But it was from none of these that Shakespeare took the story, but from the chronicle of a man named Holinshed
who lived and wrote in the time of Queen Elizabeth, he in his turn having taken it from some one of the earlier sources.
The historical facts on which Richard II is based may be found in any short English history, years 1382-1399, though it must be remembered that Shakspere knew them only in the 'Chronicle' of Holinshed.
According to Holinshed, whom Shakspere follows, Bolingbroke accuses Mowbray of the murder.
, the clerical establishment, rightfully fearful of its loss of power if disendowed, was the aggressor in taking action against the bill: "This bill was much noted, and more feared among the religious sort, whom suerlie it touched verie neere, and therefore to find remedie against it, they determined to assaie all waies to put by and overthrow this bill: wherein they thought best to trie if they might mooue the kings mood with some sharpe inuention, that he should not regard the importunate petitions of the commons.
His three chapters on Shakespeare (Shakespeare and the British Problem; Postcolonial Cymbeline; and Shakespeare, Holinshed
and Ireland) explore the centuries-long irony of how Shakespeare has often been "enlisted in the service of a conservative English nationalism" while "the bard was preoccupied with putting the problems of state onto the stage.
Granting that a book like Acts and Monuments operates within an eschatological framework, we should nonetheless recognize that most Tudor chronicles by writers such as Stow and Holinshed
reveal little appetite for the modern notion of "progress," often conceding contingency over grand narrative.
But then I would probably have been the middle aged cynic who sat at the first night of Shakespeare's Macbeth complaining that this wasn't what Holinshed
said in his Chronicles.
, for instance, writes of Edward II as one "whose disordered maners brought himselfe and manie others vnto destruction.
6) In this play we get almost no sense of the Richard we find in Holinshed
, and much less of the Richard we find in modern historical scholarship, such as Anthony Steel's or Nigel Saul's biographies of the king.
It is a response rooted in his own past since he would have grown up within a storytelling community at Stratford and many of the plays use texts established in Shakespeare's lifetime as primary sources so he would have known books ranging from Holinshed
to Virgil and Ovid.
and The Mirror for Magistrates restore Lear (or Leir) to his throne, with Cordelia his heir.
reports that Bolingbroke had summoned Parliament "vsing the name of king Richard in the writs directed forth to the lords," (3) as Shakespeare's Henry has also done.