Chinon of England

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Anon. (1596)

Historical Records

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Theatrical Provenance

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Probable Genre(s)

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Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

Apart from the Middleton romance, the Chinon story may have been known through the first novel of the fifth day in Boccaccio's Decameron, "Wherein is approued, that Loue (oftentimes) maketh a man both wise and valiant":

Chynon, by falling in loue, became wise, and by force of Armes, winning his faire Lady Iphigenia on the Seas, was afterward imprisoned at Rhodes. Being deliuered by one named Lysimachus, with him he recouered his Iphigenia againe, and faire Cassandra, euen in the middest of their mariage. They fled with them into Candye, where after they had married them, they were called home to their owne dwelling. (fol.178v)

References to the Play

In his Pleasant notes upon Don Quixot (1654), Edmund Gayton commented on the shortcomings of the English stage, noting: "nor are the incongruities and absurdities of our owne stage any lesse or more excusable, it being a long time us'd to historicall arguments, which could not be dispatched but by Chorus, or the descending of some god, or a Magitian: As in the playes of Bungy, Bacon, and Vandarmast, the three great Negromancers, Dr Faustus, Chinon of England, and the like" (272).

Critical Commentary

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For What It's Worth

Gayton also tells us of Chinon's common alternative title, "Chinon of England, or the Foole transform'd" (3), noting that "by both those names that Knight was ever remembred" (87).

Boccaccio tells us that the boy's true name by baptism was Galesus, but because he was a fool whom no amount of tutoring could improve, "they gaue him the name of Chynon, which in their natiue Countrey language, and diuers other beside, signifieth a very Sot or Foole, and so was he termed by euery one" (179).

Works Cited

Boccaccio, Giovanni. The decameron containing an hundred pleasant nouels. Wittily discoursed, betweene seauen honourable ladies, and three noble gentlemen. 1620.

Gayton, Edmund. Pleasant notes upon Don Quixot by Edmund Gayton, Esq. 1654.

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