One of the earliest examples of a history play in English, Bale's King Johan is the first play to dramatise the reign of a historical English king, thereby opening the way for later sixteenth-century achievements in that genre. Yet it is by no means a straightforward history play; rather, it appropriates many of the conventions and techniques of morality drama. The plot is based on the historical King John's estrangement from the papacy, which Bale portrays as a precursor of Henry VIII's more decisive and substantial break with Rome. The historical plot initially appears to have been simply fastened on to a morality structure, as Johan interacts primarily with dramatic figures in the tradition of the conventional vices and …

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Citation: Coleman, David. "King Johan". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 02 October 2007 [, accessed 26 September 2023.]

4235 King Johan 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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