King John receives an ambassador from France who demands with a threat of war that he renounce his throne in favour of his nephew, Arthur, whom the French King Philip believes to be the rightful heir to the throne.John adjudicates an inheritance dispute between Robert Faulconbridge and his older brother Philip the Bastard, during which it becomes apparent that Philip is the illegitimate son of King Richard I. Queen Eleanor, mother to both Richard and John, recognises the family resemblance and suggests that he renounce his claim to the Falconbridge land in exchange for a knighthood. John knights Philip the Bastard under the name Richard. In France, King Philip and his forces besiege the English-ruled town of Angiers, threatening attack unless its citizens support Arthur. Philip is supported by Austria, who is believed to have killed King Richard. The English contingent arrives; and then Eleanor trades insults with Constance, Arthur's mother. Kings Philip and John stake their claims in front of Angiers' citizens, but to no avail: their representative says that they will support the rightful king, whoever that turns out to be.The French and English armies clash, but no clear victor emerges. Each army dispatches a herald claiming victory, but Angiers' citizens continue to refuse to recognize either claimant because neither army has proven victorious.The Bastard proposes that England and France unite to punish the rebellious citizens of Angiers, at which point the citizens propose an alternative: Philip's son, Louis the Dauphin, should marry John's niece Blanche (a scheme that gives John a stronger claim to the throne) while Louis gains territory for France. Though a furious Constance accuses Philip of abandoning Arthur, Louis and Blanche are married.
William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, to a middle-class glover and landowner's daughter. He married Anne Hathaway in 1582 and moved to London to work with a theatrical troupe ten years later.Since little has been learned of his early life, nearly all of what we know about Shakespeare begins--on the London stage--in 1592. In the wake of his critical and public success, Shakespeare helped build the Globe theater on the River Thames.Regarded as the world's preeminent dramatist, his extant works include thirty-eight plays, one hundred and fifty-four sonnets, and two narrative poems, and have been translated into every major language. To this day, his plays have been performed more often than those of any other playwright--adapted for film and television, updated, deconstructed, and transfigured into ballets, operas, and musicals. Though his formal education exceeded no further than grammar school, William Shakespeare became the most transcendent and influential writer in all of world literature.