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Historical Records


Receipts in Philip Henslowe's diary

Fol. 23 (Greg I.45)

Res at Jeronymo the 7 of Jene[y]wary 1597 in ꝑte}
of payment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . } vijli

Performance Records

Playlists in Philip Henslowe's diary

Fol. 25v (Greg I.50):

Under the heading, "Jn the name of god amen begininge the 25 of novembʒ 1596 as foloweth the lord admerall players":
ye 7 of Jenewary 1597 [ne] Res at Joronymo . . . . . . . . . . iijli
ye 11 of Janewary 1597 Res at Joranymo . . . . . . . . . . xxxxs
ye 17 of Janewary 1597 Res at Joronymo . . . . . . . . . . xxs
ye 22 of Janewarye 1597 Res at Joronymo . . . . . . . . . . xixs

Fol. 26 (Greg I.51):

Janewary 1957
|31| —— tt at Joronymo. . . . . . . . . . 01|04|01-15-06
|9| tt at Joronymo. . . . . . . . . . 00|17|04-15-02
begynyng in leant
Marche 1597
|8| tt at JoRonymo. . . . . . . . . . 01|01|00-03-04

Fol. 26v (Greg I.52)

Aprell 1597
|21| —— tt at Jeronymo. . . . . . . . . . 00|17|00-03-04
Maye 1597
|4| tt at Jorenymo. . . . . . . . . . 00|11|03-14-00
|25| tt at Joronymo. . . . . . . . . . 00|19|00-14-06

Fol. 27 (Greg I.53)

June 1597
|20| —— tt at Joronemo. . . . . . . . . . 00|14|00-00-00

Fol. 27v (Greg I.54)

marten slather went
for the company of
my lord admeralles
men the 18 of July |19| —— tt at Joronymo. . . . . . . . . . 01|00|01-13-01
In the name
of god amen
. . . . |11| —— tt at Joronymo. . . . . . . . . . 02|00|01-13-00

Theatrical Provenance

The play in 1597 that Henslowe called "Jeronymo" and marked "ne" has until recently been considered a revival of The Spanish Tragedy, played by Strange's men with its apparent prequel ("The Spanish Comedy of Don Horatio") at the Rose according to Henslowe's records in 1592-3 (13 performances, from 13 March—18 June 1592; 3 performances, 30 December 1592—22 January 1593).
That opinion does not originate with Malone (p. 300) but with Collier, who flags the play in Henslowe's listings as "[p]robably a revival of the popular play called the Spanish Tragedy" (p. 84, n. 2). Fleay, BCED explicitly rejects Collier's identification; he looks backward from the allusion to a "Hieronimo" play in a play by Ben Jonson to see in the Admiral's "Jeronimo" an Hieronimo of "short stature" (2.#3, p. 27). Greg II (#16, pp. 153-4) thus is the authority in 1908 who codifies Collier's opinion by stating flatly that "the Admiral's men revived the piece in 1597 … as a new play"; he asserts further that the old play now revived "had, therefore, no doubt been revised and probably added to" (p. 154). Although accepting the assignment of revisions in the 1602 Spanish Tragedy to Jonson, Greg II does so with little enthusiasm despite the two payments in the diary to Jonson for additions "in geronymo" (Greg I, Fol. 94, Fol. 106v).
In recent years, however, those 1602 additions have provoked scholars in authorship studies and theater history to reconsider established narratives on the stage life and authorial history of The Spanish Tragedy post-1593. Studies by Warren Stevenson, Hugh Craig, Brian Vickers, and Douglas Bruster (to name a few) have provided evidence of William Shakespeare's hand in the additions. Since no one can imagine Shakespeare's writing such additions for the Admiral's men at the Rose in 1597 (or at any other time), the links that connected the 1592 "Jeronymo" and the 1597 one (as well as the "geronymo" named in payments to Jonson) no longer appear to be ironclad. Theater historians, most vocally Holger Syme, are now proposing that The Spanish Tragedy, in the repertory of Strange's men in 1592-3, moved with one or more of Strange's players to the Chamberlain's men where, sometime before 1602, their resident player and playwright undertook revisions which are manifest in the additions to the 1602 quarto of The Spanish Tragedy.
Thus the identity of the 1597 "Jeronimo" has come under fresh scrutiny. Might it indeed be a new play telling again the tragic story of Hieronimo, the Knight Marshall of Spain? Henslowe's notation of "ne" appears to specify exactly that. Collier does not transcribe the "ne" (p. 85; indeed he is blamed byGreg I for scratching it off [I.xlv), nor does Greg I, p. 50; Foakes transcribes the "ne" in brackets, noting that it has been "erased at some time" (p. 55, n4). Freeman (p. 122, n.1) and Erne (p. 120, n.5) do not dispute the erased notation.

Probable Genre(s)


Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

Presumably the playwright/s of "Jeronimo" used the The Spanish Tragedy itself as well as some of its sources (as suggested by Arthur Freeman): A Courtlie Controversie of Cupids Cautels, by Jacques Yver (1578); accounts of the wars between Portugal and Spain such as "A discourse of that which happened in the battell fought between the two Navies of Spain and Portugal at the Islands of the Azores" (1582); and narratives of the role of English expeditions to Spain such as Christopher Ockland's Anglorum Proelia (translated into English in 1585).

References to the Play

Information welcome.

Critical Commentary

See Theatrical Provenance, for the opinions of Malone, Collier, Fleay, BCED, and Greg II.
Gurr, addressing a set of payments for four plays in January 1597 (specifically £7 on 2 January for "Jeronimo" [Fol. 23]), suggests that Henslowe might have been entering "cross-payments to whoever owned the playbooks, probably [Martin] Slater and [Edward] Alleyn, although they were recorded as 'Rd', or receipts, not as outgoings" (p. 94). Frustrated by his inability to reconcile these cross-payments with "more routine entries" for the four plays in the playlists, Gurr observes wryly that "[n]othing in the Diary explains to any would-be auditor what these figures mean" (p. 94).
Syme addresses the concerns of Henslowe's use of "ne" for a play being revived as well as the absence of evidence that plays performed by Strange's men in 1592-3 migrated to the repertory of the Admiral's men. Supporting the reasoning that The Spanish Tragedy migrated instead to the repertory of the Chamberlain's men, Syme points out several references to Richard Burbage's having played the role of Hieronimo. Syme suggests that the "Jeromino" in the Admiral's repertory in 1597 was a marketing response on the part of the Admiral's men, who were thereby countering the revival of Thomas Kyd's play by the Chamberlain's men at another playhouse c. 1597.

For What It's Worth

Any fresh interpretation of the cluster of Spanish Tragedy/"Jeronimo" plays needs to look again at the famous quip by King's men's players in the Induction to The Malcontent, in which (speaking as themselves) Henry Condell and William Sly joke about their having taken another company's play (i.e., The Malcontent) as payback for that company's having taken one of theirs ("Jeronimo").

Works Cited

Bruster, Douglas, "Shakespearean Spellings and Handwriting in the Additional Passages Printed in the 1602 Spanish Tragedy." Notes and Queries 258 (2013): 420-4.
Craig, Hugh. "The 1602 Additions to The Spanish Tragedy. In Shakespeare, Computers, and the Mystery of Authorship, eds. Hugh Craig and Arthur Kinney. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009. 162-80.
Erne, Lukas. Beyond ‘The Spanish Tragedy’: A Study of the Works of Thomas Kyd. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2001.
Freeman, Arthur. Thomas Kyd: Facts and Problems. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967.
Gurr, Andrew. Shakespeare's Opposites: The Admiral's Company 1594-1625. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.
Stevenson, Warren. Shakespeare's Additions to Thomas Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy:: A Fresh Look at the Evidence Regarding the 1602 Additions. Ceredigion: Edwin Mellen, 2008.
Syme, Holger Schott (31 August 2013), ‘Shakespeare and The Spanish Tragedy: A Challenge for Theatre History’, Dispositio: An Online Blog.
Vickers, Brian. "Identifying Shakespeare's Additions to The Spanish Tragedy (1602): A New(er) Approach." Shakespeare, 8 (2012): 13-43.

Site created and maintained by Roslyn L. Knutson, Professor Emerita, University of Arkansas at Little Rock; 19 November 2019.