Edmund Ironside (play)

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Edmund Ironside, or War Hath Made All Friends is an anonymous Elizabethan play that depicts the life of Edmund II of England. At least three critics have suggested that it is an early work by William Shakespeare.


The play was never published in its own era; the unique copy of the text was preserved in MS. Egerton 1994, an important collection of play manuscripts now in the collection of the British Library.[1]


Peter Ackroyd, E.B. Everitt and Eric Sams have argued that this play is perhaps Shakespeare's first drama. According to Sams, Edmund Ironside "contains some 260 words or usages which on the evidence of the Oxford English Dictionary were first used by Shakespeare himself.... Further, it exhibits 635 instances of Shakespeare's rare words including some 300 of the rarest."[2] However, this argument has failed to convince the majority of Shakespearian scholars. Sams dates the play to 1587, noting that the play's presentation after that period until the death of Elizabeth I would have been illegal because of an edict that was passed that would have applied to a scene featuring a brawl between two archbishops. He further argues that the play's strong similarities in both line and plot to Titus Andronicus, and the latter's plays high number of mentions of the Roman setting may indicate that Titus is something of a rewriting of Edmund Ironside. His appendix notes correlations of images and idea that are found only in Shakespeare's plays and not from any known playwright of the era, such as serpents stinging via their tongues and reporting of Judas Iscariot saying "all hail," which is non-Biblical, but also found in such plays as Henry VI, Part 3.


King Canutus (Canute the Great) faces an insurgency of the native English population led by Edmund II. Unbeknownst to them, they face a mutual enemy, a traitorous noble named Edricus, who hopes to take the crown for himself.


  1. ^ Terence P. Logan and Denzell S. Smith, eds., The Popular School: A Survey and Bibliography of Recent Studies in English Renaissance Drama,, Lincoln, NE, University of nebraska Press, 1975; pp. 157-62.
  2. ^ Sams, Eric. (1986). Shakespeare's "Edmund Ironside": The Lost Play. Wildwood Ho. ISBN 0-7045-0547-9

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