Anon. (1608)

Historical Records

George Androwes's Bill of Complaint in Androwes v. Slater

Articles of agreement indented made the tenth daye of Marche, Anno Domini 1607, and in the ffiveth yeare of the raigne of our soveraigne lord Kinge James of England, ffrance and Ireland, Defendour of the faithe &c, and of Scotland the one & fortieth, Betweene Martyn Slatyar, cittizen and ironmonger, of thone partie, And Lordinge Barry, George Androwes, Michaell Drayton, Willyam Trevell, Willyam Cooke, Edward Sibthorpe, and John Mason, of the cittie of London, gentlemen, on thother partie, viz.:
[8] Item it is also covenaunted, graunted, concluded and fully agreed betweene the said parties, That all such apparell as is abroad shalbe imediatly brought in, And that noe man of the said Company shall at any tyme hereafter put into print, or cause to be put in print, any manner of playe booke now in vse, or that hereafter shalbe sould vnto them, vpon the penaltie and forfeiture of ffortie pounds starlinge, or the losse of his place and share of all things amongst them, Except the booke of Torrismount, and that playe not to be printed by any before twelve monthes be fully expired.
(The National Archives, C 2/JasI/A6/21; qtd. Greenstreet 274, 276.)

The articles of agreement entered into by the shareholders of the short-lived Children of the King's Revels on 10 March 1608 were quoted in the Chancery suit of Androwes v. Slater in Androwes's bill of complaint, dated 9 February 1609. On the context of the lawsuit, see Chambers 2:64–68 and Wickham, Ingram, and Berry 547–49; see also Ingram 212–13.

Theatrical Provenance

Apparently performed by the Children of the King's Revels at Whitefriars in 1607 or 1608.

Probable Genre(s)

Tragedy (?) (Harbage). Topical play (?) (Erne).

Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

The play's most likely narrative source was Torquato Tasso's tragedy Il Re Torrismondo (Greenstreet; Wiggins), and indeed the King's Revels' play may simply have been a translation from the Italian (Peters). Although Tasso's play takes place during the reign of the historic Thorismund, a fifth-century king of the Visigoths, the story (summarized in Passaro 60–63) is chiefly Tasso's invention, drawing inspiration from Sophocles' Oedipus and classically structured to observe the unities of time and place. In the first act, we learn some of the play's backstory: Torrismondo has returned from Norway with the princess Alvida, whom he had intended to marry, but not before both could return to his homeland; during the journey, a storm forced a landing at a deserted island, where the two could not resist succumbing to their mutual passion. However, to Alvida's disappointment, Torrismondo has avoided her since their return. Unbeknownst to Alvida, Torrismondo's initial purpose was to deliver her to the enamored Swedish king Germondo, before he fell in love with her himself. With Germondo's arrival imminent, Torrismondo considers offering in place of Alvida his sister Rosmonda, but cannot bring himself to betray his friend. When a Counsellor to Torrismondo makes the same suggestion, to which Germondo is amenable, Rosmonda reveals that she is not in fact Torrismondo's sister: the real princess had been sent away shortly after her birth when a prophecy declared that she would be the cause her brother's death, while Rosmonda, the daughter of a nurse, was substituted in her place. It is eventually discovered that the real princess ended up in Norway and raised was by the Norwegian king as his daughter, Alvida, with whom Torrismondo now realizes he has committed incest. Alvida herself believes that Torrismondo no longer loves her, and kills herself in despair; Torrismondo, discovering her suicide, follows suit, bequeathing his kingdom to Germondo. Tasso's tragedy was first printed in 1587, and while no early English translation survives, it was apparently known to some English readers, and is mentioned the following year by Abraham Fraunce in The Arcadian Rhetorike (sig. Iv).

Tasso's Gothic king, although the most likely candidate, is not the only possible subject of the Children of the King's Revels' play. Besides the historical Thorismund, who was known in some continental histories, "Torismond" is the name of the King of France in Thomas Lodge's Rosalind, the source for Shakespeare's As You Like It (a parallel noticed by Greenstreet). Torismundo is also a character in the sprawling multi-authored Spanish romance Espejo de principes y cavalleros, the three parts of which were first published in 1555, 1580, 1587 (written, respectively, by Diego Ortúñez de Calahorra, Pedro de la Sierra, and Marcos Martínez). English translations were published in installments between 1578 (The Mirrour of Princely Deedes and Knighthood) and 1601 (The Ninth Part of the Mirrour of Knight-hood). The widespread popularity of the The Mirror of Knighthood series in England is evinced by the myriad allusions to the title and specific characters, not least in contemporaneous plays like Marston's Antonio and Mellida; Jonson's Cynthia's Revels and Poetaster; Dekker's Satiromastix and 2 The Honest Whore; Chettle's Hoffman; Rowley's When You See Me, You Know Me; Jonson, Chapman, and Marston's Eastward Ho!; and, perhaps most tellingly, in Beaumont's Knight of the Burning Pestle (Wiggins, s.v. individual titles). While Torismundo is not a central character, the name may perhaps have been appropriated for a story of chivalric romance, rather than Sophoclean tragedy.

References to the Play

None known; information welcome.

Critical Commentary

The item of the contract that mentions "Torrismount" has been of particular interest to scholars describing dramatic publication.

Greenstreet (276n) notes that that Torismond "is the name of the king of France in Lodge's Rosalynde", and quotes the observation of P.A. Daniel: "There is, of course, Tasso's tragedy il Re Torrismondo, 1587, but I don't know that it was ever Englished." He claimed that the articles of agreement served as evidence of "how jealously the different companies of players […] guarded the MS. collections of plays which they had from time to time acquired, and by the success of many of which the reputation of the respective companies had been first achieved, and afterwards sustained" (270). (See also For What It's Worth below.)

Fleay (2.329) glosses the title as "Torismond, the King of France, in Lodge's Rosalynde" and, noting the twelve-month publication delay, claims the play "must, therefore, have been popular."

Albright (239), citing the sharers' agreement as the "strongest evidence" of the prevalent view that acting companies objected to publication of their plays, nevertheless stresses that "this was but a temporary arrangement of one company which broke up shortly after. By April 12, 1608, their plays are being entered on the Registers for publication." Rather this item's emphasis on the singular ("noe man of the said company") prohibits individual members from benefitting privately to the detriment of the collective. The clause about delaying the publication of "Torrismount," however, seems to indicate that this was a new play and that the actors did not want printed copies in circulation during its initial run; "it could not, however, represent the whole stage life of a successful play" (240).

Bentley (266-67, n1) cites the agreement as an example of companies prohibiting the publication of plays that had been written for them.

Peters (333, n96): "Since company plays were entered in the Register only a month later, the clause seems to mean that company members were not to act without the consent of all the sharers. It remains difficult to understand the twelve-month prohibition on the printing of 'Torrismount' (perhaps a translation of Tasso's very popular 1587 Torrismondo): clearly someone was intending to see it into print, but why not simply assume that the requirement of company consent would prevent the printing for a year, and why delay the printing for a year in the first place? Perhaps one company member had agreed to give the play to the company reserving the right to sell the play to a publisher, or perhaps there seemed a special risk of rival productions since this was a translation."

Erne (150–51), like Albright and Peters, stresses that the prohibition is directed to each individual ("noe man") rather than the sharers as a collective. Furthermore, the term "play booke" suggests that it was not so much the play itself that the company wished not to lose but the specific copy bearing the signature of the Master of the Revels, which granted the company legal authority to perform that play. "What thus seems to require explanation is not why the article forbids the putting into print of playbooks, but why 'the booke of Torrismount' should be an exception after 'twelve months be fully expired.' We can only conjecture whether it was a topical play no longer suited for performance or whether some other reason would have allowed the sharers in the Children of the King's Revels to sell the manuscript, but the fact that 'Torrismount' was finally not printed is a reminder of the fact that publishers did not print just anything the players were ready to part with."

Wiggins (431) offers a conjectural reconstruction of the play's plot based on Tasso's Il Re Torrismondo.

For What It's Worth

Repertory of the Children of the King's Revels

The other plays associated with the Children of the King's Revels by attributions on their title pages are:

Cupid's Whirligig (Edmund Sharpham). S.R. 29 June 1607, pub. 1607.
The Family of Love (Lording Barry). S.R. 12 October 1607, pub. 1608.
Humour out of Breath (John Day). S.R. 12 April 1608, pub. 1608.
The Dumb Knight (Lewis Machin and Gervase Markham). S.R. 6 August 1608, pub. 1608.
Two Maids of Mortlake (Robert Armin). No S.R. entrance, pub. 1609.
The Turk (John Mason). S.R. 10 March 1609, pub. 1610.
Ram Alley (Lording Barry). S.R. 9 November 1610, pub. 1611.

The chart above reproduces one by Hillebrand (327), substituting Barry as the author of The Family of Love based on recent scholarship (Jackson and Taylor, 444–45). Hillebrand also speculated that John Day's Law Tricks (1608), published as having been acted by "the Children of the Revels," might have also been in the company's repertory (327, 330–31; it is so assigned by Harbage but not by Wiggins). His general conclusion of the plays written for the Children of the King's Revels was that they were "dull, imitative, second-hand material cut on patterns popular in the first decade of the 17th century, but without style" (334). Harbage and Wiggins also tentatively assign Every Woman in Her Humour (pub. 1609) to the company.

James Greenstreet, Esq.

The 1609 Chancery suit was first discovered and brought to the attention of scholars by James Greenstreet, who presented his findings at a meeting of the New Shakespeare Society on 9 November 1888. Greenstreet would be the founder of the Derbyite theory of Shakespeare authorship—the three articles in which he first posited the theory were published in The Genealogist in 1891 and 1892—but early intimations are easily discernible in his introduction to the present Chancery documents. Not only does Greenstreet cite the State Papers letter in which the Earl of Derby is described as penning comedies for the common players (TNA: SP 12/271, f. 79), but he also claims that most plays of the Renaissance were not the products of theatre professionals (few of whom "possessed the needed qualifications for the production of dramatic works") but rather "the outcome of the industry of men of learning and travel" who "amused themselves by concocting plots and counter-plots, and adapting foreign stories," only curious to see whether or not their essays would be successful on the stage, and "never afterwards troubled themselves about their productions, which remained in MS. in the part-books belonging to the companies who brought the pieces out" (269). He claims that the Chancery suit "reminds us, that at a date when plays were seldom printed at the outset, the authorship of a large majority of them belonged to well nigh any one who chose to make the claim" (270). It would seem the suit's only evidence for this inference is that John Mason, under whose name The Turk was published, was also an actor (274n).

Works Cited

Albright, Evelyn May. Dramatic Publication in England, 1580–1640: A Study of Conditions Affecting Content and Form of Drama. New York: D.C. Heath, 1927.
Bentley, Gerald Eades. The Profession of Dramatist in Shakespeare's Time, 1590–1642. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1971.
Boro, Joyce, ed. Margaret Tyler: Mirror of Princely Deeds and Knighthood. MHRA Tudor & Stuart Translations 11. London: Modern Humanities Research Association, 2014.
Erne, Lukas. Shakespeare as Literary Dramatist. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2003.
Fraunce, Abraham. The Arcadian Rhetorike. London, 1588.
Greenstreet, James. "The Whitefriars Theatre in the Time of Shakspere." Transactions of the New Shakspere Society, 1887–92. London: Kegan Paul, 1889. 269–84.
Hillebrand, Harold Newcomb. "The Children of the King's Revels at Whitefriars." The Journal of English and Germanic Philology 21 (1922): 318–34.
Ingram, William. "The Playhouse as an Investment, 1607–1614; Thomas Woodford and Whitefrairs." Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England 2 (1985): 209–30.
Jackson, MacDonald P. and Gary Taylor. "Works Excluded from this Edition." Thomas Middleton and Early Modern Textual Culture: A Companion to the Collected Works. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2007. 444-46.
[Parry, Robert (?), trans.] The Ninth Part of the Mirrour of Knight-hood. London, 1601.
Passaro, Maria Pastore, trans. and ed. King Torrismondo. By Torquato Tasso. New York: Fordham UP, 1997.
Peters, Julie Stone. Theatre of the Book, 1480-1880: Print, Text, and Performance in Europe. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2000.
T[yler], M[argaret], trans. The Mirrour of Princely Deedes and Knighthood. London, [1578].
Wickham, Glynne, Herbert Berry, and William Ingram. English Professional Theatre, 1530-1660. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2000.
Wiggins, Martin, in association with Catherine Richardson. British Drama, 1533–1642: A Catalogue. Volume V, 1603–1608. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2015.

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