The Mirror of Confusion The Representation of French History in English Renaissance Drama
How did English dramatists portray the neighboring domain of France and its history in their plays? The study examines a selection of Shakespearean and other history plays, the French tragedies of George Chapman, Christopher Marlowe's revealing historical tragedy The Massacre at Paris, and several literary and nonliterary historical texts. The result is a unique and timely contribution to our understanding of how cultural differences influenced the historical perspectives of English dramatists as well as how Renaissance plays shaped, and were shaped by, their historical material. Drawing on the insights of cultural studies, historiography, and ethnography, this study re-examines the historical representation of a neglected yet influential part of early modern Europe and the paradoxical relationship between English writers and their French subject matter. Although information about France and French history was becoming increasingly available in England at the end of the sixteenth century, for English writers France remained a distant land, its history and people misunderstood and misrepresented.