Anthony Brewer

revived 1680 as THE PERJURED NUN


a synoptic, alphabetical character list


The Abbot of St Swithin's flees the Danish wrath and encourages Cartesmunda.


Alured, the brother and heir of King Ethelred, escapes from the defeat at Winchester by disguising himself as the commoner Eldred. He is taken prisoner by Erkinwald, by whom he is employed as a go-between to Elgina, but Elgina woos him for herself. He responds, but Erkinwald sees them and kills Elgina. Alured then kills Erkinwald and escapes to Scotland, where he is helped by King Donald. He eventually defeats Canutus, though he spares his life for Elgina's sake.


Canutus or Canute, King of Denmark, leads the successful attack against the English in the opening scene, but his first sight of Cartesmunda leaves him utterly besotted and unable to pay attention to anything else–he does not even react when told of the deaths of his sister and of his best friend Erkinwald. Eventually Canutus accidentally kills Cartesmunda while trying to snatch her back from Huldrick. He does then rally a little, but it is too late; he is taken prisoner by Alured, though spared by him for the memory of Elgina.


A Captain tries to bring Canutus news and to persuade him to leave Cartesmunda, but he is condemned to death.


Cartesmunda is the head of the convent in Winchester. She is captured, and Canutus falls hopelessly in love with her. She resists at first but ultimately yields. She is accidentally killed by Canutus in his scuffle with Huldrick.


An unspecified number of colliers are under Grim's command and fight in the final battle with him.


Donald, King of Scotland, helps Alured by attacking York.


Edell, Earl of Hampshire, is a follower of Ethelred.


Edmond, Duke of Thetford, is the unswervingly loyal supporter of first Ethelred and then Alured. He flees to Scotland after the defeat at Winchester and there joins forces with Alured.


A follower of Ethelred.


Name adopted by Alured in disguise as a commoner.


Elgina is the sister of Canute. She is courted by Erkinwald, but falls in love at first sight with Alured in his disguise as Eldred. She successfully woos him but they are seen by Erkinwald, who kills her.


Erkinwald, Canutus' best friend, is in love with Elgina, and sends Alured, in his disguise as Eldred, to woo her on his behalf. When he sees them kissing, he kills Elgina and is himself killed by Alured.


After failing to rally his troops to the defense of Winchester, Etheldred is killed by the Danes early in the play.


Goodgift's factor.


An unnamed goldsmith correctly identifies Thornton's supposed iron as gold.


Goodgift is a Newcastle merchant involved in adventurous overseas trade deals. He subsequently dies and his widow marries Thornton.


Grim the Collier is Randolph's overseer. He is taken into Thornton's confidence about the gold and becomes rich by buying the sweepings of the supposed iron from the blacksmith. Grim eventually leads the Newcastle colliers to clinch Alured's victory, and secures favorable trading conditions for them as a reward.


A guard leads Osbert to his death.


A "ghost character." Father of Canutus and Elgina.


Harold is Canutus' trusted captain. Though appalled by Canutus' behavior, he serves him loyally and attempts to defend York for him, although he is unsuccessful.


Hoffman is a follower of Canutus.


Huldrick, an old soldier who fought for Canutus' father, tries to bring Canutus to his senses by snatching Cartesmunda away from him. In the ensuing scuffle, both Huldrick and Cartesmunda are killed by Canutus.


The smith Iron-Fist buys a consignment of supposed iron from Thornton. Not realizing that it is in fact gold, he rejects it as unsatisfactory and Thornton agrees to take it back and refund his money.


An unspecified number of Danish lords are present at the deaths of Huldrick and Cartesmunda.


Malcolm is a Scot who accompanies his king during the assault on York.


Mistress Goodgift is married first to Goodgift and then, after his death, to Thornton.


Two or three nuns are with Cartesmuna when Canutus first sees her.


Osbert, Duke of Mercia, is a Saxon who joins with the Danes against Ethelred and stands on his dead king's corpse. He is then himself condemned to death by Canutus as a traitor.


Osrick announces the capture of Winchester to Canutus.


A Post (or messenger) warns Canutus that the English army is at hand. Canutus kills him for bringing bad news.


The merchant Randolph is the brother of Mistress Goodgift, and arranges her second marriage to Thornton.


Various soldiers do not respond to Ethelred's rallying cry at the opening of the play; another frees Alured when Elgina requests it of Erkinwald.


Led by a prophecy, Thornton, a Northumbrian lambskin merchant and needle maker, comes to Newcastle to make his fortune. He buys what he takes to be iron, but it is in fact gold. The now rich Thornton marries the widowed Mistress Goodgift, orders the construction of a wall around Newcastle, and receives Alured and Edmond when they arrive at Newcastle, even lending Alured money.


An unspecified number of workmen are directed by Thornton to build a wall round Newcastle.