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 virtues of the morality play. The second half of the play,…

206 words

Citation: Coleman, David. "King Johan". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 02 October 2007 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=4235, accessed 25 May 2024.]

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.

Save this article

If you need to create a new bookshelf to save this article in, please make sure that you are logged in, then go to your 'Account' here

Leave Feedback

The Literary Encyclopedia is a living community of scholars. We welcome comments which will help us improve.