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The first and second part of the troublesome raigne of Iohn King of England.
1611

STC 14646 copy 1, title page

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STC 14646 copy 1, title page
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Creator: William Shakespeare
Title: The first and second part of the troublesome raigne of Iohn King of England. With the discouerie of King Richard Cordelions base sonne (vulgarly named, the bastard Fawconbridge:) Also, the death of King Iohn at Swinstead Abbey. As they were (sundry times) lately acted by the Queenes Maiesties Players. Written by W. Sh.  
Date: Imprinted at London : By Valentine Simmes for Iohn Helme, and are to be sold at his shop in Saint Dunstons Churchyard in Fleetestreet, 1611.
Repository: Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, DC, USA
Call number and opening: STC 14646 copy 1, title page 
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Item Title
The first and second part of the troublesome raigne of Iohn King of England. With the discouerie of King Richard Cordelions base sonne (vulgarly named, the bastard Fawconbridge:) Also, the death of King Iohn at Swinstead Abbey. As they were (sundry [...]
Item Date
Imprinted at London : By Valentine Simmes for Iohn Helme, and are to be sold at his shop in Saint Dunstons Churchyard in Fleetestreet, 1611.
Repository
Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, DC, USA
Call Number
STC 14646 copy 1, title page

Institution Rights and Document Citation

Terms of use
Images that are under Folger copyright are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. This allows you to use our images without additional permission provided that you cite the Folger Shakespeare Library as the source and you license anything you create using the images under the same or equivalent license. For more information, including permissions beyond the scope of this license, see Permissions. The Folger waives permission fees for non-commercial publication by registered non-profits, including university presses, regardless of the license they use. For images copyrighted by an entity other than the Folger, please contact the copyright holder for permission information.

Copy-specific information
Creator: William Shakespeare
Title: The first and second part of the troublesome raigne of Iohn King of England. With the discouerie of King Richard Cordelions base sonne (vulgarly named, the bastard Fawconbridge:) Also, the death of King Iohn at Swinstead Abbey. As they were (sundry times) lately acted by the Queenes Maiesties Players. Written by W. Sh.  
Date: Imprinted at London : By Valentine Simmes for Iohn Helme, and are to be sold at his shop in Saint Dunstons Churchyard in Fleetestreet, 1611.
Repository: Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, DC, USA
Call number and opening: STC 14646 copy 1, title page 
View online bibliographic record

The Troublesome Reign of King John was first published anonymously in 1591, but the second quarto of 1611 includes the attribution “Written by W.Sh.” In 1622, a third quarto expanded this to “W. Shakespeare.” The unusual amount of detail on the 1611 title page details the play’s performance by the Queen’s Majesty’s Players, and the play’s treatment of the discovery of King Richard’s illegitimate son and King John’s death.

The play is closely connected in story and structure to Shakespeare’s King John though with some notable differences, including expansion of the plot by monks to assassinate John. The most distinctive feature of all the editions is the text’s division into two parts. While the text is one of the longer of the period, it is well within the range of other single plays of the period, suggesting that the division is artificial, almost certainly in imitation of Marlowe’s Tamburlaine (Wiggins 2013, 458). 

The Troublesome Reign is the only play published in Shakespeare’s lifetime bearing his initials that Philip Chetwinde did not include in his additions to the Third Folio in 1664. The play has never been included in a complete works of Shakespeare and is even excluded from almost all editions of spurious plays, including C.F. Tucker Brooke (1908) and Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen (2013). The play’s close relationship with Shakespeare’s King John means it is more often treated as a variant text or close source, similar to The Taming of a Shrew. Brian Vickers (2004) makes a persuasive case for George Peele as the play’s author, a case followed by Charles Forker in his 2011 Revels edition of The Troublesome Reign.
 

Written by Peter Kirwan

Sources

Charles Forker, ed., The Troublesome Reign of John, King of England (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2011).

Brian Vickers, ‘The Troublesome Reign, George Peepe, and the Date of King John’ in Words that count, ed. Brian Boyd (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2004): 78-116.

Martin Wiggins, British Drama 1533-1642: A Catalogue, Volume III: 1590-1597 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013).

Last updated February 16, 2017