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The Oldcastle scandal

Desmond Barrit plays Falstaff at The New Inn
Desmond Barrit plays
In 1596, William Shakespeare would find himself in trouble for his use of a character called Sir John Oldcastle in his new work "Henry IV."

Sir John Oldcastle was actually an old character from William's days in The Queen's Men. He had been upgraded to a central character in his new play and also made a drink- and doxy-sodden braggart.

The real Sir John Oldcastle had been a rebel against Henry V, who had been executed, but the new Protestant take on history honored him as a martyr. William was forced to pull the play, make a groveling apology and rename the character Sir John Falstaff.

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