This is part of a weekly series here at TSS: Early Modern and Open Access regularly showcases peer-reviewed articles (or other resources) of interest to early modernists that are freely available in open access formats.
Citation and Link:
Kenji Yoshino, The Choice of the Four Fathers: Henry IV, Falstaff, the Lord Chief Justice, and the King of France in the Henriad, in Yale School of Law and Humanities, (Volume 22, Issue 2, Article 8).
To speak of justice in Shakespeare’s plays without speaking of the sovereign may seem like playing Hamlet without the Prince. In Shakespeare’s time, the sovereign was the ultimate symbolic source of justice, as seen in the iconographic conflation of Queen Elizabeth I with Astraea, the goddess of Justice. Perhaps Shakespeare’s deepest meditation on what makes a just ruler lies in the four plays scholars have dubbed the Henriad (Richard II; Henry IV, Part 1; Henry IV, Part 2; and Henry V). In these plays, we follow the development of the dissolute youth Prince Hal as he matures into the paradigmatic good ruler, Henry V.