Difference between revisions of "Processus Satanae"

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==References to the Play==
==References to the Play==
<List any known or conjectured references to the lost play here.>
Information welcome.
==Critical Commentary==
==Critical Commentary==

Latest revision as of 23:15, 30 July 2020

Anon. (1575)

Historical Records

An actor's part exists for the role of 'God' in this play; it is currently held by a private collection in the United Kingdom. Although most of the lines belong to God, a partial list of other characters from the play can be reconstructed through references and cues:

God the Father
An Angel

"The Part of God", MS (transcription)

Strip 1a (Private Collection, UK; reproduced by permission)

Strip 1a <lpd-pre>

God the father speaketh
The Aungell . In heauen our record

Come my welbeloued mans only sauing hea<l..    for thou alone hast conquered hell synne & death<

Christ. Dyd hole spill

Sitt on my right hand after thy gret toille    Vntill I haue made thine enemies thy fotestole

Here Christ goeth vp to his throne<
An Aungell . or open yt euer.

Behold this Lion of the stocke of Iuda

the rote of Dauid hais obteyned alwaye
To open this boke and vnclaspe yt
and to know all the secrettes of yt
Sathan . Villeny and wronge .

Tary michaell a while yet

in so moche as he will reson yt
what wronge Sathan haue I done the
Sathan . Robbed me

Nay Sathan when yt ^is well knowen

I haue taken that wch was but myne owne<
Sathan . of the and me /
God .

Why so Sathan let heare I the

Sathan . ther to dwell .

But thos whom thou Sathan for syn dost blame

I haue sanctified & clensed with ye blod of yis <l
Thou apeachest them of synne to me night & <
and the blod of this lambe hathe washt it <a
Sathan . more busynes
God .

I am the god wth whom dwelles no wickednes<

my nature abhorreth then all wrongfulnes
for Sathan yf in case of syn I shuld wronge the
I were falsely said to hate iniquite ~
Sathan . yf thou deale Iustice

But yet Sathan thou dost not reme< thy spitefull malice against man ev< . for when I made man at furst in gret honour and planted him to liue in paradice of pleasure Thou hockeredst so much ther his felicyte yt thou broughtst hym to disobedience even through yy env<y Ther thou deceyvedst him first of his place and broughtst hym throw yy subtelty to yis sinfull ca<s for I made hym always to haue byn Innocent< Yf he had neuer broken my Commaundement And thou wroughtst all this then canst yu be yf for like malice I worke like pollicye /     |angry </lpd-pre>

Strip 2a (Private Collection, UK; reproduced by permission)

Strip 2a <lpd-pre>

Sathan . suche pollicye in god

Why not Sathan in all thinges wch be good .

Sathan . of preventing mischefe
God .

Yet the same may be to good mens relefe / yt folowes not that he is a mischievous person Wch wth pollycie preventes all evell in ych^Season<e nor policye here cannot be taken in evell meaning That I have prevented thy malicious workinge But subtill falshod and craftye pollicy are always concurrant in thy nature wholy

Sathan . I am right sure /

Why because,    I placed here in thy sight Theise two whom thou saiest I haue no right< Thou calledst them synners I say they be non for that they be sanctyfied from syn euery one< Then I do not wrong the Sathan in this case<

Sathan . Trye that –

Then take the comissioners whom thou willt chose< I will abyde the iudgement of those . Yt yf it be iudged by the commissyoners That I haue done the wrong take them yer pisoners< Whom wilt yu take or chose let heare .

Sathan . I cannot tell where

Here is Abraham wilt thou haue hym .

Sathan . not dyshonest you

Wilt thou haue Moses for he makes muche for the wch brought the Lawe to man an enemy And my gret curse therwth dyd bringe Vpon mankinde even whole for synne Afore the lawe was synne was not imputed By occasion wherof synne only encresed And yet for all this the lawe had no power to take away synne or make iuste a synner Consideringe this yf ther be any chose one wold thinke that moses were for thy pur^pose

Sathan . Iuggell in my matte<

Wilt thou haue Isay or Dauid let heare

Sathan . an adultere<

Yet Iohn Baptiste he must nedes plese the

Sathan . to ly in the diche<

What sayest thou then vnto the theif Wch was so gret a worker of mischef<

Sathan . and worse also .


Strip 3a (Private Collection, UK; reproduced by permission)

Strip 3a <lpd-pre>


Then seing my mocyon herin cannot please the Chose them thy self and I will agree /

Sathan . the diuell were a knave

Then whom wilt thou chose Sathan let heare .

Sathan . in any wise

And I am content wth thy eleccion sathan . Come further Verite and Iustice bothe twaine Here Sathan dothe thinke that I do him wronge in sauing of man from his pryson strong and hathe chosen comissioners you too on my partie to trye the matter & to ende the controuersie /

Verite . wch in god was neuer spied

Yet must you abate it againe here wth Sathan . Wch claimes through synne the best title to man Wylt thou be content now Sathan that I Do chose now likewise wch make for my partie

Sathan . yt shalbe so

I will[ ser ]chose but soche as shalbe indifferent as Sathan thou hast chosen for thine entent Come furthe mercie and peace here quickly You most help to finishe wth your sisters a controuersy< Sathan sais / that I wrong hym herin to saue man wch was once condempned for synne< and yt is brought vnto this conclusyon That yt must be tryed even by yis comission for him self he hathe chosen Iustice & verite and I haue chosen you to be on my partie

Peace now lord be devided

Yet must Sathans cause here be decised and by this comission right must be tried for yf in me ther shuld be found iniquite I am wrongfully called the god of equite now Sathan .

Sathan . what than .

Here are the comissioners redy for vs bothe

an houre space
Sathan . may cry fy on y<

Arte thou contented now sathan tell m<e

Sathan . ther to f<.


Strip 3b (Private Collection, UK; reproduced by permission)

Strip 3b<lpd-pre>


They shall not abide then in this Courte celestiall

Christ . Accused to my father

This is Sathan whom from the begynnyng<e I promised the world for m<an>s transgressing This is the true Isac the son of promisse to Abraham wth the sede of <………… This is that true Ioseph wch <in dang.. loded his bretherne with cor<ne> to th<e>r fath< This is that stronge Sampson & mighty <Ius.. wch caryed to the hill toppe the gates of gaz<a This ^is the true salamon I promised t<o> David shuld florishe in his seate not to be removed And to conclude sathan this is mans redemer I promised to the s3pent shuld dash all yy po<wr Making therof to the worlde euer mentio<n by all my prophetes in euery generation

Sathan . of this misterye

Yeuen so thou dydst thou canst not denye When he cast out thy foule spirites out of men Dyd not they acknowlege him ye son of god then< they wch dyd call Iesus so playnlye Dyd they not meane how he was vndoubtedly The Sauior promised to the world therby

Sathan . so strange a man .

Yea saye they were forced to confes his powr Wch wth all thy malice thou coldst withstand neuer ◇--------------------------------------------



Theatrical Provenance

Noting the inscription “old verses | Frõ limebrook” on the outside of the role, and observing that the “Limebrook” meant must be the village two to three miles from Brampton Bryan, the Harleys’ home, Chambers concludes that “There seems little doubt, therefore, that this was a local product of north Herefordshire on the very border of Wales” (240). The competent but unidentified hand of the scribe leads Chambers to conjecture a date of c.1570-80. Harbage opts for a smaller range of c.1570-75 and assigns it to 1575; Wiggins prefers an earlier date of 1564 on the grounds that the 1570s are quite late for God to appear on the English stage.

Probable Genre(s)


Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

<Enter any information about possible or known sources. Summarise these sources where practical/possible, or provide an excerpt from another scholar's discussion of the subject if available.>

References to the Play

Information welcome.

Critical Commentary

Palfrey and Stern contextualise the manuscript alongside other actors' parts from England and the Continent, noting that the 'part of God' is "the first English part to survive with cues, generally of three or four words. Yet it differs in one significant aspect from the other rolls: in this part the speaker of the cue is named" (19).

See Wiggins 382 ("Religious play").

For What It's Worth

Among the curious features of the “part” is the stage direction “an houre space”, which Chambers takes to mean “that God here withdraws and that the play proceeds for an hour before his presence is again required” (241).

Works Cited

Chambers, E. K. "Processus Satanae" in Malone Society Collections 2.3, Gen. Ed. W. W. Greg (Oxford: OUP, 1931), 239-50.
Palfrey, Simon and Tiffany Stern, Shakespeare in Parts (Oxford: OUP, 2007).

Site created and maintained by David McInnis, University of Melbourne; updated 15 June 2018.