(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Rose Otley, daughter of the Lord Mayor of London, Sir Roger Otley, and Rowland Lacey, nephew to Sir Hugh Lacy, the earl of Lincoln, are deeply in love. With evident irony, proud Sir Roger declares to Sir Hugh that he cannot presume to have his daughter marry above her station. With equal pride, Sir Hugh ironically counters that because of Rowland’s dissolute ways it would be far better for Rose to marry a substantial young London businessman. Rowland, who toured Europe and learned the shoemaker’s trade in Germany, is given a command in the army of King Henry V, who is preparing to invade France. Sir Hugh wants Rowland off to France as soon as possible, so that the youth might forget Rose.

Rowland has other ideas. Claiming pressing business in London, he turns his command over to his cousin, Askew, after promising that he will join his unit in Normandy, if not in Dover. When the troops assemble to leave London, Simon Eyre, a shoemaker, pleads to no avail with Rowland to allow Rafe Damport, his drafted journeyman, to stay home with his new bride, Jane. Rafe, resigned to going to the wars, gives Jane as a farewell gift, a pair of shoes that he made for her.

Meanwhile Rose, confined to her father’s house at Old Ford, a London suburb, sends her maid Sybil into the city to seek information about Rowland. Determined to win Rose, Rowland disguises himself as a German shoemaker. Singing a German drinking song, he seeks work at Simon’s shop. When Simon refuses to consider hiring Rowland, Simon’s workmen, charmed by Rowland’s broken speech, threaten to leave. Rowland, as Hans Meulter, is taken on.

While hunting near Old Ford, Hammon and Warner, two London citizens, pursue a deer into the Lord Mayor’s estate. There they encounter Rose and her maid. Hammon falls in love with Rose and Warner loses his heart to Sybil. Sir Roger, welcoming the young hunters, decides that Hammon is just the man to marry Rose.

Rowland, through his friendship with a German sea captain, speculates in a valuable unclaimed ship’s cargo, to the enormous profit of Simon, his employer. As a result of this venture Simon is made an alderman, and the genial shoemaker seems destined for even greater city honors. Sir Hugh, meanwhile, learns from a servant that Rowland is not in France. Ashamed of his nephew, Sir Hugh sends the servant into the city to discover Rowland’s whereabouts.

When Hammon confesses his love, Rose at first dismisses him coyly; finally she declares that she intends to remain single. Even though Sir Roger threatens to force Rose into the match, the offended and impatient Hammon returns to the city. In London, Sir Hugh’s...

(The entire section is 1094 words.)