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The Troublesome Raigne and Lamentable Death of Edward the Second, King of England

  • George L. Geckle
Chapter
Part of the Text and Performance book series (TEPE)

Abstract

As the sources make clear, Edward II’s reign was a disaster from beginning to end. Marlowe found all he really needed for his imagination to take wing in the early description of Edward and Gaveston in Holinshed (vol. iii, p. 318):

But now concerning the demeanour of this new king, whose disordered maners brought himselfe and manie others unto destruction; we find that in the beginning of his governement, though he was of nature given to lightnesse, yet being restreined with the prudent advertisements of certeine of his councellors, to the end he might shew some likelihood of good proofe, he counterfeited a kind of gravitie, vertue and modestie; but yet he could not throughlie be so bridled, but that foorthwith he bagan to plaie divers wanton and light parts, at the first indeed not outragiouslie, but by little and little, and that covertlie. For hauing revoked againe into England his old mate the said Peers de Gaveston, he received him into most high favour, creating him earle of Cornewall, and lord of Man, his principall secretarie, and lord chamberlaine of the realme, through whose companie and societie he was suddenlie so corrupted, that he burst out into most heinous vices; for then using the said Peers as a procurer of his disordred dooings, he began to have his nobles in no regard, to set nothing by their instructions, and to take small heed unto the good governement of the commonwealth, so that within a while, he gave himselfe to wantonnes, passing his time in voluptuous pleasure, and riotous excesse: and to helpe them forward in that kind of life, the foresaid Peers, who (as it may be thought, he had sworne to make the king to forget himselfe, and the state, to the which he was called) furnished his court with companies of jesters, ruffians, flattering parasites, musicians, and other vile and naughtie ribalds, that the King might spend both daies and nights in jesting, plaieng, banketing, and in such other filthie and dishonorable exercises: and moreover, desirous to advance those that were like to him selfe, he procured for them honorable offices, all which notable preferments and dignities, sith they were ill bestowed, were rather to be accounted dishonorable than otherwise, both to the giver and the receiver.…

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© George L. Geckle 1988

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  • George L. Geckle

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