Political allegory in late Elizabethan and early Jacobean "Turk" plays: Lust's Dominion and The Turke.
Similar to other dramatic subgenres of the period--Roman plays, history plays, travel drama, to name just three--which have increasingly been recognized as possessing allegorical dimensions, "Turk" plays should also be seen as offering comments on sensitive topical issues. (6) For instance, Ben Jonson's Sejanus His Fall (1603), which concentrates on the relationship between the Emperor Tiberius and his evil minion, has been read as an equivocal allegory about James Stuart and his favorites. (7) Yet, because it was conceived and partly written while Elizabeth was on the throne, Jonson's play has also been seen as a comment on her tarnished reputation at the end of her reign and especially as a late meditation on the Essex crisis. (8) While for my purposes here the intricacies of Jonson's allegory are not relevant, its ambivalent political direction is useful since it is in a sense matched by that of the plays discussed in this article. In other words, in Lust's Dominion and The Turke we have two versions--one written in Elizabeth's reign, one in James's--of a very similar story about an evil Mohammedan's interactions with a Christian court. In what follows, the ways this allied story is able to encode shifting political allegories will be seen to be central. Just as Sejanus can be read as allegorically directed at different targets, these plays should also be understood to present political and sexual ambition as covert meditations on English domestic concerns.
It is now well attested that Christopher Marlowe was not responsible for Lust's Dominion; or, The Lascivious Queen, though the play is attributed to him on the title page of the 1657 edition. (9) Rather, the playtext is thought to have involved collaboration by John Marston (who was paid for a play or part of a play called The Spanish Moor's Tragedy by Philip Henslowe in the autumn of 1599 for the Fortune or Rose) and Thomas Dekker, William Haughton, and John Day who revised and renamed it in 1600. (10) The Admiral's Men probably performed the play in the 1599/1600 season, though J. L. Simmons has suggested that the Moorish villain Eleazar's lines in act 5 refer to the new Globe. (11) If this theory is accepted, the play would then belong to the Admiral's rivals, the Lord Chamberlain's Men. In contrast, The Turke by John Mason, probably of Catharine Hall, Cambridge (entered in the Stationers' Register 10 March 1609, and published in 1610), has a more certain performance history. The play was performed by the King's Revels Children at Whitefriars during the 1607-08 season. (12)
Nearly fifty years ago Frank W. Wadsworth convincingly argued for The Turke's indebtedness to Lust's Dominion. (13) Both plays contain "Mohammedan" villains who try to become monarch of a Christian state. And there is, according to Wadsworth, a "very strong resemblance between the villains' relationships to other members of the Christian courts in which they live" since both of them are "in the midst of adulterous relationships with Christian white women who are the wives of the current rulers." (14) In fact, both Eleazar in Lust's Dominion and Mulleases in The Turke are sexually satiated with their mistresses and now desire younger women, each the heiress to the throne. Hence a central thematic concern of these plays is the illegitimate desire for political power to be achieved through shifting sexual alliances. Also significant is the abuse by an Islamic protagonist of his sexual mastery over his white mistress which enables him to persuade her to perform "unnatural," murderous acts on his behalf. But there are also dissimilarities between the plays which, in what follows, are read against the political contexts of their dates of composition. More specifically, in the earlier play we have acute anxiety about the succession to the throne, an issue that resonates with Elizabeth Tudor's persistent refusal to name her successor. In The Turke there is also a political subtext. Here concerns are expressed about absolutism, Rex Pacificus, and "unnatural" sexual desires, all issues that were increasingly debated in the drama of the time with reference to the behavior and government of James Stuart. (15) The plays use "Turk" characters and themes opportunistically--that is, the plays' foreign settings and Muslim villains are used as vehicles to discuss sensitive domestic issues with impunity.
Both plays appropriate conventional racial attributes in their descriptions of their play's villain, but it is important at this point to examine the racial origins of Eleazar and Mulleases to determine the extent to which they conform to stereotypical expectations of "Turk" or "black" excess. Eleazar appears to be a racial conflation though he describes himself as "tawny" in the early part of the play (1.1.154)--that is, a North African Moor--yet elsewhere in the play he is frequently called "negro" and his blackness--indicating a sub-Saharan origin--is emphasized ("Cardinal, this disgrace, /Shall dye thy soule, as inky as my face" [1.2. 190-01]). His ethnicity can be seen as even more confused since the Cardinal threatens to banish him "[t]o beg with Indian slaves" (1.2.158), and later Eleazar swears "[b]y all our Indian gods" (1.2. 85). (16) In other words, Eleazar's racial identity is somewhat muddled in the play--Marston and Dekker are so uncertain about what it means to be a "Moor" that this character blends together a variety of racial stereotypes. Mulleases appears to be the product of more detailed ethnographic information: the play was, after all, performed following the publication of Richard Knolles's compendious General Historie of the Turks (1603), but here too there is little questioning of conventional stereotypes concerning Mohammedan behavior. In The Turke, Eunuchus's account of his past history--he was a Christian Cypriot subjugated by Turks and castrated ("they wrongd nature in me" [1.2.94])--is a conventional articulation of popular beliefs about forced captivity of Christians by Turks and the treatment to be expected in these circumstances. (17)
The lack of interest in racial descriptions and distinctions in each of the plays is very much to the point, for the texts' conventional and at times confused use of stereotypical and racialized character traits suggests that the plays' foci are elsewhere. (18) In other words, the points at which the plays break the stereotype of the Muslim stage character are the places at which the plays' ideological tensions can be most easily detected. And in both dramas the key concern is the interaction between a Muslim character and a Christian court; as we shall see, both dramas exhibit little interest in challenging the dominant stage stereotypes of Turks as proud, cruel, lascivious, and treacherous or of the association of dark skin with criminality and sin. (19) However, in each instance the sensual and cruel Muslim is not out of place in a Christian court since Christian behavior and morality are no different from the villain's. Hence, I suggest, the central concern of both plays actually focuses on the conduct of monarchs and aspiring monarchs in a Christian court; each play's Muslim villain is of central importance only in the way that his behavior resonates with and against his Christian context.
I. Succession Crisis in Lust's Dominion
The plot of Lust's Dominion focuses on the dynastic and sexual intrigues in the royal household of Spain under the rule of Philip II, who died in 1598. (20) The play opens with the queen's unwelcome intrusion into the chamber of her lover Eleazar the Moor, prince of Fesse and Barbary. The couple violently argue before appearing to settle their differences. Their reconciliation is interrupted by the startling news that the king is dead, though this information is quickly countermanded by new information that Philip has merely "swounded thrice" (1.1. 132). The next scene reveals Eleazar's enduring bitterness at his treatment as a "slave of Barbary, a dog," by the Spanish court, and, learning how his father "with his Empire, lost his life,/And left me Captive to a Spanish Tyrant" (1.1. 152, 157-58), he vows to exact vengeance by destroying the royal house of Spain. Meanwhile the dying king takes leave of his family and gives instructions to his heir, Fernando, concerning future government. After Philip's death the family starts bickering, and the second son, Prince Philip, accuses his mother of being Eleazar's concubine. Eleazar and the Queen Mother react angrily to these accusations, but Cardinal Mendoza, protector to Fernando, who is now king, uses it as an opportunity to strip Eleazar of his "Royalties" (that is, offices [1.2.150]) while threatening to banish him. Maria, Eleazar's wife, offers to intercede with the new king on his behalf, and, since Fernando loves her, she is successful. Hence Eleazar is restored to his former place, though he still privately vows vengeance.
At Fernando's coronation the two court factions again argue over Eleazar's position as Mendoza claims supreme authority in Spain based on the late king's will. On the brink of violence, the Queen Mother intervenes to calm the situation. The court then moves to Eleazar's castle, and he persuades the Queen Mother to take part in the murder of her son Philip and his wife. Maria, fearing Fernando's lust while her husband is away, tells Eleazar that she intends to kill herself rather than lose her honor. He counsels her to poison the king first, but she refuses, for she claims to have thought of a better way to both save her honor and the king's life. Fernando wakes Maria and, threatening to kill himself if she does not yield, attempts to seduce her. However, she drugs him with a sleeping potion. When the Queen Mother and the courtiers burst in, she is accused of murder, and, despite her denials, the Queen Mother strangles her. At this Fernando awakes and berates his mother. When Eleazar enters he stabs the king and threatens anyone who opposes him with a similar fate. He then proclaims himself king with the Queen Mother's support. His followers are rewarded with lesser crowns, and he marshals an army to meet Philip and the cardinal, opponents to the new regime, in battle.
When the Queen Mother informs Eleazar that Mendoza has asked her to join him, he encourages her to take advantage of the cardinal's tender feelings. Act 4 opens with a battle between Philip's and Eleazar's armies. Despite the former's success on the battlefield, Eleazar remains sanguine since he knows that the Queen Mother will use her influence to persuade the lovesick Mendoza to sound the retreat and allow his camp to be invaded. The Queen Mother reconciles them, and they now join forces against the "bastard" Philip with Eleazar promising to cede control to Mendoza once victory is secure. The cardinal arrests Philip for high treason and sends him to prison. Back at court, Eleazar gives up the throne and proposes the election of a new king. Philip is debarred from the crown through his illegitimacy; the Queen Mother names Mendoza as his father but claims that he raped her. The cardinal, thinking that this will allow him to marry the Queen Mother and become king, lies and admits his guilt, but now Eleazar, using this confession, double-crosses and ruins him. The succession question remains. When the Queen Mother puts herself forward, Eleazar turns against her and supports instead the claim of her daughter Isabella; he then has the Queen Mother arrested for the murder of his wife.
Eleazar congratulates himself on his destruction of the royal house of Spain. He now plots against Hortenzo, Isabella's suitor, and, with him away in prison, he makes advances to Isabella. At the moment when it seems Eleazar's ascent to power will be unstoppable, he is checked by the betrayal of his servant Zarack, who, with Isabella's encouragement (he believes she loves him), releases Hortenzo and Philip. Disguised as Eleazar's servants, these two trick Eleazar into being manacled, whereupon they let in the rest of the court, and the Queen Mother also confesses her previous perfidy. On hearing the confession, Philip unmasks, embraces his mother, and stabs Eleazar, who dies cursing. The play ends with the pardon of the cardinal and the Queen Mother for their treachery, the engagement of Hortenzo to Isabella, and the banishment of all Moors from Spain.
On the surface, the central issue of this play seems to be the Spanish succession. Four different monarchs occupy the Spanish throne in the course of the play--Philip II, Fernando, Eleazar, and Philip--and the merits of the claims of other candidates--Mendoza, the Queen Mother, and Isabella--are also debated. In one way, of course, since the play is set in the court of England's traditional enemy, it is entirely possible to read the confusion and usurpation in the Spanish court as something that might be celebrated by the Elizabethan regime. However, despite the geographic displacement of the play's setting, it is important to remember that the succession remained a highly sensitive topic in England. Indeed, in the latter years of Elizabeth's reign, with the succession issue still formally unresolved and explicit mention forbidden, it was in dramas such as Lust's Dominion that outlet was found for such concerns. (21)
Despite the official ban on comment concerning Elizabeth's successor, texts on the issue were still circulated or published (often abroad, or illegally). For example, Spanish propaganda by the Jesuit Robert Parsons, writing as N. Doleman in a work entitled A Conference about the Next Succession to the Crowne of England, had argued that the claim to the throne of James Stuart was inferior to that of Philip II of Spain and the Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia since they were descendants of John of Gaunt. (22) The succession debate in Lust's Dominion is thus not far removed from the covert debates that erupted on the issue in Britain. Parson's attack provoked robust responses from James in Scotland, and soon thereafter, half-surreptitiously, verses, books, pamphlets, anagrams, and prophecies, many of them never printed, began to make their appearance. (23) In fact, as Judith M. Richards indicates, the relative claims of the alternative claimants intensified in the years immediately before Elizabeth's death, both within and beyond England. In 1600, for instance, Thomas Wilson identified the "12 Competitors that gape for the death of that good old Princess the now Queen" and observed that "this Crowne is not like to fall to the ground for want of heads that claime to weare it." (24) Parsons felt that the succession would ultimately be sorted out on the battlefield and that in the end the Infanta would probably triumph as a princess of a great state, backed by a considerable might, and as a candidate free to marry "suitably." (25) His suggestion that armed combat would be needed to resolve the succession issue seems to have inspired Lust's Dominion. There are nevertheless significant departures from the historical record in the play: the lascivious queen of the play's subtitle is clearly unhistorical since Philip II's fourth and last queen, Anne of Austria, predeceased her husband; Marston's and Dekker's character Fernando was also imaginary since at his death King Philip had only one living son, Prince Philip; and in 1598 the Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia had married Albrecht of Austria, not Hortenzo, son of Alvero. However, like Parsons's succession pamphlet, Lust's Dominion charts the making and breaking of expedient alliances in order to win the throne by the play's Spanish characters--Philip, Mendoza, the Queen Mother, and even the Infanta Isabella--as well as by the play's most obvious villain, Eleazar.
The first politically significant event in Lust's Dominion is the death of Elizabeth I's old adversary, Philip II. The Spanish king is frequently represented in dramas of the late sixteenth century--for example, in George Peele's The Battle of Alcazar (1589) or the anonymous Famous Historye of the Life and Death of Captaine T. Stukeley (?1596)--as a wily machiavel. (26) In Lust's Dominion, however, Philip is a considerably diminished figure. Not only is he physically reduced through old age and illness (as Alvero says, "Halfe of his body lies within a grave" [1.1. 168]), but he has also become faintly ridiculous since he is both cuckolded and curiously undignified in his death. Furthermore, his judgment is clearly flawed, for he commits his young son to the dubious care of the malcontent Eleazar and the ruthlessly ambitious Cardinal Mendoza. The king knows that "[a]mbition wings his [Eleazar's] spirit" and that he might "attempt to win a crown" (1.2. 67-68), yet still recommends him to his son. But he is completely mistaken in his assessment of Mendoza's character since he believes his "gravity" will encourage him to be "a father to [Fernando's] youth" (1.2. 70-71). Somewhat ironically the cardinal does later appear as "father" to Philip's younger son, Prince Philip, but this claim of cuckolding his king is derived from his desire to please the woman he sexually desires--that is, the Queen Mother. Clearly Mendoza's vow of chastity is an encumbrance he can shed at will.
But how should we read this powerless and politically inept representation of Philip II? At one level the text's hostile depiction of an aged and incompetent Philip II is undoubtedly indebted to widespread distrust and anxieties in 1590s England about Spanish ambitions. Throughout the decade it was believed that Philip's growing fleet was merely waiting for an opportune moment to launch a second attempt at invasion. In the summer of 1595, for instance, there were acute fears that an attack was about to be mounted--fears seemingly confirmed in July by a Spanish raid on Cornwall and the circulation of "certain knowledge" concerning "the preparations in Spaine" that were said to be "farre greater then in the year 1588." (27) Indeed, in the summer and autumn of 1599 there was a further invasion scare, prompting the mobilization of the nation's forces under Charles Howard, earl of Nottingham, and Lord Mountjoy, Thomas Howard, and Walter Raleigh. (28)
The text's representation of Philip also has its more troubling aspects since the Spanish king might be seen as sharing significant similarities with England's own monarch, but in particular we are shown the chaos that ensues when the issue of succession is not resolved. The last years of the queen's reign were difficult ones since, with economic hardship and social instability at home and foreign wars rumbling on abroad, Elizabeth's rule was shown, as Christopher Haigh puts it, to be "politically bankrupt." (29) She had no new policies to meet these changing economic and military circumstances: Walter Raleigh remarked she was "a lady whom time had surprised." (30) Godfrey Goodman, writing some years later, put it more bluntly: the country was "very generally weary of an old woman's government." (31) In Philip's supine and helpless body, which generates rumors and counterrumors of its expiration, we might see an allegory of the aging queen who, in the last years, was increasingly isolated from her nobility. As her godson John Harington commented in 1602, the queen had become "a lady shut up in her chamber from her subjects and most of her servants, and seldom seen but on holy days." (32) She failed to promote new men to her Privy Council (by 1597 it had only eleven members, and five were the sons of previous councillors) and relied ever more strongly on a sole advisor, Robert Cecil. (33)
The atmosphere of the court had also lost much of its early vivacity. In 1599 Francis Bacon urged the queen to recall Essex from Ireland to add some much needed glamor and to enhance the prestige of the monarch: "If you had my lord of Essex here with a white staff in his hand, as my lord of Leicester had, and continued him so about you, for society to yourself, and for an honour and ornament to your attendance and Court, in the eyes of your people, and in the eyes of foreign ambassadors, then were he in his right element." (34) In the mid to late 1590s there were two strong factions in the court, and the queen found it increasingly difficult to control them. (35) One focused on the Cecils--father and son until Burghley's death in 1598--and the other on Essex. The divided nature of the Spanish court in Lust's Dominion owes as much to the intrigues and rivalries that divided the English court in this period as it does to the succession debate.
As Pauline Croft has noted, the "contrast between Essex and Robert Cecil epitomized the common Renaissance antithesis between the sword and the pen, the man of action and the sedentary clerk, the aristocrat and the bureaucrat." (36) Mendoza, the ambitious cardinal and statesman who is full of guile rather than physical prowess on the battlefield, might seem to be somewhat similar to the powerful Robert Cecil, who by the late 1590s reigned increasingly supreme in his influence over the queen just as Mendoza clearly has control over Philip II (who creates him Lord Protector after his death). Physically frail (Elizabeth described him as her "elf," and those hostile to him emphasized his crooked back), Cecil was, like Mendoza, no military hero. Instead, he rose to and maintained power through his political acumen, his judicious control of his influence on the Queen, and the defeat of his enemies. His animosity toward Essex was well known and was satirized in a series of libels in 1598-1601; one of these described him as a "[p]roud and ambitious wretch that feedst on naught but Faction." (37) Mendoza too flaunts his influence to make or break kings as, armed with papal bulls to "pul obedience from thy Subjects hearts" (2.1. 45), he threatens Fernando with civil war. In fact, Marston's later play The Malcontent (1603) also includes what can be seen as a political satire in the form of a Machiavellian character called Mendoza who, as advisor to the weak ruler Pietro Jacomo, duke of Genoa, manipulates his monarch into agreeing to corrupt practices. (38)
In Lust's Dominion the behavior of the chivalric figure of Prince Philip resembles aspects of Robert Devereux, earl of Essex and Elizabeth's last notorious favorite. Essex in his military campaigns of the 1590s tested the limits of independent action while in the service of the queen and was finally executed for treason after marching against the queen in February 1601. Throughout this decade Essex, Elizabeth's military leader in the campaigns at Rouen (1590-92), Cadiz (1596), the Azores (1597), and Ireland (1599), repeatedly got into trouble with his queen for what she saw as exceeding his command. She reprimanded him for rewarding his soldiers with booty that should have gone to the Crown and for conferring knighthoods on men who fought well. (39) On 8 October 1591, for example, he created twenty-four new knights notwithstanding Elizabeth's instructions that such things should be left to her: "we will ourselves at your request upon your returne reward such persone with the dignity which their desertes shall deserve." (40) Indeed, in his less-than-successful campaign in Ireland in 1599, Essex created over eighty knights in the last few weeks--a massive number in comparison to the queen's notorious parsimony with such honors. (41) Likewise, Prince Philip promises exorbitant rewards to his supporters in battle ("For every drop of blood which thou shalt lose/Coward I'le give thy wife a wedge of gold" [4.4. 38]). His generosity with rewards in the play, then, might also be seen as covert criticism of the queen for her increasing stinginess in her promotion of the men who served her. Prince Philip is a quixotic and passionate military commander who might appear, as Essex did to his detractors, headstrong and foolish in the pursuit of his ambition at all costs.
In an allied way, then, Lust's Dominion questions the extent to which Philip's warrior prowess might also be seen as meritorious. His battlefield performance is flawed, for he appears rather naive in his military tactics as he impetuously wishes to commit his whole army to fighting to the death in the battlefield scenes in act 4 despite the more cautious counsel of Mendoza and the king of Portugal. Should we not see in this impetuosity a reference to Essex? Certainly Essex led from the front in his campaigns and performed exploits of outrageous bravery. At Cadiz, for instance, he helped the first troops over the city walls, and subsequently, according to contemporary accounts, led the attack in the city's marketplace "in his doublett and hose with his rapier drawen." (42) But in Ireland in the spring and summer of 1599 Essex's military and diplomatic skills would be tested and found wanting when fighting against the wily Irishman Hugh O'Neill, earl of Tyrone.
The Irish campaign was highly significant in determining the victor in the bitter rivalry between Essex and the court faction associated with Cecil. Essex hoped that by subduing troublesome Ireland, where so many other Elizabethan military leaders had previously failed, he could regain the favor and confidence of the queen. Cecil and his supporters, who saw things rather differently, consolidated their position at the court and represented Essex's "perambulations around Ireland as a means of gathering together disaffected swordsmen willing to follow their master to London in the redress of his alleged injustices." (43) After a disastrous summer campaign had reduced his company (from 16,000 foot soldiers with 1,300 horses to 11,250 foot soldiers and 925 horses), Essex had failed, like his predecessors, to subdue the Irish rebels. With his men sick and dispirited and wanting to get back to the court to staunch the hostile rumors spread against him, he entered into negotiations with Tyrone rather than, as instructed, taking an axe to "that tree which hath been the treasonable stock from which so many poisoned plants and grafts have been derived." (44) At one point Essex, like Philip in Lust's Dominion, wished to settle the dispute through single combat with his foe: "If thy master have any confidence either in the justness of his cause or in the goodness and number of his men, or in his own virtue, of all which he vainly glorieth, he will meet me in the field so far advanced beyond the head of his kerne as myself shall be separated from the front of my troops, where he will parley in the fashion that best becometh soldiers." (45) Essex's quixotic chivalry here is matched by Philip's determination to resolve the conflict with Eleazar through single combat:
Thou know'st 'tis for a kingdome which we fight; And for that who'l not venture to hell-gates. Come Moor, I am arm'd with more then compleat steel, The justice of my quarrel: when I look Upon my Fathers wrongs, my brothers wounds, My mothers infamie, Spains miserie, And lay my finger here, Oh! 'tis too dull, To let out blood enough to quench them all. (4.2.86-93)
Philip's challenge here, like Essex's to Tyrone, ignores the realities of the theater of war and appears faintly ridiculous. His insistence on his own prowess, his desire to fight Eleazar with a blunt axe, his belief that one battle, whether single combat or between armies, should decide the outcome of a war--all appear excessive. His blood lust in the previous scene had been extreme as he rushed about the battlefield seeking the Moor and repeatedly threatened with death anyone who wished to retreat:
follow my sword The bloody way I lead it, or by heaven I'le play the Devill, and mar all, we'l turn our backs Upon thee Moors, and set on thee. (4.2. 7-10)
The impetuous bravery shown by Philip in these scenes is thus ambiguously represented. He is certainly not entirely condemned for it: indeed his ability to lead from the front does reverse the outcome of the battle as his supporters once more rally and attack. It is, though, resonant of contemporary perceptions of Essex; he behaves as though he is a character in a chivalric romance, not a tragedy. His attitude is presented with some sympathy: unlike Eleazar his behavior in battle is "honourable" but it is excessively so. As Paul Hammer has noted concerning the behavior of Essex, this sort of conduct (the bravery of his Cadiz assault "in his doublett and hose with his rapier drawen") is overly indebted to the world of an imaginary and anachronistic chivalry. (46) However, in Lust's Dominion it is Eleazar's strategy that actually is more successful since it also contains a treacherous diplomatic element in sending the Queen Mother to turn Mendoza against Philip. And once the cardinal switches allegiance he is able to get close enough to Philip to capture him. Eleazar's military and strategic guile ensures his victory; and Philip cannot criticize Mendoza's change of allegiance too much because during their last meeting he had threatened to turn his sword upon the cardinal. Similarly, Essex allowed himself to be outmaneuvered since he was persuaded into making a peace with Tyrone on generous terms, which suited the Irishman rather better than the Elizabethan state. (47)
If Mendoza and Philip correspond to contemporary perceptions of certain aspects of Cecil and Essex, what then of the play's other key characters, specifically the Queen Mother and Eleazar? It is difficult to see the Queen Mother in terms of a particular individual in the succession debate; she appears more of a composite character, dynastically important only through her relations with the male characters--as wife to Philip II, lover of Eleazar and Mendoza, and mother of Fernando and Philip (and Isabella). Her gender and sexuality are used as a means by Eleazar and Mendoza for strengthening their claims to the throne. Marriage with the Queen Mother, and Isabella too, is represented as the way for the male characters to consolidate their political positions. In terms of the English succession debate, the female characters in the play are important as dynastic pawns just as the marriages of the real Infanta of Spain and Arabella Stuart, the English-born descendant of Henry VIII's older sister Margaret Tudor, were politically significant and frequently discussed in the 1590s. (48)
By contrast, Eleazar can be seen as allegorically representing a single referent and an extremely important one in the succession debate. He is described in the list of actors in the play as a "Prince of Fesse and Barbary," and so he is a foreigner to the Spanish court, "a Moore, a Devill" who though his "flesh be tawny, in [his] veines,/Runs blood as red, and royal as the best/And proud'st in Spain" (1.1. 151-56). As such Eleazar's situation resembles that other "foreign" prince, James VI of Scotland, who persistently sought to get himself declared heir to the English throne. Like Eleazar in Spain, James VI of Scotland was the king of one of England's most ancient enemies. As Judith Richards recounts, "In April 1588, the Earl of Huntingdon had reported that northern gentry were very reluctant to raise new taxes for use against the Spanish threat, but if such arms were to be used against Scotland, that ancient enemy, there would be no such resistance." (49) Those hostile to James made much of the fact that he was born outside the realm, which allegedly would mean that he was debarred from inheriting an English estate, much less the English throne. Furthermore, as Eleazar's speech to his father-in-law makes clear, his father and Philip II share a history that is reminiscent of the relationship between Elizabeth Tudor and Mary Queen of Scots:
My father, who with his Empire, lost his life, And left me Captive to a Spanish Tyrant. Oh! Go tell him! Spanish Tyrant! tell him, do! He that can loose a kingdom and not rave, He's a tame jade, I am not, tell old Philip I call him Tyrant: here's a sword and arms, A heart, a head, and so pish, 'tis but death: (1.1. 157-63)
The speaker expresses a lasting enmity to Philip II on account of the treatment meted out to his parent, and since he himself, like Mary, has been kept captive in a foreign country. There are, then, obvious parallels between James's situation and history and Eleazar's position. Indeed, as James is said to have commented in 1592, while Elizabeth lived "I will deal with the Queen of England fair and pleasantly" but after her death he will be willing to go to war to secure his inheritance should it fail to be recognized by her subjects. (50) Indeed, in 1592 when Elizabeth sheltered Bothwell despite James's anger, he threatened to join forces with Spain against her: "I can no longer keep amity with her, but, by the contrary, will be enforced to join in friendship with her greatest enemies for my own safety." (51) In terms of events in Lust's Dominion, this is what happens as on the old king's death Eleazar is prepared to fight for control of the kingdom. Eleazar can be seen as a version of James that seems indebted to Father Parsons's hostile view of his claim in the succession debate. In the play Eleazar is illegitimate in his desires for the throne. However, in contrast to Parsons's arguments in favor of the Infanta's claim, in Lust's Dominion Prince Philip is represented more positively than the other claimants. Eleazar's battlefield performance is compromised--unlike Prince Philip's--by dishonorable behavior. In the battle between Philip and Eleazar in act 4 the combatants agree that it will be a fight to the death, but when the latter is about to be defeated his supporters rescue him. By contrast Philip, though overly quixotic in battle, succeeds to the throne at the end of the play.
What political message would a fin-de-siecle London theater audience have taken from Lust's Dominion? As in Parsons's pamphlet we are presented with a wide variety of candidates for the Spanish/English throne. The play is similar to the pamphlet in its anti-Stuart stance, but whereas Parsons sought to further the claim of the Infanta of Spain, in Lust's Dominion the ultimately successful candidate is Prince Philip, who in Marston and Dekker's allegory is resonant of Essex. The play's representation of the evil, foreign, lustful Eleazar in Lust's Dominion represents, then, an attack on James VI. Eleazar intends to "make all Spain a bonefire" (1.1. 196) as he seeks revenge for his father's defeat by Spain in the same way that, many felt, this would happen with the future rule of a Scottish king in England. As John Thornborough, bishop of Bristol, put it in 1604, "in old enmities it is hard to establish ... a perfect reconciliation" and there would he "inconvenience and mischiefe" associated with the union of England and Scotland under the new king. (52) The text's representation of the chivalric figure of Prince Philip, who parallels Essex, articulates a view specific to the Essex House circle and the citizens of London in the 1590s who believed in the ideals of honor and the law of arms and opposed what they saw as the upstart Cecil regime. (53) Of course, after the failure of the Essex rebellion in 1601, when the City did not rally to his support, and his trial for treason and subsequent execution, this representation of Essex/Philip becoming king would not have been possible. The play is pointed, though, in its hostility to James Stuart and renders him a dishonorable and evil foreign villain who will bring nothing but destruction to the nation if allowed to rise to the throne. In Lust's Dominion, then, Eleazar's religious identity is used opportunistically: his identity as a "Turk" is important principally in signaling his foreign and alien status which has the potential to destroy Spain.
II. Tyranny, Foreign Policy, and Sexual Corruption in The Turke
I now wish to focus on the ways in which the differences between the Elizabethan and Jacobean versions of the political and sexual crises provoked by a Christian nation's relationship with an ambitious and villainous "Turk" can be situated against shifting political circumstances. Concerns about succession in Lust's Dominion give way to anxieties about the weaknesses, corruption, and foreign policy of the Florentine regime in The Turke. Furthermore, the sexual behavior of the only English character in the play, Bordello, is also relevant to the play's anxieties over James's rule. In other words, differences in the issues raised by these closely related plays are here read as coded expressions of concerns directed at particular political issues. The precise subject of the allegory has changed, yet these plays have in common their ability to identify key political problems facing England in the last years of Elizabeth's reign and the first decade of James's rule.
Mason's The Turke, which is set in Florence, has an extremely complex and tangled plot involving murder, impersonation, adultery, and betrayal. It opens with Julia, duchess of Florence, living in forced seclusion while the city is besieged by two of her suitors, the dukes of Venice and Ferrara. Both claim to be affianced to her, and as they are about to fight they are interrupted by the arrival of her uncle, Borgias, who brings the news that Julia is dead. Borgias next tells his daughter Amada that her mother Timoclea is dead and that she must prepare to marry Mulleases the Turk. He casually asks the servant Eunuchus to poison a groom since he requires a body for his wife Timoclea's coffin; her body, in turn, is intended to be used to fill Julia's coffin. At Julia's supposed funeral, Borgias privately admits he wants to marry her. Mulleases, who has been having an affair with Timoclea, has been recruited by him to kill her and to defend him from the hostile reaction of foreign powers to the projected marriage. Meanwhile, the sexually deviant Bordello is tricked by Eunuchus into thinking that Timoclea desires him, but in fact he is being set up as a coffin-filler.
Act 3 opens with Mulleases praying to Mahomet. He has not murdered Timoclea and in fact rouses her to avenge herself on her husband for his perfidy. Borgias now attempts to woo Julia, while Mulleases courts Amada. Neither succeeds. At the banquet held after Julia's funeral, Venice and Ferrara agree to spend the night in the city, and the rest of the play describes a series of murders motivated by revenge or ambition--and sometimes by mistaken identity. Timoclea, disguised as Julia's ghost, incites Venice to revenge the duchess's death on naming Borgias, whom she accuses of murder. Eunuchus runs into Ferrara, who kills him by mistake. Ferrara also sees Timoclea and, thinking she is Julia's ghost, determines to disguise himself as Eunuchus in order to discover what is going on. Mulleases next outlines his desires: he wants to usurp the usurper Borgias, to incite Timoclea to murder Amada before killing the mother himself, and finally to marry Julia. To enrage Timoclea against her daughter, Mulleases rejects her sexual advances and confesses to desiring Amada.
Julia and Amada are disturbed by the arrival of Timoclea, who is now dressed as her own ghost. When Julia leaves, Timoclea murders her daughter. Mulleases berates her for her unnatural act but promises forgiveness if she will murder Borgias--an act which she agrees to do. She then frightens Borgias so that, jumping from a great height, he pretends to injure himself seriously. Thinking him to be expiring, she admits to loving Mulleases, but her husband, while cursing them, only fakes death. She now thinks she will be free to enjoy Mulleases, but he rejects her. Ferrara enters disguised as Eunuchus, and Mulleases orders him to move Borgias's body to make it appear that he has been murdered by either Ferrara or Venice. Borgias, who has of course only been pretending to be dead, stabs Ferrara, while Mulleases goes off to woo Julia. Then Borgias, strangling Timoclea with her hair, plots that Mulleases will be blamed for her death and for the mistaken information about Julia's death. Bordello, still searching for sexual satisfaction, now appears and finds Timoclea's body. He meets Venice, who, realizing that it was in fact Timoclea who had appeared earlier as Julia's ghost, accuses him of killing her. The scene then returns to Mulleases' suit, which Julia rejects, and just as he is about to execute a rape, Venice and the court burst in to rescue her. When Borgias enters, Mulleases "runnes at him" determined to prove he is an apparition and receives his death wound. The two of them confess their treachery, and Ferrara's servant Philenzo kills Borgias in revenge for his master's death. The play ends with Venice claiming Julia as his bride, Bordello released, and plans made to mourn Ferrara's death with due ceremony. Hence both villains, Borgias and Mulleases, are finally defeated, and the play's remaining virtuous characters triumph. The plot of this sensational play is driven by Borgias's absolutism and his relationship with and attitude toward the Ottoman Empire. These are matters that reveal the nature of the changes between the representation of the "Turk" character and the Christian court in Lust's Dominion and in the later play The Turke--changes which reflect a shift in the political debates and anxieties in the ten years or so between them.
As Curtis Perry argues, continuity was not one of the most striking features between the reigns of Elizabeth Tudor and James Stuart: "The transition from Elizabeth to James was also the transition from a woman ruler to a man, from a Tudor to a Stuart, from a charismatic performer to a more aloof public personality, from a revered national heroine to a foreigner, and so on." (54) The differences between the two monarchs were soon reflected in the policies of the new king as he attempted to define and implement an absolutist conception of his role; as he stated in Basilikon Doron, "God gives not Kings the stile of Gods in vaine." (55) In particular, James reversed many of the tenets of later Elizabethan foreign policy. In 1604 he concluded a peace with Spain and was determined to maintain his policy of Rex Pacificus even though this position was unpopular with some of his more militant subjects. (56) As part of the new entente with Spain, James also broke off Elizabeth's commercial treaty with the Sublime Porte as the new king entered into an Anglo-Spanish alliance against the common Ottoman enemy, designated in his poem Lepanto (1585) as the "circumsised Turband Turkes." (57)
What is of concern here is the extent to which Mason's representation of the weaknesses of Florentine rule in The Turke can be viewed as aligned with oppositional discourses critical of Jacobean policies. It has been argued that these views did not find their full voice until the second decade of James's reign in texts such as Fulke Greville's Life of Sir Philip Sidney (1610-12, though not published until 1652) (58) and in the militaristic imagery associated with Henry, Prince of Wales. (59) Yet in Mason's The Turke, as in other first-decade political plays--including Samuel Daniel's The Tragedy of Philotas (1605), John Marston's The Fawne, Fulke Greville's Mustapha (revised 1607-10)--there appears to be political allegory critical of some of James's most deeply held beliefs. (60) Specifically The Turke questions the differences between legitimate rule and tyranny and the merits of Rex Pacificus, and it satirically draws attention to the practices and inadequacies of an English sodomite.
At the beginning of the play, Florence is in peril as it is besieged by two rival states; furthermore, the city-state's governor, Borgias, clearly does not enjoy harmonious relations with the Senate. He has promised the duke of Ferrara the hand of his niece Julia in marriage, while the Senate has contracted her to the duke of Venice. The first scene pointedly addresses the issue of whether the governor or the Senate exercises ultimate authority in the state. This argument between "king" and "parliament" clearly resonates with James's situation. From the first, in James's initial Parliament of 1604, there was conflict over the royal prerogative and the role of the House of Commons. (61) These differences were soon writ large since in 1606-07 James was in dispute with the Court of High Commission over its use of writs of prohibition which, he argued, interfered with his prerogative. Sir Edward Coke reported that in 1607 James declared that the High Commission's arguments would place him "under the law, which [it] was treason to affirm." (62) In The Turke, Ferrara, the more aggressive and impetuous of the two suitors and the one who has been chosen by Borgias to marry his niece, is keen to argue for his sponsor's legitimate absolutism:
... for know the Florentine Dying a Prince powerfull and absolute Leaves the Protector in his daughters nonage Free like himself, and absolute: of power To promise and performe. (1.1.61, 65-67)
The winner of the contest concerning the candidate with the best claim to Julia's hand is not finally resolved at this point, but there are hints in the text as to which side is the more favored. Certainly Julia is more enamored of the "[p]leasing and sportfull" Venice (1.1.41) than she is of Ferrara, about whom she portentously comments: "things rough and violent/Die like abortive fruit before perfection" (1.1.41-42). In the argument that follows between the rivals, Venice, the Senate's candidate, appears more measured than the impetuous Ferrara, who later of course dies. But early in the play no firm stand is taken against Ferrara, the representative of Borgias's displaced absolutism. However, what is clear is that Florence's situation, besieged as the city is by two potentially hostile armies, is perilous. The contest between governor and Senate for supreme control has placed the city at risk, though precisely who bears the responsibility for such a dismal foreign policy is as yet unclear.
As The Turke continues, the play becomes more outspoken in its criticism of absolutism, which begins to appear both increasingly tyrannous and dangerously weak. Borgias, the governor, is an absolutist, and he is also a murderer who furthermore plans to marry his niece incestuously (though the pope will be approached to sanctify the union). This profile--which links his absolutist ambitions with crime--marks Borgias out as a tyrant. Though Tudor absolutist discourse had argued that tyrants were either usurpers or bad kings, sixteenth-century drama tended to emphasize the moral basis of kingship. (63) In other words, usurpers are corrupt and dangerous, and legitimate kings are good. Rarely in Elizabe-than plays is the troubling figure of the evil and legitimate king examined fully. However, this binary opposition between moral legitimacy and amoral usurpation becomes more complex under James's rule. The king defended the legitimacy of a bad king in Trew Law of Free Monarchies: "The wickednese, therefore, of the King can never make them that are ordained to be judged by him to become his Iudges." (64) In Basilikon Doron, however, the rhetoric of his speech performs a sleight of hand since he, as had been the case in Tudor absolutist discourse, equated legitimacy with morality. What is "lawfull" is also "good":
For the part of making, and executing of Lawes, consider first the trew difference betwixt a lawfull good King, and an usurping Tyran.... The one acknowledgeth himself ordained for his people, having received from God a burthen of government, whereof he must be countable: the other thinketh his people ordeined for him, a prey to his passions and inordinate appetites, as the fruites of his magnanimity. (65)
In this work James attempts to make his absolutism more palatable by emphasizing the morality of kingship rather than its unconditional legitimacy. Yet in the drama written and performed in James's reign the relationship between the legitimacy and morality of the king persistently came into question. In Greville's Mustapha, for example, King Solyman is well-intentioned, yet he tyrannically murders his son Mustapha because he listens to bad counsel. (66) In other words, even a morally good king can become corrupted through absolutist power. In The Turke there is, however, an even more outspoken criticism of the dangers of absolutism. Driven by absolutist ambitions, Borgias's corruption spirals out of control. The question to be explored is the extent to which this play should be seen as politically motivated--that is, to what extent is this description of Borgias intended to be an allegory of the person and policies of James I?
It needs to be remembered that in The Turke Borgias's absolutist ambitions are illegitimate. He is a usurper to Julia, the rightful heir to Florence. Consequently Mason's negative representation of absolutism can be seen as politically ambiguous, or, to use Annabel Patterson's phrase, the play can be seen to demonstrate "functional ambiguity" here. (67) Put another way, in The Turke a variety of allegorical meanings is clustered around the representation of Borgias's absolutism. On one level it might be seen as an attack on James I's view that he was God's lieutenant on earth. Yet on another, since Borgias is a usurping tyrant rather than a legitimate king like James, the play is able to make comments about absolutism with relative impunity. Similarly, the name "Borgias" was itself notorious on account of the reputation of Roderigo Borgia (Pope Alexander VI) and his illegitimate children Cesare (who served as the prototype for the political "hero" in Niccolo Machiavelli's The Prince ) and Lucrezia (Duchess of Ferrara following her marriage to Alfonso d'Este). (68) Mason's construction of similarities between Borgias' sdesires and James's aims in The Turke is, then, both a highly audacious attack on the English monarch and a shrewd way of disguising the criticism since the historical Borgiases' excesses were so well known. Indeed, the play is full of historically cavalier allusions to actual events and actions associated with the Borgias. For instance, Cesare Borgia wooed and was rejected by the royal princess of Naples (she found him repugnant) as Julia rejects Borgias, and he was also involved in the death of his sister's second husband, the duke of Biseglia--and was alleged to have ordered many other deaths in the way that Borgias in Mason's play casually arranges murder. Because of the potential for abuse, King James's absolutist ambitions presumably would have been seen by many of his contemporaries as resonating with the historical Cesare Borgia. (69)
Similar ambivalence can be detected in the play's representation of Borgias's foreign policy. He has struck a deal with "the Turke/By Mulleases" (1.3.68-69), who agrees to give him 40,000 janissaries "[t]o be my guard, gainst forraigne outrages."
And more: hee'le make me king of Italy, To give him but commaund upon the streights, And land his force on this side Christendome And I will do it: on my faith to God And loyalty I owe unto the starres, Should there depend all Europe and the states Christened thereon: Ide sink them all, ... Be they my childrens lives, my deerest friends May gaine me what I wish, I stoope at thy renowne, And think al's a vacuum above a crowne, For they that have the soveraignty of things, Do know no God at all, are none but Kings. (1.3.70-94)
This speech shows Borgias to be a sinister and subversive ruler since he is prepared to allow "the Turke," the Ottoman emperor, access to Europe in exchange for troops to defeat the armies of other European leaders such as Ferrara and Venice who object to his seizure of the Florentine dukedom. Borgias's speech reveals an unusual understanding of "foreigne" since he regards Mohammedans as less alien than rival Christian princes. He wants "the Turke" and his janissaries to protect him from "foreigne outrages," a description that reverses traditional European conceptions of foreignness in which shared religion normally united nation-states and their leaders against "infidels." (70) Borgias's striving for power is so strong that in order to achieve an earthly "crowne" he is prepared to sacrifice the integrity of Christendom to invading Muslim forces. His alliance with Mulleases, agent of the Grand Turk, marks out his depravity as he denies all claims of both kin and religion in this speech. The foreign policy attributed to Borgias is shown to be corrupt and woefully inadequate here since it will ensure the overthrow of Christianity. In the context of European fears about the aggressive expansionist policies of the Ottoman Empire and the incursions of Muslims into Europe in the early seventeenth century, his betrayal of his religious identity appears to be a clear indication of his failures as a leader. (71)
But how far does this representation reflect contemporary attitudes to James? Unlike his predecessor Elizabeth who had sought commercial treaties with both the Turks of the Ottoman Empire and the Moors of the kingdom of Morocco, James reversed this amicable policy in the peace treaty with Spain (1604), for in it the two countries agreed to a common resistance of their shared enemy, the Turk. (72) It might initially seem, then, that the play's condemnation of Borgias's alliance with Muslims against fellow Christians acts as praise of James's own hostility to Turks and Islam. Yet The Turke's representation of foreign policy and good leadership is more complex than would be suggested by simply reading Borgias's friendship and alliances with Mulleases as a counterpoint to James's hostility to Islam.
In the first decades of the seventeenth century anxieties about James's rule were frequently articulated through a nostalgic quasi-hagiographic praise of the leadership and policies of the nation's previous monarch, Elizabeth I. (73) In Heywood and Rowley's contemporary pirate play, Fortune by Land and Sea (1607-09), for instance, there is a sympathetic representation of piracy that evokes Elizabeth's toleration of the practice and acts as an indictment of James's notorious hostility to it. (74) What we need to question in relation to Mason's play is whether the representation of Borgias's negotiations with the Grand Turk (and hence "Elizabethan" policy) should be read in the same way. In other words, can Borgias's policy in this regard be seen as an implied defense of James's leadership?
Superficially, this might seem to be the case. Yet by reading The Turke against its antecedent Lust's Dominion we can arrive at a more nuanced interpretation. One of the key differences between the two plays is the setting. The Elizabethan play had been set in Spain, and Eleazar was embittered by his treatment as a conquered and enslaved "Barbary dog" by the Spanish. This antagonism reflects both the contemporary hostility between Spain and the Muslim world, and as the events in the Spanish court reflect succession anxieties in England in the late sixteenth century, the play shows the dangers posed by ambitious men to the Crown. By contrast, in The Turke the relations between Florence and the Grand Turk are altogether more cordial since Borgias's son Julio has been exchanged with Mulleases (2.1.81-83; The Argument, 27-28) to be brought up in the Muslim world, and he intends that his daughter will marry Mulleases. In England under James, relations with the Muslim world had deteriorated. Yet, what is interesting in Mason's play is the way that relations with the Grand Turk are inescapably linked with Florence's position vis-a-vis other European city-states. Florentine-Muslim relations are thus not dealt with in isolation; rather, they are part of the play's larger meditation on Borgias's foreign policy, particularly with regard to European rivals. In The Turke, then, Borgias is dependent on the forces of the Grand Turk precisely because he is not able to deal with European rivals on his own. As Ferrara and Venice besiege Florence at the beginning of the play it is all too clear that under his governorship the state is unable to defend itself. As he attempts to become an absolute monarch, the situation deteriorates still further, and hence he enters into an anti-Christian alliance as the only way of defeating his European rivals.
This reading of The Turke suggests concern for the foreign policy of James's first decade. Borgias's desires for absolutist control in Florence lead him to betray the Christian religion and make alliances with another faith. Certainly to those nobles and courtiers who wanted James to continue the war with Spain begun by his predecessor Elizabeth, Rex Pacificus was deeply unpopular. As Sir Henry Neville wrote in 1606, "the Kingdom generally wishes this peace broken, but Jacobus Pacificus I believe will scarce incline to that side." (75) Many of the king's subjects--including Walter Raleigh and Prince Henry, the heir to the throne--wished the king to pursue a more forceful foreign policy. (76) James was frequently attacked for attempting to preserve peace in Europe when, as a Protestant king, his subjects believed he should be more aggressive against Catholic rivals. (77) Moreover, because of his Catholic-convert queen and his only intermittent persecution of Catholics, James was often described by critics as too tolerant of the Roman faith. (78) In 1608, for instance, there was something of a crisis about the strength of James's religious beliefs when Cardinal Bellarmine published a letter written in 1599 by James to Pope Clement VIII that implied he would consider conversion to Catholicism if the pope would support his claim to the English throne when it became vacant. (79) In Borgias's vacillation to the Ottoman sultan we can detect, perhaps, a displaced version of James's perceived weaknesses. The way Borgias is outmaneuvered by other European princes--resulting in an unequal and perfidious alliance with the sultan--can be seen as a dark warning about the perceived dangers to England of a weak foreign policy. (80)
My final point in support of this reading of The Turke as a hostile allegory of the policies of James I involves the description of the English sodomite, Bordello. In Lust's Dominion Eleazar is the most sexually "unnatural" character since in the first scene it is hinted that he has homosexual relations with the queen's two pages. In lines that are reminiscent of the description of Neptune in Hero and Leander, the queen offers the boys as cupbearing Ganymedes to Eleazar's Jove. (81) On one level this description of Eleazar conforms, as Nabil Matar has shown, to stereotypical views of Muslims. (82) As William Davis claimed in 1614, "These Turks are goodly people of parson, and of a very faire complexion, but very villains in minde, for they are altogether Sodomites, and doe all things contrarie to a Christian." (83) Yet, as we have seen, if we accept that the foreign Eleazar figures as James to an audience worried about James VI's Scottish identity, then on another level his sodomy might also be seen as part of the text's hostility to James. From the early years of his reign in Scotland, James was notorious for being swayed by the sexual allure of favorites. Sir Anthony Weldon, in his account of the rise of Robert Carr to the king's favor after his establishment on the English throne, also evokes the panderish atmosphere of the court where the countess of Suffolk was busily seeking out "choyse young men, who she daily curled, and perfumed their breaths" to catch the king's romantic fancy. (84) Other less anti-Stuart sources also frequently describe the king's delight in his male companions. As early as 1584 M. de Fontenay, envoy of Mary Stuart, reported that the young's king's "love for his favorites is indiscreet and wilful and takes no account of the wishes of his people." (85)
By contrast, in The Turke it is not Mulleases who is the sodomitical figure; rather, it is the "catamite" (2.3.1) Bordello who tells his page Pantofle: "I will turn Iupiter, hate the whole sexe of women, and onely embrace thee my Ganimede " (1.2.136-37). Indeed, the identification of Bordello, a "humorous traveller," as English is important. Madam Fulsome describes him as "borne under your northren clime," and his English identity is more specifically invoked by his satiric comments on the "Great Commoditie" of "titles of honour" (2.3.95, 99) that are being trafficked in his home country: "they use knighthood as rich Iewellers desire Iemms rather for trafficque then ornament" (1.3.95-97). This was a notorious issue in Stuart England: Elizabeth I created only 878 knights during her whole reign, and James in the first four months of his made 906 new knights. (86)
How then should we read this shift in the identity of the sodomitical character from the Turkish villain in the Elizabethan play to the English traveler in the Jacobean drama? It is not an innocent change but is, I believe, indicative of anxieties about English sexuality, specifically about the nature of James's relationships with his male favorites. The connection between the English character Bordello and sodomy in The Turke makes explicit the connection between the English and the practice in a way that Lust's Dominion did not, even though Eleazar stood in for James in some ways. Thus the switch from sodomitical "Turk" to catamite "English" traveler between these two plays is both revealing and carefully handled. The sodomite is now clearly English, but he is not a monarch; in the earlier play he had kingly ambitions but was a "Turk." Both plays in their construction of their respective sodomitical characters embed both subversive and orthodox readings: Eleazar's sodomy is explained by his North African origin; Bordello's by his class position. However, in the context of the other politically motivated changes between Lust's Dominion and The Turke, it seems likely that Bordello's sexuality is also allegorically directed against James Stuart.
In the changes between these two closely related "Turk" plays we have, I believe, a barometer with which to assess the problems facing England that are due to the policies of its monarch. The differences in the versions of the story we get in 1599-1600 and in 1607-09 are shaped by changing political circumstances as well as by perceptions about the personality and leadership qualities of particular rulers, or candidates for the throne, and courtiers. In other words, what I have shown in this study of Lust's Dominion and The Turke is that "Turk" plays need to be recognized as being as politically charged as other dramatic subgenres of the period. Not only are these plays testament to the fascination and anxieties provoked in England by encounters with Muslim peoples, but their exotic and displaced settings offer writers an opportunity to debate sensitive topical domestic issues with relative impunity. The allegorical dimension embedded in these two plays complicates the dominant critical view of "Turk" plays as expressions of alterity which made the "Muslim ... all that an Englishman and Christian was not." (87) Both Marston and Dekker in Lust's Dominion and Mason in The Turke use "Turk" characters opportunistically in order to embed antiestablishment political positions with relative impunity.
I am grateful to Paulina Kewes, Stephan Schmuck and Greg Walker for comments and help with this essay. I would also like to acknowledge Chris Woolgar and the Hartley Institute, University of Southampton, for enabling me to complete research for the article.
(1) For instance, see Emily C. Bartels, Spectacles of Strangeness: Imperialism, Alienation, and Marlowe (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993); Jack D'Amico, The Moor in English Renaissance Drama (Tampa: University of South Florida Press, 1993); Anthony Gerard Barthelemy, Black Face, Maligned Race: The Representation of Blacks in English Drama from Shakespeare to Southerne (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University, 1987).
(2) Nabil Matar, Turks, Moors, and Englishmen in the Age of Discovery (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999), 12.
(3) Ibid., 13.
(4) Richard Hasleton, Strange and Wonderfull Things Happened to Richard Hasleton ... in his Ten Years' Travails in Many Foureign Countries (London, 1595); Thomas Saunders, A True Discription and Breefe Discourse, of a Most Lamentable Voyage, Made Lately to Tripolie in Barbarie, in a Ship Na reed Jesus (London, 1587); George Sandys, A Relation of a Journey Begun An. Dom. 1610 (London, 1615); William Lithgow, Totall Discourse of the Rare Adverntures, and Painefull Peregrinations of Long Nineteene yeares Travayles, from Scotland, to the Most Famous Kingdomes in Europe, Asia and Affrica (London, 1632); Daniel Vitkus, "Travelling with the Turk: English Travelers in the Ottoman Empire during the Early Seventeenth Century," in Travel Knowledge: European Discoveries in the Early Modern Period, ed. Ivo Kamps and Jyotsna G. Singh (New York and Houndsmills: Palgrave, 2001), 35-52; Matar, Turks, Moors, and Englishmen, 43-82.
(5) On the distinctions between these groups, see Matar, Turks, Moors, and Englishmen, 7-8.
(6) For political readings of these dramatic subgenres see, for instance, Clifford Ronan, Antike Roman: Power Symbology and the Roman Play for Early Modern England, 1585-1635 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1995); Jonathan Dollimore, Radical Tragedy: Religion, Ideology, and Power in the Drama of Shakespeare and his Contemporaries (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984); Andrew Hadfield, Literature, Travel, and Colonial Writing in the English Renaissance, 1545-1625 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998).
(7) Curtis Perry, The Making of Jacobean Culture: James I and the Renegotiation of Elizabethan Literary Practice (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 98-106.
(8) See, for example, Jonas Barish, ed., Sejanus (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1965), 16. For discussion, see Perry, The Making of Jacobean Culture, 99.
(9) See Charles Cathcart, "Lust's Dominion; or, the Lascivious Queen: Authorship, Date, and Revision," Review of English Studies 52 (2001), 360-61, and also the same author's "'You will crown him King that slew your King': Lust's Dominion and Oliver Cromwell," Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England 11 (1999): 264.
(10) Henslowe's Diary, ed. R. A. Foakes, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 131, and Cathcart, "Lust's Dominion; or, the Lascivious Queen: Authorship, Date, and Revision," 360-75. Marston's role in the composition of the play is also emphasized by J. L. Simmons, "Lust's Dominion: A Showpiece for the Globe?" Tulane Studies in English 20 (1972): 11-22.
(11) Eleazar, describing the stage in terms of a tennis court concludes the speech with a claim that he could "Bandy every ball/Over this Globe of earth, win sett and all" (5.2.64-5). which perhaps alludes to the new playhouse; See Simmons, "Lust's Dominion: A Showplace," 12-13. Citations in my article are to Lust's Dominion; or, The Lascivious Queen, in Thomas Dekker, The Dramatic Works, ed. Fredson Bowers, 4 vols. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1953-1961), vol. 4.
(12) Andrew Gurr, The Shakespearian Playing Companies (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), 365. See also Joseph Q. Adams, ed., John Mason's The Turke, Materials for the Study of Old English Drama, 37 (Louvain: A. Uystpryst, 1913), v-xxii. Quotations in my article are from The Turk, ed. Fernand Lagarde, Jacobean Drama Studies 30 (Salzburg: Institute fur Anglistik and Amerikanistik, Universitat Salzburg, 1979).
(13) Frank W. Wadsworth, "The Relationship of Lust's Dominion and John Mason's The Turke," English Literary History 20 (1953): 194-199.
(14) Ibid., 194-95.
(15) See Claire Jowitt, Voyage Drama and Gender Politics 1589-1642: Real and Imagined Worlds (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2002).
(16) See Elliot H. Tokson, The Popular Image of the Black Man in English Drama, 1550-1688 (Boston, Mass: G. K. Hall, 1982), 42-43.
(17) See Nabil Matar's introduction to Piracy, Slavery, and Redemption: Barbary Captivity Narratives from Early Modern England, ed. Daniel Vitkus (New York: Columbia University Press, 2001), 1-52.
(18) For a summary and account of the development of the stage stereotypes, see Samuel Chew, The Crescent and the Rose: Islam and England During the Renaissance (1937; reprint, New York: Octagon, 1965), 469-540.
(19) See Simon Shepherd, Marlowe and the Politics of Elizabethan Theatre (Brighton: Harvester, 1986), 142-77.
(20) For John Payne Collier's notice in 1825 of the indebtedness of act 1, scene 2,11.1-77 to a pamphlet, The Sicknesse, Last Wordes, and Death of the King of Spaine (1599), see J. Le Gay Brereton, ed., Lust's Dominion; or The Lascivious Queen, Materials for the Study of Old English Drama, n.s. 5 (Louvain Uystpruyst, 1931), xv-xvii.
(21) See Shepherd, Marlowe and the Politics of Elizabethan Theatre, 153-56.
(22) N. Doleman (pseud. for Robert Parsons), A Conference About the Next Succession to the Crowne of Ingland (Antwerp, 1594), as cited by D. H. Willson, King James VI and I (London: Jonathan Cape, 1956), 140.
(23) See Willson, King James VI and I, 141.
(24) Thomas Wilson, "The State of England Anno Dom[ini] 1600," ed. F. J. Fisher, Camden Miscellany 16 (1936), 2. See also Judith M. Richards, "The English Accession of James VI: 'National' Identity, Gender, and the Personal Monarchy of England," English Historical Review 117, no. 472 (2002): 516-17.
(25) Doleman (pseud. for Robert Parson), A Conference About the Next Succession, 2:261-62.
(26) For a reading of the character of Philip II in these dramas see Joseph Candido, "Captain Thomas Stukeley: The Man, the Theatrical Record, and the Origins of Tudor 'Biographical' Drama," Anglia 105 (1987): 50-68; Peter Hyland, "Moors, Villainy, and The Battle of Alcazar," Parergon 16 (1999): 85-99; John Yoklavich, ed., The Battle of Alcazar, in The Dramatic Works of George Peele (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1961), 218-92; Jowitt, Voyage Drama and Gender Politics, 99-145.
(27) Quoted by Paul E. Hammer, The Polarisation of Elizabethan Politics: The Political Career of Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, 1585-1597 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 247, from A. Collins, Letters and Memorials of State ... from the Originals at Penshurst Place in Kent, 1:342. According to Essex, for instance, the Spanish were "an insolent, cruell and usurping nation that disturbed the common peace, aspired to the conquest of my countrey, and was a generall enemie to the liberty of Christendome," and their territorial designs should be aggressively rebuffed through the continued military support of the French king Henry IV's campaign against Spain and of the war in the Netherlands. (Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, An Apologie of the Earle of Essex, Against Those Which Jealously, and Maliciously, Tax Him to be the Murderer of the Peace and Quiet of His Country [London, 1603], sig. A[3.sup.r] as quoted by Hammer, The Polarization, 245). See Samuel Purchas, Hakluytus posthumus, 20 vols. (Glasgow: Maclehose, 1905-07), 20:68-69; and also Paul E. J. Hammer, "Patronage at Court, Faction and the Earl of Essex," in The Reign of Elizabeth I: Court and Culture in the Last Decade, ed. John Guy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 65-86.
(28) Robert Lacey, Robert, Earl of Essex (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1971), 234.
(29) Christopher Haigh, Elizabeth I (London and New York: Longman, 1988), 165.
(30) Quoted without documentation by J. Hurstfield, Elizabeth I and the Unity of England (London: Penguin, 1971), 136. See also Carole Levin, The Reign of Elizabeth I (Basingstoke: Palgrave 2002).
(31) Godfrey Goodman, The Court of King James I, 2 vols. (London: R. Bentley, 1839), 1:96.
(32) Sir John Harington, A Tract on the Succession to the Crown (A.D. 1602), ed. C. R. Markham, Roxburghe Club (1880), 51.
(33) Penry Williams, "Court and Polity under Elizabeth I," in The Tudor Monarchy, ed. John Guy (London: Edward Arnold, 1997), 364.
(34) Thomas Birch, Memoirs of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth, 2 vols. (London, 1754), 2:432.
(35) Hammer, "Patronage at Court, Faction and the Earl of Essex," 85-86.
(36) Pauline Croft, "The Reputation of Robert Cecil: Libels, Political Opinion, and Popular Awareness in the Early Seventeenth Century," Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 6th series 1 (1991): 48.
(37) Pauline Croft, "The Reputation of Robert Cecil," History Today 43 (November 1993): 42.
(38) For a recent account of Marston's work and politics see T. E Wharton, ed., The Drama of John Marston: Critical Re-Visions (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001). On Dekker and Marston, see also Peter Lake and Michael Questier, The Anti-Christ's Lewd Hat: Protestants, Papists, and Players in Post-Reformation England (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002), 407-24.
(39) See Hammer, The Polarisation, 222-34.
(40) PRO, State Papers 78/25, fol. [72.sup.v], as quoted in Hammer, The Polarisation, 223-24.
(41) See Lacey, Robert, Earl of Essex, 238.
(42) Folger Shakespeare Library MS. V.b. 142, fol. 21, as quoted in Hammer, The Polarisation, 231-32.
(43) Robert Lacey, Robert, Earl of Essex (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1971), 234.
(44) Calendar of State Papers (Ireland), as quoted by Lacey, Robert, Earl of Essex, 232.
(45) Quoted without source in ibid., 235.
(46) Folger Shakespeare Library MS.V.b. 142, fol. 21, as quoted by Hammer, The Polarisation, 232.
(47) See Lacey, Robert, Earl of Essex, 219-38.
(48) Her suitors included Henry IV of France, the earl of Northumberland, and Esme Stuart, duke of Lennox. In 1590 a plot was formed by the moderate section of Roman Catholics of marrying her to Ranuccio, eldest son of the duke of Parma, who was descended from John of Gaunt, and of raising her with Spanish support to the throne.
(49) PRO State Papers 12/208/75, as quoted in Richards, "The English Accession of James VI" 315.
(50) Quoted without documentation in Willson, King James VI and I, 111.
(51) Letters of King James VI and I, ed. G. P. V. Akrigg (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1984), 120-21.
(52) John Thornborough, A Discourse Plainely Proving the evident utilitie and urgent necessitie of the desired happie Union (1604), 15; as quoted and discussed in Richards, "The English Accession of James VI," 514-17.
(53) For discussion see Kathleen E. McLuskie, Dekker and Heywood: Professional Dramatists (London: Macmillan, 1994), 25-53.
(54) Perry, The Making of Jacobean Culture, 1: see also Jowitt, "Piracy and Politics in Heywood and Rowley's Fortune by Land and Sea (1607-09)," Renaissance Studies 16 (2002): 217-33.
(55) James VI and I, Political Writings, ed. Johann P. Somerville (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 3; see also Jonathan Goldberg, James I and the Politics of Literature: Jonson, Shakespeare, Donne, and their Contemporaries (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983), 26-27.
(56) See Alan G. R. Smith, The Reign of James I and VI (London: Macmillan, 1973), 15-18; see also Perry, The Making of Jacobean Culture, 153-87.
(57) Matar, Turks, Moors, and Englishmen, 143.
(58) For discussion see Perry, The Making of Jacobean Culture, 185-87; Jonathan Goldberg, James I and the Politics of Literature, ix-xi.
(59) Perry, The Making of Jacobean Culture, 166-72.
(60) Ibid., 83-114.
(61) See D. M. Loades, Politics and the Nation, 1450-1660, 5th ed. (Oxford: Blackwell, 1999), 277-98.
(62) Quoted from Loades, Politics and the Nation, 282.
(63) Rebecca Bushnell, Tragedies of Tyrants: Political Thought and Theater in the English Renaissance (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1990), 37-79.
(64) James VI and I, Political Writings, 78.
(65) Ibid., 20.
(66) For a detailed reading of this play and its political significance see Perry, The Making of Jacobean Culture, 106-11.
(67) See Annabel Patterson, Censorship and Interpretation: The Conditions of Writing and Reading in Early Modern England (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1984), 3-23. On the ability of early modern drama to make political interventions see, for instance, Stephen Orgel, The Illusion of Power: Political Theater in the English Renaissance (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1975); Jean E. Howard, The Stage and Social Struggle in Early Modern England (New York: Routledge, 1994); Louis Montrose, The Purpose of Playing: Shakespeare and the Cultural Politics of the Elizabethan Theatre (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996); Paul Yachnin, Stage-Wrights: Shakespeare, Jonson, Middleton, and the Making of Theatrical Value (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997).
(68) See, for example, Harry Edington, The Borgias (Feltham: Hamlyn, 1981), and Clemente Fusero, The Borgias, trans. Peter Green (London: Pall Mall Press, 1972).
(69) See Gordon Williams, "Image Patterns in Mason's The Turke" Trivium 9 (1974): 54-69.
(70) Matar, Turks, Moors, and Englishmen, 3-18; and also Daniel Goffman, The Ottoman Empire and Early Modern Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002).
(71) See Nabil Matar, "Turning Turk: Conversion to Islam in English Renaissance Thought," Durham University Journal 86 (1994): 33-41; Lois Potter, "Pirates and 'Turning Turk' in Renaissance Drama," in Travel and Drama in Shakespeare's Time, ed. Jean-Pierre Maquerlot and Michele Willems (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 124-40.
(72) Matar describes how in 1603 Elizabeth and the Moroccan ruler, Ahmed al-Mansur, discussed that Moroccan and English troops should attack Spanish colonies in the West Indies and then join together in colonizing missions (Turks, Moors, and Englishmen, 9-19). For James's attitude, see ibid., 143-46.
(73) Perry, The Making of Jacobean Culture, 153-87; see also Anne Barton, "Harking Back to Elizabeth: Ben Jonson and Caroline Nostalgia," English Literary History 48 (1981): 706-31.
(74) See Barbara Fuchs, "Faithless Empires: Pirates, Renegadoes, and the English Nation," English Literary History 67 (2000): 45-69; Jowitt, "Piracy and Politics," 219-21.
(75) John Nichols, The Progress and Public Processions of Queen Elizabeth, 3 vols. (London: John Nichols and Sons, 1823), 2:50.
(76) See Perry, The Making of Jacobean Culture, 166-72.
(77) See Smith, The Reign of James I and VI, 3-8; Loades, Politics and the Nation, 377-80; Roger Lockyer, The Early Stuarts: A Political History of England, 1603-1642, 2nd ed. (London: Longman, 1999), 191-204.
(78) Lockyer, The Early Stuarts, 191-211.
(79) Willson, King James VI and I, 234-45; on anti-Catholic paranoia see Carol Z. Weiner, "The Beleagured Isle: A Study of Elizabethan and Early Jacobean Anti-Catholicism," Past and Present 51 (1971): 27-62.
(80) A defense of James's foreign policy in these early years of rule has been provided by W. B. Patterson, James VI and I and the Reunion of Christianity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 1-123.
(81) See Christopher Marlowe, Hero and Leander, in The Complete Works of Christopher Marlowe, ed. Roma Gill, 5 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987), vol. 1.
(82) Matar, Turks, Moors, and Englishmen, 109-27.
(83) William Davis, Trve Relation of the Trauailes and Most Miserable Captiuitie (1614), sig. [B2.sup.v], as quoted by Matar, Turks, Moors, and Englishmen, 113.
(84) Sir Anthony Weldon, The Court and Character of King James, in Sir Walter Scott, Secret History of the Court of James the First, 2 vols. (Edinburgh: J. Ballantyne, 1811), 1:376; see also Michael B. Young, James VI and I and the History of Homosexuality (London: Macmillan, 2000).
(85) Cal. Hatfield House, MSS. III, 117-20, as quoted by S. J. Houston, James I (London: Longman, 1973), 111.
(86) As quoted in Robert Ashton, ed., James I by His Contemporaries (London: Hutchinson, 1969), 105. For further details see Lawrence. Stone, The Crisis of the Aristocracy 1558-1641 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1965).
(87) Matar, Turks, Moors, and Englishmen, 13.
The University of Wales, Aberystwyth
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