Sources of the Play
The chief source of Richard II was the second edition of Raphael Holinshed's chronicle. We are assured that Shakespeare used the second edition by the fact that the portent of the withered bay-trees appears there and not in the first edition (see Boswell-Stone, Shakespeare's Holinshed, p. x., for a score of similar instances from other chronicle plays). From Holinshed Shakespeare drew practically all his historical material, and in general he shows no knowledge of facts or explanations of events recorded by other historians. Possible exceptions to this statement are as follows:
i. The allusion to Mowbray's fighting in the Holy Land (IV. i. 92–96) may have come from Stow's Annals.
ii. The business of actually handing the crown to Bolingbroke (IV. i. 181–183), not in Holinshed, may have come from Berners's Froissart, xiv. 220. It is also in Daniel, ii. 112.
iii. Shakespeare may have drawn from other plays on the subject then extant.
iv. He may have been influenced by Daniel's The First Fowre Bookes of the ciuile wars between the two houses of Lancaster and Yorke. 1595.
The two latter possibilities need to be discussed in detail. The manuscript diary of Dr. Simon For-
- The first and second volumes of chronicles, comprising (1) The description and historie of England, (2) The description and historie of Ireland, (3) The description and history of Scotland. First collected and published by R. H., W. Harrison and others. Now augmented and continued to the yeare 1586 by J. Hooker alias Vowell and others. In folio. 1587.