• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

In what ways and to what purposes does Richard II engage with contemporary political thought (circa 16th Century)?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

In what ways and to what purposes does Richard II engage with contemporary political thought (circa 16th Century)? When Richard II was first performed in 1595, it would have had heavy political impact especially upon thoughts on the issues of Kingship. Shakespeare drew upon the feelings originally penned by the likes of Erasmus (highly respected at the time on points of Kingship and G. Buchanan (The Powers of the Crown in Scotland). The public's attention had been drawn to the position of a King and his power after the reign of Henry VIII who detached himself and England from the Catholic church in 1532. This act provoked thought amongst literary types, who recalled that the King had been intended as the ruler by appointment of God, and so should conform to the church. The power and inherent goodness of Kings was questioned, and such writers show this. Erasmus, being a humanist, concentrated heavily in The Education of a Christian Prince (1516) upon the removal of celestial qualities which had been bestowed upon the title of "King" through the ages. ...read more.

Middle

Religion is also brought into this power equation, both by contemporary theologians such as John Calvin (who said that "the ordinance of God [is to be set against the rule of] the outraging licentiousnesse of Kinges"), and by the play itself. God is argued by Richard to be the divine decider of kings, as part of the Mythology of Kings, and Gaunt ("God's is the quarrel; for God's substitute, [hath] caused his death") and the church (represented by the Bishop of Carlisle) agrees. Bolingbroke and his followers are opposed to this (joined by Gaunt in his "inspired prophet" speech), as they believe the King should be a man of the people (like Bolingbroke), so that he can take care of the country well. After the rebellion against Richard II, the head of state was more careful not to incite such feelings, for example through church indoctrination (Elizabethan Church Homilies were anti-rebellion), and so such pro-monarchist characters as Richard represent such views and we are shown the error of their ways (seemingly) by the fates which befall them. ...read more.

Conclusion

Elyot describes the gardener as "wise and cunning" because he needs to be selectively discriminating in his "lopping away [of superfluous branches] that bearing boughs may live" [III.4 lines 63-4], that is to say, he must be harsh on some, but only those who are not needed and are holding back the more useful. This idea seems a common one at the time, and is put forward using another popular image of the body politic by George Buchanan, who says that a king should act fairly "by nourishing and gently assisting the weakened members and by diminishing the fullness and excess of that which does no good". By such close comparison with contemporary sources, the changing politics in the play can be seen, and this also gives us perhaps an insight into Shakespeare's own view of monarchy at the time. The issues attached) to power are complex and ongoing, but Shakespeare shows some of the problems that it can cause, while using a medium that is much more accessible to the general public than the writings of a certain Dutch humanist thinker. As a politically influential play, it could be said to have succeeded as it challenged many commonly held views, without being too extreme as to be dismissed as radical. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level British History: Monarchy & Politics section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level British History: Monarchy & Politics essays

  1. Does Alexander II deserve the title of 'Tsar liberator'?

    Again, the manifesto incorporates a large section informing the nobility how order will be maintained, and the general legal justification of the emancipation, which further supports the argument that Alexander was more concerned with the preservation of their political control.

  2. Henry II (1154 - 1189) is generally seen as the main catalyst in the ...

    Ibid 15. Ibid 16. Dane C Medieval England 1066-1399-'Seminar Programmes' pages 1-2 http://orb.rhodes.edu/Wales/H3/H03/h3h03r02.htm [Visited 24/10/2002] 17. BBC-Radio 4 'This Sceptred Isle-The Law, The Church and the Coming Tragedy' page 1 http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/scpted_isle/page16.shmtl?question=16 [Visited 26/10/2002] 18. Henry II: British Monarchs pages 1-3 http://www.britanna.com/histry/monarchs/mon26.html [Visited 6/1/2003Ibid] 19.

  1. The Reformation was the intellectual movement in Western Europe in the 16th century which ...

    To get married, baptize a child (needed in order to go to heaven), or bury someone (soul could only go to heaven if buried on church Holy Ground), one had to pay money to the church. King Henry VIII realized this and chose to capitalize on this with his greed;

  2. Discuss Shakespeare's presentation of women in Richard III. Are they convincing characters?

    'O thou well skilled in curses, stay awhile, / And teach me how to curse mine enemies.' Her role at this point in the play is to take over Margaret's power since she has risen and fallen, all that is left for Elizabeth to do is to curse like Margaret.

  1. Discuss the relationship between Richard II and its source 'How kyng Richarde the seconde....'

    His message can be contradictory, for he does see his murder as 'causeles' (l. 116) and his opponents as 'traytrous' (l. 114). Yet the overwhelming force of his own argument is that his reign was characterised by 'vices' (ll. 2 & 34), and that he 'fell / to make the living wise' (l.23).

  2. Analyse the ways in which Shakespeare dramatises his exploration of the idea of leadership ...

    By writing a prologue, Shakespeare has attempted to involve the audience as soon as possible, as well as setting the scene. The audience already gets the impression that Henry is a hero as the actor speaking the prologue states him being powerful and brave.

  1. The Prince.

    James asked, a hint of venom in his voice. The prince had invited Hailey for the last 5 years, however she'd never come. Hailey and the prince had had the prince's longest relationship - 28 days, however the prince had decided to end it and he still didn't know why.

  2. How do the poets in 'Charlotte O'Neils song' and 'Nothing Changed' show their feelings ...

    So, first of all the reader can see how unfair it is. The poet also makes her feelings clear by the sheer joy she has in telling the employer that she is leaving and from now on she can do her dirty work herself.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work