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Anon.? (>1594)
George Peele? (>1594)

Historical Records

Performance Records (Henslowe's Diary)

F. 9v/ Greg I, 18

ye 14 of aguste 1594 ………. Res at mahomett . . . . . . . . . . iijli vs

F. 10/ Greg I, 19

ye 27 of aguste 1594 ………. Res at mahemet . . . . . . . . . . xxxxs
ye 9 of septmbʒ 1594 ………. Res at mahemett . . . . . . . . . . xxxvs
ye 21 of septmbʒ 1594 ………. Res at mahemett . . . . . . . . . . xxviijs
ye 14 of octobʒ 1594 ………. Res at mahemett . . . . . . . . . . xxvjs

F. 10v/ Greg I, 20

ye 6 of novembʒ 1594 ………. Res at mahemette . . . . . . . . . . xvs
ye 4 of desembʒ 1594 ………. Res at mahemet . . . . . . . . . . xjs

F. 11/ Greg I, 21

ye 5 of febreary 1594 ………. Res at mahemett . . . . . . . . . . xxvjs

Payments (Henslowe's Diary)

F. 92/ Greg I, 145

Layd owt at the a poyntment of the
company the 2 of aguste 1601 for a parell
for mahewmet the some of . . . . . . . . . . xs iiijd

pd at the a poyntment of the company
for mackynge of divers thinges for mahewmett
vnto dover the tayller . . . . . . . . . . xijs

pd [vn]at the apoyntment of the company
vnto wm whitte for mackynge of crownees
& other thinges for mahewmet the 4 of
agust 1601 the some of . . . . . . . . . . ls

F. 93/ Greg I, 147

pd vnto edward alleyn at the a poymtment
of the company the 22 of aguste 1601 for the
Boocke of mahemett the some of . . . . . . . . . . xxxxs

Henslowe Papers

Greg, Papers 116:

Under Henslowe's title, "The Enventary tacken of all the properties for my Lord Admeralles men, the 10 of Marche 1598" is:

Item, j wooden canepie; owld Mahemetes head.

Theatrical Provenance

"Mahomet" was performed at the Rose playhouse by the Admiral's men, 14 August 1594 to 5 February 1595. It is not marked "ne." It was apparently revived in 1601, perhaps as part of the revival of Edward Alleyn's star roles at the opening of the Fortune playhouse.

Probable Genre(s)

Romantic Tragedy? Heroical Romance?

Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

If "Mahomet" is a discrete play, now lost

Its sources are unidentified.

If "Mahomet" is "The Turkish Mahomet and Hiren the Fair Greek"

In The Palace of Pleasure (1566), William Painter appropriates the story of "Hyrenee the faier Greke" from Matteo Bandello's Novelle, Book I, #10. Painter prefaces the narration with this blurb: "Mahomet one of the Turkishe Emperours executeth curssed crueltie vpon a Greke maiden whom he toke prisoner, at the winning of Constantinople" (EEBO, Project Gutenberg). Richard Knolles published The Generall History of the Turkes in 1603, too late to be literally a source for Peele, but the story is obviously not new with Knolles, and some details of his telling might have been "in the air," so to speak, for Peele's use. William Barksted's poem, "Hiren: or, the Fair Greek," 1611, is even later, but Barksted's history as a player locates him in the theatrical community and thereby lends his account special interest in regard to the lost play (Project Gutenberg).
See "The Turkish Mahomet and Hiren the Fair Greek" for an extended discussion of the story in these sources.

If "Mahomet" is The Battle of Alcazar

If "Mahomet" is Henslowe's name for The Battle of Alcazar, it is not a lost play. The definitive summary of sources for the extant play is in The Dramatic Works of George Peele, vol. 2; John Yoklavich, editor of The Battle of Alcazar, provides both a discussion of the sources (227-79) and a "Special Bibliography" of accounts of the historical battle (369-73). In The Stukeley Plays Charles Edelman discusses the sources also (10-16). However, Edelman does not identify "Mahomet" as The Battle of Alcazar but as the lost "Muly Molocco" in the repertory of Strange's men at the Rose, 1592-3 (23).

References to the Play

If "Mahomet" is a discrete play, now lost

No specific references to it are known.

If "Mahomet" is The Turkish Mahomet and Hiren the Fair Greek

See "The Turkish Mahomet and Hiren the Fair Greek" for theatrical allusions to Peele's lost play.

If "Mahomet" is The Battle of Alcazar

The following plays allude to The Battle of Alcazar by way of Calipolis, the wife of Muly Mahamet, the villainous Moor: 2 Henry IV, William Shakespeare; Satiromastix, Thomas Dekker; What You Will, John Marston; and Poetaster, Ben Jonson. Shakespeare's Pistol alludes to Calipolis and Hiren in the same context (II.iv.156, 175); in Dekker's play, the same character (Tucca) alludes to Calipolis and Hiren, but in separate contexts (IV.1.150, IV.iii.243-4).

Critical Commentary

"Mahomet" as "The Turkish Mahomet and Hiren the Fair Greek"

Scholarly tradition has inclined to identify "Mahomet" as Peele's lost play. That tradition includes J. P. Collier (39), A. H. Bullen (I.xxxvii), and F. G. Fleay (II.153). W. W. Greg (II.167) hesitated, suggesting it "equally possible" that "Mahomet" was the play behind the reference to "Mahomet's Pow" in Peele's poem, "A Farewell" (1589), which had previously been linked to Robert Greene's Alphonsus King of Aragon. E. K. Chambers (III.462) condensed vague suggestions by Greg and added two other lost plays in the Admiral's repertory—"The Grecian Comedy" and "The Love of a Grecian Lady" (1594-5)—as possible evidence of Peele's lost play. Samuel Chew considered and rejected the identification of "The Turkish Mahomet and Hiren the Fair Greek" with Greene's Alphonsus and the two lost Grecian comedies. He opined that Peele's lost play was the best match with Henslowe's "Mahomet" (484-5).

"Mahomet" as The Battle of Alcazar

W. W. Greg offered the identification of "Mahomet" as The Battle of Alcazar in 1923 (12), and in so doing, he cast doubt on the long-standing identification of "Muly Molocco" (Strange's men, 1592) with The Battle of Alcazar. Yoklavich considers but does not choose Greg's suggestion of "Mahomet" for The Battle of Alcazar (II.223). Andrew Gurr revives the identification by interjecting The Battle of Alcazar into the repertorial list of the Admiral's men and noting that "just possibly it is the same play as the one revived in August 1594 under the name of Mahomet" (252, n.111). However, he treats "Mahomet" in its own entry "rather reluctantly ... as a separate play" from The Battle of Alcazar (206, n.16).
Martin Wiggins (serial number 812), sorely temped to identify The Battle of Alcazar with "Mahomet", argues for a date of 1601 for the revival to which the plot belongs. Michael J. Hirrel is the most recent scholar to argue for "Mahomet" as Alcazar. Hirrel says that the Alcazar quarto’s titlepage boast, "As it was sundrie times plaid by the Lord high Admirall his servants" must refer to recent performances. He notes that the 1594 date on Q could refer to a date as late as 24 March 1595 in New Style dating; the Stationers’ Company being in the practice of recording Old Style dates for their operating calendar. At the lower limit of the date range, he observes that the Admiral’s were "reorganized in May 1594" (6). He argues that during this period, "Henslowe was recording every play the Lord Admiral’s performed in London" (7), hence by implication, Alcazar must be lurking somewhere in the diary under another name during this period. His preferred candidate for Alcazar’s pseudonym is "Mahomet": "The company performed ‘Mahomet’ eight times from August 1594 to February 1595. Those dates fall within the range suggested by the 1594 quarto’s title page" (7).

"Mahomet" as neither

Yoklavich, by not identifying The Battle of Alcazar with "Mahomet"; with "Muly Molocco"; or "Mahomet" with "The Turkish Mahomet and Hiren the Fair Greek" comes close by default to suggesting that "Mahomet" is not identifiable with any plays now known, extant or lost.

For What It's Worth

An advantage of considering "Mahomet" as a play discrete from Peele's lost or extant ones is that the property of old Mahomet's head could belong to this play; if so, then the play had an "old" Mahomet who was either beheaded or had a very fancy head-dress.

Works Cited

Bullen, A. H. ed. The Works of George Peele. 2 vols. London: John C. Nimmo, 1888.
Chew, Samuel. The Crescent and the Rose. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1937.
Collier, John Payne, ed. The Diary of Philip Henslowe, From 1591 to 1609. London, 1845.
Fleay, Frederick Gard. A Biographical Chronicle of the English Drama 1559-1642. 2 vols. London: 1891. Internet Archive, Vol II only
Greg, W. W. Two Elizabethan Stage Abridgements: The Battle of Alcazar & Orlando Furioso. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1923.
Gurr, Andrew. Shakespeare's Opposites:The Admiral's Company 1594-1625. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.
Hirrel, Michael J. "Alcazar, The Lord Admiral's, and Aspects of Performance." Review of English Studies Advance Access published 22 Aug 2014. doi: 10.1093/res/hgu067.
Knolles, Richard. A Generall Historie of the Turkes. London 1603. EEBO
Painter, William. The Palace of Pleasure. 1566. (vol. 1, #40, fols. 107v-112). EEBO
Wiggins, Martin. '"A Choice of Impossible Things: Dating the Revival of The Battle of Alcazar." in Shakespeare & Ses Contemporains. ed. Patricia Dorval. 2002. 185-202.
Yoklavich, John, ed. The Battle of Alcazar. in The Dramatic Works of George Peele, vol. 2. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1961.

Site created and maintained by Roslyn L. Knutson, Professor Emerita, University of Arkansas at Little Rock; 4 March 2011. Updated David McInnis, 27 Nov 2014.