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The chance encounter between king and commoner was a popular subject in the comic history plays of the 1590s. In the ballad tradition, however, this motif dates back at least to the mid-fifteenth century. This essay will analyze the king-commoner motif in the ballad tradition, then look at the idealized versions in the comic history plays of the 1590s, and finally examine Shakespeare's use of this motif in 1 Henry IV, Henry V, and As You Like It. I argue that Shakespeare's cross-class encounters belong to a popular tradition that satirizes and subverts conventional assumptions about social class distinctions.