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Shakespeare’s English Histories

Shakespeare's English histories were not written in chronological order, but they were printed in the First Folio in historical chronological order. Eight of his eleven English histories are grouped in two main categories—the First Tetralogy (which were written first but were about the later histories), and the Second Tetralogy (which were written second but were about the earlier histories, i.e., a prequel). In the Second Tetralogy, three of the four plays are about Prince Hal or Harry, who becomes King Henry V. These three plays are known as the Henriad, which is an allusion to the Aeneid.

This table illustrates these groupings and dates.The table is sortable by clicking on the up/down triangles in each column heading. The dates of authorship are scholars' best guesses as listed in The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare by Michael Dobson and Stanley Wells. The start and finish dates of the histories are approximate in part because Shakespeare, for dramatic purposes, occasionally took liberties with historical events.