This chapter aims to assess the extent to which sixteenth- and seventeenth-century readings of events in the Book of Esther were determined by the different generic forms and by the broader historical, cultural and religious contexts. Female petitioners, mindful of the strong civic and religious associations informing the Book of Esther, appropriated her spiritual image and reputation as a precedent in order to license their own forays into the political arena. It was as 'a patron saint of Civil War women's petitions', to borrow Susan Wiseman's phrase, that this biblical heroine scored her greatest impact. In his commentary on the Book of Esther, Timothy Laniak pertinently remarks that 'Esther is a story about falling and standing in which the Jews' enemies fall, and the Jewish people stand'. Power relations between suppliant and supplicated are inverted to the benefit of the Jews.
Popular versions of history purveyed by the common folk diverged from historiographical conventions in various ways. The 'old folk' of 2 Henry IV assume the mantle of unofficial historians in their accepted capacity as 'time's doting chronicles'. Pierre Nora's suggestive analysis of the different modes of thought that have shaped modern historical consciousness and 'memory-history' offers a useful schema. This schema may enable to bring into sharper focus the competing models of 'history' at issue in 2 Henry IV. The need to reassess the productive role of memory in generating different forms of historical knowledge is emphasised by its omnipresence in 2 Henry IV. For, like the interest in rumour and prophecy, reinventing the 'times deceased' is a pastime that extends well beyond the lower orders.