THE HISTORY OF THE TRIAL OF CHIVALRY,
WITH THE LIFE AND DEATH OF CAVALIERO DICK BOWYER
a synoptic, alphabetical character list
Bellamira is daughter of the King of Navarre, and is in love with Philip. Burbon breaks into her tent and applies poison to her face, causing it to turn leprous. She then steals away from court in disguise, since she thinks she would not now be a fit wife for Philip. She encounters Pembroke and Katharina at Ferdinand's tomb in the lonely wood, and Katharina sends her to a hermit who is able to cure her disfigured face. She returns to present herself to the Kings at the end of the play, and is free to marry Philip.
The Clown claims (probably in jest) that this is his real name.
Captain Dick Bowyer is an English soldier, serving the Earl of Pembroke. He is in love with Thomasin, and is thus a rival to Peter de Lions, with whom he is caught fighting early on in the play. Bowyer's company are sent out into the trenches to keep watch, and in the night Bowyer sees both Ferdinand, and Pembroke, on their way to their duel. Bowyer fights for Navarre during the battle at the end of the play, rescues Thomasin from Peter de Lions, and then kills Peter de Lions on the battlefield. In spite of the play's subtitle, Bowyer does not die in the course of it.
Burbon is a supporter of the King of Navarre, but a treacherous one, plotting to take the throne of Navarre for himself. He is angry that Navarre refuses to give him Bellamira's hand in marriage. Therefore, with the help of his servant Peter, he enters the tent of Bellamira by night, and applies poison to her face. He then offers battle to the King of Navarre, thus gaining the support of the King of France. His co-conspirator has been the equally treacherous Rodorick, who betrays him by letting Bellamira's lover Philip into his tent the night before the battle. There, Burbon is challenged, and killed, by Philip.
A servant of Lady Katharine, the Clown is ordered by her to follow Pembroke. At one point he claims that his name is Bow Wow, probably in jest. In the night, he is arrested by Bowyer's men on his way to spy on Pembroke and Ferdinand. Later, he is dispatched by Katharine to accompany Bellamira to the hermit's, and (dressed as a gentleman) he returns with the cured Bellamira at the end of the play.
Dick Bowyer's Lieutenant, Core drinks while on duty, and takes part in the arrest of the Clown.
A mute character: a soldier in Bowyer's company, appointed sentinel in place of Rafe Nod.
Mute characters. Both Philip and Ferdinand bring drummers onto the stage: Ferdinand's beats a parley to summon the French King.
Ferdinand is the son of the King of Navarre, and is in love with Katharina, daughter of the King of France. He attempts to woo her, enlisting the Earl of Pembroke to help him in his suit, but Katharina falls in love with the Earl of Pembroke instead. Discovering this, Ferdinand believes Pembroke has betrayed him. He challenges Pembroke to a duel in the woods, and wounds him, and is himself wounded almost mortally, but is rescued by a passing fisherman. Later, he returns to the site of the duel, by now having overcome his jealousy. There he meets Pembroke, and they start to fight again before recognizing one another's true identity. Pembroke tells Ferdinand what has happened, and advises him to impersonate his own alabaster statue on the tomb set up for him. Ferdinand does so, and surprizes Katharine, who by now has truly fallen in love with him. Ferdinand takes part in the battle to defeat Rodorick, then reveals his identity to the Kings, and ends the play ready to marry Katharina.
A Fisherman discovers Ferdinand wounded after his duel with Pembroke, and rescues him.
The Earl of Flanders is a cousin of King Lewes, and commander of a force of 10,000 men who serve him. Flanders remains a loyal lieutenant of King Lewes, and attends on him in peace and war throughout the play: like Lewes, he fights with, and loses to Pembroke at the tomb, and surrenders his shield to him.
A Forester discovers Pembroke and Ferdinand after their duel: he rescues Pembroke, intending to come back for Ferdinand, but finds Ferdinand has been rescued by the Fisherman. At Pembroke's instruction, he builds a tomb for Ferdinand.
A "ghost character". A hermit lives in the woods, who has skill in physic. He effects a miraculous cure of Bellamira's disfigurement.
Katharina is daughter of King Lewes of France. Navarre's son Ferdinand is in love with her, but she secretly admires the Earl of Pembroke, and gets a painter to paint a picture of Pembroke as he talks to her. Ferdinand duels with Pembroke: Katharina travels out to the place where they duelled, in search of Pembroke, whom she finds there. Pembroke shows her the tomb he has built for Ferdinand, and she realizes that she should have loved Ferdinand all along. She returns to the tomb, where Ferdinand surprises her, and they are reunited. After the battle, she presents herself to the two Kings, and is free to marry Ferdinand.
King Lewes of France, father of Philip and Katharina, is at war with the King of Navarre, whose kingdom he claims. Lewes and Navarre agree a truce, but Lewes is deceived into thinking that his daughter has been raped by Navarre's son Ferdinand during the truce, and blames Navarre for this. When Burbon offers battle to the King of Navarre, therefore, Lewes joins Burbon, and battle is joined. Before battle begins, though, Lewes passes by the tomb in the woods, and is defeated by the Earl of Pembroke in single combat. Even after the death of Burbon, Lewes' forces continue to fight Navarre's. However, at the end of the battle his children reveal themselves to be unharmed after all, and Lewes ends the play reconciled to everyone.
A Messenger brings to the King of Navarre the news of Ferdinand's duel and supposed death.
The King of Navarre is at war with King Lewes of France, who claims his kingdom as his own. He is the father of Ferdinand and Bellamira. Navarre agrees to a truce with King Lewes, during which truce his daughter's face is covered with poison by Navarre's treacherous supporter Burbon. Burbon then offers battle to Navarre, but before the batlle begins, Navarre passes by the tomb in the lonely wood where he fights, and is defeated by, Pembroke. He then joins battle against the forces of Lewes and Burbon. Navarre is happy to cease fighting against Lewes once he finds that their children are alive and in love with one another.
Rafe Nod is a soldier in Bowyer's company, noted for going to sleep, whom Bowyer refuses to have stand sentinel. Nonetheless, Rafe does stand sentinel, and falls asleep, not waking even when Bowyer throws him in a ditch.
Katharina instructs a painter to paint a portrait of Pembroke, which he does on stage without Pembroke noticing.
The Earl of Pembroke is the leader of a force of English troops who are fighting for the King of Navarre. He sets out to help Ferdinand woo Katharina, but Katharina secretly falls in love with him instead. The incensed Ferdinand challenges him to a duel, which Pembroke cannot understand. In that duel he is wounded, and then he wounds Ferdinand in return: falling unconscious, he is rescued by a Forester. He recovers, has a tomb built for Ferdinand whom he believes to be dead, and vows to live in the woods there and challenge all passing knights to acknowledge Ferdinand's superiority as a knight. At the tomb, he is found by, first Katharina, whom he convinces of the merits of Ferdinand, and then the disfigured Bellamira. Next he meets there Bowyer, Roderick, Burbon, Lewes, and Navarre, all of whom he defeats in single combat, taking their shields as trophies; after that he meets and defeats Philip; and he then meets Ferdinand with whom (once they recognize each other) he is reconciled. Pembroke and Ferdinand then go to rescue Philip from Rodorick, and take part in the battle the following day. Pembroke reveals his identity to the two Kings and is reconciled to them.
PETER DE LIONS
Peter de Lions is a servant of Burbon. He is attracted to Thomasin, Bellamira's maid, and is thus a rival to Dick Bowyer, with whom, early on, he has a swordfight which is interrupted by the arrival of Pembroke. He steals Thomasina's key and lets Burbon into Bellamira's tent to poison Bellamira's face. When Burbon is later killed by Philip, Peter is on hand, but is too cowardly to fight against Philip. In the battle, he abducts Thomasin, who is taken off him again by Dick Bowyer. Dick Bowyer kills Peter de Lions on the battlefield.
Son of King Lewes of France, who at the start of the play intercedes with his father for peace with Navarre. Philip is in love with Bellamira. After Bellamira is poisoned by Burbon, Philip continues to offer to marry her. When she runs away, he leaves court to seek out Burbon and kill him. On the way, he fights with, and is defeated by, Pembroke at the tomb. On the eve of battle, Philip gains access to Burbon's tent with the connivance of Roderick, and fights and kills him there. Roderick then tries to kill Philip, but Philip is saved thanks to the timely arrival of Pembroke and Ferdinand. During the battle Philip pursues Roderick and kills him. Alongside Ferdinand and Pembroke, he then reveals his true identity to the Kings. Bellamira returns, cured, and Philip is reunited with her at the end of the play.
Duke Rodorick, Lord of Orleans, is the leader of a force of 10,000 men who serve the King of France. He is a Machiavellian villain who allies himself with Navarre's supporter Burbon, and joins him in his raid on Bellamira's tent. Roderick is delighted by Burbon's crime, since he stands to inherit Burbon's dukedom. Roderick sides with Burbon and Lewes against Navarre as war breaks out again. On the eve of battle, Roderick betrays Burbon, being complicit in giving Philip access to Burbon's tent to kill him. Entering the tent himself, he then attempts to kill Philip, but is driven away by arrival of Pembroke and Ferdinand. He is hunted across the battlefield the following day and killed by Philip.
A "ghost character", the name of an enemy whom Bowyer has previously killed with his sword.
An imaginary character. Rodoricke claims, falsely, that a sentinel has reported hearing the sounds of Katharine being raped by Ferdinand.
Bowyer gives instructions to the sergeant of his company, as they go out to take up their positions on watch.
A Soldier who speaks to Bowyer concerning watch duty is identified later in the scene as Rafe Nod.
Thomasin, Bellamira's maid, is admired by both Peter de Lions and Dick Bowyer, although her own preference is for Bowyer. Peter de Lions steals the key from her which enables his master Burbon to enter Bellamira's tent. Thomasin is one of those who discover Bellamira after Burbon has poisoned her. She is next seen on the battlefield, where she is abducted by Peter de Lions and rescued by Bowyer.
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