Valentine and Orson (Queen's)

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Anon. (1595 S.R.)

Historical Records

Stationers' Register

23 May 1595 (Arber 2.298)

xxiijo die Maij
Thomas Gosson      Entred for theire Copie an enterlude of VALENTYNE and ORSSON,
Raffe Hancock. plaid by hir maiesties Players. beinge lycenced vnder the handes of
the Wardens vjd

31 March 1600 (Arber 3.159)

vltimo marcij
William white.      Entred for his copie in full Court holden this day A famous
history called VALENTINE and ORSSON played by her maiesties
Players. vjd

Theatrical Provenance

Performed by the Queen's Men.

Probable Genre(s)

Romance (Harbage)

Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

A prose version of this medieval romance narrative by Henry Watson, The Hystory of the two valyaunte brethren Valentyne and Orson, sonnes vnto the Emperour of Grece was published in 1510 and reprinted in 1555 and 1565. Martin Wiggins summarizes the narrative (with reference to the Queen's play) as follows (3.6):

The French princess Bellisant gives birth to twin sons in a wood. One of the children is carried off by a bear, while the other is found by King Pepin. Each child is educated by its foster-parent: Valentine is taught all the courtly graces; Orson does not even learn human language. Eventually Orson becomes a wild man who terrorizes the country. Pepin sends Valentine to deal with the problem, and Orson is brought to court. [¶] Pepin sends Valentine and Orson to do battle with a Green Knight who can reputedly only be defeated by a king's son who was not suckled by a woman. In single combat, Valentine can only achieve a draw, but Orson overcomes the Green Knight, sparing his life at Valentine's request. The Green Knight invites them to his castle, where a speaking brazen head tells them that they are brothers, and that Orson may be given the power of speech by cutting a ligament under his tongue.

References to the Play

<List any known or conjectured references to the lost play here.>

Critical Commentary

Wiggins observes that the Queen's Men may have been encouraged to stage the brazen head episode in the romance narrative given the use of the same prop in Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay (3.6).

For What It's Worth

<Enter any miscellaneous points that may be relevant, but don't fit into the above categories. This is the best place for highly conjectural thoughts.>

Works Cited

Wiggins, Martin. British Drama, 1533-1642: A Catalogue. Volume 3: 1590-1597. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2013.

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