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Sir John Oldcastle of Herefordshire
‘Falstaff shall die of a sweat, unless already a’ be killed with your hard opinions; for Oldcastle died a martyr, and this is not the man.’ So Shakespeare ends ‘Henry IV, Part II’, clearly to stop audiences from identifying the fictional Falstaff with the historical Oldcastle. But who was Oldcastle, and why might people connect him with one of Shakespeare’s best-loved characters? Using little-known information about Oldcastle’s life, and insights born of living in the Welsh Marches, Andy Johnson gives a lively account of Oldcastle, the creation of Falstaff, and the connections between the two.