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  • Print publication year: 2004
  • Online publication date: March 2008

17 - Thomas Middleton's A Game at Chess : a case study

Thomas Middleton's A Game at Chess was a phenomenon, being the most successful play of the Tudor/Stuart era. The play is a transparent commentary, filtered through the allegory of a chess game, on recent relations between England and Spain, about the Counter-Reformation ambitions of the Catholic church, and about the supposed involvement of Spain in the machinations of the most zealous of Catholic orders, the Jesuits. The Black Knight in the play represented Count Gondomar, who until 1622 had been Spanish ambassador in London; he was widely credited with undue influence over King James, both in encouraging his pacifist foreign policy and in promoting greater toleration for Catholics in England. The final act of the play depicts the bizarre and ill-judged episode in 1623 when Prince Charles and the Duke of Buckingham visited Spain, initially incognito.
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The Cambridge History of British Theatre
  • Online ISBN: 9781139054058
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