The Massacre at Paris
1. Marlowe as Author
Marlowe's sole authorship of the play is uncontested.
His name appeared on the title page of the Octavo edition [O] of the play almost certainly published within a dozen years of the play's debut at The Rose in 1593. Various performances of the play are listed in [Henslowe's Diary], but as was his custom, the play's author is not mentioned (Marlowe's name does not appear anywhere in the Diary).
There was one unconvincing attempt by William Wells1 to assign authorship of The Massacre at Paris to Thomas Kyd, along with Edward II, Arden of Faversham and King Leir amongst other plays. Nosworthy is scathing of Wells' suggestion, which he says shows a "royal disregard for the evidence of the title pages and style ... His evidence would convince nobody, and if he is right, I must henceforth disclaim any ability to recognize Marlowe's style."2
2. The Dutch Church Libel
There is almost certainly a reference to the play in the so-called 'Dutch-Church Libel'. This was a notice that was posted on the wall of the Dutch churchyard in the Broad Street ward3 in the north of the city of London during the night of 05 May 1593. It comprised 53 lines of rough, rhyming verse albeit written in iambic pentameter, that was essentially a fairly crude and racist rant against foreign merchants ("strangers"), their exploitation of the poor local inhabitants via usury, rents, and the stock-piling of produce in times of shortage, and their perceived protection by the state.4
The author of the libel makes reference to Marlowe's work, signing it "per Tamburlaine", and indeed is possibly even trying to implicate Marlowe in some way. As well as references to the "Machiavellian merchant" and Jewish usury, it also appears to contain a direct reference to Marlowe's most recent play:
We'll cut your throats, in your temples praying,
Not paris massacre so much blood did spill
As we will do just vengeance on you all.
Dutch-Church Libel, lines 39-41.
- Note 1: [Wells-N&Q]. Back to Text
- Note 2: [Nosworthy] p.167. Back to Text
- Note 3: Read an article by Matthew Lyons for the London Historians that touches on the history of the Dutch Church during the 16th century. Back to Text
- Note 4: See [Nicholl] pp.284-89 for an analysis of the Dutch Church Libel. Back to Text