Playlists in Philip Henslowe's diary
Fol. 7 (Greg I, 13)
Rd at matchavell the 2 of marche 1591 ………………. xiiijs Rd at matchevell the 3 of aprell 1591 ………………. xxijs
Fol. 7 v (Greg I, 14)
Rd at matchevell the 29 of maye 1592 ................... xxvjs
Lord Strange's men offered "Machiavel" in the second week of their run at the Rose (as recorded by Philip Henslowe). Its prior provenance is unknown. Wiggins, Catalogue #899 assigns the play to 1591 within a range of 1576-92. Basing his argument on its few performance (a mere 3), he considers the play "in the later stages of its repertory life" compared with other plays performed by Strange's Men that also were not marked "ne" (see a discussion of the problem of non-ne plays in Henslowe's playlists @ Wiggins #878).
Foreign History (?) Harbage
Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues
Scholarly guesswork on the sources of "Machiavel" depend upon the identification of the title character. Malone did not offer an opinion, but Collier implied the historical Machiavelli by suggesting that this play might have been revived "with additions and alterations" in 1613 as "Machiavel and the Devil", a work-in-progress that Robert Daborne mentioned in correspondence (p. 22). That play too is lost. Fleay, BCED repeated Collier's association of the two "Machiavel" plays (2.#105, p. 298). Greg II, citing Fleay, thought the 1592 play might have been "the foundation of Daborne's tragedy" (#10, p. 152).
Wiggins, Catalogue #899 ignores the Daborne link; further, he invites consideration that the title character was not necessarily the famous Italian Machiavelli, observing that "the Elizabethan imagination found Machiavels everywhere."
Manley and MacLean offer the possibility that "Machiavel" had a connection with the Marprelate controversy based on Thomas "Nashe's frequent pamphlet jibes against apes, Machiavels, and the 'Good munckie face Machiuell' Martin" (127).
References to the Play
Knutson assumes that the subject of "Machiavel" is the same figure Christopher Marlowe had in mind as speaker of the Prologue to The Jew of Malta. She points to the fact that Strange's men played "Machiavel" in tandem with Marlowe's play at the Rose in 1592 on the 3rd and 4th of April and 29th and 30th of May. She considers the pairing and order ("Machiavel" was scheduled first) an indication that "the company recognized and capitalized" on the shared character (p. 28). Noting that Strange's men also paired "Muly Molocco" with The Jew of Malta, she sees further evidence of repertorial commerce in the company schedule when "Machiavel" made a threesome with those two plays (May 29, 30, 31).
Manley and MacLean add a performance of The Spanish Tragedy on May 27 to the threesome of "Machiavel," The Jew of Malta, and "Muly Molocco" as evidence that the repertory of Strange's men in 1592 had a "modern flavor" (170).
Wiggins, Catalogue #900 assigns the play to 1591 within a range of 1576-92. Basing his argument on its few performance (a mere 3), he considers the play "in the later stages of its repertory life" compared to the other plays performed by Strange's Men that were not marked "ne" (see a discussion of the problem of non-ne plays in Henslowe's playlists @ Wiggins #878). Playing the maverick, Wiggins resists the identification of the title character with Niccolò Machiavelli, author of The Prince, observing that the culture of this period "found Machiavels everywhere."
For What It's Worth
Site created and maintained by Roslyn L. Knutson, Professor Emerita, University of Arkansas at Little Rock; updated 11 July 2020.