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        Royal Leadership in Shakespeare

        In this series of videos from Shakespeare Uncovered, students will explore the historical subjects of William Shakespeare’s plays Richard II, Henry IV, and Henry V, the factual liberties he took in writing them, and the historical significance they have had over the centuries. The accompanying essay provides additional background on Shakespeare’s history plays, their immense popularity in Shakespeare’s time, and their continuing influence on how we understand history today.

        The Wilton Diptych

        In this video from Shakespeare Uncovered, Derek Jacobi studies the Wilton Diptych in the National Gallery in London and describes its significance to Richard II and his reign.

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        Divine Right: Richard II's Claim to the Throne

        As Richard II’s rival Henry Bolingbroke lands in England and prepares his campaign against the crown, the king comforts himself by musing on what he believes is his divine anointment and protection.

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        The Savvy Realist: Henry Bolingbroke's Challenge

        While director Simon Usher and actor James Garnon discuss how they understand the essence of Henry Bolingbroke’s character to be political calculation, actor Derek Jacobi suggests that the morality of Bolingbroke’s true motives are open to interpretation, and perhaps beside the point.

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        The Anointed King

        This video explores historical echoes of Richard II’s isolated delusions of invincibility in the downfalls of more recent leaders ranging from Saddam Hussein to Margaret Thatcher, and reflects upon the rise and fall of all rulers in the world’s never-ending cycles of power.

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        Echoes of Richard

        This video explores historical echoes of Richard II’s isolated delusions of invincibility in the downfall of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and reflects upon the rise and fall of all rulers in the world’s neverending cycles of power.

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        Uneasy Lies the Head That Wears a Crown

        In the aftermath of a bloody victory at Shrewsbury against Harry Hotspur, the deeply religious Henry IV finds himself guilty about the loss of life in defense of his crown, the taking of that crown from Richard II, and the offense against the divine order that deposing a king represents.

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        "Once More Unto the Breach ..." | Shakespeare Uncovered

        Director Thea Sharrock explains that her new production of Henry V is neither pro-war nor anti-war, but rather an acknowledgement that "war happens" and an attempt to understand the individuals shaped by it — most of all Henry himself, whose character, as king, is defined by the ways, both vicious and valiant, in which he conducts his war against France.

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        The Battle of Agincourt | Shakespeare Uncovered

        On the eve of the Battle of Agincourt, Henry V moves among his soldiers, listening to their fears and anger, made all the more poignant by the soldiers' powerlessness. Whatever his actual, perhaps questionable, motives in the war, Henry's great moment as king comes when he inspires his soldiers by making his cause England's own, ennobling them as patriots rather than victims.

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        Have We Learned Anything? | Shakespeare Uncovered

        This segment reflects on the transience of Henry V's military accomplishments, the bloody price of his battlefield glory, and humanity's ongoing inability to learn the larger lessons of war's futility.

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        Funder: Shakespeare Uncovered is made possible by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the generous support of the project’s lead foundation sponsor, the Howard and Abby Milstein Foundation. Major funding is also provided by Rosalind P. Walter, The Polonsky Foundation, Virginia and Dana Randt, the LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust, and PBS.
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