King Lud

Anon. (1593)

Historical Records

Performance Records

Playlists in Philip Henslowe's diary

Fol. 8v (Greg I.16):

Under the heading, “Jn the name of god Amen begninge the 27 of desembʒ 1593 the earle of susex his men”:
Res at kinge lude the 18 of Jenewarye 1593 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxijs

Theatrical Provenance

Only one known performance, by Sussex’s Men as an old play, 18 January 1593/4, probably at the Rose, as part of the company’s six week run in London (26 December to 6 February). According to Chambers, ES (2:95) the average takings in this period was £1 13s, which makes the receipt for "King Lud" unremarkable. An inhibition of plays by the Privy Council, most probably fuelled by fears of plague, was issued on 3 Feb and ended the season shortly thereafter.

Wiggins, Catalogue (#907) backdates "King Lud" to 1591, reasoning that the play was probably acquired "specifically for performance in London," but its solo performance implies that "it had evidently almost played itself out by the time it reached the Rose" (see Wiggins, Catalogue #903 for his explanation of non-ne plays in Sussex's repertory).

Probable Genre(s)

History (Harbage).

Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

Holinshed (1587 edition, volume 2, p.22) discusses King Lud in “THE THIRD BOOKE of the Historie of England”, where it is noted that the name of Troinouant was changed and called London:

After the decesse of the same Helie, his eldest son Lud began his reigne, in the yéere after the cre|ation of the world 3895, after the building of the ci|tie of Rome 679, before the comming of Christ 72, and before the Romances entred Britaine 19 yéeres. This Lud proued a right worthie prince, amending the lawes of the realme that were defectiue, aboli|shing euill customs and maners vsed amongst his people, and repairing old cities and townes which were decaied: but speciallie he delited most to beau|tifie and inlarge with buildings the citie of Troino|uant, which he compassed with a strong wall made of lime and stone, in the best maner fortified with di|uerse faire towers: and in the west part of the same wall he erected a strong gate, which he commanded to be called after his name, Ludsgate, and so vnto this daie it is called Ludgate, (S) onelie drowned in pronuntiation of the word.

In the same citie also he soiorned for the more part, by reason whereof the inhabitants increased, and manie habitations were builded to receiue them, and he himselfe caused buildings to be made betwixt London stone and Ludgate, and builded for himselfe not farre from the said gate a faire palace, which is the bishop of Londons palace beside Paules at this daie, as some thinke; yet Harison supposeth it to haue bin Bainards castell, where the blacke friers now standeth. He also builded a faire temple néere to his said palace, which temple (as some take it) was after turned to a church, and at this daie called Paules. By reason that king Lud so much esteemed that ci|tie before all other of his realme, inlarging it so greatlie as he did, and continuallie in manner re|mained there, the name was changed, so that it was called Caerlud, that is to saie, Luds towne: and after by corruption of spéech it was named London.

Beside the princelie dooings of this Lud touching the aduancement of the common wealth by studies apperteining to the time of peace, he was also strong & valiant in armes, in subduing his enimies, boun|tious and liberall both in gifts and kéeping a plenti|full house, so that he was greatlie beloued of all the Britaines. Finallie, when he had reigned with great honour for the space of 11 yéeres, he died, and was buried néere Ludgate, leauing after him two sons, Androgeus and Theomancius or Tenancius. (The Holinshed Project)

References to the Play

Information welcome.

Critical Commentary

Malone does not comment on "King Lud" other than to transcribe the spelling of the king's name as "Lude," which he then modernizes to "Lud" (p.293). Collier adds a note that identified the title character as King Lud, "the supposed restorer of London, or Lud's town, before his time called Troynovant" (p. 32, n.5). Fleay, BCED"" offers no further comment (2.299, #126).

Greg II observes that “[a]ccording to Holinshed Lud came to the throne of Britain in 72 B.C., and was chifley [sic] noted for his reform of the laws and the building of Ludgate. He even derives the name London from the same source” (#36, p. 159).

Chambers, ES claims that “nothing is known” of the play (II.95).

Wiggins, Catalogue #907 offers a tantalizing alternative to the story of King Lud and building projects in London by mentioning "a Welsh folktale of Lludd and Liefelys," which has a screaming dragon (among other fanciful but exciting features).

For What It's Worth

The Welsh King Lludd Llawereint (of the Silver Hand) was anglicised as King Lud.

Works Cited

Holinshed, Raphael. The first and second volume of Chronicles. (The third volume) Newlie augmented and continued by J. Hooker alias Vowell, gent, and others. 1587. The Holinshed Project. Oxford: Oxford University, 2009. Web.

Site created and maintained by David McInnis, University of Melbourne; updated, 07 November 2009.