King of England's Son and the King of Scotland's Daughter

Anon. (c.1598)

NB. the date is conjectural; in the absence of new information, the LPD follows Wiggins's approximation of the date for simplicity.

Historical Records

Eine schöne lustige triumphirende Comoedia von eines Königes Sohn auß Engellandt vnd des Königes Tochter auß Schottlandt, a German redaction of what is evidently a lost English play, was published in 1620 (probably at Leipzig) in an octavo volume edited by Friedrich Menius (1593-1659): Engelische Comedien und Tragedien.

The Lost Plays Database has sponsored the digitisation of the full German play (from Folger PR1246.G5 E59 Cage) and is preparing an English translation:

134189 thumb.jpg 134190 thumb.jpg
Engelische Comedien und Tragedien, sig.R6v
Folger Shakespeare Library (CC BY-SA 4.0 licence)
Engelische Comedien und Tragedien, sig.R7r
Folger Shakespeare Library (CC BY-SA 4.0 licence)

Click images to view larger versions and the entire play in LUNA.

(English translation forthcoming.)

Theatrical Provenance

The English provenance remains unknown, but the German version was performed at the court of Maurice, Landgrave of Hesse, in Kassel in March 1607 (a court official’s letter relates that the players were dissatisfied with their payment; see Schlueter 237-38), was revived at the Court of Saxony in Dresden in 1626, and again, this time as a puppet play, in Danzig in 1668 (see Wiggins #1102).

Probable Genre(s)


Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

The play is premised on the King of England sending his son (Serule) to fight the King of Scotland but instead falling in love with the Scottish king’s daughter (Astrea). The lovers negotiate a year’s truce, during which time they hope to engineer a more lasting peace. Serule, however, is barred from engaging with the Scots. To overcome this injunction, he places a spy in the household of the Scottish king’s advisor, the magician Runcifax/Barabas, and manages to enter the Scottish court himself by adopting the disguise of a fool. The magician’s magic mirror reveals that the princess will marry the fool, news of which enrages the Scottish king, but Serule escapes – only to return disguised this time as a Moor. This plan, too, is thwarted and Serule flees with the now disguised Astrea. He is captured by the Scots, and she by the English; a battle ensues and tragedy is narrowly avoided when Serule is poisoned but only with a sleeping potion. A kiss from Astrea revives him and a royal wedding is planned. The German play also contains what Wiggins describes as the “relic of a sub-plot in the original” involving magical transportation, the magician’s servant, a Sultan, and the abduction of the Princess of Spain (#1112).

References to the Play

Noting that this is a play "in which the King of Scotland is cast as the comic parent unsympathetic to his daughter's love-life, and is shown consorting with a black magician and apparently poisoning the English Prince", Wiggins (#1111) thought that the reference to an anti-Scots play by George Nicholson in his letter to William Cecil, Lord Burghley (15 April 1598) might conceivably be to "The King of England's Son and the King of Scotland's Daughter".

Schlueter has suggested that a watercolour painting dated to c.1605/6, in the album amicorum or friendship book of Franz Hartmann (British Library Egerton MS 1222, fol.25) might depict "a troupe of travelling [English] players" (194), and further suggests that it might be a visual reference to "The King of England's Son and the King of Scotland's Daughter": "[i]f the Hartmann painting is of a particular troupe, could the player in red have been the captive princess, the player with the falcon the captive prince?" (197). The image has been digitised by the British Library:

Travelling-players-in-the-egerton 1222 f25 thumbnail.jpg

British Library Egerton MS 1222, "Album of Franz Hartmann" (1597–1617), originally digitised for the BL's Discovering Literature: Shakespeare project and reproduced in accordance with its reuse policy. Clicking the image will take you to the full-sized image on the British Library's site.

Critical Commentary

Drábek and Katritzky conclude that the play is “without an obviously identifiable source”, but liken it to a “generic group of romantic disguise plays” including Mucedorus, which they hint is a close relative of sorts (1531).

McInnis, working with Bastian's translation of the play into modern English, notes that although the play lacks an obvious source, it nevertheless draws on numerous tropes and conventions from commercial drama of the London theatres. He provides a detailed plot summary

For What It's Worth

The Engelische Comedien und Tragedien volume includes eight plays plus other entertainments, including:
Esther and Haman (“Comoedia Von der Konigin Esther vnd hoffertigen Haman”)
The Prodigal Son (“Comedia. Von dem verlornen Sohn in welchen die Verzweiffelung vnd Hoffnung gar artig introducirt warden”)
Fortunatus (“Comoedia Von Fortunato vnd seinem Seckel vnd Wunschhutlein, Darinnen erstlich drey verstorbenen Seelen als Geister, darnach die Tugenden vnd Schande eingefiihret warden”)
The King of England’s Son and The King of Scotland’s Daughter (“Eine schöne lustige triumphirende Comoedia von eines Königes Sohn auß Engellandt vnd des Königes Tochter auß Schottlandt”)
Sidonia and Theagenes (“Eine Kurtzweilige lustige Comoedia von Sidonia vnd Theagene”)
Nobody and Somebody (“Eine schone luftige Comoedia von Jemand vnd Niemandt”)
Julio and Hyppolita (“Tragaedia, Von Julio vnd Hyppolita”); and
Titus Andronicus (“Eine sehr klagliche Tragaedia von Tito Andronico etc”).

Of these plays, only Sidonia and Theagenes is of German origin, and has no known English counterpart. Esther and Haman appears to be related to the lost "Hester and Ahasuerus" play of the Chamberlain's repertory at Newington Butts; Fortunatus is a version of Dekker's Old Fortunatus (1600) and Nobody and Somebody is a version of the English play by that name (Anon., 1606); Titus Andronicus corresponds in some way to Shakespeare's play, and Julio and Hyppolita corresponds to Two Gentlemen of Verona.

Works Cited

Drábek, Pavel and M. A. Katritzky. “Shakespearean Players in Early Modern Europe”, in Bruce R. Smith, ed., The Cambridge Guide to the Worlds of Shakespeare. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016. 2.1527-33.
Engelische Comedien und Tragedien (Leipzig?, 1620) (Folger Shakespeare Library, PR1246.G5 E59 Cage)
Schlueter, June. "An Illustration of Traveling Players in Franz Hartmann's Early Modern 'Album amicorum'". Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England 21 (2008): 191-200.

Site created and maintained by David McInnis, University of Melbourne; updated 16 July 2019.