Difference between revisions of "Randall, Earl of Chester (Chester’s Tragedy)"

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[[Thomas Middleton]] ([[1602]])
 
[[Thomas Middleton]] ([[1602]])
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==Historical Records==
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===Payments to Playwrights (''Henslowe's Diary'')===
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<br>[[category:Henslowe's records]]
  
==Historical Records==
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F.108<sup>r</sup>; [http://www.archive.org/stream/henslowesdiary00unkngoog#page/n231/mode/1up Greg I, 171]; Foakes, 205:
{| style="float: right; border: 1px solid #BBB; margin: .46em 0 0 .2em;"
 
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| valign="top" |[[Image:Randall_Earl_of_Chester_MSS_7,_108_recto.jpg|link=http://www.henslowe-alleyn.org.uk/images/MSS-7/108r.html]]<!--
 
  --><br /> See the relevant MS entry in the ''Henslowe-Alleyn Digitisation Project'' site [http://www.henslowe-alleyn.org.uk/images/MSS-7/108r.html here].
 
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[http://www.henslowe-alleyn.org.uk/images/MSS-7/108r.html F.108<sup>r</sup>]; [http://www.archive.org/stream/henslowesdiary00unkngoog#page/n231/mode/1up Greg I, 171]; Foakes, 205:
 
 
:p<i>d</i> at the apoynt of w<sup>m</sup> Jube the 21
 
:p<i>d</i> at the apoynt of w<sup>m</sup> Jube the 21
 
:of octobʒ 1602 vnto m<sup>r</sup> medelton in p<i>te</i> of
 
:of octobʒ 1602 vnto m<sup>r</sup> medelton in p<i>te</i> of
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[http://www.henslowe-alleyn.org.uk/images/MSS-7/108r.html F.108<sup>r</sup>]; [http://www.archive.org/stream/henslowesdiary00unkngoog#page/n231/mode/1up Greg I, 171]; Foakes, 206:
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F.108<sup>r</sup>; [http://www.archive.org/stream/henslowesdiary00unkngoog#page/n231/mode/1up Greg I, 171]; Foakes, 206:
 
:Lent unto Edward Jube the 9 of novmbʒ 1602
 
:Lent unto Edward Jube the 9 of novmbʒ 1602
 
:to paye vnto m<sup>r</sup> mydelton in full<i>e</i> paymente
 
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==Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues==
 
==Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues==
  
Greg notes that Holinshed's ''Chronicles'' mentions three Earls of Chester called Ranulf. Doris Feldmann and Kurt Tetzeli von Rosador note that two of these men had lives colourful enough to stimulate the interest of a dramatist: Ranulf de Gernons (d. 1153) and Ranulf de Blundevill (d.1232) (330).
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Greg notes that there were three Earls of Chester named Ranulph in history: Ranulph le Meschin (died 1129?), his son Ranulph de Gernons (died 1153) and Ranulph de Blundevill (died 1232) ([http://www.archive.org/stream/henslowesdiary02hensuoft#page/225/mode/1up Greg II, 225]), also known as Ranulph I, Ranulph II and Ranulph III. Doris Feldmann and Kurt Tetzeli von Rosador note that le Meschin is mentioned only in passing by Holinshed, whereas both de Gernons and de Blundevill had lives colourful enough to be of interest to a dramatist (330).
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There are fragmentary traces of a popular tradition about an heroic Earl of Chester named Ranulph, and a line in William Langland's ''Piers Plowman'' mentions the existence of "rymes about Robyn hood and Randolf Erl of Chestre" (V.395). Scholars have debated whether this legendary Ranulph is based on de Gernons or de Blundevill. James A. Alexander believes that de Blundevill's "pragmatic conservatism" could not have inspired popular legends, and identifies Langland's "Erl" with de Gernons (''Ranulf'', 101, "Ranulf III"). However, Glyn S. Burgess supports an identification with de Blundevill; he argues that de Blundevill became a hero in the popular memory, associated with resistance to unfair taxation, and later with the Robin Hood legend.
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Whichever of the two earls inspired him, this legendary Ranulph appears in several plays relating to Robin Hood. He appears in Anthony Munday's plays ''The Downfall'' and ''The Death of Robert, Earl of Huntingdon'' (Burgess 77-9l); Feldmann and Tetzeli von Rosaor state that this character is based on Ranulph de Blundevill as described in Holinshed's ''Chronicles'' (329-30). The Admiral's Men play ''Look About You'' (which may also be by Munday), is also set in the Robin Hood era, and features a Ranulph, Earl of Chester in a less prominent role (Feldmann and Tetzeli von Rosador 329). Munday also included a Ranulph, Earl of Chester in ''John a Kent and John a Cumber'' (Feldmann and Tetzeli von Rosador 329), but the historical period of that play is unspecified. J.W. Ashton describes the Ranulphs in these plays in detail.
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Feldmann and Tetzeli von Rosador further suggest that the popular lost play ''[[The Wise Man of West Chester]]'' could have "kept Chester and its earls alive in the minds of Elizabethan theatregoers" (330).
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===Ranulph de Gernons in Holinshed's ''Chronicles''===
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The following references to Ranulph de Gernons, Earl of Chester, appear in [http://www.english.ox.ac.uk/holinshed/texts.php?text1=1587_1750 Holinshed's ''Chronicles'', 1587 ed., volume 6].
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====Summary====
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Ranulph is described in Holinshed's genelogy of the Earls of Chester thus:
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:"Ranulfe or Randulfe Bohun, the second of that name, and fourth erle in number after the conquest, surnamed Geruous, succeeded his father, and married Alice, daughter to Robert erle of Glocester, base sonne to king Henrie the first by whome he had issue Hugh Keuelocke, the fift earle of Chester. He deceassed about the yeare of our Lord 1153, when he had beéne earle 29 yeares." (p.221)
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====Chronicle====
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Ranulph lived during the reign of King Stephen. When the Empress Maud arrived with "a great armie, to the intent that ioining with Ranulph earle of Chester (who tooke part with Robert erle of Glocester, bicause the same Rob. had maried his daughter) she might fight with King Stephan, and trie the battell with him" (p.51).
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When Stephen's army besieged Lincoln, "Robert earle of Glocester, and Ranulph earle of Chester, Hugh Bigot, and Robert of Morley" arrive to "come to the succour of those that were thus besieged", and camp outside the city (p.51).
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The armies of Stephen and the rebels faced off, and "the earle of Chester led the fore ward". Holinshed records a speech that Chester uttered to his fellow captains, "appointed in faire armour as he was":
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:"I giue you hartie thanks, most inuincible chiefteine, and you my fellow soldiers, which declare your hartie good wils towards me, euen to the ieoparding of your liues at this my request and instance. Sith then I am the occasion of your perill, it is conuenient that I make the first entrance, and giue the onset of the battell vpon that most disloiall king, who granting a truce, hath broken the peace; and swearing to be a subiect, is now prooued a most wicked vsurper: I therefore trusting both vpon reuenge of the vniust dealings of this king, and also vpon mine owne force and courage, shall straitwaies breake in sunder the arraie of his armie, and make waie through the middest of the enimies with sword in hand. It shall be your parts then to follow me, who will lead you the waie: for euen now my mind giueth me, that I shall passe thorough the battels, tread the capteines vnder foot, and run the king through with this my sharpe sword." (p.52)
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During the battle, King Stephen encountered Chester, but was "ouercharged with multitude" (p.52).
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Further battles ensued. Holinshed describes at length the despoiling of abbeys and churches by Stephen's men, and mentions one Robert Marmion, who was "going foorth to encounter with the earle of Chester (his mortall enimie, and being approched as then towards the citie)" but fell into one of his own ditches outside the same abbey that he had attempted to rob (p.55).
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The Earl of Chester was by now governing the city of Lincoln. King Stephen attempted to retake it, but was repulsed by Chester:
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:"aduertisement was giuen, that the citie of Lincolne, which the earle of Chester had in keeping, was but slenderlie manned. Wherevpon the king conceiuing some hope to win the same, hasted forward: and comming thither in the night, laid siege therevnto, and began to cast a trench to stop them within frõ making any salies without."
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:The earle at the first being somewhat amazed with the sudden approch of the enimie, yet beholding from the walles the maner of them without, he perceiued the rankes to be verie thin: and thereby gessing their number to be but small, suddenlie issued foorth at the gates to encounter with them. The king abode not the giuing of the charge, bicause he was but weake and therefore fled;The siege raised. neither could the earle follow the chace conuenientlie, for the like cause; but setting vpon those that were about to make the trench, he slue 80. of the workemen, and then retired into the castell. (p.56)
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After Stephen achieved a series of victories, Chester came "with a great traine of knights and gentlemen vnto the king, and so at length they were not vnfeignedlie accorded and made freends". However, Stephen was dissimulating, because
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:"the earle was craftilie taken at a parlement holden at Northampton, by the practise of K. Stephan, and could not be deliuered, till he had surrendred the citie and castell of Lincolne, with other fortresses perteining to the crowne into the kings hands." (p.56)
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Stephen's treatment of Chester earned him "new hatred of his old aduersaries, and like supicion of such as were his freends, for it sounded not a little to his dishonor" (p.56).
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Having given up Lincoln to Stephen, Chester now tried to win it back. He "came thither with an armie, to assaie if he might recouer that citie. But his lieutenant that had the leading of his men, was slaine at the entring of the northgate, and so the erle was beaten backe with the losse of manie of his men: and the citizens hauing got the vpper hand, reioised not a little for the victorie" (p.57).
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The arrival of Henry Fitzempress in England encouraged many of Stephen's supporters to change sides. Holinshed lists Chester among the noblemen who joined Henry on a visit to King David of Scotland (p.57).
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As the wars continued, Holinshed reports that the
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:"noble and valiant earle of Chester called Ranulfe departed this life, a man of such stoutnesse of stomach, that death could scarselie make him to yeeld, or shew any token of feare: he was poisoned (as was thought) by William Peuerell. After him succeeded his sonne Hugh, a man likewise of passing strength and vertue. Now although earle Ranulfe fauoured the part of duke Henrie, yet in these later yeares he did but little for him: wherefore it was thought that the death of this earle was not so great a losse to the duke, as the deaths of Eustace, earle Simon, and other the kings fréends deceasing about the same time seemed to further him: so that his part became dailie stronger, and the kings weaker." (p.60)
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Other writers had already represented Randalls or Ranulphs of Chester. Feldmann and Tetzeli von Rosador point to a line in ''Piers Plowman'' (V.395) which mentions the existence of folk "rymes about Robyn hood and Randolf Earl of Chestre". They further note that Anthony Munday included a "Ranulphe, Earl of Chester" in ''John a Kent and John a Cumber'', and an Earl of Chester in both ''The Downfall'' and ''The Death of Robert, Earl of Huntingdon'' (the latter Earl is de Blundevill). Another appears briefly in the Admiral's Men's play ''Look About You''. The popular lost play ''[[The Wise Man of West Chester]]'' may also have been an influence (329-30).
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===Ranulf de Blundevill in Holinshed's ''Chronicles''===
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The following references to Ranulph de Blundevill, Earl of Chester, appear in [http://www.english.ox.ac.uk/holinshed/texts.php?text1=1587_1750 Holinshed's ''Chronicles'', 1587 ed., volume 6].
 
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==Ranulf de Blundevill==
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====Summaries====
(Text to be included)
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Holinshed describes Ranulph in his genealogy of the Earls of Chester thus:
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:"Ranulfe Bohun the third of that name, otherwise called Blundeuille, the sonne of Hugh Keuelocke, was the sixt earle of Chester after the conquest. He was also earle of Lincolne, as next cousine and heire to William Romare earle of Lincolne. He had three wiues (as before yee haue heard) but yet died without issue, about the yeare of our Lord 1232, after he had beene earle 51 yeares." (p.221)
  
===Ranulf de Gernons===
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When relating Ranulph's death, Holinshed summarizes his three marriages thus:
The following references to Ranulf de Gernons, Earl of Chester appear in Holinshed's ''Chronicles'':
 
  
:In the moneth of Iulie the empresse Maud lan|ded here in England at Portesmouth,The empresse landed here in England. & went strait to Arundell, which towne (togither with the countie of Sussex) hir mother in law Adelicia king Henries second wife, wedded to William de Albenay, held in right of assignation for hir dower. There came in with the empresse hir brother Robert and Hugh Bi|got, of whom ye haue heard before.
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:"This earle Ranulfe was thrice married, first to Constance daughter and heire to Conan earle of Britaine and Richmund, and so in right of hir was intituled earle of those two places: which Constance had beene first married vnto Geffrey the third sonne of king Henrie the second, by whom she had issue Arthur (as before yée haue heard.) But by earle Ranulfe she had no issue at all, but was from him diuorced, and afterwards married vnto Guy vicount de Towars. Then after earle Ranulfe was so diuorsed from the said Constance, he married a ladie named Clemence, and after hir deceasse, he married the third time the ladie Margaret, daughter to Humfrey de Bohun earle of Hereford and Essex, constable of England." (p.215)
  
:Some write that the empresse brought with hir a great armie, to the intent that ioining with Ra|nulph earle of Chester (who tooke part with Robert erle of Glocester, bicause the same Rob. had maried his daughter) she might fight with king Stephan, and trie the battell with him.
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However, "he neuer had issue by any of those his wiues, so that Iohn Scot his nephue by his sister Mawd succéeded him in the earldome of Chester, and William Dalbenie earle of Arundell, nephue to him by his sister Mabell, had the manour of Barrow, and other lands that belonged to the said Ranulfe, of the yerelie value of fiue hundred pounds" (p.215).
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====Chronicle====
  
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Holinshed's first reference to Ranulph de Blundevill, describes him fighting for King Richard against John. With other lords, he "besieged the castell of Notingham" (p.142). When Richard was crowned, Ranulph was present, and stood on the left side of the King of Scots (p.143).
  
:The king followed hir verie earnestlie, and comming vnto Lincolne besieged it, assaieng on e|uerie side which waie he might best find meanes to win it, & enter into the same. At length the empresse found shift to escape from thence, and within a little while the king got possession of the citie. But short|lie after, Robert earle of Glocester, and Ranulph earle of Chester, Hugh Bigot, and Robert of Mor|ley assembling their power, aswell of Welshmen as others, to come to the succour of those that were thus besieged, came to Lincolne, & pitching downe their tents néere to the enimies, they rested the first night without making any great attempt.
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Ranulph was married to Constance of Brittany, mother (by her previous husband) of Arthur of Brittany, whom Richard had nominated his heir. The marriage was not a success. When Constance made an attempt at speaking with Richard, Ranulph "meeting hir at Pountourson, tooke hir as prisoner, and shut hir vp within his castell at S. Iames de Beumeron". This action had great repercussions: "when hir sonne Arthur could not find means to deliuer hir out of captiuitie, he ioined with the king of France, and made great hauocke in the lands of his vncle king Richard, wherevpon the king gathered a mightie armie, and inuading Britaine with great force, cruellie wasted and destroied the countrie" (p.150).
  
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Holinshed includes Ranulph among the lords who "accompted and proclaimed" John to be King of England after Richard's death
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(p.157), and later among those who attended his coronation (p.159). He is later listed among the lords who supported King John's league with Godfrey of Boulogne against the French (p.175), and among several high-ranking men who agreed to honour obligations toward the repayment of money owed to the Pope (p.182).
  
:Now on the aduersaries side, the earle of Chester led the fore ward, and those whome king Stephan had disherited, were placed in the middle ward. In the rere ward the earle of Glocester with his compa|nie had the rule. And besides those thrée battels, the Welshmen were set as a wing at one of the sides.
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John's dissension with his barons may have arisen "bicause the king would without skilfull aduise haue exiled the earle of Chester, and for none other occasion than for that he had oftentimes aduised him to leaue his cruell dealing, and also his accustomed adulterie with his brothers wife and others" (p.184). Ranulf is listed among the some lords who, upon receiving a letter from the rebellious barons, "ioined themselues with the barons, vtterlie renouncing to aid king Iohn" (p.185).
  
:Here the earle of Chester (to vtter the good will which he had to fight) appointed in faire armour as he was, spake these words in effect as followeth, dire|cting the same to the earle of Glocester, and other the capteines, saieng:
 
  
::I giue you hartie thanks, most inuincible chiefteine, and you my fellow soldi|ers, which declare your hartie good wils towards me, euen to the ieoparding of your liues at this my re|quest and instance. Sith then I am the occasion of your perill, it is conuenient that I make the first en|trance, and giue the onset of the battell vpon that most disloiall king, who granting a truce, hath bro|ken the peace; and swearing to be a subiect, is now prooued a most wicked vsurper: I therefore trusting both vpon reuenge of the vniust dealings of this king, and also vpon mine owne force and courage, shall straitwaies breake in sunder the arraie of his armie, and make waie through the middest of the e|nimies with sword in hand. It shall be your parts then to follow me, who will lead you the waie: for e|uen now my mind giueth me, that I shall passe tho|rough the battels, tread the capteines vnder foot, and run the king through with this my sharpe sword.
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Upon the death of John, and the accession of Henry III, Ranulph is listed among the lords who "fell to councell togither what waie should be best to take" (p.197).
  
[...]
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During an insurrection led by Louis, Ranulph was among the lords who beseiged Montsorell Castle. He was later among the army that marched to liberate Lincoln, described as "a great puissance of people desirous to fight for the defense of their countrie against the Frenchmen and other aduersaries, rebels to the pope, and excommunicated persons" (p.199).
  
:The wing of the disherited men ouerthrew and bare downe their aduersaries, which were led by the duke of Britaine, and the forenamed earles. On the contrarie part, the earle of Albemarle and William de Ypres put the Welshmen to flight, but by the earle of Chester and his retinue, the same earle and William de Ypres were fiercelie assailed afresh, and put out of order. Thus was the kings side put to the worse,  namelie his horssemen, who being placed in the forefront, and there ouermatched, fell to galoping. Which thing when the king beheld, he was not yet any whit therewith abashed, but like an har|die captein (as he was no lesse indéed) comforted his footmen whom he had about him, and rushing vpon his enimies, bare them downe, and ouerthrew so manie as stood before him, so that with the point of his weapon he made himselfe waie. His footmen, who were but a few in number to the multitude of his enimies, counteruailed in all points the prowes and manlike dooings of their king and capteine, in|somuch that few battels had beene better fought, nor with greater slaughter on both sides, if the kings fore ward (which in maner at the first shranke backe and was disordered, not without some supicion of treason) had staied the brunt of the enimies a while, as it had béene requisite. At length the king encoun|tring with the earle of Chester, being ouercharged with multitude, was taken prisoner by one William de Cahames.
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Later, Ranulph went on a crusade, having been sent to the Holy Land by Henry "with a goodlie companie of souldiers and men of warre, to aid the christians there against the infidels which at the same time had besieged the citie of Damieta in Aegypt, in which enterprise the valiancie of the same earle after his comming thither, was to his great praise most apparant". He successfully won the city (p.202).
  
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After this success, Ranulph, "began to build the castels of Chartleie and Béeston, and afterward he also builded the abbeie of Dieu Lencresse, commonlie called Delacresse of the white order. Toward his charges susteined about the building of which castels and abbeie, he tooke toll throughout all his lordships of all such persons as passed by the same with any cattell, chaffre or merchandize" (p.202).
  
:Likewise Robert Marmion, who had attempted the semblable robberie & spoile in the abbeie church of Couentrie, was slaine before the same abbeie by a like mischance. For going foorth to encounter with the earle of Chester (his mortall enimie, and being approched as then towards the citie) he fell with his horsse into a ditch, which he caused to be couertlie made for the destruction of his enimies: and before he could be relieued, a souldier of the earles part stept to him, and stroke his head from his shoulders in sight of both armies.
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An incident subsequently took place in which Ranulph's castle at Fotheringay was captured by the rebellious Earl of Abermarle (p.202).
  
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Later, "Iohn the sonne of Dauid earle of Anguish in Scotland, sisters sonne vnto Ranulfe earle of Chester, married the daughter
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of Leolin prince of Wales, as it were to procure a finall accord betwéene the said Leolin and Ranulfe" (p.204).  
  
:About the same time aduertisement was giuen, that the citie of Lincolne, which the earle of Chester had in keeping, was but slenderlie manned. Where|vpon the king conceiuing some hope to win the same, hasted forward: and comming thither in the night, laid siege therevnto, and began to cast a trench to stop them within frõ making any salies without.
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Various incidents then took place involving tensions between Henry and the barons; Ranulph is recorded as inconsistent in his loyalty to the King.  
  
:The earle at the first being somewhat amazed with the sudden approch of the enimie, yet beholding from the walles the maner of them without, he perceiued the rankes to be verie thin: and thereby gessing their number to be but small, suddenlie issued foorth at the gates to encounter with them. The king a|bode not the giuing of the charge, bicause he was but weake and therefore fled;The siege raised. neither could the earle follow the chace conuenientlie, for the like cause; but setting vpon those that were about to make the trench, he slue 80. of the workemen, and then retired into the castell.
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Ranulph "and other Noble men" conspired "against Hubert de Burgh lord chiefe iustice of England, by whose counsell (as it was thought) the king was more streict towards the nobilitie and other his subiects" (p.204).
  
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King Henry then acquired the Pope's blessing to be considered of age sufficient to govern, and thus "anie castels, honors, manors or places apperteining to the king, were commanded to deliuer and resigne the same to his vse, which caused much trouble, as after shall appeare". Ranulph was amenable to this: when Henry demanded of Ranulph "the restitution of certeine lordships which ancientlie apperteined to the crowne", the earl "readilie obeied the kings pleasure, and resigned them all". Following his example, "diuerse of the rest of the barons were brought into such feare, that they were contented also to doo the like" (p.205).
  
:In the yeare following; namelie, in the 10. yeare of king Stephans reigne, Robert earle of Glocester and other capteins tooke in hand to build a castell at Faringdon. But king Stephan assembling an ar|mie of Londoners and other, came thither, and besie|ged them within. Now whilest earle Robert and o|thers of the empresses capteins remaining not far off, taried for a greater power to come to their aid, the king with sharpe assaults (but not without losse of his men) wan the fortresse:The king winneth it by force. whereby his side be|gan to wax the stronger, and to be more highlie ad|uanced. After this he came with a mightie armie vn|to Wallingford, and there builded a strong castell ouer against the other castell which his aduersaries held against him.
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Later, however, Ranulph led "a great puissance of warlike personages" against the King in a dispute about the Earl of Cornwall's land rights (p.209).
  
:Thither also came the earle of Chester with a great traine of knights and gentlemen vnto the king, and so at length they were not vnfeignedlie accorded and made freends, but in apperance on the kings behalfe. For shortlie after, the earle was craftilie taken at a parlement holden at Northampton, by the practise of K. Stephan, and could not be deliuered, till he had surrendred the citie and castell of Lincolne, with o|ther fortresses perteining to the crowne into the kings hands. About that time did the Welshmen destroie the prouince of Chester, but at last they were distressed. This yeare also the lord Geffrey earle of Aniou sent thrée Noble men into England, accom|panied with certeine men of warre, vnto earle Ro|bert, requesting him to send ouer his sonne Henrie into France, that he might sée him, and if need requi|red, he promised to send him backe againe with all conuenient speed. Earle Robert was contented to satisfie his request: and so with a good power of ar|med men brought the lord Henrie vnto Warham, where he tooke leaue of him, neuer after to sée him in this world. For when the child was transpor|ted, earle Robert returned spéedilie to the parties from whence he came, and there falling into an ague, departed this life about the beginning of Nouem|ber, and was buried at Bristow. The lord Henrie comming to his father, was ioifully receiued, and re|mained in those parties for the space of two yeares and foure moneths.
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The Pope then began to demand "a tenth part of all the mooueable goods within the realmes & countries of England, Wales, and Ireland" (p.210). Ranulph resisted:  "The earle of Chester onlie stood manfullie against the paiment of those tenths, insomuch that he would not suffer his lands to be brought vnder bondage, neither wold he permit the religious men and préests that held of his fee to pay the same" (p.211).
  
:In the meane season, the vniust procéedings of K. Stephan against the earle of Chester, purchased him new hatred of his old aduersaries, and like supicion of such as were his freends, for it sounded not a little to his dishonor. Euerie man therefore was in doubt of his dealing, K. Stephan entreth into Lincolne with his crowne on his head. and iudged that it stood them vpon to take héed to themselues. But he (as one that thought he had atchiued some high exploit) in triumphant wise shortlie after entred into Lincolne in his roiall robes, and his crowne on his head, whereas it had not béene heard that any king had doone the like ma|nie yeares before.
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Henry began an invasion of France, but the purported treachery of the chief justice meant that not enough ships were available. "In this heat if the earle of Chester and other had not béene at hand, he [the King] had suerlie slaine the chéefe iustice euen there with his drawne sword, who was glad to auoid his presence, till his angrie mood was somwhat ouerpassed" (p.211).
  
:¶ It is reported by some writers, that he did this, to root out of mens minds a foolish superstitious con|ceit, which beléeued that no king with his crowne vp|on his head might enter that citie, but some mis|chance should light vpon him: wherevpon he seemed by this meanes to mocke their superstitious imagi|nation.
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During the invasion, King Henry made Ranulph one of the captain in charge of "defense of the countrie against the Frenchmen"; they made excursions into France where they won victories. After a battle with the French, Ranulph was one of three advisers who persuaded King Henry and King Louis into a peace agreement, "by which meanes they were at the last accorded. [...] Thus ceassed the warres for that time betwixt the kings of England and France, as some haue witnessed" (p.212).
  
:About the same time manie of the Nobles of the realme (perceiuing the kings authoritie to represse violent wrongs committed by euill dooers to be de|fectiue) builded sundrie strong castels and fortresses vpon their owne grounds, either to defend them|selues, or to make force vpon their enimies néere adioining. After the departing of the king from Lincolne, the earle of Chester came thither with an armie, to assaie if he might recouer that citie. But his lieutenant that had the leading of his men, was slaine at the entring of the northgate, and so the erle was beaten backe with the losse of manie of his men: and the citizens hauing got the vpper hand, re|ioised not a little for the victorie.
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Ranulph also "fortified the castell of S.Iames de Bewmero(n), which (bicause it belonged to the right of his wife) the earle of Britaine had (sith the kings comming ouer) restored vnto him" (p.212).
  
[...]
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When the French attempted to invade, Ranulph was one of the captains who "found meanes to take and destroie all the cariages and wagons which came with vittels and other prouision to serue the French armie [...] and by consent of the earles of Britaine and Chester on the English part, a peace was concluded, or rather a truce to indure for three yeares" (p.214).
  
:The lord Henrie Fitzempresse after all these businesses returned into England, in the moneth of May, with a great companie of men of warre both horssemen and footmen: by reason whereof many re|uolted from king Stephan to take part with him: whereas before they sat still, and would not attempt any exploit against him. But now incouraged with the presence of the lord Henrie, they declared them|selues freends to him, and enimies to the king. Im|mediatlie after his arriuall, he tooke with him the earles of Chester and Hereford, Ranulfe and Roger, and diuers other Noble men and knights of great fame, beside those whom he had brought with him out of Normandie, and went vnto Carleil, where he found his coosin Dauid king of Scotland, of whome he was most ioifullie receiued.
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Holinshed describes Ranulph's death thus: "in the beginning of the seauentéenth yeere of [Henry's] reigne, Ranulfe earle of Chester and Lincolne departed this life the six and twentith day of October, whose bodie was buried at Chester, and his bowels at Wallingford where he died." (p.215)
  
[...]
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After summarizing Ranulph's marriages (see above), Holinshed then relates an anecdote about Ranulph involving actors and musicians disguising as an army:
  
:About the same time also that noble and valiant earle of Chester called Ranulfe departed this life, a man of such stoutnesse of stomach, that death could scarselie make him to yeeld, or shew any token of feare: he was poisoned (as was thought) by Willi|am Peuerell. After him succeeded his sonne Hugh, a man likewise of passing strength and vertue. Now although earle Ranulfe fauoured the part of duke Henrie, yet in these later yeares he did but little for him: wherefore it was thought that the death of this earle was not so great a losse to the duke, as the deaths of Eustace, earle Simon, and other the kings fréends deceasing about the same time seemed to fur|ther him: so that his part became dailie stronger, and the kings weaker.
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:"Here is also to be remembred, that the afore mentioned earle Ranulfe (or Randulfe whether ye list to call him) atchiued manie high enterprises in his time, as partlie in this booke ye haue alreadie heard: he held sore warres against the Welshmen, till at length an agréement was concluded betwixt him and Leolin prince of Wales. I remember I haue read in an old record, that vpon a time as this earle passed into Wales with an armie, his chance was to be ouerset by the Welshmen, so that he was driuen to retire into a castell, wherein the Welshmen did besiege him. And as it fortuned at that time, Roger Lacie the constable of Chester was not then with him, but left behind at Chester to see the citie kept in order (for as it should séeme, their solemne plaies which commonlie are vsed at Whitsuntide were then in hand, or else their faire which is kept at Midsummer.)
  
([http://www.english.ox.ac.uk/holinshed/texts.php?text1=1587_1750 Holinshed's ''Chronicles'', 1587 ed., volume 6, pp. 51-65])
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:"Wherefore the earle sent a messenger in all possible hast vnto his constable, praieng him with spéed to come to his succour in that extreame point of necessitie. Lacie made no delaie, but assembling all the forreners, plaiers, musicians, and others which he could find within that citie fit to weare armor, went foorth with them, and in most speedie maner marched toward the castell, where the Welshmen kept the earle besieged, who now perceiuing such a multitude of men comming towards them, incontinentlie left the siege and fled awaie. The earle then being thus deliuered out of that present danger, came foorth of the castell, returned with his constable vnto Chester, and in recompense of that seruice, gaue vnto his said constable Roger Lacie, the rule, order, and authoritie ouer all the forreners, plaiers, musicians, and other strangers resorting to Chester at the time, when such publike plaies (or else faire) should be kept & holden." (p.215)
  
 
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The following entry for an unnamed play by Middleton appears in Henslowe's diary as follows:
 
The following entry for an unnamed play by Middleton appears in Henslowe's diary as follows:
  
[http://www.henslowe-alleyn.org.uk/images/MSS-7/116v.html f.116<sup>v</sup>]; [http://www.archive.org/stream/henslowesdiary00unkngoog#page/n242/mode/1up Greg I, 181]; Foakes, 217)
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F.116<sup>v</sup>; [http://www.archive.org/stream/henslowesdiary00unkngoog#page/n242/mode/1up Greg I, 181]; Foakes, 217:
  
 
:Lent at the a poyntment of John ducke
 
:Lent at the a poyntment of John ducke
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===Subject matter===
 
===Subject matter===
Greg thought Ranulf de Blundevill was the likeliest subject of the play ([http://www.archive.org/stream/henslowesdiary02hensuoft#page/225/mode/1up Greg II, 225]).
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Greg thought Ranulf de Gernons was the likeliest subject of the play ([http://www.archive.org/stream/henslowesdiary02hensuoft#page/225/mode/1up Greg II, 225]).
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Feldmann and Tetzeli von Rosador also suspect that Middleton's play was about Ranulf de Gernons. They argue that although de Blundevill's life has dramatic potential, involving opposition to England paying tithes to Rome, and a rescue from a besieged castle, it does not seem suited to tragedy. They consider the life of de Gernons, a baron who pursued his personal autonomy over the rule of King Stephen, took him captive, but was then captured himself and forced to surrender, to be closer to the pattern of tragedy. They imagine that Middleton's play might have depicted de Gernon's opposition to the King, his capturing of him, and his subsequent surrender after being captured himself. They suggest that although Holinshed describes further events in de Gernon's life - other  "alliances, intrigues and battles" - Middleton could have created a tragic structure by having Ranulf be summarily killed after his surrender, perhaps "poisoned by William Peverell, whom, it is said, he had robbed of his land". They further speculate that an appearance by Empress Matilda could have provided the "element of sexual violence or violent sexuality" that Middleton often favoured (330).
 
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Feldmann and Tetzeli von Rosador suspect that Middleton's play was about Ranulf de Gernons. While de Blundevill's life has dramatic potential, involving opposition to England paying tithes to Rome, and a rescue from a besieged castle, it does not seem suited to tragedy. They argue that de Gernons, a baron who pursued his personal autonomy over the rule of King Stephen, took him captive, but was then captured himself and forced to surrender, is closer to the pattern of tragedy. They imagine that Middleton's play might have depicted de Gernon's opposition to the King, his capturing of him, and his subsequent surrender after being captured himself. They suggest that although Holinshed describes further events in de Gernon's life - other  "alliances, intrigues and battles" - Middleton could have created a tragic structure by having Ranulf be summarily killed after his surrender, perhaps "poisoned by William Peverell, whom, it is said, he had robbed of his land". They further speculate that an appearance by Empress Matilda could have provided the "element of sexual violence or violent sexuality" that Middleton often favoured (330).
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Similarly, Martin Wiggins considers de Gernons the likelier subject "because he died in a suitably tragical way, by poison" (4:429).
 
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Ashton and Burgess, however, believe that ''Randall'' and the extant plays about the legendary Earl are based on Ranulf de Blundevill (77). Based on surviving evidence about the legends of Ranulph, Ashton suggests that the following likely features of tales about him: "his reputation in arms", "his association with the Welsh, evidently a friendly one since the implications are that the Welshmen there come to his rescue", "his association with King John in the latter's romantic and other adventures", "love themes", and an association with Robin Hood (205-6).
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===Identifications with other plays===
 
===Identifications with other plays===
 
Greg suggests that ''Randall'' may have been Middleton's refashioning of ''[[The Wise Man of West Chester]]'', which he believes to be the same play as ''John a Kent and John a Cumber'', since a Ranulph, Earl of Chester appears in that play. However, Greg acknowledges that Ranulph does not play an important part in that play ([http://www.archive.org/stream/henslowesdiary02hensuoft#page/225/mode/1up Greg II, 225]).
 
Greg suggests that ''Randall'' may have been Middleton's refashioning of ''[[The Wise Man of West Chester]]'', which he believes to be the same play as ''John a Kent and John a Cumber'', since a Ranulph, Earl of Chester appears in that play. However, Greg acknowledges that Ranulph does not play an important part in that play ([http://www.archive.org/stream/henslowesdiary02hensuoft#page/225/mode/1up Greg II, 225]).
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==For What It's Worth==
 
==For What It's Worth==
 
(Information welcome.)
 
(Information welcome.)
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==Works Cited==
 
==Works Cited==
  
<div style="padding-left: 2em; text-indent: -2em;">Doris Feldmann and Kurt Tetzeli von Rosador, "Lost Plays: A Brief Account", in ''Thomas Middleton: The Collected Works'', ed. Gary Taylor and John Lavagnino (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2007), 328-333.</div>
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<div style="padding-left: 2em; text-indent: -2em;">Alexander, James A. "Ranulf III of Chester: An Outlaw of Legend?" ''Neuphilologische Mitteilungen'' 82 (1982): 152-7.</div>
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<div style="padding-left: 2em; text-indent: -2em;">Alexander, James A. ''Ranulf of Chester: A Relic of the Conquest'' (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1983).</div>
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<div style="padding-left: 2em; text-indent: -2em;">Ashton, J.W. "Rymes of... Randolf Erl of Chestre", in ''English Literary History'' 5 (1938): 195-206.</div>
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<div style="padding-left: 2em; text-indent: -2em;">Burgess, Glyn S. "I Kan Rymes of Robin Hood, and Randolf Erl of Chestre", in in ''"De Sens Rassis": Essays in Honour of Rupert T. Pickens'',ed. Keith Busby, Bernard Guidot, and Logan E. Whalen (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2005), 51-84.</div>
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<div style="padding-left: 2em; text-indent: -2em;">Feldmann, Doris, and Kurt Tetzeli von Rosador, "Lost Plays: A Brief Account", in ''Thomas Middleton: The Collected Works'', ed. Gary Taylor and John Lavagnino (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2007), 328-333.</div>
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<div style="padding-left: 2em; text-indent: -2em;">Langland, William, ''Piers Plowman: The B Version'', ed. George Kane and E. Talbot Donaldson (London: Athlone, 1975).</div>
 
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Site created and maintained by [[David Nicol]], Dalhousie University; updated 20 May 2011.
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Site created and maintained by [[David Nicol]], Dalhousie University; updated 4 August, 2015.
[[category:all]][[category:tragedy]][[category:barons]][[category:medieval]][[category:Admiral's]]
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[[category:all]][[category:barons]][[category:medieval]][[category:Admiral's]][[category:David Nicol]]

Revision as of 16:12, 27 August 2016

Thomas Middleton (1602)

Historical Records


Payments to Playwrights (Henslowe's Diary)


F.108r; Greg I, 171; Foakes, 205:

pd at the apoynt of wm Jube the 21
of octobʒ 1602 vnto mr medelton in pte of
payment ffor his playe called [felmelanco] Chester
tragedie the some of iiijli



(The title 'felmelanco' is crossed out, and 'Chester' inserted underneath.)


F.108r; Greg I, 171; Foakes, 206:

Lent unto Edward Jube the 9 of novmbʒ 1602
to paye vnto mr mydelton in fulle paymente
of his playe called Randowlle earlle of chester
the some of xxxx s




Theatrical Provenance

Admiral's Men.


Probable Genre(s)

Described as a tragedy in the first record. However, Greg suggests that the word 'tragedie' could have been part of the 'felmelanco' title and inadvertently left to stand (II, 225).




Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

Greg notes that there were three Earls of Chester named Ranulph in history: Ranulph le Meschin (died 1129?), his son Ranulph de Gernons (died 1153) and Ranulph de Blundevill (died 1232) (Greg II, 225), also known as Ranulph I, Ranulph II and Ranulph III. Doris Feldmann and Kurt Tetzeli von Rosador note that le Meschin is mentioned only in passing by Holinshed, whereas both de Gernons and de Blundevill had lives colourful enough to be of interest to a dramatist (330).

There are fragmentary traces of a popular tradition about an heroic Earl of Chester named Ranulph, and a line in William Langland's Piers Plowman mentions the existence of "rymes about Robyn hood and Randolf Erl of Chestre" (V.395). Scholars have debated whether this legendary Ranulph is based on de Gernons or de Blundevill. James A. Alexander believes that de Blundevill's "pragmatic conservatism" could not have inspired popular legends, and identifies Langland's "Erl" with de Gernons (Ranulf, 101, "Ranulf III"). However, Glyn S. Burgess supports an identification with de Blundevill; he argues that de Blundevill became a hero in the popular memory, associated with resistance to unfair taxation, and later with the Robin Hood legend.

Whichever of the two earls inspired him, this legendary Ranulph appears in several plays relating to Robin Hood. He appears in Anthony Munday's plays The Downfall and The Death of Robert, Earl of Huntingdon (Burgess 77-9l); Feldmann and Tetzeli von Rosaor state that this character is based on Ranulph de Blundevill as described in Holinshed's Chronicles (329-30). The Admiral's Men play Look About You (which may also be by Munday), is also set in the Robin Hood era, and features a Ranulph, Earl of Chester in a less prominent role (Feldmann and Tetzeli von Rosador 329). Munday also included a Ranulph, Earl of Chester in John a Kent and John a Cumber (Feldmann and Tetzeli von Rosador 329), but the historical period of that play is unspecified. J.W. Ashton describes the Ranulphs in these plays in detail.

Feldmann and Tetzeli von Rosador further suggest that the popular lost play The Wise Man of West Chester could have "kept Chester and its earls alive in the minds of Elizabethan theatregoers" (330).


Ranulph de Gernons in Holinshed's Chronicles

The following references to Ranulph de Gernons, Earl of Chester, appear in Holinshed's Chronicles, 1587 ed., volume 6.

Summary

Ranulph is described in Holinshed's genelogy of the Earls of Chester thus:

"Ranulfe or Randulfe Bohun, the second of that name, and fourth erle in number after the conquest, surnamed Geruous, succeeded his father, and married Alice, daughter to Robert erle of Glocester, base sonne to king Henrie the first by whome he had issue Hugh Keuelocke, the fift earle of Chester. He deceassed about the yeare of our Lord 1153, when he had beéne earle 29 yeares." (p.221)



Chronicle

Ranulph lived during the reign of King Stephen. When the Empress Maud arrived with "a great armie, to the intent that ioining with Ranulph earle of Chester (who tooke part with Robert erle of Glocester, bicause the same Rob. had maried his daughter) she might fight with King Stephan, and trie the battell with him" (p.51).

When Stephen's army besieged Lincoln, "Robert earle of Glocester, and Ranulph earle of Chester, Hugh Bigot, and Robert of Morley" arrive to "come to the succour of those that were thus besieged", and camp outside the city (p.51).

The armies of Stephen and the rebels faced off, and "the earle of Chester led the fore ward". Holinshed records a speech that Chester uttered to his fellow captains, "appointed in faire armour as he was":

"I giue you hartie thanks, most inuincible chiefteine, and you my fellow soldiers, which declare your hartie good wils towards me, euen to the ieoparding of your liues at this my request and instance. Sith then I am the occasion of your perill, it is conuenient that I make the first entrance, and giue the onset of the battell vpon that most disloiall king, who granting a truce, hath broken the peace; and swearing to be a subiect, is now prooued a most wicked vsurper: I therefore trusting both vpon reuenge of the vniust dealings of this king, and also vpon mine owne force and courage, shall straitwaies breake in sunder the arraie of his armie, and make waie through the middest of the enimies with sword in hand. It shall be your parts then to follow me, who will lead you the waie: for euen now my mind giueth me, that I shall passe thorough the battels, tread the capteines vnder foot, and run the king through with this my sharpe sword." (p.52)

During the battle, King Stephen encountered Chester, but was "ouercharged with multitude" (p.52).

Further battles ensued. Holinshed describes at length the despoiling of abbeys and churches by Stephen's men, and mentions one Robert Marmion, who was "going foorth to encounter with the earle of Chester (his mortall enimie, and being approched as then towards the citie)" but fell into one of his own ditches outside the same abbey that he had attempted to rob (p.55).

The Earl of Chester was by now governing the city of Lincoln. King Stephen attempted to retake it, but was repulsed by Chester:

"aduertisement was giuen, that the citie of Lincolne, which the earle of Chester had in keeping, was but slenderlie manned. Wherevpon the king conceiuing some hope to win the same, hasted forward: and comming thither in the night, laid siege therevnto, and began to cast a trench to stop them within frõ making any salies without."
The earle at the first being somewhat amazed with the sudden approch of the enimie, yet beholding from the walles the maner of them without, he perceiued the rankes to be verie thin: and thereby gessing their number to be but small, suddenlie issued foorth at the gates to encounter with them. The king abode not the giuing of the charge, bicause he was but weake and therefore fled;The siege raised. neither could the earle follow the chace conuenientlie, for the like cause; but setting vpon those that were about to make the trench, he slue 80. of the workemen, and then retired into the castell. (p.56)

After Stephen achieved a series of victories, Chester came "with a great traine of knights and gentlemen vnto the king, and so at length they were not vnfeignedlie accorded and made freends". However, Stephen was dissimulating, because

"the earle was craftilie taken at a parlement holden at Northampton, by the practise of K. Stephan, and could not be deliuered, till he had surrendred the citie and castell of Lincolne, with other fortresses perteining to the crowne into the kings hands." (p.56)

Stephen's treatment of Chester earned him "new hatred of his old aduersaries, and like supicion of such as were his freends, for it sounded not a little to his dishonor" (p.56).

Having given up Lincoln to Stephen, Chester now tried to win it back. He "came thither with an armie, to assaie if he might recouer that citie. But his lieutenant that had the leading of his men, was slaine at the entring of the northgate, and so the erle was beaten backe with the losse of manie of his men: and the citizens hauing got the vpper hand, reioised not a little for the victorie" (p.57).

The arrival of Henry Fitzempress in England encouraged many of Stephen's supporters to change sides. Holinshed lists Chester among the noblemen who joined Henry on a visit to King David of Scotland (p.57).

As the wars continued, Holinshed reports that the

"noble and valiant earle of Chester called Ranulfe departed this life, a man of such stoutnesse of stomach, that death could scarselie make him to yeeld, or shew any token of feare: he was poisoned (as was thought) by William Peuerell. After him succeeded his sonne Hugh, a man likewise of passing strength and vertue. Now although earle Ranulfe fauoured the part of duke Henrie, yet in these later yeares he did but little for him: wherefore it was thought that the death of this earle was not so great a losse to the duke, as the deaths of Eustace, earle Simon, and other the kings fréends deceasing about the same time seemed to further him: so that his part became dailie stronger, and the kings weaker." (p.60)



Ranulf de Blundevill in Holinshed's Chronicles

The following references to Ranulph de Blundevill, Earl of Chester, appear in Holinshed's Chronicles, 1587 ed., volume 6.

Summaries

Holinshed describes Ranulph in his genealogy of the Earls of Chester thus:

"Ranulfe Bohun the third of that name, otherwise called Blundeuille, the sonne of Hugh Keuelocke, was the sixt earle of Chester after the conquest. He was also earle of Lincolne, as next cousine and heire to William Romare earle of Lincolne. He had three wiues (as before yee haue heard) but yet died without issue, about the yeare of our Lord 1232, after he had beene earle 51 yeares." (p.221)

When relating Ranulph's death, Holinshed summarizes his three marriages thus:

"This earle Ranulfe was thrice married, first to Constance daughter and heire to Conan earle of Britaine and Richmund, and so in right of hir was intituled earle of those two places: which Constance had beene first married vnto Geffrey the third sonne of king Henrie the second, by whom she had issue Arthur (as before yée haue heard.) But by earle Ranulfe she had no issue at all, but was from him diuorced, and afterwards married vnto Guy vicount de Towars. Then after earle Ranulfe was so diuorsed from the said Constance, he married a ladie named Clemence, and after hir deceasse, he married the third time the ladie Margaret, daughter to Humfrey de Bohun earle of Hereford and Essex, constable of England." (p.215)

However, "he neuer had issue by any of those his wiues, so that Iohn Scot his nephue by his sister Mawd succéeded him in the earldome of Chester, and William Dalbenie earle of Arundell, nephue to him by his sister Mabell, had the manour of Barrow, and other lands that belonged to the said Ranulfe, of the yerelie value of fiue hundred pounds" (p.215).

Chronicle

Holinshed's first reference to Ranulph de Blundevill, describes him fighting for King Richard against John. With other lords, he "besieged the castell of Notingham" (p.142). When Richard was crowned, Ranulph was present, and stood on the left side of the King of Scots (p.143).

Ranulph was married to Constance of Brittany, mother (by her previous husband) of Arthur of Brittany, whom Richard had nominated his heir. The marriage was not a success. When Constance made an attempt at speaking with Richard, Ranulph "meeting hir at Pountourson, tooke hir as prisoner, and shut hir vp within his castell at S. Iames de Beumeron". This action had great repercussions: "when hir sonne Arthur could not find means to deliuer hir out of captiuitie, he ioined with the king of France, and made great hauocke in the lands of his vncle king Richard, wherevpon the king gathered a mightie armie, and inuading Britaine with great force, cruellie wasted and destroied the countrie" (p.150).

Holinshed includes Ranulph among the lords who "accompted and proclaimed" John to be King of England after Richard's death (p.157), and later among those who attended his coronation (p.159). He is later listed among the lords who supported King John's league with Godfrey of Boulogne against the French (p.175), and among several high-ranking men who agreed to honour obligations toward the repayment of money owed to the Pope (p.182).

John's dissension with his barons may have arisen "bicause the king would without skilfull aduise haue exiled the earle of Chester, and for none other occasion than for that he had oftentimes aduised him to leaue his cruell dealing, and also his accustomed adulterie with his brothers wife and others" (p.184). Ranulf is listed among the some lords who, upon receiving a letter from the rebellious barons, "ioined themselues with the barons, vtterlie renouncing to aid king Iohn" (p.185).


Upon the death of John, and the accession of Henry III, Ranulph is listed among the lords who "fell to councell togither what waie should be best to take" (p.197).

During an insurrection led by Louis, Ranulph was among the lords who beseiged Montsorell Castle. He was later among the army that marched to liberate Lincoln, described as "a great puissance of people desirous to fight for the defense of their countrie against the Frenchmen and other aduersaries, rebels to the pope, and excommunicated persons" (p.199).

Later, Ranulph went on a crusade, having been sent to the Holy Land by Henry "with a goodlie companie of souldiers and men of warre, to aid the christians there against the infidels which at the same time had besieged the citie of Damieta in Aegypt, in which enterprise the valiancie of the same earle after his comming thither, was to his great praise most apparant". He successfully won the city (p.202).

After this success, Ranulph, "began to build the castels of Chartleie and Béeston, and afterward he also builded the abbeie of Dieu Lencresse, commonlie called Delacresse of the white order. Toward his charges susteined about the building of which castels and abbeie, he tooke toll throughout all his lordships of all such persons as passed by the same with any cattell, chaffre or merchandize" (p.202).

An incident subsequently took place in which Ranulph's castle at Fotheringay was captured by the rebellious Earl of Abermarle (p.202).

Later, "Iohn the sonne of Dauid earle of Anguish in Scotland, sisters sonne vnto Ranulfe earle of Chester, married the daughter of Leolin prince of Wales, as it were to procure a finall accord betwéene the said Leolin and Ranulfe" (p.204).

Various incidents then took place involving tensions between Henry and the barons; Ranulph is recorded as inconsistent in his loyalty to the King.

Ranulph "and other Noble men" conspired "against Hubert de Burgh lord chiefe iustice of England, by whose counsell (as it was thought) the king was more streict towards the nobilitie and other his subiects" (p.204).

King Henry then acquired the Pope's blessing to be considered of age sufficient to govern, and thus "anie castels, honors, manors or places apperteining to the king, were commanded to deliuer and resigne the same to his vse, which caused much trouble, as after shall appeare". Ranulph was amenable to this: when Henry demanded of Ranulph "the restitution of certeine lordships which ancientlie apperteined to the crowne", the earl "readilie obeied the kings pleasure, and resigned them all". Following his example, "diuerse of the rest of the barons were brought into such feare, that they were contented also to doo the like" (p.205).

Later, however, Ranulph led "a great puissance of warlike personages" against the King in a dispute about the Earl of Cornwall's land rights (p.209).

The Pope then began to demand "a tenth part of all the mooueable goods within the realmes & countries of England, Wales, and Ireland" (p.210). Ranulph resisted: "The earle of Chester onlie stood manfullie against the paiment of those tenths, insomuch that he would not suffer his lands to be brought vnder bondage, neither wold he permit the religious men and préests that held of his fee to pay the same" (p.211).

Henry began an invasion of France, but the purported treachery of the chief justice meant that not enough ships were available. "In this heat if the earle of Chester and other had not béene at hand, he [the King] had suerlie slaine the chéefe iustice euen there with his drawne sword, who was glad to auoid his presence, till his angrie mood was somwhat ouerpassed" (p.211).

During the invasion, King Henry made Ranulph one of the captain in charge of "defense of the countrie against the Frenchmen"; they made excursions into France where they won victories. After a battle with the French, Ranulph was one of three advisers who persuaded King Henry and King Louis into a peace agreement, "by which meanes they were at the last accorded. [...] Thus ceassed the warres for that time betwixt the kings of England and France, as some haue witnessed" (p.212).

Ranulph also "fortified the castell of S.Iames de Bewmero(n), which (bicause it belonged to the right of his wife) the earle of Britaine had (sith the kings comming ouer) restored vnto him" (p.212).

When the French attempted to invade, Ranulph was one of the captains who "found meanes to take and destroie all the cariages and wagons which came with vittels and other prouision to serue the French armie [...] and by consent of the earles of Britaine and Chester on the English part, a peace was concluded, or rather a truce to indure for three yeares" (p.214).

Holinshed describes Ranulph's death thus: "in the beginning of the seauentéenth yeere of [Henry's] reigne, Ranulfe earle of Chester and Lincolne departed this life the six and twentith day of October, whose bodie was buried at Chester, and his bowels at Wallingford where he died." (p.215)

After summarizing Ranulph's marriages (see above), Holinshed then relates an anecdote about Ranulph involving actors and musicians disguising as an army:

"Here is also to be remembred, that the afore mentioned earle Ranulfe (or Randulfe whether ye list to call him) atchiued manie high enterprises in his time, as partlie in this booke ye haue alreadie heard: he held sore warres against the Welshmen, till at length an agréement was concluded betwixt him and Leolin prince of Wales. I remember I haue read in an old record, that vpon a time as this earle passed into Wales with an armie, his chance was to be ouerset by the Welshmen, so that he was driuen to retire into a castell, wherein the Welshmen did besiege him. And as it fortuned at that time, Roger Lacie the constable of Chester was not then with him, but left behind at Chester to see the citie kept in order (for as it should séeme, their solemne plaies which commonlie are vsed at Whitsuntide were then in hand, or else their faire which is kept at Midsummer.)
"Wherefore the earle sent a messenger in all possible hast vnto his constable, praieng him with spéed to come to his succour in that extreame point of necessitie. Lacie made no delaie, but assembling all the forreners, plaiers, musicians, and others which he could find within that citie fit to weare armor, went foorth with them, and in most speedie maner marched toward the castell, where the Welshmen kept the earle besieged, who now perceiuing such a multitude of men comming towards them, incontinentlie left the siege and fled awaie. The earle then being thus deliuered out of that present danger, came foorth of the castell, returned with his constable vnto Chester, and in recompense of that seruice, gaue vnto his said constable Roger Lacie, the rule, order, and authoritie ouer all the forreners, plaiers, musicians, and other strangers resorting to Chester at the time, when such publike plaies (or else faire) should be kept & holden." (p.215)




References to the Play

None known.


Critical Commentary

Henslowe's Diary

Greg states that "there can be no reasonable doubt" that the entries transcribed above in Historical Records refer to the same play (Greg II, 225), and subsequent commentators have agreed. Where "felmelanco" has been crossed out and "Chester" supplied in its place, Foakes notes that the play title seems to be in Thomas Downton's hand, although Greg thought it was Robert Shaa's.


Possible additional historical record

The following entry for an unnamed play by Middleton appears in Henslowe's diary as follows:

F.116v; Greg I, 181; Foakes, 217:

Lent at the a poyntment of John ducke
in earnest of A playe called [title left blank]
the some of xxs 3 of octobʒ 1602
to mr mydellton

Doris Feldmann and Kurt Tetzeli von Rosador argue that this is an early reference to Randall, due to "[t]he progressive concretization of the title, the proximity of dates, [and] the complementary nature of the statements about the payments" (328). They suggest that if the untitled Middleton play of 3 October is Randall, it must have changed buyers during the process of writing from Worcester's to the Admiral's Men (328). They acknowledge that the resulting total of £7 is large, but they do not find the sum outside "Henslowe's limits" or the move to what they term "Henslowe's other company ... [an] uncommon procedure" (328).

Subject matter

Greg thought Ranulf de Gernons was the likeliest subject of the play (Greg II, 225).

Feldmann and Tetzeli von Rosador also suspect that Middleton's play was about Ranulf de Gernons. They argue that although de Blundevill's life has dramatic potential, involving opposition to England paying tithes to Rome, and a rescue from a besieged castle, it does not seem suited to tragedy. They consider the life of de Gernons, a baron who pursued his personal autonomy over the rule of King Stephen, took him captive, but was then captured himself and forced to surrender, to be closer to the pattern of tragedy. They imagine that Middleton's play might have depicted de Gernon's opposition to the King, his capturing of him, and his subsequent surrender after being captured himself. They suggest that although Holinshed describes further events in de Gernon's life - other "alliances, intrigues and battles" - Middleton could have created a tragic structure by having Ranulf be summarily killed after his surrender, perhaps "poisoned by William Peverell, whom, it is said, he had robbed of his land". They further speculate that an appearance by Empress Matilda could have provided the "element of sexual violence or violent sexuality" that Middleton often favoured (330).

Similarly, Martin Wiggins considers de Gernons the likelier subject "because he died in a suitably tragical way, by poison" (4:429).

Ashton and Burgess, however, believe that Randall and the extant plays about the legendary Earl are based on Ranulf de Blundevill (77). Based on surviving evidence about the legends of Ranulph, Ashton suggests that the following likely features of tales about him: "his reputation in arms", "his association with the Welsh, evidently a friendly one since the implications are that the Welshmen there come to his rescue", "his association with King John in the latter's romantic and other adventures", "love themes", and an association with Robin Hood (205-6).


Identifications with other plays

Greg suggests that Randall may have been Middleton's refashioning of The Wise Man of West Chester, which he believes to be the same play as John a Kent and John a Cumber, since a Ranulph, Earl of Chester appears in that play. However, Greg acknowledges that Ranulph does not play an important part in that play (Greg II, 225).

Greg also notes the contention of F.G. Fleay that Randall may be connected with William Rowley's The Birth of Merlin (which Fleay believed to be related to the lost Uther Pendragon). Fleay's justification is the presence in Birth of a character named "Edol, Earl of Chester", but Greg finds the names too different to indicate a connection (Greg II, 225).


For What It's Worth

(Information welcome.)


Works Cited

Alexander, James A. "Ranulf III of Chester: An Outlaw of Legend?" Neuphilologische Mitteilungen 82 (1982): 152-7.
Alexander, James A. Ranulf of Chester: A Relic of the Conquest (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1983).
Ashton, J.W. "Rymes of... Randolf Erl of Chestre", in English Literary History 5 (1938): 195-206.
Burgess, Glyn S. "I Kan Rymes of Robin Hood, and Randolf Erl of Chestre", in in "De Sens Rassis": Essays in Honour of Rupert T. Pickens,ed. Keith Busby, Bernard Guidot, and Logan E. Whalen (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2005), 51-84.
Feldmann, Doris, and Kurt Tetzeli von Rosador, "Lost Plays: A Brief Account", in Thomas Middleton: The Collected Works, ed. Gary Taylor and John Lavagnino (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2007), 328-333.
Langland, William, Piers Plowman: The B Version, ed. George Kane and E. Talbot Donaldson (London: Athlone, 1975).




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