(with Philip Massinger?)
a synoptic, alphabetical character list
The unnamed Beggar Boy accompanies Clause (Gerrard in disguise) as he enters the tavern outside Bruges to fleece the Boors who are drinking there. The Boy adds to the generally festive atmosphere of the scene by singing a song.
Bertha, disguised as Gertrude, the daughter of the merchant Van-dunck, is in fact the heir to the dukedom of Brabant. Kidnapped as a child by Wolfort, she has been placed with Van-dunck until she reaches maturity, at which time the usurper intends to marry her and cement his power. Living in Bruges, Bertha falls in love with the merchant Goswin (actually Florez, the heir to the earldom of Flanders), and they are engaged to be married. When Goswin disappears on the night of their wedding, Bertha suspects a rival and follows him to Beggars' Bush where she is surprised and taken by Wolfort. When Hubert's plan to have Wolfort attacked by a group of beggars and merchants succeeds, the lovers are reunited.
The Boors are three or four drunken peasants in the tavern outside Bruges. Clause (Gerrard in disguise) and his band of beggars use the distractions created by Prig and Higgen to take advantage of them. When the Boors later ally themselves with Hemskirk and attempt to take Goswin (Florez in disguise) as he arrives to fight the duel with Hemskirk, the beggars take them instead and punish them by making them cudgel one another.
Clause is the alias used by Gerrard, the father of Florez, while he resides in disguise among the beggars.
Cozen is the alias that the Flemish Lord Costin uses among the beggars.
Ferret is a member of the beggars' band headed by Clause (Gerrard in disguise).
Florez is the true heir to the earldom of Flanders. When Wolfort seizes control in Flanders, Florez is placed for safety in the custody of a merchant named Goswin who is living in England, and he grows up believing himself to be Goswin's son. Later in Bruges, where he known as Goswin, he succeeds in business, gains a reputation for generosity and honor, falls in love with Gertrude (who is in reality Bertha, the heir to the throne of Brabant, in disguise), and is engaged to be married. Unknown to him, his true father Gerrard has assumed the disguise of Clause and has become leader of the beggars in Bruges in order to keep a watch on him. When it appears that Florez will marry Gertrude, seemingly a merchant's daughter, Gerrard visits him. Because Florez has earlier sworn a favor, he is required to leave before the wedding. Gerrard then explains to him his true lineage and thus the inappropriate nature of a marriage to Gertrude. Just as Florez is about to plead for an exception to the social forms that would prevent his marriage, Wolfort sets them upon. The arrival of a party of armed merchants and beggars organized by the loyal lord Hubert rescues all involved, and the young lovers, now properly identified and restored to their rightful titles, are reunited and free to marry.
Hubert disguises himself as a forester and pretends to arrange the capture of the loyal lords, but instead arranges a trap for Wolfort and Hemskirk. He thereby precipitates the happy ending.
Frances is the daughter of the Flemish merchant Van-lock.
Gerrard is the father Florez, the heir through his mother's line to the earldom of Flanders. After Wolfort usurps the title, Gerrard sends the child to grow up in the keeping of an English merchant named Goswin, and he takes up hiding with other loyal nobles near the city of Bruges. Disguised as Clause, Gerrard becomes the leader of the beggars and monitors Florez's progress. When it appears that Florez intends to marry Gertrude, the apparent daughter of the burgomaster Van-dunck, Gerrard intervenes. He reveals himself, tells Florez of his true lineage, reminds Florez of his duty to his country, and calls for an end to what appears a socially inappropriate union with Gertrude. When the armed merchants and beggars of Bruges rescue everyone from Wolfort, Gertrude is revealed to be Bertha, the heir to the throne of Brabant, and the way is clear for the happy union with Florez to go forward.
Gertrude is the disguise name assigned to Bertha, the rightful inheritor of the throne of Brabant. She lives in Bruges, the supposed daughter of the burgomaster Van-dunck. Kidnapped as a child by Wolfort, she has been placed in the home of the burgomaster until such time as she reaches maturity, when the usurper intends to marry her and thereby increase his political hold. In Bruges, Gertrude falls in love with the merchant Goswin (really Florez, the heir to the earldom of Flanders), and they are to be married. When Goswin leaves suddenly with the beggar leader Clause (actually his real father Gerrard in disguise), Gertrude follows him assuming he has found a new love. At the Beggars' Bush, she is taken by Wolfort and is about to be forced to marry the usurper when Hubert's planned rescue succeeds, and she and Florez, soon to be restored to their proper stations, are made free to be married.
Ginks is the alias that the Flemish Lord Arnold of Benthuisin uses among the beggars. In his beggar's role, Lord Arnold pretends to be deaf and dumb.
Goswin is the name Florez, the true heir to the earldom of Flanders, assumes to be his, having grown up in the family of Goswin, a Flemish merchant living in England. In Bruges, Florez (as Goswin) succeeds in business, falls in love with Gertrude (actually Bertha, the heir to Brabant), and lives safely until the beggar leader Clause (actually his father Gerrard in disguise) reveals to him who he really is. Gerrard reminds Florez of his duty to his country and calls for an end to what appears a socially inappropriate union with Gertrude. When the armed merchants and beggars of Bruges rescue everyone from Wolfort, Gertrude is revealed to be Bertha, the heir to the throne of Brabant, and the way is clear for the happy union between Florez/Goswin and Bertha/Gertrude.
A "ghost character." Goswin, a Flemish merchant living in England, took in the young Florez, rightful heir to the earldom of Flanders, and reared him as his own son. In the course of the play, this same Florez adopts his foster father's name while abroad in Bruges and is himself known as Goswin.
A captain and confidant of the usurper Wolfort. Before the action of the play begins, Hemskirk placed the young Bertha, the young heiress to Brabant, in the home of the burgomaster Van-dunck where she lives under the name of Gertrude until her maturity. He accompanies Hubert to Bruges in order to identify the honorable lords who have taken disguise there. Hemskirk is captured along with Wolfort at the end of the play, and like his master is sent into banishment until such time as he repents his misdeeds.
Herman is a Flemish courtier whose conversation with the Flemish Merchant in the opening scene provides the complete background for the play, including the details of the war between Flanders and Brabant, Wolfort's usurpation of the Flemish earldom, and the continuing resistance of the city of Bruges.
Higgen is a member of the beggars' band led by Clause (Gerrard in disguise). He is the orator of the group and delivers the official welcome address when Clause is selected to serve as their ruler. During the action in the tavern outside Bruges, Higgen pretends to be a sow-gelder and amuses the Boors with his songs.
Hubert is a loyal courtier taken as he attempts to flee to those nobles who oppose the Flemish usurper Wolfort. Those nobles include Gerrard the father of Hubert's beloved Jacqueline. When Wolfort feigns remorse, offers to resign his usurped title, and urges Hubert to seek Gerrard and Jacqueline at Bruges, the courtier (reacting out of his own good nature) tries to believe that the Wolfort is being truly honorable, and accepts the assignment. Later, when Wolfort's captain Hemskirk gives evidence that Wolfort is simply using him to find Gerrard, the father of Florez the rightful earl, Hubert disguises himself as a forester, pretends to arrange the capture of the loyal lords, but instead arranges a trap for Wolfort and Hemskirk. At the end of the play, he has been reunited with his beloved Jacqueline, and they are engaged to be married.
One of the disguises assumed by the loyal nobleman Hubert, who is honorably searching for Florez, the rightful earl of Flanders. In his disguise as a huntsman he recognizes his beloved Jacqueline disguised and hiding among the beggars of Bruges.
Jacqueline (known as Minch in the beggars' company) is the daughter of Gerrard (who is disguised as the beggar king Clause) and the sister of Florez (the rightful earl of Flanders who has grown up thinking that he is a merchant named Goswin). Jacqueline is the beloved of the loyal nobleman Hubert, who in his disguise as a huntsman, recognizes her among the beggars. They are reunited and formally engaged at the play's end.
LORD ARNOLD OF BENTHUISIN
Lord Arnold of Benthuisin follows Gerrard (disguised as the beggar king Clause) into exile and assumes the alias of Ginks among the beggars. He pretends to be deaf and dumb.
Lord Costin is one of the loyal nobles who follows Gerrard (disguised as the beggar king Clause). His alias among the beggars is Cozen.
Margaret is the wife of the Flemish merchant Van-dunk.
The Flemish Merchant happens to meet the courtier Herman in the opening action of the play. His having been away on business for five years and his curiosity about recent events provides an occasion for Herman to reveal the whole story of the conflict between Brabant and Flanders. They discuss Wolfort's usurpation of the earldom of Flanders, and the resistance to the usurper maintained still by the city of Bruges.
MERCHANTS OF BRUGES, FOUR
The Four Merchants appear early in Act Four to demand that Goswin (Florez in disguise) pay what he owes them. Their refusals to grant him even a small extension in time are accompanied by remarks indicating their perverse pleasure in Goswin's desperate situation.
MERCHANTS OF BRUGES, YOUNG
The Young Merchants of Bruges are guests attending what is supposed to be the wedding of Goswin and Gertrude at Van-dunck's house. Their conversation as they arrive indicates how Goswin's straight dealing and sense of civic responsibility have inspired the best sentiments in the young generation of merchants.
Minch is the disguise name used among the beggars by Jacqueline, Gerrard's daughter and Hubert's beloved.
Prig is a member of the beggars' troop led by Clause (Gerrard in disguise). During the action in the tavern outside Bruges, Prig pretends to be a juggler and keeps the Boors focused on him while his companions pick pockets.
The Sailor arrives in Act Four with the welcome news that all of Goswin's merchant ventures have succeeded after all. He recounts how Captain Van-noke, the man Goswin earlier arranged to have released from prison, had happened along while one of Goswin's ships was being attacked by Turks, had driven them off, and sent the vessel and its cargo safely back to Bruges.
Snap is the stuttering member of the beggars' troop.
Van-dunck is a merchant and the burgomaster of Bruges. Married to Margaret, he is the supposed father of Gertrude (really Bertha, the heir to the throne of Brabant). His political sympathies are clearly with the group opposed to the Flemish usurper Wolfort.
The Flemish merchant Van-lock is the father of Frances and is generally sympathetic to Goswin (Florez in disguise). He is among the guests who arrive at Van-dunck's to celebrate Goswin's marriage to Gertrude (Bertha in disguise).
A "ghost character," Van-noke does not appear directly, but he is the ship's captain released from prison at the generous request from Goswin (Florez in disguise). The Sailor reports that Van-noke has returned the favor by rescuing one of Goswin's ships from the Turks.
At first a successful Flemish general in the war with Brabant, Wolfort uses his military power to seize the earldom for himself. After years of tyranny, he treacherously leads the faithful lord Hubert to believe that he wishes to resign his throne, and he sends his captain Hemskirk to help Hubert find the loyal nobles who have fled in disguise to Bruges. The real plan, however, is to identify the lords and to arrest them. At the same time, he intends to marry Bertha, the heiress of Brabant, who has grown up in Bruges thinking that she is Gertrude, the daughter of the burgomaster Van-dunck. At the last minute, his villainous plans are thwarted when a group of armed merchants and beggars from Bruges surprises Wolfort's party in a trap prepared by the loyal Hubert (disguised as a forester). When Florez, the true earl of Flanders and a man of extraordinary generosity, is restored, Wolfort is given the chance to repent, but he steadfastly refuses to do so. Florez then banishes Wolfort and his henchman Hemskirk until they have a change of heart.