Tudors, Shakespeare, Legitimacy
The struggles of the Tudor dynasty of sixteenth-century England were created by the need of the monarchs to secure individual and legal legitimacy. William Shakespeare examines the issue in several of his plays, including King Lear, Richard III, and King John. Through recreating the legitimacy battles of the Tudors in his plays, Shakespeare demonstrates that it is not bastardy which corrupts a person's character but the betrayal of family ties and falsifying legitimacy, and that legitimacy does not make a person good but virtue and loyalty to one's country does. Legitimacy is not merely a label associated with birth but a stigma assigned by others on an individual. Not only is bastardy a perversion of the natural order but also falsifying the legitimacy or illegitimacy of others, as well as the betrayal of family ties in this manner. Moral legitimacy or virtue is manifested by loyalty to one's country and family. This paper compares the legitimacy issues during the reigns of Mary I and Elizabeth I to commentary about legitimacy in Shakespeare's works.
Intensive reading, discussion, and (in some sections) viewing of plays from the comedy, tragedy, romance, and history genres.
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Cole, Elizabeth, "Pretenders to Birthright, Heirs to Virtue: The Legitimacy of the Tudors and Shakespeare's Characters" (2013). Student Works. 100.
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