John Fletcher and Philip Massinger
(and Francis Beaumont?)


a synoptic, alphabetical character list


A corrupt lord, Brunhalt's long-standing servant and, more particularly, pandar to her lechery. Loyal to her, as much out of fear of her violent temper if crossed. Fearful of his punishment should Brunhalt's exposure ever lead to the revelation of his own guilty complicity with her. He bribes De Vitry with fifty crowns to take a beating from Protaldy in an attempt to re-establish his reputation for courage, and he witnesses the failure of the scheme. He remains at court and reports on Thierry's illness after he has been poisoned. Present at the denouement, he is not singled out for punishment by Martell, but must be assumed to be chief amongst the survivors of Brunhalt's conspiracies condemned to be whipped out of court.


Virago and arch-villainess. Mother to Thierry, King of France, Theodoret, Prince of Austracia, and grandmother to the princess, Memberge. A Widowed queen, she is driven by the need to retain power and indulge her vices, particularly her scandalous affair with her upstart young protégé, Protaldy. Theodoret challenges her immoral behavior and instructs her to join a convent. She moves to Thierry's court and plans revenge. She libels Theodoret in an attempt to start a war between the brothers. Thierry is at first persuaded. When the brothers confront each other, both are fooled by her feigned repentance. She becomes infuriated at and insanely jealous of the arrival of Thierry's bride, Ordella. Martell's exposure of Protaldy as a coward wins Brunhalt further revenge for her lover's disgrace. She supports Protaldy's shameless return to court. She plots to restore his reputation and continues to plot the death of Theodoret. With the aid of her physician, Lecure, and her pandar, Bawdber, she contrives to use an impotence drug to ruin her son's wedding-night. Ordella's chaste love for Thierry does not require consummation, however, and the plot is foiled. Brunhalt privately warns Thierry that a childless marriage will be politically dangerous, and advises him to consult the hermit-magician Le Forte. She plans to make Thierry himself kill Ordella. The plan is thwarted when Ordella is persuaded to go into hiding. Protaldy murders Theodoret on her instructions. She then claims that Theodoret was merely a low-born changeling, not a legitimate prince, covering her revenge by persuading Thierry that the murder was for his sake. She is then appalled at Thierry's decision to marry his niece, Memberge. She fails to persuade him that her earlier story of Theodoret's birth was untrue. To prevent the second marriage, which would again supplant her unrivaled status as first lady of the kingdom, she gives Thierry a slow-acting, poisoned handkerchief. De Vitry discovers her letters to Theodoret's illegitimate son, Leonor, explaining Thierry's murder is a means for his own succession to France, and makes them public. When Martell demands her reasons, she refuses to explain or to heed her dying son's pleas to repent. She is forced to watch Protaldy's torture and execution (offstage) at which point she commits suicide by "choking herself."


Three courtiers attending the king's illness. They question Bawdber for details of Thierry's fatal insomnia and the doctors' gruesome treatments.


A disbanded officer at Theodoret's court. He brings the prince and Martell news of Brunhalt's flight and also the first suggestion that her revenge may lead to a war between the royal brothers. He is amoral, cynical and mercenary. When Brunhalt requires a dupe to take part in the scenario to re-establish Protaldy's courage, he is willing to be bribed by Lecure to stage a fight and lose. He resents Protaldy's use of fists, however, having agreed to a more gentlemanly sword fight, and easily beats him. He confesses the scheme to the assembled court. He is next seen banished, with a single coin left of the fifty-crown bribe he took from Bawdber. He auditions four soldiers for the job of his servant and outwits them all. They agree to turn to banditry under his leadership. Their first victim is Protaldy, who is ambushed and bound. Their interrogation of him is interrupted but De Vitry playing the part of a fellow victim, extracts the secret of his hidden jewels and treasonable letters from Brunhalt to Leonor. De Vitry's horrified response is to bring the treason to light. He is ultimately rewarded by the new king, Martell, who instructs him to take charge of whipping all Brunhalt's surviving servants from court.


Three physicians. They are unsuccessful in their treatment of Thierry's fatal insomnia.


A courtier in the closing scenes. He acts as messenger with news, first, of Lecure's suicide and later, the deaths of Protaldy and Brunhalt.


Two huntsmen set the scene for Protaldy's bucolic exposure by Martell. Their brief chat obliquely reveals that they are Brunhalt's men.


A bawdy court lady. She is brought by Protaldy to witness his failed plan to demonstrate his courage by assaulting De Vitry. She witnesses the plan backfire.


Brunhalt's loyal physician. He is the provider of drugs and poisons for the Queen's plots. He has long served Brunhalt and realizes that his good fortune and survival depend on her continuing ascendancy. He suggests to her the use of the impotence-drug, which constitutes her first attempt to ruin Thierry's marriage, and procures the potion for her. Disguised as the magician Le Forte, he persuades Thierry that the only way he can ensure future heirs for France will be to sacrifice the first woman coming from the Temple of Diana the next dawn. He then contrives the victim to be Ordella. Believing the plot has succeeded, he next proposes to Brunhalt the use of the poisoned handkerchief that will kill Thierry by depriving him of sleep. It is reported that to escape arrest when Brunhalt's treason is made known, he drowns himself.


A "ghost character" and disguise. A magician and astrologer living as a hermit and known to Lecure. He is captured by Lecure's servant, allowing Lecure to take his identity and, in disguise, give Thierry false instructions to cure his impotence. This sets up the plot to sacrifice Ordella.


A "ghost character." Theodoret's bastard son. Brunhalt gives her murder of Thierry political context by writing to him with details of her treason and explanation that she has removed her son to make Leonor king of France. The accidental discovery of these letters by De Vitry, hidden in Protaldy's boot, leads to Brunhalt's exposure and downfall.


Follower and loyal friend to Theodoret. He encourages him to take the moral course as befits a ruler. He accompanies Theodoret to Thierry's court, where, despite the reconciliation of mother and sons, he remains both skeptical of Brunhalt. In order to expose Protaldy's cowardice to Thierry, he arranges to take his sword in a public demonstration to dishonor him. Martell supports Thierry's plan to sacrifice an innocent subject according to the advice given to him by the magician Le Forte (really Lecure in disguise) and accompanies him to the Temple of Diana. He takes charge of the situation when Ordella reveals her identity and Thierry flees in horror. He persuades her not to commit suicide and begins to suspect that Brunhalt is to blame. He further persuades her to conceal herself and then proclaims her death. He tells Thierry that Ordella is dead and prevents Thierry from committing suicide. He effectively takes charge when Thierry falls ill. When De Vitry brings him proof of Brunhalt's guilt, he denounces her evil-doing. He forces her confession but is unable to persuade her to be reconciled with her dying son. He restores Ordella to Thierry in time for them to be reconciled. He commands Protaldy's execution and orders Brunhalt to witness his death by torture. With his dying words, Thierry appoints him king, and gives him the hand of his niece, Memberge, to preserve his line. Martell rewards De Vitry for revealing Brunhalt's treason and commands a private burial of the disgraced Brunhalt.


Daughter to Theodoret. She accompanies her father to Thierry's court after Brunhalt's flight and is there offered as a hostage to her uncle. Brunhalt's feigned repentance and the reconciliation make this unnecessary, and she attends the marriage celebrations of Thierry and Ordella. She dances reluctantly at the revels, and her premonitions of her father's death are proved right. After his murder, she demands justice from the king her uncle. Thierry, believing her to be no blood-relation, proposes to marry her. This is forestalled by the return of Ordella, believed dead, and Thierry's own murder. With his dying words, Thierry gives her in marriage to Martell, to be the next king and queen of France, so that her children will preserve his dynastic line.


Princess of Aragon, bride to Thierry. Fifteen years old, she is innocent and famed for her virtue. Although deferential to Brunhalt, her status as the new queen provokes homicidal jealously in her mother-in-law. She prevents a duel between Protaldy and Martell by appealing to Protaldy's chivalry to desist from violence on her wedding-night. The impotence-drug intended to frustrate the couple's married bliss and end the marriage is thwarted by her contented, celibate love for Thierry. Lecure, Brunhalt's agent, disguised as the magician Le Forte, persuades Thierry to sacrifice the first woman coming from the Temple of Diana the following dawn. Lecure contrives for Ordella to be the victim, and, still veiled and unknown to her husband, she consents to be killed. He flees, horrified, when she reveals her identity, and she is persuaded by Martell not to commit suicide to fulfill the false prophecy. She consents to hide and be believed dead to await developments. She returns to court when Thierry is dying. They are reconciled and she dies of grief immediately after her husband's death.


He brings King Thierry news of the imminent arrival from Spain of his young bride Ordella.


Brunhalt's lover. An upstart minion, promoted to the position of Lord General of the army despite his personal cowardice. Martell exposes his cowardice to the king by contriving a plot to take his sword dishonorably. Protaldy is terrified at the mere description of armed bandits and fails entirely to acquit himself as a soldier or gentleman. Martell further humiliates him by seizing his ears, kicking him and taking his sword. The incident means he is ridiculed and banished from Thierry's presence. He attempts to lie his way out of disgrace, backed by Brunhalt, and dares to challenge Martell to a duel, before Ordella makes peace between them. Protaldy attempts to regain his reputation by staging a fight before witnesses. His bribed assailant, De Vitry, retaliates too strongly, and he again reveals his lack of courage. He is complicit in all Brunhalt's plots against her family. He is Brunhalt's agent in murdering Theodoret, stabbing him in the back as he sits enthroned watching the marriage revels. Thierry, believing Brunhalt's revelation of Theodoret's low birth, forgives and rewards him for the deed. When Thierry is poisoned, Protaldy is entrusted with letters to Theodoret's bastard son in Austracia. His capture, by De Vitry's outlaw band, leads to the interception of the letters and the exposure of Brunhalt's guilt. Protaldy is tortured to death (offstage), and Brunhalt, forced to witness his execution, kills herself, apparently for his sake.


Summoned by Thierry to celebrate his marriage. One invites Brunhalt to dance. When she refuses, he persuades Memberge to dance. Their brief conversation reveals her ominous belief that her father is to die just before her father is murdered.


One unnamed servant in particular may be assumed in the service of Brunhalt's agents. He assists Bawdber in the plan to bribe De Vitry. He later assaults and incapacitates the magician Le Forte (offstage), enabling Lecure to assume his identity in disguise.


Four disbanded soldiers. They turn to banditry with De Vitry. He first challenges them to a contest of wits in winning his last remaining coin. The first defends the money from the persuasion of the second, the flattery of the third and the (Welsh) blandishments of the fourth. De Vitry outwits them all, by taking back the money by force. They agree to follow him as outlaws. Their first victim is Protaldy.


Prince of Austracia, Brunhalt's older son and brother to Thierry. He has a legitimate daughter, Memberge, and a bastard son, Leonor. He is loyally served and advised by his noble friend Martell. Outraged by his mother's depraved life, he instructs her to enter a convent, which provokes her flight to his brother's court. Realizing that she will try to instigate a war between them, he journeys to France with his loyal friend, Martell, and his daughter, whom he proposes to offer as a hostage to Thierry. Both brothers believe Brunhalt's repentance and are reconciled. His party stays to celebrate the royal wedding of Thierry and Ordella. The brothers go hunting together and debate Protaldy's reputation. Theodoret has already agreed with Martell to stage a demonstration of Protaldy's cowardice, which succeeds. Brunhalt plots his murder during his brother's wedding celebrations. He is stabbed in the back by Protaldy as he sits in state with Thierry, both watching the revelers dance. His mother subsequently excuses his murder with a fantastic tale to Thierry that Theodoret was a changeling child, a humble gardener's son substituted by her for a baby that miscarried. She later retracts the story when Thierry proposes to Theodoret's daughter, believing her to be no blood relation. Brunhalt's murder of Thierry is ostensibly a plot to place Theodoret's illegitimate son on the throne of France.


King of France, Brunhalt's younger son and brother to Theodoret. An autocratic but honorable ruler in the first instance, he welcomes his mother to court and believes her allegations of outrageous libel by his brother, and disbelieves the rumors of her promiscuity. He makes Protaldy Lord General of his army. Brunhalt's feigned repentance leads to a reconciliation between brothers, averting war. He invites Theodoret's party to stay and celebrate his marriage to Ordella. Martell's plot to expose Protaldy's cowardice is explained to him and he leads the court in mocking the coward when the story is made public. He is in love with his wife, both devastated at his impotence and delighted at her demonstration of chaste devotion to him. After Theodoret's murder, he is gullible enough to believe Brunhalt's account that his brother was a low-born changeling, the actual son of a gardener, and rewards Protaldy for killing him. Brunhalt further persuades him that his need for heirs is more important than his celibate marriage. And he is gulled into visiting the hermit-magician Le Forte (Lecure, in disguise) for advice. He takes his horoscope to the magician, and is told to sacrifice an innocent subject to ensure future sons. Not realizing that his designated victim is Ordella, he persuades her of her religious and patriotic duty to lay down her life, but flees in horror when she first agrees, then reveals her identity–only Martell's quick thinking saves the young bride by hiding her and convincing Thierry that she has died indeed. He tries to kill himself, but Martell prevents him. Believing that his bride is dead, and his niece is no blood relation, he answers Memberge's demand for justice by offering her marriage. He refuses to accept Brunhalt's admission that Theodoret was his true brother after all and that the marriage will be incestuous. His mother plots to kill him. He is given a handkerchief that will deprive him of sleep. His suffering, both from the symptoms of tormented insomnia and the drastic but futile remedies of court physicians, is described at length before he reappears on a couch, raving. Evidence of Brunhalt's treason is brought to him. He pleads with Brunhalt to repent, relent and be a true mother to him, but she scorns him. Ordella is brought out of hiding and forgives him. They make peace. He dies bequeathing the kingdom and his sister to Martell, and their children will preserve his dynasty.