Spanish Maze, The

Anon. (>1605)

Historical Records

Court Records

Accounts of the Office of the Revels (National Archives, Audit Office, AO3/908 (here cited from Malone Society Collections XIII, W. R. Streitberger, ed.):

By his Matis Plaiers:

On Shroumonday A Tragidye of The Spanishe Maz: (Streitberger, 9)
To iiij men on Shrovemunday att xvjd ye day …… vs: iiijd (Streitberger, 11)

(Streitberger, 9)

Theatrical Provenance

The play is one of eleven given by the King’s Men at court through the winter holiday season of 1604-5. Having received the patronage of the king, James I, in the spring of 1603, the company (formerly, the Chamberlain's Men) was unable to perform for their patron at his first Christmastide as king due to the plague. The season of 1604-5 represents the company’s first opportunity to entertain their patron on a large scale. They chose The Spanish Maze along with two plays by Ben Jonson (Every Man out of his Humour, 8 Jan 1605; Every Man in his Humour, Candlemas Night, 2 Feb 1605) and seven by William Shakespeare (Othello, 1 Nov 1604; The Merry Wives of Windsor, 4 Nov 1604; Measure for Measure, 26 Dec 1604; The Comedy of Errors, 28 December 1604; Henry V, 7 Jan 1605; Love’s Labour’s Lost, between 1 and 12 Jan 1605; and The Merchant of Venice, Shrove Sunday, 10 Feb 1605 [scheduled again at the request of the king for 12 Feb 1605 but not played]). The name of the dramatist, “Shaxberd,” is attached to entries for Measure for Measure, The Comedy of Errors, and The Merchant of Venice.

The Revels Accounts document performances by three companies in addition to the King’s Men at court in the holiday season of 1604-5. The Queen’s Men (Queen Anne’s Men, formerly Worchester’s Men) played How to Learn of a Woman to Woo (q.v.), ascribed to [Thomas] Heywood, on 30 December 1604. Prince Henry’s Men (formerly the Admiral’s Men) performed a play, unnamed, before Queen Anne on 23 November, and seven plays, unnamed, before their patron on 24 Nov; 14, 19 Dec; 15, 22 Jan; and 5, 19 Feb 1605. The Children of the Queen’s Revels (“Boyes of the Chapell”) performed All Fools, ascribed to George Chapman, on 1 Jan 1605 before the king; the Chamber Accounts (but not the Revels Accounts) record a second performance by this company on 3 January 1605.

There were, in addition, two masques presented on 27 Dec 1604 and 12 Jan 1605, respectively.

Probable Genre(s)

Tragedy (Revels Accounts)

Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

None known

References to the Play

None Known

Critical Commentary

Streitberger assigns the unnamed play recorded in the Revels Accounts for Sunday, 3 Feb, following Candlemas Day to the King’s Men (“A playe provided And Discharged” [7, 9]).

Wiggins (#1449) notes that because the play was presented at court six months of the Treaty of London (which ended hostilities between the English and the Spanish), "It is unlikely to have presented generalized anti-Spanish sentiment, and therefore also unlikely to have been a product of the Elizabethan war years".

For What It’s Worth

Shrove Monday was on 11 February in 1605.

Works Cited

Streitburger, William. Declared Accounts of the Office of the Revels. Malone Society Collections, 1986. XIII: 7-11.

Site created and maintained by Roslyn L. Knutson, Professor Emerita, University of Arkansas at Little Rock; updated, 30 August 2009.