Albere Galles

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Historical Records

Personal Sources

In September of 1602, Philipp Julius, Duke of Stettin-Pomerania, visited London. During his stay, he attended plays at several locations. On the 13th, he made the following entry: On the thirteenth a comedy was played of the taking of Stuhl-Weissenberg, firstly by the Turks, and thereafter back again by the Christians" (Chambers, 2.367


For playbooks in Philip Henslowe's diary

F. 115 (Greg I.179)
pd at the a poyntment the company }
the 4 of septembʒ 1602 vnto Thomas hewod }    vjll
& mr smyth in fulle payment for a }
Boocke called        albe[t]re galles     some of }

Theatrical Provenance

"Albere Galles" was written for Worcester's players while they were at the Rose, 1602-3.

Probable Genre(s)

Unknown (Harbage), Foreign History (Greg, Wiggins, Steggle)

Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

Wiggins (#1342) and Steggle concur that a pamphlet entitled "A True Relation of [the] Taking of Alba Regalis" was a likely source for the play; the pamphlet was published in 1601.

References to the Play

In 1602 Duke Philip Julius of Stettin-Pomerania visited England, and while in London, the nobleman attended plays. The duke's diary records that "on the 13th a play was acted showing how Stuhl-Weissenberg was gained by the Turks, and then won again by the Christians" (quoted from Steggle, p. 112).

Critical Commentary

Malone offers no comment on this play; he does, however, render the title "albeke galles" (p. 316). Collier also changes the title, rendering it "alberte galles" (p. 239); further, he offers an opinion on the main character, whom he identifies as Albertus Wallenstein (hence the title correction to "alberte"). In a note (#1), he explains that reading Henslowe's manuscript requires a bit of ingenuity, which he illustrates by suggesting that the play might have used the lances and silk flag that Henslowe had paid for in two immediately preceding payments on September 3rd and 4th (pp. 239, 238). He explains further that Henslowe's first rendering of the "al" word in the entry was Albete.

Fleay, BCED, repeating Collier's change of the title to "Albert[e] Galles," discusses the play in the context of Heywood's works, subordinating Smith's role (II, Smith #8, p. 249). In the Heywood entry, Fleay redirects attention to an extant play, Nobody and Somebody, with the cryptic suggestion, "Query Archigallus" (I, Heywood, #18). He then explains (in an entry for Nobody and Somebody) that alterations of the designation "Britain" to "England" may conceal the already lost "Albere Galles," surmising that "Henslow might easily mistake some such name as Archigalle's three sons for Albert Galles (I, Heywood, #31, p. 294).

Greg II understands that Fleay has subsumed "Albere Galles" into Nobody and Somebody, explaining (as Fleay implies) that "Henslowe's title [becomes] a corruption of Archigallo, the King of Britain in the chronicle part of the play" (p.230, #264). Greg finds Fleay's guesswork that the lost play's title is a corruption of King Archigallo's name "reasonable," though he rejects Fleay's link of other characters from Nobody and Somebody with Archigallo's sons because Archigallo "had three brothers [but] no sons at all."

Wiggins, #1342 labels Henslowe's rendering of the title a corruption on evidence that the play was a dramatization of the siege of the Hungarian city, "Alba Regalis," which was held by the Turks for many years. In addition to connecting Heywood's and Smith's play with an historical moment (and thus untangling Henslowe's mangled "Albere Galles"), Wiggins gathers payments for various properties (including costumes) which might have been acquired for this play; in that discussion he considers whether the Turk's head ("tvrckes head") purchased on 24 August 1602 might have been used in "Albere Galles/Alba Regalis," and if so whether it was "an elaborate costume headdress" more like "an enormous turban" or a "severed head," thus marking the Turkish warlord-prince's roles from ruler to one of the vanquished.

Steggle, reinforcing Wiggins' identification with results from a search of EEBO-TCP using the initial "alb" letters of Henslowe's entry, turns up "Alberegalis," which has 30 hits that collectively deliver "a version of the whole solution" (p. 104). A common variant of Alba Regalis, "Alberegalis" is Latin for the city known by the Hungarian name, Székesfehérvár, as well as the German name, Stuhlweissenberg; and the identification of the city persuades Steggle (as it had Wiggins) that the play dramatized the successful assault on the Turkish occupiers in 1601 by an army of Christians. Turning to narrative events in the lost play, Steggle describes details of two sieges, one in 1543 when the Turks captured the city and the other in 1601 when the Christians regained it. Using also closely-dated entries in the diary of properties purchased, Steggle finds evidence for Collier's assignment of the lances and silk flag to this play; he also assigns the Turk's head that Wiggins discusses at some length (#1342). He adds a payment to Richard Perkins, noting the player's career in 1602 as "one of the rising stars of London theatre" (p. 111). In addition, Steggle contextualizes "Albere Galles" among a contemporaneous cluster of siege plays including the lost "Siege of London" and "Siege of Dunkirk" as well as the extant A Larum for London, which was played by a competitor-company, the Chamberlain's men, and printed in 1602. He points out that it was also a "Turk" play, as were the Tamburlaine plays, Othello, and the lost "Scanderbeg" (pp. 113-4). Further considering repertorial significances, Steggle observes that Albere Galles was "intensely topical" (p. 116) in its offering of a "a pan-European cultural context" (p. 115).

For What It's Worth

Works Cited

Site created and maintained by Roslyn L. Knutson; Last updated by Rlknutson on 16 February 2024 18:28:30