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How Shakespeare Put Politics on the StagePower and Succession in the History Plays$
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Peter Lake

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780300222715

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300222715.001.0001

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How not to go there: 1 Henry VI as prequel and alternative ending

How not to go there: 1 Henry VI as prequel and alternative ending

(p.125) Chapter 5 How not to go there: 1 Henry VI as prequel and alternative ending
How Shakespeare Put Politics on the Stage

Peter Lake

Yale University Press

This chapter focuses on 1 Henry VI. Some critics see it as the first part of a trilogy. Others have identified it as a sort of prequel, written after the success of the plays that have become known as 2 Henry VI and 3 Henry VI had rendered a return to the same subject a profitable prospect. Ultimately, 1 Henry VI reshuffles the pack of narrative tropes and ideological materials it inherited from parts II and III. It relocates the threat of female political agency outside England and organises it under the sign not merely of witchcraft but of popery. It similarly displaces the locus of ancient political virtue from civil to military affairs, and downgrades the role of the king. Still central is the topos of noble faction, but that faction is centred not on the succession but rather on the conduct of the war.

Keywords:   1 Henry VI, female political agency, witchcraft, popery, political virtue, military affairs, noble faction

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