Richard the 2

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Anon. (1611)

Historical Records

Simon Forman's "Book of Plays"

Simon Forman: In Richard the 2 At the glob 1611 the 30 of Aprill/ [Tuesday]

Remember thein howe Iack strawe by his overmoch boldnes, not beinge pollitick nor supporting Anye thinge, was Soddenly at Smithfeld Bars stabbed by walworth the major of London & soe he and his wholle Army was over throwen Therfore in such a case or the like, never admit any party wthout a bar between. For A man Cannot be to wise, nor kepe him selfe to safe.

Also remember howe the duke of gloster. The Erell of Arundell oxford and others. Crossing the king in his humor. about the duke of Erland and Bushy wer glad to fly and Raise an hoste of men. and beinge in his Castell, howe the d of Erland cam by nighte to betray him wth 300 men. but hauinge pryuie warninge ther of kept his gates faste And wold not suffer the Enimie to enter, wch went back Again wth a flie in his eare, and after was slainte by the Errell of Arundell in the battell

Remember also. When the duke and Arundell cam to London wth their Army. kinge Richard came forth to them and me them and gaue them fair wordes. And promised them pardon and that all should be well yf they wold discharge their Army. vpon whose promises and faier Speaches, they did yt and Affter the king byd them all to A banker and soe betraid them And cut of their heades &c because they had not his pardon vnder his hand & sealle before but his worde/

Remember therin Also howe the ducke of Lankaster pryuily contryued all villany. To set them all together by the ears and to make the nobilyty to Envy the kinge and mislyke of him and his gouernmentes by which means. He made his own sonn king which was henry Bullinbrocke

Remember also howe the Duke of Lankaster asked /a wise man, wher [whether] him self should ever be kinge / and he told him no, but his son should be a / kinge (Cerasano transcription, 149, n.15). And when he had told him, he hanged him vp for his Labor. Because he should not brute yt abrod or speke ther of to others. This was a pollicie in the common wealthes opinion But I sai yt was a villaines parte and a Iudas kisse to hange the man. For telling him the truth Beware by this Example of noble men/ and of their fair wordes & sai lyttell to them, lest they doe the Like by thee for thy good will/

Theatrical Provenance

"Richard the 2" was performed at the Globe by the King's players in the spring of 1611; Forman saw the play on 30 April 1611.

Probable Genre(s)

History (Harbage)

Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

There being controversy over just what play "Richard the 2" actually was, there is also controversy over its dramatic sources. If, as it appears to the LPD, this play was discrete from previous dramatic treatments of the history of King Richard II, its sources and analogues include the anonymous Jack Straw, Shakespeare's Richard II, and the anonymous Woodstock.

References to the Play

None known, though any reference after 1611 to a play on Richard II might be to the play Forman saw, "Richard the 2."

Critical Commentary

Richard II editions
Cerasano, SQ
Knutson for Lopez

For What It's Worth

Henry Herbert, Master of the Revels 1623-1673, received a "summer" benefit of £5 6s. 6d. for "Richard ye Second at the Globe," which played on 12 June 1631 (Herbert). Scholars have assigned this performance to Shakespeare's Richard II, but there is no compelling reason why this record could not be evidence for a performance of "Richard the 2" except for a universally assumed preference to assign performance records to Shakespeare's plays when a similarity in title permits.

Works Cited

Richard II editions
Cerasano, SQ
Knutson for Lopez

Site created and maintained by Roslyn L. Knutson, Professor Emerita; updated 11 October 2012.