Muly Molocco

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Anon. >(1592)
George Peele? (1589)


Contents

Historical Records

Performance Records (Henslowe's Diary)

F. 7/ Greg I, 13

.9.………. Res at mvlomvrco the 20 of febreary ………. ………. xxixs
.9.………. Res at mvlamvlluco the 29 of febreary 1591 ………. ………. xviijs
.9.………. Res at mvlo mvllocco the 17 of marche 1591 ………. ………. xxviijs vjd
.9.………. Res at mvlomvlucko the 29 of marche 1591 ………. ………. iijli ijs
.9.………. Res at mvlo mvloco the 8 of aprell 1591 [J. h-01-10-00] ………. xxiijs


F. 7v/ Greg I, 14

.9.………. Res at mvllo mvlluco the 17 of aprell 1591 ………. ………. xxxs
Res at mvlo mvloco the 27 of aprell 1592 ………. ………. xxvjs
Res li24 Res at mvlo mvlluco the 30 of aprell 159[1]2 ………. ………. lviijs
Res at mvllomvloco the 17 of maye 1592 ………. ………. xxxvjs vjd
Res at mvlemvloco the [22] 31 of maye 1592 ………. ………. xxiiijs


F. 8/ Greg I, 15

.9.………. Res at mvlemvloco the 13 of June 1592 ………. ………. xxs
………. ……….
In the Name of god Amen 159[2]3 ………. ……….
beginnge the 29 of desember
………. ……….
.9.………. Res at mvlomulluco the 29 of desember 1592 ………. ………. iijli xs
.9.………. Res at mvlo mulocko the 9 of Jenewarye 1593 ………. ………. xxs
.9.………. Res at mvlomvlco the 20 of Jenewarye 1593 ………. ………. xxs


Theatrical Provenance

"Muly Molocco" was performed at the Rose playhouse by Lord Strange's men in 1592 from 2 February through 13 June; it continued in the repertory for three performances the following winter, 29 December 1592 through 20 January 1593.


Probable Genre(s)

Foreign History (Harbage)


Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

If "Muly Molocco" is a discrete play, now lost

Its sources are unidentified.


If "Muly Molocco" is The Battle of Alcazar

It is not a lost play. The definitive summary of sources for the extant play is in The Dramatic Works of George Peele, vol. 2; John Yoklavich, editor of The Battle of Alcazar, provides both a discussion of the sources (227-79) and a "Special Bibliography" of accounts of the historical battle (369-73). In The Stukeley Plays Charles Edelman discusses the sources also (10-16).


References to the Play

If "Muly Molocco" is The Battle of Alcazar

It is alluded to in the following plays by way of Calipolis, the wife of Muly Mahamet, the villainous Moor: 2 Henry IV, William Shakespeare; Satiromastix, Thomas Dekker; What You Will, John Marston; and Poetaster, Ben Jonson. Shakespeare's Pistol alludes to Calipolis and Hiren (of The Turkish Mahomet and Hiren the Fair Greek) in the same context (II.iv.156, 175); in Dekker's play, the same character (Tucca) alludes to Calipolis and Hiren, but in separate contexts (IV.1.150, IV.iii.243-4).


Critical Commentary

There are two hang-ups for scholars in determining the identification of "Muly Molocco" to be either a discrete play, now lost, or the extant Battle of Alcazar by George Peele:

Henslowe's title

By calling the play in the offerings of Strange's men "Muly Molocco" (variously spelled), Henslowe was pointing at one of the elder set of kings in the historical narrative that centers on the battle near Ksar El Kebir in Morocco in August 1578. This king is called Abdelmelec frequently in The Battle of Alcazar but twice he is called "Muly Molocco." According to Yoklavich, "Abdelmelec was almost always called 'Muly Molocco' in a large body of contemporary literature" (222). The issue, therefore, is not who Muly Molocco was as a historical figure but whether Henslowe was calling the play by its title character, in which case "Muly Molocco" is likely a discrete play (now lost), or whether he is calling it by "one of the important characters" in The Battle of Alcazar but "certainly not the most prominent one" (Yoklavich 222). Bradley and Edelman, who support the identification of "Muly Molocco" with The Battle of Alcazar, argue that Abdelmelec is more important than Yoklavich grants as evidenced by the fact that his corpse—"set up in a chair on stage"—presides over the battle in Act V (Bradley 139) as well as the fact that his fortunes are at the center of the extant play (Edelman, "Battle," 217).

Edward Alleyn's role

Scholarly decisions about "Muly Molocco" rely on the widespread assumption in theater history that Alleyn would have taken the leading role in any play in which he performed. Presumably, therefore, Henslowe chose to call "Muly Molocco" by this non-major character (rather than call it The Battle of Alcazar) because Alleyn, who was with Strange's men in 1592-3, played that role. Edelman appears to make this assertion in the claim that "by whatever title, it ["Muly Molocco"] was Alleyn's play” ("Battle," 216). Inconveniently for this argument, Alleyn is assigned the role of Muly Mahamet, the villainous Moor and nephew to Abdelmelec, in the extant Plot of The Battle of Alcazar (the role of Abdelmelec is assigned to Thomas Downton). It is certainly possible that Alleyn played the smaller part of the elder king in 1592 yet the larger part of the younger challenger at a later revival, but such a possibility strains conventional wisdom on the casting habits of the adult companies.



See also Wiggins serial number 918.


For What It's Worth

Henslowe's habits of assigning titles

Henslowe did on occasion enter performances of plays by their main characters even though the plays were known in print by another title. Two salient examples are "Jeronymo" and "the tragedey of the gvyes," generally believed to be The Spanish Tragedy by Thomas Kyd and The Massacre at Paris by Christopher Marlowe, respectively. Henslowe used the title, "Joronymo," in January 1597, presumably also for The Spanish Tragedy, which is initially marked with an "ne" that was erased at some later time.


Company ownership

The Battle of Alcazar was published in 1594 with a title-page advertisement of the Admiral's men. In order to identify performances of that play under the title "Muly Molocco" in Henslowe's Diary, scholars must assume that Strange's men acquired the play from the Admiral's men (perhaps via Alleyn) and that it passed again to the Admiral's men in time for the revival for which the Plot was constructed. Not many of the plays in the repertory of Strange's men followed that track, but plays by Christopher Marlowe did: The Jew of Malta and The Massacre at Paris. Strange's men and the Admiral's men each had a Friar Bacon play, but it is not clear which text/s these entries in Henslowe's Diary represent.


Henslowe's Diary and Peele's Battle of Alcazar

If neither "Muly Molocco" nor "Mahomet" is Peele's Battle of Alcazar as it is known by its 1594 edition and its surviving Plot (1597-8? 1601?), then why is The Battle of Alcazar not in Henslowe's records even though the Plot contains the names of players with the Admiral's men post-1594? Yoklavich bases his skepticism in identifying either "Muly Molocco" or "Mahomet" as The Battle of Alcazar on the observation that "both the quarto and the playhouse document called the 'plot' bear the title The Battle of Alcazar, and there is no evidence the play was known by a nickname" (223).



Works Cited

Bradley, David. From Text to Performance in the Elizabethan Theatre. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992.
Edelman, Charles. "The Battle of Alcazar, Muly Molocco, and Shakespeare's 2 and 3 Henry VI," Notes and Queries 49.2 (2002): 215-18.
— — —. The Stukeley Plays. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2005. Google Books
Yoklavich, John, ed. The Battle of Alcazar. in The Dramatic Works of George Peele, vol. 2. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1961.


Site created and maintained by Roslyn L. Knutson, Professor Emerita, University of Arkansas at Little Rock; 4 March 2011.

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