Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: Raphael Holinshed
Editor: Rosemary Gaby
Peer Reviewed

Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland (Selection)


Introduction

1[Raphael Holinshed's Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland (1587 edition) was one of Shakespeare's most frequently consulted sources and provided the main outline for events in Henry IV, Part One. The Chronicles were produced by a team of around a dozen writers, described by Annabel Patterson as "a syndicate of middle-class entrepreneurs and antiquarians" (3). Raphael Holinshed was a key driving force behind the first edition of 1577, but he died in 1580 well before the substantially revised second edition was published. For convenience, however, the work is commonly referred to via Holinshed's name. As the product of several writers and a wide range of sources, the Chronicles is characterized by diverse opinions and attitudes. It reflects an attempt to document or chronicle events as they happened year by year, and as such it provides a wide-ranging and unstructured narrative which acknowledges a degree of uncertainty about the veracity of its materials and often suggests alternative readings of events. For Henry IV Part One Shakespeare selected only a few of the events recorded for the period in the Chronicles. The play's depiction of multiple viewpoints does, nevertheless, owe a lot to the characteristic tone of this source. The following modernized selections from Holinshed are based on the online text provided by the Holinshed Project and the facsimiles provided by the Schoenberg Center for Electronic Text and Image, University of Pennsylvania.]

Owen Glendower and the Welsh rebellion

[1400 - from volume 3, page 518]

2In the king's absence, whilst he was forth of the realm in Scotland against his enemies,The Welshmen rebel by the setting on of Owen Glendower. the Welshmen took occasion to rebel under the conduct of their captain Owen Glendower, doing what mischief they could devise, unto their English neighbors. This Owen Glendower was son to an esquire of Wales,John Stow.Owen Glendower what he was. named Griffith Vichan: he dwelled in the parish of Conway, within the county of Merioneth in North Wales, in a place called Glindourwie, which is as much to say in English, as The valley by the side of the water of Dee, by occasion whereof he was surnamed Glindour Dew.

3He was first set to study the laws of the realm, and became an utter barrister, or an apprentice of the law (as they term him) and served King Richard at Flint Castle, when he was taken by Henry Duke of Lancaster, though other have written that he served this King Henry the fourth,Tho. Wals. before he came to attain the crown, in room of an esquire, and after, by reason of variance that rose betwixt him and the Lord Reginald Grey of Ruthen, about the lands which he claimed to be his by right of inheritance: when he saw that he might not prevail, finding no such favor in his suit as he looked for, he first made war against the said Lord Grey,The occasion that moved him to rebel. wasting his lands and possessions with fire and sword, cruelly killing his servants and tenants. The king advertised of such rebellious exploits,The king entreth into Wales, meaning to chastise the rebels. enterprised by the said Owen, and his unruly [ac]complices, determined to chastise them, as disturbers of his peace, and so with an army entered into Wales; but the Welshmen with their captain withdrew into the mountains of Snowdon, so to escape the revenge, which the king meant towards them. The king therefore did much hurt in the countries with fire and sword, slaying diverse that with weapon in hand came forth to resist him, and so with a great booty of beasts and cattle he returned.

[1401 - from volume 3, page 519: attempts on the king's life]

4About the same time Owen Glendower and his Welshmen did much hurt to the king's subjects.Anno Reg. 3.The danger of the king to have beene destroyed. One night as the king was going to bed, he was in danger to have been destroyed; for some naughty traitorous persons had conveyed into his bed a certain iron made with smith's craft, like a caltrop, with three long pricks, sharp and small, standing upright, in such sort, that when he had laid him down, & that the weight of his body should come upon the bed, he should have been thrust in with those pricks, and peradventure slain: but as God would, the king not thinking of any such thing, chanced yet to feel and perceive the instrument before he laid him down, and so escaped the danger. Howbeit he was not so soon delivered from fear; for he might well have his life in suspicion, & provide for the preservation of the same; since perils of death crept into his secret chamber, and lay lurking in the bed of down where his body was to be reposed and to take rest. Oh what a suspected state therefore is that of a king holding his regiment with the hatred of his people, the heart grudgings of his courtiers, and the peremptory practises of both together? Could he confidently compose or settle himself to sleep for fear of strangling? Durst he boldly eat and drink without dread of poisoning? Might he adventure to show himself in great meetings or solemn assemblies without mistrust of mischief against his person intended? What pleasure or what felicity could he take in his princely pomp, which he knew by manifest and fearfull experience, to be envied and maligned to the very death?