Thinking with Causes: Henry V and Scotland

  • Lorna Margaret Hutson (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk


Written at the time of the accession of a Scots king to the English throne, Henry V has been called a ‘succession play’. Yet although critics have discussed the play’s representation of Ireland and Wales, its representation of Scotland goes unmentioned. This paper shows that Henry V’s chronicle sources and dramatic precursors are profoundly engaged with England’s disputed claim to legal overlordship of Scotland, revived by England’s invasion of Scotland in the 1540s and thereafter by various legal treatises for and against Scottish succession. Shakespeare’s success in effacing the Scottish dimensions of his historical sources is a triumph of the dramatic use of forensic rhetoric to shift legal questions of national sovereignty into apparently universal questions of inwardness, conscience and ‘character’.

Period11 Feb 2016


  • Shakespeare, Scotland, law, rhetoric, kingship, homage, forgery