First Introduction of the Civil Wars of France, The

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Dekker, Thomas (1599)
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Historical Records

Payments to Playwrights (Henslowe's Diary)


F. 52v (Greg, I.100)

Lent vnto wm Jube the 20 of Janewary 1598 }
to lend mr dickers in earneste of his playe } iijli
called the firste Introducyon of the syvell }
wares of france the some of }



Theatrical Provenance

At the Rose playhouse until September 1600, the Admiral's men purchased "The First Introduction" after having bought (and presumably staged) a three-part serial on that same civil war (parts 1, 2, and 3 of "The Civil Wars of France') during the winter of 1598-99. The company also still had Christopher Marlowe's Massacre at Paris, which they revived during the winter of 1601-2 after moving to the Fortune.

Probable Genre(s)

History (Harbage)

Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

Martin Wiggins, Catalogue #1175 suggests that the main narrative source of "The First Introduction" was Commentaries by Jean de Serres, which had been translated into English in 1574 by Thomas Tymme. Wiggins deduces from that source that this play featured the Duke of Guise, massacres of Huguenots, and the Guise's assassination in 1588.

References to the Play

None known.

Critical Commentary

Greg II added the £3 payment to Dekker for "The First Introduction" to those for the three-part serial, "The Civil Wars of France" (# 152, 158, 159 & 164). He adds further a payment of £3 10s to Dekker on January 30, 1598/9 (f. 53), reasoning that Henslowe was extending Dekker money toward his being discharged from prison "on the security of the unfinished play:"(headnote). Greg is further intrigued by an entry in Henslowe's inventories for "Perowes sewt," perhaps for a character in narratives of Bussy d' Ambois, but he can't make these pieces fit together well enough to insert that character into the Admiral's French civil war plays of 1598-9.
Gurr follows {WorksCited|Greg II]]in absorbing the one payment to Dekker for "The First Introduction" into the payment-set for part 1 of the "Civil Wars of France," explains this clustering two ways: that the payment "may either be for a prequel to add to the three parts of the Civil Wars, or more likely a payment for changes to the first part" (239-40, n89.)



For What It's Worth

Information welcome.

Works Cited

Gurr, Andrew. Shakespeare's Opposites: The Admiral's Company 1594-1625. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.






Site created and maintained by Roslyn L. Knutson, Professor Emerita, University of Arkansas at Little Rock; updated 12 June 2019.