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Word Count: 2,159
The master figure of Elizabethan drama is Machiavelli He was only known through the French of Gentillet if that but he was the great character of supreme intrigue that however taken was at the back of every tudor mind Elizabethan drama--the first terror-stricken meeting of the England of Elizabeth with the Italy of the late renaissance--was more terrified of Machiavelli than of anybody The Borgias Sforzas Baglionis Malatestas Riartes were of far more importance to the Elizabethan dramatists than any of their own eminent countrymen Familiarity bred contempt in the long run But during its flourishing period the English stage went constantly to the schoolmaster of manslaughter Machiavelli--and his political paradigms chosen in conformity with his Borgia worship--for its thrills Mr Edward Meyer has catalogued three hundred and ninety-five references to Machiavelli in Elizabethan literature As to his influence in England Dr Grosart wrote I have suggested to the biographer of the renowned Machiavelli Professor Villari of Florence that an odd chapter might be written on the scare his name was for long in England so much so that he came to be regarded as an incarnation of the Evil One himself If three hundred and ninety-five direct references can be found to Machiavelli in Elizabethan literature it is everywhere steeped in his philosophy and what his philosophy represented Webster Massinger Ford Marston Tourneur Middleton are all indebted to him so heavily that either in the form of revulsion or delight they could be called the children of Machiavelli The Unnatural Combat Women beware Woman Antonio and Mellida The Insatiate Countess The Changeling The Revengers Tragedy etc would not have existed in the form in which they did without the showmanship and propagandist zeal of Machiavelli But in the long run the English got over their fright and saw through Machiavelli--Machiavel thou art an ass The Distracted State dates from
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