John Fletcher
Philip Massinger


licensed 24 October 1622

a synoptic, alphabetical character list


Non-speaking characters. Sergeants of the law who attend Bartolus's breakfast as servants until he serves legal punishments to his guests. The Algazeirs then reveal themselves and stand guard to dissuade the guests from either attacking Bartolus or leaving. This is one of the first uses of the word in English and is a corruption from the Spanish alguazel, a warrant officer.


A "ghost character." Leandro's recently dead father. Leandro fabricates a letter of introduction and signs it with the name Alonzo Tiveria in order to ingratiate himself with Lopez. Of course, Lopez and Diego do not remember Alonzo at first; they never met him, but their memories quickly "return" after Leandro mentions the five hundred ducats that will be paid to Lopez as a gratuity for finding a law tutor for Leandro. Lopez and Diego go on to describe their "old friend" as a "grave staid gentleman" with a white beard, a good posture, and a reputation as a brave soldier.


A "ghost character" and probably a fictitious character. This unnamed character is an extension of Lopez and Diego's fabricated memory of Alonzo Tiveria. The mother of Leandro and supposedly married to Tiveria by Lopez, she is described as a "handsome gentlewoman."


Wife of Bartolus whose beauty, virtue, and inaccessibility prove irresistible to Leandro. Despite her tenacious protestations, Amaranta is seldom allowed to leave her husband's house and is never allowed to make the acquaintance of other gentlemen. When Leandro appears in her house as her husband's shy law student, Amaranta instantly sees through his ruse and admits her attraction to him in asides to the audience. The pair find time alone, but Leandro proclaims her virtue after Bartolus's breakfast. Despite her own misgivings, Amaranta proves her devotion to her husband by following his order to take the guests' swords during the breakfast.


Servant of Henrique. Andrea informs Jamie that he is forbidden to visit Henrique's house upon his "danger."


A respected gentleman and friend of Leandro and Arsenio. Milanes assists Leandro in his plan to seduce Amaranta, helps Lopez and Diego pull a practical joke at Bartolus's expense, and suffers through Bartolus's revenge breakfast. His name is sometimes rendered "Millanes" in the text.


Only mentioned. Argus was a figure of Greek myth who possessed a hundred eyes and therefore made an excellent sentry. Jamie compares Bartolus with Argus because of his jealousy.


A respected gentleman and friend of Leandro and Milanes. Arsenio assists Leandro in his plan to seduce Amaranta, helps Lopez and Diego pull a practical joke at Bartolus's expense, and suffers through Bartolus's revenge breakfast.


Believing himself to be the son of Jacinta and an unnamed deceased captain in the King's service, Ascanio wears his poverty proudly. He spends much of his time doting on his mother and Octavio and spending time with his friend Jamie. After Don Henrique reveals in court that the young man is actually his son and legitimate heir, Ascanio pledges to continue to act as a son to Octavio and Jacinta. Ascanio joins Henrique's household briefly, but Violante forces her husband to throw him back out into the street out of jealousy. Ascanio unwittingly serves as bait to trick Violante into revealing her criminal intentions to Henrique and the Assistant.


A fictitious character. Ascanio maintains that, although he never knew him, his father's rich reputation as a soldier and captain on the field of battle in the service of the King belied his poverty. This myth is exploded when Bartolus reveals that Ascanio is his son and legitimate heir.


The judge whom Jamie helps to foil both Bartolus's breakfast revenge and Violante's murderous plan. In both instances, his presence prevents crimes from being committed. The Assistant sentences Violante to build an abbey with her dowry and to live in the abbey for the rest of her life.


A covetous, jealous lawyer married to Amaranta, the most beautiful woman in Corduba. When Amaranta objects to his jealousy, he puts her off with promises of rich presents. Bartolus readily accepts Leandro as his law student once he knows he will be paid 300 ducats, but he is nearly cuckolded for his trust in the shy, retiring Leandro. When Henrique decides to claim Ascanio as his son and heir, Bartolus serves as his lawyer. Lopez tricks Bartolus into believing that Diego, the sexton, has died rich and has willed a large portion of his estate to Bartolus. When the ruse is uncovered, Bartolus is not amused, and vows revenge. He throws a breakfast party and invites all those who helped fool him. Instead of food, disguised Algazeirs and Paritors serve each man. Each receives a different form of legal revenge on his plate, such as a summons to court, a fine, and the like. Bartolus relents only when Jamie promises to tell the court of some mysterious past misdeeds.


A "ghost character." De Castro is the father of Alonzo Tiveria's wife, Leandro's grandfather.


Lopez's companion. Diego is a foolish sexton, willing to go to great lengths for either a ducat or a laugh. When presented with the prospect of either remembering a man he never met or losing his share of 500 ducats, Diego helps Lopez to invent a very vivid memory of Alonzo Tiviera. As part of a practical joke at Bartolus's expense, Diego pretends to be both rich and near death, and claims he has made Bartolus executor of his will. He stretches the ruse, playing upon Bartolus's greed. When the joke concludes, Diego is quick to laugh in Bartolus's face and follow the lawyer into the streets to further ridicule him.


A Moor and Amaranta's servant. She is much abused by her mistress. She announces Lopez, Diego, and Leandro, brings in the chessboard, and carries a note from her mistress to her paramour Leandro.


A "ghost character." Leandro speaks of his female Londoner of easy virtue during a conversation about the merits of handsome women. The story of the Gamester's assuming the appearance of several women of various nationalities in one night leads to Jamie's description of the most beautiful woman of Corduba, Amantara.


The supposedly childless husband of Violante and elder brother of Jamie. Henrique inherited their father's entire estate. Henrique gives only a bare allowance to Jamie, far below what is expected for an aristocrat. Henrique takes steps to invalidate Jamie's claim on the family fortune by revealing his paternity of Ascanio, which angers Violante into making a pact with Jamie to murder Henrique. When Jamie foils Violante's plan by tricking her into confessing before Henrique, he subsequently repents of his past bad behavior. He then reveals that he never married Violante, thinking Jacinta would eventually die of grief. Henrique quickly repairs his broken relationships with Jamie and Ascanio, promising to share his estate.


Ascanio's mother. She had Ascanio with Henrique without benefit of marriage. Henrique's plan was to use Ascanio to thwart Jamie's claim to inherit after Henrique. Jacinta was tossed aside in favor of Violante and lives under the fiction that she is the widow of a deceased captain. Octavio, her supposed present husband, assists in this deception and has helped Jacinta to rear Ascanio. She is seized along with Octavio, Ascanio, and Henrique as part of Henrique's plot to reveal Violante's treachery.


Don Henrique's younger brother and heir apparent to his estate. As the younger of the brothers, Jamie must depend upon Henrique's pitiful allowance. Jamie constantly reminds his brother of his fruitless marriage to Violante. Henrique decides to claim his legitimate son, Ascanio, whom he fathered with Jacinta, in order to thwart Jamie's claim. This angers Violante, who promises to share her bed and her wealth with Jamie if he kills Henrique. Jamie creates a ruse instead which results in Violante confessing her murderous intentions in front of Henrique and the Assistant. Henrique, overcome, mends his relationship with Jamie, promising to share his fortune in the future.


A "ghost character." Jamie speaks to his brother of their father's expectations while attempting to reveal Violante's negative influence on Don Henrique.


A "ghost character." Jamie speaks of her while attempting to point out to his brother Violante's negative influence.


A "ghost character" and possibly a fictitious character. Ascanio reports to his friends that his fictional father served the King (presumably the King of Spain) as a military Captain.


A generous young man. He has recently finished mourning his father's death. During a conversation with his friends, Leandro hears Jamie speak of Amaranta's beauty. He quickly hatches an elaborate scheme to meet her and perhaps seduce her. Dressed as a student, Leandro uses a forged letter from his father and a cash payment to persuade Lopez to introduce him to Bartolus, Amaranta's husband. With Lopez's good word and 300 ducats more, Bartolus agrees to let Leandro stay as his law student on the condition that he never strays beyond his quarters. Fooled by Leandro's shy, studious demeanor, Bartolus leaves him in the house with Amaranta. Despite his best efforts and ample opportunity, Leandro reports after Bartolus's breakfast party that he was unable to penetrate Amaranta's virtuous defenses. Finally, Bartolus grudgingly forgives Leandro for his interest in Amaranta.


The title character of the play. Lopez is a corrupt yet comic curate who first appears with his sexton, Diego, just as Leandro has hatched his plan to bed Amaranta. Leandro gives Lopez a fake letter supposedly written by Leandro's father, Alonzo Tiviera, asking for help in placing Leandro as a law student. Though Lopez has never met Alonzo, he quickly "remembers" when offered 500 ducats for his pains. Lopez and Diego then shamelessly invent vivid memories of Alonzo and finally introduce Leandro to Bartolus. The pair executes further mischief. Lopez verbally abuses his parishioners, threatening to leave the parish if the people fail to come up with more money. He also plays a practical joke on Bartolus by pretending Diego is rich, near death, and wants Bartolus to be his executor.


Servant woman employed by Bartolus. She bids him to come to the door to meet a neighbor in need of legal advice, unwittingly providing an opportunity for Leandro to woo Amaranta.


"Ghost characters." They seek legal advice from Bartolus, diverting his attention from Amaranta and Jamie. Though they never appear on the stage, he quickly realizes they have no money and flatly refuses to help them.


Supposed husband of Jacinta. He raises Ascanio as his own until Henrique proves that Ascanio is actually his legitimate son and heir. Octavio is a poor, humble, almost saintly man who admits in court he has never known Jacinta as his wife. Octavio is seized and threatened with death as part of Jamie's plot to trick Violante into revealing her true nature to Henrique and the authorities, but is released when the trap is sprung.


These are the parishioners of Lopez, the Spanish Curate. Lopez and Diego roundly criticize these folk for not fulfilling their duty to the church; i.e. having many children, dying quickly when they age, and marrying frequently (each of these activities would serve to enrich Lopez and Diego). The pair threaten to leave their parishioners without religious support if they fail to amend their ways. The parishioners offer bribes to entice Lopez and Diego to stay. The first, a smith, promises to offer up every tenth horse to be prayed for. The second, a cook, offers to tithe porridge. The third promises drink and his daughter.


A non-speaking character. A summons server disguised as one of Bartolus' servants. He and the Algazeirs bring out serving dishes for breakfast, but instead of food, they present the guests with legal summons. A paritor was a summoning officer for the ecclesiastical court.


Parishioners who offer up a song to Lopez and Diego in hopes they will decide to stay in the parish.


A woman in the service of Violante. She delivers a message to Jamie arranging the fateful meeting with her mistress.


Non-speaking characters. In disguise, the servants help seize Don Henrique, Octavio, Jacinta, and Ascanio as part of a ruse to trick Violante into incriminating herself in front of the Assistant and her husband.


Supposed wife of Henrique. She agrees with him to do whatever is necessary to keep Jamie from his inheritance. When Henrique claims Ascanio as his son and legitimate heir, Violante refuses out of jealousy to allow the illegitimate son inside her home. Henrique follows her will. Violante then arranges a meeting with Jamie and plots the death of Henrique, promising to share the estate and her bed with him when the deed is done. Jamie pretends to go along with the plan, but he creates a ruse with which to draw out Violante, tricking her into revealing her rancor to Henrique. The Assistant sentences her to build an abbey with her fortune and to live in it for the remainder of her life.


Non-speaking characters. At the trial held to settle Ascanio's paternity, these friends of Henrique are accused by Jamie of being willing to support any testimony Henrique gives.