Payments to Playwrights (Henslowe's Diary)
F. 69v (Greg I.122)
- Lent vnto wm harton the 27 of maye 1600
- in earneste of a Boocke called Judas the some .... xs
- W Haughton.
F. 95 (Greg I.151)
- pd vnto wm Borne at the apoyntment of
- [a Boocke] company the 20 of desemb[er] 1601
- Jn earnest of a Boocke called Judas wch
- samewell Rowly & he is a writtinge some of ... xxs
F. 95v (Greg I.152)
- pd at the apoyntment of the company
-  in fulle payment for a Boocke
- called Judas vnto wm Borne & Samvvelle
- Rowley the 24 of desemb[er] 1601 some of ... vli
Payments for Properties (Henslowe's Diary)
F. 95v (Greg I.152)
- Lent vnto antony Jaffes the 3 of Janewary
- 1601 to bye cloth for the playe of Judas
- the some of ... xxxs
The Admiral's Men paid William Haughton 10s. on 27 May 1600 for Judas, but there are no further payments for a play until December 1601, when William Birde and Samuel Rowley are paid in full for a play by that name. The purchase of cloth for the play in January suggests that it went into production at the Fortune in late winter 1602.
Biblical History (Harbage)
Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues
The biblical narrative of Judas Iscariot is the logical narrative source, but Judas Maccabeus is also a possibility (see 'Critical Commentary' below).
References to the Play
Greg considers that the Haughton project was suspended and that Bird and Rowley later completed the play, perhaps with Haughton's "rough sketch" at hand (II. Item #207, p. 214). Subsequent scholars have agreed with Greg's reasoning.
Sharpe cites the genre of biblical plays as an example of repertorial difference between the Admiral's Men and Chamberlain's Men. He supposes that the Chamberlain's Men "did not feel that plays on Bible subjects would appeal to their clientele" (28); the Admiral's Men, in contrast, were "catering to the more old-fashioned Puritans" (28-29), and thus acquired not only Judas in 1600 but also five other biblical plays in 1602. He wonders if "they had very special reasons for such piety" then, hinting that they might have been currying the favor of Sir Robert Cecil. Sharpe expands his commentary by suggesting that the biblical plays were the Admiral's "characteristic way of taking advantage of the current vogue of satire—by harking back to the religious-ethical type and justifying their scurrilities to their relatively unsophisticated audience by uttering them as jeremiads" (136).
O'Connell suggests Judas Maccabeus "and the heroic story drawn from the Apocrypha" as an alternative to Judas Iscariot as the narrative focus of the play (111).
Connolly puts the biblical plays of the 1590s in the context of the Admiral's Men and their Marlovian repertory, seeing Judas as possibly influenced by the action-figure model of a Tamburlaine, particularly if Judas Maccabeus was the subject of the play EMLS, ¶18
Gurr also notes the sequence of biblical plays in 1602 (signaled in Haughton's single payment of 1600) and finds it "tempting to think that the impulse came from Alleyn wishing to assert his Christian credentials" (41) in possible anticipation of his future gift to Dulwich and the College of God's Gift (42). Gurr also points out difficulties in using the narrative of Judas Iscariot for a play and suggests that the subject of Judas Maccabaeus had promising subject matter (42).
For What It's Worth
Gurr, Andrew. Shakespeare's Opposites: The Admiral's company 1594-1625. Cambridge, Cambridge UP, 2009.
O'Connell, Michael. The Idolatrous Eye: Iconoclasm and Theatre in Early-Modern Drama. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2000.
Sharpe, Robert B. The Real War of the Theaters. Boston: D. C. Heath, 1935.
Site created and maintained by Roslyn L. Knutson, Professor Emerita, University of Arkansas at Little Rock; updated 4 November 2009.