THE COSTLY WHORE
n.b.:The Harvard Library catalog states that this play was "Wrongly ascribed to Robert Mead," but offers no alternative suggestion. The name of the city where most of the action takes place, Meath, is presumably a substitution for Mainz; the story of Hatto, Archbishop of Mainz, eaten by rats for his monstrous lack of charity, was well known. It lies in the Palatinate, not in Saxony, but nothing about the play suggests careful geographical or historical preparation.
A Saxon landowner, summoned to the Parliament at Meath, he sides with Frederick to oppose the Duke's dishonorable marriage to the courtesan.
ALFRID or ALFRED
Younger brother of the Duke, he plots with Hatto to gain powers as regent in Meath that will allow them to enrich themselves at the expense of the poor. He seconds the Duke's tyrannical behavior toward Frederick, Euphrata, and Constantine, but is exposed by Valentia and condemned by her to servitude in the mines.
ARCHBISHOP of MEATH (MAINZ?)
Deceased brother of the Duke of Saxony. The beggars recount how this prelate's disdain for the poor, which he expressed by assembling many of them in a barn and then setting it on fire, led to his being eaten alive by rats.
Several beggars rehearse the story of the Archbishop, eaten by rats for his mistreatment of the poor, and thus establish a theme that runs through the play.
A young gentleman of Meath but not a noble, he loves Euphrata, daughter of the King of Saxony. When Montano discovers him hidden her closet he goes along with her stratagem of pretending that it was at Montano's initiative. Constantine sends Otho away when he discovers that his friend loves Euphrata, too. He uses the Duke's proposed marriage as grounds for his own marriage to Euphrata. Betrayed, they are imprisoned and condemned to death. Otho rescues him and takes his place, but his body is presented to the Duke as having drowned during the escape. He is alive, however, and the lovers are now free to wed.
DUKE of SAXONY
The Duke accepts his daughter's version of the dispute between Montano and Constantine, travels to Meath for his brother the Archbishop's funeral, makes Alfrid and Hatto his regents, falls in love with the courtesan Valentia, and resolves to marry her, however base she may be. When he presents her to the parliament, Frederick, Rinaldo, and Alberto resist. The Duke leads his forces against the rebels. Frederick prevails, and captures Valentia, but the Duke persuades him to give her up and disband the army in exchange for his pardon. But Montano, Valentia, and his sycophantic brothers persuade him to break his word and jail his son. He also imprisons Euphrata and Constantine. The petitions of the poor against Alfrid and Hatto, which Euphrata delivers, he scorns. When Valentia presents him with Frederick's body he remains hard, but is moved by the discovery of the fidelity of Otho and Julia, and when the bodies of Euphrata and Constantine are brought in, he recognizes what a tyrant he has been, cedes power to Frederick, and retires to a hermitage with Valentia.
Daughter of the Duke of Saxony, Euphrata hides her lover Constantine in her closet. When Montano discovers him there, he informs the Duke; she pretends that Montano has planted the younger man there to dishonor her. She seizes the Duke's wish to marry Valentia as warrant for her marrying Constantine. Captured and condemned to death, she delivers to Constantine petitions from the poor against Alfrid and Hatto. Julia and Otho help the young couple to escape, but in vain; her body is presented to the Duke as having drowned during the escape. But she is, in fact, alive, and can now marry the less-than-aristocratic Constantine.
Son of the Duke of Saxony, he is present at the confrontation of Montano and Constantine. He resists with force his father's desire to marry Valentia, and although natural affection will not allow him to engage in single combat with his father he defeats a whole squadron of other adversaries and captures Valentia. He wants to kill her, but is dissuaded by the Duke's pleading, and agrees to disband his force if the Duke will pardon all of them. When his father breaks his word, Frederick is captured by Montano, at whose behest he is condemned to die. But Valentia gives him a sleeping potion rather than potion, and when the Duke's conscience is finally aroused by the heroism of Julia and Otho, Frederick is installed as rightful ruler of Saxony.
Brother of the Duke of Saxony, he plots with Alfrid to exploit the poor. He licenses the export of corn to France even though the resulting dearth will mean the death of many poor Saxons. He seconds the Duke's tyrannical behavior toward Frederick, Euphrata, and Constantine, but is exposed by Valentia and condemned by her to servitude in the mines.
He laments Frederick's unjust sentence of death, and is scorned by Valentia for none the less yielding his prisoner.
Euphrata's waiting gentlewoman, she is privy to her lady's love of Constantine, and assists her in obtaining the banishment of the jealous Montano. She joins Otho in the attempt to rescue the condemned lovers, substituting herself for her mistress, and agrees to become Otho's wife.
Servants of Valentia, they dance to help her entertain the Duke.
A kinsman of the Duke, Euphrata's most importunate suitor, he vows to help anyone who has won her love to marry her rather than that she keep her vow of chastity. She confesses her love for Constantine, and, offended by the latter's modest birth, Montano reveals all to her father, the Duke. But the plan backfires when she insists, supported by Constantine and her maid, Julia, that Montano planted the young man there to dishonor her in revenge for her refusing him. The duke banishes Montano from the kingdom. He takes refuge in Meath with his niece Valentia, is reconciled with the Duke, and fights with him against Frederick. He agrees to join his niece and her husband in their hermetic retirement.
Constantine's friend and traveling companion, Otho expresses his love of
Euphrata in a letter; when Constantine comes upon it they part. He returns to Meath in secret, and arranges with Julia and Alfredo to substitute himself for the condemned Constantine. He and Constantine are reconciled, and he and Julia are to marry.
These merchants bribe Hatto for licenses to trade even in ways that are contrary to Saxony's best interests.
A Saxon landowner, summoned to the Parliament at Meath, he sides with Frederick and Alberto against the Duke's dishonorable marriage to the courtesan.
Montano's Venetian niece, she is the celebrated courtesan of Meath, where she gives her banished uncle hospitality. She inflames the heart of the Duke, who marries her against the wishes of his son and most of his subjects. When Frederick captures her in battle, she is saved from his fury by her husband's abject appeal, but seconds Montano in advising the Duke to mistrust his pardoned son. She bears the Duke's warrant to the jail, and offers to free Frederick if he will love her. When he remains steadfast in his condemnation, she gives him a cup of poison, and escorts his body to the Duke. The cup contains only a strong sleeping potion, however; when the Duke realizes what a tyrant he has been, she reveals her subterfuge, and takes advantage of the moment to call for justice on Alfrid and Hatto. She also urges her husband to hand over the government of Saxony to Frederick, and to repent their lustful ways and retire with her to a hermit's life of prayer and mortification.
Valentia's door-keeper, he serves the courtesan for love, not money.
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