Gereint V (play)

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Gereint V (play) (or The Tragical History of Gereint the Fifth) is a play by Gwilim Trammelpila dealing with the Kemrese Prince Gereint V. Evidence indicates it was initially popular, but became less-so over time until "rediscovered" in the XXth century.

In essence the story is of a young man rising to the challenge of becoming King in the face of his older brother's sudden death and his own ascension to the throne. Almost immediately, he faces a challenge in form of a rebellion by another brother, claiming Gereint's English bride and education disqualify him.

The play is filled in anachronisms, some of which have become widely believed by laymen. For example, Gereint V died in 871 CE, long before the formalization of heraldry. Hence the references to the Pretender Emreis and his "golden dragon" banner are highly unlikely (or the whole term "war of dragons"). Likewise are the references to weapons unknown in that era, but common in the author's own time (such as a rapier). One also has the impression that Gereint's reign is a relatively brief one, with the rebellion arising almost immediately upon his own coronation. In truth Gereint V reigned seven full years, was already wed and a father when becoming King, and almost certainly did not kill the Pretender in single combat (although there were claims even at the time he did so).


Much of the story deals with the relationship between Gereint and his great friend, Pedr the Earl of Rheged. It is to Pedr that Gereint gives the task of escorting his English bride to Castreleon. Lady Elanor barely knows her betrothed but finds in him much to admire. Yet Emreis, one of old King Gereint's many sons by several wives, hates the English mightily and regards the marriage as an insult. One of his own friends, the Baron of Morddyn, poisons the current King Llewfelen and urges Emreis to rise in rebellion. When the new monarch does not accede to all of Emreis' wishes, the prince does so and civil war erupts.

The action moves forward with the Baron of Morddyn being killed accidentally, and an almost-penitent Prince Emreis goes into battle believing an old prophecy that he might die the same day he becomes a King. In battle, he and Gereint fatally wound one another. As per the prophecy, Gereint dies first and Emreis has time to tell his own knights to lay down their arms.

Critical Reaction

Like some of Trammelpila's other plays (Titus Andronicus and The Winter's Tale for example), Gereint V was viewed as one of the playwright's minor works for generations. However, following the First Great War a series of experimental theatres began using it as part of their repertoire. Aleisandr Croly praised it as an ignored masterpiece. Subsequent generations of actors and directors have found new meaning in the play. Some of the most interesting productions during the XXth century were in Snorist countries where the themes of loyalty and royal honor were emphasized. Anti-Snorist theatres saw the same text as an inherent critique of the whole idea of monarchy. Modernist productions, usually in contemporary dress, often hinted at corporate parallels, while still others have chosen surreal settings to emphasize different patterns of imagry.

Several attempts have been made to produce motion picture versions of the play. The most famous was during the Second Great War but financing fell through amid concerns the play lacked sufficient patriotic vigor. Then a Russian film production collapsed in 1988, as the Snorist regimes all over Europe began to fall.