‘This Traitor King’: Catholic Treachery and Black Ambition in The Battle of Alcazar

Distiller, Natasha
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The Southern African Society for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (SASMARS)
Elizabethan England has been described as a period where ‘general contempt [was] attached almost indiscriminately to the various aliens/ foreigners/ Others/ outsiders’ to its society (Boose 35-6). This essay will investigate what happens when the stage is peopled entirely by ‘various … outsiders’ to an Elizabethan audience, as in The Battle of Alcazar. The Battle of Alcazar, following Malone’s initial assertion, has generally been ascribed to George Peele. David Bradley discusses the ‘conflict of loyalties within the play, because of Peele’s peculiarly English preoccupation with the legitimacy of rulers’ (134-35). Indeed, the ascription of the play to Peele has relied in part upon a ‘peculiar ... preoccupation’ with English national identity. Despite reservations, John Yoklavich accepts Malone’s attribution: ‘Peele—like the author of Alcazar—exhibited with extraordinary zeal the ordinary English prejudice against Roman popes and the Kings of Spain’ (220). Yoklavich’s references to Peele’s national pride are repeated in the introduction to his edition (224-25), and the fact that the nationalistic tone of the play has been used to identify its author is important in trying to account for both the historical responses to, and the dramatic representation of, the battle of Alcazar. For the purposes of this discussion I concur with Malone and Yoklavich.
Middle Ages -- Periodicals. , Renaissance -- Periodicals. , Middle Ages. , Renaissance.