The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume III. Renascence and Reformation.

IX. “A Mirror for Magistrates”


The following list gives the writers’ names where they are known, and the authority on which they rest, f.l. standing for “fore-link,” e.l. for “end-link,” F for the folio of 1554, Q 1 for the first quarto (1559), Q 2 for the second (1563), and so on according to the list of editions in the bibliography. Where no distinction is made, the same ascription is given in all the quartos following the one mentioned:—

1 TresilianFerrersTo the Reader Q 1G. F. Q 3
e. l. Q 1
2 MortimerCa. Q 3, 5, 7
T. Ch. Q 6
3 GloucesterFerrersf. l. Q 1G. F. Q 3
e. l. Q 1
4 MowbrayBaldwinf. l. Q 1T. Ch. Q 3 only
5 Richard IIChalonere. l. F only
Ferrersf. l. Q 3G. F. Q 3
6 Owen GlendowerBaldwinf. l. Q 1&150;5
Phaerf. l. Q 6Th. Ph. Q 6
Phaer Q 8
7 NorthumberlandanonymousW. Baldwine Q 8
8 CambridgeBaldwinf. l. Q 1W. Baldwine Q 8
9 SalisburyanonymousW. Baldwine Q 8
10 James Ianonymous
11 SuffolkBaldwinf. l. Q 1W. B. Q 3
W. Baldwin Q 8
12 CadeanonymousW. Baldwine Q 8
13 YorkBaldwinf. l. Q 1G. Ferrers Q 8
e. l. Q 1
14 Cliffordanonymous
15 Worcesteranonymous
16 Warwickanonymous
17 Henry VIanonymous
18 Clarenceanonymous
19 Edward IVSkeltonf. l. Q 1
20 Woodvilleanonymous
21 HastingsDolmanTo the Reader Q 2
22 BuckinghamThos. Sackvillef. l. Q 2T. S. Q 3
T. Sackville Q 8
23 Collingbourneanonymous
24 Richard IIIFr. SegarsTo the Reader Q 2F. Seg Q 3
25 Shore’s WifeChurchyardTo the Reader Q 2Tho. Churchyard
e. l. Q 2Q 3
26 SomersetFerrersTo the Reader Q 2G. F. Q 7
G. Ferrers Q 8
27 The BlacksmithCavyllTo the Reader Q 2Cavyll Q 3
28 Duchess of GloucesterFerrersf. l. Q 1G. F. Q 7
29 Duke HumphreyFerrersf. l. Q 1G. F. Q 7
G. Ferrers Q 8

It will be seen that the authorship of nos. 2, 4, 5, 6 and 13 is differently ascribed in different editions: in each case the earlier authority seems preferable, and no. 2 would then be attributed to Cavyll, no. 4 to Baldwin, no. 5 to Chaloner and nos. 6 and 13 to Baldwin. Nos. 7, 9, 10, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 of part I and 20 and 23 of part II are not attributed to anyone except in Q 8, which is of such late date as to possess little authority, although Niccols says, “I have subscribed the names of all such as I could heare of.” In the address To the Nobilitie Q 2, Baldwin describes part II as “conteynyng as lytle of myne owne, as the fyrst part doth of other men’s.” The obvious meaning of this is that he wrote some of part III and a great deal of part I, and, therefore, it seems reasonable to ascribe to him the two legends in part II (20 and 23) not claimed for others, and the greater part of those unclaimed in part I, in which nos. 4, 8, 11 are attributed to him without question and nos. 6 and 13 with more or less uncertainty. Nos. 7 and 12 are set down to him by Niccols, so far as his authority goes, and I am inclined to put all the unclaimed ones to his credit except no. 17, the alliteration of which, as Trench has pointed out, sets it aside from the rest. The general character of the versification bears out this assumption.

In the second quarto, all the tragedies printed in Q 1 were included as the first part, although Somerset is put out of its place in part II. In Q 3 (1571), this mistake is corrected, and nos. 25 and 27 (Shore’s Wife and The Blacksmith) change places. Alterations are made in the prose links accordingly, but otherwise there are only verbal changes.


(1) A memorial of suche Princes, as since the tyme of King Richard the seconde, have been unfortunate in the Realme of England. Londini In aedibus Johannis Waylandi. Cum Privilegio per Septennium. [1554. Folio xl in “The tragedies, gathered by Jhon Bochas, of all such Princes as fell from theyr estates throughe the mutability of Fortune since the creacion of Adam, until his time: wherein may be seen what vices bring menne to destruccion, wyth notable warninges howe the like may be avoyded. Translated into English by John Lidgate, Monke of Burye. Imprinted at London, by John Wayland, at the signe of the Sunne over against the Conduite in Fletestrete. Cum privilegio per Septennium.”]

(2) A Myrroure For Magistrates. Wherein maye be seen by example of other, with howe grevous plages vices are punished: and howe frayle and unstable worldly prosperitie is founde, even of those, whom Fortune seemeth most highly to favour. Foelix quem faciunt aliena pericula cautum. 1559. Londini, In aedibus Thomae Marshe. [Q 1.]

(3) A Myrrour for Magistrates. Wherein … cautum. 1563. Imprinted at London in Fletestrete nere to Saynct Dunstans Churche by Thomas Marshe. [Q 2.]

(4) A Myrrour for Magistrates. Wherein may be seene by examples passed in this realme, with howe greveous plagues, vyces are punished in great princes and magistrates, and how frayle and unstable worldly prosperity is founde, where Fortune seemeth moste highly to favour. Newly corrected and augmented. Anno 1571. Foelix quem faciunt aliena pericula cautum. Imprinted at London by Thomas Marshe, dwellynge in Fleetstreete, neare unto S. Dunstanes Churche. [Q 3.]

(5) The First parte of the Mirour for Magistrates, containing the falles of the first infortunate Princes of this lande: From the comming of Brute to the incarnation of our saviour and redemer Jesu Christe. Ad Romanos, 13. 2. Quisquis se opponit potestati, Dei ordinationi resistit. Imprinted at London by Thomas Marshe Anno. 1574. Cum Privilegio.

(6) The Last parte of the Mirour for Magistrates, wherein … favour. Newly corrected and amended. Foelix quem faciunt aliena pericula cautum. Imprinted at London by Thomas Marshe. Anno. 1574. Cum Privilegio. [Q 4.]

[No. 5 was reprinted in 1575. No. 6 was reprinted in 1575 (Q 5) and with additions in 1578 (Q 6).]

(7) The seconde part of the Mirrour for Magistrates, containing the falles of the infortunate Princes of this Lande. From the Conquest of Caesar, unto the commyng of Duke William the Conquerour. Imprinted by Richard Webster, Anno Domini. 1578. Goe straight and feare not.

(8) The Mirour for Magistrates, wherein … favour: Newly imprinted, and with the addition of divers Tragedies enlarged. At London in Fleetstreete, by Henry Marsh, being the assigne of Thomas Marsh. 1587. Cum privilegio. [Combining No. 5 and Q 6–Q 7.]

(9) A Mirour for Magistrates: Being a true chronicle historie of the untimely falles of such unfortunate Princes and men of note, as have happened since the first entrance of Brute into this Iland, untill this our latter Age. Newly enlarged with a last part, called A Winter night’s Vision, being an addition of such Tragedies, especially famous, as are exempted in the former Historie, with a Poem annexed, called England’s Eliza. At London Imprinted by Felix Kyngston. 1610. [One vol. combining Q 7 and No. 7 with omissions, additions, and alterations—Q 8.]

(10) Mirror for Magistrates. Edited by Joseph Haslewood. 3 vols. London, 1815. The text is that of 1587, collated with the other editions.


A Mirror for Magistrates: Its origin and influence. By Trench, W. F. 1898. [Privately printed.]

The influence of the Mirror upon the history plays has been traced by Fleay (Biographical Chronicle of the English Drama, 1, 17–20), Schelling (The English Chronicle Play) and, more recently, by Kenneth C. M. Sills, of Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine, U. S. A., whose Studies in the Mediaeval Tragical Story was not published when this chapter was written, but who kindly gave access to the most important conclusions reached. Particular instances of slight indebtedness have been pointed out with reference to the closing lines of Marlowe’s Faustus by Henry Morley (English Writers, VIII, p. 249), and, with reference to Shakespeare’s King Lear, by Wilfred Perrett (Palaestra, XXXV, p. 81).

[For Sackville’s collected works, see ed. R. W. Sackville-West, 1859.]