Lust's Dominion

Lust's Dominion

"Lust's Dominion, or The Lascivious Queen" is an English Renaissance stage play, a tragedy written perhaps around 1600 and first published in 1657. The first edition attributed the authorship of the play to Christopher Marlowe, though this attribution has been recognized as spurious by critics and scholars for nearly two centuries. [Logan and Smith, "Predecessors of Shakespeare", p. 32.] (The play borrows from a pamphlet, published in 1599, about the 1598 death of King Philip II of Spain. Marlowe died in 1593.)

The 1657 duodecimo edition was published by Francis Kirkman, to be sold by the bookseller Robert Pollard. [Chambers, Vol. 3, p. 427.] Of the four surviving copies of the 1657 edition, three attribute the play to Marlowe on their title pages—but one does not. This fourth copy also includes three dedicatory poems prefacing the play.

Many critics who have studied the play judge the internal evidence to be suggestive of the style of Thomas Dekker. John Payne Collier was the first to identify "Lust's Dominion" with the play "The Spanish Moor's Tragedy", a play that has not survived under its original name. Collier's argument has been accepted by a number of subsequent commentators. Philip Henslowe's Diary records a down-payment of £3 to Dekker, John Day, and William Haughton in February 1600 for "The Spanish Moor's Tragedy"; the Diary, however, does not show that that play was ever finished, and its identification with "Lust's Dominion" remains uncertain. Individual scholars have also discussed the hypothesis that Henry Chettle may have had a hand in the play, and a few have allowed a possibility that Marlowe may have had some connection with the text in an earlier form. [Logan and Smith, "Popular School", pp. 183-8.] John Marston has also been linked to the play as a potential part-author. [Logan and Smith, "New Intellectuals", pp. 68-9, 225-6.]

If "Lust's Dominion" is "The Spanish Moor's Tragedy" by another name, it may have been influenced by the August 1600 arrival in London of Abd-el-Oahed ben Massood, Ambassador of Muley Hamet, King of Barbary. The embassy had the goal of building an alliance against Spain. The visit, which ended in February 1601, was not a success; later in the year Queen Elizabeth ordered "negars and Blackamoores" to be expelled from the country. [Bullough, Vol. 7, pp. 207-8.]

The play has been categorized as a "tragedy of blood," comparable to Kyd's "The Spanish Tragedy" and Shakespeare's "Titus Andronicus", and to tragedies by Thomas Middleton, John Webster, and Cyril Tourneur.

In the Restoration era, Aphra Behn adapted the play into "Abdelazar, or The Moor's Revenge" (1676), her sole venture into Restoration tragedy.

The plot

Eleazar, Prince of Fez, the anti-hero protagonist, is a prisoner in the Spanish Court, but honored for his military victories. Eleazar has a strong grudge against the Spaniards over his father's death; and he is ruthless enough to make a bold attempt to seize the Spanish crown for himself. The Queen Mother of Spain, Eugenia, is in love with Eleazar; King Ferdinando loves the Moor's wife, Maria. Cardinal Medoza loves the Queen. All of these characters are consumed by ungovernable passions — except for the cold and Machiavellian Eleazar. The Moor pretends to love the Queen Mother, but manipulates her into murdering her son Philip; then he kills her as well. To strike at the Cardinal, he betrays his chaste young wife. And he stabs King Ferdinando as the culmination of his evil plans. Despite all of his strategems, however, Eleazar is defeated in the end; he does to death unrepentant.



* Bullough, Geoffrey. "Narrative and Dramatic Sources of Shakespeare." 8 Volumes, New York, Columbia University Press, 1973.
* Chambers, E. K. "The Elizabethan Stage." 4 Volumes, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1923.
* Logan, Terence P., and Denzell S. Smith, eds. "The New Intellectuals: A Survey and Bibliography of Recent Studies in English Renaissance Drama." Lincoln, NE, University of Nebraska Press, 1977.
* Logan, Terence P., and Denzell S. Smith, eds. "The Popular School: A Survey and Bibliography of Recent Studies in English Renaissance Drama." Lincoln, NE, University of Nebraska Press, 1975.
* Logan, Terence P., and Denzell S. Smith, eds. "The Predecessors of Shakespeare: A Survey and Bibliography of Recent Studies in English Renaissance Drama." Lincoln, NE, University of Nebraska Press, 1973.
* Pitcher, John, ed. "Medieval and Renaissance Drama in Engliand." Vol. 11; Madison/Teaneck, NJ, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1999.

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