Shakespeare’s Royal Education

Shakespeare’s Royal Education

Shakespeare's Royal Education is built around the plays of William Shakespeare. Host Dennis Leap will focus on the plays that deal most with leadership and nation building.


Host Dennis Leap continues discussing some historical background history related to King Richard II, Henry Bolingbroke and Thomas Mowbray. He moves into Act I, Scene 3, which includes the chivalric fight between Bolingbroke and Mowbray.

Host Dennis Leap begins discussing William Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of King Richard II by providing background history of the lineage of eligible sons available to assume the throne of England after King John’s death. The lineage began with King John’s son Henry III, and included Henry’s three sons Edward I, Edward II and Edward III. Richard II assumed the throne from Edward III.

Host Dennis Leap finishes discussing Shakespeare’s play The Life and Death of King John. King John returns from France to England but he is caught in a war with an invasion from Lewis the Dauphin. Salisbury, Pembroke and Bigot side with the French. During the battle, John grows sick, likely from dysentery, and is poisoned by a Catholic bishop.

Host Dennis Leap reviews the startling conversation between Pandulph and Lewis from Act III, Scene 4. Pandulph encourages Lewis to seize the throne from King John, sure that King John has already executed Arthur. However, Arthur talked Hubert out of executing him. Escaping execution, he then falls to his death from a high wall of a building in Angiers.

Host Dennis Leap continues his discussion of Act III, one of the longest acts of the play. Scene 4 opens with King Philip, his son Lewis, Pandulph and his assistants. Philip laments the loss of his entire fleet of warships, which was destroyed by a violent storm at sea. Shakespeare likely borrowed the history of the loss of the Spanish Armada in 1565 to show that God was still protecting King John and England from enemies. Pandulph attempts to encourage Philip, but Philip rebuffs him. Lewis tries to solace his father. Constance, Arthur’s mother, scolds Philip for obeying Pandulph and breaking his peace pact with John. Constance also scolds Pandulph over the capture of Arthur.

Host Dennis Leap continues discussing Act III, Scene 4. Act 3 is Shakespeare’s history lesson of how the Roman Catholic Church wanted to control the governments of France and England. King John and Sir Richard resist papal influence, but Phillip caves in. Through King John, Shakespeare reveals that the Roman Catholic Church was actually begun by Simon Magus, exposing the church’s flawed doctrine of simony (the teaching that people could buy pardon of sin by paying money to the church). Pandulph convinced Phillip to fight King John to prevent his own excommunication.

Host Dennis Leap continues discussing Act 3: Scene I of William Shakespeare’s The Life and Death of King John. King Phillip nervously announces the arrival of Pandulph, Pope Innocent’s messenger. King John has ignored the pope’s request to have Stephen Langton hold the office of archbishop of Canterbury. His reason: God has made John king of England and that means John reports to God not the pope. Pandulph tells Phillip he must break his truce with John. But Constance and Eleanor warn Phillip to stand with John. Phillip hesitates to obey Pandulph.

Host Dennis Leap continues his discussion of Act II: Scene 1 of William Shakespeare’s challenging play The Life and Death of King John. The idea for Lady Blanche to marry the Dauphin was first suggested by Hubert the Angiers citizen standing on the city wall. Sir Richard, the illegitimate son of Richard the Lionheart, is the only one who sees the advantage for France not for England’s King John.

Host Dennis Leap continues discussion of Act II, Scene 1 of William Shakespeare’s The Life and Death of King John. King John and Phillip rush to gain the best fighting ground. The war advances and finishes. The English and French heralds return to the gates of Angiers and each declare their king as the victor.

Host Dennis Leap begins the discussion of Act 2: Scene I of William Shakespeare’s The Life and Death of King John. In this scene, King Phillip, Arthur, the Duke of Austria and Arthur’s mother, Constance, face the gates of John’s ancestral home with the plan to take the city and give it to Arthur, who is John’s nephew. John and his mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, arrive at Angiers gates. John threatens Phillip with war. Phillip suggests that the people of Angiers decide who is the rightful king. The people request a battle between the two kings and their armies to decide the matter.