|Henry IV of England|
Many of Shakespeare's plays deal with the overthrow of rulers, as for example Hamlet and MacBeth. Interestingly, both King Cladius in Hamlet and MacBeth have to worry about being overthrown, similar to Henry IV. The question should therefore be, "by what right does a king govern?" Hobbes and others would say by the majority consent, but he would add that no subject can rebel against a sovereign. John Locke and Thomas Aquinas would like counter that the rebellion of Henry IV against Richard II is justified since the former king does not maintain the common good. However, this is a delicate and subjective arguement. I think this is the most fascinating question raised by Shakespeare's interpretation of history. There is even some Machiavelli in King Henry's son, Prince John, who tricks rebel leaders into surrendering and then has them executed.