Women's Matters focuses on Shakespeare's earlier history plays: King John, Richard III, and most importantly, the three Henry VI plays, which have not received this kind of sustained attention since David Riggs's Shakespeare's Heroical
As Sir Philip Sidney puts it in the Apology, "all concurreth to the maintaining the heroical
, which is not only a kind, but the best and most accomplished kind of poetry.
Seeing the work of a lifetime all set out, one's first reaction is to the great range and variety of it--in scale, from epigrams to fairly lengthy ~apochryphal letters', ~a kind of dramatic monologue similar to the form Michael Drayton used in England's Heroical
Epistles (1597)'-- but, much more importantly, in content, tone and style.
Such sentiment was to be repeated in the Heroical
Epistles (2:209-10), and then again in the Poly Olbion (5.
For one thing, the Little Academy interlocutors are convinced that most of their contemporaries have no appreciation for the true heroism of the church, "hissing out as Folly & Fables all those Heroical Actions & Events of former Times, wch exceed that measure of goodnes, wch wee haue stinted out our selues by" (Blackstone, 191).
Even prior to his retirement, the Chief suggests, Charles himself has doubts about his place in the world, since in his "continual Exercize of Heroical Industry in most Noble & weighty Affaires," the emperor understands the political value of triumphant pomp and lavish pleasures but he himself has little desire for these things (Williams, 35).