `Anone & sodaynly he became a newe man.' Hall, by contrast, presented it as a deliberate reformation of life: he `determined with hymself to put on the shape of a new man, and to vse another sorte of liuyng'. The reason for Hall's change of wording was to approximate Henry to that abandonment of old and faulty ways which was central to reformed religion, and which in the radical Protestant narrative had been exemplified in Oldcastle. For, although Hall praised Oldcastle as `a valiant capitain and an hardy gentleman' and exonerated him of any responsibility for the armed Lollard rising against Henry V, he did not follow Tyndale and Bale in his depiction of the king.(20) In Hall's eyes, Henry's active interest in religious matters, far from marking him out as a tool of the Pope's, made him a forerunner of Henry VIII: a monarch who had attempted to revivify the spiritual life of the nation. The prolepsis was underlined when Hall made Oldcastle acknowledge Henry as `supreme hed and competent iudge' in spiritual matters, phrases associated with Henry VIII and coined in the early 1530s, as Hall the parliamentarian well knew.(21) It was this attempt on Hall's part to rescue Henry for the Reformed Church which gave precision to his final eulogy: `What should I say, he was the blasyng comete and apparant lanterne in his daies, he was the myrror of Christendome & the glory of his countrey, he was the floure of kynges passed, and a glasse to them that should succede.'(22) Hall's Henry is remarkable in his ability to comprise opposites: he is both companionable illumination and terrific prodigy, both religious and military paragon, both blossom of his chivalric predecessors (the allusion is to Edward III and the Black Prince) and model for the great reforming king who would follow him.

We may summarize these historiographic developments as follows. During and after the Reformation the popular, celebratory image of Henry as a quintessentially English martial hero was questioned by radical Protestants, who depicted instead an oppressor of true religion and a pawn of Rome. This historiographic tradition ran from Tyndale, through Bale, to Foxe. At some points congruent with this tradition, but in other, perhaps more profound ways, divergent from it, we find Hall's Vnion. A man whose allegiances were more complex and whose values were less inflexibly ranked, Hall attempted to reconcile, on the one hand, clear Protestant commitment with, on the other, the traditional martial heroism associated with Henry.

Hall provided the backbone of the narrative of the reign of Henry V published in the 1577 Holinshed, a backbone which was fleshed out with excerpts from Titus Livius de Frulovisiis, the author of the Vita Henrici Quinti Regis Invictissimi, and Thomas of Walsingham. It is not surprising, then, that Hall was somewhat abbreviated in Holinshed. However, simple pressure of space, while it may account for those cuts which amount to little more than intelligent precis, cannot explain the majority of Holinshed's deletions of Hall, for these deletions amount to a shifting of Henry's historical reputation back towards the `hard' Protestant position of Foxe.(23) From the very beginning Hall's praise of Henry is diminished.(24) The first and most striking cut came when Holinshed dropped completely a long passage, in which Hall identified the cardinal virtues of the good monarch in Henry, compared him favourably with Richard II and Edward II, and began by styling him `the Arabicall Phenix'.(25) The metaphor refers to Henry's change of character, but in the Interval between publication of Hall's Vnion and Holinshed, it had acquired a religious connotation. Laurence Humphrey had used it to figure the revival of true religion In Britain.(26) Its deletion in Holinshed is part of the later work's erasure of the religious virtue imputed to Henry by Hall. This tendency in Holinshed can be seen again in a detail it included from Titus Livius: `it was ordeyned in this Counsell, that this Realme should haue the name of the Englishe nation, and bee called and reputed for one of [y.sup.e] fiue nations that obeyed the Romane B.'(27) This strengthens Foxe's depiction of Henry as a tool used by the Pope to impede the apocalyptic process embedded in human history, for to be a mere nation implied a surrendering of primacy to Rome. The preamble to the Act of Appeals (1533) had repudiated such a surrender by claiming that England was in itself an empire, owing allegiance to no other earthly power.(28) It is, then, not surprising, in view of this movement back towards Foxe, that Holinshed should have dropped this passage from Hall, explaining the significance of Agincourt.

This battail maie be a mirror and glasse to al Christian princes to beholde and folowe, for kyng Henry nether trusted in the puissaunce of his people, nor in the fortitude of his champions, nor in the strength of his barded horsses, nor yet in his owne pollicy, but he putte in God (whiche is the corner stone and immouable rocke) his whole confidence hope & trust. And he which neuer leaueth them destitute that put their confidence in hym, sent to hym this glorious victory, whiche victory is almoste incredible if we had not redde in the boke of kynges that God likewise had defended and aided them that onely put their trust in him and committed them selfes wholy to his governaunce.(29)

Hall's image of Henry as an Old Testament judge-king, a man trusting in God and rewarded for that trust, would have clashed sharply with the compliantly Catholic figure Holinshed was constructing, and so it was omitted.(30)

This movement towards a `hard' Protestant interpretation of the English past was taken further in the second, enlarged edition of Holinshed which was published in 1587.(31) Collation reveals how the editor of the second edition, Abraham Fleming, purged away such vestiges of Hall's audacious depiction of Henry as a proto-reformer as the first edition had suffered to remain. Whereas the 1577 edition had printed `This Prince was a captain against whome fortune neuer frowned, nor mischance once spurned. This captain was a shepheard, whom his flocke both loued and obeyed. This shepherde was suche a Justiciarie . . .', in the 1587 edition we find `This Henrie was . . . a capteine against whome fortune neuer frowned, nor mischance once spurned, whose people [found] him so seuere a iusticer . . .'. The metaphor of the shepherd, implying a union of spiritual and political authority, is pruned, leaving only secular praise.(32) And where the 1577 edition had printed Hall's text virtually verbatim: `What shuld I say, he was the blasing comete and apparant lanterne in his days. He was the myrroure of Christendome, and the glorye of his countrey, the floure of kings passed, and the glasse of them that shoulde succeede', in 1587 the `blasing comete' (a metaphor drawn from Revelation, and bestowing on Henry a role in the apocalyptic plot of history) was struck out, as was the praise of Henry as `the myrroure of Christendome': `a maiestie was he that both liued and died a paterne in princehood, a lode-starre in honour, and mirrour of magnificence.'(33) Once again, Fleming vigilantly limited the praise of Henry to the realm of secular achievement. In 1587, then, Holinshed applied criteria derived from Protestantism with greater rigour than had been the case in 1577, and in so doing took the chronicle tradition still closer to Foxe and the `hard' Protestant interpretation of history for which he spoke.(34)

This examination of the historiographical context yields three considerations it is important to bear in mind as we turn to Shakespeare's Henry V. First, there was in the Tudor period no firm division between ecclesiastical and chronicle history; Hall, Bale, Foxe, and Holinshed demonstrably interact, to the point where it is not clear that a division between ecclesiastical and civil history has at this time much meaning.(35) By the 1590s the matter of English history had been worked over so many times, and by so many historians, in narratives of which the language and emplotment were dictated by religious conviction, that the English past was thereby impregnated with religious implication, even when the subject in hand was not overtly religious. After half a century of attempts to realize Bale's project of setting the chronicles in their right shape, the English past had acquired an intrinsic religious significance, in that a narrative could be recognized as having been written from a particular religious standpoint. Second, the chronicles themselves are not scissors-and-paste hackwork, in which the words of earlier historians were uncritically copied out by their successors. In fact, sophisticated debates might silently arise, as chronicle text was repeatedly revised. Third, the real area of dispute in Elizabethan accounts of this reign was over the religious character of the prince, not the subject. After the Reformation all historians (though with varying degrees of warmth) acknowledged Oldcastle to be a martyr. However, Henry was attacked with increasing sharpness by Tyndale, Bale, and Foxe as a pawn of Rome; defended by Hall as an honorary Protestant (in questions of church-government if not of theology); and progressively stripped of all religious virtues in the two editions of Holinshed.(36) Shakespeare joined that debate. Henry V was addressed with some precision to a Protestant audience, to whom it offered Henry as the pattern of a prince who might meet their hopes, and assuage their anxieties.


In 1966 Michael Walzer argued that the radical politics of the seventeenth century had their origins in the implications of Calvinist theology.(37) It was not long before this argument received the empirical correction it courted. Sixteenth-century Protestants, it proved on inspection, were in the main not political incendiaries, but sober subjects often occupying positions of trust; `not "contemners of authority", but authority itself'.(38) There is contemporary evidence to be cited on both sides of the question. Allegations of sedition levelled at advanced Protestants (stigmatized as `Puritans') were answered by protestations of obedience to the powers that be, and of a love of social orderliness.(39) It may be true that `there was no conflict between evangelical protestantism and the social status and public responsibilities of magnates and notables'; but n their ambivalence over Erastianism (the doctrine of state supremacy in ecclesiastical affairs) there lay, as Elizabethan Protestants were aware, the potential for conflict with the secular magistrate.(40) Elizabeth was supreme governor of the Church, as she was head of state. Nevertheless, there were limits to her competence in Church jurisdiction, although those limits were tactfully not spelled out, in the hope that they could be left unexplored.(41) In as much as their protestations of a love of order were sincere, Elizabethan Protestants contemplated that possibility of conflict with alarm, not (as Walzer implies) zeal. As its counterpart, that alarm called up in their minds the ideal of a regime in which the possibility of such conflict could not arise; a regime in which the monarch united in one person both spiritual and political authority. For all the praise of Elizabeth as a many and a second Deborah, it was to the reign of Edward VI that many turned when in search of an example of a monarch personally convinced of the truth of reformed religion, and unswervingly committed to implementing those convictions in the public life of the nation.(42) Dramatizing the events of the night before Agincourt, in a scene without precedent in his sources, Shakespeare cast Henry in the mould formed by that Protestant desire.(43)

The form of IV. i is defined by the entrances and exits of characters. It consists of four short sections, the long central debate between Henry and Bates, Court, and Williams, and then two final short sections. The central debate is thus framed within the scene as a whole, an effect underlined by the presence of Erpingham in the second of the four initial short sections, and in the penultimate section. The effect of that framing is not simply to indicate prominence. It also gives a sense of penetration, suggested too by Henry's command to Erpingham, on his first entry, that he should be left alone:

No, my good knight. Go with my brothers to my lords of England. I and my bosom must debate awhile, And then I would no other company.

(iv. i. 30-3)

The area Henry is about to enter is for him alone. The debate with the three soldiers thus possesses a more than merely spatial centrality. As the characters in the first four sections of the scene enter and leave the stage, Henry's progress towards his conversation with Bates, Court, and Williams becomes a passage through the ephemeral towards a moment of trial. These early sections of the scene are of very great interest, particularly in relation to the character of Hal in the Henry IV plays; I pass over them, with some reluctance, to discuss the core of the scene, the debate between Henry and the three soldiers. Critics who have wished to discover in the play an ironizing of Henry as a pseudo-monarch have looked at the scene ethically, and contrasted what they saw as the evasiveness of Henry with the straightforwardness of his soldiers. Others have looked at the scene politically, as a crucible in which ideas of kingship and subjecthood were tested and purified. The religious implications of the scene have escaped discussion. Yet its most arresting image, of heads and arms and legs coming together on the Day of Judgement, is eschatological, and its language and ideas are largely drawn from a theological context. It dramatizes the movement from a state of spiritual reprobation to a state of grace. Its most prominent features have parallels in the popular Protestant theology of the time (literature much more available to the common man than Holinshed was). And it puts on stage an act of reformation in which Henry shows himself to be a pattern of Protestant monarchy.

When Bates, Court, and Williams have left the stage, Henry soliloquizes on the burdens of monarchy (his first soliloquy in this play - compared with 1 and 2 Henry IV, his dramatic profile is very different in Henry V), acknowledges his sin, and prays. His situation here is that of David in the Penitential Psalms.(44) The parallel is important, because Protestants frequently cited David as a pattern of repentance. Arthur Dent did so, in his Sermon of Repentance, as did William Fulke, in A Godly and Learned Sermon, and John Udall, in Amendment of Life.(45) And repentance was repeatedly identified as the distinguishing feature of the spiritual life of a true Protestant: for John Bradford, it was the string which of all other is most necessarie' to be harped on; John Udall claimed that the counsel of Peter to `Amend yourselves' contained `the uerie substance of all religion, and the whole summe of Christianitie'; while Laurence Chaderton cited as the greatest failing of the unlearned clergy of his day that they were `voyde of the knowledge of the doctrine of repentance'.(46) For them, as for Latimer, this world was the very place of repentance'.(47)

Shakespeare places Henry, then, in the situation of the biblical king often cited as an exemplar of a central doctrine in the life of a Protestant, and I suggest that in his conversation with his soldiers, and in his complaint and prayer, Henry fulfils the expectations created by that positioning. The dialogue between Henry and the three soldiers is generically complex. If we consider the general situation of the characters, we find the dramatic precedents discussed by Anne Barton: those scenes from other plays in which a disguised monarch meets his subjects.(48) If, however, we consider the substance of what the characters say, we need to look outside the theatre for a parallel. We shall need to look at those works of popular theology in which difficult doctrines were adapted to the capacity of the unlearned by means of dialogue: works such as Dent's The Plaine Mans Path-way to Heaven (1601), or Anthony Gilby's A Pleasant Dialogue, Betweene a Souldier of `Bartwicke', and an `English Chaplaine' (1581), or Philip Stubbes's Anatomie of Abuses (1583), or George Gifford's A Briefe discourse of. . . the Countrie Diuinitie (1598) and his A Dialogue bewteene [sic] a Papist and Protestant (1599). These dialogues (which remind us that the literary culture of Protestantism was often intensely dramatic, if not always theatrical) all follow the same course, and have the same purpose. They aim at weaning the common people away from their natural but mistaken ideas of God and salvation.(49) One or more speakers representing the untutored understanding talk with a single man versed in Protestant theology. In Dent's Plaine Mans Path-way, for instance, they are Asunetus, `an ignorant man', and Antilegon, `a caviller', who talk with Theologus. As they talk, the notions of common sense (such as the belief that one could be Justified by good deeds) are exposed as false havens, while the real comfortableness of the apparently forbidding and paradoxical ideas of the true Protestant (for example, that salvation comes from faith alone) is demonstrated. When we place this scene from Hen in that context, Bates, Court, and Williams are the untutored, and Henry the true Protestant, who tries to make his men accept the difficult, but authentically Protestant, doctrine, that every man must take responsibility for working out his own salvation, and cannot pass that responsibility to anyone else, be it priest or king: `every subject's soul is his own'.(50) Bates at least is a quick learner, who passes in a trice from the truculent wish that Henry were in France alone, to the orthodox position that a soldier is safe if he obeys the king. It is a point often discussed by divines, who all reach Latimer's conclusion: `If the Kyng commaunde thee to go, thou art bound to go, and seruing the King, thou seruest God. If thou serve God, he wyl not shorten thy daies to thine hurt.' `And no doubt that man that dieth so in fightyng against the kyngs enemie, he dyeth in gods seruice, in gods quarrell.'(51) In respect of Bates, then, Henry proves an effective pastor, although, importantly, he is not so successful with Williams.

Henry's encounter with Bates, Court, and Williams is the climax of the play's leltmotiv of the moral responsibility for the casualties of war.(52) However, Williams's imagination of `the latter day' when dismembered bodies will be made whole transposes the issue from a moral to an eschatological level. The issue is now not Henry's conscience, but his soul. The transposition is reinforced by Williams's phrase `a heavy reckoning', which is drawn from the vocabulary of judgement and justification used by Protestant theologians. John Udall admonished those charged with spiritual responsibility lest they become `so clogged and cloied with promotions and dignities of this world, that they cleane forget what calling they haue, what charge is laid upon them, and what a heauy reckning they haue to make'.(53) Arthur Dent made `Theologus', one of the characters in his dialogue The Plaine Mans Path-way to Heaven, warn `bloodsucking' landlords that they will meet their `reckoning' on the day of judgement, when the blood of those they oppressed will cry out against them.(54) I argue here not for a relationship of allusion; merely that Williams's phrase, particularly when introduced alongside `the latter day', would have been recognizable as belonging to this theological context.

Few in the Protestant dialogues are as refractory as Williams. Nevertheless, his obstinacy serves a dramatic purpose in prompting the dejection with which Henry's soliloquy begins. With the words `We must bear all', Henry shoulders the burden that Williams has pushed towards him: he accepts that the reckoning will fall to him. Again, this is Latimer's view; kings `shal geue a strait account for al that perisheth thorow their negligence'.(55) This is not incompatible with the fact that every subject's soul is his own.) And in Henry's envy of the condition of the subject, which follows on from this, we touch another topic rehearsed in the popular theology of the time. Such envy was a sin, not because it implied (as Tilyard would have it) the disruption of an ordered hierarchy, but because it showed an uwillingness to labour in your vocation. John Udall had specified just this restlessness as a sign of the `generall apostacie' of his age, and was explicit that the hankerings of the rich and powerful were in this regard no different from those of the poor and humble:

seeing that God in whome wee repose all confidence ... hath set us therein, wee must thinke it the most conuenient standing for us, and bee well contented therewithall, laboring to do our duety therein, with all sinceritie and care to deal iustlie and truely: which lesson (a pittifull thing to thinke) is scarse learned of any: for we see how the poore account the rich in good estate: the rich deemeth the poore to liue most at ease: subiects admire the happines of princes: and princes wish to themselves the secure condition of their inferiours.(56)

It may seem that these traces of restlessness in Henry his envy of the subject, and his initial attempt to elude the responsibility of a king for the justice of his cause) weaken my argument that in this scene he becomes a pattern of spirituality. But this is not so. Christian perfection is not freedom from fault, as William Perkins explained in a passage of great relevance to the way this scene develops.

A Christian is not one that is free from all euill cogitations, from rebellious inclinations and motions of will and affections, from all manner of slippes in his life and conversations: for such an one is a meere devise of mans braine, and not to be found upon earth. But indeede he is the sound Christian that feeling himselfe laden with the corruptions of his vile and rebellious nature, bewailes them from his heart, and with might and maine fights against them by the grace of Gods spirit.(57)

Imperfect sanctification is the condition of all men, for (as Article 15 makes plain), Christ alone was without sin. What mattered was the extent to which you grieved and repented for your sinfulness, for `the deare children of God do oftentimes see and feele to their great grief, their hardness of heart', whereas the unregenerate, although their `hearts are most hard and obdurate', do not perceive their condition.(58) And unless one were `wounded with a feeling of our euils', repentance was impossible, because `no sacrifice is acceptable to God without a contrite heart'.(59) Such sickness and such crises were signs of true health.(60) The Protestant doctrine of repentance thus had three stages: penance, or `a sorrowing or forethinking of our sinnes past'; an `earnest purpose to amend'; and finally a `turning to God with a trust of pardon'.(61) In this scene we see Henry pass through those three stages. He is awakened to a sense of his spiritual reprobation, he amends his life by rejecting the Catholic beliefs and practices by which he has been ensnared, and he places himself in the hands of God. Edward Dering, reflecting on the workings of grace in sinful men, gave two illustrations which Shakespeare joined in Henry:

There was never so high-minded nor vainglorious a king, but he hath sometime thought his Crowne would fall from his head, and the crowne of righteousnesse was better, whiche was in the kingdome of heauen.... There was neuer papist that so magnified Merits, and talked of his workes of Supererogation, but oftentimes in his conscience hee would surely confesse: That when he had done all, yet he was unprofitable. . . . There was neuer Papist in so deepe a sleepe of Pardons and Purgatorie, but he hath surely sayd it, such weake engines can breake downe but paper walles, & such cold water can quench but painted fires.(62)

The uneasy king and the queasy papist, as we shall see, come together in Henry.

If we look now at Henry's prayer, we shall see that he conforms to Dering's examples very closely:

O God of battles, steel my soldiers' hearts. Possess them not with fear. Take from them now The sense of reckning, ere the opposed numbers Pluck their hearts from them. Not today, O Lord, O not today, think not upon the fault My father made in compassing the crown. I Richard's body have interred new, And on it have bestowed more contrite tears Than from it issued forced drops of blood.

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. More will I do, Though all that I can do is nothing worth, Since that my penitence comes after all, Imploring pardon.

(iv. i. 277-93)

The prayer is of the kind approved in the Book o Homilies as `the secrete uttering of the griefes and desires of the heart with wordes, but yet in a secrete Closet, or some solitarie place'.(63) The plea for an amnesia amongst his soldiers, the removal of their `sense of reck'ning', is dramatically juxtaposed with the impossibility of such amnesia for the king. Griefs and desires are fused. The source of Henry's guilt is `the fault / My father made'. The defective primogenital basis of the Lancastrian title to the throne is, in the context of repentance, a point of contact with Everyman. We are all burdened by the faults our fathers made, and original sin is our portion by in Arthur Dent's illuminating phrase) 'hereditary right'.(64) In confessing that faultiness, Henry simultaneously formulates, and apparently appreciates for the first time, a characteristic Protestant belief in the inefficacy of intercessory prayer and good works to atone for sin:

More will I do, Though all that I can do is nothing worth, Since that my penitence comes after all, Imploring pardon.

(iv. 1. 290-3)(65)

This makes all the more impact because it follows Henry's account of the way in which he has up to now allowed these identifiably Catholic practices and institutions, derived from the doctrine of purgatory - building chantries, buying prayer, and masses - to shape his conduct.(66) The drama of the speech, then, is that it is uttered at the very point of reformation, at the precise moment when a biting conviction of personal unworthiness prompts an insight into the doctrinal triviality of Catholicism.(67) These doctrines and practices are unavailing because they imply that men's deeds, and therefore their infected will, can be instrumental in their salvation; whereas, because these deeds come `after all' (not only after the sins for which they seek to atone, but also after original sin) they do not diminish, but add to, the burden of guilt.(68) And this rejection of Catholic doctrine and language was prepared for in Henry's long speech on `ceremony'. This primarily refers to the pomp of monarchy, but the semantic range of the word also included a religious sense, activated in that speech not only by the theological resonances of the scene in which it occurs, but also by the religious vocabulary by which it is surrounded.(69) Protestantism did away with the ceremonies of Catholicism, mere worldly observances inessential to the business of salvation.(70) Henry's dissatisfaction with `ceremony', in all its senses, foreshadows his explicit condemnation of Catholic doctrine and practice, as well as all other acts of the will, as `nothing worth'.

In attributing such a crisis to Henry at the climax of the play, Shakespeare took up a strong position in the debate over Henry's religious character. When he showed Henry forsaking Catholicism and embracing the solifidianism central to reformed religion, he markedly strengthened the union of political and spiritual authority with which Hall had credited Henry, which Holinshed had undermined, and which advanced Protestants had denied. Indeed, Shakespeare passed beyond Hall when he used the freedom of the stage to claim Henry as a Protestant in respect of personal theological conviction, not just in respect of ecclesiastical jurisdiction. On the eve of the smiting of an ancient enemy, Shakespeare showed the embodiment of English martial heroism putting off the old man and embracing a reformed spirituality, coming close to God at the moment when he was most penetrated by a sense of his own unworthiness and helplessness. The political consequences are vast, for the astonishing victory at Agincourt then demands to be understood, in Shakespeare's play as it had also been in Hall's Union, as a token of divine approval sent in answer to Henry's prayer. That God had done such things, Shakespeare's first audiences would have been told many times. The homily `Concerning Prayer 'referred them to chapter 10 of the Book of Joshua, in which prayer before battle produces extraordinary results, while the homily `Of repentance, and of true reconciliation with God' reassured them that miraculous military victories came to those who truly repented:

If we confes our sinne, God is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sinnes, and to make us cleane from all wickednes. Which most comfortable promises are confirmed by many examples of the scriptures. When the Jewes dyd willingly receiue and embrace the wholesome counsell of the prophet Esay, GOD by and by did reach his helping hand unto them, and by hys angell, did in one night sley the most worthy and valiant souldiors in Sennacherib's campe.(71)

The faultiness of the Lancastrians' primogenital title is now meaningless. After Agincourt, Henry enjoys a title incomparably superior to any that mere birth could furnish. He now reigns, not merely with divine permission, but by divine ordinance. He called upon the Lord in the day of his trouble, and the Lord delivered him.(72)

The fatness of Falstaff was the corollary, not of any Catholic sympathies on Shakespeare's part, but of the playwright's intention to unify political and spiritual authority in the person of Henry. The sanctifying of the king demanded the secularizing of the subject. Falstaff's fatness, then, implies a revision, but no rejection, of Protestant historiography. When he made Falstaff fat, Shakespeare was not mocking the complex historiographic traditions of reformed religion, because in so doing he entered the debate they had engendered. And around this insight we can construct a fresh account of Shakespeare's career as a historical dramatist, in which the political and historiographical interactions of his plays would be shown in a new light. Amongst the attractions of this account, I would mention two. The first is that it would resolve or elude many of the increasingly sterile debates in which criticism of these plays has been mired since Tillyard. The second is that it would allow us to explain why Falstaff was central to the Henry TV plays. Playgoers recognize that centrality, even when they are unaware of the theological and historiographical contexts in which Falstaff must be understood, but from which those interested in the politics of the plays have too often, and wrongly, banished him.(73) (1) B. Everett, `The Fatness of Falstaff', London Review of Books, 16 Aug. 1990, 18-22. (2) W. Hazlitt, Characters of Shakespear's Plays (1817); A. C. Bradley, Oxford Lectures on Poetry (1909), 247-75. Everett praised Bradley's lecture as perhaps the best essay ever written on the Henry IV plays' (`Fatness of Falstaff', 20). It was disparaged by J. Dover Wilson as `perhaps the weakest of his writings' (The Fortunes of Falstaff (Cambridge, 1943), p. vii) - judgements of course not absolutely incompatible. (3) Dover Wilson, Fortunes of Falstaff; C. L. Barber, `Rule and Misrule in Henry IV', in Shakespeare's Festive Comedy (Princeton, 1959), 192-221. (4) The Famous Victories of Henry V, entered in the Stationers, Register in 1594 was one of Shakespeare's sources for the English history plays. (5) Alfred Ainger thought that there was `always a tradition (likely enough a true tradition) that he [Oldcastle] was very fat', but his editor, H. C. Beeching, confirms that there is no reference to `Oldcastle's fatness earlier than 1597, the date of Shakespeare's play' (A. Ainger, Lectures and Essays (1905), i. 126 and n.). (6) Foxe, Actes and Monuments (1596), 526, col. b, ll. 68-78. The text is reprinted identically, apart from accidentals of spelling and punctuation, in the reprints of 1576 (550b-551a) and 1583 (i. 572a). In 1570 (i. 680b), there are two small variants: `out of Judea' for 1596's `of Judea', and `Roma' for 1596's `Rome'. (7) In Certaine Godly, and most necessarie Annotations: upon the thirteenth Chapter to the Romanes (1583), John Hooper pointed out that the three capital sins against which St Paul had warned us were `inordinat eating & drinking', `incontinent and unchast liuing', and finally `strife and contention' (sigs. [C7.sup.v]-[8.sup.r]). (8) Dover Wilson suggested that Shakespeare made Falstaff obese to form a dramatic contrast with Hal's traditional leanness (Fortunes of Falstaff, 22-3); A. R. Humphreys, in his introd. to the Arden edn. of 2 Henry IV, offered no source (p. lv). (9) For Oldcastle died martyr, and this is not the man' (2 Henry IV, Epilogue). (10) A. L. Scoufos, Shakespeare's Typological Satire: A Study of the Falstaff-Oldcastle Problem (Athens, Oh., 1979). (11) G. Taylor, `The Fortunes of Oldcastle', Shakespeare Survey, 38 (1985), 85-100; G. Melchiori, `The Corridors of History: Shakespeare the Re-Maker', Proceedings of the British Academy 1986, 167-85. (12) `What, say they [the Romanists], where was this church of yours before these fifty years? To whom briefly to answer, first we demand what they mean by this, which they call out church? If they mean the ordinance and institution of doctrine and sacraments now received of us, and differing from the church of Rome, we affirm and say, that our church was, when this church of theirs was not vet hatched out of the shell, nor did vet ever sec any light: that is ill the time of the apostles, in the primitive age ... when as yet no universal pope was received publicly, but repelled in Rome, nor this fullness of plenary power yet known, nor this doctrine and abuse of sacraments yet heard of' (Foxe, Actes and Monuments, quoted in A. G. Dickens and J. M. Tonkin, The Reformation in Historical Thought (Oxford, 1985), 65). (13) Ibid. pt. 1 (pp. 7-89). (14) J. Bale, A Brefe Chronycle concernynge the Examinacyon and death of the blessed martyr of Christ syr Johan Oldcastell the lorde Cobham (Amsterdam, 1544), sig. [Av.sup.v]. (15) Foxe's tart comments on the competence of the chroniclers made plain that he disparaged their work on more than just religious grounds. (16) Foxe, Actes and Monuments (1632), i. 863b, 51-4. (17) Hall, Vnion (1548), sig. [Fi.sup.r]. For the evidence that Hall had read Bale, see Foxe, Actes and Monuments (1632), i. 753a, 55 to b, 2. (18) Hall, Vnion, sig. [Fi.sup.r] Hall, too, found Fabyan flawed; his omission of details of Henry's pageant entry into London, lest he were `tedious and prolixe', is a snub to Fabyan (ibid. sig. [Iii.sup.v]). (19) Fabyan, Chronicle (1516), fo. [clxxv.sup.r]. Stow reverted to Fabyan's wording (Stow, A Summarie of Englyshe Chronicles (1565), sig. [Si.sup.v]). (20) Hall, Vnion, sigs. [Fii.sup.v] and [Fiii.sup.r]. (21) Hall, Vnion, sig. [Fii.sup.v]. In Bale, Oldcastle professes allegiance to Henry, but does not use this language (Brefe Chronycle, sig. [Bv.sup.v]). It was during the parliamentary debates of Jan. to Mar. 1531 that Henry first laid claim to the title of supreme head of the Church. The words were added to the royal style on 15 Jan. 1535, after being confirmed by Parliament in Nov. 1534. It is not clear when Hall entered the Commons; he is first recorded as a member in 1542, when he sat for Bridgnorth. However, throughout the 1530s he was involved in legal activity in London. It is hard to believe that he would have been unaware of what was being discussed in the House. (22) Hall, Vnion, sig. [Nvii.sup.v]. (23) Examples of such `intelligent precis' are the 1577 Holinshed's trimming of Hall's version of Chicheley's speech before Henry (Hall, Vnion, sigs. [Fiii.sup.v]-[Fv.sup.v]; Raphael Holinshed, The Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Irlande (1577), ii. 1168b, 22 to 1169a, 50); or of his account of the diplomatic moves following the decision to invade France (Hall, sig. [Giii.sup.r]; Holinshed (1577), ii. `1181' (1170) a, 1 to b, 40); or of his transcription of Henry's letter to the French king (Hall, sigs. [Gv.sup.r-v]; Holinshed (1577), ii. 1172b, 8-26). (24) Holinshed (1577), ii. 1165b, 17-22. (25) Hall, Vnion, sigs. [Fi.sup.v]-[Fii.sup.r]. (26) `Reductus est qui exulauit, apparet qui euanuit, exustus & in cineres redactus tanquam phoenix alter renatis pennis a rogo suscitatus est, mortuus reuixit, sepultus resurrexit' (Humphrey, De Religionis Conseruatione & reformatione uera (Basle, 1559), sig. [A6.sup.r-v]). (27) Holinshed (1577), ii. 1186b, 8-36. (28) `Where by divers sundry old authentic histories and chronicles it is manifestly declared and expressed that this realm of England is an empire, and so hath been accepted in the world, governed by one supreme head and king having the dignity and royal estate of the imperial crown of the same, unto whom a body politic, compact of all sorts and degrees of people divided in terms and by names of spirituality and temporalty, be bounden and owe to bear next to God a natural and humble obedience . . .' (G. R. Elton (ed.), The Tudor Constitution (Cambridge, 1960), 344). (29) Hall, Vnion, sig. [Iii.sup.r-v]. (30) Ibid. sig. [Ivi.sup.v]. The same pressures of interpretation demanded the omission from Holinshed of Hall's recording of Henry's giving thanks after taking Caen: `And then as he was euer accustomed to do, he went on foote to the chief churche in the toune and rendred to God his most heartie thankes for his prosperous successe and fortunate chaunce.' In place of this, Holinshed included material from Thomas of Walsingham describing an incursion by the Scots, which tended to tarnish the martial glory with which Hall had covered Henry (Holinshed (1577), ii. 1188b, 6-51). (31) For the revision of Holinshed by Abraham Fleming, see S. Booth, The Book Cailed Holinshed's Chronicles (San Francisco, 1968), esp. p. 66: `The models for Fleming's historiography are books like John Foxe's Acts and Monuments, books that make history illustrate the active Protestantism of God.' (32) The metaphor of the shepherd has a well-established religious reference. It is used to suggest a union of political and spiritual authority in William Bradshawe's Hvmble Motives for Association to Maintaine Religion Established (1601): `there should be but one Shepheard, and one sheepfould, one God, & one way' (p. 24). William Harrison applied it to Joshua in this sense (G. J. R. Parry, A Protestant Vision: William Harrison and the Reformation of Elizabethan England (Cambridge, 1987), 22). (33) Holinshed (1577), ii. 1217a, 38-41 and 1217b, 56 to 1218a, 2; Holinshed (1587), iii. 583a, 59-63 and 583b, 49-63. Rev. 8: 10. (34) R. M. Benbow, "The Providential Theory of Historical Causation in Holinshed's Chronicles 1577 and 1587', Texas Studies in Literature and Language, 1/2 (1959), 276; Parry, A Protestant Vision, 114-15. It is not surprising, in view of its stronger ideological commitment, that the 1587 Holinshed should have been extensively censored; see E. S. Donno, `Some Aspects of Shakespeare's Holinshed', HLQ 50 (1987), 229-48. (35) A division between ecclesiastical and civil history in the 16th century is asserted in D. Woolf, The Idea of History in Early Stuart England (Toronto, 1990). (36) Henry had been praised by Thomas More in 1529 as `that good catholike king' (Supplication of Souls (1529); quoted in A. Fox, Thomas More: History and Providence (Oxford, 1982), 185). (37) M. Walzer, The Revolution of the Saints: A Study in the Origins of Radical Politics (London, 1966). (38) P. Collinson, The Religion of Protestants: The Church in English Society 1559-1625 (Oxford, 1982), 150. (39) For the allegations, see e.g.: Anon., The Copie of a Letter [Leicester's Commonwealth], sigs. [A5.sup.v]-[6.sup.r]; Certaine Sermons, sig. [Oo5.sup.r-v]. For the protestations, see e.g.: John Jewel, An Apologie, or ounswer in defence of the Church of England, concerninge the state of Religion used in the same (1562), sigs. [Gi.sup.v]-[ii.sup.r]; Laurence Chaderton, A fruitfull Sermon (1584), sig. [D7.sup.r]; John Udall, Amendment of Life (1588), sig. [Cl.sup.v]. `Puritan' might be used as a term of reproach even by advanced Protestants. In George Gifford's A Briefe discourse of . . . the Countrie Diuinitie (1958), Atheos attacked `precise Puritans [that] doe find fault where there is none', but Zelotes also separated himself from `the Catheristes or Puritans', by which were meant the Cathar sects, such as the Albigenses (pp. 123-4). (40) Collinson, Religion of Protestants, 150; on Erastianism, see ibid., ch. 1, `Monarchy and Prelacy'. (41) Ibid. 3-4. (42) In 1553 Bale had praised Edward as `oure most godly souerayne' (The Vocacyon of Johan Bale (1553), sig. [B7.sup.v]). In 1559 Laurence Humphrey already expressed nostalgia for Edward's reign as a time of true holiness (De Religionis, sig. [b2.sup.v]). (43) The dramatic precedents for scenes in which a disguised monarch meets his subjects have been discussed by Anne Barton, `The King Disguised: Shakespeare's Henry V and the Comical History', in J. G. Price (ed.), The Triple Bond (Philadelphia, 1975). (44) These psalms were often translated in the 16th century, and were of course regularly read aloud in church: see R. Zim, English Metrical Psalms: Poetry as Praise and Prayer 1535-1601 (Cambridge, 1987), esp. pp. 203-10 for a summary of her findings concerning the prevalence and influence of translations of the psalms. (45) Dent, Sermon of Repentance (1585), sig. [Avi.sup.v]; Fulke, A Godly and Learned Sermon (1580), sig. [B1.sup.r]; Udall, Amendment of Life (1588), sig. [B4.sup.r]. (46) John Bradford, Two Notable Sermons (1599), sig. [B3.sup.v]; Udall, Amendment of Life, sig. [B3.sup.v]; Chaderton, A fruitfull Sermon, sig. [C7.sup.v]. (47) Hugh Latimer, The Seven Sermons ... preached before ... king Edward the. vi. (1562), sig. [Liii.sup.v]. (48) Barton, `The King Disguised'. (49) Scholars now see the Protestant antipathy to the theatre as much less intense than was previously. thought, and recent research has uncovered the extent to which reformed religion, particularly in the early and mid-sixteenth century, was involved with the theatre; see P. W. White, Theatre and Reformation: Protestantism, Patronage and Playing in Tudor England (Cambridge, 1993). Even Stubbes allowed that 'some kind of playes, tragedies and enterluds in their own nature, are . . . very honest and very commendable exercyses . . . [and] containe matter . . . both of doctrine, erudition, good example and wholsome instruction' (The Anatomie of Abuses (1583), sig.[paragraph][5.sup.v]-[6.sup.r]). (50) Henry V, IV.i. 169-70. (51) Latimer, Seven Sermons, sig. [Pviii.sub.v],; Certayn Godly Sermons, made uppon the lords Prayer (1562), sig. [Lviii.sup.v]. (52) See e.g. 1. ii. 18-32, 96; II. iv. 105-9 (53) Udall, Amendment of life, sig. [E3-.sup.r-v]. (54) Dent, The Plaine Mans Path-way to Heaven (1601), sigs. [P3.sup.v]-[P4.sup.v]. (55) Latimer, Seven Sermons, sig. [Iviii.sup.v],; cf. also George Gifford, Sermons Vpon the Whole Booke of the Revelation (1599), sig. [A2.sup.r-v], an important assertion of the duty of the king to ascertain the justice of his cause in any war. (56) Udall, Amendment of Life, sigs. [E2.sup.v]-[E3.sup.r]; cf. Dent, Plaine Mans Path-way, sig. [O4.sup.r]: `Oh, I say this is a most excellent, and glorious thing, when euery man keepeth his standing, his raunge, and his rancke.' (57) Perkins, Works (Cambridge, 1603), sig. [Ccc1.sup.r]. (58) John Downame, The Christian Warfare against the Deuill, World, and Flesh (1604), 230a. (59) Richard Greenham, The Workes of the Reverend and Faithfvll Servant of Iesvs Christ M. Richard Greenham (1599), 164. Latimer had also insisted that repentance was vain without sincere contrition: `you must pray [w.sup.t] a penitent heart. For god wil not heare [y.sup.e] praier [y.sup.t] procedeth from an impenitent heart: it is abominable in his sight' (Certayn Godly Sermons, sig. [Eviii.sup.r]). (60) For statements and explanations of this paradox, see Jewel, An Apologie, sig. [Ciii.sup.v]; Greenham, Workes, 2; Edward Dering, Maister Derings Workes (1590), sig. [T6.sup.r]; George Gifford, A Sermon on the Parable of the Sower (n.d.; c. 1587), sig. [Bv.sup.r]. The biblical text on which it is founded is 2 Cor. 12: 10: "Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.' (61) Bradford, Two Notable Sermons, sig. [B5.sup.r-v]. The Catholic doctrine it replaced also had three stages: contrition, confession, and satisfaction. (62) Dering, Workes, sigs, [C3.sup.v]4[4.sup.r]. (63) Certaine Sermons, Sig. [S1.sup.v], (64) Dent, Plaine Mans Path-way, sig. [B3.sup.r-v]. (65) Gary Taylor's amendment of 'all' to 'ill'makes the theological point more clear, but it is still clear enough if we read 'all'. (66) A chantry was a chapel endowed for the purpose of singing mass for the souls of the dead. It was thus an institution which derived from the Catholic doctrine of purgatory, which Protestants held in abhorrence as both without biblical warrant, and an imposture which allowed priests to defraud the laity of money; see John Northbrooke, A breefe and pithie summe of the christian faith (1571), sig. [Dii.sup.r]. Chantries frequently occur in the lists of worthless Catholic practices to which the heresy of Purgatory had given rise: Dering, Workes, sig. [C2.sup.r]; Gilby, Pleasant Dialogue, sig. [L7.sup.v]; Latimer, Certayn Godly Sermons, sig. [Nv.sup.r]; Latimer, Seven Sermons, sig. [Oii.sup.r]. They had been abolished during the reign of Edward VI by the Act for the Dissolution of Chantries (1547); see Elton, Tudor Constitution, 382-5. (67) A. C. Bradley misreads these lines when he finds them `superstitious', since Catholic superstition is what Henry is putting behind him, and judges them by anachronistic standards when he denigrates them for being `political' (Bradley, Oxford Lectures, 256-8). It is no argument against the reading I am advancing to remark that Henry is determined to persist with these Catholic practices 'More will I do . . '). Protestants were enjoined to perform good works, but not to think that they had any efficacy in the business of our salvation, or any power to atone for sin. (68) It was for this reason that Article 10 warned that in and of ourselves, `we have no power to do good works pleasant and acceptable to God', except through prevenient grace; cf. also Latimer, Certayn Godly Sermons, sig. [Dvi.sup.v]. Henry's persuasion of the faultiness of all works of the will is also present in his ordering of the `Te Deum'to be sung after the battle (IV. viii. 121). (69) See, for instance, `thy soul of adoration' (1. 233); `god' (1. 229); `worshippers' (1. 230); `awe and fear' (1. 235). (70) The nullity of ceremonies, and the identification of Catholicism as a religion of ceremonies, are commonplaces of Protestant theology: cf. Greenham, Workes, 2; Dering, Workes, sigs. [A4.sup.r] and [X6.sup.r]; Robert Browne, A Booke which sheweth the life and manners of all true Christians (Middelburgh, 1582), sig. [F1.sup.v]; William Bradshawe, English Pvritanisme (160S), 2-3; Laurence Chaderton, An excellent and godly sermon (1580), Sig. [Evi.sup.r]; William Turner, The huntyng & fynduyng out of the Romishe fox (Basle, 1543); sig. [Dvi.sup.v]; Gilby, Pleasavnt Dialogve, sigs. [D4.sup.r] and [D8.sup.r]; Downame, Christian Warfare, 573; Dent, Plaine Mans Path-way, sig. [H7.sup.v]. (71) Certaine Sermons, sigs. [P2.sup.r] and [Ii4.sup.r]. (72) Ps. 50: 15; cf. Certaine Sermons, sig. [S2.sup.r]. (73) For instance, L. B. Campbell, who denied that Falstaff had political significance: Shakespeare's Histories: Mirrors of Elizabethan Policy (Los
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Author:Womersley, David
Publication:The Review of English Studies
Date:Feb 1, 1996
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