The Two Noble Kinsmen is a play written in 1613 by John Fletcher and William Shakespeare in collaboration. The attribution was made on the title page of the 1637 Quarto that was its first printed edition. The play was not included in the First Folio of Shakespeare's works in 1623, but few readers doubt Shakespeare's hand in it. About half of the play seems to be by Shakespeare and half by Fletcher.
The Two Noble Kinsmen is a romantic tragicomedy based on Chaucer's "The Knight's Tale", with the addition of a subplot paralleling the main action.
Palamon and Arcite, cousins and close friends, are imprisoned by the Athenians after the defeat of their city, Thebes. From their prison window they see Princess Emilia, and since both fall in love with her, their friendship turns to bitter rivalry. Upon Arcite's release he is banished from Athens, but he returns to find Emilia and is appointed her attendant.
Meanwhile, the jailer's daughter has fallen in love with Palamon and helps him escape, after which he once again meets Arcite. To settle their rivalry over Emilia, they decide to fight in public tournement. Now the jailer's daughter, forsaken, goes mad, but her former lover regains her by convincing her that he is Palamon.
Before the tournement, Arcite prays to the gods that he win the battle; Palamon prays that he marry Emilia; Emilia prays that she be wed to the one who loves her best. Each prayer is granted: Arcite wins the combat, but is then thrown from his horse and dies, leaving Palamon to wed Emilia.