1. Tomumbeius, Sive Sultanici in Aegypto Imperii Eversio exists in only one known manuscript copy, currently held by the Bodleian Library. When Edward Bernard wrote his well-known 1697 Catalogue of manuscript books in English and Irish collections, a copy of the play was in the possession of Dr. Nathaniel Johnson. NOTE 1 This copy appears subsequently to have entered the collection of the great antiquary Richard Rawlinson, and was bequeathed to the Bodleian upon his death in 1755. It is now catalogued as MS. Bodl. Rawl. Poet. 75. Written in a clear, consistent, and elegant italic hand, NOTE 2 with very few corections and errors, NOTE 3 the manuscript appears to be a fair copy. It is, however, lightly touched with minor changes, as for instance at line 181 (I.iii), where the writer has struck out Tomumbeius’ words Adversa testor numina Aegyptii and replaced them with his line, Adversa testor fata et iratum deum. As the former lines do not recur in the act, this appears very likely to be an authorial second thought, rather than a corrected scribal error.  We may, therefore, conjecture that we are dealing here with an authorial holograph. The manuscript gives no sign of theatrical provenance.
spacer2. Its title page tells us that Tomumbeius is a Tragoedia Nova and the work of Auctore Georgio Salterno Bristoensi: George Salterne of Bristol. In his Elizabethan Stage, E. K. Chambers wrote that “nothing is known of George Salterne.”NOTE 4 In fact, rather more is known of him than of many more famous early modern English dramatists. The records of Christ Church, Oxford, state that George Salterne matriculated from the college on March 23 1582, aged fourteen; NOTE 5 he was born, then, about 1568. In Alumni Oxonienses, Foster identifies this George Salterne as the same “Mr. George, Son and Heir of William Salterne of Bristoll” who went on study law at the Middle Temple in London and was “bound with Messrs. Aysh and Robert Arundell”on July 15, 1584. NOTE 6 As the title page of Tomumbeius declares, the young man came of proud Bristol stock; his father, William, was a prosperous merchant who had served as sheriff of the city in 1574 - 5 and as M. P. for Bristol 1589. NOTE 7 In 1589, “George Salterne of the Middle Temple, Gentleman” is named along with Agnes Fawkett on the deed of a property in Wine Street in Bristol. NOTE 8 At the Middle Temple Parliament of November 20, 1590, “Messr. Salterne” was “called to the degree of the Utter Bar” by “Mr. Snygg, Reader.” NOTE 9 The name of Salterne’s sponsor is revealing, for a pedigree drawn up during the herald’s visitation of Somerset in 1573 notes George Salterne as the eldest son of William Salterne and his wife Elizabeth Snigg. NOTE 10 “Mr. Snygg, Reader,” later Sergeant-at-Law, was Elizabeth Snigg’s eldest brother and George Salterne’s uncle. NOTE 11 The records of the Middle Temple contain a number of subsequent references to Salterne, who clearly remained a more or less active member of the Temple fraternity for at least three decades; in 1621, he appears as “one of the ancients of the Utter Bar,” proffering a petition of behalf of his sister Alice for her debt-ridden husband. NOTE 12 This gentleman of the Middle Temple is almost certainly the same “George Saltern” who in 1605 published a treatise on British legal history entitled Of the Antient Lawes of great Britain. In his 1631 revisions to John Stow’s Chronicle, Edmund Howes names “Master George Salterne of the middle temple Esquire” as one of those “to whom I have been particularly beholden in the furtherance of this generall work, which I have here set down for a thankfull remembrance.”NOTE 13
spacer3. When did this well-descended, well-respected man of the law write the “new tragedy” Tomumbeius? In his Manual of Old English Plays, William Carew Hazlitt calls the only surviving copy of the play “a MS of the seventeenth century,” NOTE 14 but if the tragedy itself dates from that century it can only have been penned in its first three years. The second of the play’s two dedicatory poems is addressed to “the fairest one,”: Queen Elizabeth. Given that the author addresses the Queen as a living ruler whose prayers protect England from harm, his poem must have been written no later than 1603. Meanwhile, the first dedicatory poem, addressed to God (“the Most High”), hints that the early seventeenth century may, in fact, be too late a date for the play. In this poem, the author asks that the Almighty grant to his youth a boon it does not deserve (Nil tale merito da iuveni mihi). It seems unlikely that a seventeenth-century gentleman in his mid-thirties would describe himself as a youth. We may surmise, therefore, that Tomumbeius’ composition dates either from Salterne’s years at Christ Church, Oxford, in 1582 - 4, or from his time as a young man at the Middle Temple in the late 1580’s and early 1590’s.
spacer4. In favour of the former possibility is the flourishing tradition of Latin drama at Christ Church throughout the late sixteenth century and particularly during the years of Salterne’s relatively brief sojourn there. William Gager [1555 - 1622], one of the leading university dramatists of his age, was in residence at Christ Church from 1574 until 1593, and produced at least four of his major Latin plays while Salterne was a student at the college: Oedipus (1582), Meleager (1582), Dido (1583), and Rivales (1583). The first three plays share with Tomumbeius their neo-Senecan style; the fourth, a comedy that survives only in fragmentary form, shares with Salterne’s tragedy a dedication to the Queen, who is addressed in both as serenissimam. If Salterne had already been at Christ Church for some time before his matriculation in March 1582, he might well have been present during Shrovetide of that year. At this time, John Finnis and Patrick H. Martin have argued, the University saw a major dramatic festival during which Gager's Meleager and Oedipus, as well as Richard Eades' Caesar Interfectus, were performed. NOTE 15 Gager’s comedy Rivales was probably first performed on the same occasion, although it and Dido and were staged at Christ Church in 1583 to entertain the visiting Polish nobleman Adalbert Łaski; assisting in their presentation, and possibly contributing to the writing of Dido, was another leading playwright, George Peele [1556 - 1596]. A youth such as Salterne might very plausibly have been inspired by such performances to try his hand at a Latin tragedy while he was up at the college. Most plays written at the great Elizabethan universities were in Latin; NOTE 16 Latin composition was a major part of an early modern gentleman’s life from boyhood onwards and his years at university a time when the facility so long practiced could be used to give proof of erudition, to form literary friendships, and to impress potential patrons. Moreover, as we shall see, Saltern’s likely major source for Tomumbeius was published in Basel in 1581 and might conceivably have been available to him at Oxford between 1582 and 1584. This young man had the means, motive, and opportunity to pen a Latin drama while at Christ Church; the possibility that Tomumbeius was composed there cannot be dismissed.
spacer5. Salterne’s early years at the Middle Temple may, however, be even stronger candidates for the date of Tomumbeius. Like Christ Church, the Inns of Court nurtured a great deal of early English drama. Salterne’s younger contemporaries at the Middle Temple included a number of leading early modern English dramatists: John Marston, John Ford and perhaps John Webster among them. NOTE 17 Plays featured prominently in Inns of Court Revels. Gorboduc, one of the earliest Elizabethan tragedies, was first performed before Queen Elizabeth at the Inner Temple in January 1562. Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night had its first recorded performance at the Middle Temple Hall on Candlemas night, 1602; by then an established Utter Barrister with chambers in the Temple, George Salterne himself might quite conceivably have been present in the audience. NOTE 18 In addition to such public revels, smaller-scale closet performances and exchanges of manuscript plays between friends took place at the Inns. In the preface to his translation of Seneca’s Oedipus, for instance, Alexander Neville describes how he wrote it “onely to satisfye the instant requestes of a fewe my familiar frendes”; NOTE 19 Jessica Winton concludes that the piece was intended to be performed in a “coterie setting,” likely at one of the Inns where Neville was resident. NOTE 20
spacer6. Such a “coterie setting” seems a likely intended site for a performance or reading of Tomumbeius; its final scenes, in which Tomumbeius first wades into and then is discovered standing up to his chest in the water of a marsh, could only with difficulty be enacted upon the public stage. It is, of course, possible that the Act played out with Tomumbeius standing at the edge of the marsh, rather than in it; and it is also conceivable that his immersion in the marsh could have been depicted onstage through the use of a trap door. We have no evidence from the plays of Gager or his contemporaries for the use of trap doors in Oxford staging of the period, but Martin Wiggins has noted evidence that they did form part of Inns of Court performance in the 1560’s and 1580’s. NOTE 21 That said, to our knowledge all plays performed at Inns of Court Revels were English-language works. NOTE 22 With all this evidence in mind, a notion that Tomumbeius was intended for public performance either at Oxford or at the Inns, appears difficult to sustain. Yet moments such as Tomumbeius' discovery in the marsh may nevertheless be inflected by Salterne's familiarity with staging practices at the Inns of Court, including the use of trapdoors. Even if they were not publically performed, they certainly offer effective closet drama. Salterne might quite plausibly have shared his neo-Senecan Latin play, shaped by his experiences both at Christ Church and at the Inns, in elegant manuscript form with an intimate group of fellow students and potential patrons during his residence at the Middle Temple. If this was the case, the dedication to the Queen may indicate that he hoped that his patrons would bring it to the attention of the sovereign herself.
spacer7. Tomumbeius’s narrative and themes offer support for the notion that Salterne may have written the play in the years just before or just after he was called to the Utter Bar in 1590. While Gager’s Christ Church dramas focused upon mythological and classical themes, Salterne chose as his subject an episode from the history of his own century: the 1517 defeat of the Mamaluke Sultan Tuman Bey II of Egypt by the Ottoman Turkish Sultan Selim I. Turkish themes and characters are relatively rare among extant plays of the early 1580’s. NOTE 23 They do appear in one notable Latin play of that period, the anonymous Solymannidae of 1582, which stages the murder of the Ottoman Prince Mustapha by his father the Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in 1553. In his introduction to this play Dana Sutton has argued that this play is much more likely to have been staged at Cambridge than at Oxford, making it unlikely that the young Salterne at Christ Church could have had direct knowledge of this neo-Senecan play that nevertheless shares many characteristics with Tomumbeius. He would have been far more likely to have encountered Turkish-themed theatrical works during his time in London, for they proliferated in the English drama of the late 1580’s and early 1590’s. Dramas such as Marlowe’s Tamburlaine, Parts One and Two (c. 1587 - 88); Peele’s Battle of Alcazar (c. 1588), his lost The Turkish Mahomet and Hiren the Fair Greek (c. 1588), and his Soliman and Perseda (c. 1590 - 2); and Greene’s Selimus (c. 1588) and Orlando Furioso (c. 1589) offer just a few well-known examples of the “Turk plays” popular in this period. Greene’s Selimus, first published in 1594, is an especially close relative of Tomumbeius in narrative terms, for it recounts the rise of Selimus (or Selim) and closes with Selimus beating the renowned Egyptian Tonombey (Salterne’s Tomumbeius) in battle. In Selimus, Tonombey boasts of lineal descent from “great Usan-Cassano […], / Companion unto mighty Tamurlaine” (25.17 - 18); the huge popularity of Marlowe’s Scythian conqueror helped to give rise to a stream of plays upon similar themes and to invite historical figures such as Tuman Bey / Tonombey / Tomumbeius onto the early modern English stage. While the Christ Church of Gager provides important context for Salterne's Latin drama, the London of Marlowe and Greene again seems most plausible as a setting in which a young man might be moved to create a “new tragedy” on the fall of the Mamaluke Sultanate to the Ottoman Turks.
spacer8. The late 1580’s or early 1590’s also seem an era in which Salterne might easily have encountered the text that appears to have been his major source for Tomumbeius. The story of Tuman Bey’s election to the Mamluke Sultanate after the death of his predecessor Qansuh al-Ghawri (the “Gaurius” of Salterne’s play), of his betrayal to Selim by disaffected Mamluke nobles, of his defeat in battle, and of his eventual torture and death after being found hiding in a marsh or bog is told by a number of early modern historians of the Ottoman empire. These key events appear, for example, in Paolo Giovio’s 1531 Commentarii della cose de Turchi, published in England in a 1546 translation by Peter Ashton; in Augostino Curione’s Sarracenicae Historiae (Basel, 1567), translated into English in 1575 by Thomas Newton; in Philip Lonicer’s 1584 Chronicorum Turcicorum; and even in John Foxe’s Acts and Monuments. Such texts served as the main sources for English plays like Greene’s Selimus NOTE 24 and very likely influenced Salterne’s Latin drama as well. Giovio’s work in particular appears to have informed Tomumbeius, perhaps via Ashton’s translation; for instance, Salterne sometimes calls Cairo ’Alchaeyro or Alchyro, just as Ashton’s translation of Giovio calls it “Alcayre.” NOTE 25 A few key aspects of Tomumbeius suggest, however, that Salterne also relied heavily upon another work.
spacer9. Salterne calls his play’s leading villain, the noble who betrays Tomumbeius to Selimus, “Albuchomar.” He specifies that Albuchomar commands an area of Egypt named “Seiectica”; this region, into which Tomumbeius and his forces flee after losing Cairo to the Turks, serves as the setting for the bulk of Salterne’s tragedy. Neither “Albuchomar” nor “Seiectica” appears in Giovio, in Curione, in Lonicer, or in Foxe. “Albuchomar” is mentioned as Tomumbeius’ betrayer in Richard Knolles’ Generall Historie of the Turkes (London, 1603), as is “the Countrey of SEGESTA (which is on the other side of Nilus [from Cairo] towards CYRENAICA.” NOTE 26 Knolles’ formulation is close but not identical to Salterne’s; and given its 1603 publication Knolles’ history seems too late to have inspired a play dedicated to the living Queen Elizabeth. More likely is the hypothesis that Tomumbeius shares a source with Knolles’ account of the Mamaluke Sultanate’s fall. To my knowledge, the best candidate for that source is the German historian Heinrich Pantaleon’s military history, Militaris Ordinis Iohannitarum, Rhodiorum, Aut Melitensium Equitum Rerum Memorabilium Terra Marique (Basel, 1581). In the “Induction” to his Generall Historie of the Turkes, Knolles lists Pantaleon’s work as one of his major sources, NOTE 27 and it appears highly likely that Salterne, too, read Pantaleon before writing Tomumbeius. Here is Pantaleon on Albuchomar’s role in Tomumbeius’ fall:

Dum haec a Tomumbeio pararentur, Albuchomar vir Aegyptius, qui in Seiectica alios omnes authoritate superabat, ad Selymum proditor venit, atque eum de copiis & nouis Tomumbei consiliis certiorem fecit. NOTE 28

Saltern’s Argumentum or synopsis of his play’s action describes the same characters and events thus:

Caeso hoc Tomumbeium Mamalluchi eligunt,
Binisque fusi praeliis Seiecticam
Hosti relicta regia Alch[ae]yro petunt.
Ad fert moleste Albuchomar exarchus loci
Suamque minui credit hinc potentiam.
Selymum paratus igitur insidias docet
Ubi ante bellum principi suasit suo;
Utrique fal[s]us regi et hosti proditor.

Not only do “Seiectica” and “Albuchomar” recur from Pantaleon, but the specific account of Albuchomar’s modus operandi in betraying his Sultan and the word, ’proditor’, used to describe the traitor also reappear. A number of other parallels in language and narrative detail tie Salterne’s play to Pantaleo’s text. For example, Pantaleon, like Salterne, describes how the Mamluke general Gazelles as surrendering to Selimus with a vital cohort of Arabian reinforcements in tow; neither Giovio, Curione, Lonicer, nor Foxe mention this detail. NOTE 29 Pantaleon’s description of the defeated Tomumbeius hiding in a marsh and submerged in water usque ad summum pectus is vividly dramatized in the final scenes of Salterne’s play, where Pantaleon’s word for the marsh, palus, is repeated numerous times. NOTE 30 The possibility remains, of course, that Pantaleon, Salterne, and Knolles all availed themselves of another source that I have not yet identified. To date, however, Pantaleon’s account of Tomumbeius’ fall is the earliest source I know of that shares these key details with Salterne’s tragedy.
spacer10. Salterne’s Humanist education is everywhere apparent in the literary qualities of Tomumbeius. Mythological references are frequent. Salterne often echoes the great Latin authors: the Virgil of the Aeneid is everywhere present, particularly in the Chorus’ eloquent lamentations upon the fall of the Nile kingdom; Ovid’s Metamorphoses is another frequent source of inspiration; and tiny recollections such as that of Horace’s remotis Gadibus in the play’s final scene seem designed to delight Salterne’s erudite audience. The opening poem in praise of “the Most High” is suffused with Neo-Platonic imagery. Salterne’s deepest debt, however, is certainly to Senecan tragedy. The Elizabethan Inns of Court were closely associated with the flurry of Senecan translations that began in 1559 with Jasper Heywood’s English version of Seneca’s Troades and culminated in Thomas Newton’s 1581 publication of Seneca his Tenne Tragedies Translated into English. In the preface to his 1560 translation of Seneca’s Thyestes, Heywood tells Seneca’s ghost that the Englishmen best fitted to do his verse justice are to be found “In Lyncolnes Inn and Temples Twayne / Grayes Inn and other mo.”NOTE 31 Master George Salterne of the Middle Temple clearly strove to identify himself with those “finest witts” of the Inns whom Heywood held qualified to comprehend the Roman master. NOTE 32 Tomumbeius takes from Seneca its measured, sententious style; its elaborate rhetoric; its five-Act structure; its “alternation of melancholy monologues and epigrammatic duologues with musical interludes by the chorus”; NOTE 33 and above all its preoccupation with “the nature of governance, kingship, and tyranny.” NOTE 34 The sequence of scenes in Salterne’s fourth Act during which the Caliph conjures for Tomumbeius an apparition of Selimus is particularly Senecan; it introduces into the tragedy an element of the supernatural or magical which is nowhere present in Salterne’s historical sources while at least nominally retaining the play’s fragile unity of place (finally shattered in its final Act). It also affords the reader or audience member a glimpse of the fascinating Scythian villain who would otherwise be known to him only through the indirect reports of the numerous, highly Senecan messengers.
spacer11. At the same time, this very brief appearance of Selimus throws into relief one manner in which Salterne’s tragedy departs both from common Elizabethan approaches to Turkish themes and from the model of Senecan tragic heroism that helped to shape many English dramas of the 1580’s and 1590’s. Unlike Greene, Salterne does not take the glamorous, forceful, and brutal Selimus as his hero; his “Turk play” is not primarily preoccupied with the figure of the Turk himself. Gordon Bradon argues that the appeal of the Senecan hero for the English dramatists of the late sixteenth century was his overpowering self-will and ambition, NOTE 35 but Salterne’s protagonist is very far from being a Marlovian overreacher. Rather, Salterne chooses to focus his tragedy upon the figure of the righteous, wise, but melancholic and often vacillating Tomumbeius. Although Salterne stresses Tomumbeius’ fierceness in battle, the last Mamluke Sultan of Egypt emerges from his play primarily as a virtuous but uncertain ruler, more Hamlet than Henry V, fundamentally out of step with a corrupt and scheming court. His choices have an odd quality of irrelevance; the play’s moment of tragic hamartia does not even stem from his actions but from his bellicose nobles’ decision to murder Selimus’ messenger of peace. When he learns indirectly of this crime against the laws of God and man, Tomumbeius embraces his doom and the doom of his adopted country: Nulli sumus; sed praecauere me iubet / Mihi tempus ipsi, non scelestos plectere ([“We are nothing; but I rejoice that my own time has come, that I may not be counted among the wicked”]). No Tamburlaine, not even a descendent of “great Usun-Cassano,” is to be found here.
spacer12. Why should Salterne choose to take as his theme the defeat of a wavering ruler and his sinful nation at the hands of a brutal and impious foe? Jessica Winston argues that a great part of the appeal of Senecan tragedy for early modern authors was its perceived status as “a classical version of advice-to-princes poetry” and that Inns of Court men like Jasper Heywood and Alexander Neville used their Senecan translations to engage indirectly in early modern political debates. NOTE 36 Salterne’s neo-Senecan “Turk play” can be read in a similar manner, especially if we assume that it was indeed written sometime in the later 1580’s or in the 1590’s. Over the course of this decade, England became increasingly embroiled in conflict with Spain. In 1585, Queen Elizabeth promised English support to Protestant Netherlanders in their struggle against Spanish dominion, beginning open hostilities with Spain that were exacerbated by the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1587 and that reached a peak with the attempted invasion of England by the Spanish Armada in 1588. The 1590’s, meanwhile, were dominated by the Nine Years’ War in Ireland, in which Irish Chieftans led by Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone, rebelled against English authority in their country. In an eclogue appended to Tomumbeius in the Bodleian manuscript and almost certainly also by Salterne (see the translation with commentary by Dana Sutton in the Appendix to this edition), the shepherd Algaeus appears to bemoan the sorry state of Ireland during this conflict and to look for help from Queen Elizabeth. We cannot know whether the eclogue was penned contemporaneously with Tomumbeius or later, but it certainly suggests that Salterne was interested in the major political questions of his time and was capable of engaging with them through his Latin literary compositions. Although an allegorical or overly topical interpretation of Tomumbeius would likely be misplaced, the possibility that this play, too, may reflect indirectly on questions germane to Elizabethan politics cannot be ruled out.
spacer13. Like Tomumbeius, Elizabeth was notoriously unwilling to commit fully to war with the Spaniards, or in Ireland, often striving to negotiate with them rather as Salterne’s Egyptian Sultan professes himself willing to negotiate with Selimus in order to avoid further destruction of his patria. Like Salterne’s Mamluke nobles, Elizabeth’s courtiers frequently reacted against her perceived weakness and hesitation; even her great favourite, the Earl of Leicester, incurred her wrath by accepting the Governor-Generalship of the Netherlands against her wishes, while the Earl of Essex’s disastrous campaign in Ireland led finally to his downfall. Tomumbeius’ wavering between patriotic fervour and anguish at the threat of destruction, his preference for diplomacy and cunning, and his reluctance to accede to his nobles’ ardent desire for a war to the death may delicately figure similar characteristics in Salterne’s own ruler. Although Salterne does not represent these qualities of Tomumbeius with unequivocal admiration, he reserves his greatest opprobrium for the Mamlukes who are seduced by Albuchomar’s blandishments and who commit the unforgiveable sin of murder in their eagerness to further what they view as a just and necessary war against the Turks. Illam nefanda scelera damnarunt Stygi, declares Astraea at the play’s end; the Mamlukes’ outrageous crimes justly condemn them to their doom. “The just hand of vengeance” shall destroy the Turks in their turn, she reminds us, but Salterne’s tragedy is not particularly concerned with the fate of the Ottomans. Rather, its moral sententiae return again and again to the need for a country and its nobles to cleave to the path of virtue and godliness even when facing the threats of invasion and war.
spacer14. If young George Salterne is implicitly urging decision on his Queen and virtuous restraint on her nobles, he is astute enough to soften his advice by overt praise of Elizabeth and of her England. Like Jasper Heywood, who offered his published version of the Troades to Elizabeth as a New Year’s gift, Salterne dedicates his play first to God and then Ad Serenissimam. Elizabeth’s compunction in the face of war, the dedication implies, arises naturally and laudably from the “tender heart” (tenerum cor) associated with her virginal femininity. Although the plagues of war and hunger may threaten England, the realm will be protected by God and by Elizabeth’s prayers and all dangers “diverted” onto “impious nations.” While the Virgin Queen appears in this dedication as soft and timorous, flinching from Salterne’s “tragic thunderbolt,” her presence is felt more forcefully in the body of the play. The celestial virgin Astraea, a common figure of the Queen in Elizabethan culture, opens and closes the drama by stressing the need to servare ius et colere vindicem deum. If Elizabeth is implicitly linked to the uncertain ruler Tomumbeius, she is explicitly embodied by this omniscient personnification of divine justice. Similarly, if Salterne implies that England may be threatened by the same sins and sufferings that beset Mamluke Egypt, he explicitly reassures his nation of its own righteousness and invincibility. In Act II, Scene ii, a Mamluke refers admiringly to Britannos, Martis indomitum genus; and near the play’s end the Chorus takes solace in contemplating the river Thames, quam nulla Turcae vis adibit impii. Jasper Heywood’s translation of Seneca’s Troades, argues Winston, “allowed him to offer some disquieting commentary on the precarious authority of the queen, even as it connected him to her and affirmed her status”; NOTE 37 the same might be said of Tomumbeius, which simultaneously offers advice to Elizabeth’s fragile England and pays tribute to its unconquerable virtue.
spacer15. “We may pass with a bare mention the Latin Tomumbeius,” sneers Schelling in his history of the Elizabethan drama; for him, Salterne’s play is merely “a belated Senecan tragedy of early type,” scarcely worthy of regard. NOTE 38 By making Salterne’s Latin drama more widely available, we aim in some measure to correct such peremptory dismissals. The play begins with a beautiful example of neo-Latin religious poetry and builds in power as it moves toward its tragic denouement. In the final act, the Messenger’s breathless description of the decisive battle between the forces of Tomumbeius and Selimus; the Chorus’ lamentations over their lost homeland; and the dramatic, humiliating discovery of the despairing Tomumbeius in his marsh all reward readers with their plangent evocation of fortune’s blows and the frailty of human power. We hope that scholars will be inspired to study further the play’s relationship to the Latin drama of its era, to its early modern and classical sources, to the religious and legal systems with which Salterne engaged, and to the body of early modern “Turk plays” which has been much studied of late but from which Tomumbeius has so far been largely excluded. The career of “Master George Salterne of the middle temple Esquire”is a quintessential early modern one; heir to a prosperous urban merchant, he profited from his Humanist education and participated extensively in the thriving intellectual life of London throughout its Elizabethan and Jacobean golden age. As a document of the concerns, engagements, and anxieties of that age, Salterne’s “new tragedy” deserves to be considered afresh.
spacer16. The manuscript that preserves Tomumbeius ends with two poems by Salterne, an eclogue entitled Algaeus and a vernacular verse metaphrase of Psalm 13. These are included here in an Appendix. My thanks to Dana Sutton for his translation of Salterne’s eclogue Algaeus, and to both him and Martin Wiggins for generous and insightful editorial suggestions which have greatly benefitted this edition.


spacerNOTE 1 Edward Bernard, Catalogi librorum manuscriptorum Angliae et Hiberniae in unum collecti cum indice alphabetico (Oxford, 1697), 100.

spacerNOTE 2 On the final page of the MS, an English translation of Psalm 13 appears in what looks like a different hand.

spacerNOTE 3 Among the rare errors we might note, for instance, the incomplete verse line at l. 318, which has only four feet (my thanks to Professor Dana Sutton for this observation).

spacerNOTE 4  E. K. Chambers, The Elizabethan Stage, (Oxford, 1923), IV.379.

spacerNOTE 5  Joseph Foster, Alumni Oxonienses: The Members of the University of Oxford, 1500-1714 (Oxford, 1892), IV.1303.

spacerNOTE 6 Charles Henry Hopwood, ed., Middle Temple Records (London, 1904), I.270.

spacerNOTE 7 F. Nicholls and John Taylor, Bristol: Past and Present, Volume 3: Civil and Modern History (Bristol, 1882) 299. William Salterne’s name appears frequently in both the shipping and the property archives of Bristol in this period.

spacerNOTE 8 Archives of the City of Bristol, “Deeds and Documents Relating to Properties Belonging to Christchurch, City,” Ref. 26166/251, dated January 10 1589.

spacerNOTE 9 Hopwood, Middle Temple Records, I.317.

spacerNOTE 10 Rev. F. W. Weaver, ed., The Visitations of Somerset in 1531 and 1573 (Exeter, 1885), 130.

spacerNOTE 11 Weaver, Visitations of Somerset, 130. Hopwood, Middle Temple Records, notes that “George, son and heir of George Snygge, of Bristol” entered the Middle Temple on August 9, 1567 (I.160), was first chosen Reader in October 1589 (I.308), and was named Sergeant-at-Law in one of the last Elizabethan parliaments in February 1603 (I.430).

spacerNOTE 12 Hopwood, Middle Temple Records, II. 669.

spacerNOTE 13 John Stow and Edmund Howes, Annales, or, a generall chronicle of England. Begun by Iohn Stow: continued and augmented with matters forraigne and domestique, ancient and moderne, vnto the end of this present yeere, 1631. By Edmund Howes, Gent (London, 1632), 1087.

spacerNOTE 14 William Carew Hazlitt, A Manual for the Collector and Amateur of Old English Plays (London, 1892) 231.

spacerNOTE 15 John Finnis and Patrick H. Martin, “An Oxford Play Festival in February 1582,” Notes and Queries 50:4 (December 2003), 391 – 4.

spacerNOTE 16 Alan H. Nelson, ed., Records of Early English Drama: Cambridge, (Toronto, 1989), II.709.

spacerNOTE 17 For a detailed discussion of the Middle Temple’s role in the educational, cultural and dramatic life of early modern England and of the illustrious writers associated with it, see Charles R. Forker, The Skull Beneath the Skin: The Achievement of John Webster (Carbondale, 1986), 39 - 56.

spacerNOTE 18 Salterne certainly took part in later Middle Temple ceremonial occasions; in both 1611 and 1612 he was “appointed to stand at the Cupboard” during Readings. Hopwood, Middle Temple Records, II.546 and 552.

spacerNOTE 19 Alexander Neville, The Lamentable Tragedie of Oedipus Sonne of Laius King of Thebes, Out of Seneca (London, 1563), fol. A3v.

spacerNOTE 20 Jessica Winston, “Seneca in Early Elizabethan England,” Renaissance Quarterly 59:1 (Spring 2006), 29 - 58, 49.

spacerNOTE 21 See Martin Wiggins, British Drama, 1533 - 1642: A Catalogue (Oxford, 2011- ), Entries 351, 436, 467, and 797.

spacerNOTE 22 Winston, ib. 49.

spacerNOTE 23 A table of plays with Turkish or Moorish themes and/or characters compiled by Mark Hutchings in “The ‘Turk Phenomenon’ and the Repertory of the Late Elizabethan Playhouse ”Early Modern Literary Studies Special Issue 16 (October, 2007) 10.1-39 (read it here) lists only five such plays before Tamburlaine, Part One in 1587; Hutchings lists Tomumbeius (“c. 1580 - 1630”) as one of these.

spacerNOTE 24 See Daniel J. Vitkus, “Introduction, ” Three Turk Plays from Early Modern England (New York,  2000), 18.

spacerNOTE 25 Paulo Giovio, A Short Treatise Upon the Turkes Chronicles, trans. Peter Ashton (London, 1546), M2v.

spacerNOTE 26 Richard Knolles, The Generall Historie of the Turkes from the first beginning of that nation to the rising of the Othoman familie (London, 1603), 547.

spacerNOTE 27 Knolles, ib. viii.

spacerNOTE 28 Heinrich Pantaleon, Militaris Ordinis Iohannitarum, Rhodiorum, Aut Melitensium Equitum Rerum Memorabilium Terra Marique, A Sexcentis fere annis pro republica Christiana, in Asia, Africa, & Europa contra Barbaros, Saracenos, Arabes & Turcas fortiter gestarum (Basel, 1581), 184.

spacerNOTE 29 See Pantaleon, ib. 184, and Act III.1 of Salterne’s tragedy.

spacerNOTE 30 See Pantaleon, Militaris Ordinis Johannitarum, 186, and V.ii and V.iii of Salterne’s tragedy.

spacerNOTE 31 Seneca, trans. Jasper Heywood, The seconde tragedie of Seneca entituled Thyestes faithfully Englished by Iasper Heywood fellowe of Alsolne College in Oxforde (London, 1560), xii.

spacerNOTE 32 Ib. , xii.

spacerNOTE 33 F. L. Lucas, Seneca and Elizabethan Tragedy (Cambridge, 1922), 56.

spacerNOTE 34 Winston, op. cit. 36.

spacerNOTE 35 Gordon Braden, Renaissance Tragedy and the Senecan Tradition: Anger’s Privilege (New Haven, 1985).

spacerNOTE 36 Winston, op. cit., 41.

spacerNOTE 37 Ib., 47.

spacerNOTE 38 Felix E. Schelling, Elizabethan Drama 1558 - 1642 (New York, 1959), 447.