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(before October 1600)

Historical Records

From Henslowe's Diary, in a list headed "My Lords of penbrockes men begane to playe at the Rosse the 28 of octobȝ 1600 as followeth":

octobȝ 28 Rd at RadeRicke ...... vs
(Foakes, f. 83, p. 164; cf. Greg (I, 131), who reads "RodeRicke")

Theatrical Provenance

Henslowe's Diary shows that the play was written for Pembroke's Men at the Rose.

Probable Genre(s)


Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

Roderick the Great of Gwynedd

If, as several scholars propose (see below), the play was about Rhodri Mawr, King of Gwynedd, Martin Wiggins (III, 393) suggests the following source:

  • Caradoc of Llancarvan, The History of Cambria, Now Called Wales, trans. Humphrey Llywd (1584)

Roderic of Spain

Wiggins proposes (III, 393) that the play could have been about Roderic, the last Visigothic king of Spain; he suggests the following sources:

  • Thomas Lanquet, An Epitome of Chronicles (1559; a brief outline only)
  • Celio Augustino Curione, A Notable History of the Saracens, trans. Thomas Newton (1575), 27-31
  • Robert Greene, Mamillia: A Mirror or Looking-Glass for the Ladies of England (1583; mentioned only in passing)

David Nicol (181) notes another English source available to the author of Roderick:

  • Thomas Lodge, The Life and Death of William Long Beard (1593), H2v-H3r

The Pictish King Roderick

Wiggins (III, 393) proposes that another, less likely subject is Roderick, a Pictish king who visited Ireland. He suggests the following source:

  • Raphael Holinshed, Chronicles of England, Scotland and of Ireland (1577, 1587)

References to the Play

None known.

Critical Commentary

John Payne Collier (I, 181) proposed that the play "may have been a drama on 'Roderick the great', who divided Wales, and who is mentioned in 'Thameseidos', 1600, by E.W., Lib. 2". W.W. Greg (II, 229) elaborated this identification: "he means Rhodri Mawr, prince of North Wales, who after fighting against the Danes fell in battle with the English in 877". Martin Wiggins (3:393) notes this possibility too, correctly referring to Rhodri as a uniter, rather than a divider of Wales.

Greg (II, 229) also raised, but found less likely, the possibility that the play was a prequel to Henry Chettle's Hoffman, since the father of that play's hero is called Roderick.

Wiggins (entry 1077; III, 393-4) proposes two alternative Rodericks who could have been suitable subjects for a play: Roderic, King of Spain, whose rape of Florinda legendarily brought about the invasion of the Moors in the 9th century; and a Pictish king Roderick who visited Ireland and fought in Scotland.

For What It's Worth

If the play was about Roderic of Spain, William Rowley's adaptation of that legend, All's Lost by Lust (1619-20), might offer clues as to how the author of Roderick could have dramatized it.

Works Cited

Collier, John Payne. Henslowe and Alleyn: Being the Diary of Philip Henslowe from 1591 to 1609. 2 vols. London: Shakespeare Society, 1853.
Nicol, David. "'My little what shall I call thee': Reinventing the Rape Tragedy in William Rowley's All's Lost by Lust". Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England 19 (2006): 175-93.

Site created and maintained by David Nicol, Dalhousie University; updated 10 August 2015.