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.
In reviewing the book before it was published, David Bevington, professor emeritus in the humanities at the University of Chicago and editor of "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (7th Edition)," called it "a revelation" for the sheer number of correlations with the plays, eclipsed only by the chronicles of Holinshed
and Hall and Plutarch's "Lives.
McNeir argued years ago, to accounts in Holinshed
(following John Leslie's Scottish history) of the Italian charlatan Damien, who apparently amused the historical James IV, chiefly by his attempts to fly.
The playwright took his inspiration and the bones of the Bonduca story from Holinshed
as well as two new texts that reflected a flurry of interest in ancient Britain in the three years leading up to Bonduca's c omposit ion.
The compositional process might be imagined as follows: reading Holinshed
, Shakespeare latches onto the word mist, and by imagining it not as a verb but rather as a noun--that is, by hearing its potential for wordplay--generates the fog that causes Black Will and Shakebag to miss Arden.
Although it is possible to describe Holinshed
as the play's source, then, the various narratives surrounding the murder of Arden have multiple potential points of contact, and it is not possible to determine exactly the currents of influence.
He traces the accounts of Richard III in sixteenth-century histories, from the Anglica Historia through the chronicles of Hall, Holinshed
, Grafton, and Stow.
In one entry, Holinshed
records a one Sir John Falstolfe (15) as having "departed," or taken flight from, the "battell .
But the playwright twisted the character of Banquo from the murderer's accomplice described by Holinshed
to a loyal, noble fellow who refuses to be drawn into the blood feud.
Interestingly, King Edward and the healing of the sick is not to be found in Shakespeare's chief source, The Chronicles of England, Scotlande, and Ireland by Raphael Holinshed