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King John

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At the heart of King John is the death of his rival Arthur: this fifteenth lecture in the Approaching Shakespeare series looks at the ways history and legitimacy are complicated in this plotline.

In this podcast on the often overlooked Shakespearean history play King John, Smith discusses how the play calls into question notions of just or rightful sovereignty. In the play all claims to power seem tentative at best, and often the confusion of the battlefield obscures who has the best right to the throne. Additionally, Shakespeare diverges from all source texts by creating the character of Philip Falconbridge, the Bastard, whose charisma draws attention to the Falconbridge's microcosmic drama of inheritance, family, and birthrights.