Charles, Duke of Bourbon

Anon. (before 1641)

Historical Records

Bentley, 5.1326. Stationers' Register, 15 April 1641. Entered for John Nicholson

three playes, vizt. A Tragedy called Charles, Duke of Burbon, The Parroiall of Princes & England's first happines, or, the Life of St. Austin... xviiid.

Theatrical Provenance


Probable Genre(s)

Tragedy (Stationers' Register); historical tragedy

Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

Charles III, Duke of Bourbon (1489-1527) was a historical figure whose career provided, in the words of Greg, BEPD, "excellent tragic material". Charles fought as a general in the military actions of his King, Francis I of France, but the relationship was not without friction. In particular, when Charles's wife died, he attracted the attentions of the king's mother, who pressured him to marry her instead. Charles refused. Eventually, he rebelled against Francis, and was driven into exile in Italy as a result. There, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, in dispute with the Pope, gave him command of an army with instructions to attack and pillage Rome. This he successfully did, but was shot and killed in the final assault on the city.

Serres' General inuentorie, 420-473, offers one fairly lengthy telling of the above story which would have been conveniently accessible to a Jacobean or Caroline dramatist.

References to the Play

None known.

Critical Commentary

Greg, BEPD, compares the 1597 reference to Burbon (i.e. Bourbon?), a seemingly lost play. Bentley, 5.1302, follows Greg, and considers the idea that the two lost plays might have been one and the same. He concludes that they were probably different plays, since "very few plays earlier than the times of James I were entered in the Stationers' Register for the first time in the 1640's" (5.1326).

For What It's Worth

George Chapman used Grimeston's translation of Serres as a principal source for his plays on Bussy D'Ambois. It is certainly possible that it was also mined by the anonymous author of this lost play.

This play was registered along with two other lost plays, The Parroiall (Pareil?) of Princes‎ and England’s First Happiness, or The Life of St. Austin. John Nicholson was not a well-known printer of plays. The only extant play he printed was "J.D."'s The Knave in Grain… acted at the Fortune (1640). Is this a tenuous indication of the possible theatrical provenance of these three lost, anonymous plays?

Works Cited

Jean de Serres, A general inuentorie of the history of France, tr. Edward Grimeston (London, 1607).

Site created and maintained by Matthew Steggle, Sheffield Hallam University, 24 November 2009.