The presence of Africans in Elizabethan England and the performance of Titus Andronicus at Burley-on-the-Hill, 1595/96.
We must, moreover, bear in mind that the Elizabethans had witnessed the haphazard attempts made by the authorities to accommodate the presence of black Africans and Moors to the structure of Elizabethan society. The black presence, particularly in the last decade of the sixteenth century, had raised anxieties about interbreeding that asked to be addressed. This was the case particularly between 1592 and 1594, when the government was embroiled in the hitherto little noticed scandal caused by the legal and illegal importation of slaves from Guinea. I have, therefore, felt obliged to unfold the still poorly documented history of the black presence in Elizabethan England before turning my attention to Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus as performed at Burley-on-the-Hill by the Chamberlain's Men on January 1, 1596. The per- formance had been designed by Sir John Harington to be the political and cultural climax of his lavish Christmas festivities.
The Presence of Africans in Elizabethan England
The presence of Africans in early modern England has remained a subject in its infant stage of studies. As late as the 1980s, historians clung to the view that there is no way of establishing how many colored persons had been taken to or had settled in early modern England. However, Rosalyn L. Knutson has opened up new research strategies. She is the first to have undertaken systematic investigation and has succeeded in gathering fresh material from the entries of baptisms and burials kept in the London parish records. (1)
The major difficulty in gathering reliable information has proved the absence of a regulated slave trade in early modern England. Whereas in Portugal and Spain the import of slaves was a government monopoly, England disposed of no legal code for operating a slave system under the Tudor monarchs. Hence there were no customs duties levied on imported slaves. There was, however, an annual per capita tax. This was, in effect, a poll tax of 8d levied by the municipal authorities. (2) The English authorities came close to conceding a royal monopoly on the import of slaves in the Guinea charter of 1588, a memorable event of its own that took place in the year of the Armada and that, surprisingly, Africanist historians have not taken any notice of (see below).
The majority of the Africans were black domestic slaves, a few were freedmen, and some of them were Moors, mostly Berbers from North Africa. The contemporary blanket term for them all was blackamoor. The seeming absence of records documenting their presence would argue the case for the existence of a negligible number of colored servants. (3) On second thoughts, however, the marginalized African population must have assumed a sizable volume, conspicuous and large enough to be of concern to the government, which thought it opportune to take countermeasures. The "discontented" queen, in view of the "great numbers of Negars and Blackamoors which ... are crept into this realm," issued two expulsion edicts in July 1596 and a third in 1601. The royal orders, however, were of no consequence, for as long as the Africans were granted no legal status and the owners enjoyed the freedom of an unregulated market, the queen's policy of containment was simply ignored. The 1590s were a decade of poor harvests, food shortages, and poverty, but the queen's anxiety that, I dare say, approximately half a percent of London's population were taking jobs away from the English seems to be unwarranted. Similar concerns had been raised in Portugal in the 1560s when the African population of the Portuguese capital had risen to 10 percent. (4)
English Female Slaveholders
A good many misconceptions about the black and colored population in early modern England are due to the fact that the issue of the black presence has not yet overcome the difficulties and misconceptions of a nascent discipline. Thus the majority of the African servants were not curiosities, neither were they oddities nor status symbols, as some scholars would make us believe. On the contrary, they were like their cousins in Spain and Portugal hardworking domestic servants whom, to put it in Shylock's terms, the Venetian (English) owners would "use in abject and in slavish parts." Moreover, a serious oversimplification perpetrated by current historical work has been to neglect the problem of gender difference as regards both the slaves and the slave owners. I have, therefore, thought it opportune to discuss some records that shed new light on the ignored gender issue. It is a most striking feature that Englishwomen of all social classes, from low to high class, and even to royalty, should emerge as slave owners as if they had been emulating their Spanish and Portuguese counterparts, who did not hesitate to attend public auctions, selling and buying slaves in great numbers. (5) Thus the queen kept black artists, Lady Ralegh called a black servant her own, Lady Anne Clifford numbered Grace Robinson, a black laundress, and John Morocco, a black servant, among her household staff at Knole some time after 1609, and the seamstress Millicent Porter was present at the christening of her black slave Mary Phillis in 1597. (6)
Grace Robinson has been singled out by Kim F. Hall, in her insightful article "Reading What Isn't There" (see note 4), as an instance demonstrating that the personal histories of black women are bound to remain irretrievable and that the black female domestic servants, unnamed and stripped of a history of their own, are doomed to remain invisible. Grace Robinson's alleged invisibility, I dare say, was a matter of social status rather than of color or ethnicity; for it is a commonplace that the personal histories of white female servants are equally difficult to recover. The black laundress Grace Robinson shared the fate of being elided from the narrative of Lady Anne Clifford's Diary together with her white fellow laundresses. She stands nonetheless the chance of coming into her own if we attempt to pry into the position held by the laundry maids and into their daily work in the large household of Lady Anne Clifford, countess of Dorset after 1609 and countess of Montgomery and of Pembroke after 1630. (7)
From the inventory or "Catalogue of the Household and Family of the Right Honourable Richard, Earl of Dorset," which was begun in 1613 and completed on the earl's death in 1624, it emerges that Grace Robinson was one of several dozen servants who are all mentioned by name and listed according to their seating order at various tables, from the lord's table, the parlor table, the clerks' table, the long table, the laundry maids' table, the nursery, the kitchen and scullery. (8) The comprehensive inventory, which still hangs framed under glass at Knole House, Kent, is obviously conceived to convey to the reader the socializing policy of the earl of Dorset and his wife Lady Anne Clifford, who saw to it that all the members of their household, from the gentlemen ushers, grooms of the great horse, to the brewers, gardeners, and huntsmen met in the dining hall on festive occasions. The members seated at the "Laundry Maids' Table" were, besides Grace Robinson, Mrs Judith and Mrs Grace Simpton, obviously two gentlewomen overseeing the laundry; Penelope Tutty, the maid of Margaret Sackville, Lady Anne's eldest daughter; Anne Mills, the dairymaid; the two goodwives Burton and Small; William Lewis, porter; and what must have been the four fellow laundresses of Grace Robinson: Prudence Butcher, Anne Howse, Faith Husband, and Elinor Thompson. The catalogue reveals no trace of social or racial marginalization, getting the message across to the reader that the "Blackamoor" laundress was well integrated in the Knole household.
Grace Robinson was indeed working in a team of five laundresses whose duties must have entailed washing, repairing, and possibly sewing the linen and clothes of the household. This was no doubt a burdensome task which demanded great skill and endurance. There is some evidence proving that Lady Anne developed a personal relationship with her personnel and maidservants. Thus in April 1617, she was lying ill in Judith Simpton's chamber and in her old age, when she was too weak to attend divine service on Sundays, she used to send her four laundry maids and her washerwoman Isabel Jordan to attend the sermon preached by parson Samuel Grasty at Ninekirks Church, Wetsmoreland. A fortnight before she died at Brougham Castle on March 23, 1676, she took the seamstress Margaret Montgomery, who had come from Penrith to make up twenty pairs of sheets and pillows, to her chamber, and kissed her and talked to her. (9)
Whether Lady Anne Clifford's personal relations with Grace Robinson were as intimate as with the seamstress Margaret Montgomery remains unproven. But in view of the fact that she felt bound to take special care for the spiritual welfare of her laundresses, it is not unreasonable to assume that she must have developed a particular interest in an African maid who had become a Christian convert. There is historical precedent for the privileged treatment of black female converts by aristocratic women in Europe. Catherine of Austria, wife of the Portuguese king Joao III, who on average numbered some twenty-five black African and Amerindian slaves among her royal household, gave evidence of her particular concern for the welfare of her female maidservants in manumitting her three black laundresses Margarida da Silva, Clemencia da Santa Maria, and Catarina da Cruz, in 1554. (10)
A female slaveholder of much lower social profile was Widow Stokes. She dwelt in the parish of All Hallows Barking, Tower Ward, London, where she paid an annual per capita tax of 8d for her servant "Clare, a Negra," in October 1598 and 1599. (11) Widow Stokes may have exploited Clare as a single maid-of-all-work for the full range of household tasks and may thus have offered Clare immunity fro sexual abuse at the hand of fellow servants. Sleeping arrangements still used to be mainly communal. Servants of either sex slept in the same room, and servants of the same sex often shared the bed, a fact that was well known to raise the female servants' vulnerability to rape, seduction, and, worst of all, the specter of miscegenation. (12) The possibility that the bedrooms of early English households were immune to color discrimination cannot be ruled out. In Spain miscegenation was endemic among the servant class; in Elizabethan England it was certainly on the rise. The bold interracial bedroom scene in Othello (act 5) may have been inspired by the reality experienced in middle-class English households.
A well documented case of a female slaveholder in early modern England is that of Millicent Porter, seamstress. It shows that also women at the lower scale of the social order knew how to take advantage of slaveholding. In January 1584, she was found guilty of "ffornication and adulterye" and was, against her will, "enioyned to make her canonycall purgation" in the "consistorye place" in St Paul's, London. After having done public penance, she returned to her parish of St Botolph Aldgate. When exactly the black slave Mary Phillis joined her household is not known, but we do know that on June 3, 1597, Millicent Porter attended the christening of the twenty-year-old Mary together with the curate's wife, the sexton's wife, and three other women who stood as godparents to Mary Phillis. We have it on the authority of Thomas Harridaunce, the clerk of St Botolph Aldagte, that Mary Phillis answered the curate's questions about her faith "verie Christenlyke," and recited the Lord's Prayer and the "articles of her beliefe." Thereupon the curate took Mary to the font and baptized her. These two women, a black slave and what looks like a repentant prostitute, transcended the habitual relegation of the black African females and of the female delinquents to the margins of society. (13)
The parishioners of St Botolph were certainly unaware of the fact that the christening of Mary was an infringement upon her African past. They looked upon the baptismal rite as conferring a new lease of life on an English-speaking Christian convert, who despite her new cultural and religious identity remained a slave. The presence of a curate officiating the ceremony in a London parish church is proof of the Anglican Church's toleration of slavery as a necessary evil. The Anglican authorities considered slavery as reprehensible only when English merchants were sold to the Muslims and enticed to convert.
The case of Mary Phillis does not correspond to the culturally defamed representations of the black female domestic figure in Elizabethan and Jacobean drama, nor does the hitherto unrecovered case of twelve-year-old Polonia. On May 5, 1597, Mrs Piers ("Peires"), the mistress of "Polonia, the blackmor maid," consulted Simon Forman about her servant's illness. Forman, in the absence of the patient, cast an astrological figure and below it set down a humoral diagnosis, according to which the poor girl was suffering from "Moch pane syd[e] stom[ach]" and was "Lyk to vomit." Moreover, he found "a feuer in her bones" and diagnosed a "fa[i]nt harte, full of melancoly & cold humors mixed with collor," i.e., choler. The remedy he prescribed for her cure was to "purg her of Neptune" and of her vapors. (14)
The absence of the patient during the medical consultation was nothing extraordinary. Of the 132 consultations for children in 1597, forty-five were visits of a parent on behalf of a sick child, and only in thirty-two cases was the child present for the consultation. (15) With the benefit of hindsight we may venture to put down the illness of the twelve-year-old Polonia to menstrual disorders rather than to the social stress of deculturation.
Polonia's case marks a watershed event in the annals of cross-cultural en-counters insofar as it records the first rapprochement between a black African and a self-made London medical practitioner. Simon Forman, though much maligned and denounced by the College of Physicians as a quack, must be given his due for having treated Polonia as a patient irrespective of race, ignoring the ethnic boundaries erected by the cultural discourse of white supremacy. An unconventional man operating on the outer fringes of academic life, he seems to have been aware of the historic moment in his medical career, for he was meticulous about the patient's identity, adding a definite article that seems to be charged emotionally: "Polonia, the blackmor maid at Mr Peires." Forman's professionally impeccable behavior is out of line with the depiction of non-European women in literary and other writings of the period as being "either dangerous ... and needing to be ... annihilated, or alienated from their own society and made tractable, and therefore ready to be converted and assimiliated into European family and society." (16)
Mrs Piers was aged twenty-one and had previously consulted Forman on May 3, 1597, regarding an illness of her own. She might also be the mother of "John Peire," aged three, who had consulted Forman on April 14, 1597. (17) This young woman felt morally obliged to look after the well-being of her juvenile black maidservant although she must have known that black servants enjoyed no legal status in early modern England and therefore was under no legal obligation whatsoever to offer her servant medical treatment.
Polonia's age profile is worth comment. In Europe the age of twelve was generally considered to mark a girl's transition from childhood to adult life. Thus in early modern England, the age of consent for marriage was set at twelve for girls. The age of twelve years was also taken to be the ideal age for slave girls to be introduced to the household domestic chores as maids-of-all-work or as companions or nursemaids for young children. (18) This might have been Polonia's lot if "John Peire," aged three, was indeed the son of Mrs Peirs. But it was also an age fraught with the danger of a young girl being raped and becoming pregnant. The bawd in Shakespeare's Pericles has brought up her daughters to the age of eleven and then has reduced them to serve in the brothel. (19) Juliet's nurse swears by her own "maidenhead at twelve year old," implying that she was deflowered as soon as she reached the age of twelve. (20) Launcelot, the primary go-between in the play, who shuttles between religious communities and ethnic minorities, commits an act of interracial sex in Portia's domain at Belmont, impregnating the offstage Mooress, whose age must be put to twelve or thereabouts. His impregnation of the Mooress may have been meant to evoke a real-life incident in London. (21)
English Merchant Slaveholders
Slaveholding in early modern England was not gender bound; but whereas in the case of female slaveholders all the social classes seem to have participated in the business, in the case of men, slaveholding was mainly concentrated in the hands of the upper echelons of the merchant class. The English merchants stationed in Spain at the turn of the fifteenth/sixteenth century and John Hawkins's ventures in the Guinea-Caribbean slave trade of 1562/63 and 1564/65 had prepared the ground for holding colored slaves in England, and the English merchants doing business in the Mediterranean and in West Africa in the closing decades of the sixteenth century took their cue from them. Among the foreign merchants residing in England, the Portuguese New Christians or conversos, who had been accustomed to keeping and handling slaves before they took refuge in England in the 1540s, enjoyed the privilege of keeping up their old lifestyle, practicing their Jewish rites on the sly, and developing their commercial networks with their old converso partners in Amsterdam, Antwerp, and Constantinople. (See below.)
The double-career men like the Gonsons, the Hawkinses, and the Winters, who had a lifelong experience as members of the inner circle of the naval administration in charge of the royal fleet, had no scruples to take advantage of their public offices to promote their private enterprises. They became involved in slaving voyages as investors, ship owners and seafaring businessmen and did not hesitate to staff their households with colored servants. Evidence, however, is scarce to come by, but as regards Sir William Winter (ca. 1525-89) it is conclusive.
William Winter, keeper of the naval records (1546), master of the naval ordnance (1557), invested in and sailed on Thomas Wyndham's 1553 voyage to Guinea. He then joined the syndicate of Guinea merchants which in 1561 advanced the project of building a fort in Guinea. He was also one of the investors of John Hawkins's second slaving voyage of 1564/65, and in 1565 he financed, in partnership with his brother George, the voyage of their ship the Mary Fortune, which the Portuguese sank off the Guinea coast, taking the crew prisoner. It is also on record that in 1570 one ship of a fleet of three, owned by William Winter and bound for Guinea to participate in the transatlantic slave trade, sailed back home without reaching the Caribbean. For his services rendered to the navy and for his private ventures he was knighted in 1573. (22)
Had Thomas Harridaunce, the parish clerk of St Botolph Aldgate, not been keeping separate memoranda besides the ordinary parish registers, we might never have known that Sir William Winter even in his old age could not do without a Guinea slave or two working in his household. On August 17, 1587, Harridaunce recorded in his daybook the death of "Domingo Beinge a ginnye Negar" who was "servaunt to the Right worshipfull Sr William Winter" and had died in his London manor house at East Smithfield. (23) We do not know when Domingo entered Winter's service, it may have been before or after 1570. He may have been part of Winter's personal booty taken in Guinea from a former Portuguese owner, in which case Domingo would have been an institution among possible black fellow servants, or Winter may have bought him in London from a business partner any time after 1570.
The Guinea Charter of 1588-98
The diplomatic interventions of the Portuguese and the subsequent treaty signed by the English and the Portuguese governments in 1576 brought about a slump in the English Guinea trade. However, the exile of Dom Antonio, the claimant to the Portuguese throne, gave an unexpected impetus to the resumption of the Guinea or rather the Senegambian slave trade. Dom Antonio sought refuge in England in the aftermath of the Portuguese dynastic crisis of 1578/80, accompanied by a retinue of some forty-eight attendants, among them the mulatto Pedro Fernandes. The renewal of the slave trade under the auspices of the English government and Dom Antonio has passed unnoticed by English historians. A comprehensive study of the historical, cultural, and ethnic dimensions of the first Guinea charter (1588-98) remains a desideratum. The following comments lay claim to being nothing more than a first step on the road to recovering a fascinating story of cross-cultural encounters, political machinations, and African dominance in imposing the terms of the slave export and foreign trade with the Portuguese, Spaniards, French, and English. (24)
On his arrival in England in July 1581, Dom Antonio was penniless, but he had taken the precaution to seize the Portuguese crown jewels, the precious spoils of the Portuguese East and West Indies. Queen Elizabeth welcomed Dom Antonio not as a claimant, but as a sovereign brother, and set her mind on making use of him as a trump card in the political trials of strength waged between the English, French, Spanish, and Moroccan courts. When Dom Antonio ran out of his financial resources, he resorted, with the approval of the English government, to unorthodox methods of financing his campaign to recover the Portuguese throne from Philip II. (25)
The Guinea charter, signed on May 3/13, 1588, by the English government and on May 20/30, 1588 by Dom Antonio, was a contract concluded, in the first place, for the benefit of both sides and, in the second, as a warrant for Dom Antonio's financial survival. It granted some English merchants of Exeter, Colyton, Barnstaple, and London, for the space of ten years, license to trade with Senegambia, that is, a stretch of the mainland littoral lying between the rivers Senegal and Gambia in Upper Guinea and some 240 miles long. The first 140 miles, reaching from the estuary of the Senagal to the peninsula of Cape Verde and known as the Great Coast, were inhospitable terrain without any ports and therefore irrelevant to the transatlantic trade. The international traffic was concentrated on the Small Coast, reaching from Cape Verde to the estuary of the Gambia. This part of the coast was dotted with a number of busy ports and slave emporia, the most important being Bezeguiche, Rufisque, Portudal, and Joal. (26)
Dom Antonio, though ousted from the Portuguese throne by Philip II, kept claiming the Senegambian littoral as his overseas possession. Thus he enjoined the English patentees to fit out three vessels bound for Guinea every year; to accept two Portuguese agents on board the English vessels to register the goods on the outward and homeward voyages; to pay duties of 5 percent on all the goods sold from ivory, hides, amber, wax, gold, and silver to slaves, and to hand the taxes over to Dr Rodrigo (Ruy) Lopez, the queen's physician, whom the Privy Council had appointed collector of the duties and had charged to use the incoming money to indemnify Dom Antonio's English creditors. The debts Dom Antonio had incurred between 1581 and 1588 amounted to [pounds sterling]4000, and he was about to accrue further debts with the disastrous Portugal expedition of 1589 under the command of Sir Francis Drake and Sir John Norris. (27)
The most prominent patentee to sign the Guinea charter was the Barbary merchant Anthony Dassell. He staked his money on the vessels which sailed under the command of his brother Thomas. The two brothers looked upon the resumption of the Guinea trade as a fat chance of lining their own pockets. They committed a number of violations, which were endemic among international slaving merchants, such as flouting the legal machinery set up to recover the import duties levied on the goods. Dom Antonio, therefore, brought a lawsuit against them for refusing to allow his agents to board their vessels in order to inspect the commodities and to remit the duties to Dr Lopez's account. What is of utmost relevance to the present investigation is the attempt of the Dassell brothers to bypass the rules of the Guinea charter in surreptitiously importing black Africans and evading the import taxes to the detriment of Dom Antonio and the English authorities. Thus it transpires from the interrogatory drawn up by the High Court of Admiralty and put to four English sailors, who had obviously sailed to Guinea in 1592, that the Dassell brothers were suspected of smuggling a considerable number of Guinea slaves into England. The four sailors summoned to appear before the judges of the High Court of Admiralty were to be questioned about the number of Africans transported on the two ships of the Dassells. The judges also wanted to know "what are their names and in whose custodye and keeping are they at this tyme, and whether were they transported with the good will and leave of their parents and frends and the leave of the kinge of the said cuntrye, yea or no, and of what account are such as are so transported in the saide cuntrye to your knowledge, or as you have hearde by credible reporte". (28)
It emerges from the wording of the interrogatory (items 11 and 20) that Dom Antonio, in cooperation with the English government, was the instigator of the resumption of the English Guinea slave trade in 1588. The English government tacitly approved of the view held by an exiled potentate, who had had a lasting experience in slaveholding, that exporting slaves from Guinea was a legal enterprise provided the European exporter secured a license from the native kings or chieftains. This is borne out by the accusation laid by Dom Antonio before the High Court of Admiralty against Anthony Dassell and his brother Thomas in 1592. Dom Antonio accused the Dassell brothers of having "cast in prison the king of Portingall his agent," that is, his own Guinea agent, and of having "transported" to England two Africans "against the king[e] of that realme and his officers comma[u]ndements". (29)
The two Africans were said to be "cheife yonge negroes, ... sonnes to the cheife justice of that contrey." Dom Antonio and the English authorities, therefore, feared that the Dassells' fraudulent practices would bring about "the utter overthrow[e] and disturba[u]nce of that trade in those partes," and awaken "the prejudice of other marchants of that societie, by reason wherof" the queen and Dom Antonio were bound to lose "tenn thowsand[e] crownes yearlye" (Nunes Costa, Document 40). Richard Kelley was one of the Guinea merchants who disapproved of Anthony Dassell's behavior. He was afraid to return to Guinea because he believed that the two "Neygrose of some accompt" had been taken to England "against their wills." He argued that "by suche indiscreete dealinge it is greatlye to be feared that the trade into those partes wilbe very muche hindred." He was, therefore, not ready to return to Guinea unless "some order be taken for the saffe bringinge backe of the sayde ij Negrose into the sayde countrye" (National Archives, Kew, HCA 24/59/49-51).
In his defense, Anthony Dassell countered that the "two yonge negroes they of themselfes made sute to come, and voluntarie came to see England without any compulsion," adding that their "good entertaynment heere wil be more benefficiall and comodius" to the queen "in regarde of the trade then all the serva[u]nts" of Dom Antonio "canne doe good in goinge thither." And to justify his blatant breach of the Guinea charter he went to the length of invoking the example set by the French, who had been trading in Guinea "above thirtie yeares" without paying "duties" to their king. No "nation" was "better beloved nor so well wellcome to the negroes" as the French, who "cheifflie proceded by bringinge negroes nowe and then into France and usinge them well" (Nunes Costa, Document 41).
Anthony Dassell's violation of the Guinea charter and his brother's resort to violence lends little credence to Anthony's argument that the measures he had taken were inspired by altruistic motives in the interest of England's economic development. He revealed his true turn of mind when he complained to the judges that he was now constrained to keep the two noble Africans in his own house at his great cost for the benefit of the queen and his country (Nunes Costa, Documents 44 and 45).
The documents uncovered so far in the English and Portuguese national archives yield only a fraction of the economic enterprises undertaken by the eight patentees of the Guinea charter, that is, by William Brayley, Gilbert Smith, Nicholas Spicer, John Derricott, all four of Exeter, John Young of Colyton (Devon), Richard Dodridge of Barnstaple (Devon), and Anthony Dassell and Nicholas Turner, both of London. Further investigations are likely to bring to light the actual number of the black Africans whom the Dassells illicitly imported into London and whom the other merchants may have legally freighted to England, paying the export licenses issued by the African chiefs and the import duties exacted by Dom Antonio and the English government.
Two contemporary witnesses and chroniclers of the arrival of the English merchants in Senegambia in the early 1590s, one a Portuguese and the other an Englishman, throw some additional light on the memorable encounters between the English and some African kings as well as on the nature and conditions of the trade. It emerges from the chronicle of Andre Alvares d' Almada, citizen of Sao Tiago, the principal among the Cape Verde Islands, and from the report of Richard Rainolds, one of the factors on Anthony Dassell's ship the Nightingale, that Dom Antonio was woefully out of touch with the realities in Senegambia. The Portuguese and the Spaniards had lost the favor of the native kings, who since the 1570s had been encouraging the French and, in the 1590s, the English, among them Thomas Dassell, to trade with them directly irrespective of the regulations of the 1588 Guinea charter, which obliged the English merchants to sail under the supervision of Dom Antonio's agents. (30)
Alvares d'Almada provides invaluable information on the profitable and successful relations between the Creolized Luso-Africans or Afro-Portuguese and the English merchants who had chosen Bezeguiche (Beseguiache in Rainolds) on the Cape Verde Peninsula, its large bay sheltered by the islet of Palma, as their favorite port of call. The Luso-Africans, disdainfully dismissed by the Portuguese authorities as "lancados," were the middlemen who specialized in bartering goods between the Africans and the foreign merchants, the Spaniards, French, and English. They became the main purveyors of slaves when the monopoly of the Portuguese began to decline after 1570. The business partners were in a festive mood when the deals were concluded and the goods handed over to the foreign traders. The English used to banquet the Luso-Africans, entertaining them with music played on viols and other instruments. (31)
Alvares d' Almada also raises the issue of sending Senegambians to England. He records that owing to the amicable relations established between the Bawal kingdom and the English merchants some Africans went to England to learn English and to visit the country. It was the governor of Portudal (Porto d' Ally in Rainolds), also acting as overseer of king Amar Malik's exchequer, who had given the order. This statement seems to contradict the accusation, brought against the Dassell brothers by Dom Antonio, of having conveyed to London two noble Africans, the sons of the chief justice, against the orders of king Amar Malik (or Mamalik) and his officials. (32) The case of the Dassells looks very much like being a precedent of the business venture to be arranged between some London Guinea merchants and the king of the river of Cess in Upper Guinea. The king sent his son Derij laquoah to London, where he was baptized in the church of St Mildred Poultry on January 1, 1611, some of the English merchants attending the ceremony of the baptism as godparents and sureties. John laquoah, the new convert, was obviously trimmed as a black Christian factor in the hope of boosting the shipment of goods, presumably slaves, between England, Guinea, and the Caribbean. (33)
The Senegambians participated in the Atlantic trade as equal partners. Rainolds in his travel account does not tire of foregrounding the understanding and amity between the African rulers, the state officials, and the English merchants. One of the first professional obligations Rainolds fulfilled in November 1591 after landing at the islet of Palma, which he calls the "litle Iland ... of liberty," was to receive the governor of Beseguiache. The governor came "with a great traine ... aboord in their canoas" to collect king Melek Zamba's "dueties for ankerage." Rainolds rose to the occasion, giving the governor "and all his company courteous entertainment" so as "to purchase the more love." The governor then conducted Rainolds and his company to his "house" on the mainland at Beseguiache, where the English merchants "were gently and friendly feasted after their maner, and with some presents returned safe aboord againe." These ceremonies, observed on the occasion of what was the official opening of trade relations, were concluded the following day when the governor came aboard the English ship "to wil" Rainolds "to send some yron and other commodities ... to traffike with the Negros." The same procedure was repeated at Rufisque (Refisca) and at Portudal. Portudal was ruled by king Amar Malik, son of Melek Zamba, whose subjects "befriended and favoured" the English and were "ready to ayde, succor and defend" them against the hostile followers of Dom Antonio. "In" these Africans, Rainolds commented, "appeared more confident love and goodwill towards us, then ever we shall finde either of Spaniards or Portugals." (34)
The alleged influx of Guinea slaves in the early 1590s, whether legal or illegal in terms of the Guinea charter of 1588, generated a sense of anxiety about the black presence in late Elizabethan London. The government, therefore, took measures to defuse the situation. In the wake of the investigations conducted by the High Court of Admiralty in 1592-94, the queen under the pretext of a threat to economic stability, was induced to issue the ineffective deportation acts of 1596, 1599, and 1601. It is one of history's ironies that the English government, put under pressure by Dom Antonio's impecunious circumstances, should have condoned the import of Guinea slaves. Government measures alone were not sufficient to allay the fear of the citizens. By 1594 the Londoners had come to perceive the presence of Africans as an anomaly within the social body of their city and country which asked to be confronted on a public platform. This was the moment for Shakespeare to step in to make an attempt to defuse the situation by confronting his contemporary audiences with the extraordinary figure of Aaron, a literate African, in 1594.
The Mediterranean Traders
Besides Guinea as an export region of black slaves, the countries bordering the Mediterranean were another frequent source of supply. Trade in the Mediterranean and later on in the West Indies afforded Paul Banning or Bayning (d. September 30, 1616), member of the Grocers' Company, alderman of Farringdon Without, called Fleet Street Ward (1593-1602), the opportunity to build up a vast business empire. Banning was one of the dominant figures of the Venice Company (1583-89) and the Levant Company, also known as the Turkey Company (1581-88), which was granted a new charter in 1592. As a merchant promoting privateering, he had a powerful galleon built, the Golden Phoenix, designed with an eye to war and trade. At the turn of the century, he pursued a policy of investing the capital, which he had accumulated while trading in Venice and Turkey in the 1580s, in the first expedition of the East India Company. (35) He was treasurer of the East India Company 1600-1602.
The head of a vast household made up of many retainers, clerks, and servants, Banning had by 1593 bought at least three "blakamores," all of them female domestic servants, who constituted a high-risk group in his crowded household. He is the only English merchant known so far to own more than one black servant except for the naturalized Portuguese conversos dwelling in England. A fourth black household servant was "Iulyane," twenty-two years old when she was christened in St Mary Bothaw on March 29, 1601, and "namyd" Mary by her godparents. These were obviously responsible for her integration into Banning's teeming household and for her assimilation of English cultural values. (36)
The Portuguese New Christians as Slaveholders in England
The most experienced slaveholders in early modern England were the Portuguese New Christians or conversos who sought refuge in English ports when in 1536 Portugal, under Spanish pressure, established an Inquisition of its own and instituted the purity of blood statutes. The community of the Portuguese conversos reached its peak in the last decades of queen Elizabeth's reign when it numbered between eighty and ninety members. Their presence was most welcome in England because of their widespread international commercial networks, their inveterate disapproval of Spain's annexation of Portugal in 1580, and their unanimous backing of Dom Antonio's cause. Their impressive performances won them much acclaim among the English circles of power and secured them long-lasting government backing and many a special privilege, the most important being the tacit acceptance by the English authorities of their commitment to rejudaization. (37)
The dominant converso families maintained their old elite lifestyle in their new English environment. The ingrained legacy of their self-image as prominent bankers, merchants, ship owners, physicians, diplomats, and court astronomers stood them in good stead when they struggled to pursue their old careers in England. (38) The way of life led by the wealthy Portuguese conversos, whether they settled in London, Amsterdam, or Antwerp, required running large households, staffed by native and foreign male and female servants. The foreign domestic personnel of the Portuguese merchants of Antwerp were mostly black African servants. Their presence in Jewish Antwerp households is rather well documented; as for London converso households it is, unfortunaley, poorly documented. (39)
Dr Hector Nunes [Nunez] (1520-91) scored an unparalleled success as one of the most prominent multi-career Portuguese conversos to opt for exile in England. He was a renowned court physician, an enterprising merchant, shipowner, marine insurance broker, intelligencer, and banker who supported the cause of Dom Antonio, the pretender to the Portuguese throne. He was monitoring anti-Spanish resistance from his exile in England, besides being secretary Walsingham's accredited negotiator in putting out secret peace feelers in 1585/86 in order to assess the mounting preparations made for the sailing of the Spanish Armada. As head of the Portuguese community in London, he was running a syndicate of converso merchants linked by close family ties. Their policy was to pioneer commercial relations with the Mediterranean countries, Morocco included. He and his partners were among the first to import Moroccan sugar, molasses, paneles (brown unpurified sugar), and rameals (inferior sugar), via Antwerp in ships flying the Moroccan flag in the late 1560s. In March 1571, he and his partner William Curtis invested money in a voyage to Guinea, obviously with an eye on seizing slaves, but the Portuguese ambassador put the Privy Council under pressure to stop the enterprise. There is also evidence that he suffered serious financial setbacks due to daring commercial ventures and to the dangers of Anglo/Spanish hostilities. (40)
In 1582, Dr Nunes's household consisted of his wife Leonor Freire of Antwerp, a butler, three clerks, all of them Portuguese New Christians (Fernando Alvarez, senior, Francisco Alvarez, and Francisco de Tapia), and two black female domestics, Gratia and Elizabeth Anegro. Elizabeth obviously bore the name of Dr Nunes's sister-in-law Elizabeth Freire, who in 1582 married Alvaro de Lima, and Gratia, the name of Grace Freire, another sister-in-law, who had died in 1578. Gratia died a young woman; she was buried in the parish of St Olave Hart Street on July 13, 1590. (41)
Elizabeth and Gratia Anegro, who were members of the Anglican Church, were to play a decisive role in confirming the accusation that the Nunes and Alvarez households were practicing Jewish observances in secret. While Dr Nunes saw to the worldly and economic affairs of his household, he left the daily observance of religious conduct to his wife and his brother-in-law Fernando Alvarez, the husband of Philippa Freire. Dr Nunes had been endenizened as an English subject in 1579 and then had publicly conformed to the Church of England while allowing the members of his family to practise Judaism in the privacy of his house. The evidence that his was a judaizing family is unmistakable. His wife had obviously assumed the role of judaizer since in rabbinic law it was held that Jewishness was transmitted through the mother. (42)
As a slaveholder the distinguished physician was surprisingly out of touch with the legal realities in Tudor England. After having spent some forty years in England, Dr Nunes assumed that there were laws regulating the slave traffic as there had been in his native Portugal. Thus, in 1587, he submitted a formal complaint to the Court of Requests, stating that he had bought an Ethiopian, meaning a black African, from an English mariner at a price of [pounds sterling]4 10s. The slave, however, "vtterly" refused "to tarry and serve him." Dr Nunes apparently made the painful experience that he had "not any ordinarye remedie at and by the course of the comon Lawes" unless the queen through her secretaries in the Court of Requests would "compell the sayde Ethiopian to serve him during his liffe." Should the court refuse to oblige the African to serve him, he requested the court to "Recover this sayd ffowre poundes Tenne shillinges" from the English mariner who had sold him the slave.
This case confirms that owing to the absence of a black slave's legal status in early modern England the law courts and even the secretaries of state in the Court of Requests, some of whom were personally acquainted with Dr Nunes, had no authority to intervene. The conclusion of Rosalyn L. Knutson, who has unearthed the document, that the English slaveowner who bought a black slave at the market "did not have the help of the law of England to enforce the bond at the level of enslavement, though they may well have had other kinds of power," is quite relevant. It was precisely the absence of the legal status of a slave that offered the slave a loophole to refuse and at the same time gave the owner free hand to enslave his black African, exploiting him or her as an unpaid domestic servant. (43)
The complaint lodged by Dr Nunes casts a fresh perspective on the hazards of an unregulated black slave market in early modern England. The black slave took advantage of his legally undefined status in refusing to accept the sale and serve Dr Nunes for the rest of his life. He may have been a second-generation African, born in Europe, who had created an image of himself and did not hesitate to challenge European concepts of ownership. Dr Nunes's complaint, moreover, reveals for the first time in an English document what was the actual market value of a black male slave in 1587 London.
Dr Nunes's leadership went uncontested among the Portuguese New Christians in Elizabethan London. His merits, however, have remained undervalued by literary and cultural scholars, who have preferred to focus their attention on another Portuguese converso, on Dr Rodrigo (Ruy) Lopez, physician and collector of the customs duties which the patentees of the Guinea charter owed Dom Antonio. His execution, on June 7, 1594, on a charge of being a secret judaizer plotting to poison the queen has been more newsworthy. C. J. Sisson holds the view that the judaizing New Christians of Portuguese descent Shakespeare is likely to have met in London were not Shylocks but men like Dr Nunes. (44)
The Performance of Titus Andronicus: Sir John Harington's Political and Cultural Credo
My first article on Titus Andronicus was, as it were, the by-product of my extensive researches into Antonio Perez's exile in Essex House, London (1593-95). The historic defection of the astute secretary to Philip II and the secret royal audiences he was granted by queen Elizabeth aroused the indignation of the Spanish court. His defection, however, as seen through the prism of English history, was a marginal event worth comment but of little consequence for Elizabethan foreign policy. Even as a man of letters, as a leading aphorist and Tacitist in his day, Antonio Perez has remained underrated in Spain. Surprisingly, though officially a persona non grata in the eyes of the Elizabethan authorities, he was championed as Spain's foremost Tacitean writer by the learned secretaries of the earl of Essex. (45)
Most of the earl of Essex's secretaries and advisers had taken to Tacitism as a mode of political inquiry and, while Perez was dwelling in London, were pooling their resources to disseminate the Spaniard's writings among the members of the Essex faction and the Elizabethan court. They even went to the length of harnessing the skills of Richard Field, Shakespeare's first printer, to publish Perez's famous Pedacos de Historia o Relaciones (1594) in a cross-border campaign framed to exonerate the notorious exile at home. In the Pedacos de Historia, Perez drew on Tacitus's histories in order to provide ideological justification for tyrannicide and for the Aragonese rebellion against Philip II, which had been unleashed by Perez's imprisonment in Zaragoza. Perez escaped from his Aragonese prison to the court of Navarre and, in 1593, to the French embassy in London until he eventually took refuge in Essex House. There a set of like-minded scholars came together in the earl's secretariat; one of them, Henry Wotton, produced an English synthesis of the book; another, Arthur Atey, turned out an English translation under the supervision of Anthony Bacon, the earl's foreign secretary.
While Perez, as a politician, was ignored by the English court or rather, the English court pretended to ignore Perez, he was held in high esteem by the Tacitean scholars in the service of the Essex faction. To them Perez offered a model for studying the rule of a tyrant. In his Pedacos de Historia, Perez posed as the favorite who had fallen victim to Philip II's tyranny. Thus what they read in Tacitus and in Perez sustained their republican principles of imposing legal limits on royal power. In their opinion, to put it in terms of John Guy, the queen's capriciousness, especially in the matter of favorites, bore the "distinguishing mark of tyranny." (46)
Perez also made a name for himself as an epistolomaniac. He used to shower the English courtiers and the followers of the Essex circle, male as well as female, with epistles, penned in Latin and Spanish, which he used to lard with political aphorisms. His favorite English muse was Penelope Devereux, Lady Rich, to whom he addressed at least five Spanish letters. The climax of Perez's literary and social prestige was, no doubt, his three-day visit to Cambridge, which was stage-managed by the earl of Essex. On the occasion of the B.A.Commencement at the end of February 1595, which was celebrated with the performance of several plays at Trinity and Queens Colleges and a series of academic disputations, over a dozen guests of the earl of Essex, among them noblemen and courtiers, were awarded honorary M.A. degrees. Among the honorands were Antonio Perez and Giovanni Battista Basadonna. (47)
Giovanni Battista Basadonna was a patrician merchant, whom the republic of Venice had despatched to England as agent to the Elizabethan court. A nobleman with some literary pretensions, who presided over a miniature court in the city of London, which used to be frequented by Anthony Bacon in his capacity as foreign secretray to Essex, he acted as a banker to Perez and assisted him in erecting, on behalf of the earl of Essex, an intelligence service in Italy. The pregnant news that this "royal merchant," as he is called in contemporary documents, kept among the records of the Court of Admiralty, was building up an impressive merchant fleet of his own, has gone unnoticed by scholars. His vessels, manned with English and Italian sailors, were flying the Venetian flag while navigating the waters of the Thames in those years in which Shakespeare happened to be writing The Merchant of Venice. (48)
For Richard Field printing a book coming from the pen of the expatriate Spaniard, who was biding his time in Essex House, in a quarto edition of over 389 pages with a faked imprint, was quite an outstanding professional achievement. An address of the printer, "E1 Impressor a Todos" (sig. Ddd3r-Ddd4v), is appended at the end of the book, in which Field declares, "Yo he Impresso este libro con poca noticia de la lengua Espanola" (I have printed the book with little knowledge of the Spanish language). This was not quite true. (49)
Bearing in mind that Richard Field had been commissioned by the Essex faction to print the Pedacos de Historia and that the earl of Essex had subsidized its printing, it is not rash to speculate that one of the earl's secretaries may have suggested to Shakespeare to pen a stage portrait of the notorious Spaniard for the entertainment of the Essex followers. In my study A Spaniard in Elizabethan England I have marshaled various arguments to bring home to the modern reader that Shakespeare conceived Don Adriano de Armado in Love's Labour's Lost as a downgraded stage portrait of Antonio Perez. Shakespeare's parody of Perez as an insider of Spanish history endowed with rare linguistic accomplishments is grafted on the dramatic stock figure of the Spanish braggart, who originally strutted on the stage of the commedia dell'arte. I have not changed my mind since the 1970s and still hold, to put it in terms of A. L. Rowse, that Shakespeare's stage portrait of Antonio Perez is "very near the bone." (50) The original audience of the comedy was invited to take King Ferdinand of Navarre's description of Armado at face value:
Our court, you know, is haunted With a refined traveller of Spain, A man in all the world's new fashion planted, That hath a mint of phrases in his brain, One who the music of his own vain tongue Doth ravish like enchanting harmony, A man of compliments, whom right and wrong Have chose as umpire of their mutiny. This child of fancy, that Armado hight, For interin to our studies shall relate In high born words the worth of many a knight From tawny Spain, lost in the world's debate. How you delight, my lords, I know not, I, But I protest I love to hear him lie, And I will use him for my minstrelsy. (51)
There are, admittedly, other candidates for Shakespeare's satirical portrait of Armado, the Spanish braggart. Thus Tom Cain has demonstrated that the play was written within the tradition of representing recognizable contemporaries in a satirical vein. His candidate for Armado is Gabriel Harvey, the Cambridge scholar. But unlike Perez, Harvey simply does not fit in with King Ferdinand of Navarre's description of the "refined traveller of Spain." (52) It was none other than Perez, hailed as the "refined" exile "of Spain," who was haunting the Elizabethan court. Perez had taken refuge at the court of Navarre before haunting the court of Queen Elizabeth. Stage-cast in the shape of Armado, he finds access to the court of Navarre and its noblemen who have vowed to impose on themselves a three-year exile as students. Some commentators have noted that the king's promise of an excursion into Spanish history is not fulfilled in the play. It was probably never meant to be fulfilled, for Shakespeare apparently assumed that the play's original audience, that is, the members of the Essex faction and the Inns of Court students and lawyers, did know that "the worth of many a knight / From tawny Spain, lost in the world's debate" was inscribed in the London edition of the Pedacos de Historia, a handwritten English and even Latin translation of which were available to them.
What may clinch the controversy over the satire's target in favor of Antonio Perez is the following argument I forgot to advance in my study of 1976: the closeness of Love's Labour's Lost to the Inns of Court culture of wit and satire which fostered the mock recitation of private correspondence. Given that Perez was a frequent visitor to Gray's Inn, where he shared Francis Bacon's private rooms, as well as a guest of the Gray's Inn revels of 1594, which climaxed with the performance of Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors on December 28, it is not far-fetched to assume that the inmates, the lawyers, and the law students of Gray's Inn had more than a passing knowledge of the Spaniard as an obtrusive epistolomaniac and Tacitean historian a la mode, whose advocacy of limited sovereignty was deemed subversive by the Elizabethan authorities. His epistles are likely to have been made the object of quipping comments circulating among the Inn's members, such as the poet Francis Davison, who were in close touch with the Bacons and the followers of the earl of Essex. Armado's pretentious letter, read out in act 1 before the court of Navarre by King Ferdinand, sounds like a concerted take-off of Perez's overblown epistolary style. (53)
Antonio Perez was an exacting exile. His political expectations, demands, and whims inevitably put an unbearable strain on Anthony Bacon's frail physical condition. Bacon therefore appointed, with the approval of the earl of Essex, a string of servants to attend upon the "refined" Spaniard, who in his heyday had commanded an army of officials to see to his business and body of curators to look after his famous collection of Titians, Correggios, and Parmigianino's Cupid. (54) One of them was the Gascon Jacques Petit, who prided himself on being blessed with an academic turn of mind that stood him in good stead while he was in attendance upon Perez.
After the Spaniard's departure for France in July 1595, Anthony Bacon commissioned Petit to repair to Burley-on-the-Hill, Rutland, and there to further the French studies of Sir John Harington's son and heir John, a three-year-old child prodigy. While in Rutland, Petit maintained a steady correspondence with his master in London which discloses some nuggets of precious information on the Christmas festivities celebrated at Burley-on-the-Hill in December 1595/January 1596. Thus Sir John Harington, though beset with economic difficulties after marrying his adolescent daughter Lucy to Edward Russell, third earl of Bedford, in December 1594, lavishly and generously entertained some two hundred private guests, many of them his relatives, and up to nine hundred neighbors, copyholders, and tenants. Petit likened the vast concourse of aristocratic Christmas revelers to a "royal" court. It looks as if in 1595/96 Sir John inaugurated a series of Christmas festivities which John Chamberlain in 1602 was to qualify as "royal."
The memorable Christmas celebrations climaxed with a double bill on New Year's Day, first, with the amateur performance of a masque written by Sir Edward Wingfield, Sir John's brother-in-law, obviously with an eye to offering his young niece, the countess of Bedford, a stage debut among her relatives, and second, with a professional performance of Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus, given by the Chamberlain's Men. (55) Petit, our informant, failed to live up to the importance of the event. An uninspired onlooker, he contented himself with the terse comment that "Les commediens de Londres son[t] venus icy po[u]r en auoir leur p[ar]t ... on a aussi ioue la tragedie de Titus Andronicus mais la monstre a plus valeu q[ue] le suiect." (56) Petit did not even bother to find out what had induced Sir John to commission the Chamberlain's Men to stage Titus Andronicus for the entertainment of his guests. He haughtily assumed the pose of a would-be chronicler who looked down on dramatic entertainments as products of minor quality, missing the opportunity to record the emotional impact the play made on the select audience. On the other hand, he had felt it his bounden duty, on the occasion of Antonio Perez's departure for France, to compose a doggerel farewell sonnet and two adulatory lamentations each couched in an execrable quatrain. In the first quatrain, he deplores Perez's absence "Manquant le medecin qui chassoit mon esmoy"; in the second, he laments that he will no longer be able to converse with Perez and his "dons celestes." (57)
The play Sir John Harington had commissioned for the entertainment of his Christmas guests at Burley-on-the-Hill was not brand-new considering that its first performance had already been given on January 24, 1594. But the play's political message, which argues the case for a more constitutional form of government capable of making up for individual failure as well as for the failure of political institutions in Rome and, by implication, in Elizabethan England, had not lost its immediacy in 1595/96. (58) In 1594, the earl of Essex had been positioning himself to weather the imminent issue of succession, aspiring to change England's destiny on the queen's death. (59) In 1594/95, the earl had also been championing the international campaign raised by the exiled Antonio Perez, who as Spain's leading Tacitean historian and former secretary to Philip II had adopted a critical discourse to reveal the machinations of Philip II's government against him. Sir John Harington had always been gravitating toward the Leicester/Essex nexus. He had been a staunch supporter of the earl of Leicester, who as second husband of Lettice Knollys (1578-88) had been stepfather of the earl of Essex. (60) Sir John's scheme to stage Titus Andronicus as the climax of the Christmas festivities at Burley-on-the-Hill in 1595/96 was no doubt motivated by political considerations. It looks as if the Christmas festivities in Rutland served him as an instrument for letting his entourage know in public that he was positioning himself as a member of the Essex faction. His extravagant twenty-two-year-old son-in-law, Edward Russell, earl of Bedford (1572-1627), who on December 12, 1594, had married his daughter Lucy a month before her fourteenth birthday, followed suit. In February 1601, the earl was tried and heavily fined for being implicated in the rebellion of the earl of Essex.
Besides the contemporary relevance of the play's political message, Titus Andronicus broke new ground in its attempt to cast doubt on the conventional perception of the African other as an inferior being. The racial discourse had not lost its immediacy in 1595/96. The foundation of the Guinea Company in 1588 had led to an increased influx of black Africans and by 1593/94, when Shakespeare was writing the play in the form it has come down to us, the black presence in Elizabethan England had reached a peak. The illicit arrival of two young African notables, the sons of the chief justice of Senegambia, and of some black students to be indoctrinated in English culture, was a conspicuous event, which alarmed the English government (see above). Shakespeare responded to these social, legal, and ethnic tensions in staging forms of cross-cultural encounters that called in question the entrenched English position on racial hierarchies; and George Peele, considered by some scholars as coauthor of Titus Andronicus, seized the opportunity to publish his old play on The Battle of Alcazar with its Moroccan and European settings, which he had written in 1589 as a caveat against the imminent dangers of an English alliance with a Muslim country. (61)
Titus Andronicus, besides being Shakespeare's first revenge tragedy, can claim to be the first Elizabethan play to undercut the racial discourse of positioning white over black. It challenges the ideological assumptions about the black man's racial inferiority. Aaron, the black outsider, does not correspond to the black African slaves the Londoners had come to know in increasing numbers after 1588. His most salient deviation from the real-life enslaved blackamores kept in London households is his literacy. Aaron is a literate black African well versed in the classics. He knows Ovid and Horace better than the sons of Tamora, the white queen of the Goths. Moreover, Aaron's sexual behavior does not conform to the entrenched belief and stereotyped representation of a black man's uncontrollable sexuality. Whereas Tamora herself and her two sons are figures of unrestrained sexuality, Aaron is capable of practicing sexual restraint. He thereby contradicts the current notion of the black man's boundless sexual potency. He also outdoes the Romans in setting examples of moderation and self-discipline and in acting as a vehicle of moral commentary. (62) As a father he is pitted against Titus Andronicus, an embodiment of Roman values, who does not hesitate to resort to infanticide for political and moral considerations. Aaron, however, poses as a paragon of paternal love in his frantic attempt to save his son's life. The assumption that civilized Rome cannot be barbaric is shown to be incorrect.
The play's two miscegenated babies, I think, must be seen as projections of contemporary cultural anxieties about miscegenation: a black baby, the biological product of a black man (Aaron) and a white woman (Tamora), and an offstage "fair" baby, begotten by a black African (Muly) on the body of his white wife. However, the different skin color of the two babies goes against one of the basic tenets of the racial discourse that black men invariably produce black children. The play's daring instance of nature's waywardness was obviously orchestrated by Shakespeare to cast doubt on the popular view, spread by George Best in the True Discourse of the Late Voyages of Discoverie (1578), that he had seen a black baby born on English soil to an Englishwoman and an Ethiopian, "whereby it seemeth this blacknes proceedeth rather of some natural infection of that man, which was so strong, that neither the nature" of the salubrious English climate, nor the fair "complexion of the mother concurring, coulde any thing alter" (262). In passing off the anomaly of interbreeding as an "infection," Best, of course, touched a sensitive nerve: his country's fear of losing its identity.
In contrast to Best, Shakespeare's play suggests what Sir Thomas Browne was to formulate in his Pseudodoxia Epidemica (1646) that the Blacks descend from "the seed of Adam" just as the English and are endowed with the powers of body and mind to do good and bad things. Thus the play gives the liminal Aaron a public platform to voice his bottomless pride in blackness. "Coal-black," he speaks out undauntedly "is better than another hue / In that it scorns to bear another hue." (63) He does not hesitate to mount a counterattack to bring home to Tamora, to the nurse, and emphatically to Tamora's sons that far from being "as loathsome as a toad" (4.2.69) the black baby is their brother "sensibly fed / Of that self blood that first gave life" to them (4.2.124-25). This is not meant to be a humanitarian plea, but rather a challenge to drop their "exclusiveness and see in themselves" the consanguineous "evil they see in their black brother." (64)
Sir Thomas Browne's position was not a novelty in the context of European cultural history, nor was Shakespeare's. Thus Greek ceramicists and vase painters used to give voice to their belief in the equality of Blacks and Whites in creating janiform kantharoi, two-headed drinking-jugs, representing a white and a black head. The naked black Africans, romping around together with their white partners in Hieronymus Bosch's The Garden of Earthly Delights (painted about 1510), convey the painter's message to the world that humans born black are equal to those born white. His contemporary Albrecht Durer was most impressed by his encounters with black Africans when he was in Flanders in 1521. He portrayed two black domestic slaves, bringing their personalities to life with his masterful pencil strokes. The black slave is unnamed, but the female slave is identified as Katherina, aged twenty, serving in the household of Joao Brandao, commercial representative of the king of Portugal in Antwerp. (65)
Shakespeare's approach to the imminent issues of cultural otherness must have struck a chord with Sir John Harington. The Haringtons had had close interconnections with the Spanish nobility since Margaret Harington, one of Sir John's many sisters, had left England for Spain in July 1559 in the suite of her twenty-year-old cousin Jane Dormer, lady-in-waiting to the late queen Mary. Jane had been married in London to Gomez Suarez de Figueroa, fifth count of Feria, on December 29, 1558. The Feria household in Madrid was to become the hub of the English recusants in Spain, the countess relentlessly supporting the activities of the English Catholics on the Continent besides keeping her Protestant cousins in England, the Haringtons and Sidneys, au courant with the latest flourishing of Spanish culture. Margaret Harington remained affiliated to her cousin's retinue until 1588 when she married don Benito de Cisneros, a member of a prominent Castilian family. As a present Jane gave her cousin Margaret a dowry. (66)
Bearing in mind that Sir John Harington was a patron of the arts who had a cousin, a sister, and a brother-in-law, the three of them members of the Spanish nobility, it is obvious that his family connections singled him out as one of the best informed English noblemen about Spanish matters. We can, therefore, be almost certain that he knew that Portugal had brought forth a mulatto dramatist, Afonso Alvares, and Spain a black neo-Latin poet, Juan Latino, who was the first Afroeuropean writer to construct a Latin discourse of black pride. (67) Given the absence of his sister Margaret and his Spanish brother-in-law, who had not been able to honor the invitation to join the Harington reunion at Burley-on-the-Hill in December 1595, Sir John was, no doubt, the best qualified playgoer, watching the performance of Titus Andronicus and ready to awaken the response of his numerous private guests, among them his relatives, friends, and neighbors, to the play's ethnic position. He may indeed have succeeded in bringing home to his select audience the redeeming qualities of Aaron as a father as well as his outstanding literacy and grounding in classical authors, which entitle him to shed the image of a barbarian. Both the fictional Aaron and the real-life Juan Latino defined themselves by their classical literacy as a measure of human worth. The Latinity was for the two of them a means to fashion their own identities and in the case of Aaron even to claim cultural superiority.
It is not possible to do justice to the play's attempt to question the hostile response to the African in Elizabethan England without taking into account, besides the black presence, the early history of English slavery, the whole body of experience made by the English slaveholders and dealers dwelling in early modern Spain, which cultural historians, literary scholars, and Africanists have brushed aside as nonexistent. Ignorance of early English real-life encounters with Africans has spawned Winthrop Jordan's long-harbored and infectious myth that the encounter of the early modern English with Blacks was a traumatic experience--for the English. (68)
The historical records I have uncovered open up a new dimension in assessing the cross-cultural encounters between the Africans and the English merchants residing on the Christian/Muslim frontier, the European/African intersection in the Mediterranean ports of early modern Spain. It emerges from the documents retrieved from Spanish archives that all the English merchants residing in lower Andalusia after 1480 were potential owners of domestic slaves, black Africans and Moors, and that they were deeply immersed in the slave trade as dealers in human merchandise. The most prominent of them, Thomas Malliard and Robert Thorne, operated as capitalist leaseholders of soap factories in Seville and Malliard as an early colonist and joint tenant of one of the first sugar farms in the Canaries, the two of them exploiting unskilled and skilled labor force from Africa for the industrial production of white soap and sugar. (69)
Despite the institutionalization of the slave market, which affected all social classes in Spain, from top to bottom, in buying and selling slaves, the foreign merchants included, there were moments in which the white masters did look beyond the immediate exploitation of their slaves, whom they were legally entitled to own as their chattels. Thus Robert Thorne, facing his sudden return to England, sold seven Berbers and six Negroes to Bartholomaus Welser and Heinrich Gessler on May 2, 1531, and manumitted his two Berber master soap makers on May 10, 1531. He was somehow looking beyond harnessing their skills for the sole purpose of exploiting them as pieces of productive property. But it was still a "manumissio sub conditione." (70) There is also unmistakable evidence that the authorities in England were disposed to acknowledge the black man's human nature and personhood. The judges of the High Court of Admiralty in a London lawsuit of 1548 granted the Guinea diver Jacques Francis the status of a witness against the fierce opposition of some Italian merchants resident in Southampton. (See my paper on the Guinea diver Jacques Francis.)
Richard Hakluyt, the historian of England's maritime ventures and collector of travel narratives, unlike his Spanish and Portuguese colleagues, who were eloquent chroniclers of the incipient slave trade in their countries, failed to record the experiences made by the English merchants as slave dealers in early modern Spain. It looks as if the chaplain-turned-geographer pursued an editorial policy of withholding information in order to protect his compatriots against being lumped together with the ignominious record of the Spaniards and Portuguese. His nationalist discourse of discovery was primarily aimed at glorifying his country's naval achievements and praising its moral superiority. Thus in his Divers Voyages (1582), he edited Robert Thome's text on the polar passage to Cathay and another on "A declaration of the Indies" without making a reference to Thome as an experienced slaveholder. (71)
Despite Hakluyt's reticence about England's early Mediterranean experience with black slaves, the extensive involvement in the slave business of William de la Founte, Thomas Malliard, Robert Thorne, his brother Nicholas Thorne, Roger Barlow, Nicholas Arnold, Thomas Bridges, Francis Bawd-wyn, Emmanuel Lucar (1494-1574), William Ostriche, Henry Patmer, Martin Pollard, Thomas Waters, (Guatres) and many other English merchants cannot have completely been lost on their English partners, colleagues, friends, and acquaintances in England.
When Robert Thorne was back in England in 1531, he took like most of his wealthy partners testamentary measures to preserve the survival of his memory in perpetuity. In his will he donated [pounds sterling]300 toward the foundation of St Bartholomew Grammar School, Bristol. This foundation was an expression of the wish "he shared with his brother Nicholas from adolescence, as they both tried to establish navigational instruction and foreign language tuition in the city of Bristol." (See entry on Robert Thome in ODNB.) What the two brothers in their capacity as mercantile and intellectual go-betweens envisaged was obviously a transfer of scientific knowledge of modern navigation and cartography from Spain to England, a transfer that was eventually to be brought about after 1547, when Sebastian Cabot, Robert Thome's old partner, settled in England. (72) Thorne's endowment of the grammar school was apparently financed by money he had made by holding and selling slaves.
Emmanuel Lucar, Robert Thome's onetime apprentice, later on partner and overseer of the Seville soap factory, turned out to be a competent go-between and transmitter of past events. He returned to England in 1531, though Thorne had commissioned him to look after the two manumitted Berber master soap makers, who had been sold to the German Welser Company and were bound to work on for another five years. Thorne, who died in 1532, and Lucar were members of the Merchant Taylors' Company. Lucar was elected master of the Company in 1560/61, the year in which the famous Merchant Taylors' School was founded. He was in an ideal position to keep alive the memory, legacy, and life story of his former master Robert Thorne. His son, Ciprian Lucar, is said to have transmitted the Thorne papers to John Dee and Richard Hakluyt. (73)
In my essay on "Portia and the Prince of Morocco," I argue that the Davenants, who were members of the Merchant Taylors' Company, called Shakespeare's attention to the story of the Gores, who have gone down in the annals of the Merchant Taylors as the first Anglo-Moroccan family. The involvement of the Gores in the bankruptcy of the prominent Moroccan Jew Isaac Cabeca and in the ensuing lawsuit, which dragged on in the High Court of Admiralty for over a decde, was common knowledge in London's mercantile community. The numerous bankruptcies of English Christians and Moroccan Jews, who happened to be interlocked in transnational business partnerships and cross-border money lending, was quite alarming. The Gore/Cabeca partnership and subsequent lawsuit is, to my mind, a real-life contemporary parallel to the Antonio/Shylock bond. The involvement of English merchants in the slave trade of early modern Spain may likewise have been brought home to Shakespeare through his contacts with the members of the Merchant Taylors' Company. It would help expalin why about 1592-94 Shakespeare, at the height of the scandal caused by the illicit import of Guinea slaves, embarked on a policy of facing up to the new cultural realities and of provoking changes in the Elizabethan perception of cultural otherness. He was to pursue his policy in the Mediterranean plays, The Merchant of Venice. (74) Othello, Anthony and Cleopatra, and The Tempest, addressing in all of these plays the hotly debated issues of cross-cultural marriages, miscegenation, and manumission of slaves in The Tempest.
(1.) See Rosalyn L. Knutson, "A Caliban in St. Mildred Poultry," in Shakespeare and Cultural Traditions. The Selected Proceedings of the International Shakespeare Association World Congress Tokyo 1991, ed. Tetsuo Kishi et al. (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1994), 110-26. Imtiaz Habib of the Department of English, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia, is pursuing his search for black Africans in London parish records (see n. 14). The family of a freedman is recorded by Knutson and another instance is erroneously given by Habib. Habib, an authority on the colonial discourse in Shakespeare's plays, has been misled by Folarin O. Shyllon's study, Black People in Britain, 1556-1833 (London: Oxford University Press, 1972), into identifying a Spanish or Italian mercenary serving in the army of king Henry VIII as an African. The identification of Sir Peter Negro as a black officer does not take into account that the Negros were of Genoese descent. Dozens of them settled in Spain and Portugal in the course of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, far too many to be listed here. The factor Paolo di Negro, for whom Columbus was working in Madeira in 1479, may stand for the others. I have consulted all the available contemporary records in Spanish and English; none mentions that Sir Peter was black. I therefore can't help concluding that the career of the mercenary Pedro Negro under king Henry VIII is quite irrelevant to the study of Othello. See Imtiaz Habib, Shakespeare and Race: Postcolonial Praxis in the Early Modern Period (Lanham: University Press of America, 2000), 128 ff.
(2.) For the confusion of the legal status of black Africans in England see Kenneth Little, Negroes in Britain. A Study of Racial Relations in English Society (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1972), 192-93. For the poll tax levied in the parish of All Hallows, Barking, Toward Ward, see W. E. Miller, "Negroes in Elizabethan London," Notes and Queries, n.s. 8 (April 1961): 138.
(3.) The view still prevails that black Africans were rarities in England until slaving reached its full development in the late seventeenth century. See William D. Phillips, Jr., Slavery from Roman Times to the Early Transatlantic Trade (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1985), 155.
(4.) For the expulsion edicts see James Walvin, Black and White: The Negro and English Society 1555-1945 (London: Allen Lane, The Penguin Press, 1973), 8-9; Carole Levin, The Reign of Elizabeth I (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2002), chap. 6, 120-1, For the Portuguese complaints about the superfluity of slaves and alleged disruption of economic stability see A. C. de C.M. Saunders, A Social History of Black Slaves and Freedmen in Portugal 1441-1555 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), 48; and Didier Lahon, "Black African Slaves and Freedmen in Portugal during the Renaissance: Creating a New Pattern of Reality," in Black Africans in Renaissance Europe, ed. T. F. Earle and K. J. P Lowe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 261-79. For the issue of an immigrant coloured minority becoming the national scapegoat for an economic problem and Shakespeare's ironic response to this issue through the figures of Launcelot and the Mooress in The Merchant of Venice see Kim F. Hall, "Reading What Isn't There: 'Black' Studies in Early Modern England," Stanford Humanities Review 3 (1993), 23-33.
(5.) Dona Catalina de Ribera is an extreme instance. On her death in 1505, she owned seventy-one slaves. See Alfonso Franco Silva, La esclavitud en Andalucia al termino de la edad media (Madrid: Pons, 1984), 145; Leonor de Guzman, duchess of Medina Sidonia, claimed thirty-three slaves in 1511. See Miguel-Angel Ladero Quesada, Los senores de Andalucia: Investigaciones sobre los nobles y senores en los siglos XIII a XV (Cadiz: Universidad de Cadiz, 1998), 252-53; Leonor de Aznar bought thirteen slaves on January 17, 1511 (Archivo Historico Provincial de Sevilla, legajo 3969).
(6.) For Lady Ralegh and Lady Clifford see Peter Fryer, Staying Power: The History of Black People in Britain (London: Pluto Press, 1984, rpt. 1992). Fryer makes the outdated statement that is was the privilege of titled and propertied families to secure blacks as an exotic status symbol (p. 8). For Grace Robinson and John Morocco see Edward Scobie, Black Britannia: A Study of Blacks in Britain (Chicago: Johnson, 1972), 23. African musicians in the service of Tudor monarchs have been recorded by Africanist scholars. The "Blynd More," one of the musicians in Leicester's service in 1559, has not. See Simon Adams, ed., Household Accounts and Disbursement Books of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, 1558-61, 1584-86 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995).
(7.) The paucity of biographical records shedding light on the lived experience of ordinary black people has aroused the comment of James Walvin. Very little is known about black women and black family life in Britain. See James Walvin, "From the Fringes: The Emergence of British Black Historical Studies," in Essays on the History of Blacks in Britain, ed. Jagdish S. Gundara and Ian Duffield (Aldershot: Avebury, 1992), 225-42.
(8.) See D. J. H. Clifford, ed., The Diaries of Lady Anne Clifford (Stroud: Alan Sutton, 1990), appendix 1. The Catalogue, I think, must have been drawn up by Edward Marsh, Lady Anne's secretary.
(9.) D. J. H. Clifford, The Diaries, 53, 231, 234, 238, 241, 242, 244, 251, 254, 258, 264, 265.
(10.) For more information on the three black laundresses see Annemarie Jordan, "Images of Empire: Slaves in the Lisbon Household and the Court of Catherine of Austria," in T. F. Earle, Black Africans in Renaissance Europe, chap. 7.
(11.) The other slaveowners listed as paying the same tax in the parish of All Hallows were Richard Woods, the owner of Mary; Oliver Skinner, the owner of Maria; and one Mr Mitons, obviously a Dutchman. See W.E. Miller, "Negroes in Elizabethan London," Notes and Queries, n.s. 8 (1961): 138, and R. E. G. Kirk and Ernest P. Kirk, Returns of Aliens in the City and Suburbs of London, Publications of the Huguenot Society of London 10 (1907), pt. iii, 28, 54.
(12.) See Sara Mendelson and Patricia Crawford, Women in Early Modern England 1550-1720 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998), 89, 106-7, who do not mention miscegenation.
(13.) For more detailed information on slave and slaveholder see Rosalyn L. Knutson, "A Caliban in St. Mildred Poultry," 113, 120, 124.
(14.) Bodleian Library, MS. Ashmole 226, fol. 84v. A. L. Rowse in his study of The Case Books of Simon Forman: Sex and Society in Shakespeare's Age (London: Picador, 1976) has ignored Polonia's case. I have managed to read Forman's hand but have failed to decipher his astrological shorthand. There is a cursory reference to this case in Imtiaz Habib's article "Elizabethan Racial-Medical Psychology, Popular Drama, and the Social Programming of the Late-Tudor Black: Sketching an Exploratory Postcolonial Hypothesis," in Disease, Diagnosis, and Cure on the Early Modern Stage, ed. Stephanie Moss and Kaara L. Peterson (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004), 93-112.
(15.) See Barbara Howard Traister, The Notorious Astrological Physician of London. Works and Days of Simon Forman (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001), 64, 70.
(16.) Quotation from Ania Loomba, Shakespeare, Race and Colonization (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 28.
(17.) I owe this information to Dr. Lauren Kassell who has been so kind as to consult her microfilm of Forman's case books. Dr. Kassell does not discuss Polonia's case in her study Medicine and Magic in Elizabethan London. Simon Forman: Astrologer, Alchemist, Physician (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2005).
(18.) See Iris Origo, "The Domestic Enemy: The Eastern Slaves in Tuscony in the 14th and 15th Centuries," Speculum 30 (1955), 321-66.
(19.) William Shakespeare, Pericles, The Arden Edition, ed. F. D. Hoeniger (London: Methuen, 1963), 4.2.13-16.
(20.) William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, The Oxford Shakespeare, ed. Jill L. Levenson (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 1.3.2-3. Juliet is fourteen years old.
(21.) William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, The New Cambridge Shakespeare, ed. M. M. Mahood (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 3.5.30--35. For Launcelot's role as go-between and advocate of religious, racial and sexual exchange see Steven R. Menth, "The Fiend Gives Friendly Counsel: Launcelot Gobbo and Polyglot Economics in The Merchant of Venice," in Money and the Age of Shakespeare: Essays in New Economic Criticism, ed. Linda Woodbridge (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), 177-87. For Portia's anxieties about miscegenation see my article on "Portia and the Prince of Morocco," Shakespeare Studies 31 (2003): 89--126. Miscegenation was endemic among the servant class in Spain. See Ruth Pike, Aristocrats and Traders: Sevillian Society in the 16th Century (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1972), 188. It was on the increase in late Elizabethan London and in the Netherlands. The rudimentary bilingual word list Duyts-Guineets, appended to Pieter de Marees' Beschryvinge ende historische verhael van het Gout Koninckrijk van Gunea (Amsterdam, 1602), was challenging and novel in the sense that its language lessons conceived for the professional guidance of Dutch merchants in Guinea did not shy away from raising the issue of sexual intercourse, thus encourging the Dutch merchants, in conversational scraps, to pull down the racial and sexual barriers: "Give me a fine woman" and "Woman, do you want to sleep with me?" See the modern English translation Description and Historical Account of the Gold Kingdom of Guinea (1602), ed. Albert van Dantzig and Adam Jones (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987), 246--59. The registers of St. Benet Fink, London, record, on June 2, 1606, the christening of a boy born to a black woman. The father was supposed to be John Edwardes, a border in the house of William Connrador. See Rosalyn L. Knutson, "A Caliban in St. Mildred Poultry," 113.
(22.) For William Winter's career as a naval administrator see entry in the ODNB (2005); as a mercantile venturer exploiting the commecial resources of Guinea see John W. Blake, West Africa: Quest for God and Gold 1454--1578 (London: Curzon Press, 1977), 163-64, 172; Kenneth R. Andrews, Trade, Plunder and Settlement. Maritime Enterprise and the Genesis of the British Empire, 1480--1630 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984, rpt. 1991), 105. The ODNB does not record Winter's stake in the Guinea ventures.
(23.) Rosalyn L. Knutson, "A Caliban in St. Mildred Poultry," 114-15. Sir William's son, Edward, kept a black African working as his porter in Lydney, Gloucester shire, in the 1590s. Edward Winter dispossessed the African of his original identity, calling him his own under the name of Edward Swarthey. I owe this information to Miranda Kaufmann, Christ Church College, Oxford, who is working on "Africans in Britain 1500-1640."
(24.) Kenneth R. Andrews in Trade, Plunder and Settlement, has argued that the possibility of English trade to Guinea returned in 1585 with the open outbreak of the Anglo-Spanish hostilities. The English slave trade, he noted, was not resumed until after 1650 (pp. 111/12). For the Portuguese members of Dom Antonio's household in February 1585, see the inventory drawn up by one of Sir Francis Walsingham's clerks and edited by E. M. Tenison, Elizabethan England, vol. 7 (Leamington Spa: 1940), 202-4. As a person of high rank Dom Antonio used to keep colored slaves in his household. Thus he brought from Tangiers, where he had been governor, the Muslim slave Antonio Luis, whom he kept to look after his stables in Portugal. See Jorge Fonseca, "Black Africans in Portugal during Cleynaert's Visit 1533-1538," ed. T.F. Earle and K. J. P Lowe, Black Africans in Europe, 113-21.
(25.) Thus he issued privateering letters and letters of marque in 1582 and 1584. See Pauline Croft, "English Commerce with Spain and the Armada War, 1558-1603" and Simon Adams, "The Outbreak of the Elizabethan Naval War against the Spanish Empire: The Embargo of May 1585 and Sir Francis Drake's West Indian Voyage," both papers ed. M. J. Rodriguez-Salgado and Simon Adams, England, Spain and the Gran Armada, 1585-1604, 240 and 53, resp. For a financial memorandum Dom Antonio addressed to the English government in 1592 see E. M. Tenison, Elizabethan England, vol. 9, 165 ff, 269-75, 449ff.
(26.) For a short description of the two coasts see Jean Boulegue, Les anciens royaumes Wolof (Senegal), vol. I: Le Grand Jolof, XIIIe-XVIe siecle (Paris: Karthala, 1987), 124-29.
(27.) The documents concerning the renewal of the English Guinea trade in 1588 have been published by Mario Alberto Nunes Costa, "D. Antonio e o trato Ingles da Guine (1587-1593), Boletim Cultural da Guine Portuguesa 8 (1953): 683-797. Nunes Costa has edited the material he found in the Portuguese National Archives, the Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo, but has not made use of the documents kept at the National Archives, at Kew, High Court of Admiralty, 24/59/28-51. The date 1587 as given by the Portuguese editor is in Old Style. The regulations of the charter provided that the proceedings from the sales of slaves, "qualquer dinheiro . . . de qualquer venda de escravos," were to be inventoried. See the Portuguese text of the charter in Nunes Costa, document 4, pp. 711--17, resp.715-16. The English original text of the Guinea charter was published by Richard Hakluyt in The Principal Navigations, Viages and Discoveries of the English Nation (London, 1589), Hakluyt Society, Extra Series, no. 39, vol. 1 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1965), 240-42. Nunes Costa has edited the original French translation of the Guinea charter (see document 3). For a concise history of the Guinea charter see John Milner Gray, A History of Gambia (London: Frank Cass, 1966), chap. 3: "The arrival of the English in Gambia, 1588-1622;" William Robert Scott, The Constitution and Finances of English, Scottish, and Irish Joint-Stock Companies to 1720, 3 vols. (Cambridge, 1910-12), vol. 2, 10-14. The best informed English historian on the first Guinea Company is John William Blake. However, his study "English Trade with the Portuguese Empire in West Africa 1581--1629," published in Quarto congreso do mundo portugues, vol. 4, t. 1 (Lisbon, 1940), 314--35, though meticulously researched, remains incomplete. Blake overlooked the important body of material which Nunes Costa was to recover from Portuguese archives. Blake's article has been reedited by Jeremy Black in The Atlantic Slave Trade: Origins-1600 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006), vol. 1, item 15.
(28.) Nunes Costa, document 43, pp. 776-78. A copy of the same document is also kept at the National Archives, at Kew, HCA 24/59/45-46. Evasion of duties was rampant among merchants and slavers operating on the upper Guinea coast. Under the Hispano-Portuguese regime the colony went through the golden years of trade in slaves and ivory. See Walter Rodney, "Portuguese Attempts at Monopoly on the Upper Guinea Coast, 1580-1650," Journal of African History 6 (1965): 307-22.
(29.) Nunes Costa, documents 1, 37, 38.
(30.) Andre Alvares d'Almada, Tratado breve, dos rios de Guine do Cabo Verde (1594), ed. Antonio Brasio, Monumenta Misionaria, Africa Ocidental, 1570-1650, 5 vols. (Lisbon: Agencia Geral do Ultramar, 2a serie, 1958-79), vol. 3 (1964), 230-376, chap. 2, pp. 247ff. Richard Rainolds, "The voyage of Richard Rainolds and Thomas Dassel to the rivers of Senega and Gambra [sic] adjoyning upon Guinea, 1591, with a discourse of the treasons of certain of Don [sic] Antonio his servants and followers," in Richard Hakluyt, The Principal Navigations, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation (1598-1600), ed. with an Introduction by John Masefield, 8 vols. (London: J. M. Dent and Sons, 1927), vol. 5, 44-52.
(31.) To put it in terms of Alvares d' Almada: "E o dia de eles receberem as pagas e entregarem as suas mercadorias, lhes dao os Ingleses em terra banquetes, com muita musica de violas de arco e outros instrumentos musicos. E por esta causa estao estes resgates de toda esta costa do Cabo Verde ate Rio de Gambia perdidos" (p. 251). For more information on the Luso-Africans see Walter Rodney, A History of the Upper Guinea Coast, 1545-1800 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1970), 74 ff; Jean Boulegue, Les Luso-Africains de Senegambie, xvi-xix siecles (Lisbon: Instituto de Investigacao Cientifica Tropical, 1989), 37-39; and the first chapters in Peter Mark, "Portuguese" Style and Luso-African Identity: Precolonial Senegambia, SixteenthNineteenth Centuries (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2002).
(32.) The relevant passage in Alvares d' Almada reads: "e agora, depois de terem amizade com os Ingleses, foram ja alguns a Inglaterra aprender a lingua Inglesa e ver a terra, por mandado do alcaide de porto de Ale, que serve de veador da fazenda de el-Rei" (p. 250). The earliest instance of five West Africans taken to England in order to be broken in as interpreters, in emulation of Portuguese practice to boost commercial relations, dates from 1555. See Peter Fryer, Staying Power, 5. The difference between the two events is that in 1555 the initiative was taken by the English, in 1592 obviously by the Africans.
(33.) See Rosalyn L. Knutson, "A Caliban in St. Mildred Poultry."
(34.) See "The voyage of Richard Rainolds," 46, 50, 51. The central theme of John Thornton's incisive study Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World, 1400--1680 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998) is that "the Africans were active participants in the Atlantic world, both in African trade with Europe (including the slave trade) and as slaves in the New World" (p. 7). Slavery in Africa was endemic before the arrival of the Europeans; the Africans themselves were given to exporting slaves. As soon as the Portuguese abandoned their early strategy of raiding for commerce, exporting slaves took a dramatic turn upward (p. 95). It was African strength, not weakness, that became a key factor in shaping the transatlantic slave trade.
(35.) For Paul Banning's career as a merchant and privateering magnate see Kenneth R. Andrews, Trade Plunder and Settlement, 98, 245-47, 251-52, 257, 261, 263; and T. S. Willan, "Some Aspects of English Trade with the Levant in the 16th Century," The English Historical Review 70 (1955): 399-410.
(36.) The three black servants are listed in Irene Scouloudi, ed., Returns of Strangers in the Metropolis, 1593, 1627, 1635, 1639. A Study of an Active Minority, Proceedings of the Huguenot Society of London 16 (1937-41): 149. The christening of "Iulyane" has been retrieved by Rosalyn L. Knutson, "A Caliban in St. Mildred Poultry," 113. For John Abel, one of Banning's many retainers, who "purloined" [pounds sterling]70 from his wealthy master to squander them on the maintenance of Mary Newborough see my article on "Prostitution in Late Elizabethan London: The Case of Mary Newborough," Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England 15 (2003): 89-126, n. 74.
(37.) The groundwork for studying the Portuguese conversos in early modern England has been laid by Lucien Wolf in the "Jews in Elizabethan England," Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England 11 (1926): 1-91. For an overview of the Jewish presence see James Shapiro, Shakespeare and the Jews (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996), 68ff.
(38.) For a modern approach to defining converso identity see Miriam Bodian, " ' Man of the Nation': The Shaping of Converse Identity in Early Modern Europe," Past and Present 143 (1994): 48-76; and Hebrews of the Portuguese Nation: Conversos and Community of Early Modern Amsterdam (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1997).
(39.) For the Antwerp Jews see Hans Pohl, "Die Portugiesen in Antwerp (1567-1648): zur Geschichte einer Minderheit," Vierteljahrschrift fur Sozial- und Wirtschafts-geschichte 63 (1977): 1-439.
(40.) For Dr Nunes's biography see the entry in the ODNB (2004), vol. 41, 274; and Lucien Wolf, "Jews in Elizabethan England," 8-9, 23, 30, and appended documents. For the uncalendared Moroccan trade see my article on "Recovering a Black African's Voice, in an English Lawsuit," Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England 17 (2005): n. 38; and for the abortive Guinea voyage see John W. Blake, West Africa: Quest for God and Gold, 188. For his financial reverses see Charles Meyers and Edgar Samuel, "Debt in Elizabethan England: the Adventures of Dr Hector Nunez, Physician and Merchant," Jewish Historical Studies 34 (1994-96): 125-40.
(41.) See Lucien Wolf, "Jews in Elizabethan England," 8-9, 13. Gratia's death is recorded by Rosalyn L. Knutson, "A Caliban in St. Mildred's Poultry." Knutson gives two burial dates, one is July 13, 1590 (p. 114), the other is September 13, 1591 (p. 115). For the role played by the Freire sisters within the international network of Jewish trade relations see Alan Stewart, "Portingale Women and Politics in Late Elizabethan London," in Women and Politics in Early Modern England, 1450-1700, ed. James Daybell (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004), chap. 5.
(42.) For the Alvarez household, which is said to have contained several black servants, and for the part played by Elizabeth Anegro see C. J. Sisson, "A Colony of Jews in Shakespeare's London," Essays and Studies 23 (1938): 38-51. Fernando Alvarez was a member of the Spanish Church of London and when it was disbanded in 1563, he joined the Italian Church under Girolamo Ferlito. See William McFadden, "The Life and Works of Antonio del Corro (1527-1591)" (PhD thesis, Faculty of Arts of Queen's University, Belfast, 1933), 2 vols, chap. 22; and Luigi Firpo, "La chiesa italiana di Londra nel cinquecento e i suoi rapporti con Ginevra," in Ginevra e l' Italia. Biblioteca Storica Sansoni, ed. Delio Cantimori et al. n.s., 34 (1959): 342.
(43.) The document has been unearthed and commented on by Rosalyn L. Knutson in "A Caliban in St. Mildred Poultry," 116. Knutson has not realized that the misspelt name of the physician "Hector Novimeis" stands for Dr Nunes. Penal slavery did exist in early modern England under the anti-vagrancy and poor relief acts.
(44.) C. J. Sisson, "A Colony of Jews in Shakespeare's London," 38-51. Gondomar, the Spanish ambassador to the Jacobean court, was to allege that Dr Lopez had been innocent and unjustly executed. See the biographical entry of Dr Lopez in ODNB (2004).
(45.) On the earl of Essex's secretaries and his patronage of Antonio Perez see Paul E. J. Hammer, "The Uses of Scholarship: The Secretariat of Robert Devereux, second Earl of Essex, ca. 1585-1601," English Historical Review 109 (1994): 26-51, and The Polarisation of Elizabethan Politics. The Political Career of Robert Devereux, Second Earl of Essex, 1585-1597 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999). My article on the play is titled "An Unrecorded Elizabethan Performance of Titus Andronicus, " Shakespeare Survey 14 (1961): 102-9.
(46.) John Guy, "The 1590s: The Second Reign of Elizabeth I?" ed. John Guy in The Reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Court and Culture in the Last Decade (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 1-19.
(47.) The letters have been edited in Gustav Ungerer, A Spaniard in Elizabethan England: The Correspondence of Antonio Perez's Exile (London: Tamesis Books Limited, 1 (1974), 2 (1976); see vol. i, nos. 41, 42, 44, 45, 48, 50. The visit to Cambridge has been uncovered by Paul Hammer in The Polarisation of Elizabethan Politics, 304.
(48.) Basadonna's presence in London (1593-99) has been blotted out from Italian and English historiography. Some day I hope to write an essay on Basadonna's embassy, his commercial and social activities, and his purchases of expensive vessels from London brokers. Basadonna was undoubtedly the best qualified Venetian in London to give an English author, such as Shakespeare, an insider's account of Venice. He was in touch with John Byrd, brewer, of Southwark, and with Henry Stradling, draper, who in 1594 sold him three vessels, the Hopewell, the Elizabeth of London, alias the Golden Noble, of 240 tons, and the Bona Speranza, a "royally furnished ship," of 280-300 tons, at a price of [pounds sterling]650. See my essay on "Prostitution in Late Elizabethan London: The Case of Mary Newborough," Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England 15 (2003): 138-223, n. 71.
(49.) Richard Field had already some experience in publishing a Spanish/English language manual. In 1591, he had printed William Stepney's The Spanish Schoole-master and between 1596 and 1600 he was to print several books of the Spanish reformer Cipriano de Valera under the imprint "En casa de Ricardo del Campo." See Gustav Ungerer, "The Printing of Spanish Books in Elizabethan England, The Library, 5th ser. 20 (1965): 177-229.
The presence of Perez in London and the publication of his book under the pseudonym of Raphael Peregrino were reason enough for the Essexians to learn Spanish. In his instructions to Robert Naunton, Essex wrote that "to have Signor Perez willingly helpe yow in the Spanishe yow must pretende to studye the tonge as well, be- cause it is hys, as for the excellencye of itselfe ... If you will use an amplificacion, yow maye saye yow learne Spanishe to understande Raphael Peregrino's booke as well as Bartas did Englishe to understande Sir Philip Sydney's Arcadia." See Hammer, The Polarisation of Elizabethan Politics, 310, n. 215.
(50.) A. L. Rowse, Shakespeare's Globe. His Intellectual and Moral Outlook (London, 1981), 117.
(51.) William Shakespeare, Love's Labour's Lost, ed. G. R. Hibbard in The Oxford Shakespeare (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990), 1.1.161-75.
(52.) Tom Cain, "'Comparisons and wounding flouts': Love's Labour's Lost and the Tradition of Personal Satire," ed. John Batcheler, Tom Cain, and Claire Lamont in Shakespearean Continuities: Essays in Honour of E. A. J. Honigmann (London: Macmillan, 1997), 193-205. Not Armado but the Spanish braggart Huanebango in George Peele's play The Old Wives Tale (1593-94) is in part a parody of Gabriel Harvey's style.
(53.) On the play's similarity to the Inns of Court culture see Lynne Magnusson, "Scoff Power in Love's Labour's Lost and the Inns of Court Language in Context," Shakespeare Survey 57 (2004): 196-208. On Francis Davison's acquaintance with Perez, his obvious knowledge of Spanish and participation in the Gray's Inn Revels of December 1594 see Gustav Ungerer, A Spaniard in Elizabethan England, i, 256-57.
(54.) For Perez's famous collection of paintings see Gustav Ungerer, A Spaniard in Elizabethan England, i, 193.
(55.) I have addressed the issues raised by the performance of the Chamberlain's Men in Rutland and those by the Christmas festivities sponsored by Sir John Harington in two separate papers. The first, dating from 1961, focuses on the identification of the London company of players (see note 45). The second deals with the social and economic dimensions of the Christmas festivities and with the great drain the financial resources of Sir John Harington which was caused by his ambitious life style. It was published by the Rutland Record Society under the title "Shakespeare In Rutland," Rutland Record 7 (1987): 242-48. The original French text of Jacques Petit has been dropped by the editor and replaced by my English translations.
(56.) Jacques Petit's letter containing the reference to Titus Andronicus can be read in the original French in the appendix to my 1961 essay and in a modern English version in Daphne du Maurier's Golden Lads. A Study of Anthony Bacon, Francis and Their Friends (London: Victor Gollancz, 1975), 146-47. A team of record agents under the supervision of Mrs St. George Saunders has transcribed over three hundred original letters. The quality of the transcriptions is very uneven and occasionally quite inaccurate. See, for instance, A. Bacon's letter in Golden Lads, p. 160, and my transcript in A Spaniard in Elizabethan England, i, 276-77.
(57.) Petit's sonnet and lamentations can be read in A Spaniard in Elizabethan England, i, 238-40. While Petit immersed himself in effusions of second-rate farewell verses, the earl of Essex was constrained to borrow [pounds sterling]500 from the Dutch jeweler and stonecutter Peter van Lore in order to finance Perez's return to Henry IV in Paris. (See my essay on "Prostitution in Late Elizabethan London," n. 33). Medical tropes were fashionable in the Elizabethan age. When Thomas Platter, the physician from Basel, visited White Hall Palace in September 1599, he was ushered into a hall which jutted out over the Thames and which was crammed with emblematic devices. One of them in Latin hexameters praised the queen as the writer's "medicine," light, and fountain. See Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, ed., L'Europe de Thomas Platter: France, Angle-terre, Pays-Bas, 1500-1600. Le siecle des Platter III (Paris: Fayard, 2006), 362, n. 579.
(58.) See Andrew Hadfield, Shakespeare and Republicanism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 165-67. Quentin Taylor, "'To order well the state': The Politics of Titus Andronicus," Interpretation: A Journal of Political Philosophy 32 (2005): 125-50
(59.) Paul E. J. Hammer, The Polarisation of Elizabethan Politics, 168-69.
(60.) For Sir John's relations with Leicester see Jan Broadway's entry of Sir John in ODNB, vol. 25.
(61.) Accurate figures of black slaves in England are hard to come by. Further investigations into the mercantile and legal activities of the Guinea Company are bound to yield reliable figures. The year 1593 happens to be the year in which the mortality rate of black domestic servants in London was high. Four black servants are entered as having been buried in the parish of St Botolph Aldgate: Suzanna Pearis, servant to John Despinois, on August 8; Simon Valencia on August 20; Cassangoe, servant to Thomas Barbor, merchant, on October 8; and Robert, servant to William Matthew, gentleman, on November 29. See Rosalyn L. Knutson, "A Caliban in St. Mildred Poultry," 113-14.
(62.) Glenn Odom and Bryan Reynolds, "Becomings Roman/Comings-to-be Villain: Pressurized Belongings and the Coding of Ethnicity, Religion, and Nationality in Peele and Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus," ed. Bryan Reynolds, Transversal Enterprises in the Drama of Shakespeare and his Contemporaries. Fugitive Explorations (Houndmills: Palgrave/Macmillan, 2006), chap. 8. Francesca T. Royster, "White-Limed Walls: Whiteness and Gothic Extremism in Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus," Shakespeare Quarterly 51 (2000): 432-55.
(63.) William Shakespeare, Titus AndronIcus, The Arden Shakespeare, ed. Jonathan Bate (London: Routledge, 1995), 4.2.101-2. In his article on "Kind and Unkindness: Aaron in Titus Andronicus," Brian Boyd holds the view that nowhere in the play does Shakespeare presume "that the blackness of race means vileness of character" (69). Boyd has edited his article in Words that Count. Essays on Early Modern Authorship in Honor of MacDonald P. Jackson (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2004), 51-77. The governments of Bridewell have recorded a number of cases which disprove that the fear of "naturall infection" was inhibitive. The taboo of sex between a white woman and a black man was repeatedly broken in the London brothels. Thus alone in 1577 Jane Thompson, obviously a prostitute, was detained in Bridewell for committing "whoredome" with "Anthonye, a blackmoreblackamore;" and Rose Brown for admitting "dyvers & many blackamores" as customers to her establishment; and Margery Williams confessed to the governors that she had sexual intercourse with Peter Peringoe, a "blackamore." In 1604, the governors issued a warrant to arrest a London hatmaker "whoe had gott the blacke more with child." See Duncan Salkeld's review of Michael Neill's edition of Shakespeare' Othello in The Times Literary Supplement, August 18/25, 2006, p. 26. A thorough search for further evidence among the Bridewell Court Books is a desideratum. Were the black customers slaves or freedmen? Did these white prostitutes give rise to the fashion of deriding harlots as "dark ladies" which was in vogue among the Inns of Court sutdents in the 1580s and 1590s?
(64.) Quotation taken from Alexander Leggatt, Shakespeare's Tragedies: Violation and Identity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 15.
(65.) Ladislas Bugner, general ed., L'image du noir dans l'art occidental, vol. ii Des premiers siecles chretiens aux grandes decouvertes, ed. Jean Devisse and Michel Mollat, Les Africains dans l'ordonnance chretienne du monde, 14e-16eI4e--I6e siecle (Fri-bourg: Office du Livre, 1979).
(66.) See Albert J. Loomie, S.J., The Spanish Elizabethans: The English Exiles at the Court of Philip II (New York: Fordham University Press, 1963), 107; ODNB, vol. 53, under Suarez de Figueroa, Jane and Suarez de Figueroa, Gomez. Don Benito de Cisneros must have been a descendant of Don Benito Jimenez de Cisneros, nephew of Francisco Jimenez de Cisneros (1436-1517), primate and regent of Spain, grand inquisitor, initiator of the mass conversion of the Moors, the guiding spirit behind the Spanish campaign in North Africa (1505-10), and patron of the Complutensian Polyglot Bible. Bartholomew Yong (1560-1612), the son of a Roman Catholic family, known as translator of Jorge de Montemayor's pastoral novel Diana, had "conference with the duchess of Feria" while he was touring Spain (1578-80). The subject of the conference remains unknown. See Dale B. J. Randall, The Golden Tapestry. A Critical Survey of Non-chivalric Spanish Fiction in English Translation, 1543-1657 (Durham: Duke University Press, 1963), 77ff. Yong may have been introduced to Sir Philip Sidney after he had completed his translation. See Judith M. Kennedy, A Critical Edition of Yong's Translation of George of Montemayor's Diana and Gil Polo's Enamoured Diana (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968), lix, n. 8. There is an entry on B. Yong in ODNB.
(67.) On Juan Latino's classical literacy see Baltasar Fra-Molinero, "Juan Latino and His Racial Difference," ed. T. F. Earle, Black Africans, chap. 15; on Diego Jimenez de Enciso's seventeenth-century play on Juan Latino's life and career see the same author, La imagen de los negros en el teatro del Siglo de Oro (Madrid: Siglo XXI, 1995), chap. 6; on Afonso Alvares see T. F. Earle, "Black Africans versus Jews: Religious and Racial Tension in a Portuguese Saint's Play," ed. T. F. Earle, Black Africans, chap. 16. Juan Latino's work that stood the greatest chance of being known in sixteenth-century England and Scotland was his poem Austrias Carmen (1573), a panegyric in hexameters praising don John of Austria as victor of the battle of Lepanto in 1571, putting an end to the myth of Turkish naval invincibility. King James composed a poem on Lepanto about 1584. The British Library copy of Juan Latino's panegyric, which has an accession stamp of 1872, has the following handwritten title page motto: "Satiabor cum apparuerit gloria tua 1573." I owe this information to Dr Barry Taylor, Curator of the Hispanic Collections 1501-1850.
(68.) Winthrop Jordan, White Over Black: American Attitudes Towards the Negro, 1550-1812 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1968, rept., New York, 1977), 6.
(69.) The findings of my investigations into the early history of English slavery will be published by Verbum, Madrid, in 2008.
(70.) Archivo Historico Provincial de Sevilla, Protocoles Notariales, legajo 3289, fol. 23 r-24 v; fol. 125 r-v; fol. 126 r-v. These records together with some others will be published in the appendix of the above mentioned study.
(71.) For Hakluyt's "economic nationalism" shaping his editorial policy see Emily C. Bartels, "Imperialist Beginnings: Richard Hakluyt and the Construction of Africa," Criticism 34 (1992): 517-38. For a discussion of Thorne's document see Roger Barlow, A Brief Summe of Geographie, ed. E. G. R. Taylor, The Hakluyt Society, 2d ser., no. 59 (1931; Nendeln: Kraus Reprint, 1967), XXV ff. Hakluyt had no scruples about eliminating narratives, abridging materials, and excising records for political reasons. See James P. Helfers, "The Explorer or the Pilgrim? Modern Critical Opinion and the Editorial Methods of Richard Hakluyt and Samuel Purchas," Studies in Philology 94 (1997): 160-86.
(72.) See David Loades's entry on Sebastian Cabot in ODNB, vol. 9. For Cabot's role as innovator and mediator in handing down to the English pilots his knowledge of mathematical navigation acquired as Spain's pilot major see Eric H. Ash, Power, Knowledge and Expertise in Elizabethan England (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004).
(73.) For the transmission of the Thorne papers see R. C. D. Baldwin, "Robert Thorne, the younger," ODNB, vol. 54, p. 606; G. C. Moore Smith, The Family of Withypoll, Walthamstow Antiquarian Society 34 (1936): 38.
(74.) Venice is a transposed image of mercantile London, Shylock and Antonio operating as mirror images of Elizabethan society. Shylock, who is pressed by the court to forgive Antonio, claims the same rights to sell human flesh as the Venetian (English) merchants have and urges them to free their own slaves and grant them the rights of free subjects: "You have among you many a purchased slave, / Which, like your asses and your dogs and mules, / You use in abject and in slavish parts / Because you bought them. Shall I say to you, / 'Let them be free! Marry them to your heirs! / Why sweat they under burdens?" Quoted from M. M. Mahood's edn. of the play in The New Cambridge Shakespeare (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 4.1.90ff. There is evidence that some English contemporaries of Shakespeare, who were operating in the Mediterranean, were working hand in glove with the Venetian elite as purveyors of slaves. Thus, in 1594, the captain of the English vessell Susanna sold seven slaves to the "magnifico Giovanni Maria Canevali, cittadino e mercante," three men, three women, and a boy, all of them presumably Moors. See Alberto Tenenti, "Gli Sciavi di Venezia alla fine del Cinquecento," Rivista Storica Italiana 67 (1955): 52-69.
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|Publication:||Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2008|
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