George Peele
EDWARD I

1590–1593

a synoptic, alphabetical character list

AIMES of the VIES

A non-speaking character. Upon returning to England from crusade, Edward formally recognizes the courage of his veterans and calls for "Aimes of the Vies" to display a cross.

ANCIENT

A non-speaking character. In the scene of Edward's return from crusade, the Ancient enters with the royal standard. When the king encourages the lords to contribute funds to support his wounded veterans, the Queen Mother promises five thousand pounds for that cause and a special pension of forty pounds a year to the Ancient if he will become her beadsman.

ANGLESEY

A non-speaking character. Lord Anglesey is one of the Welsh Barons who is present when the infant Edward of Caernarvon is presented the "mantle of frieze," in recognition of the child's status as Prince of Wales.

BARBERS

Non-speaking characters. When Queen Elinor, in what Glocester terms her "Spanish fit," tells Edward that she desires all Englishwomen to have a breast removed and all Englishmen to be clean shaven, Edward summons the barbers, stating that he will be the first to be shorn. This shocks the proud queen into dropping her outrageous requests.

BISHOP

After the christening of Edward of Caernarvon, the unnamed Bishop officially presents the child first to Edward and then to Queen Elinor.

CHARLES de MONTFORT

A non-speaking character. The stage direction for the scene of Edward's return from crusade mentions Charles de Montfort, brother to Signor Montfort, as one of the king's prisoners. Many editors take this as an error for Emerick de Montfort, the brother of Elinor de Montfort, because Guenther later reports to Lluellen that the lady and her brother had fallen into Edward's hands as they were making their way to Wales.

CRESSINGHAM

A non-speaking character. Cressingham is a lord who accompanies Edmund and Sussex to Wales for the christening of Edward of Caernarvon.

CROUCHBACK

Also rendered as "Couchback," Crouchback is the sobriquet for Edmund of Lancaster.

DAVID

At the christening of Edward of Caernarvon, the king greets "Sir David" as a representative of all Welshmen. The fondness displayed by Edward here suggests that this may have been intended to be Sir David of Brecknock, even though that character had already shown his disloyalty and joined his brother Lluellen in an earlier scene. Many textual editors suspect that Peele's text had undergone a revision, and the playwright neglected to check for inconsistencies such as this.

DAVID of BRECKNOCK

The younger brother of Lluellen, David of Brecknock pretends to be loyal to Edward and remains with the king after Lluellen's revolt. Edward prizes the Welshman greatly, making it possible for David to avoid suspicion and to spy on his brother's behalf. When Edward and Lluellen meet in single combat, David attempts to aid Lluellen, thus signaling his true loyalties. When Mortimer defeats the Welsh forces, he has David sent as a prisoner to the king, who promptly has him executed.

EARL of SUSSEX

The Earl of Sussex is one of Edward's closest retainers. He appears with the king during the Welsh campaign, serves as one of the escorts for Joan of Acon when she is married to Gilbert de Clare, and is present when the infant Edward of Caernarvon is formally presented to his parents after the christening.

EDMUND, DUKE of LANCASTER

Also known as "Crouchback," he is the younger brother to Edward. Edmund is Duke of Lancaster and accompanies the king on his Welsh campaign. At the play's end, Edward insists that Edmund join him disguised as one of the French Friars Elinor has summoned to hear her confession, and in several asides, the duke expresses his uneasiness at this project. When Elinor confesses to having slept with Edmund the night before her marriage to the king, Edmund tries to convince Edward that the queen must be temporarily insane because of her weakened condition. Edward, however, rejects that suggestion, and promising that Edmund's head will ransom the king's disgrace, he orders his brother to leave.

EDWARD I

Son of Henry III and Eleanor of Provence. Referred to as Longshanks in the speech headings. Edward returns to England from crusade after his father's death. Called upon by the Scottish nobility to select a new king for them from among the nine chief claimants, Edward selects John Baliol and receives homage from him. To confront the Welsh uprising, Edward goes to Wales personally, taking with him the pregnant Queen Elinor. He does this so that, should the child be a son, the boy will be a native-born Welshman, thus qualifying him for the title of Prince of Wales. The king leaves Mortimer, Earl of March, to contend with the rebel Lluellen's forces and returns to suppress a revolt in Scotland led by John Baliol. When Edward learns of Queen Elinor's "sinking" into the earth at Charing-Green and her subsequent rising at Potter's Hive, Edward returns to court with his brother Edmund, Duke of Lancaster. Disguised as one of the French Friars Elinor has summoned to hear her confession, Edward learns that his wife slept with his brother Edmund the night before her marriage to him and that Joan of Acon, his supposed daughter, is really the product of an affair with a French friar. When the queen dies and Edward receives confirmation of Mortimer's victory in Wales, he commits himself to dealing with Baliol's second rebellion in Scotland as a way of restoring through combat some of the family honor.

EDWARD of CAERNARVON, PRINCE of WALES

A non-speaking character. Edward of Caernarvon, later Edward II, is the son born to Edward I and Queen Elinor during the campaign in Wales. The king arranges for his pregnant queen to join him there so their child will satisfy the demand of the Welsh populace that only native-born Welshmen may receive the title of Prince of Wales.

EDWARD'S DEAD SON

A "ghost character." When the Queen Mother greets Edward upon his return from Palestine, she remarks that during his absence he has lost his father (Henry III), his uncle (Richard of Cornwall), and his son. The son is not named, but historically two of Edward's sons–John and Henry–died while he was campaigning.

ELINOR de MONTFORT

Beloved of the Welsh prince Lluellen. Lady Elinor de Montfort is captured by Edward's forces along with her brother Emerick as they attempt to join the Welsh. When Edward later is tricked into believing that the Welsh intend to torture and kill Sir David of Brecknock, one of his favorites, the king sends Elinor back to Lluellen, much to the dismay of Mortimer, Earl of March, who has fallen in love with her. Elinor accompanies Lluellen into the mountains, and after the Welsh prince's defeat, she falls again into Mortimer's hands.

EMERICK de MONTFORT

A "ghost character." Guenther brings Lluellen the report that Edward's forces had intercepted Elinor de Montfort and her brother Emerick as they were making their way to join him in Wales.

ENGLISH SOLDIER

In the skirmish at Orewin Bridge, Lluellen is killed by English troops. The First Soldier orders the corpse to be buried, but he takes the head to present to Mortimer. Later, when Mortimer gives the head to Edward, the king promises a reward to this soldier.

FARMER

When Friar Hugh ap David learns that the Farmer is going to Brecknock to receive a large fortune, he devises a plan to cheat him. Meeting the Farmer on the road, the friar pretends to be mad, telling him that he owes "Saint Francis" a gambling debt of five gold nobles. The Farmer, seeing a chance to defraud the cleric, claims to be "Saint Francis' receiver" and takes the money from the friar. Later, Friar Hugh accosts the Farmer as he is returning from Brecknock, calls him "Saint Francis' receiver," claims that the saint now owes a gambling debt of one hundred marks to him, and demands that the "receiver" pay him. When Edward, who is on hand, inquires about this matter and learns of the Farmer's having taken advantage of the friar earlier, the king orders the Farmer to hand over the money.

FRENCH FRIAR

A "ghost character." During her confession to the "French Friars" (Edward and Edmund in disguise), Queen Elinor admits that a French Friar was the natural father of her daughter Joan of Acon.

FRENCH FRIARS

Disguises assumed by Edward and Edmund. After her reappearance at Queenhith (Potter's Hive), Queen Elinor wishes to confess her sins, but fearing that members of the English clergy might not be able to maintain the seal of the confessional, she sends for friars from France. Edward and Edmund disguise themselves as the French Friars, and the king thereby learns that Elinor slept with Edmund the day before she married Edward, and that Joan of Acon is not Edward's natural daughter, but the result of her affair with an unnamed French friar.

FRIAR DAVID ap TUCK

Friar David ap Tuck is the name assumed by Friar Hugh ap David when he joins Lluellen and Elinor de Montfort in the Welsh mountains, and all the rebels decide to assume the names of characters from the Robin Hood legends.

FRIAR HUGH ap DAVID

Appearing early in the play with his mistress Guenthian and his novice Jack, Friar Hugh ap David soon falls in with Prince Lluellen and his party. In the Robin Hood role-playing scenes, he assumes the role of Friar Tuck, actually calling himself Friar David ap Tuck. When Lluellen is defeated, the friar "retires" his pick-staff (nicknamed Richard) by hanging it in a tree and is pardoned by the victorious Mortimer.

FRIAR TUCK

Only mentioned. When the Welsh rebels led by Lluellen take to the mountains, they assume roles derived from the Robin Hood legend. It is natural that Friar Hugh ap David should take the disguise of Friar Tuck, but he qualifies the role by calling himself Friar David ap Tuck.

GILBERT de CLARE, EARL of GLOCESTER

Gilbert de Clare is in love with Edward's daughter Joan of Acon. He enlists the aid of Queen Elinor in winning the king's approval for the marriage. It is de Clare who explains to the pregnant queen that Edward has insisted she come to Wales so that the Welsh will have to accept his son as a native-born Welshman.

GLOCESTER

Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Glocester is in love with Edward's daughter Joan of Acon. He enlists the aid of Queen Elinor in winning the king's approval for the marriage. It is de Clare who explains to the pregnant queen that Edward has insisted she come to Wales so that the Welsh will have to accept his son as a native-born Welshman.

GRYFFYTH

A "ghost character." Gryffyth, Lluellen's father, died while attempting to escape from the Tower of London.

GUENTHER

One of Lluellen's Welsh supporters. Guenther brings the prince letters from Sir David of Brecknock informing him of Edward's return from Palestine and recounting the capture of Elinor de Montfort and her brother Emerick by Edward's forces.

GUENTHIAN

Guenthian is Friar Hugh ap David's mistress.

HENRY III

A "ghost character." Henry is Edward's father. Upon Edward's return from crusade, the Queen Mother comments upon how sad it is that Edward's father, uncle, and son have all died while he was away. Edward replies that he is sad for the loss of his uncle, sadder for the son, but saddest of all for his father.

JACK

Jack is the novice attached to Friar Hugh ap David.

JOAN of ACON

The putative daughter of Edward and Elinor. Joan of Acon is in love with Gilbert de Clare, the Earl of Oxford. Aided by her mother, she gains the king's permission to marry the earl. Near the end of the play, Edward informs her that Elinor has confessed that her natural father was in fact a French friar with whom the queen had an affair, and stricken with grief, Joan dies of shock.

JOHN

Given to witty remarks, John is the manservant to the Potter's Wife and accompanies her on the stormy night when they encounter Queen Elinor rising from the ground at Potter's Hive (which thereafter becomes Queenhith).

JOHN BALIOL, KING of SCOTLAND

Selected by Edward from among the nine claimants to the Scottish throne to be the next King of Scotland. Baliol ultimately rebels and attempts to shake off the English yoke. Following his defeat at the hands of Edward's forces, Baliol pleads for mercy with such rhetorical skill that the English king spares his life while noting that he intends to keep a careful watch on the Scotsman hereafter. Late in the play, Baliol revolts a second time, and Edward marches against him.

KATHERINE

Listed as "Katherine" in the dramatis person but "Katherina" in the speech headings, Katherine is lady in waiting to Queen Elinor. She assists the queen in her revenge upon Mary Bearmbar, the wife of the Mayor of London, by tying Mary to a chair, and upon the order of the queen, affixing poisonous snakes to the woman's breasts.

LITTLE JOHN

Only mentioned. When the Welsh rebels decide to assume the roles of figures from the Robin Hood legend, Rice ap Meredith is titled Little John.

LLUELLEN, PRINCE of WALES

Resenting the English domination of the Welsh, Prince Lluellen is the leader of an uprising against Edward. Although he genuinely loves Elinor de Montfort, daughter of Simon de Montfort, Lluellen courts her in part because he realizes that some disaffected English nobles may support him because he is allied to the daughter of one of the chief reform figures of the Barons' War. His party, including Elinor, Rice ap Meredith, Friar Hugh ap David, and others, takes to the mountains to await the gathering of rebel forces, and the group passes the time playing the roles of various figures from the Robin Hood legend, with Lluellen himself assuming the role of Robin. He is ultimately defeated by English forces under the command of Mortimer, Earl of March, and his head is sent to Edward as a token of victory.

LONGSHANKS

Longshanks is the sobriquet used for Edward in the speech headings.

MADDOCK

A "ghost character." Mentioned by Lluellen, Maddock had led an earlier uprising of the Welsh against the English.

MAID MARIAN

Only mentioned. In the Robin Hood role-playing among the Welsh rebels, Elinor de Montfort styles herself Maid Marian.

MANTLE BARON

Accompanied by other Welsh Barons, the Mantle Baron swears allegiance to the infant Edward of Caernarvon on behalf of the loyal Welsh and presents the child the "mantle of frieze" that indicates their recognition of his status as Prince of Wales.

MARY BEARMBAR

Mary Bearmbar is the wife of the Mayor of London. Early in the play, she incurs the wrath of the proud Queen Elinor, who objects to the Mayoress being accompanied through the streets by musicians as she goes to have her son christened. Later, Elinor summons Mary and inquires if the woman would wish to become a royal laundress or the nurse to Edward, Prince of Wales. When Mary chooses the latter, the queen has her bound to a chair and poisonous snakes affixed to her breasts in order to determine what kind of a "nurse" Mary will be.

MARY, DUCHESS of LANCASTER

A non-speaking character and likely a mistake. When Edward meets Queen Elinor after the birth of Edward of Caernarvon, a stage direction lists Mary, Duchess of Lancaster, as being present. Because neither of Edmund's wives was named Mary, editors suspect that the character intended should be Mary Bearmbar, Mayoress of London.

MATREVERS

A non-speaking character. Matrevers is one of the veterans of the crusade Edward recognizes publicly upon his return from Palestine.

MESSENGER

A confusion of two unnamed Messengers figure in the play.
  • The First Messenger brings Edward news of Lluellen's defeat in the same scene where Sir Thomas Spencer reports Queen Elinor's "sinking" at Charing-Green and her reappearance at Potter's Hive.
  • When the First Messenger reports Lluellen's defeat to Edward, the stage direction indicates the presence of the Second Messenger. In fact, the second messenger is Sir Thomas Spencer who comes with the news of Queen Elinor's "sinking" at Charing Cross.

MESSENGER from MORTIMER

Near the end of the play, the messenger from Mortimer informs Edward of the victory over Lluellen and of Baliol's renewed offensive in Northumberland. The text at this point appears corrupt because Edward remarks upon the appearance of two messengers, and it is likely that one was to report the Welsh news, the other the rebellion of the Scots.

MORGAN PIGOT

Early in the play, Morgan Pigot, a Welsh harper and alleged seer, delivers a rhymed prophesy predicting that Lluellen will ultimately defeat Edward.

MORRIS VAUGHAN

A non-speaking character. Vaughn is one of the Welsh Barons present when the infant Edward of Caernarvon is presented the "mantle of frieze," symbolizing the child's role as Prince of Wales.

MORTIMER, EARL of MARCH

Mortimer, Earl of March, is Edward's chief agent against the rebellious Welsh. Having fallen in love with Elinor de Montfort, Mortimer is distressed in the extreme when Edward hands her over to Lluellen. After leading Edward's forces to victory over the Welsh rebels, Mortimer has Lluellen's head sent to the king, and when Elinor expresses her great pain at the undoing of the man she loved, Mortimer assures her that she may be easily restored to happiness if she will take his advice and accept his proposal of marriage.

MUN

Mun is the nickname Edward uses for his brother Edmund.

NED

Ned is the nickname Queen Elinor customarily uses for Edward.

NELL

Nell is the nickname Edward uses for Queen Elinor and Lluellen uses for Lady Elinor de Montfort.

OWEN ap RICE

Owen is one of Lluellen's followers. When the prince's party first meet Friar Hugh ap David, it is Owen who hints at a dalliance with Guenthian, the friar's mistress, thus provoking a demonstration of the friar's skill with a pikestaff.

PEDDLER

When Lluellen orders the Peddler, the Priest, and the Piper to pay money to Friar Hugh ap David, the Peddler complains that he has only three pence tucked away in a corner of his shoe, prompting Rice ap Meredith to wonder aloud if the Piper might have some mutton hidden in his tabor.

PIPER

A non-speaking character. The Piper, along with the Priest and the Peddler, is ordered by Lluellen to give money to Friar Hugh ap David.

POTTER

Mortimer disguises himself as a potter in order to spy upon Lluellen.

POTTER'S WIFE

Accompanied by her manservant John, the Potter's Wife is on her way to visit friends on a stormy night when she encounters Queen Elinor rising from the earth at Potter's Hive (afterwards called Queenhith) and aids her in finding watermen to return the queen to the court.

PRIEST

A non-speaking character. In the scene where Friar Hugh ap David bilks the Farmer of his hundred marks, Lluellen arrives with the Priest, the Peddler, and the Piper, and orders them to give money to the friar.

QUEEN MOTHER

The Queen Mother (historically Eleanor of Provence) is involved in the public reception upon Edward's return from crusade, and when the new king encourages the nobles to follow his lead and contribute to causes that will help provide for his wounded veterans, the Queen Mother donates five thousand pounds for surgeons to be employed for them and further offers an annuity of forty pounds to the Ancient, Edward's standard bearer, if he will become her personal beadsman.

QUEEN ELINOR

Elinor (historically Eleanor of Castile) is Edward's proud queen. She insists that Edward delay his formal coronation so that the finest garments in the world may be procured for such a glorious occasion. Her vanity and pride are signaled by the outrage she feels when she catches sight of Mary Bearmbar, the wife of the mayor of London, being escorted through the streets to the accompaniment of music. Elinor takes her revenge by tricking Mary into believing she will become nurse to the infant Edward of Caernarvon, having her tied to a chair, and having poisonous snakes affixed to Mary's breasts. Although she is generally presented as cruel and overbearing, her exchanges with Edward are often marked by playfulness and suggest that a considerable affection obtains between them. After the murder of Mary Bearmbar, Elinor's daughter Joan of Acon castigates her mother for the crime, and when Elinor swears falsely that she had nothing to do with the deed, the ground at Charing-Green opens up and swallows her. A short time later, Elinor reappears from the earth at Potter's Hive (afterwards called Queenhith) and is taken to the court in a weakened condition. Realizing that her death is near, Elinor wishes to confess her sins, but not trusting the English clergy, she sends to France for two friars. When Edward and Edmund of Lancaster arrive disguised as the churchmen, Elinor confesses to having slept with Edmund on the night before her marriage to Edward and also to having had an affair with a French friar, the issue of which was Joan of Acon. Having made these admissions, the queen expires.

RICE ap MEREDITH

Meredith is the chief retainer and closest advisor to Lluellen. In the Robin Hood role playing scenes, he assumes the character of Little John.

RICHARD

A fictional character within the play. Richard is the nickname Friar Hugh uses for his pikestaff. When the friar decides to shift his loyalty from the defeated Welsh to the victorious English, he hangs the staff in a tree and sings a farewell song to it.

RICHARD, EARL of CORNWALL

A "ghost character." Richard, Edward's uncle, is Earl of Cornwall and the elected King of Rome (i.e., Holy Roman Emperor). The Queen Mother informs Edward of the earl's having died while Edward was fighting in Palestine.

ROBERT BRUCE

A non-speaking character. On Baliol's orders, Bruce places the halter around the neck of Lord Versses to remind him to go in haste to Edward with the message of Scottish defiance.

ROBIN HOOD

Only mentioned. When the Welsh rebels decide to assume the roles of figures from the Robin Hood legend, Lluellen assumes the pose of Robin Hood himself.

SAINT FRANCIS' RECEIVER

When the Farmer hears Friar Hugh ap David say he owes Saint Francis a gambling debt, he claims to be "Saint Francis' receiver" and takes the friar's money.

SAINT THOMAS a WATERING

When the Farmer, assuming Friar Hugh ap David is mad, decides that speaking nonsense will not matter, he calls himself Saint Thomas a Watering. Actually, he is playing with the name of a well-known watering stop on the road from London to Canterbury, one mentioned in the General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales.

SCOTTISH LORD

The First Scottish Lord attends upon John Baliol and assures the Scottish king that Lord Versses will deliver Baliol's message of defiance to Edward with all vigor.

SIGNOR de MONTFORT, EARL of LEICESTER

A non-speaking character. In the scene of Edward's return from Palestine, Signor de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, is mentioned as Edward's prisoner in the stage direction. Many editors take this as an error for Elinor de Montfort.

SIMON de MONTFORT

A "ghost character." Rice ap Meredith remarks to Lluellen that when the English learn that the Welsh prince has married Simon de Montfort's daughter Elinor, many of them will support Lluellen's claim to Wales because of de Montfort's status as a reform figure during the Barons' Wars.

THOMAS SPENCER

Sir Thomas Spencer brings Edward the report of Queen Elinor's sinking into the earth at Charing Cross and her reappearance at Potter's Hive (afterward called Queenhith).

VERSSES

A Scottish noble. Lord Versses carries Baliol's defiance of the English to Edward, wearing a halter to remind him that he should perform this task with speed and with energy. Edward hears the challenge, gives him the royal chain to replace the halter, and orders Versses to tell the Scottish king that the halter will be his fate. When Baliol hears Edward's rebuke, he becomes enraged and orders that Versses be hanged with the chain the English king has given him.

WELSH BARONS

Non-speaking characters. Three Welsh barons accompany the Mantle Baron to Edward in Wales and swear allegiance to the newly born Edward of Caernarvon. The Mantle Baron presents the infant with a "mantle of frieze" as a symbol of the child's status as their prince. In an aside, Sir David of Brecknock remarks that two of the barons are Morris Vaughn and Lord Anglesey, both of whom he labels traitors to Wales.

WELSH SOLDIER

After Lluellen coerces Edward into returning Elinor de Montfort to him, the Welsh prince demands pardon for his men. When Edward asks if all the Welsh will be loyal thereafter, the soldiers shout that they will upon certain conditions, which are then enunciated by the First Welsh Soldier:
  • pardons for all;
  • Edward's assurance of their safety;
  • the speedy return of Elinor de Montfort to Lluellen; and
  • the king's promise that the Prince of Wales will always be a native-born Welshman.