Representations of Emergent and Marginalised Identities in The Famous Victories of Henry the Fifth

  • Rebecca Agar

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The Famous Victories of Henry the Fifth has been neglected by academics over the years due to its ‘crude’ prose, repetitive structure and stigmatised status as a ‘bad quarto’. However, Famous Victories is thought to be the first English history play to have been performed on the commercial stage and, as such, launched an influential genre that would only grow in popularity throughout the Elizabethan period.
This thesis will argue that Famous Victories has more value than its current reputation as a ‘worthless’ play, and that it holds merit as a literary work in its own right. To achieve this I will support the argument that Famous Victories was the first English history play to be performed on the commercial stage and that its evolution from the medieval morality play tradition was a particularly significant one. Just as the Tudor morality play, King Johan, appropriated the legacy of a historical figure to create a ‘Protestant’ martyr and a desirable historic tradition for the new faith, so too was Famous Victories able to use Henry V’s legacy to a similar effect.
This thesis will highlight four key emergent and marginalised identities that had been minimised by the Tudor chronicles or developed too recently to be included in such historic works. I will argue that Famous Victories was able to retroactively include these marginalised groups, some anachronistically, in their own national history and, by transposing many of these emergent identities onto the heroic figure of Henry V, was able to provide them with a historic legacy, and, with it, a tradition that offered these groups a perceived legitimacy and acceptance that they had previously lacked.
Date of AwardApr 2018
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorKevin De Ornellas (Supervisor) & Frank Ferguson (Supervisor)


  • History Play
  • Chronicle Play
  • Elizabethan
  • Queen's Men
  • Gender
  • Youth
  • Actors
  • Players
  • Masculinity
  • Class
  • Social Hierarchy

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