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was born in 1390, is given a rôle in the drama; but for this Holinshed supplies no authority. Shakespeare's purpose is obvious. He needed the younger, staider brother as a foil to the wild, if heroic, Prince Hal.
So Lady Percy and Lady Mortimer, although, like Prince John, historical characters, are introduced into the action for purely dramatic purposes. Their rôles-particularly that of Lady Mortimer-are slight, but they serve to grace the play with touches of tenderness. Moreover, Lady Percy's conversations with her husband supply opportunities for bringing out traits in the character of Hotspur. It may be observed here that the real Lady Percy, sister of Sir Edmund Mortimer, was called Elizabeth. Holinshed calls her Eleanor (p. xxxvii post), whilst Shakespeare names her Kate (II. iii. 37). A propos of this Steevens remarks the extraordinary fondness Shakespeare seems to have had for the "familiar appellation of Kate, which he is never weary of repeating, when he has once introduced it".
(ii) In the first scene the King announces his purpose to lead a crusade to recover Jerusalem from the infidels. Shakespeare here already begins to diverge from Holinshed, who assigns this project to the last year of Henry IV.'s reign:—
"In this fourteenth and last yeare of king Henries reigne, a councell was holden in the white friers in London, at the which, among other things, order was taken for ships and gallies to be builded and made readie, and all other things necessarie to be prouided for a voiage which he meant to make into the holie land, there to recouer the citie of Ierusalem from the Infidels. For it greeued him to consider the great malice of christian princes, that were bent vpon a mischeefous purpose to destroie one another, to the perill of their owne soules, rather than to make war against the enimies of the christian faith, as in conscience (it seemed to him) they were bound" (Holinshed, Chronicles, ed. 1808, iii. 57).
(iii) In I. i. Shakespeare makes the news of the Battle of Holmedon arrive immediately after the news of Mortimer's defeat in the skirmish at Pilleth in Wales. This is another instance of Shakespeare's subordination of fact to dramatic exigencies; for Holinshed correctly assigns the defeat at
Pilleth to June 22, 1402, and the Battle of Holmedon to September 14 of the same year. It is possible that Shakespeare confused Holmedon with another border battle, at Nisbet Moor in Northumberland, which actually took place on the same day as the fight at Pilleth.1
(iv) Shakespeare follows Holinshed in confounding Sir Edmund Mortimer with Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March.2 Sir Edmund, who was defeated and captured by Glendower at Pilleth, in Radnorshire, June 22, 1402, was the second son of Edmund third Earl of March and his wife Philippa, daughter of Lionel Duke of Clarence. Edmund, the fifth Earl of March, at this time a lad ten years old, was a grandson of the third Earl, and thus a nephew of Sir Edmund Mortimer. Sir Edmund Mortimer married Glendower's daughter (cf. I. iii.), and his sister Elizabeth was the wife of Hotspur. Now in I. iii. Hotspur speaks of Mortimer as "my wife's brother" (1. 142) and "my brother Edmund Mortimer" (1. 156); and in II. iii. 83 Lady Percy refers to him as 'my brother Mortimer". In these passages Mortimer is identified with Sir Edmund Mortimer, whereas in III. i. 196, where he speaks of his "aunt Percy," he is identified with the young Edmund, Earl of March. On the whole one may say that Shakespeare assigns to Sir Edmund Mortimer the title and pretensions of his nephew the Earl of March. "The beginning of the confusion with regard to Edmund Mortimer appears to be in Hall's account of the articles of complaint against Henry IV., drawn up by the Percies. They are taken from the Latin as given in Hardyng's Chronicle (p. 353). The last of them runs thus in Hall (p. 30): Also we do alledge, saie, and intende to proue, that where Edmōd Mortimer erle of Marche and Ulster, was taken prisoner by Owen Glendor, etc.' In the Latin he is correctly called Edmundus Mortymere, frater Rogeri Mortymere nuper comitis Marchie et Ultonie.' The omission of four words has caused the error" (Wright).
(v) Prince Henry.-The interview between the Prince and his father in III. ii. is based on the passage from Holinshed given on pp. xlv ff. post. Shakespeare antedates it by several years. According to Shakespeare it takes place before the
1 See p. xxxvi post.
2 See pp. xxxv ff. post.
Battle of Shrewsbury (1403), whereas Holinshed assigns it to the year 1412.
As the dramatic balance of the play depends largely on the rivalry of Prince Henry and Hotspur, Shakespeare was obliged to advance somewhat the age of the former and to represent the middle-aged Hotspur as a mere youth1 According to Holinshed (Chronicles, ed. 1808, iii. 4), Prince Henry in October, 1399, was twelve years old. Born in August, 1387, he was at the time the play opens fourteen years old. But even if he had been then the young man that Shakespeare portrays, he would not have been a coeval of Henry Hotspur, who was born in May, 1364. It is true that, young though he was, Prince Henry was present at the Battle of Shrewsbury where he did yeoman service. The battle was fought in July, 1403, but even as early as November, 1400, the Prince appears to have been entrusted with a position of military responsibility in North Wales when his father was obliged to abandon his campaign against Glendower and to return to England (Dict. Nat. Biog., xxvi. 436).
In III. ii. 32, 33, the King refers to the expulsion of Prince Henry from the Privy Council:
Thy place in council thou hast rudely lost,
Which by thy younger brother is supplied.
Shakespeare is here following Holinshed, who relates that the Prince "once to hie offence of the king his father, . . . had with his fist striken the cheefe iustice for sending one of his minions (vpon desert) to prison, when the iustice stoutlie commanded himselfe also streict to ward, & he (then prince) obeied. The king after expelled him out of his priuie councell, banisht him the court, and made the duke of Clarence (his yoonger brother) president of councell in his steed" (Holinshed, Chronicles, ed. 1808, iii. 61).
Probably Holinshed's authority for the story of the Prince's flouting the Chief Justice was Sir Thomas Elyot (The Governour, 1531). It is noteworthy, however, that Elyot does not state that the Prince actually struck the Chief Justice, or that he was deprived of his place in the Council. The account
of the incident in The Governour runs :-
1 III. ii. 103.
"The moste renomed prince, kynge Henry the fifte, late kynge of Englande, durynge the life of his father was noted to be fierce and of wanton courage. It hapned that one of his seruantes whom he well fauored, for felony by hym committed, was arrayned at the kynges benche; wherof he being aduertised, and incensed by light persones aboute hym, in furious rage came hastily to the barre, where his seruant stode as a prisoner, and commaunded hym to be ungyued and sette at libertie, where at all men were abasshed, reserued the chiefe iustice, who humbly exhorted the prince to be contented that his seruaunt mought be ordred accordyng to the auncient lawes of this realme, or if he wolde haue hym saued from the rigour of the lawes, that he shuld optaine, if he moughte, of the kynge, his father, his gracious pardone; wherby no lawe or iustice shulde be derogate. With whiche answere the prince nothynge appeased, but rather more inflamed, endeuored hym selfe to take away his seruaunt. The iuge consideringe the perilous example and inconuenience that moughte therby ensue, with a valiant spirite and courage commaunded the prince upon his alegeance to leue the prisoner and departe his waye. With whiche commandment the prince, being set all in a fury, all chafed, and in a terrible maner, came up to the place of iugement-men thinkyng that he wolde haue slayne the iuge, or haue done to hym some damage; but the iuge sittyng styll, without mouynge, declarynge the maiestie of the kynges place of iugement, and with an assured and bolde countenance, hadde to the prince these words folowyng: Sir, remembre your selfe; I kepe here the place of the king, your soueraigne lorde and father, to whom ye owe double obedience, wherfore, eftsones in his name, I charge you desiste of your wilfulnes and unlaufull entreprise, and from hensforth gyue good example to those whiche hereafter shall be your propre subiectes. And nowe for your contempt and disobedience, go you to the prisone of the kynges benche, where unto I committe you; and remayne ye there prisoner untill the pleasure of the kyng, your father, be further knowen. With whiche wordes beinge abasshed, and also wondrynge at the meruailous grauitie of that worshipful Justice, the noble prince, layinge his waipon aparte, doinge reuerence, departed and wente to the kynges benche as he was commaunded. Wherat his seruants disdainyng, came and shewed to the kynge all the hole affaire. Wherat he a whiles studienge, after as a man all rauisshed with gladness, holdyng his eien and handes up towarde heuen, abrayded, sayinge with a loude voice, O mercifull god, howe moche am I, aboue all
other men, bounde to your infinitè goodnes; specially for that ye have gyuen me a iuge, who feareth nat to ministre iustice, and also a sonne who can suffre semblably and obey iustice?" (Elyot, The Governour, bk. II. ch. vi.).
The story, even as told by Elyot, is perhaps apocryphal. Hardyng, a fifteenth century writer, in his metrical Chronicle, published by Grafton in 1542, is silent as to the cause of the Prince's disgrace :-
The king discharged ye prince fro his coūsayle,
-Hardyng, Chronicle, ch. ccix.
Whether mythical or not, the incident of the Prince's boxing the Chief Justice's ear was a legend current in the 16th century, and it is presented in a scene in The Famous Victories of Henry the Fifth. See pp. 1 ff. post.
On the whole, Shakespeare's account of Prince Henry's wildness is amply warranted by Holinshed, who, summing up the Prince's character, declares that "he was youthfullie giuen, growne to audacitie, and had chosen him companions agreeable to his age. . . . But yet . . . his behauiour was not offensiue or at least tending to the damage of anie bodie; sith he had a care to auoid dooing of wrong, and to tedder his affections within the tract of vertue".1
In his account of Prince Henry's valour at the Battle of Shrewsbury, Shakespeare goes beyond Holinshed. It was natural that the heroic young Prince should do heroic deeds. Holinshed ascribes the victory to the personal prowess of the King, but in the play the father, as a warrior, is overshadowed by the son. The Prince's challenge to Hotspur to meet him in single combat (v. i. 83 ff.) seems to have no historical warrant. The slaying of Hotspur is attributed to Prince Henry by Holinshed and by Shakespeare, but as a matter of fact it is unknown by whose hand Percy fell. The Prince's rescue of the King has no foundation in Holinshed.
1 See p. xlvii post.