Michael Drayton, Richard Hathaway, Anthony Munday, Robert Wilson (1600)
F. 67 (Greg I.117)
- Lent vnto mihell drayton antony monday mr
- hathwaye & mr willsone at the apoyntment
- of Thomas downton in earneste of a playe
- Boocke called owen teder the some of ... iiijli
Diary fragment in the collection of the Duke of Rutland at Belvoir Castle
Foakes, Henslowe's Diary (267)
- ye 10 of Jenewary 1599
- Receyved in pt of payment & in er[e]nest
- of a playe called Owen Tweder the somme
- of foure poundes wittnes or hands ... iiijli
- Ri: Hathwaye R Wilson. An: Mundy
- Robt Shaa
The Admiral's Men at the Rose laid out £4 for Owen Tudor at some time between the 10th and 18th of January 1600. Across Maid Lane they could see the building materials of the Globe at ready, while the plans for the Fortune Playhouse were still on paper, the contract by Edward Alleyn and Philip Henslowe with Peter Streete having been signed on 8 January 1600.
Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues
Narrative and Dramatic Sources:
Holinshed’s Chronicles (1587) is a logical but slender source for historical details in the life of Owen Tudor and wife, Katherine, widow of Henry V, whose son Edmund was the father of Henry Richmond (Henry VII). In a passage of the death of Katherine in January 1437, the chronicler recalls the circumstances of her second marriage as follows:
“ … being young and lustie, following more hir owne wanton appetite than freendlie counsel and regarding more priuate affection than prince-like honour, [Katherine] tooke to husband priuilie a gallant gentleman and a right beautifull person, iudued with manie goodlie gifts both of bodie & mind, called Owen Teuther, a man descended of the noble lineage and ancient line of Cadwallader last king of the Britains. By this Owen she brought foorth three goodlie sonnes, Edmund, Iasper, and another that was a monke in Westminster, and liued a small time: also a daughter which in hir youth departed out of this transitory life” (vol. 6, sec. 15, p. 615 Holinshed Project.
- For Owen Tudor, the Chronicles focus on his fatal stand at the Battle of Mortimer’s Cross (February 1461):
“The earles of Penbroke and Wilshire fled, but sir Owen Teuther father to the said earle of Penbroke (which Owen had married king Henries mother, as yee haue heard before) with Dauid Floid, Morgan ap Reuther, and diuerse other were taken, and beheaded at Hereford” Holinshed Project.
England’s Heroical Epistles by Michael Drayton (1598) is the likeliest source for the love story of Owen and Katherine. The fact of Drayton’s also being one of the dramatists commissioned on the project cannot be a coincidence.
The first poem in the pair is Katherine’s (Works, Internet Archive). In her letter, Katherine asks Owen not the think the less of her for being so forward. She couches her suit in terms of her former husband, Henry V, and his having won her through war; Owen, in contrast, has won her with a courtier’s skills. She recalls her first sight of him at Windsor, and in a neat couplet parallels the two courtships: “A march, a measure, battell, or a daunce,/ A courtly rapier, or a conquering launce” (ll. 33-34). She also addresses the difference in their status, saying the only titles that matter of hers are “Wife, Daughter, Mother, Sister to a King” (l. 59). She rehearses her lineage and his, indirectly celebrating Welsh history. She again praises Henry and “Englands flower” of knighthood before turning to blazon-like compliments of Owen’s physical beauty. She ends by urging him to ignore the impediments to their love.
The second is Owen’s response (Works, Internet Archive). The letter opens with an expression of his excitement and delight at the receipt of her letter. He says that destiny drew him to England so that Wales could be united through their marriage with England and France. He too remembers the meeting at Windsor and adds a charming detail about his missing a step in the dance and falling into her lap. In a modesty trope, he catalogues the mythological ancestry he cannot claim, then praises his Welsh descent and the honor of Wales in defending their land and language. He acknowledges that he has competition for her hand and expresses an impatience in having to wait. He ends with fervent declaration of love.
Knutson suggests a relationship of Owen Tudor as first part to the play called "the second part of Henrye Richmond" in Henslowe's Diary (24). Supposing that the play might have ended in the Battle of Mortimer's Cross and Owen Tudor's capture, she points out that "the fate of his grandfather would ... have provided additional motive for Henry Richmond to lead an army against Richard III," the teleology (presumably) of the Henry Richmond play.
For What It's Worth
The Dictionary of National Biography provides a poignant detail about the execution of Owen Tudor: "His head was put on the market cross, and a woman, whom a contemporary calls mad, had the hair combed and the face washed, and set round many lighted candles" (W. A. J. A. 1218).
An undocumented comment on Wikipedia claims that, confronting the headsman, Tudor said, "the head which used to lie in Queen Katherine's lap, would not lie in the executioner's basket" Wikipedia.
In 1751, a novel entitled The Life and Amours of Owen Tideric, Prince of Wales, Otherwise Owen Tudor was published; its author (unnamed) claimed that the novel was based on history and its story widely current in France. The gist of the narrative is that Owen Tudor was sent to the court of France as a representative of Wales. He and Katherine fell in love before Henry V invaded France and defeated the French forces, but believing himself unworthy Owen went away, leaving Katherine at the disposal of her father when Henry claims her as a war prize. The novel has enough conventions of the romance—a relatively low-born but morally superior foreigner falls in love with an unattainable beauty and choses exile over rejection—to remove any doubt that the story is unhistorical, but if its elements were known in England also as early as 1599, it could nonetheless have provided the Admiral's Men with a counter-narrative to that in the Globe play by Shakespeare, Henry V.
Michael Drayton, Richard Hathaway, Anthony Munday, Robert Wilson, Henslowe's Records, Diary fragment, Autograph signature
Knutson, Roslyn L. “Toe to Toe Across Maid Lane: Repertorial Competition at the Rose and Globe, 1599-1600,” in June Schlueter and Paul Nelsen (eds) Acts of Criticism: Performance Matters in Shakespeare and His Contemporaries (Madison & Teaneck: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2005), 21-37.
Site created and maintained by Roslyn L. Knutson, Professor Emerita, University of Arkansas at Little Rock; updated 18 October 2009.