Robert Wilmot



There is little evidence that this play was ever performed, but as Wilmot indicated that it was revised from his Gismond of Salerne for modern tastes, and because that earlier version was performed, the editors calculated that this listing was necessary even if it was ultimately a closet drama.

a synoptic, alphabetical character list


This fury arises from hell with Megaera and Tisiphone, and the three of them dance. Alecto, along with Tisiphone, is sent back to hell by Megaera.


This personified figure accompanies Cupid when he arrives from the heavens to assert his power. Cupid has a blue twist of silk in his left hand, which is apparently held by or attached to Brittle Joy and Vain Hope.


Four maids constitute the Chorus. They accompany Gismunda when she first enters the stage and silently listen as she laments the death of her husband. Then they join her in song to cheer her spirits. They also sing after Lucrece reports to her niece Tancred's decision not to allow her remarriage. After the execution of Guiszard, the Chorus questions Renuchio about the deed and hears him praise the victim of Tancred's revenge. When Gismunda announces her intention to follow her lover by killing herself, the Chorus brings the news to Tancred. At the end of each act except the last, each maid speaks individually, commenting on events.


Cupid, god of love, arrives from the heavens accompanied by Vain Hope, Brittle Joy, Fair Resemblance, and Late Repentance. Cupid asserts his awesome power, citing instances from classical myth, and declares his intention of inflaming Gismunda. With his retinue he enters Tancred's palace. Later the god of love appears in a dumb show, leading Gismunda and Guiszard, along with others, in a procession. He then exults in his capacity to engender lust in Gismunda and he returns to the heavens.


This personified figure accompanies Cupid when he arrives from the heavens to assert his power. Cupid has a red twist of silk in his right hand, which is apparently held by or attached to Fair Resemblance and Late Repentance.


The recently widowed Gismunda, who has returned to her father's home, imagines that the gods took her husband out of envy. With her maidens she sings to cheer her spirits. Although her father seeks to assuage her grief, Gismunda remains disconsolate. In a dumb show her aunt comes to her chamber, offering a drink from a golden goblet and assisting Gismunda in rising from her widow's bed. To Lucrece, Gismunda reports that she is not content to live alone and reveals that she has recently fallen in love with a man (Guiszard). She entreats Lucrece to intercede with Tancred and allow her to remarry; the sympathetic Lucrece agrees but fails to move Tancred. Rebuffed by her father, Gismunda, in a dumb show, joins Guiszard in a procession led by Cupid and gives a cane to Guiszard, who subsequently breaks it and discovers a hidden message inside: directions whereby he may secretly enter her chamber through a forgotten vaulted tunnel. When her father discovers the illicit affair, Gismunda pleads for his indulgence and explains that she has no life without Guiszard. Her entreaty proves in vain. Receiving a golden cup containing the heart of her executed lover, she makes a present of her bracelet to Renuchio; she then kisses the heart and resolves to kill herself. She removes her golden headgear, lets down her hair, takes a vial of poison out of her pocket, pours it into the cup, adds her tears, and drinks the contents. Then covering her face with her tresses, she lies down. When her father arrives, she asks to be buried with Guiszard.


Guiszard, Count Palurine, exits the palace in the company of Tancred, Julio, and Renuchio as they prepare for a hunt. In a dumb show Guiszard walks hand in hand with Gismunda, accompanied by Julio and Lucrece, Renuchio and a maiden of honor; all of them follow Cupid in a procession. In this dumb show Gismunda gives Guiszard a cane. Exiting the palace with Julio and Renuchio, he tells them he wants to walk alone. When they depart, he breaks the cane and finds inside a message directing him to Gismunda's chamber by a hidden vault. In another dumb show we see Guiszard and Gismunda enter her chamber through the secret entrance and amorously embrace on her bed. At Tancred's orders Guiszard is apprehended and confronted over his affair. He responds stoically to Tancred's order that he be put to death, saying that he is at fault only for having fallen in love. In still another dumb show, Guiszard is strangled. His heart is then impaled on a sword and carried to Tancred, then conveyed in a golden cup to Gismunda.


Julio, the lord chamberlain, accompanies Tancred when he exits the palace, embarking on a hunt. Later Julio appears in the company of Guiszard as they prepare for a walk. Still later he meets Tancred when the king exits Gismunda's chamber, having seen his daughter with Guiszard. Tancred tells Julio of the secret tunnel to his daughter's room and bids him wait for Guiszard at its end outside the palace. Julio pledges his loyalty to Tancred, apprehends Guiszard, and brings him to the king. Although Julio pleads that the prisoner be treated with mercy, Tancred cannot be moved from his vengeful course. The king tells Julio that Renuchio must convey Guiszard to the dungeon. Later Julio accompanies Tancred when he hastens to the dying Gismunda. After her death Tancred orders Julio to bury Gismunda with Guiszard together and set up an epitaph declaring their love. Julio speaks the epilogue, drawing the appropriate lesson from the tragedy.


This personified figure accompanies Cupid when he arrives from the heavens to assert his power. Cupid has a red twist of silk in his right hand, which is apparently held by or attached to Late Repentance and Fair Resemblance.


In a dumb show Lucrece, accompanied by a maiden of honor, enters Gismunda's chamber and proffers a golden goblet from which Gismunda drinks; Lucrece then helps her depressed niece out of bed. Tancred's sister hears Gismunda lament a life without a husband and promises to ask her brother to allow Gismunda's remarriage. Pitying her niece, Lucrece explains to Tancred that his daughter is still young and desires a mate, but Tancred is adamant in refusing permission. Lucrece reports to Gismunda her conversation with Tancred and recommends that she subdue her passions. Having failed to ease her niece's sorrow, Lucrece sings a song and enters the palace. In another dumb show Lucrece and Julio, along with Renuchio and a maiden of honor, accompany Gismunda and Guiszard, who follow Cupid in a procession.


In a dumb show the maiden of honor attends Lucrece, who enters her niece's chamber with a golden goblet. In another dumb show the maiden appears in a procession led by Cupid: at the front are Gismunda and Guiszard, then Julio and Lucrece, then Renuchio and herself.


To the accompaniment of thunder and lightning, Megaera rises from hell, accompanied by Alecto and Tisiphone, and the furies dance. Megaera then sends her two companions back to hell and announces that the remainder of the tragedy belongs to her. Entering the palace, she meets Tancred leaving his daughter's chamber and hurls her stinging snake at him.


The captain of Tancred's guard, Renuchio prepares to accompany the king on a hunting expedition. Later, along with Julio, he exits the palace to accompany Guiszard on a walk. Renuchio also accompanies Tancred when he leaves his daughter's chamber and encounters Megaera. On Tancred's orders, Renuchio brings Gismunda to her enraged father, who has discovered his daughter's affair with Guiszard, and conveys Guiszard to the dungeon. In a dumb show Renuchio supervises the execution of Guiszard by strangulation. Despite his role, Renuchio tells the Chorus that he finds the killing abhorrent, describes the ripping of Guiszard's heart from his body and its conveyance, impaled on a sword, to Tancred. Very reluctantly Renuchio conveys the golden cup containing Guiszard's heart to Gismunda, who gives this captain her bracelet.


The King of Naples (Prince of Salerne) seeks to ease his daughter's grief over her husband's death, observing that her continued sorrow is unnatural and an affront to the heavens. Later he leaves his palace, intending to participate in a hunt, but he meets Lucrece, who pleads that Gismunda be permitted to remarry. Tancred rebuffs her and abandons the hunt. In a dumb show Tancred enters his daughter's chamber, finds her absent, and wraps a curtain around him as he waits for her. To his astonishment he sees Gismunda and her lover emerge from a secret tunnel into her chamber and amorously embrace. Emerging from his daughter's room, Tancred encounters Megaera, who hurls a snake at him. The enraged Tancred calls Renuchio, ordering that Gismunda be brought to him; he also orders Julio to intercept Guiszard outside the palace when he emerges from the tunnel that leads to Gismunda's chamber. Tancred confronts Gismunda, who pleads for understanding. But the king orders Julio to execute Guiszard and rip out his heart. Receiving that heart impaled on a sword, Tancred places it in a golden cup and orders that it be taken to Gismunda. When the maidens of the Chorus subsequently report that his daughter means to take her life, Tancred hastens to her chamber. He arrives to hear the dying Gismunda request that she be buried with her lover. Tancred commands that her last wishes be fulfilled and that his own body be buried alongside his daughter's; he intends to take his life.


This fury arises from hell with Alecto and Megaera, and the three of them dance. Tisiphone, along with Alecto, is sent back to hell by Megaera.


This personified figure accompanies Cupid when he arrives from the heavens to assert his power. Cupid has a blue twist of silk in his right hand, which is apparently held by or attached to Vain Hope and Brittle Joy.