Playlists in Philip Henslowe's diary
A single record of performance survives in Henslowe’s accounts for early 1592 (new style):
Fol. 7 (Greg I, 13)
Rd at constantine the 21 of marche 1591 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xijs
"Constantine" was apparently a feature of the repertory of Lord Strange's men from their offerings prior to the record keeping by Philip Henslowe that survives in the book of accounts popularly known as Henslowe's "diary." The company gave the play a single performance in the stretch from February 19—June 22, 1592. In the opinion of Wiggins, Catalogue #890), "its time ... had run out." (For Wiggins's discussion of non-ne plays in Strange's repertory, see #878.)
Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues
The title suggests a biopic of an historical Constantine, but scholars have differing opinions on which of those is the most likely (see Critical Commentary, below).
References to the Play
Malone, Collier, and Fleay, BCED did not guess at the identity of the title character, but Greg II suggested the Constantine who was the king of Britain and father of Uther and Uther Pendragon. By that suggestion Greg anticipated the play's being a prequel to plays the Admiral's men would acquire in 1597 such as Uther Pendragon.
Wiggins, Catalogue repeats the British Constantine and adds the Roman one, who was remembered for having converted the empire to Christianity (#890).
Manley and MacLean do not guess at the historical identity of the title character but do emphasize that the single performance of the play indicates the "end of its useful life" in 1592 but not its prior commercial value to the company (pp. 67, 125).
For What It's Worth
Site created and maintained by Roslyn L. Knutson, Professor Emerita, University of Arkansas at Little Rock; updated 7 July 2020.