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Shakespeare's Consuls, Cardinals, and Kings

Dick Riley

DOI: 10.5040/9781472555335

ISBN: 9780826418807

William Shakespeare brings history to life. His plays take us from the Forum in Rome to the palaces of London and the battlefields of France. He dramatizes the personal and political conflicts that cost Julius Caesar his life, Marc Antony and Cleopatra an empire, and a succession of English kings their thrones.

Shakespeare's Consuls, Cardinals and Kings sets the historical context for the events portrayed in Shakespeare's major histories. It reviews the sources he used and analyzes how he reshaped that material - often telescoping events and combining characters - to create his dramas. It also offers the insights of later historians about the lives and careers of Julius Caesar, Marc Antony, and the English monarchs King John, Richard II, Henry IV, Henry V, Henry VI, Richard III and Henry VIII.

Designed to give students a deeper understanding and a more enjoyable experience of the history plays, each chapter of Shakespeare's Consuls, Cardinals and Kings focuses on the period and lives portrayed in one of these dramas, and also provides a brief guide to available film and video versions.

While focusing on the most important of Shakespeare's sources - the Greco-Roman historian Plutarch and the English histories of Raphael Holinshed - Shakespeare's Consuls, Cardinals and Kings also discusses other writers who helped inform Shakespeare's work, from Suetonius, author of The Twelve Caesars, to John Foxe, whose Book of Martyrs memorialized the struggles of English religious reformers.

"In Shakespeare's Consuls, Cardinals, and Kings, Dick Riley offers an introduction to the ways that Shakespeare turned his sources into plays on both Roman and English history, analyzing what the playwright carefully adopted, what he chose to leave out, and what he reworked. By providing answers to these important questions as well as offering explanations of particular scenes and incidents that demonstrate why Shakespeare's dramas appealed to his audience, his book is an informative and useful guide for students new to Shakespeare studies."--Gerald M. Pinciss, Professor of English Emeritus at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York, author of Why Shakespeare?