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Samuel Bernard (1618)

Historical Records

Bodleian Library ms. Crynes 701, an eighteenth-century auction catalogue:

Jacob Hooke (comp), Bibliotheca Bernardiana: Or, A Catalogue Of the Library of the Late Charles Bernard, Esq; Serjeant Surgeon to Her Majesty. Containing a curious Collection of the best Authors in Physick, History, Philology, Antiquities, &c. With several MSS. Ancient and Modern which will begin to be sold by Auction on Thursday the 22d of March, 1710-11. At the Black-Boy Coffee-House in Ave-Mary-Lane, near Ludgate-Street (London, 1711).

It is described by Elliott-Nelson, REED Oxford 2.899:

A copy preserved in the Bodleian Library (Crynes 701) has auction prices recorded in the margins. Lot 674 (p 217), which fetched 10s from an unknown buyer, was a folio-sized manuscript of tragedies by Charles Bernard's ancestor, Samuel Bernard, containing:

1) Julius and Gonzaga, performed in the president's house in Magdalen College, 23 January 1616/17 (this may be the play referred to by Peter Heylyn on 8 March 1616/17);
2) Andronicus, performed on 26 January 1617/18, in the Magdalen College hall; and
3) Phocas, performed on 27 January 1618/19, in the Magdalen College hall.

A second item, lot 925 (p 218) which fetched 2s, was a quarto-sized manuscript containing three tragedies and other poetical works by 'Sarmueli Bernardi': since the plays are not named, it is uncertain whether or not these were the same three plays. Neither volume has been traced.

Theatrical Provenance

Performed 26 January 1618 at Magdalen College, Oxford. (REED Oxford 2.851)

Probable Genre(s)

(Latin) Tragedy (Elliott-Nelson)

Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

Wiggins (1856) draws attention to the fact that the historical records refer to this play by a one-word title, "Andronicus", but that critics later began referring to it as "Andronicus Comnenus", presumably "through confusion with the surviving Jesuit play of that title" (see Critical Commentary below. With the greater possibilities for subject matter enabled by the shorter title "Andronicus", Wiggins offers a series of candidates including Andronicus Ducas, nephew of Emperor Constantine X; Andronicus I Comnenus (reigned 1183-85); Andronicus II Palaeologus (reigned 1282-1328); Andronicus III Palaeologus (reigned 1328-41); and Androncius IV Palaeologus (reigned 1376-79); as well as potentially a reimagining of Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus.

References to the Play

Only the eighteenth-century auction catalogue described above, in Historical Records.

Critical Commentary

The REED editors note that "It is important to distinguish Bernard’s plain from British Library ms. Sloane 1767, ff 17-66, a Jesuit neo-Latin play with the same title" (Elliott-Nelson 826).

Bentley 3.26 makes precisely this erroneous conflation, following Louise B. Morgan's surmise that the British Museum MS was "probably the one referred to in the Magdalen records" (Bentley 3.27).

For What It's Worth

Morgan prints the Dramatis Personae of the British Manuscript play, which may or may not have any relation to the lost play discussed in this entry:

Alexius Protosobastus
Alexius Commensus, Imperator
Andronicus Commensus, Imperator
Isaacius Angelus, Imperator,
Lapardas }
Commenus } nobiles ex familia imperatoria
Johannes }
Manuell } filij Andronici
Maria Caesarissa, Soror Alexij Commeni
Theodosius Patriarcha
Salmanazar Maurus, Satellites
(Morgan 78).

She further notes that "The plot proceeds along historical or pseudo-historical lines entirely."

Works Cited

Morgan, Louise B. "The Latin University Drama." Shakespeare Jahrbuch 47 (1911): 78. Print.

REED Oxford 2

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