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chronicle plays

chronicle plays, dramas based upon 16th-century chronicles in English, particularly those of Edward Hall and Raphael Holinshed. These plays became very popular late in the reign of Elizabeth I, when, in a burst of patriotism, the public became interested in the history of their country. Starting as loosely structured depictions of events featuring large casts, battle scenes, and much pageantry, the chronicles evolved into narratives of the events of the reign of a single king. Christopher Marlowe depicted the reign of Edward II, whereas Shakespeare treated the histories of kings from Richard II to Henry VIII. His Henry IV, Parts I and II, and Henry V are marked by complex characterizations and comic subplots.

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