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On Shakespearian Echoes in Chapman’s Byron Plays

Gilles Bertheau

Résumés

L’objet du présent article est de montrer que George Chapman s’est très certainement inspiré de Richard II de William Shakespeare lorsqu’il a composé The Conspiracy and Tragedy of Byron, sa deuxième tragédie française, publiée en 1608. Outre les ressemblances thématiques et l’inversion structurelle qu’opère Byron par rapport à Richard II, en représentant sur scène l’échec d’un sujet désobéissant à un roi légitime, Chapman – en particulier à la fin de The Tragedy of Byron – a accumulé les références à la pièce de Shakespeare. Ces échos mettent en évidence les similarités qui rapprochent deux héros éponymes qu’a priori tout devrait opposer. Tous deux sont victimes – sans toutefois être innocents – de personnages rompus à la pratique machiavélienne de la politique (Bolingbroke d’un côté, Henry de l’autre) qui mettent en cause leur statut. Tandis que Richard est mis en échec en tant que roi, le rêve de Byron d’être « son propre roi » achoppe sur la volonté absolutiste de son souverain.

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  • 1 The book was published in London in 1607 by George Eld, and again in 1611. See Frederick S. Boas, " (...)
  • 2 "The Text of The Conspiracy and Tragedy of Charles Duke of Byron", Modern Language Review, 4 (oct. (...)
  • 3 "The Plays of George Chapman", Modern Language Review, 13 (1918), pp. 1-24 and "The Plays of George (...)
  • 4 Études sur lhumanisme continental en Angleterre à la fin de la Renaissance, Paris: Honoré Champion (...)
  • 5 "Notes on Chapmans Plays", Modern Language Review, 33 (1938), pp. 248-54 and "More Notes on Chapma (...)
  • 6 George Chapman (1559-1634), sa vie, sa poésie, son théâtre, sa pensée, Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1 (...)

1It has been long established that the main historical source of George Chapmans Conspiracy and Tragedy of Byron was Edward Grimestons A Generall Historie of France, Written by Iohn de Serres vnto the Yeare 1598. Much Augmented and Continued unto this Present, out of the Most Approoued Authors That Have Written of That Subiect1. But it is far from being exclusive of classical sources, as Thomas Marc Parrott showed in 19082, A. S. Ferguson in 1918 and 19203, Franck Schœll in 19264, George G. Loane in 1938 and 19435 and Jean Jacquot in 19516. The play — which cannot have been written before 1607, because Grimestons book was published that year — was published and acted in 1608.

  • 7 William Shakespeare, King Richard II, ed. Charles R. Forker, London: Thomson Learning, 2002, p. 165 (...)
  • 8 Charles R. Forker, pp. 120-121.

2That was also the year when William Shakespeares fourth Quarto of Richard II was published. It was in that quarto that a first version of the deposition scene (4.1.155-318) appeared "perhaps derived in some way from a theatrical performance", as Charles Forker puts it7. Before that, in the first three quartos (1597-1598), this scene was omitted for censorship reasons. It appeared as a reliable text only in the 1623 Folio, but was always performed on stage from its inception in 1595, when it had probably been performed by the Chamberlains Men at James Burbages Theatre. It was also certainly performed on 7 February 1601 "at the behest of Meyrick, one of Essexs followers"8.

3If one considers the dates, there is every possibility that Chapman could attend a London performance of Richard II. His first published work appeared one year before the first performance of the play: The Shadow of Night, published in London by William Ponsonby in 1594. We know that Chapman resided in or near London in these years. It is therefore very probable that he should have retained a number of specific details from Richard II when composing his Byron plays. My contention is that Richard II is one of the sources of Byron.

  • 9 Charles R. Forker, p. 1.

4Richard II is the only play by Shakespeare to stage "the dethronement of an unsuitable anointed monarch by an illegitimate but more able one"9, while George Chapmans The Conspiracy and Tragedy of Byron deals with a subjects failed attempt at overthrowing a legitimate king, Henry IV of France. Drawing a parallel between them may seem paradoxical since King Richard and Marshal Byron stand at the two opposite ends of the issue of political obedience: the former falls as a victim to organized and wilful rebellion, while the latter entangles himself in the meshes of a somewhat pathetic — and unsuccessful — conspiracy against an absolute king. Yet both eventually meet their deaths in a tragic way, and one of the reasons that lead to this catastrophe is both characters incomprehension of "modern" politics, as wielded by Bolingbroke / Henry IV on the one hand, and Henry IV of France on the other hand.

  • 10 The Tragedy of Byron, 5.4.88.

5Thus, after a close reading of the Byron plays — but more specifically of The Tragedy of Byron — the paradox vanishes as the text reveals similarities and textual echoes of Shakespeares Richard II which point at the analogies between the deposed king and the executed rebel, and also reinforce their constitutive ambiguity as characters. Both are guilty and victimized at the same time. Byron is guilty of being a bad subject; Richard is guilty of being a bad king. Byron is condemned ("for depositions of a witch"10) in an iniquitous trial and eventually executed, while Richard is illegitimately deposed and eventually murdered.

  • 11 All references to the play are from John Margesons edition: The Conspiracy and Tragedy of Charles (...)
  • 12 Martin Spevack, A Complete and Systematic Concordance to the Works of Shakespeare, Hildesheim, Geor (...)

6Reading The Conspiracy and Tragedy of Byron as it unfolds, one can see how the echoes of Shakespeares play make sense. In fact, apart from one in the "Prologus", all these references are to be found in The Tragedy of Byron. In the "Prologus" to the double play, Chapman speaks of "the uncivil civil wars of France" (v. 1)11. When the action of the play starts, these wars belong to the past and Henry IVs kingdom lives in peace. The polysemy of those two related epithets, "unvicil" and "civil", creates a pun, the first one gainsaying the second one, which can also be found in Shakespeares play, when Northumberland feigns to dismiss the idea of English civil war — a recurrent theme of Richard II — after its evocation by the king himself. He says: "The King of Heaven forbid our lord the King / Should so with civil and uncivil arms / Be rushed upon!" (3.3.101- 103). The parallel is — I think — particularly striking, especially if one considers that among the eight occurrences of the word "uncivil" in the Shakespearean corpus12, the only time when it is associated with "civil" is in this scene of Richard II. In the rest of the "Prologus", Chapman evokes a wounded and ruined France, which is reminiscent of Bolingbrokes evocation of England in case of military conflict with Richard:

If not, Ill use the advantage of my power
And lay the summer
s dust with showers of blood
Rain
d from the wounds of slaughterd Englishmen:
The which, how far off from the mind of Bolingbroke
It is, such crimson tempest should bedrench
The fresh green lap of fair King Richard
s land,
My stooping duty tenderly shall show. (
Richard II, 3.3.42-48, my italics)

7The images of dust, blood, rain and slaughter are taken up by Chapman, although in a different context (that of Byrons ascent):

When the uncivil civil wars of France
Had
pourd upon the countrys beaten breast
Her batter
d cities; pressd her under hills
Of
slaughterd carcasses; set her in the mouths
Of murderous breaches, and made pale Despair
Leave her to Ruin, through them all, Byron
Stept to her rescue [...
].
And now new cleansed from
dust, from sweat, and blood,
And dignified with the title of a Duke,
As when in wealthy Autumn, his bright star,
Wash
d in the lofty ocean, thence ariseth,
Illustrates heaven and all his other fires
Out-shines and darkens [...
]. (1-7; 10-15, my italics)

  • 13 Cf. The Conspiracy of Byron, 1.2.212.

8But in both plays, war — whether civil or not — belongs either to the past or to the future. Richard goes and suppresses a rebellion in Ireland, but does not combat Bolingbroke militarily. On the other hand, Henry IVs France — after the Treaty of Vervins signed in 159813 — lives in peace, although Chapman mentions the threats represented by the discontented duke of Savoy, allied with Spain. Still, these evocations of civil war remind us of the instability of political power: Richard II experiences it at his own expense while Byron unsuccessfully tries to provoke it.

  • 14 See Gilles Bertheau, "Machiavélisme et raison d’État dans la tragédie historique: Shakespeare et Ch (...)

9The reason for both characters failures partly lies in their lack of political intelligence, in their confidence in themselves and their own statuses: as a divinely ordained king for Richard, and as Frances rescuer for Byron (cf. "Prologus", v. 7). Shakespeare and Chapman, each in his own way, show the efficiency of Machiavellis lessons when understood by Henry IV of England and Henry IV of France14. Apart from the similarity of these two kings political methods, the two texts mention Italy in a way that can be taken as an oblique reference to the Florentine historian. In The Tragedy of Byron, before consulting an astrologer, the marshal declares to his accomplice, the count of Auvergne:

  • 15 Cf. Innocent Gentillet: "Vous semble-il, illustres Seigneurs, voyans en ce temps la pouvre France ( (...)

there are schools15
Now broken ope in all parts of the world,
First founded in ingenious Italy,
Where some conclusions of estate are held
That for a day preserve a prince, and ever
Destroy him after [...
]. (3.1.2-7)

10The association of "ingenious Italy" with "conclusions of estate" implicitly points to Machiavelli, but only to condemn his doctrine: "from thence men are taught / To glide into degrees of height by craft, / And then lock in themselves by villany" (3.1.2-9). This feature is all the more remarkable as it constitutes a major departure from Edward Grimestons account of the Byron affair. In the pages devoted to his captivity, the author writes:

  • 16 Edward Grimeston, A Generall Historie of France, Written by Iohn de Serres vnto the Yeare 1598. Muc (...)

Hee should have knowne that Machiavels councell (who saith that private men never rise from a base to a high fortune but by fraude and force) is ruinous, and that humaine lawes beeing grounded upon divine, suffer no confusions of deseignes whilst that every one doth limit them by this condition, & that hee knows that God doth distribute powers for the government of people: that it is alwaies dangerous to play with his maister [...].16

11This reintroduction of Providence into history is actually due to one of "the Most Approoued Authors" Grimeston translated and compiled: the French historian Pierre Mathieu, who wrote Histoire de France et des choses mémorables aduenues aux prouinces estrangeres durant sept annees de paix du regne de Henry III Roy de France et de Nauare (Paris, 1605) and who was Henry IVs official historiographer, and therefore an important agent of the royal propaganda.

12In Richard II, the Duke of York explains to John of Gaunt that the king is deaf to all reasonable advice of government because of the flatteries and praises he is more inclined to listen to:

No, it [the kings ear] is stopped with other, flattring sounds,
As praises, of whose taste the wise are fond;
Lascivious metres, to whose venom sound
The open ear of youth doth always listen;
Report of fashions in proud Italy,
Whose manners still our tardy-apish nation
Limps after in base imitation. (2.1.17-22)

  • 17 William Shakespeare, op. cit., p. 243.

13Commenting upon these lines, Charles Forker says that "Italy was regarded as the quintessential source of folly and wickedness"17. But the mention of "venom" shows the lethal power of such flattering words and the profound contempt of York for the country it comes from. This word can be compared to the "poison" Jean Bodin refers to when speaking of Machiavellis "tyrannical deceits" in the preface of his Six Books of the Commonwealth, published in Paris in 1576, and translated into English by Richard Knolles in 1606. Besides, given that the views of monarchy which Gaunt and York advocate in the play are in total opposition with that of Bolingbroke, a true disciple of the Florentine, this reference to "proud Italy" may well be taken as a reference to Machiavelli, whose name is not uttered, but whose teachings Bolingbroke applies to seize power. In both cases, Italy is viewed — quite conventionally — as a source of infection for national genius.

14As Byron gets nearer his death, the analogies with Richard II become more numerous. In a striking passage — of Chapmans own invention, since it does not appear in Grimeston — the French king addresses a violent accusation against his marshal:

Come, you are an atheist, Byron, and a traitor,
Both foul and damnable. Thy innocent self?
No leper is so buried quick in ulcers
As thy corrupted soul. (IV, 2, 250-53)

15The first line of this speech is peculiarly interesting as it reminds us of Bolingbrokes invective at Mowbray in the first scene of the play: "Thou art a traitor, and a miscreant" (1.1.39). Here, the association of treason with impiety / atheism creates a parallel between Bolingbroke and Henry IV of France and points to the similar Machiavellian usage both characters make of religion in government.

16Now, the echoes that have been identified above can be taken as hints of the context in which both Richard and Byron see their lives become tragedies: a background of intestine conflict where politics shift from providential justification to practical Machiavellianism. The following echoes will enable me to show how telling the analogies between both characters are, insofar as they enhance the ambivalence of their statuses as both agents and victims of their tragic ends.

17Four of the five passages of The Tragedy of Byron which will be analyzed are concentrated in act V, scene 4, that is to say the last moments of the Marshal of Byron, which are strongly reminiscent of the last moments of Richard II. The first detail in this series immediately will allow us to qualify the notion of paradox used at the beginning of this article. Just before the duke of Byron goes up onto the scaffold, Harlay, one of his judges, tells him that the sentence must be read publicly one last time before the execution: "My lord, it is the manner once again / To read the sentence" (5.4.75-76). But Byron refuses to comply with the ultimate formality of this ceremony and asks to be dispensed with this infamy: "Suffice it I am brought here, and obey" (5.4.82). The chancellor insists ("It must be read, my lord, no remedy", 5.4.84) and Byron finally answers: "Read if it must be, then, and I must talk" (5.4.85). Thus Harlay eventually reads the sentence (5.4.86-120), interrupted by the vehement protestations of innocence of the duke.

18This emphasis on the respect of ceremonies is strongly reminiscent of Northumberlands attitude during Richards deposition. To Richards question, "What more remains?" (4.1.222), Northumberland answers:

No more, but that you read
These accusations, and these grievous crimes
Committed by your person and your followers
Against the state and profit of this land,
That, by confessing them, the souls of men
May deem that you are worthily deposed. (4.1.222-27)

  • 18 This question points to the necessity of Richard’s deposition, as Gisèle Venet wrote: "la dépositio (...)

19The parallel is striking and enhances the will of both kings to display an ostentatious respect for forms which is rejected by their subjects, since Richard asks Northumberland: "Must I do so?" (4.1.228)18. But, while in The Tragedy of Byron the judge reads the sentence publicly, Richard does not comply with Northumberlands insistence (4.1.243, 253 and 269), and Bolingbroke eventually yields: "Urge it no more, my Lord Northumberland" (4.1.271). What replaces the expected reading of the accusations before the Commons is the mirror speech of Richard (4.1.276-91). In both cases, the playwrights show that the ceremonial procedure is all the more respected as it serves to conceal Byrons unfair trial, on the one hand, and to give a formal legitimacy to Bolingbrokes usurping of power.

20After Harlay has read the fifteen lines of the sentence, Chapman has Byron ask: "Now is your form contented?" (The Tragedy of Byron, 5.4.121), the word "form" echoing the word "manner" used by the judge (5.4.75). This question — and in particular the word "contented" — sends us back to Richard II, when Bolingbroke asks Richard: "Are you contented to resign the crown?" (4.1.200). The difference is that in the first case, the word means "satisfied", whereas in the second one, it means "willing". Now in The Tragedy of Byron the Marshal is also asked to "resign" something of importance — it is not the crown, obviously, but his sword: "Resign your sword, my lord. The king commands it", orders Vitry, the captain of the guard in charge of Byrons arrest (4.2.229).

21The deaths of these two characters are not similar (Richard is murdered whereas Byron is legally executed), but in each case, the playwrights have introduced a character whose voice — and speech — offers an interesting counterpoint to the version of the story framed by both kings. A couple of minutes before Byrons beheading, Chapman has a soldier intervene in a strange way, who sums up the ambiguity of the play:

Soldier.
Now by thy spirit, and thy better angel,
If thou wert clear, the continent of France
Would shrink beneath the burthen of thy death
Ere it would bear it.

Vitry.
Who
s that?

Soldier.
I say well,
And clear your justice, here is no ground shrinks;
If he were clear it would; and I say more,
Clear, or not clear, if he with all his foulness,
Stood here in one scale, and the King
s chief minion
Stood in another, here, put here a pardon,
Here lay a royal gift, this, this in merit,
Should hoise the other minion into air. (
The Tragedy of Byron, 5.4.214-24)

  • 19 George Chapman, The Conspiracy and Tragedy of Charles Duke of Byron, p. 268.
  • 20 Berthold Zeller, Henri IV et Biron, Sully et lalliance anglaise, 1600-1604, extraits des Économies (...)
  • 21 Biron is the spelling we use when referring to the historical figure (1562-1602).

22His speech is ambivalent: while justifying the execution of the duke, whose guilt he publicly confirms, he, at the same time, reveals the injustice of this condemnation as compared with the lot of "the Kings chief minion", a phrase which most probably refers to Maximilien de Béthune, baron of Rosny, afterwards duke of Sully (1606). Besides John Margesons note19, Berthold Zeller confirms this idea in quoting Pierre de LEstoile20. After Birons death21, some people vented their discontent in epigrams, poems, and songs, some of which LEstoile noted down:

Ce néanmoins, quelques restes de cette racaille de ligue ne laissèrent, au désavantage de Sa Majesté, d’en écrire et discourir en sa faveur, condamnant cette exécution comme du tout injuste et méchante; même, en détestation d’icelle, furent publiés et semés partout les vers suivants, faits contre le seigneur de Rosny, qui en la personne du valet attaquaient le maître:

  • 22 Berthold Zeller, op. cit., p. 89. This poem is not reprinted in the edition of LEstoiles Journal (...)

Si, pour avoir trop de courage,
On a bien fait mourir Biron,
Rosny, crois que le même orage
Peut bien tomber sur un larron:
Car déjà le peuple en babille,
Et vous appelle, ce dit-on,
Lui cardinal de la Bastille,
Et vous prélat de Montfaucon.
Mais que troupes bien dissemblables
Iront visiter vos tombeaux!
Car il a des gens honorables,
Et vous n’aurez que des corbeaux,
Desquels la charogne mangée
Fera marque, aux âges suivants,
De ton insolence enragée
Sur les morts et sur les vivants.22

23By inserting this soldiers outburst, Chapman conveyed his own well- informed interpretation of the allusion reported by Grimeston:

  • 23 "what a pity is it [...] to die so miserably, and of so infamous a stroake?" (Edward Grimeston, op. (...)
  • 24 Edward Grimeston, op. cit., p. 1133.

At these words23 the teares fell from the souldiers eyes. All those of his profession sware by his Spirit, and by his Angell, as the Ancients did by that of their Prince. The poorest souldiar was cherished by him [...].24

24In Richard II, Shakespeare used the same device when in act V, scene 5 he introduced the character of the groom. While Richard is pining in his prison, "a Groom of the stable" comes and tells him how much aggrieved he is by his former masters lot:

I was a poor groom of thy stable, King,
When thou wert king, who, travelling towards York,
With much ado, at length have gotten leave
To look upon my sometimes royal master
s face.
O, how it erned my heart when I beheld
In London streets, that coronation day,
When Bolingbroke rode on roan Barbary,
That horse that thou so often hast bestrid,
That horse that I so carefully have dressed! (5.5.72-80)

  • 25 "The king had verie few about him of his freends, except onelie the earle of Salisburie, the bishop (...)

25Before taking leave of Richard, he says: "What my tongue dares not, that my heart shall say" (5.5.97). Shakespeare, as Chapman did a few years later, developed a short passage in Holinshed25 into a means of attracting the audiences sympathy for Richard. Chapman went even further by showing, through the soldiers speech, that the popular opinion of the Biron affair was at odds with the official version put down in the sentence read by Harlay. In both cases, the soldier and the groom compare their former masters with figures of power. While the groom of the stable imparts to Richard — whom he calls "King" — his grief at seeing the coronation of the new king — whom he calls "Bolingbroke" —, the soldier implicitly attacks Henry IV through Rosny, as indeed LEstoile had understood (see above).

26Finally, to emphasize even more the pathetic situation of Byron, Chapman has him pronounce last words which are similar to those of Richard. Byron exclaims: "Fly, fly commanding soul, / And on thy wings for this thy bodys breath, / Bear the eternal victory of Death!" (The Tragedy of Byron, 5.4.260-62), while Richards last words are: "Mount, mount, my soul! Thy seat is up on high, / Whilst my gross flesh sinks downward here to die" (Richard II, 5.5.111-12).

  • 26 Gisèle Venet, Temps et vision tragique, p. 14.

27To paraphrase Gisèle Venet, who speaks of "Richard II, tragédie du roi en majesté"26, I would say that The Conspiracy and Tragedy of Byron is a tragedy of Man in majesty. While Richard gives up his crown into Bolingbrokes hands, Byron is forced to give up his sword to Vitry, Captain of the kings guard. Byrons sword assumes the same symbolic function as Richards crown: it is the visible sign not only of his status but also of his entire self, and just like Richard, once he is deprived of it, he becomes nothing. "Ye had as good / Have robbed me of my soul," he tells Vitry (4.2.281-82), while Richard answers Bolingbrokes question with the famous words: "Ay, no. No, ay; for I must nothing be. / Therefore, no no, for I resign to thee" (4.1.201-202).

  • 27 Cf. Jonathan Dollimore, Radical Tragedy: Religion, Ideology and Power in the Drama of Shakespeare a (...)

28The similarities cited above underline the prominence of a concept dear to Chapman: that of the "royal man". Marshal Byron, during his second interview with La Fin, tells him that friendship, fame and loyalty are but "mere politic terms" which enslave "the free- born powers of royal man" (The Conspiracy of Byron, 3.1.31). This idea had already been expounded in The Tragedy of Bussy DAmbois (1607) by the eponymous character. After the triple duel in which Bussy killed Guises favourites, Monsieur is begging his brothers pardon on behalf of his protégé, who then declares: "Who to himselfe is law, no law doth neede, / Offends no King, and is a King indeede" (2.1.203-204). His assertion of autonomy27 is later supported by the king himself, who defends Bussy against the insolence of the duke of Guise by explaining that Bussy represents "man in his natiue noblesse" (3.2.90).

29Chapman takes up the idea when he stages Byrons reaction to the astrologer La Brosses predictions:

  • 28 The passage comes from Plutarch’s "De fato", as Franck Schœll first showed in Études sur lhumanism (...)

There is no danger to a man that knows
What life and death is; there
s not any law
Exceeds his knowledge, neither is it lawful
That he should stoop to any other law.
He goes before them and commands them all
That to himself is a law rational. (
The Conspiracy of Byron, 3.3.140-45)28

  • 29 "I find myself a traitor with the rest; / For I have given here my souls consent / Tundeck the po (...)
  • 30 Gisèle Venet calls his ambition: "la revendication hyperbolique d’une catégorie nouvelle, d’une cat (...)

30These lines of monologue, which express a revolt against the decree of the stars, will transform into an obvious challenge to the kings authority when Byron, infuriated by Henrys refusal to give him the government of the citadel of Bourg [Bourg-en-Bresse], finally tells him: "But I will be mine own king" (The Conspiracy of Byron, 5.1.137). From that point of view, Byrons enterprise is a total failure which stands as the inverted image, as it were, of Richards. Whereas Richard II stages a king whose tragedy is to betray himself into becoming a man29, The Conspiracy and Tragedy of Byron stages a subject whose tragic treason is his ambition to become his "own king"30.

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Notes

1 The book was published in London in 1607 by George Eld, and again in 1611. See Frederick S. Boas, "The Source of George Chapmans The Conspiracy of Biron, and The Revenge of Bussy DAmbois," The Athenaeum, 10 jan. 1903, pp. 51-52.

2 "The Text of The Conspiracy and Tragedy of Charles Duke of Byron", Modern Language Review, 4 (oct. 1908), pp. 40-64.

3 "The Plays of George Chapman", Modern Language Review, 13 (1918), pp. 1-24 and "The Plays of George Chapman II", Modern Language Reviewn 15 (1920), pp. 223-39.

4 Études sur lhumanisme continental en Angleterre à la fin de la Renaissance, Paris: Honoré Champion, 1926.

5 "Notes on Chapmans Plays", Modern Language Review, 33 (1938), pp. 248-54 and "More Notes on Chapmans Plays", Modern Language Review, 38 (1943), pp. 340-7.

6 George Chapman (1559-1634), sa vie, sa poésie, son théâtre, sa pensée, Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1951.

7 William Shakespeare, King Richard II, ed. Charles R. Forker, London: Thomson Learning, 2002, p. 165. All subsequent quotations from this edition.

8 Charles R. Forker, pp. 120-121.

9 Charles R. Forker, p. 1.

10 The Tragedy of Byron, 5.4.88.

11 All references to the play are from John Margesons edition: The Conspiracy and Tragedy of Charles Duke of Byron, The Revels Plays, Manchester: Manchester UP, 1988 [1608].

12 Martin Spevack, A Complete and Systematic Concordance to the Works of Shakespeare, Hildesheim, Georg Olms Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1968-80, vol. 6, p. 3692.

13 Cf. The Conspiracy of Byron, 1.2.212.

14 See Gilles Bertheau, "Machiavélisme et raison d’État dans la tragédie historique: Shakespeare et Chapman", Shakespeare et ses contemporains, éd. Patricia Dorval, Actes du congrès de 2002, Paris, Société Française Shakespeare, 2002, pp. 25-44.

15 Cf. Innocent Gentillet: "Vous semble-il, illustres Seigneurs, voyans en ce temps la pouvre France (...) tant desolee et dechiree par les estrangers, que vous la deviez du tout laisser perdre et ruiner? Devez vous permettre qu’ils sement l’atheisme et l’impieté en vostre pays, et qu’ils y en dressent des escolles?" (in Anti-Machiavel, éd. C. Edward Rathé, Les Classiques de la pensée politique 5, Genève, Librairie Droz, 1968, pp. 37-38, reprint of Discours svr les moyens de bien gouverner... Contre Nicolas Machiavel Florentin, 1576).

16 Edward Grimeston, A Generall Historie of France, Written by Iohn de Serres vnto the Yeare 1598. Much Augmented and Continued unto this Present, out of the Most Approoued Authors That Have Written of that Subiect, Londres, George Eld, 1611 [1607], p. 1115.

17 William Shakespeare, op. cit., p. 243.

18 This question points to the necessity of Richard’s deposition, as Gisèle Venet wrote: "la déposition d’un roi légitime dont tous les motifs politiques et dramatiques avaient eu le temps de souligner l’inévitable et regrettable nécessité" (Temps et vision tragique. Shakespeare et ses contemporains, Paris, Presses de la Sorbonne Nouvelle, 2002 [1985], p. 183).

19 George Chapman, The Conspiracy and Tragedy of Charles Duke of Byron, p. 268.

20 Berthold Zeller, Henri IV et Biron, Sully et lalliance anglaise, 1600-1604, extraits des Économies royales de Sully et des mémoires-journaux de lEstoile, L’histoire de France racontée par les contemporains (Paris: Librairie Hachette, 1888).

21 Biron is the spelling we use when referring to the historical figure (1562-1602).

22 Berthold Zeller, op. cit., p. 89. This poem is not reprinted in the edition of LEstoiles Journal de Henri IV (1595-1601) (Paris: Tallandier, 1982), a reprint of a previous edition (Paris: Librairie des bibliophiles, 1879).

23 "what a pity is it [...] to die so miserably, and of so infamous a stroake?" (Edward Grimeston, op. cit., p. 1133), which corresponds in The Tragedy of Byron to: "Is it not pity I should lose my life / By such a bloody and infamous stroke?" (5.4.212-13).

24 Edward Grimeston, op. cit., p. 1133.

25 "The king had verie few about him of his freends, except onelie the earle of Salisburie, the bishop of Carleill, the lord Stephan Scroope, Sir Nicholas Ferebie [...] and Jenico Dartois a Gascoigne that still ware the cognisance or deuise of his maister king Richard, that is to saie, a white hart, and would not put it from him, neither for persuasions nor threats; by reason whereof, when the duke of Hereford vnderstood it, he caused him to be committed to prison within the castell of Chester. This man was the last (as saieth mine author) which ware that deuise, and shewed well thereby his constant hart toward his maister, for the which it was thought he should haue lost his life, but yet he was pardoned, and at length reconciled to the dukes fauour, after he was king" (Raphael Holinshed, The Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland. London, Henry Denham, [1587], III, p. 500, l. 54-70).

26 Gisèle Venet, Temps et vision tragique, p. 14.

27 Cf. Jonathan Dollimore, Radical Tragedy: Religion, Ideology and Power in the Drama of Shakespeare and His Contemporaries, Brighton, The Harvester Press, 1984, chapitre 11 ("Bussy DAmbois (c. 1604): A Hero at Court"), p. 186.

28 The passage comes from Plutarch’s "De fato", as Franck Schœll first showed in Études sur lhumanisme continental en Angleterre à la fin de la Renaissance (Paris: Honoré Champion, 1926), p. 211. Jacques Amyot translated it into French as follows: "S’il y auoit homme qui fust suffisant de sa nature, ou par diuine fortune engendré & né si heureusement qu’il peut comprendre cela, il n’auroit que faire de loix qui luy commandassent: car il n’y a ny loy ny ordonnance qui soit plus digne ny plus puissante que la science, & n’est pas loisible qu’il soit serf ny subiect à personne, s’il est veritablement & realement franc & libre de nature, ains doit commander partout" (in Les Oevvres morales et meslees de Plutarque, traduictes de Grec en François, reueuës et corrigees en plusieurs passages par Maistre Iaques Amiot Conseiller du Roy et grand Aumosnier de France. Divisees en devx tomes, et enrichies en ceste edition de Annotations en marge, auec deux Indices. Le premier des traités, Le Second des choses memorables mentionnees esdites Oeuuvres, trad. Jacques Amyot, Paris, Barthélémy Macé, 1587, p. 559r C).

29 "I find myself a traitor with the rest; / For I have given here my souls consent / Tundeck the pompous body of a king" (Richard II, 4.1.247-49).

30 Gisèle Venet calls his ambition: "la revendication hyperbolique d’une catégorie nouvelle, d’une catégorie ’moderne’, la catégorie de l’individuel" (Temps et vision tragique, p. 321).

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Gilles Bertheau, « On Shakespearian Echoes in Chapman’s Byron Plays », Études Épistémè [En ligne], 9 | 2006, mis en ligne le 01 avril 2006, consulté le 13 novembre 2018. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/episteme/2671 ; DOI : 10.4000/episteme.2671

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Gilles Bertheau

Gilles Bertheau est Maître de Conférences à l’Université François-Rabelais de Tours et membre du CESR (Centre d’Études Supérieures de la Renaissance ; CNRS). Spécialiste du théâtre élisabéthain, il est également associé au groupe de recherche Epistémê, dont il dirige l’atelier théâtre. Auteur d’une thèse sur « Les tragédies françaises de George Chapman : de l’absolutisme royal à l’homme absolu », soutenue en 2002 sous la direction de Gisèle Venet, il a publié des articles sur le théâtre des 16e – 17e siècles, a été co-responsable du volume collectif sur Richard II paru aux Éditions du Temps (2005) et a édité et annoté Sir Thomas More, d’Anthony Munday, William Shakespeare et alii pour la Pléiade (Théâtre de Shakespeare). Il collabore actuellement avec l’équipe de recherche de l’IRCL (Montpellier III), qui élabore une base de données (CD-Rom) et prépare la publication d’un ouvrage (Manchester University Press) consacré à la « Représentation de la France, du français et des Français dans le théâtre anglais (1560-1642) ».

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