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What Shakespeare got wrong: How to take perfectly fine history and turn it into absolute fiction

  • Renesan Institute for Lifelong Learning 1200 Old Pecos Trail Santa Fe, NM, 87505 United States (map)

Shakespeare was a great playwright but a dodgy historian. This lecture looks at what Shakespeare got wrong—and right—in the history plays. Shakespeare’s history starts with the play King John, the reason the Magna Carta was written, to the play Henry VIII, the infamous Tudor king. In between, there are two cycles of history plays covering the lead up to the Wars of the Roses, the chaos resulting in civil wars, ending with Richard III’s death on Bosworth Field and the victory of Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, the founder of the Tudor dynasty. 

Shakespeare, the ultimate pop-culture historian, transforms the facts and unknowns into an engaging narrative, embellishing the original chronicles.

Kristin Bundesen is the presenter. Please register at

Off with his head!
— King Richard in Richard III