ŮÚū. 1
(‚ŮŚ„Ó 6)



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Covering a wide variety of dramatic texts and performances from
1550 to 1600, including Shakespeare‪s second tetralogy, this book
explores moral, historical, and comic plays as contributions to
Elizabethan debates on Anglo-foreign relations in England. The
economic, social, religious, and political issues that arose from inter-
British contact and Continental immigration into England are
reinvented and rehearsed on the public stage. Kermode uncovers two
broad ‚Ęalien stages‚Ä™ in the drama: distinctive but overlapping
processes by which the alien was used to posit ideas and ideals of
Englishness. Many studies of English national identity pit
Englishness against the alien ‚Ęother‚Ä™ so that the native self and the
alien settle into antithetical positions. In contrast, Aliens and
Englishness reads a body of plays that represents Englishness as a state
of ideological, invented superiority ‚Ä“ paradoxically stable in its
constant changeability, and brought into being by incorporating and
eventually even celebrating, rather than rejecting, the alien.

ll oy d e dw ar d k erm od e is Associate Professor in the
Department of English, California State University, Long Beach.
He is the editor of Three Renaissance Usury Plays, and co-editor, with
Jason Scott-Warren and Martine van Elk, of Tudor Drama before
Shakespeare, 1485‚Ä“1590: New Directions for Research, Criticism, and

California State University,
Long Beach
Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, S√£o Paulo

Cambridge University Press
The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge CB2 8RU, UK
Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press, New York

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© Lloyd Edward Kermode 2009

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accurate or appropriate.
For aliaunts and butterboxes

Preface page ix
Acknowledgements xi

1 Introduction ‚Ä“ aliens and the English in London 1
2 Discovering the alien in Elizabethan moral drama 23
3 Accommodating the alien in mid-Elizabethan London plays 59
4 Incorporating the alien in Shakespeare‪s second tetralogy 85
5 Being the alien in late-Elizabethan London plays 119

Postscript: Early modern and post-modern alien excursions 150
Notes 155
Bibliography 184
Index 198


note on the frontispiece
The frontispiece and cover illustration is from Jost Amman‪s Gynaeceum,
sive, Theatrum mulierum [The Theatre of Women] (1586). The book is a
collection of prints from Ô¬Āne wood engravings, each image accompanied
by eight lines of Latin text by Francois Modius (1556‚Ä“97). The title-page
notes that the book is designed to present ‚ĘThe female costumes of all the
principal nations, tribes, and peoples of Europe . . . in commendation of
the female sex, and for the especial gratiÔ¬Ācation of such as by their
manner of ordinary life, or from other causes, are hindered from distant
travel, but at the same time take pleasure at home in the costume of
various people, which is a silent index of their character.‪1 Costumed
appearance of Ô¬Āgures is of primary importance throughout this study as
various dramatic ‚Ętypes‚Ä™ and disguises question early modern notions of
social, political, gendered, and religious ‚Ęcharacter‚Ä™. Amman‚Ä™s ‚Ęmarried
lady of London‪ is what Pisaro‪s daughters are aspiring to in their attempt
to shed their Portuguese nationality in William Haughton‪s Englishmen
for My Money. This matron also, according to the dedicatory letter by the
printer Sigmund Feyerabend of Frankfurt (1528‚Ä“90), represents a moral
goodness that we see being strived for in Robert Wilson‪s The Three
Ladies of London. The text accompanying the image tells us that Amman‪s
London matron has rosy cheeks deserving of a wealthy husband. She is
thus a poignantly optimistic version of Three Ladies‚Ä™ Lady Conscience,
who is by contrast offered the stability of marriage only by the laughable
Simplicity and whose ‚Ęreddy and white‚Ä™ ‚Ęcheeks‚Ä™ attract the wealth of
corrupted Lady Lucre. Amman‪s presentation of women, and
Feyerabend‪s covert instruction of women, as on one hand a locus of
national glory and praise and on the other hand the obvious site for
corruption and failure to maintain moral uprightness, are further
touchstones for the interplay of gender, national security, cross-border

trafÔ¬Āc of bodies and habits, wealth, and religious conscience in the
comedies and histories discussed in Aliens and Englishness in Elizabethan

note on quotations
Quotations from early modern texts have retained original spelling with
the exceptions of silent i/j and u/v correction and modern title
Quotations from Shakespeare are taken from The Norton Shakespeare,
2nd edition (2008).

This book has taken a long time to write. And rewrite. And rewrite again.
Meredith Skura and Edward Snow gave me helpful guidance throughout
its initial phase. The book was rewritten during a Barbara Thom
Fellowship at the Huntington Library; it was rewritten again a few years
later in response to the bulk of new published material on British studies
and ‚ĘLondon plays‚Ä™; and it was substantially revised over the past couple
of years thanks to the incisive and extensive readings of several
anonymous readers. My gratitude is due to Sarah Stanton, Rebecca
Jones, and everyone else involved in producing this book at Cambridge
University Press. To Martine I owe almost everything else.
Rewritten sections of two previously published essays appear in
Chapters 3 and 5: ‚ĘThe Playwright‚Ä™s Prophecy: Robert Wilson‚Ä™s The Three
Ladies of London and the ‚ÄúAlienation‚ÄĚ of the English‚Ä™, Medieval and
Renaissance Drama in England 11 (1999): 60‚Ä“87; and ‚ĘAfter Shylock: the
‚ÄúJudaiser‚ÄĚ in England‚Ä™, Renaissance and Reformation 20 (1996): 5‚Ä“25.
The frontispiece is reproduced by permission of the Huntington
Library, San Marino, California.

chapter 1

Introduction ‚Ä“ aliens and the English
in London

aliens, foreigners, citizens
Tens of thousands of Continental migrants passed in and out of London
and other major English towns during the reign of Elizabeth (1558‚Ä“1603).
The merchants of London were used to seeing aliens in their midst,
Germans and Italians in particular being a signiÔ¬Ācant presence since the
twelfth century. But wars and military occupation in sixteenth-century
northern Europe changed the complexion of the immigrant body in
England. Protestants migrated in waves after the 1567 news of Alva‪s
troop deployment to the Netherlands and after the fall of Antwerp in
1585, and a number of French Protestants made their way to England after
the Paris Massacre of 1572.1 Edward VI had established French and Dutch
churches in London in 1550, when the resident alien population of
England was at its peak, and these institutions continued to act as relig-
ious, social, and organizational community centres for the immigrant
population throughout the century.2 Among the religious refugees,
however, were economic migrants, and this mixed group caused signiÔ¬Ā-
cant tension in the capital. On the one hand, the new residents brought
new skills and stature to English production and trade. On the other
hand, they were seen to be economically and ideologically dangerous:
they clustered and traded among themselves, sent money abroad instead
of reinvesting it in England, and practised religion that was inÔ¬‚uenced
by extremists and attracted good members away from the Church of
Resentment against the aliens caused friction between English classes.
Landlords beneÔ¬Āted from the new immigrants as renters of cheap
accommodation, while apprentices and journeymen saw aliens as stealers
of jobs from the English. Reformed Christian immigrants were trans-
national ‚Ębrothers‚Ä™ against the Catholic beast, but the problem of extreme
Protestantism from the Continent continued to trouble the queen.

Aliens and Englishness in Elizabethan Drama
Moreover, the question of rights to work in the city of London was a
constant point of debate between the mayor, the guilds, and the Privy
Council.3 All these groups were similarly concerned about the size and
impact of the alien population, and the Crown maintained a policy of
dispersal, planting immigrants in provincial towns to spread both the
wealth and the worry of the new communities. With perhaps 50,000
Continental aliens coming into England during Elizabeth‪s reign and
living in clustered ‚Ä“ and therefore visible ‚Ä“ communities, it was not
surprising if a perception of an ‚Ęalien invasion‚Ä™ was in the air.4 But placed
in the context of the general rise of English and ‚ĘBritish‚Ä™ residents in
London, the contemporary censuses (the Returns of Strangers) show a
proportional decrease in the Continental alien presence in the latter half of
the century: from 12.5 per cent in 1553, to 10 per cent in 1571, falling to
between 5 and 6 per cent in 1593.5 Indeed, Elizabethan London‪s popu-
lation was growing at an extraordinary rate, a phenomenon underpinned
by migration from within the ‚ĘBritish Isles‚Ä™. In the year 1600, London was
over sixteen times larger than Norwich, the next most populous English
town; Ô¬Āfty years later, it would be second only to Paris in European city
population.6 Frustrations about overcrowding and economic strain led to
urban unrest, and the strangers ‚Ęprovided a convenient scapegoat‚Ä™ for
expressing that frustration in sometimes violent ways.7
While the usage is not perfectly consistent, Elizabethan documents
widely employed the terms ‚Ęalien‚Ä™ and ‚Ęstranger‚Ä™ to refer to persons from a
foreign country. The home ‚Ęcountry‚Ä™ in the second half of the sixteenth
century is England plus the Principality of Wales. The Scots and the Irish
are, therefore, ‚Ęaliens‚Ä™ along with the Continental European strangers. The
term ‚Ęforeigner‚Ä™ referred to persons from outside the city or region being
discussed or those who were not ‚Ęfreemen‚Ä™ of the city (belonging to a guild,
allowed to keep an open retail shop, possessing voting and civic repre-
sentation rights). Continental aliens were usually ‚Ęforeigners‚Ä™ too, then, in
so far as they rarely gained the freedom of the city and became ‚Ęcitizens‚Ä™.8
In practice, freemen Londoners might cast themselves speciÔ¬Ācally within
what the character Pleasure in Robert Wilson‪s The Three Lords and Three
Ladies of London calls a ‚Ęrace‚Ä™ of London.9 That would set them against
the provinces, such that while ‚Ę‚ÄúForeign‚ÄĚ English, needless to say, had
separate interests from continental strangers‚Ä™, they were ‚Ęoften lumped
together with them by citizens‚Ä™ of London as general outsiders.10 On the
occasions I use ‚Ęforeigner‚Ä™ in this book, I generally do so in the modern
sense of the term, synonymously with ‚Ęalien‚Ä™ and ‚Ęstranger‚Ä™; I make it clear
when I am talking speciÔ¬Ācally of the early modern sense of a foreigner.
Introduction ‚Ä“ aliens and the English in London 3
In between the status of a ‚Ętrue born‚Ä™ English man or woman and an
alien was a denizen, a permanent resident with rights of residency and
work in the adopted country. Denizens achieved their status through
letters petitioned from the Crown. The exact privileges of any denizen
were individually laid out in the letter, and it was a status that began with
the date of the letter and was not inherited by the children of the alien.11
In a state of limbo throughout the period were those whom we might
consider English subjects (i.e. born to English parents) but born abroad
(again, including in Scotland and Ireland) or born in England to one or
two alien parents. Parliamentary debate and court cases through the reign
of James I argued the national status of such persons, and the drama
provides several examples of equivocally identiÔ¬Āed alien residents.12 Aliens
could also petition and pay for an Act of Parliament for naturalization,
but very few took this expensive route. In fact, a surprisingly small number
of aliens seem to have taken the option of the relatively inexpensive
denizenship. Even before one of the primary beneÔ¬Āts of denizenship ‚Ä“
the right to apprentice an alien son with an English master ‚Ä“ was
removed by an Act of Common Council in 1574, the proportion of
aliens taking denization was fairly low. There was also a very signiÔ¬Ācant
drop-off in letters of denization issued later in Elizabeth‪s reign: from
1,669 in the period 1558‚Ä“78 to 293 in 1578‚Ä“1603. Only 1 per cent of the
alien population in 1593 had free denizen status.13 This may indicate a
loosening of the ofÔ¬Ācial attitude towards alien and native commercial
contact as the alien communities became assimilated, such that aliens no
longer needed letters to practise their trades with English men. It may
also indicate the opposite: aliens could have become more introspective
and dealt more within their own communities. There may also have
been a decreasing commitment to permanent settlement, for aliens who
could not be sure they would remain in England for long probably did
not feel a strong need for denization.

alien stages and alien confusion
This book studies the ways in which English drama in the second half of
the sixteenth century responded to and represented the increasingly
diverse and increasingly fraught contact between alien and English men
and women in London and England. From this context, I theorize the
ways in which certain plays create a notion of ‚ĘEnglishness‚Ä™ that early
modern London audiences might ‚Ä“ for better or for worse ‚Ä“ recognize
and approve of. In the preceding section, I outlined early modern
Aliens and Englishness in Elizabethan Drama
categorizations of national and local identity. Below, I introduce my
own terminology for the present study, and as I do so I remain aware
that retrospective labelling of a period or culture can make or impose
categories as well as describe them. Therefore, I base my readings of
Elizabethan drama in the contexts, signs, and events of the period. At the
same time, I am interested in testing the effectiveness of stepping back
into our own time to use hindsight and modern theoretical and political
tools to assess the desires and anxieties and hopes, the proofs and argu-
ments and gaps in Elizabethan English understandings of regional,
national, and international relations.
This section‚Ä™s title phrase, ‚Ęalien stages‚Ä™, indicates this book‚Ä™s concern
with several aspects of the working of the Elizabethan stage. First, rather
simply, I am studying plays in which physical representations of con-
temporary and recognizable aliens appear on the stage. Second, where the
English stage shows a play set primarily in England but featuring alien
characters, it becomes an alien stage as representations of non-Englishness
essentially determine dramatic ‚Ęreadings‚Ä™ of London, England, ‚ĘBritish‚Ä™
history, and communal identities. And third, there were two broad steps
or stages in the dramatic representation of the alien in Elizabethan
In the Ô¬Ārst ‚Ęalien stage‚Ä™ (primarily but not exclusively in the Marian
and earlier Elizabethan drama), English‚Ä“alien contact is represented as
causing infection, ‚Ędeformation‚Ä™, or corruption by the presence of real
alien bodies and inÔ¬‚uences. These earlier plays appear to do what they
can to dismiss or eliminate alien elements (characters, habits, professions,
clothing, language). They set up Englishness against otherness by hom-
ogenizing the varieties of alien identity (thus all foreigners are equally
‚Ęother‚Ä™; thus all ‚Ęothers‚Ä™ are diseased, corrupt, etc.). To highlight dis-
tasteful foreign elements and make of them a common denominator
against which to deÔ¬Āne Englishness is the process of national-identity-
building outlined by much current criticism, and I discuss this trend
The second ‚Ęalien stage‚Ä™ is suggested and tested in late morality plays,
but is only clearly manifested in the late-Elizabethan drama. In this latter
stage, the plays demonstrate that the absorption of what was deemed
utterly ‚Ęalien‚Ä™ in earlier drama is not just acceptable, but also necessary,
for the rise and maintenance of what the plays set forth as a stable, strong
English protagonist. ‚ĘEnglishness‚Ä™ in the plays always requires some moral
grounding that asserts its superiority to other cultures (and in Elizabethan
plays speciÔ¬Ācally un-Reformed cultures), and it requires physical prowess
Introduction ‚Ä“ aliens and the English in London 5
demonstrated by strength of mind (standing one‪s ground in the face of
adversity) and strength of body (successful judgement against evil,
usurpation of positions of power, comic trickery) to secure solutions to
intractable problems. ‚ĘEnglishness‚Ä™ in these later cases combines itself
with the alien and (generally rhetorically) extracts out of that fusion a
reformed, expanded, revitalized, and always politically equivocal deÔ¬Ān-
ition of the English self. As we will see throughout the book, the very
status of ‚ĘEnglishness‚Ä™ as a phenomenon with an existence prior to alien
contact is continually undermined.
The working of the second alien stage is hardly straightforward, as it
argues for an Englishness that is not set against the alien but rather relies
on the presence of that other within itself. I contend that this notion of an
Englishness that incorporates the alien in all aspects of its representation
would not have been too surprising to Elizabethan writers or thinkers.
In his Italian‚Ä“English primer, First Fruits (1578), John Florio has his
Englishman ask an Italian what he thinks of the English language. The
Italian replies:
Certis if you wyl beleeve me, it doth not like me at al, because it is a language
confused, bepeesed with many tongues: it taketh many words of the latine, & mo
from the French, & mo from the Italian, & many mo from the Duitch, some
also from the Greeke, & from the Britaine, so that if every language had his owne
wordes againe, there woulde but a fewe remaine for English men, and yet every
day they adde.
[. . .]
Make the experience of it, take a booke and reade, but marke well, and you
shall not reade four woordes together of true English.14

This sense of the English language as a hodge-podge of tongues was
asserted by several writers in the period. Language becomes a vital con-
cern in most of the plays that I discuss in this book, because use and
avoidance of language is seen to reveal the will of characters to be
incorporated into various communal bodies. I have introduced the
‚Ęmongrel‚Ä™ English language issue here as a symptomatic synecdoche for
the state of Englishness as a whole. For what is interesting in this passage
is the use of the word ‚Ęconfused‚Ä™ to describe English a few lines before the
concluding notion that there is such a thing as ‚Ętrue English‚Ä™. We are thus
presented with the two basic nuances of the word confuse: a sense of
uncertainty and disorientation on the one hand, and the process of
‚Ęcon-fusing‚Ä™ or coming-together to form a single entity on the other. The
end of the passage attempts to keep an alien‚Ä“English division to stave off
Aliens and Englishness in Elizabethan Drama
the fear of confused uncertainty in a mixed-up language. Yet such
exclusivity of identity is already made equivocal by the passage‪s
acknowledgement that ‚Ęconfusion‚Ä™ in the second, literal sense lies behind
the very construction of Englishness.
The passage from Florio brieÔ¬‚y lays out the perspective of the two alien
stages by keeping them both in suspension: as in the Ô¬Ārst alien stage, the
speaker attempts to retain an oppositional hypothesis that the alien
somehow comes along after the creation of an entire language of ‚Ępure
English‚Ä™ and invades it; however, as acknowledged in the second alien
stage, the speaker has already outlined a process in which English is
‚Ębepeesed‚Ä™, put together with foreign tongues ‚Ä“ the alien is within English
as it is being formed. The Italian speaker also notes that English ‚Ęis a
language that wyl do you good in England, but passe Dover, it is woorth
nothing‚Ä™,15 suggesting the confusing paradox of a language made up of all
the tongues from past Dover, but which is useless once outside the
conÔ¬Ānes of the English borders. Englishness is an identity that only exists
by containing the alien, yet it is an identity separate from other national
In the second alien stage, and in the drama of the last decade of
Elizabeth‪s reign, the search for a settled and ameliorating sense of
Englishness will no longer permit simplistic tar-brushing of the alien;
each alien element must instead be recognized as already involved in ‚Ä“
confused with ‚Ä“ English society or culture. As with the language that only
develops into a full system by absorbing (pre-existing) alien words, the
plays show the alien being absorbed and fused with the native self as that
native forms and claims an ‚ĘEnglishness‚Ä™. The fact that such Englishness is
most fully laid out by morality vices (with, as we shall see, alien origins), a
Welsh king of England, and daughters of a Portuguese father in Eng-
lishmen for My Money lets us know that the question of origins remains at
stake through the Elizabethan period, and remains unanswered. At any
point a culture can look back and talk about previous incarnations of
native identity, but from any point that identity can be seen as con-
structed from alien incorporation. This book will not resolve the question
of the English chicken and the alien egg.
The second alien stage, then, gives us something beyond the traditional
view of identity determined by its difference from the other: Englishness
as an ideology of power built, paradoxically, around the alien that is
within it, ‚Ęcon-fused‚Ä™. The process of alien incorporation between the Ô¬Ārst
and the second alien stages is a political and rhetorical move as much as it
is a representation of cosmopolitan awareness on the part of English
Introduction ‚Ä“ aliens and the English in London 7
writers and audiences, because any ‚Ęopenness‚Ä™ to the other is necessarily
also a co-option of the other. To deny the alien through a prejudicial
or ignorant confusion and rejection, as in the Ô¬Ārst stage, is to leave
Englishness always naive and open to surprise, attack, and deformation by
alien bodies and ideas. To incorporate the alien within Englishness by
productive confusion, as in the second stage, is to hybridize and
strengthen Englishness for its long-term imperial presence in wider
British, European, and worldwide contexts.
The drama‪s rhetorical constructions of and rehearsals of versions of
‚ĘEnglish identity‚Ä™ embed belief in the concept‚Ä™s reality. If the steady intake
of alien elements ‚Ä“ foreign bodies ‚Ä“ promotes representations of an
Englishness vaccinated against ‚Ęimpurity‚Ä™ from the outside, it should be
made clear early on that such an idea of exclusive identity is a Ô¬Āction. The
alien remains as a slightly uncomfortable joke or as ancestry to be sup-
pressed and recast. Here, that other rather Miltonic sense of ‚Ęconfuse‚Ä™
as the confounding (confundere) of the rebel angels comes into play,
whereby determination to be oneself, to be true to one‪s not-lost identity,
in spite of adversity, is itself delusional ‚Ä“ but powerfully so. Ideologies of
identity do not lose their status as having material existence within
societies just because their truth factor is compromised. Thus the plays
can produce identity separately from politico-historical impositions of
geographical and religious identity. I should close this section with the
note that the plays engage with the two alien stages as a matter of degree
rather than exclusively ‚Ä“ one play‚Ä™s anxiety and rejection of the alien may
overshadow a subtle awareness of the alien‪s potential usefulness; another
play may be very interested in celebrating the alien in England and
Englishness while retaining some basic prejudices against the ‚Ęother‚Ä™.

‚Ęthe stage is england‚Ä™: critical and dramatic
positions on national identity
Much of the critical examination of representations of English identity
has remained a study of the Ô¬Ārst alien stage. We have consistently been
told in cultural and literary studies of English national identity that self-
identity is determined by its reaction to the other, and speciÔ¬Ācally its
insistence on its difference from the other. The attraction of an antag-
onistic, oppositional theory of national identity formation has produced
many exciting studies of exotic English‚Ä“alien contact in plays set abroad,
which engage forcefully with the early modern matrix of religion,
ethnicity, sexuality, and commerce. Since these plays are usually travel or
Aliens and Englishness in Elizabethan Drama
historical plays featuring merchants, pirates, renegades, and soldiers, the
premise of Anglo-alien opposition is reasonable. But in British studies,
too, we are told that ‚Ęnationality can only be imagined as a dimension of
difference‚Ä™ from the outside world; ‚ĘEngland is always discovered else-
where, deÔ¬Āned by the encounter with the Other‚Ä™ (frequently for these
critics, the Irish ‚Ęother‚Ä™); ‚ĘEnglishness and English nationality have been
historically deÔ¬Āned against non-Englishness‚Ä™; ‚Ę‚ÄúEnglishness‚ÄĚ at this point
in time is Ô¬Āercely determined by a demonisation of all that is not English‚Ä™;
and ‚Ęnot-Welshness, not-Scottishness, and certainly not-Frenchness [and]
not-Spanishness . . . gave the English their surest sense of national
identity‚Ä™.16 One problem with these statements is that they seem to claim
to know what Englishness is. I have been frequently using ‚Ęscare quotes‚Ä™
for the term Englishness so far to indicate the fact that ‚ĘEnglishness‚Ä™ is not
a stable concept, but one that is worked out and deÔ¬Āned time and again in
different plays and decades. Another problem is that the statements seem
to place ‚ĘEnglishness‚Ä™ only within a ‚Ęnation‚Ä™ of England that feels a sense
of ‚Ęnational identity‚Ä™, and they seem to assert that there is no ‚ĘEnglishness‚Ä™
outside of England.
In his examinations of English nationhood, Richard Helgerson takes
the investigation of the English search for a stable identity in a different
direction. He has provided an alternative way to think of the production
of a ‚Ęcolonial‚Ä™ English self, one that brings the view closer to home in
geographical terms but pushes it further away in time. He emphasizes the
irony of Elizabethan writers‚Ä™ obligation to and desire for another set of
others ‚Ä“ the ancient colonizing Romans. The late sixteenth-century call
for English rediscovery of their poetic genius did not strive for a new and
different mode of expression but for a reliance on foreign examples, he
argues: ‚ĘLikeness, not difference, will be the measure of success.‚Ä™17 Thus
the alien invaders and their cultural legacy are indeed acknowledged as
incorporated into Englishness, but this ‚Ęlikeness‚Ä™ produces a new identity
that is speciÔ¬Ācally ‚ĘEnglish‚Ä™ (those Romans are gone) and therefore still set
in opposition to contemporary alien bodies and cultures ‚Ä“ this doubleness
echoes John Florio‪s Italian speaker‪s representation of the English lan-
guage.18 Other scholars, such as Jodi Mikalachki, have also concentrated
on the need for the English to understand themselves through classical
comparison. She writes of the English ‚Ęlonging on the one hand to
establish historical precedent and continuity, and an equally powerful
drive on the other to exorcise primitive savagery from national history
and identity. The tensions between theses two imperatives inform vir-
tually all articulations of the nation in this period.‪19 This book agrees
Introduction ‚Ä“ aliens and the English in London 9
that the English are striving for stability as they search for national
identity‚Ä™s ‚Ęprecedent and continuity‚Ä™, but it updates the notion in so far as
the ‚Ęsavagery‚Ä™ of the modern men and women in the plays set in con-
temporary England only bears a trace of the ‚Ęprimitive‚Ä™. The alien ten-
dencies are just as often newfangled abhorrences as they are ancient
monstrosities (although bad alien habits ‚Ä“ for example taking tobacco ‚Ä“
often have earlier ‚Ęprimitive‚Ä™ lives).
Two broad points of view dominate studies of English national
identity, then: one in which English identity is formed by a centrifugal,
colonial activity that uses the other in foreign lands against which to
deÔ¬Āne itself; the second in which the centripetal colonial activity of the
distant past haunts and to some extent constrains a creation of English
national identity. In contrast to these positions, Aliens and Englishness is
concerned with an important body of sixteenth-century drama that works
out Englishness by dealing not with exotic or ancient others but with
European aliens of the present and relatively recent past; not by resistance
and antithesis alone but by absorption and similitude; not with
‚Ęelsewhere‚Ä™ as a location of non-Englishness but with the here and often
the now of England (and the expanded ‚ĘEngland‚Ä™ of Britain). Aliens and
Englishness sees Elizabethans‚Ä™ reÔ¬‚ections on English identity as increas-
ingly a process of Ô¬Ānding and absorbing alien aspects around them and
less the simple phenomenon of frictionally and uncooperatively rubbing
up ‚Ęagainst non-Englishness‚Ä™. Therefore, the dramatic selection for study
in this book has been guided by those plays that are set primarily in
England and deal with relatively modern (i.e. not ancient) English, British,
and European characters. The religious questions in Aliens and Englishness
concern the Catholic military and ideological threat, the acceptability of
immigrants‚Ä™ radically reformed Protestantism, the strength of supra-
national fellowship with Continental Protestants, and the real or imagined
presence of Jews and ‚ĘJewishness‚Ä™. The ethnic and ‚Ęracial‚Ä™ questions are
those of cultural traditions and ‚Ędifference‚Ä™ between European and British
neighbours. In the plays this involves aliens who were signiÔ¬Ācantly visible
in London and a few major towns ‚Ä“ mostly the Dutch, French and French-
speaking Lowlanders (Walloon), Welsh, and also to some extent the
Italians and Iberians. Questions of sexuality carry over from moral drama‪s
overt preaching to reprise in the later Elizabethan drama as a set of
reformed Christian imperatives in new, urban, mimetic contexts. Finally,
the economic questions concern urban artisans and merchants and their
ability to live in London and the larger provincial towns, which they felt
were increasingly populated by aliens.
Aliens and Englishness in Elizabethan Drama
By studying the ways in which the plays work through perceptions of
the subtle shifts in Anglo-European social and political alignment, we
follow dramatic representations and creations of Englishness that were, I
suggest, more ‚Ęreal‚Ä™, present, and ‚Ęcloser to home‚Ä™ to the Elizabethan
playgoers; more essential to an English understanding of London; and
more Ô¬Ānely tuned to that audience‚Ä™s immediate concerns than the
assertions of self and other, native and alien, ‚Ębarbarous‚Ä™ and ‚Ęcivilized‚Ä™
that we Ô¬Ānd in literary representations of exotic Anglo-American, Anglo-
Mediterranean, or Anglo-Eastern contact. While ethnic ‚Ęothers‚Ä™ have been
treated very seriously in literary criticism of the past thirty years, the white
male and female alien to Englishness have received more attention from
historians‚Ä™ studies of migration and labour patterns and less attention
from literary scholars interested in how alien Ô¬Āgures are represented and
used in imaginative and ideological ways.
The main study texts in this book are plays set in England, and these
productions force a focus on what the Elizabethan dramatists decided
to represent about the incoming alien, rather than how English self-
perception was challenged and changed by external alien encounters. So,
while a large proportion of the English were no doubt fascinated by
images and narratives of and about the New World, Africa, and Asia ‚Ä“
and Henslowe‪s diary shows that this was a large part of his theatre‪s
repertoire ‚Ä“ such texts did not extend to fantasies of an England peopled
by Americans or Africans. (This is of course in spite of such historical
phenomena as the presence of a small but noticeable black community in
late-Elizabethan and Jacobean London, revealed to us through expulsion
orders.)20 Caliban is not in Elizabethan drama, nor is he in England for
an extended period of time ‚Ä“ although Trinculo reminds us a decade after
this study leaves off that he could have been. Literary and narrative
representation of these ethnic groups probably helped prompt ideo-
logically self-centred conÔ¬Ārmations of national and personal superiority
on the part of the English, but exotic foreigners either remain distant and
among other foreigners, or they are catalysts, enhancing certain inter-
actions between English citizens and British or European others. With
this domestic dynamic in mind, we should take seriously the literal
suggestiveness of the scene-setting in the list of ‚ĘThe Actors Names‚Ä™ in
Grim the Collier of Croydon, possibly by William Haughton, where we
read that ‚ĘThe Stage is England ‚Ä™. Instead of the more benign ‚ĘThe scene is
England‚Ä™, the statement suggests a stage that not only works with
‚ĘEnglishness‚Ä™ in some ways, but is compulsory viewing in order to know
England. This interestingly alters and arguably compounds Thomas
Introduction ‚Ä“ aliens and the English in London 11
Platter‚Ä™s famous remark about English insularity, that ‚Ęthe English pass
their time, learning at the play what is happening abroad‚Ä™: they appar-
ently also pass their time learning at the play what is happening at home
and how they might want to think about themselves.21 The concept of the
stage as England ‚Ä“ as alleged island (in place of Britain), as powerful space
surrounded on all sides, as a place with both a Ô¬Āxed identity and a
mutability like the English character itself ‚Ä“ bears further examination
throughout this study. This may be especially true in relation to
the history plays, which must make the theatre England, and the London
comedies, which take place in a theatre that is already part of the
London topography with which they are so overtly concerned.
Aliens and Englishness‚Ä™ concentration on plays set in England, more-
over, demonstrates that any country, before it can go out and ‚Ęoverwrite‚Ä™
another country, creates methods and practices through which it is itself
overwritten, self-edited, and reproduced both internally and on its mar-
gins. This is an ongoing, contemporary phenomenon, not just something
from an ancient colonial past. The Ô¬‚ourishing of drama in a country that
came late to the colonial race happened not in general response to an
outgoing English who were inventing or re-inscribing the alien, but in
response to the incoming aliens (as visitors and residents). Scholarly
concentration on Jacobean drama and aliens has placed the interest in
foreignness abroad or in a well-developed cosmopolitan London. But
Aliens and Englishness reveals the idea of the alien being worked out long
before this, in an environment of smaller spheres of experience, where
only hints of the exotic would have made their way to the majority of
theatre audience members. In this sense, the present study is pre-colonial,
for it shows how dramatists attempted to work with a conÔ¬‚icted country
before the permanence of the Jamestown settlement: a country at war
with Continental and domestic religious opponents and dealing with
domestic unrest over class, economic and social decline, and immigration
(especially into London and Norwich). But it is also a study of imperial
England. For the distant history of Roman occupation, the wars and
settlement in Ireland, the rhetoric of empire that confuses expansion
within the ‚ĘBritish Isles‚Ä™ and expansion beyond the Atlantic archipelago,
the conÔ¬‚icts over trading routes and the establishment of trading com-
panies in the last three decades of the sixteenth century, the increasing
importance of Elizabethan piracy and renegado activity, the reports of
foreign conquests in the New World, and the endeavours of English
captains were all factors promoting a patriotic and ‚Ęnationalist‚Ä™ surge
among court advisers, the literati, and the merchant classes, who felt
Aliens and Englishness in Elizabethan Drama
(or had) some direct connection with these achievements, and who were
involved in promoting, suppressing, or manipulating the production and
consumption of drama.
I do not pretend that the processes of alien confusion in drama or in
everyday life are exclusive to England, nor that they are Ô¬Ārst experienced
in the early modern period. The assessment of personal and political
identity set over and against, and ultimately through, contiguous and
distant neighbours is surely a worldwide, transhistorical phenomenon.
Aliens and Englishness concerns itself with investigating a speciÔ¬Āc half-
century (1550s to 1590s) within a limited location (England, primarily
London) in order to encourage reassessment of the literary, political, and
cultural texts that contributed to a complicated sense of Englishness in a
country on the one hand insular and protective and on the other hand
preoccupied with opportunities for geographical and cultural expansion.
In a country deÔ¬Āned by the Church of England and immured by seas and
restless British natives, it was alien presence that split the country and
aggravated tensions between duty to country(man), religious fellow, class,
professional trade, and family ‚Ä“ inevitably causing disunity on anything
approaching a national level. Benedict Anderson has attempted to
delineate an ‚Ęimagined community‚Ä™ of nationhood ‚Ä“ with a strange
juxtaposition of adjectives ‚Ä“ as ‚Ęa deep, horizontal comradeship‚Ä™. The
nation comprises natives, known and unknown to each other, the
unknown imagined as similar to the self in terms of one‪s conception
of, and loyalty to, a realm. Despite class boundaries and the working of
inequality in a realm, the ‚Ęimagination‚Ä™ could invent a single idea of
nationhood.22 The ‚Ęalien invasion‚Ä™ of sixteenth-century immigration into
England, however, broke into any inferred horizontality of English
comradeship in a very visible way; it seems to have unbalanced the
community in so far as the alien bodies imposed physical barriers to the
development of a perceived national society (i.e. a society of natives
uniÔ¬Āed across class difference), and it scored the communality with
regionally drawn lines. A play such as Sir Thomas More, which illuminates
these alien‚Ä“English and intra-English tensions, keeps us mindful of the
constant fracturing or at least disturbance of very wide ideas of communal
identity in the period. It also powerfully demonstrates the drama‪s ability
to bring these very questions and conceptions of ‚Ęnational‚Ä™ identity into
focus ‚Ä“ and dangerously so, as indicated by this play‚Ä™s censorship and
To take the issue of regional and national community a little further,
we could consider Philip Edwards‚Ä™ comment in Threshold of a Nation: ‚ĘThe
Introduction ‚Ä“ aliens and the English in London 13
history plays which Shakespeare and his fellow-dramatists of the pro-
fessional theatre wrote in the ten years following the Armada must have
done a great deal to create a sense of national identity among Londoners
and the city-dwellers of England.‪23 I want to take seriously the notion
that the dramatic literature did much to create senses of identity. Such
representations may only be related liminally to actual present politics,
being more apparently entrenched in psychological and social ways
of seeing oneself in a half-visible ‚Ęnational‚Ä™ community. Moreover, a
Londoner‚Ä™s ‚Ęsense of national identity‚Ä™ may differ markedly from that
of other ‚Ęcity-dwellers of England‚Ä™, and such differences are addressed
in Chapters 3, 4, and 5. The dramatic genres covered in this book ‚Ä“
morality, history, and city comedy ‚Ä“ demonstrate that there are such things
in Elizabethan England as concepts of ‚Ęnational‚Ä™ identity; however, these
understandings are always located in partial, limited, and polemical points
of view. The plays understand ‚ĘEnglishness‚Ä™ to be a shared phenomenon,
but quite where this idea Ô¬Āts into a communal comprehension remains a
question. As we shall see, some of the plays insist on class-based com-
munity, some highlight the work of gender in bringing together English
society, and most of them acknowledge the underpinning of (Protestant)
Christianity to their construction of Englishness. So while Anderson‪s
‚Ędeep, horizontal comradeship‚Ä™ gives us a conceptual rubric, the plays
demonstrate the difÔ¬Āculty of deÔ¬Āning shared community as at once
geographical, religious, mythical, and ‚Ęracial‚Ä™.24
We see issues of alien confusion raised in all manner of texts, from
poems and songs to sermons and Proclamations, but Elizabethan drama
explores the phenomenon most extensively and richly. Drama in the
public theatres encourages improvisational popular reaction to its displays
of native‚Ä“alien conÔ¬‚ict and domestic inter-class fracture. It enhances
complex textual features such as irony and inconclusive relationships
between characters, thus leaving the written text exposed and ‚Ęopen‚Ä™ for
further dramatic interpretation on the stage ‚Ä“ or in the street. As a public
performance, drama is unlike a book, which tentatively straddles the line
between private contemplation and public offering. Play performance
limns and alters urban spaces, as theatres in the period become at most
little worlds, at least little cities, in which the fears and fantasies of a
proud English people are rehearsed in front of and among them. Eliza-
bethan drama puts physical bodies before the playgoers to show English
characters rejecting, abusing, and Ô¬Ānally incorporating the aliens in their
midst in a process of moulding and coming to comprehend an indeÔ¬Ān-
able, multiple, and dynamic ‚ĘEnglishness‚Ä™. Drama is rehearsed yet
Aliens and Englishness in Elizabethan Drama
reinvented in every performance, rather like Englishness itself each time it
faces up to the alien. And as every writer after new historicism is bound to
acknowledge, drama reveals and examines the theatricality of Elizabethan
England outside of the theatre buildings. Dramatic representation had to
remain relevant to political life, and discussions of the alien problem kept
it tied to contemporary history. Elizabethan dramatists understood the
difÔ¬Āculty of homing in on a concept of Englishness, since it is a for-
mulation that depends in large part on dynamic, mutable, unstable alien
forces. There is no clear, stable ‚Ęother‚Ä™ against which to set a singular
process of Englishness, and this uncertainty prompts the drama‪s obses-
sive return to the same questions of representing identity, to methods
of self-scrutiny, of looking ‚Ęwith inward eyes‚Ä™ on the road to English
ideological (religious and socio-political) reform.25
Drama is always ‚Ä“ among other things ‚Ä“ play. As such, even as it
preaches or politicizes, it also questions and ironizes. The theatre, as Louis
Montrose has argued, both serves authoritarian, orthodox power and ‚Ä“
during the process of playing, and perhaps beyond ‚Ä“ argues with that
orthodoxy to give it ‚Ęa subtle and diffuse power . . . in its very theatricality‚Ä™
(original italics).26 Richard Helgerson sees the distance between theatre
and authority leading to ‚Ęrepresentations of England [that] are at once the
most popular and, in the case of those produced by Shakespeare and the
Lord Chamberlain‪s Men, the most exclusively monarchic that his gen-
eration has passed on to us‪.27 This view of Shakespeare‪s increasing
exclusivity has been challenged by Jean Howard and supplemented by
Aaron Landau, and the debate reveals the difÔ¬Āculty of assessing the
politics of ‚Ęplay‚Ä™.28 There may be no perfect way to remove oneself as a
writer, player, critic, or playgoer from the pressures of the culture and the
ideologies in which one has been raised and educated (or mis-educated),
but the theatre exists in a (perhaps obvious) paradoxical relationship with
authority. It has been forced to the margins and outside of central
authority, into what Steven Mullaney has called a ‚Ęliminal‚Ä™ zone of
equivocal licence. But such exclusion also gives the theatre a certain
independence or authority, a view ‚Ęback in‚Ä™ to the centre, a view perhaps
clariÔ¬Āed by the distance.29 The inevitable multi-vocality of plays and the
equivocal position of drama‪s political statements troubles an entirely
smooth, teleological progression between the two ‚Ęalien stages‚Ä™ of
rejecting and incorporating the alien; and it is difÔ¬Ācult to talk of an
authoritative, native self when the self is involved in absorption, alter-
ation, fusion, and confusion. Moreover, as I have suggested already,
‚ĘEnglishness‚Ä™ (especially on stage) is only an assertion of stability, a
Introduction ‚Ä“ aliens and the English in London 15
construction of identity akin to dramatic performance. Drama always
suggests the paradox of ‚Ęplaying out‚Ä™ an ‚Ęessentialism‚Ä™ like identity. What
is asserted in an English character‪s performance is often a masculinized
demonstration of power with an underlying personal fragility or fear of
failure. The battle for authority over one‪s own identity runs through all
the plays studied here, and it is staked out in an uncertain Ô¬Āeld.
A central problem with the assertion of English identity lies in the early
modern reputation of the English for lacking assertiveness or certainty ‚Ä“ an
issue raised by Florio‪s representation of the confused English language.
Concentrating on the serious early modern investment in geohumoral
theory, Mary Floyd-Wilson reminds us that the English were considered
impressionable and changeable and that Englishness has as its essence the
identity of malleability and imitation of other cultures. Put another way,
‚ĘEnglishness‚Ä™ constitutes an absent presence, a core that is a space, a per-
formative centre to be displayed on the surface of the dramatized body.
Belief in a genuine, solid identity is ingrained by acting out cultural roles
that accord with desires to be (and to be seen) a certain way.30 Floyd-
Wilson describes the problem of the English ‚Ęturning Irish‚Ä™ as an example
of (in Spenser‚Ä™s Eudoxus‚Ä™ words) the English ‚Ęforget[ting] his owne nature‚Ä™,
as opposed to the Irish who, says Floyd-Wilson, ‚Ęrefuse to forget their
nature‚Ä™. ‚ĘSpenser‚Ä™s View implies, no doubt unintentionally, that an
Englishman will forget his own nature, for to do so is a symptom of
Englishness itself.‪31 This argument seems to highlight the ongoing
dynamism of ‚ĘEnglishness‚Ä™, and we can see the problem of using binary
English/alien contrast if one arm of the binary does not have (or display,
perform) a stable identity role. For the English cannot be forgetting their
nature if their nature, as Floyd-Wilson notes, is to alter, to keep changing.32
Hence the emphasis in Aliens and Englishness on the weaving intersections
between native and alien as ‚ĘEnglishness‚Ä™ is manipulated and asserted.
Later in her book, Floyd-Wilson discusses the concept of self-fashioning
for the English. She outlines the problem of the geohumoral repre-
sentation of the English as being rather slow-witted in their misty
northern clime: ‚ĘFor the northerner, and the English in particular, to
fashion oneself as a civilized, temperate gentleman meant countering or
reÔ¬Āning one‚Ä™s innate disposition and inclinations. Thus, self-fashioning
was self-forgetting.‚Ä™33 John Lyly‚Ä™s quip from 1580 that ‚Ęthere is nothing in
England more constant than the inconstancy of attire‚Ä™ is instructive here,
for we can take his use of clothing as another synecdoche for Englishness
itself.34 If the innate disposition of the English is to be changeable and
impressionable and if the English inclination is to ‚Ętry out‚Ä™ otherness,
Aliens and Englishness in Elizabethan Drama
then self-fashioning quintessentially enacts the decentred centre or the
elusive ‚Ęnature‚Ä™ that is Englishness. English self-forgetting is in a sense,
then, impossible. Self-fashioning as deliberate show for the English man
or woman at the various social levels of artisan, gentleman, lady, or
aristocrat becomes the only possible way to represent the self to one‪s
own self and others. To play at being other, to be alien, to incorporate
the foreign, and to confuse the actor and the ‚Ęother‚Ä™ part being played is
to show Englishness itself in action. ‚ĘEnglishness‚Ä™, of course, in this
reading, is always ‚Ęin action‚Ä™, always in a position of relativity because it
is always playing itself out, performing, proving its existence. Because it
does not have a deÔ¬Ānitive pre-existence, Englishness alters itself and
rejects or incorporates aspects of the encountered alien as the occasion
requires. This sixteenth-century history of improvisational experience
serves England well as it expands its imperial inÔ¬‚uence through Britain
and the known world in the seventeenth century.
I begin Aliens and Englishness‚Ä™ dramatic investigation in Chapter 2 with
a discussion of three moral plays published in the 1550s, 1560s, and 1570s.
The Ô¬Ārst, Wealth and Health, is an anonymous Marian play republished
(and possibly revised in addition to the recast closing dedication) in the
Ô¬Ārst year of Elizabeth‚Ä™s reign. This play demonstrates that the drama of
the Ô¬Ārst alien stage is always under tension from hints of deeper insight
about the embedded role of the alien in Englishness. Largely a discussion
of the economic and moral state of the realm under Mary, the play uses
Ô¬Ānancial and somatic metaphors to work out its view of an England
imposed upon by Catholicism and a Spanish (albeit largely absent) ‚Ęking
consort‚Ä™. These metaphors ‚Ęracialize‚Ä™ the view of the alien in an attempt to
keep Englishness ‚Ępure‚Ä™, but that very process reveals shared characteristics
of alien and English ideology. The republishing of the play in 1558 allows
us to look at the play from both sides of the Marian‚Ä“Elizabethan divide
and to consider its potentially subversive messages about ‚Ęnon-English‚Ä™
monarchy through the Marian years. The play‪s characters, with their
‚Ęhidden‚Ä™ names (Will is really ‚ĘIll Will‚Ä™ and Wit is really ‚ĘShrewd Wit‚Ä™,
etc.), make all transactions doubtful and all notions of truth equivocal.
This play introduces the Ô¬Ārst of several stock Dutch characters that appear
in the ‚Ęalien‚Ä™ plays, and he acts here as a funnel for English class-based,
nationalistic frustration. Behind the politics of the play lies the call for
moral ‚Ęreformation‚Ä™, a term that can usefully be adapted across that 1558
border to appeal to audiences in different religious climates.
The second play discussed in this chapter is Ulpian Fulwell‪s popular
Like Will to Like. This play is more entertaining and ‚Ęmodern‚Ä™ than
Introduction ‚Ä“ aliens and the English in London 17
Wealth and Health, but in many ways its comedy is frightening as it seems
to argue for the alien as an evil presence within Englishness, directly
asserting Lucifer as the force behind moral corruption in England. More
precisely, however, the play shows up the English as already ‚Ęalien‚Ä™ in this
dangerous manner. The vice Ô¬Āgure‚Ä™s name, Nichol Newfangle, brings out
both the comedic and serious elements of such a character: he promises
his master Lucifer that he will corrupt the English with ridiculous fashion
(which he does not in fact do in the play), and he represents the mistake
of thinking of bad fashion as an insigniÔ¬Ācant problem in England. This
chapter and others are concerned to historicize the very real early modern
sense that the pride of clothing was a leading factor in the period‪s moral
destitution. Seeing three editions between the late 1560s and the late 1580s,
Like Will to Like was probably being played and read for several years after
Robert Wilson‪s The Three Ladies of London (discussed in Chapter 3) was
Ô¬Ārst on stage in the early 1580s. Thus we see that the shift between audience
reception of drama emphasizing the Ô¬Ārst and second ‚Ęalien stage‚Ä™ is not
locked in time. Playgoers could enjoy the older antagonistic way of looking
at the alien while newer, incorporative alien plays were exciting a public
eager to establish a strong sense of Englishness. That sense of overlap is
strengthened if we notice the continuity between the plays and earlier
morality characters such as Illwill in Hickscorner (1514) and New-guise and
Now-a-days in Mankind (1465‚Ä“70).
George Wapull‪s The Tide Tarrieth No Man, the last play discussed in
this chapter, takes on another trope with its vice ‚ĘCourage Contagious‚Ä™.
The metaphor of blood circulation and the context of ‚Ęplague‚Ä™ were used
by the playwright and other authors to create the environment within
which Wealth and Health was performed, and in this later play notions of
infection are revived to show how proper English reformed behaviour is
corrupted from within by alien bodies. This play also expands on Wealth
and Health by reprising the familiar dual-named characters (Neigh-
bourhood is really ‚ĘNo Good Neighbourhood‚Ä™, etc.), and Courage the
vice is also ‚ĘCourage Contrarious‚Ä™, emphasizing his ability to mutate as
necessary to do his corrupting. The English must adapt to avoid such
alien inÔ¬Āltration, but adaptation is also an alien quality. Here we really see
the line between the Ô¬Ārst and second alien stages being blurred as the very
push to eliminate the alien conÔ¬Ārms the alien nature of the Englishness
being striven for. A crucial feature of this play is the multiple naming of
the merchant, aka Greediness, aka Wealthiness. There seems to be no way
to be both moral and wealthy. Such a view will be altered by the end of
the century, but in the 1570s and 1580s this third play‪s combination of
Aliens and Englishness in Elizabethan Drama
moral sermon and contemporary social politics pushes us towards a
‚Ębelated morality‚Ä™ that speaks very clearly to the fast-developing trading
centre of London: Wilson‪s The Three Ladies of London. In contrast to
previous work on these plays cited in Chapter 2, I argue that the most
important alien characters in the plays are vaguely depicted as English.
We do not see alien confusion working through a reading of the Dutch
‚ĘHance‚Ä™ of either Like Will to Like or Wealth and Health so much as we
Ô¬Ānd it through the discovery of unacknowledged or slowly revealed alien
elements that make up the purportedly English characters.
In Chapter 3, I am interested in showing how the physicality in The
Tide Tarrieth is brought to the fore in later plays. The moral message for
Wilson is always backed up by a physical threat; moral decline will lead to
physical pain. This is not a new insight, of course. In the cycle plays and
late medieval moralities and miracle plays ‚Ä“ from Noah‚Ä™s beatings to the
lost limb in The Croxton Play of the Sacrament ‚Ä“ the road to righteousness
is fraught with the danger of blood, sweat, and tears. But Wilson places
the dangers on the audience‪s doorstep and in the present. The Three
Ladies of London has Lady Lucre ‚Ęrule the roost‚Ä™ in London, causing the
demise of Hospitality (a centrally important concept in sixteenth- and
seventeenth-century England) and the moral and physical destruction of
Ladies Love and Conscience. We Ô¬Ānd that Lady Lucre and her henchmen
have alien heritage, and the play makes sure to emphasize that it is foreign
importing of useless products that corrupts Englishness, and the exporting
of naturally ‚Ęgood‚Ä™ English produce that enriches foreign countries and
alien merchants. The Italian merchant, Mercadorus, who runs the trading
business for Lady Lucre, has a comic Italian accent, which (like the
comedy in the earlier plays) dramatically (but not really) hides his central
role in facilitating the corruption of Englishness. The Jewish usurer,
Gerontus, in spite of being a surprisingly accommodating and generous
Jew, is of course also a part of the alien mill that allegedly grinds up
notions of pure Englishness. The play continually places its moral
problems in the context of resident aliens in England, but it simultan-
eously reveals the permanence and embeddedness of such Ô¬Āgures in
England, thus blurring the line between alien and English. Three Ladies‚Ä™
topicality (if not its style) clearly remained vital: it was republished in
1592, as the capital was seeing the beginning of a new wave of anti-alien
sentiment. Just a year later, a ‚Ęlibel‚Ä™, a document threatening the welfare
and lives of aliens in London, was posted on the church of the Dutch
community, followed shortly after by the composition of the famously
censored play, Sir Thomas More. I demonstrate the essential connections
Introduction ‚Ä“ aliens and the English in London 19
between the libel and Three Ladies, particularly the relevance of the libel‪s
Jewish reference. I then close the chapter by looking at the ways in which
the play Sir Thomas More maintains the currency of moral behaviour ‚Ä“
especially the issues of hospitality and citizenship ‚Ä“ as a dramatic message
by steeping it in London‪s class- and gender-based anxiety about aliens in
its midst.
The moral plays tended to use excursions ‚Ä“ from imagined trips
around the world to alien immigration to trading ventures ‚Ä“ to open up
ideas of moral development (for better or for worse). Travel in each case
changes the characters involved or the nature of the places from, through,
and to which they travel. In Chapter 4, I revisit Shakespeare‪s much-
discussed second tetralogy of history plays, and I use the trope of the
journey to locate the boundaries of English‚Ä“alien crossover and confu-
sion: Mowbray and Bolingbroke‪s banishments and subsequent lives and
Richard‪s military excursion to Ireland in Richard II; Henry‪s proposed
pilgrimage and the rebels‚Ä™ travels to meet each other in Henry IV. Most
work on these plays in British studies has been concerned with Ireland as
the alien to England‚Ä™s ‚Ęcivilized‚Ä™ identity; so in this chapter I challenge a
notion that Wales was unequivocally a part of England in early modern
perception of ‚Ęnational‚Ä™ identity, or that Wales can simply be looked
through as a window onto Ireland. As members of a Principality, not a
separate country, the Welsh should simply be ‚Ęforeigners‚Ä™ to Londoners in
the same way that a Cornish or Yorkshire man or woman would be
foreign. With its separate language and ‚ĘBritish‚Ä™ history, however (like the
foreigner from Cornwall but unlike one from Yorkshire), the Welsh
identity proves trickier than this to incorporate into Englishness. The
residual ‚Ęalien‚Ä™ in Welshness continually overpowers and yet underpins
assertions of Englishness. Important to this chapter is the relationship of
characters to the topography and geography of England, Wales, and
London, and to this end, this chapter Ô¬Ānds the work on mapping and
geography in Shakespeare and early modern Wales by such scholars as
Lisa Hopkins, John Gillies, Bernhard Klein, and Garrett Sullivan
important. Representations of ‚Ęthe kingdom‚Ä™ and local features within it,
such as stones (RII 3.2.24), hilly moors (RII 2.3.4), rivers (1HIV 1.3.97,
3.1.95), and mountains (HV 5.1.32) literally ‚Ęground‚Ä™ characters. An
understanding of ‚Ęplace‚Ä™ helps deÔ¬Āne a subject‚Ä™s identity within the space
of a country or city, thus Mowbray complains that taking him out of his
native land will silence his English tongue and Bolingbroke considers his
exile a journeyman‪s period before he gains the freedom of a true citizen.
Similarly King Richard will claim Wales as his own even as the Welsh
Aliens and Englishness in Elizabethan Drama
have deserted him, and in Henry IV the rebels will struggle with their
confusion ‚Ä“ the Welsh and English families are cultural antitheses striving
to divide their newly imagined kingdom. By Henry V, it takes the
comedic Fluellen to conÔ¬Ārm a tenuous connection to (and cooption of )
Wales within the body of the king.
I spend time reading closely in the passages that seem to establish
concrete claims about alien identity and at the same time reveal uncer-
tainties that we saw aired less overtly or seriously in the morality plays.
When the English consistently call Glyndwr ‚Ęwild‚Ä™, for example, they are
drawing on a history of representing the western British as uncivilized and
in doing so deliberately avoid having to investigate the truth value of the
epithet. While Englishness produces the nature of the alien it wishes to
rail against, the alien already resides within the identity that the English
are building for themselves. In this chapter, I am looking out at the alien
through canonical English texts, a point of view that has been a particular
bone of contention in British studies. J. G. A. Pocock warned us over
thirty years ago that ‚Ęthe history of an increasing English domination is
remarkably difÔ¬Ācult to write in other than English terms‚Ä™. David Baker
concurs, worrying about the exclusion of marginal textual voices: ‚ĘIf we
cannot dispel this inherited ignorance, neither can we claim that we do
not, willy nilly, perpetuate it.‪35 More recently, however, Willy Maley has
made the line of argument that I am following ‚Ä“ that revisiting
assumptions of Englishness is a way to break down English presumption
and ‚Ęblot the landscape of ‚Äúthis sceptered Isle‚ÄĚ‚Ä™.36 Re-reading through the
English lens does not necessitate a perpetuation of early modern ideology.
As we will see, taking on the English point of view through English texts
cannot concretely, imperviously, or reliably lay down an English law of
national identity, but instead forces us to question the assumptions and
presumptions that lie behind such a construction. ‚ĘEnglish‚Ä™ language,
foreign and related languages, gender, class, religion, race, and culture
cannot isolate themselves in the ways fantasized in the earlier plays. They
can only expound and build themselves up with the use of each other and
by drawing on multiple notions of non-Englishness. Aliens and English-
ness makes no claim to provide a comparative British history, which
would require Irish and Welsh language texts at the least. Nor does it do
more than examine the apparent intra-British, intra-archipelagic, and
English-staged Anglo-foreign relationships as depicted in the Elizabethan
drama. In reading this way, we closely re-examine what a few pieces of
imaginative literature may have thought they were saying, or what they
seem to us to have been saying about Welsh and ‚ĘBritish‚Ä™ pressures on
Introduction ‚Ä“ aliens and the English in London 21
English identity. There will be myriad nuances of connections and
divisions between actual historical border groups in the western and
northern marches, and between ethnicities of Saxon and Norman stock
that these readings of drama do not get through to.
In Chapter 5, I study three plays from the last few years of the sixteenth
century, concentrating on two city comedies, William Haughton‪s
Englishmen for My Money (1598) and Thomas Dekker‪s The Shoemaker‪ s
Holiday (1599). Two very popular plays by two important playwrights of
their time, they bring together the moral issues of earlier plays in the
contexts of ‚Ęrace‚Ä™, class, and gender with the histories‚Ä™ emphasis on place.
Both these plays work out Englishness by having their main characters
‚Ęidentify with‚Ä™ London ‚Ä“ its buildings, streets, traditions, demographics,
and alien presence. In Englishmen, Pisaro is a resident alien from
Portugal, who has married an Englishwoman (now dead) and had three
daughters by her. These half-Portuguese women work their way into
Englishness through marriage to Englishmen, with the help of the
Englishman-in-French-disguise Anthony and the confusing built envir-
onment of London. As in Sir Thomas More, the city of London becomes a
character that must be defended from alien penetration, and which can
act on behalf of the English. In The Shoemaker‚Ä™ s Holiday, Simon Eyre
works his way up from shoemaker to Mayor of London with help from
the Englishman-in-Dutch-disguise Lacy such that the city once again
becomes the geographical space that promotes Englishness. Not sur-
prisingly, all these assertions of Englishness turn out to be just that:
assertions. Behind the success of the Englishmen in Haughton‪s play lies
the constant fear of English inferiority that must be denied. The power
of the English language to defeat the alien is important to the play, but as
we have seen in this introduction, English language is riddled with the
alien, and Haughton‪s clown, Frisco, jokes uncomfortably about the
vulnerability of English language and English bodies to alien penetration
and alteration. Pisaro‪s probable Jewishness connects him to another
character, the English usurer Mamon of John Marston‪s Jack Drum‪ s
Entertainment (1600‚Ä“1), the usurer ‚Ęwith a great nose‚Ä™. I include a brief
discussion of this latter play to contrast its country house setting with
the city plays, a romance plot with a prodigal comedy, and most pert-
inently the ‚ĘEnglishing‚Ä™ of the alien Ô¬Āgure of the usurer. In the Jacobean
period the English usurer becomes familiar, gradually shedding ‚ĘJewish‚Ä™
features; but at the turn of the century, he is still very much a pivotal
character demonstrating the increasing acceptability of morally doubtful
Aliens and Englishness in Elizabethan Drama
Whereas Englishmen circulates around gender and nationality under-
stood in many ways as ‚Ęrace‚Ä™ (as it was in The Three Ladies of London), The
Shoemaker‚Ä™ s Holiday seems to argue for an egalitarian London utopia
where the alien inÔ¬‚uence is either peripheral and a simple tool for English
advancement or something that remains abroad, like the French who
must be fought with after the play leaves off. But the shoemaker Ralph‪s
journey to war and his consequent injury, Lacy the nobleman‪s appar-
ently forgivable desertion, and the ultimate overseeing of the shoemaker‪s
holiday by the king make sure that we understand that Englishness relies
on strict understandings of class rank. Wilson‪s morality argued that good
English characters know their places in society, and for all the danger in
the pseudo-heroism of Doll‪s death in Sir Thomas More and the cry of
unity of the London workers, Englishness is pitched as relying on order as
set down by the character of More. Further, such Englishness ends up
protecting the aliens. It is only the constant alien confusion in The
Shoemaker‚Ä™ s Holiday that pushes the action forward and allows the
English to assert their Englishness. By the time of these late comedies
the Ô¬Ārst, ‚ĘGreat‚Ä™, Armada was a decade-old bit of history; a signiÔ¬Ācant
resident alien population had been a familiar phenomenon for half a
century and more; and sermons, pamphlets, travel and conduct books
pointing out English foibles and alien dangers had come off the presses
for decades. In this climate, playwrights and audiences were prepared
overtly to play out the ironies of asserting pure Englishness as something
opposed to the alien, while they understood (if uncomfortably) the alien
footings and brickwork in the building of English identity.
chapter 2

Discovering the alien in Elizabethan
moral drama

The plays studied in this chapter represent various stances within the Ô¬Ārst
‚Ęalien stage‚Ä™ as outlined in Chapter 1. The anonymous Wealth and Health,
Ulpian Fulwell‪s Like Will to Like, and George Wapull‪s The Tide
Tarrieth No Man demonstrate the early knowledge of alien presence
pervading English material and ethical culture between the late 1550s and
the early 1580s. Even though the writing desires and seems to will a pure
Englishness, the alien cannot be shaken off. For a play to talk about
religious corruption at home is for it to recognize the inÔ¬‚uence of non-
English practices; to discuss domestic economic problems is to engage
with the relative dealings of alien merchants and craftspersons and to
investigate the nature of bullion to cross borders; to question the gov-
ernment is to read Englishness against the examples of foreign princes and
potential invaders. All these negotiations between setting up Englishness
and wrestling with the alien push the boundaries of the Ô¬Ārst ‚Ęalien stage‚Ä™.
In one version of this stage of English‚Ä“alien relationship, cracks in the
make-up of a country are blamed unequivocally on alien presence; pas-
sages, scenes, or the main thrust of a play may therefore concentrate
rather simply on attacking alien bodies, fashions, or habits. At points, a
clearer recognition that something alien might already reside in the native
self seems to surface, and the anxiety caused by this revelation necessitates
a deÔ¬‚ecting mechanism whereby overtly staged alien bodies (in our Ô¬Ārst
two plays, ‚ĘDutchmen‚Ä™) are located as objects of comedy or derision to
partially direct attention away from the corruption of the native.
Rejection of the alien, and the ongoing attempt ‚Ä“ in spite of all the
evidence to the contrary ‚Ä“ to assert ‚ĘEnglishness‚Ä™ as having an existence
discrete from anything alien, builds to produce another English stance in
these plays, a second version of the Ô¬Ārst ‚Ęalien stage‚Ä™, as we see especially in
The Tide Tarrieth No Man. Here pride, narcissism, and patriotism ‚Ä“ a
combination that creates what the period called ‚Ęsecurity‚Ä™ ‚Ä“ assure the
natives of their national superiority and invincibility, while the country‪s
Aliens and Englishness in Elizabethan Drama
identity ironically parades on the stage for the audience in the character of
ideologically ‚Ędeformed‚Ä™ Christianity. The weaknesses of the self-assured
community with aspirations toward a ‚Ęnational‚Ä™ identity are therefore left
open for the alien to see and exploit. Happening more in spots of dra-
matic time than through a teleological progression from play to play, this
chapter‪s corpus of moral interludes shows London‪s, England‪s, and
visiting and resident foreigners‚Ä™ own hybrid identities. The move from
the concept of a dismissible alien body to the alien presence within is a
frightening one, for the separate, identiÔ¬Āable alien person can be phys-
ically removed and eliminated, but the alienated individual or community
must be reformed within the self or community. The longer such a state
is allowed to remain, and the deeper the apparently alien inÔ¬‚uence takes
hold, the more the alien must be acknowledged as a growing part of the
native self, and the harder it is to get rid of through a reformation of some
concept of pure Englishness. Metamorphoses of the physical alien into its
abstract, internalized, and psychological manifestations are rife in sixteenth-
and seventeenth-century drama, and the two coexist, symbiotically,
encouraging readings ‚Ä“ especially of course in allegorical drama ‚Ä“ through
physical Ô¬Āgures to abstract or representational determinations and back
again through ideas of the alien to tangible foreign sources.
The three plays studied in this chapter combine potent and straight-
forward political and social statements with highly equivocal and deeply
ironic commentary on the civic and moral state of England. I want to take
some time, then, to expand on Chapter 1 and enter relevant late Marian
and early Elizabethan contexts. We will then be able to give nuanced
responses to the plays‚Ä™ genres and manners of presentation and production
in their times and places of performance. Elizabethan ‚Ęalien‚Ä™ plays were
produced during decades of fear about alien presence and inÔ¬‚uence at all
levels of society: working producers of raw materials and Ô¬Ānished goods
(especially those in London and provincial towns with high alien popu-
lations) feared unfair competition from a mixed immigrant population ‚Ä“
desperate refugees and skilled artisans; conservative preachers tried to
balance their dedication to loving their foreign ‚Ębrothers‚Ä™, protecting the
English poor, and pitching an identity for ‚ĘEnglishness‚Ä™; noblemen had a
duty to provide hospitality to their neighbours in the countryside but
were drawn to the city for the lifestyle and fashionable foreign products
that arrived there; merchants worked with unfavourable exchange and
interest rates and juggled their privileges between London, Antwerp, and
Hamburg; courtiers‚Ä™ jobs and lives depended on international relations,
and English monarchs had to walk the line between keeping friends
Discovering the alien in Elizabethan moral drama 25
friendly and foes paciÔ¬Āed in the ongoing religio-political struggles between
Spain, the Holy Roman Empire‪s pressures out of Rome, and Reformist
northern Europe. The middle and late sixteenth century also saw England
worried about monarchic succession passing into foreign hands. When
Edward VI and his advisers drew up laws of succession, the document
apparently designed to keep the line male was underlain by another,
Anglo-centric motive: Mary and Elizabeth were excluded from the lineage
for fear ‚Ęthat they might marry foreign princes and subject the realm to
alien rule‚Ä™. Mary, of course, did just as Edward had feared by marrying
Philip II and provoked blunt disapproval from countrymen in England
and abroad; Elizabeth‪s spinsterhood was no more comforting, for if the
problem with Mary was her marriage to a foreigner, the problem with
Elizabeth was her failure to marry with an Englishman.
Marian accession impacted the alien population in England, and the
mostly Protestant Dutch and French Walloon residents began returning
to the Netherlands and Flanders. A few tried to remain in London and
the surrounding countryside, but by December Mass was ofÔ¬Ācially
restored and the emigration continued. On 17 February 1554 a Proc-
lamation was issued expelling non-denizen aliens. Many more strangers
left, but Andrew Pettegree argues for a signiÔ¬Ācant remaining Protestant
alien population, perhaps 40 per cent of those already in England,
throughout the Marian years, not least, he suggests, because the expensive
process of denization that they had opted to earn was not a privilege to be
given up lightly.1 When Mary married Philip of Spain in 1554, it seemed
to spell doom for the Protestant sector in England, both alien and native.
Although by prenuptial agreement and personal choice Philip‪s personal
inÔ¬‚uence in England was slight (he was ‚Ęa king who had no desire to rule
over heretics‪2), Mary‪s own declarations that she was ruled by her hus-
band did nothing to put the English at ease about the possibility of direct
foreign rule, either immediately or upon her death. When, after the Ô¬Ārst
of Mary‪s false pregnancies, the king left England in August 1555, not to
return until the political situation required it in the spring and summer of
1557, there was little doubt that the match was a purely political one on
Philip‚Ä™s part. With the failure of the second ‚Ępregnancy‚Ä™ in 1557‚Ä“8, the
stage was once more set for conÔ¬‚ict as the ageing Mary‚Ä™s throne would be
left open either for Elizabeth or Philip; and out of the woodwork of exiled
corners and Continental Protestant printing presses came the tracts
prophesying imminent terror.
Less radically than some, Laurence Saunders‚Ä™ A Trewe Mirrour or
Glasse . . . of Englande takes the form of a dramatic dialogue between two
Aliens and Englishness in Elizabethan Drama
friends, the Catholic Eusebius and Protestant Theophilus, who lament
the fact that intelligent friends such as they are should be split by
ideology. Eusebius is curious to hear his Protestant friend‪s reaction to the
marriage of Mary and Philip, and asks, ‚ĘI heare say ye King of Spayne shal
at last be crouned kyng of England, what say you to that[?]‚Ä™ Theophilus
attempts to reply diplomatically, ‚ĘAlas brother Eusebius what should I say
to it: if god have determyned, who maye wythstande: we muste commyt
it to his good pleasure and wyll‚Ä™. ‚ĘBut do you not thynke it a plage?‚Ä™ asks
Eusebius, using the ubiquitous disease metaphor of alien inÔ¬‚uence in
England that Jonathan Gil Harris has so ably examined, and prompting
the stronger reply that he seems surprised not to have drawn the Ô¬Ārst time
around:3 ‚ĘYes verely‚Ä™, Theophilus agrees, ‚Ęand an utter desolacion of
Englishe bloud‚Ä™.4 But Theophilus‚Ä™ concerns go deeper than lambasting
alien inÔ¬‚uence, and he attacks the Ô¬Āckleness of the Privy Councillors and
court advisers, who change their allegiance to safeguard their careers
rather than remaining true to any personal or national conviction: ‚ĘThey
have not only consented and agreed‪ to the queen‪s marriage with Philip,
‚Ębut are also chefe doers and procurers thereof‚Ä™. Eusebius agrees that the
authorities have been inÔ¬Āltrated by alien ideas and inÔ¬‚uences; and such a
situation gives Philip the opportunity, ‚Ęwithout contradiccion [to] fur-
nishe al the fortes of England with his owne men, for I would not thinke
him wise to trust straungers so muche as his own countre men‚Ä™.5 All
classes will suffer, Eusebius goes on to remind us, including those syco-
phantic governmental ofÔ¬Ācials and nobles who are for the most part of
the ‚Ęnewe learnyng‚Ä™, and therefore most likely to de dispatched by the
ruthless Catholic conqueror.6 These inextricable issues of gender, blood,
disease, inÔ¬Āltration of habit and identity, fear of difference, lack of trust,
and power-broking enter and maintain the drama throughout the second
half of the sixteenth century.
A more extreme view of the situation is laid out in the anonymous
Lamentacion of England. Signed on 30 December 1556, and with editions
in 1557 and 1558, it concentrates more on prophecy of future dangers,
although it also includes valid observations about the handling of power
and the assertion of status by both Philip and Mary. The author begins by
quoting Hugh Latimer‪s speech at Westminster Palace before Edward VI
in 1549, which called for the English to ‚Ęput away all pride‚Ä™ lest their
punishment be the marriage of Mary or Elizabeth to strangers.7 ‚ĘOh what
a plage is it‚Ä™, continues the author, ‚Ęto see strangers rule in this noble
realme violently, wher befor time tr[e]we hartid Englishmen have gov-
ernid quietly?‚Ä™ Moving on from this selectively amnesiac retrospective, he
Discovering the alien in Elizabethan moral drama 27
invokes the memory of Catherine of Aragon, implying a continuous alien
presence in the royal house, which turns him to consider economic
national problems. Mary, he asserts:
toke the most part off here blude and stomake off her spanish mother, and
therefore from time to time ever regardid her spanish kinred, and permotid
them, by geving them licensis, wherby they do cary and convay away, out of this
realm, frely without paieng any custome therfore, our goudly & best comodites,
as woll Tinn leade lether & c. to the great decay and ympoverishment, off the
pour comons off this realm, by reaison wheroff the said comodites, be now at
doble pryces, that they were before, & also pour men cannot be set a worke as
they have bene.8

There are two problems troubling this writer. This passage claims that
political and economic mismanagement are going on at home, and it is a
problem the drama takes up with gusto. Favouritism and bending of the
trade customs rules that should ensure native merchant advantage are
eroding domestic practice. Thus inter-class tension aggravates the alien‚Ä“
native problem, as it will continue to do in the minds of the working
classes through the 1590s. Two ideas about the alien are already in place
here: Ô¬Ārst, alien bodies are already present at all levels of Englishness and
the origin of the alien is difÔ¬Ācult to determine; and second, English forces
seem, ironically, to enable or motivate the alien to re-infect or deform the
The political point of the marriage is clear. Philip‚Ä™s ‚Ęspanierds have
blasid abrode in other contres saieng what shall the king do with such an
old bich, also afÔ¬Ārming that she may be his mother, a yonger is more
meter for him‚Ä™.9 But he will take the marriage, the author of the
Lamentacion of England correctly predicts, to draw England into war with
France again, which will impoverish the English.10 The blatant economic
motives of Philip make it ‚Ęmanyfest and playnly apperyth as clere as the
sone, that in mariage he sought not the quenes persone but only the rich
and welthy realm of England‚Ä™.11 At exactly this time, as we shall see below,
the play Wealth and Health personiÔ¬Āes wealth of the realm as something
to be protected from the Spanish threat, but also as something already
beyond the grasp of the English. It is interesting, moreover, that in spite
of the criticism of Catherine‚Ä™s ‚Ęblood‚Ä™, the author does not use ethnicity
per se as a cause for rejecting her. As Eric GrifÔ¬Ān has noticed in a study of
John Foxe and other writers, the complementarity of England and Spain
before the sixteenth century as co-religionists against the Eastern pagan
was a strong bond to break, and writers before the Armada tended to
Aliens and Englishness in Elizabethan Drama
suppress ethnicity as a focus of attacking and rejecting the alien.12 Thus
Foxe ‚Ędid not implicate the Spanish people on the basis of their ethnicity‚Ä™,
notably avoiding the ‚ĘBlack Legend of Spanish Cruelty‚Ä™. But as the
Reforming ‚Ęlittle island‚Ä™ of Britain saw itself more and more as a col-
lectively elect people or ‚Ęnation‚Ä™, it located Jerusalem in London and
identiÔ¬Āed Rome as Babel or Babylon; consequently a clear shift in focus
privileges ‚Ęnational‚Ä™ ethnic identity over international religio-cultural
connections.13 Later Elizabethan plays seem to mark the crossover
between these positions. Thomas Lodge‪s A Larum for London (1600) and
the anonymous The Weakest Goeth to the Wall (1602) are two dramatic
accounts of Spanish tyranny in the Netherlands and the suffering of the
people of Antwerp. Written and produced as the country wondered what
would happen to it when the ageing Queen Elizabeth Ô¬Ānally died, they at
once call for sympathy for fellow Protestants in distress and warn of
national or regional weakness.
Fear and control of alien behaviour in England were well-grounded in
Elizabeth‪s reign, for the country would have been the perfect prize or
partner for either Spain or France. An Anglo-Spanish league would have
encircled France with Spanish allies; a permanent link with France would
have placed a north‚Ä“south barrier between Spain and the occupied
Netherlands. The strategic status of England probably contributed to an
initial coolness in the ofÔ¬Ācial stance toward the aliens returning after a
Marian hiatus. During 1558‚Ä“9 returning strangers and those surfacing
from hiding did not feel particularly welcome, although there were some
pockets of acceptance in towns like Sandwich, Colchester, and Norwich.
Elizabeth remained wary of versions of the new religion, and petitioners
for the return of the strangers‚Ä™ churches to their old privileges were Ô¬‚atly
refused at Ô¬Ārst. However, manufacturing in England required alien
craftspersons and skills, and the provision of patents and monopolies
multiplied at this time.14 Despite ofÔ¬Ācial restrictions on immigration and
alien movement, the queen would not accept any disturbances against the
strangers, for a signiÔ¬Ācant number of them remained denizens with many
of the rights of citizens, including a right to live peacefully in the adopted
land. Following a report by the Lord Mayor of London, detailing a fray
between Frenchmen and Englishmen, a Proclamation was issued for 13
August 1559, stating:
The Queen‪s Majesty commandeth all manner her subjects, of what degree
soever they be, to keep the peace as they be bound, and specially towards all
manner of persons of strange nations within her Majesty‪s city of London or
Discovering the alien in Elizabethan moral drama 29
elsewhere, without reproaches of words or like quarrels, and to remit the avenge
of all quarrels past of late in the same city to the ordinary justicers. And the like
also her Majesty commandeth to all strangers born, to be observed on their part.15

There is to be no more conÔ¬‚ict, and malefactors will meet with ‚Ęher
highness‚Ä™ determination, that no partial favour be showed to English or
stranger, but that every of them shall live in the safety and protection of
her laws‚Ä™.
Early in her reign, Elizabeth had to worry about the practice of radical
new Protestant religions, whose new stranger churches, begun in 1550,
were feared as centres of resort for Englishmen dissatisÔ¬Āed with the
Church of England. Indeed, records in the 1560s and 1570s show Eng-
lishmen being received into the alien churches. An order in 1573 was sent
to both the French and Dutch churches commanding them to cease these
activities, with which edict the Dutch promised to comply. The French
may have been less quick to fold under pressure, however, but did ofÔ¬Ā-
cially say that they would only entertain Englishmen provided they were
not attending in contempt of Church of England ceremonies.16 New
Reformed inÔ¬‚uence also led to Proclamations such as that of 1560,
limiting extreme reactions against the physical remains attributed to Mary
and Catholicism: it prohibited destruction ‚Ęby the means of sundry
people, partly ignorant, partly malicious, or covetous . . . of certain
ancient monuments . . . which were erected up as well in churches as in
other public places within this realm only to show a memory to the
posterity of the persons there buried, or that had been benefactors to the
buildings . . . and not to nourish any kind of superstition‚Ä™.17
In The Tide Tarrieth No Man, as we shall see, the character of English
Christianity has a difÔ¬Ācult time working out his own identity and the way
to achieve a successful English reformation. Placing a settled Elizabethan
church in between the alien extremes of Catholicism and Calvinism was
no easy task, and foreigners remarked on the unclear nature of English
‚Ęreformed‚Ä™ churches. Patrick Collinson has written, ‚ĘOne might say that
when most people became, after a fashion, Protestants, real Protestants
became Puritans‚Ä™, and these ‚Ęreal‚Ä™ Protestants ‚Ęwill have regarded the godly
strangers as ‚Äúbrethren‚ÄĚ in the sense that conformist, conventional English
church-goers were not‚Ä™.18 Such a foregrounded separation of religious and
national identity keeps the question of ‚ĘEnglishness‚Ä™ suspended between a
desire for national autonomy and an understanding of alien impact.
English religion had a choice between two alien positions, then: the old,
Roman one and the new, ‚ĘGermanic‚Ä™ one. And this hovering identity,
Aliens and Englishness in Elizabethan Drama
tethered by the alien, disturbed both the English and foreigners. One
upper-class visitor‚Ä™s notes on a service in Westminster Abbey read, ‚ĘIn this
beautiful church the English Ministers, who are dressed in white surplices
such as the Papists wear, sang alternately, and the organ played.‪19 This
priestly apparel was a particular bone of contention in 1565 when the
French church was lent out for a baptism with an English minister who
refused to wear the surplice. Elizabeth, upon learning who the minister
was, immediately sent a substitute.20 The temptation toward English
heterodoxy had to be watched very closely as the ‚Ępopish‚Ä™ rituals and
regalia of the English Church seemed to be a cause of English persons
seeking out the new style of the Continental services; Collinson estimates
that ‚Ęthe ratio of godly, fully committed English Protestants to their fellow
Reformed Protestants of other nations in the core membership of the
stranger churches was roughly equal‪.21 One‪s identity as a morally upright
Protestant English subject became increasingly a matter of personal
conscience rather than one of a perceived national identity. The comic,
moral, and historical genres of drama ‚Ä“ from the characters Wealth and
Health of a country, through Lady Conscience and Hospitality of Robert
Wilson‚Ä™s London (Chapter 3), to Welsh and Portuguese ‚ĘEnglish‚Ä™ men
and women in Shakespeare and late-Elizabethan comedy (Chapters 4
and 5) ‚Ä“ all had to deal in shifting public and personal contexts with this
discovery of region through religion and conscience through country.

wealth and health
Nationally marked foreign characters in these early plays would seem to
be the most signiÔ¬Ācant alien Ô¬Āgures: Hance in Wealth and Health, Hance
and Philip Fleming in Like Will to Like, and Mercadorus the Italian
merchant in The Three Ladies of London. For all their potential as staged
representations of the real immigrants or residents of London and
England, however, these foreigners work as sounding boards or deÔ¬‚ectors,
temporarily acquiring our attention before sending us elsewhere. As we
shall see, the alien more importantly lies in the plays‚Ä™ apparently native
and rarely neutral allegorical Ô¬Āgures. Entered in the Stationers‚Ä™ Register in
1557, the anonymous Wealth and Health is possibly a play from earlier in
Mary‪s reign; it was also printed early in the reign of Elizabeth, however,
and I read this play across the Marian‚Ä“Elizabethan divide. I suppose,
along with T. W. Craik, that it could have been played before Philip at
court when he was in England in the winter of 1554‚Ä“5, although I prefer
the option of a 1557 performance, prompting the Register recording.
Discovering the alien in Elizabethan moral drama 31
Unlike Craik‪s or A. J. Hoenselaars‪ views of the play as generally benign
to a Spanish presence, I see clear evidence that a Marian court per-
formance would be edgy and challenging.22
Wealth and Health begins with the title characters arguing over their
contrasting identities and their relative worth to their country. Liberty
enters to assert himself as a conceptual umbrella under which Wealth and
Health go about their work, and after some refamiliarization between the
characters, Wealth and Health acknowledge Liberty‪s importance. Illwill
(presenting himself as plain ‚ĘWill‚Ä™) enters ‚Ęwith some jest‚Ä™ and insinuates
his way into the identities of the other characters on stage and through
them to all men and women; Shrewdwit (alias Wit) joins Will as partner.
The drunken Dutchman, Hance, enters with a song and the worrying
claim that England is mistaken if it thinks it is a wealthy (and therefore
healthy) country, for its riches are being scattered abroad. Wit and Will
win places in the service of Wealth, Health, and Liberty (who do not
quite cotton onto their deception), and they leave the stage just as
Remedy enters lamenting the state of the realm and the need for moral
reformation. Liberty, Wealth, and Health leave Remedy with assurances
to come to him ‚Ęfor succour‚Ä™ if they ‚Ębe infect in the soule or body‚Ä™ (C3),
and Wit and Will return, only to be easily deciphered as villains by
Remedy. As soon as Remedy exits, Wit and Will‪s employers re-enter to
conÔ¬Ārm their corruption by the ‚Ęill‚Ä™ and the ‚Ęshrewd‚Ä™ elements of Wit and
Will. Remedy meets Hance the Dutchman and unequivocally rejects
him: ‚ĘԬĀe on you aliau[n]ts al I say‚Ä™ (Dv). Having got rid of Hance,
Remedy is faced with Health, who enters ‚Ęwith a kercher on his head‚Ä™
(D2) because he has been ‚Ęwounded‚Ä™ by Wit and Will ‚Ä“ his fellows
Wealth and Liberty are ‚Ęfallen in decay‚Ä™ and ‚Ękept in duraunce and
captivite‚Ä™ (D2v). Remedy promises to help Health, and when Wit and
Will re-enter, thinking they are alone and laughing at the fate of the
recently exiled Dutchman, Remedy accosts them. Will comically affects a
Spanish identity in an attempt to evade arrest; Remedy threatens to
imprison Will, but Will insists that incarceration is hardly sufÔ¬Ācient to
keep him away from the hearts of men. Health releases Wealth and
Liberty and brings them to Remedy, who concludes with an assurance to
all: although Illwill and Shrewdwit will ‚Ęreygne a while, wrongfully and
unjust / [Y]et truth wyll appeare and their misdedes blame / Then wronge
is subdued, and good remedy tane‚Ä™ (D4‚Ä“D4v).
Wealth and Health enter the play in harmony, ‚Ęsynging together a
balet of two partes‚Ä™ (A2), but almost immediately Wealth notices that the
play‚Ä™s audience seems to have forgotten him. He insists that ‚ĘWelth hath
Aliens and Englishness in Elizabethan Drama
ben ever in this countrey, / . . . / And here I wyll endure‚Ä™ (A2v), but the
claim of originary residency ‚Ä“ itself an attempt to stake out something of
the identity of the nation ‚Ä“ and the will to survive are both questioned
throughout the play. Moreover, the instigators, perpetuators, and expli-
cators of the doubt of Wealth‪s Englishness are the alien presences in the
play and the theatre. It will be the denizen Ô¬Āgure of the Fleming Hance,
the alien presence in the vice Illwill, the inÔ¬‚uence of the Spanish‚Ä“Marian
court, and the foreign bodies infecting Health that will teach the English
Englishness and the way to reformation.
Through the sixteenth century, ‚Ęwealth‚Ä™ consisted in bullion and coin,
visible value. To enrich the realm, money needed to come in from
abroad, because circulating money at home is simply alteration, not
increase.23 Wealth‪s claim that he has always been in the country, then, is
trumped in the mid 1500s by his note that ‚ĘAll the worlde, hyther doth
resorte‚Ä™ (A4) because of him. This seems like a nod toward Spanish
enrichment of England, but the play erodes both the possession of good
wealth by England and the possibility of sustained appreciation of
Spanish presence. The wealth coming to England at this time is widely
marked with the spirit of the alien. Diana Wood begins her chapter on
the question of deÔ¬Āning money in medieval England with the observation
that to some commentators the crosses on late-medieval English silver
pennies gave them a godly identity; and in a related fashion, as M. Beer
notes, it is the stamping of coin with the efÔ¬Āgy of the monarch that is the
‚Ęspirit that giveth life‚Ä™, valuation, and identity to bullion.24 It is in large
part the legacy of this faith in coinage as the spirit of the country ‚Ä“ in
particular a confusion of national (or legal) and religious spirit ‚Ä“ that
leads to the concentration on currency in the late-Elizabethan city
comedy, to the horror of forbidden minting of new ‚Ęlife‚Ä™ coins in a later
play like Measure for Measure, and even to the modern debate over
adopting the euro versus retaining the British pound or to the main-
tenance of the motto ‚ĘIn God We Trust‚Ä™ on US money.
The Lamentacion of England points out what it sees as a sophisticated
piece of alien knavery that corrupts the wealth of the English realm: the
assertion and imposition of royal image and name by the absent half of
the monarchy. With half-justiÔ¬Āed fears of real Spanish invasion hanging
in the air, an iconic invasion of England has already taken place, for
Philip has his image stamped on the English coin but has not put Mary
on the Spanish coinage, and his tyrannical motto reads, ‚ĘPhilip R. anglie,
francie, neapolis princep. hispaine‚Ä™. Spanish spirit infuses the English coin
to align England with France as well as Spain. Money circulates in the
Discovering the alien in Elizabethan moral drama 33
body of the realm like blood. A century later, Thomas Hobbes would
argue that the combination of pure metallic value (undebased gold and
silver coinage) and the stamp was what ensured real wealth in a realm and
remained constantly available for ‚Ęconcoction‚Ä™ ‚Ä“ a term meaning diges-
tion, conversion of food into blood, and a bringing to a state of perfection
(often in reference to gold or precious stones); this combination provides
the ‚ĘsanguiÔ¬Ācation‚Ä™ that ‚Ęnourisheth‚Ä™ men of a nation.25 In the Marian
moment, Spanish blood-money is feeding the English commonwealth.
Furthermore, 1550s price rises in England (which were only slowly being
understood as related to the Ô¬‚uctuation in the value of money itself)
started to be felt as a result of New World wealth that entered Spain,
passed through France, and Ô¬Āltered to England.26 Wapull‚Ä™s The Tide
Tarrieth and Robert Wilson‪s The Three Ladies of London seem to show us
earlier and later recognitions of the view of money itself as a commodity
much like any other, no longer the sanguine connection between
monarchic and national identity but rather the lodestone that draws ‚Ęall
estates‚Ä™ of persons, to use Wilson‚Ä™s phrase, into Ô¬Ānancial contact and
contract to pursue personal gain at the expense of community.
While ‚Ęwealth‚Ä™ is strictly money, as part of the ‚Ęcommonwealth‚Ä™ the term
indicated happiness, prosperity, spiritual well-being, and the opposite of
woe, as well as monetary portliness; thus Wealth and Health should not
be seriously at odds.27 To come to this compromise conclusion, how-
ever, takes some heated dialogue between the two characters in a fashion
that would have been familiar to the audience. Contemporaneously with
Wealth and Health, Man and Money were debating the necessary but
dangerous place of wealth in England in The Bayte and Snare of For-
tune.28 Claiming his place as ‚Ęthe prince perelesse in puissaunce‚Ä™ (A2),
Money asks ‚Ęwho builded London that named was newe Troy / But I
puisant peny, that eche man cloth and fede‚Ä™ (A3); he then goes on to list

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