«by JANE ELIZABETH KINGSLEY-SMITH A thesis submitted to the Faculty of Arts of the University of Birmingham for the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY The ...»
Mowbray explicitly refers to the effect of banishment upon his speech. 'Within my mouth you have enjailed my tongue' (160).
Nevertheless, in The First Part of the Life and Raigne of King Henrie IIII (1599), John Hayward condemns Richard's use of exile, specifically the oaths to keep the two men apart.
He argues that oaths are insufficient to contain the exile's threat and that alone each is
more vehemencie to begin, and more obstinacie to continue.
The practice of abjuration, originally meaning to swear an oath not to return to the kingdom, had been replaced with perpetual confinement under Henry VIII and abolished under James I. 39 Yet it remains a term in use to describe a subject's quitting of the realm on the penalty of fines, seizure of property, or death. In 1593, 'An Act to Retain the Queen's Majesty's Subjects in their due Obedience' called on persistent recusants to 'abjure this Realm of England' until a licence was given for their return.40 The practice of statutory banishment continued for Catholics and certain vagabonds and gypsies (exile from the court remained at the monarch's pleasure) but banishment was not extended to treason or more serious crimes.
38 The First and Second Parts of John Hayward's The Life and Raigne of King Henrie IIII ed. John J. Manning (London: Royal Historical Society, 1992), 103.
39 See Tomlins' Law-Dictionary, vol. 1.
40 See34Eliz. c.l.
The most obvious failure of Richard's policy of banishment is the creation of a political enemy. From the first, Bolingbroke responds to his exile with a veiled threat, that the sun which shines on Richard will also gild his banishment (1.3.139-41). This phrase recalls the Stoic attitude of many of Shakespeare's exiles and even the pastoral hope that there is a better world elsewhere.41 Yet Bolingbroke's optimism here also reveals how little disparity the exile perceives between himself and Richard. The image of the sun to denote kingship, transferred to Bolingbroke, suggests the possibility that he too will be a king. Gaunt's consolations meet with a similarly treasonous interpretation. In 26 lines of the 1597 Quarto (omitted in the
Folio), Gaunt invokes the conventional Stoic aphorisms:
Bolingbroke rejects imagination. He must translate this consoling image of Richard in exile from the realm of wishful thinking to action. This he does. Bolingbroke's 'seizure' of the kingdom literally results in Richard's exile from the throne, his physical segregation at Pomfret and his murder.
41 Holderness describes pastoral as the language of power in the play, here usurped by Bolingbroke. See 'Richard ir in Shakespeare: The Play of History by Graham Holdemess, Nick Potter and John Turner (London:
Macmillan Press Ltd., 1988), 20-40, 34-5.
42 On the consolation offered by imagination in the play, see Stanley Wells' 'The Lamentable Tale of Richard //', Sh. St. (Tokyo) 17 (1982), 1-23, 16-7.
Moreover, in Bolingbroke, Richard has created a symbol of his own trespasses. As in King Lear, when Gloucester keeps invoking the banishment of Kent to express the rottenness of Albion, so the banished Bolingbroke becomes the watchword for Richard's enemies and the man behind whom they all rally. The Duke's popularity among the commons is only enhanced by his exile. His departure from the realm is that of a hero and martyr and thus damaging to Richard's kingship, 'As 'twere to banish their affects with him' (1.4.29). For many nobles also, Richard's treatment of the Duke of Hereford is the final incentive to rebellion. The seizure of Bolingbroke's inheritance whilst he is exiled in France is unanimously deplored by Richard's peers. By this act, the King appears 'determined to perpetuate the banishment of Duke Henry' J Nevertheless, under the terms of the Fugitives Act of 1570, Elizabeth could legally possess herself of the property of Catholics who fled abroad and of any other absentees who remained there six months after the expiry of their licence to travel.44 Sir Francis Englefield, a Catholic who fled to Spain when Elizabeth succeeded to the throne, spent long years negotiating for the return of his property which was seized and bestowed by the Queen upon Leicester. 43 In the reign of James I, Leicester's illegitimate son, Robert Dudley, fled the country with one of Queen Anne's maids of honour, joined a Catholic community and refused the command to return to England.46 From exile in Italy he negotiated for the return of his estates for almost The Life and Raigne ofHenrie ////, 105-6.
See 13 Eliz. c3.
The Spanish Elizabethans, 18,21.
forty years.47 Furthermore, according to English chronicle history, exile at the time of Richard II might also include the forfeiture of goods and land as in the case of the banished Thomas Arundell.
Yet, in Richard II the seizure of Bolingbroke's inheritance is an unconscionable deed. Before Gaunt's death, there is no mention of his son forfeiting property upon exile.48 Indeed, the King has granted Bolingbroke letters patent empowering lawyers to act on his behalf should he inherit any property during his absence (2.3.128-9). Richard has gone against his word and revoked those patents and his actions are deplored by all. The nobles go so far as to condemn his 'robbing of the banished Duke' (2.1.262).
Bolingbroke is endowed with considerable charisma by his sufferings as an exile and he exploits it to the full. His self-dramatisation as dispossessed nobleman has a powerful emotional effect on others. In their first meeting since his return to England, York chastises his nephew in rather comic terms: 'Why have those banished and forbidden legs/ Dared once to touch a dust of England's ground?' (2.3.89-90). But he makes a serious point about the implications of Bolingbroke's disobedience. To return from banishment without a pardon and to do so bearing arms is 'gross rebellion and detested treason' (108). Bolingbroke argues that
he has no choice without recourse to law. He appeals to York as to a father:
41 The Son of Leicester, 129-30. Dudley was finally promised recompense by Charles I in May 1644.
48 Only Mowbray goes into exile with the knowledge that his goods are forfeited by the crown. See Hall's Union, Holinshed's Chronicles and A Mirror for V/agistrates in Narrative and Dramatic Sources, vol. 3, 387, 393 and 418,11 151-4.
In that image of the wandering vagabond, Bolingbroke tugs at the heartstrings of the Duke who sees his line degraded and his family shamed. There could hardly be a greater contrast between this socially outcast 'masterless man' and Gaunt's English knights. The injustice proves too much for York and he is eventually won over onto his nephew's side. Bolingbroke again invokes his unjust banishment, and his expulsion beyond the redress of law, to justify the murders of Bushy and Green. He first enumerates their crimes against the kingdom but becomes most vehement rehearsing their crimes against himself. Bolingbroke describes how he has
The attack on Bolingbroke's identity through banishment and the abuse of his status symbols at home becomes a model for the suffering of England itself under the ravening appetite of Richard and his followers. Bolingbroke comes to redeem England from her state of 'broking pawn' and from her self-alienation. To do this, the exile and the king must exchange roles.
Where Bolingbroke's estates have been stripped and all signs of his status lost, so he will inflict upon Richard the stripping of his identity and the razing of his name.
There is a more immediate context in which we might read Bolingbroke's self-presentation as an exile: the fall from grace of Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex. Few critics would now argue that Richard II was composed as propaganda for Essex's cause.49 There is no evidence that Shakespeare or his printer were arrested or questioned about Richard II in print or performance. 30 Nor does the play's performance for the conspirators the night before the uprising imply that it was generally considered seditious. The Chamberlain's Men incurred no serious penalties from the Essex performance and played before the Queen on the eve of Essex's execution. From 1599-1601, the authorities and indeed the Queen herself, were more concerned with the seditious power of Hayward's The First Pane of The Life and Raigne of King Henrie ////than with Shakespeare's play. 3 ' In February 1599 when the history was dedicated to Essex it was anticipated that his mission to Ireland would be a great success, as Shakespeare also presumed in the Chorus to Henry V (5.0.30-4). Since Hayward's narrative involved a lengthy discourse on Irish policy, the dedication to Essex seemed appropriate: 'he being a martial man, and going into Ireland, and the book treating of Irish causes'. 32 Essex's response to the dedication, which was recklessly 49 One of the first critics to pursue this connection was Evelyn May Albright in her article, 'Shakespeare's Richard II and the Essex Conspiracy', PMLA 42 (1927), 686-720. This was challenged by Ray Heffiier's 'Shakespeare, Hayward, and Essex', PMLA 45 (1930), 754-80.
50 On the 'censorship' of the deposition scene, see Gurr's introduction. King Richard II (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), 9-10, and Leeds Barroil 'A New History for Shakespeare and His Time', Sh. Q. 39 (1988), 441-64, 448-9.
51 The seditious reputation of Shakespeare's Richard II is partly based on two important contemporary allusions to a play of Richard II and Henry IV. Essex is reputed to be particularly fond of one such play, 'being so often present at the playing thereof, and with great applause giving countenance and lyking to the same' Elizabeth allegedly declared, 'I am Richard II, know ye not that?' in a conversation with William Lambarde. But it is possible that it was not Shakespeare's play at all which thus inspired Essex and Elizabeth but a dramatisation of Hayward's prose history. On these two points and on the general question of the seditiousness of Shakespeare's play see Leeds Barroil, 'A New History for Shakespeare and His Time' 52 This was the testimony of the book's printer, John Wolfe, when he was examined on 13 July 1600, The First and Second Parts ofJohn Hayward's The Life and Raigne of Henrie ////, 29.
fulsome in its praise of him, was delayed but when he did protest the dedication was removed and the book continued to sell. It fell foul of a Stationers' order of 1 June 1599 and the second edition was burnt but this was not a response to the book's 'treasonous' content. Only when Essex's Irish expedition had turned sour and he hastened back to England without permission did the book come under increasing scrutiny. 33 Reading Hayward's history at this time the parallels between Bolingbroke and Essex must have been striking. Both men return illegally to their countries, from a state they refer to as exile. Rebellion in Ireland has occasioned the absence of Bolingbroke's king whilst it is also the cause of the Earl's exile. In England, both men must face their sovereign's wrath for returning without permission and with a rebellious aspect. Evelyn Albright drew attention to the parallelism of their careers as exiles, quoting a letter written by Essex to Antonio Perez, dated 14 September 1596, in which his future appointment to Ireland is considered an exile to be resisted. 34 But there were other letters, uncited by Albright, in which Essex specifically cast himself as an exile in Ireland. On his setting out the Queen had reluctantly granted the Earl a licence to return at his own discretion. As the relationship between them deteriorated and the mission became an embarrassment, Elizabeth revoked this licence. It has been speculated that the Queen feared Essex would return with his Irish troops to march upon London. The mobilizations ordered at this time against the Spanish may also have been intended to protect the realm from Essex. 33 In a letter dated 30 August 1599, Essex begs to be
allowed to return to England:
53 On the history's publication and suppression see Manning's introduction, ibid., 17-34.
54 'Shakespeare's RichardII and the Essex Conspiracy', 696.
55 Robert, Earl of Essex, 218, 234.
From a mind delighting in sorrow; from spirits wasted with travail care, and grief; from a heart torn in pieces with passion; from a man that hates himself and all things that keep him alive, what service can your Majesty reap? Since my services past deserve no more than banishment and proscription into the most cursed of all countries, with what expectation or to what end shall I live longer? 56 Essex signs himself the Queen's 'exiled servant'. We cannot expect Hayward's readers to have had access to Essex's metaphors. 37 Yet the details of the Earl's subsequent disgrace would have been common knowledge. Not only did Essex commit treason by treading once more upon English soil without the Queen's permission, he burst in on Elizabeth in her private chamber whilst the Queen was in a state of undress. 38 Essex was charged with these and other acts of disobedience before a commission at York House and an audience of 200 people. The conclusion of the hearing was that he should be imprisoned at the Queen's pleasure. The condition of his eventual release was that he be banished forever from the court.
Thus Essex's 'exile' in Ireland was punished by literal banishment from the court. Moreover, like the exile in a foreign country, Essex seemed thus condemned to a life of penury. He was already on the brink of bankruptcy and now excluded from the court upon which his fortunes 56 See Lives and Letters of the Devereux, Earls of Essex, in the Reigns of Elizabeth. James I. and Charles I 1540-1646 by W. B. Devereux (London: John Murray, 1853), 2 vols., vol. 2, 68. See also my introduction.
57 The same applies to Shakespeare and his public, in this case his readers since Richard II was apparently no longer playing on the stage but had been printed once in 1597 and twice in 1598. Albright suggests rather desperately that although the letter to Perez postdates the composition of Richard II 'it may well have been that the Devereux family held strong opinions on Irish service before that time, in view of the experiences of Essex's father' Thus, she implies that Shakespeare could have predicted Essex's response to the Irish expedition, 'Shakespeare's RichardII and the Essex Conspiracy', 697.