John Suckling

The Discontented Colonel


a synoptic, alphabetical character list


Rebel against King Sigismond; in love with Francelia, the daughter of a fellow-rebel; childhood friend of Iphigene, whom he does not know to be a woman and in love with him. Captured in battle at the beginning of the play, Almerin is condemned to death; Iphigene (unknown to him) arranges to have herself caught by the rebels in order to provide a hostage for him - a move which turns out to be unnecessary, since he escapes on his own, but has the effect of bringing Iphigene into the rebels' camp. When his subordinate Morat informs him that Iphigene is paying court to Francelia, Almerin refuses to believe it, but is forced to do so on finding them together at night; he attacks Iphigene and fatally wounds Francelia before Iphigene can tell him the truth. He finally fights a despairing duel with Francelia's other suitor, Brennoralt, who kills him.


A "ghost character." An officer under Brennoralt. Grainevert suggests retiring "to Baruthen's tent" and Stratheman says "Baruthen had the watch tonight."


The hero; the "discontented colonel" of the subtitle, loyal, despite his discontent, to King Sigismond. Brennoralt generally takes a hard line against the rebels, discouraging the king from pardoning those he captures; but he is secretly in love with Francelia, the daughter of the rebellious Palatine of Mensecke, and for her sake saves the life of her brother, Fresolin. Informed by his friend Doran that Francelia is engaged to Almerin, Brennoralt enters the rebels' fort with the help of the servants Raguelin and Orilla and reaches Francelia's room in secret; she sets his mind at rest about Almerin but will not say she loves Brennoralt himself, since she has secretly fallen in love with Iphigene. At the end of the play, Brennoralt storms the fort and finds Francelia dying of stab-wounds, with Iphigene beside her; he kills Iphigene, whom he thinks the guilty man. Almerin rushes in, telling Brennoralt that Iphigene is in fact an innocent woman, and the two fight; Brennoralt kills Almerin, and then retires into private life, refusing the King's offers of two vacant palatinates on the grounds that they have come too late.


Friend of Brennoralt; a cynical soldier in the service of King Sigismond. Doran brings Brennoralt the news that his beloved Francelia is engaged to the rebel Almerin; he responds to Brennoralt's transports with sympathetic irony.


Daughter of the rebellious Palatine of Mensecke; loved by both the discontented but loyal Brennoralt and the rebellious Almerin, to whom she is engaged. The disguised Iphigene, who loves Almerin herself, flirts with Francelia in order to split up their romance; her success results in Almerin's wounding her and killing Francelia, who dies declaring her continued love for Iphigene (now undisguised). Francelia is bunglingly avenged by Brennoralt, who kills Iphigene in the belief that she is a man and guilty of Francelia's death.


Son of the rebellious Palatine of Mensecke; preserved in battle by Brennoralt, who is in love with his sister, Francelia. Later, when Brennoralt is caught infiltrating the rebels' fort (he has come to pay a secret visit to Francelia), Fresolin saves his life by pretending to the soldiers in the fort that Brennoralt has come on a friendly visit to himself.


Guards Almerin after his capture; he is persuaded by Melidor to request and convey a blank sheet from Almerin, stamped with his seal. Melidor's intention is to forge a letter from him urging his fellow-rebels to kidnap Iphigene as a hostage for him; Melidor knows that Almerin himself would not agree to this, as Iphigene is his friend, but Iphigene wishes it.


Leader of the rebellious force against King Sigismond.


Officer under Brennoralt; Grainevert and his friends Marinell, Stratheman, and Villanor are cavaliers, who provide the comic interest of the play by their cheerful reminiscences, fantasies, and singing-matches about women.


Palatine of Plocence. Iphigene is in fact a woman, the daughter of Miesla; she reveals at the end that her father had made a vow to be estranged from her mother if the baby turned out to be a girl, so she (in the manner of Ovid's Iphis, after whom perhaps she is named) was brought up as a boy, instead - a secret known only to Melidor, another councillor. Her early years were apparently spent in cross-dressing games with Almerin, with whom she fell secretly in love. At her own desire, and with Melidor's contrivance, Iphigene is caught by the rebels and taken to their camp. There, in order to stop the love affair between Almerin and Francelia, Iphigene pretends to court the girl - with great success. Finally Almerin finds her and Francelia together, and wounds them both; Iphigene manages to tell him the truth, and he rushes off to find a doctor, consoling Iphigene with the news that he would have loved her had he known the truth. Left alone with her unmasked lover, Francelia declares that she bears no grudge: the world can enjoy Iphigene, even if she cannot. Much moved by this, Iphigene considers that she might have been happier with Francelia after all; but at that moment Francelia dies, and Brennoralt enters, finds Iphigene with Francelia's body, and kills her (supposed him).


Councellors to King Sigismond


A "ghost character." She is named twice (once with an alternate spelling of Lucilia): she is the daughter of a forester, but disguised herself as a man in order to fight on the side of Brennoralt, whom she loved. After her death, Marinell discovers and reveals the truth, and Brennoralt reflects that love can make even women brave.


Officer under Brennoralt, friend of Grainevert, Stratheman, and Villanor.


Councillor to King Sigismond; the only one to recommend mercy at the beginning for the captured rebels. He does so because he alone knows that young Iphigene, heir to the councillor Miesla, is in fact a woman and in love with the captured rebel Almerin. At her request, he devises a plot to have Iphigene caught by the rebels, to be used as a hostage for Almerin; Almerin in fact escapes on his own, but the presence of Iphigene in the rebels' camp precipitates the tragedy between her, Almerin, and Almerin's fiancee, Francelia.


Councillor to King Sigismond; father to Iphigene, whom he wrongly supposes to be a young man.


Lieutenant-colonel to Almerin. Morat first warns Almerin that Iphigene is flirting with Francelia.


Maidservant to Francelia; involved in a romance with Raguelin, another servant. She wants to marry him; his motives are less personal.


Also called "Palatine of Minsk." A leader of the rebels against King Sigismond. The dramatis personae of the early editions call him "Governour"; perhaps he is the governor of the rebels' fort, where much of the action takes place.


Also called "Palatine of Troc." One of the rebel leaders against King Sigismond.


Servant in the household of the Palatine of Mensecke; spy for Brennoralt, whom he smuggles into the rebels' fort with the help of Orilla, his own supposed beloved. (He apparently uses his relationship with Orilla - who wants to marry him - only to further intrigues of this sort.)


King of Poland. The background to the play is a rebellion by the Lithuanian princes (Almerin and the palatines of Mensecke and Trocke) against him. Sigismond is served faithfully though grouchily by Brennoralt, and at the end of the play the rebels have been routed; the romantic disasters accompanying this, however, lead Sigismond to feel that "victory it selfe's unfortunate".


Officer under Brennoralt; friend of Grainevert, Marinell, and Villanor.


A "ghost character." Strathocles is mentioned as a servant to Almerin, or possibly to Morat.


Officer under Brennoralt; friend of Grainevert, Marinell, and Stratheman.