Henry Shirley
THE MARTYRED SOLDIER

before 1627
(1618 often urged)

a synoptic, alphabetical character list

ANGEL 1

An Angel appears to Bellizarius and converts him to Christianity. It also appears to Eugenius, advising him to heal the King and set the Christians free. It ascends out of the cave (presumably a trapdoor) where Victoria is imprisoned and sings to the astonished Vandals. Finally, it appears in the final scene, accompanied by a second Angel: they descend to sing an encouraging song to Bellizarius and Victoria, and then freeze Victoria to death to prevent her from being raped by King Henrick.

ANGEL 2

Accompanies the first Angel in the final scene: they descend to sing an encouraging song to Bellizarius and Victoria, and then freeze Victoria to death to prevent her from being raped by King Henrick.

ANTHONY

Anthony is a Vandal lord who comforts Genzerick on his deathbed by reminding him of the atrocities he has committed. He seems to be the highest-ranking lord because he crowns Henrick when his father dies, chooses Hubert as leader of the purge of Christians, and proclaims Hubert to be king in the conclusion.

BELLINA

Bellina is the daughter of Bellizarius. When her father is imprisoned for his conversion to Christianity, Bellina visits him in prison, and he converts her. When Hubert falls in love with Bellina, she insists that he must convert to Christianity before they marry, and offers to be his tutor. When Hubert becomes a Christian king of the Vandals, Bellina becomes his queen.

BELLIZARIUS

Bellizarius is the eponymous martyred soldier. For his prowess in the purging of Christians, Genzerick makes him vice regent of Africa. When Bellizarius learns of Eugenius' miraculous powers, he prays for divine advice, and an Angel converts him to Christianity. Bellizarius then outrages the Vandal court when he tries to persuade King Henrick that the Christian God is superior to him. His wife and daughter, Victoria and Bellina, visit him in prison, and he converts them to Christianity. When Henrick lusts after Victoria, he decides that Bellizarius will only be released if he persuades Victoria to love him. Bellizarius responds by asking Victoria to love Henrick as a Christian, so as to convert him. Henrick orders Bellizarius to be executed by stretching him with weights, and he dies a martyr's death.

BLIND MAN

A "ghost character", miraculously cured by Eugenius, an act that inspires Bellizarius's conversion to Christianity.

CAMEL-DRIVER 1

Camel-Driver 1 is ordered by King Henrick to rape Victoria, but he is struck mad, and beats out his own brains.

CAMEL-DRIVER 2

Camel-Driver 2 is ordered by King Henrick to rape Victoria, but he is instantly struck blind. Henrick orders him to rape her anyway, but the Camel-Driver cannot hear him because he has been struck deaf too.

CHRISTIANS, TWO

Two Christians, their tongues cut out, are brought before King Henrick and ordered to kneel to Jupiter. Henrick does this to demonstrate to Bellizarius the weakness of the Christian spirit. But the Christians refuse to kneel, so Henrick orders them to be burnt at the stake.

CLOWN

The Clown is a jailor. He appears several times, bantering with the Watchmen, the Huntsmen, and Eugenius in prison. He jokes with two Pagans about the impending burning of Bellizarius and Eugenius. He also laughs with Epidophorus about conditions in the jail, and the torture of Victoria. He is last seen wondering at an appearance of an Angel in the jail. The Clown contributes nothing at all to the plot and is simply a source of low comedy.

CONSTABLE

The proud Constable, who is "Master of the Work and Constable Royal under the King's Majesty", is annoyed when the Clown starts taking over his job.

COSMO

A Vandal lord. In the boar-hunt, he is almost killed by the quarry. Like most of the other lords, Cosmo contributes little to the plot, and is merely a vehicle for plot exposition.

DAMIANUS

A Vandal lord. Hubert tells him of his encounter with the Lady all in White. Like most of the other lords, Damianus contributes little to the plot, and is merely a vehicle for plot exposition.

EPIDOPHORUS

A Vandal lord. He seems to be of a lower status than the other lords because his role throughout the play is merely to fetch people and bring them onstage. Like most of the other lords, Epidophorus contributes little to the plot, and is merely a vehicle for plot exposition.

EUGENIUS

Eugenius, Bishop of Carthage, is one of the Christian prisoners captured by the Vandals. He astonishes the army by curing a blind man, a miracle that inspires Bellizarius's conversion. In prison, an Angel appears and tells Eugenius to heal King Henrick so that he will set the Christians free. Eugenius is taken to Henrick, who believes that bathing in the blood of a Christian will cure his wound. Eugenius offers to cure Henrick in return for his release of all the Christians and his conversion. Henrick agrees, but, once cured, he revokes his offer, and orders Eugenius to be stoned to death. Eugenius is saved when the stones miraculously turn "as soft as sponges."

GENZERICK

Genzerick, King of the Vandals, is famed for slaughtering Christians. He appears on his deathbed in the opening scene. He settles the dispute between his son Henrick and Hubert, and dies commanding Henrick to continue purging the Christians.

HENRICK

Henrick is the son of King Genzerick. Returning from a battle with the Christians, he disputes with Hubert about whose actions decided the battle. On his father's death, he is crowned King of the Vandals, and continues to purge the Christians. He angrily rejects his friend Bellizarius's attempt to convert him to Christianity. While hunting, he is stung by a scorpion, and believes that bathing in the blood of Christians will cure his injury. He orders the captured bishop Eugenius to be killed. Eugenius offers to cure Henrick in return for his release of all the Christians, and that he turn Christian. Henrick agrees, but once cured, revokes his promise, and orders Eugenius to be stoned to death. Even when the stones miraculously turn soft, Henrick persists in his refusal to turn Christian. He demands that Victoria persuade her husband Bellizarius to recant Christianity, and when she refuses, decides that she must be raped by camel-drivers as a punishment. But the two Camel-drivers and two Slaves that he hires for the job are all miraculously struck mad or blind, so Henrick orders Victoria to be locked up instead. When she emerges from the dungeon all in white, Henrick begins to lust after her and tries to rape her, but two Angels appear and freeze her to death to preserve her virtue. Then a thunderbolt blasts Henrick to death.

HUBERT

Hubert is a brave commander, who is angered when Henrick and Bellizarius take the credit for winning a battle against the Christians. King Genzerick tries to settle the dispute by making Hubert Master of Horse to Henrick, and scholar to Bellizarius, but Hubert privately feels slighted by these low-ranking positions. Later, he tells Damianus about a Christian lady whose aura of holiness made him unable to kill her. Hubert then falls in love with Bellina. She insists that he must convert to Christianity before they can marry and offers to be his tutor. Hubert is then made sole general in a new purge of Christians and is tempted by this chance for glory. But Bellina reminds him of his vows, and he agrees not to go. When King Henrick is killed by a thunderbolt, Hubert enters with soldiers, and the voices of the people are heard calling for him to be the new King. The lords agree to crown Hubert, and only then does he tell them that he is now a Christian and that they must all convert. Finally, he makes Bellina his queen.

HUNTSMEN

Two huntsmen engage in comic banter with the Clown during the boar-hunt.

LADY ALL IN WHITE

A "ghost character." Hubert recalls his encounter with her while sacking a church; she had an aura of holiness, and he found himself unable to dishonor her.

PAGANS

Two Pagans appear to discuss the impending burning of Eugenius and Bellizarius.

PHYSICIANS

Two Physicians try to cure King Henrick's scorpion bite with an expensive cordial, but it does no good. His urine informs them of his imminent death. They are comic characters who talk in outrageous jargon, and Henrick eventually dismisses them as mountebanks.

SLAVES

King Henrick orders two Slaves to rape Victoria. They agree, but then "dance anticly and exeunt," having been struck mad.

SOLDIER

A Vandal soldier reports Eugenius's miraculous curing of the blind man to Bellizarius.

VICTORIA

Victoria is the wife of Bellizarius. When he is imprisoned for his conversion to Christianity, Victoria visits him in prison, and he converts her. She pleads to King Henrick for his pardon, but he refuses to grant it unless she persuade Bellizarius to recant Christianity. Victoria persuades him instead to recant life in favor of Christian martyrdom. As a punishment, Henrick orders Victoria to be raped by lower-class men. But the Camel-Drivers and Slaves that he hires for the job are all struck mad or blind, so Henrick orders Victoria to be locked up instead. She is tortured in the dungeon, but emerges from it all in white. At this point, Henrick begins to lust after her, and decides to rape her. But two Angels appear at her bed, and freeze her to death in order to preserve her virtue and make her a martyr.

WATCHMEN

The underlings of the Constable who guard the jail. Also referred to as 'Officers.'