In a sparkling, fast-paced narrative, esteemed historian John Julius Norwich chronicles the turbulent events of fourteenth and fifteenth century England that inspired Shakespeare's history plays. It was a time of uncertainty and incessant warfare, a time during which the crown was constantly contested, alliances were made and broken, and peasants and townsmen alike arose in revolt. This was the raw material of Shakespeare's dramas, and Norwich holds up his work to the light of history to ask; Who was the real Falstaff? How accurate a historian was the playwright? This book is a marvelous study of the Bard's method of spinning history into art, and a captivating portrait of the Middle Ages.