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History and cultural history (I)

As we have observed before, Shakespeare’s plays tend to be historically inaccurate but they make good cultural history for his own lifetime. As an example, we took King Lear (probably written 1605-6), in which Cordelia was executed for political reasons, something that almost never happened to women before 1536, in England or Scotland.

Similarly, the parts of Henry VI were (according to Malone) written in 1591-2. A famous scene, set in the early 1450s, shows the Dukes of York and Somerset selecting white and red roses from a garden as their badges. Most people doubt that this scene ever actually occurred but now one has spoken.

Dr. David Starkey has now confidently predicted that the red rose made no appearance before 1460 or possibly even 1485, promising to contribute substantially to the Fotheringhay Church appeal if his statement could be disproven. So who has evidence?

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