The inspiration for Davenant’s earliest writing, Albovine, can be traced back to the story of the Lombardian King, Alboin who arranges for a great ceremonial feast after defeating the king of the Gepids, Cunimond. …
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The Source Debate and the Similarities of Albovine and The Witch
Controversy surrounds where a similar instance can be found in the beginning act of The Witch by Thomas Middleton: at a remarkable feast arranged for the marriage of Isabella and Antonio, the Duke passes around a skull fashioned as a goblet among the party attendees and makes them drink from it. As it happens, the skull belonged to the slain father of the Duchess, who is also present at the dinner and is expected to drink from it. This basic similarity between the two plays is the premise of my suggested thesis.
In an article studying the true source of Albovine, Killis Campbell asserts that The Witch was not published until 1778 by the famous Shakespearean editor Isaac Reed; however, it is purported to have been written in the early 17th century by Middleton, in around 1615-1616. Albovine was registered in 1629 (Campbell) leading to clear possibility that Davenant had been aware of The Witch before Albovine was conceived. Further proof of his knowledge can be taken from the fact that he used the Witch in his rendition of Macbeth. Niccolo Machiavelli’s The History of Florence is also credited by some historians as being the source of these plays, including another Irish play called The Revengeful Queen by William Phillips; however, Phillips’ work seems to be based more on Machiavelli and both Albovine and The Revengeful Queen bear resemblance to the Witch, making Davenant’s work open to the charge of plagiarism.
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