A watercolour of a crowded street scene. At the centre, Bolingbroke is mounted on a white horse, wearing a gold doublet and clutching his feathered hat to his chest; he looks up to acknowledge the figures waving at him from balconies and windows. Surrounding Bolingbroke are festively-dressed citizens. On the left, a woman wears a flower garland and carries a basket of flowers. Several men have removed their hats in salutation, mimicking Bolingbroke’s gesture. A boy in blue and orange gestures expansively in welcome at the bottom centre of the frame. On the right, a bearded man points at Bolingbroke, his face turned towards his wife, who clutches his arm. A woman offers a rose to Bolingbroke. A forest of spears and halberd in the background implies that Bolingbroke rides at the head of an army. On both sides and in the background, windows are filled with spectators; on the left, a child holds a green banner labelled ‘God save Kyng Henry'. Flags and garlands hang from the buildings.

Section One: Staging history

Shakespeare's history plays both supported and critiqued the 'Tudor myth' that Henry VII, the first Tudor, had ushered in stability and prosperity after decades of Plantagenet warfare.

Generations of royals have been schooled in the Shakespearean history that presents Elizabeth I as a 'fair vestal throned in the West', Richard II as a self-involved romantic and Richard III as a murderous hunchback.

And, in the centuries since Elizabeth, they have repeatedly 'staged' that history in support of their own legitimacy - especially at times of personal or dynastic crisis.

Watching Richard II, Queen Victoria commented on the thrill of seeing ‘her ancestors’ on the stage before her. She also tacitly endorsed the idea that she was a second Elizabeth through her patronage of the theatre.

At the same time, others found a more compelling reference point for contemporary queens in the embattled Queen Katharine of Henry VIII. Katharine's 'trial' provided ready comparative fodder for the trial of Queen Caroline, estranged wife of George IV - but also for Victoria herself.

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