Holinshed’s Chronicle leaf, 1577. The History of Scotland.

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One of Shakespeare’s primary history sources.

Woodcut illustrations of William the Conqueror's soldiers ransacking a village and Gentlemen submitting to King Malcolm's pleasure. 

Recto:  Text in English printed in two columns in a blackletter font on laid  & watermarked paper.  Heading “The Historie of Scotlande” and marginal notes printed in a Roman font.  Paginated 255 and a "catchword", agaynst,  in the bottom margin.  A woodcut illustration of soldiers ransacking a town for provisions.

Verso:   As Recto, with a woodcut of Gentlemen submitting to King Malcolm's pleasure. 

Printer:  Henry Bynneman, London.

Date:  1577.

Content:  A section of the text describes the conflict between William the Conqueror and King Malcolm of Scotland:

“…King William advertised hereof, waxed wonderfull wroth, that no more good was done agaynst his enimies, whereupon hee sent a newe power thither with all speede, under the leading of his brother Odo, who was Bishoppe of Bayeur, and Earle of Kent.

By this last army, the countrey of Northumberlande, was sore spoyled, and a great number both of Scottes and Northumberland men discomfited and slain. But as Odo was preparing to returne, there came Malcome with all the power he might make, and giving an onset upon his enemies, slue a great number of them, and recovered al the bootie which Odoes men had got in the countrey, and so right joyfull of that victorie, returned to Scotlande.

Condition:  This leaf is in, at best, fair antiquarian condition.  The margins have been trimmed with the loss of a few letters of the marginal notes and the pagination.  There is age-related surface marking, edge tears, browning and a small loss of paper in the outer margin, but not at the expense of any text.  Nevertheless, the main body of text is complete and legible and the woodcuts are sharply printed. The leaf is unconditionally guaranteed genuine.

Notes:  Holinshed was Shakespeare's favourite and most trusted source and he used it for more than a third of his plays, including Macbeth, King Lear, Cymbeline and the English history plays such as Richard III. At times Shakespeare followed the text of the Chronicles closely, even echoing its words and phrases, at other times using it as an inspiration for plot details or deviating entirely from its account, preferring other sources or his own imagination. 

In 1603, James VI of Scotland ascended the English throne, becoming James I of England. The king became a patron of the playwright's acting company.  London was alive with an interest in all things Scottish, and Shakespeare turned to Scottish history for material. 

Holinshed’s narrative of witches, prophesy, treason, execution and murder were topics that fascinated King James to the point of obsession.

A second revised edition of The Chronicles was published in 1587 without the woodcut illustrations.

Size:  Size of leaf: approx. 275x185 mm.  Please note that shipping is invoiced seperately.

Item No:  PSE143

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