Welshman's Price, The (Welshman's Prize)

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Anon. (1598)

Historical Records

Henslowe's Inventory of Playbooks

(Greg, Papers, p. 121)

A Note of all suche bookes as belong to the Stocke, and such as I have bought since the 3d of March 1598

Welchmans price

Theatrical Provenance

The sole mention of "Welchmans price" in the Diary occurs in a list of play titles inventoried by Henslowe under the heading dated 3 March 1598; when, and whether, the play entered the repertory of the Admiral's men cannot be deduced from available evidence.

Probable Genre(s)

History (Harbage, who collapses the play with "Famous Wars of Henry I and the Prince of Wales")

Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

Identifying the narrative of this play depends. first, upon on a correct identification of the titular Welshman and, second, upon his price.

References to the Play

Information welcome.

Critical Commentary

Fleay brought "Welchemans price" into the maelstrom of plays with Welsh characters that includes "The Welshman" and "The Famous Wars of Henry I and the Prince of Wales." In the process, he renamed "Welchmans price" as "The Welshman's prize" (BCED, 2.307; BCED, I.122-23). He did not comment on who that Welshman might have been or on what his prize entailed.

Greg followed Fleay's lead in identifying "Welchemans price" with "The Famous Wars of Henry I and the Prince of Wales, and he adopted Fleay's renaming to "The Welshman's Prize" (II.191-2, #130).

The bundling of "Welchemans price" as "The Welshman's Prize" with "The Famous Wars of Henry I and the Prince of Wales" became received opinion: Foakes repeated the identification by annotating Henslowe's inventory item as "? The Welshman's Prize; probably The Famous Wars of Henry I, paid for March 1598 (Henslowe's Diary, 2nd ed., p. 323); Gurr follows suit, erasing the title by having no discrete entry for it in Appendix I: The Plays or in the Index (p. 229, n. 68; #90, p. 234; also, p. 102).

Wiggins challenges that opinion by providing a separate entry for "Welchemans price" (though he privileges the variant, "The Welshman's Prize"); he counters the opinion of Greg (and by association, Fleay et. al.) by observing that "the title of this play might not seem altogether apt, unless ironical" for "The Famous Wars of Henry I and the Prince of Wales" because that play "would have ended with the submission of the Welsh to the English" (#1115).

For What It's Worth

Henslowe's inventory list is in two columns. If one reads down column one rather than across at each line to column two, one could argue that "Welchmans price" does not belong to the play-cluster that heads column one and that Greg identified as having been brought to the Admiral's men by players from Pembroke's men who moved to the Rose following business disruptions at the Swan in August 1597 (Greg, II.187, headnote to Section VIII). Following that reasoning, one could observe that "Welshman's Price" is listed along with plays certainly performed by the Admiral's men such as "Phaeton", the two parts of Robin Hood, and the two parts of "Hercules," which have confirming evidence of a stage run by being in Henslowe's playlists or his entries of payments to dramatists (the Robin Hood plays, in addition, advertised ownership by the Admiral's men, or as Nottingham's, on their title pages in 1601 [The Downfall of Robert, Earl of Huntingdon, the Death of Robert, Earl of Huntingdon).

Works Cited

Site created and maintained by Roslyn L. Knutson, Professor Emerita, University of Arkansas at Little Rock; updated 6 June 2016.