Conquest of Brute, Parts 1 and 2
To playwrights in Philip Henslowe's diary
Fol. 49 (Greg I.93)
- Lent the company the 30 of July 1598 to
- bye a Boocke of John daye called the con
- queste of brute wth the first fyndinge of the
- bathe the some of….. xxxxs
Fol. 50 (Greg I.95)
- Lent vnto hary cheattell the 8 of [aguste] 1598
- in earneste of a Boocke called Brute
- the some of………………………………. ixs
- Lent vnto hary cheattell the 9 of [aguste] septmbȝ 1598 in
- earneste of a Bocke called Brute at the
- a poyntment of Johne synger the some of…..... xxs
- Lent vnto hary cheattell the 16 of septmbȝ 1598
- in earneste of a Boocke called Brute………vs
Fol. 51 (Greg I.97)
- Lent vnto the companey the 12 of octobȝ 1598
- to geve harey cheattell in parte of payment for
- <for> his playe called Brutte some of…. xs
- Layde owt for the company the 18 of octobȝ
- 1598 for a boocke called Brutte the
- some of to harey chettell……. iijll
- Lent vnto the company the 22 of octobȝ 1598 to
- paye harey cheattell for his boocke called Brute
- in fulle payment the some of………… ls
For apparel in Philip Henslowe's diary
Fol. 52v (Greg 1.100)
- dd vnto same Rowley the 12 desembȝ 1598
- to bye diuers thinges for to macke cottes
- for gyants in brvtte the some of… xxiiijs
The Admiral's men had the two parts of "Brute" in active repertory at the Rose in the fall of 1598. The company was purchasing costumes (coats) for parts (giants) as late as December, implying a run that would continue into January of 1599.
Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues
The stories of pre-Christian Britain were told in Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia regum Britanniae and Holinshed.
References to the Play
Malone does not comment on Henslowe's listing of "The Conquest of Brute" except to refer readers to the entry for the purchase of the giants' coats (p. 310). Collier also has not comment on this play (p. 131). Fleay, BCED makes no comment in the list of plays by Chettle (1.68, #11), but in the list of plays by Day, he notes that Chettle had sold the play for ￡2 (an indication that it was an old play) and "rewrote it in two parts" (1.106. #1). He considers the second part to carry the title, "Brute Greenshield" (1.68, #12).
Greg II uses the occasion of payments for "Brute" and Fleay's tagging Chettle's sale as for an old play to say that "'to buy a book' ... did not necessarily means more than to give in earnest or in part payment thereof," citing examples from elsewhere in Henslowe's records to illustrate his point. Further, he identifies the sums paid between Oct 12 and 22, which total ￡6 as evidence that Chettle had written a second part. He is not persuaded by Fleay's assignment of payments for properties to "Brute Greenshield"; he considers whether the second part of "Brute" addressed the founding of Bath to be an "open question."
Sharpe addresses the two-part "Conquest of Brute" in the context of the Admiral's English chronicle plays as well as "Brute Greenshield." His focus is to side with Greg's scepticism (vs. Fleay's opinion) that "any one play, even in two parts" could include all of the stories that stretch from Brute's landing in England to Brute Greenshield's adventures five generations later, including the "magician-king Bladud, Greenshield's great-grandson, who made the hot baths at Bath by necromancy, and broke his neck at Troynovant (Londond) in an attempt to fly" (pp. 104-5, esp. p. 105).
Teramura takes a repertorial approach to the saga of Brute and his descendants, entwining the plays that dramatize the birth narrative of Britain as told in the story of Brute and his descendents with those such as the two-part "Hercules," "Troy," and "Agamemnon" that belong to the most famous conquest narratives of the ancient world. Thus the theatrical Brute is "not simply a figure of beginnings, but also one of historical transition: the story of Trojan settlement in Britain represented the bridge that linked England directly to the mythical Mediterranean of Homeric and Virgilian epic" (p. 128). Teramura reads these offerings as bringing to the stage at the Rose a "view of national history" that arises from the "Trojan and Galfridian" narratives of conquest, revenge, and catastrophe.
Wiggins, Catalogue #1161) puzzles over the "anomalously high" sums paid for "Brute" (as had Fleay and Greg) and offers two options: the old playbook revised, and the payments split over two playbooks.
For What It's Worth
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