Christopher Marlowe and Richard Baines: Journeys through the Elizabethan Underground

By Roy Kendall | Go to book overview
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4

"Treason 'gainst Their Natural Queen”

1

I HAVE POINTED OUT ABOVE SOME CONNECTIONS BETWEEN RICHARD Baines's opinions and/or actions when in Rheims with those of characters in Marlowe's The Jew of Malta, Tamburlaine the Great, Part Two, Dr. Faustus, The Massacre at Paris, and Edward II. It will be recalled that in Edward II, a passage that parallels Baines's activities when in Rheims ("Proud Rome, that hatchest such imperiall groomes, etc.) parallels another in The Massacre at Paris ("the Papall Monarck goes / To wrack” to "that hatcheth up such bloudy practises”). It was also suggested that there was another text/life parallel in Edward II: Baines's admission in his written recantation of his "uncontrolled desire for personal advancement and contempt for the scholastic life I was living” clearly echoes Spencer's admonition to Baldock that he must "cast the scholler off, / And learne to court it like a Gentleman.” But there is yet another parallel between this play and Baines's time in Rheims that concerns not just individual lines and speeches but a large part of the play itself. To appreciate this interconnection fully, it will be necessary to retrace our steps to the summer of 1581, when Baines was still a free man at the English College in Rheims.

As I have shown above and elsewhere, 1 Baines was ordained a deacon on May 8, 1581 and on September 21 he was ordained as a priest. Between these dates the traditional summer break in studies occurred, although how much of a "break” it was at the English College is open to question. If the English College at Rheims was anything like the English College at Rome as described by the playwright and priest-catcher Anthony Munday (whose account was exceptionally biased), 2 the regime must have been fairly strict. Nevertheless, Baines would have had more time on his hands. And it was during this period, in August in fact, that Sir Francis Walsingham visited Paris (which is very near Rheims) on a diplomatic

-61-

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