The Spanish Tragedy In Plain and Simple English (Digital Download)
Rediscovering the Pioneer of Elizabethan Drama

Before Shakespeare's tragedies took the world by storm, there was Thomas Kyd's "The Spanish Tragedy." A cornerstone that shaped the works of renowned playwrights like Jonson and Marlowe, this drama laid the groundwork for the Elizabethan theatre's golden era. Its chilling narratives, combined with the raw personification of Revenge, makes it a riveting read.

However, its profound impact often fades behind the barriers of dated Elizabethan language, making it an elusive classic to the modern audience. Enter the realm of treachery, passion, and vengeance without getting lost in archaic prose.

Thanks to BookCaps' meticulous adaptation, you can now experience this monumental play in a language that resonates with today's readers. Journey back in time and witness the play that became a benchmark for tragedies. Embrace Kyd's genius, rejuvenated and made accessible for the contemporary world.



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Excerpt From The Spanish Tragedy In Plain and Simple English


Enter the Ghost of Andrea, and with him Revenge.



When this eternal substance of my soul

Did live imprison'd in my wanton flesh,

Each in their function serving other's need,

I was a courtier in the Spanish court:

My name was Don Andrea; my descent,

Though not ignoble, yet inferior far

To gracious fortunes of my tender youth.

For there in prime and pride of all my years,

By duteous service and deserving love,

In secret I possess'd a worthy dame,

Which hight sweet Bellimperia by name.

But, in the harvest of my summer joys,

Death's winter nipp'd the blossoms of my bliss,

Forcing divorce betwixt my love and me.

For in the late conflict with Portingal

My valour drew me into danger's mouth,

Till life to death made passage through my wounds.

When I was slain, my soul descended straight

To pass the flowing stream of Acheron;

But churlish Charon, only boatman there,

Said that, my rites of burial not perform'd,

I might not sit amongst his passengers.

Ere Sol had slept three nights in Thetis' lap,

And slak't his smoking chariot in her flood,

By Don Horatio, our knight marshal's son,

My funerals and obsequies were done.

Then was the ferryman of hell content

To pass me over to the slimy strand,

That leads to fell Avernus' ugly waves.

There, pleasing Cerberus with honey'd speech,

I pass'd the perils of the foremost porch.

Not far from hence, amidst ten thousand souls,

Sat Minos, Aeacus, and Rhadamanth;

To whom no sooner 'gan I make approach,

To crave a passport for my wand'ring ghost,

But Minos, in graven leaves of lottery,

Drew forth the manner of my life and death.

This knight,' quoth he,' both liv'd and died in love;

And for his love tried fortune of the wars;

And by war's fortune lost both love and life.'

'Why then,' said Aeacus,' convey him hence,

To walk with lovers in our fields of love,

And spend the course of everlasting time

Under green myrtle-trees and cypress shades.'

' No, no,' said Rhadamanth,' it were not well,

With loving souls to place a martialist:

He died in war, and must to martial fields,

Where wounded Hector lives in lasting pain,

And Achilles' Myrmidons do scour the plain.

Then Minos, mildest censor of the three,

Made this device to end the difference:

Send him,' quoth he,' to our infernal king,

To doom him as best seems his majesty.'

To this effect my passport straight was drawn.

In keeping on my way to Pluto's court,

Through dreadful shades of ever-glooming night,

I saw more sights than thousand tongues can tell,

Or pens can write, or mortal hearts can think.

Three ways there were: that on the right-hand side

Was ready way unto the foresaid fields,

Where lovers live and bloody martialists;

But either sort contain'd within his bounds.

The left-hand path, declining fearfully,

Was ready downfall to the deepest hell,

Where bloody Furies shakes their whips of steel,

And poor Ixion turns an endless wheel;

Where usurers are chok'd with melting gold,

And wantons are embrac'd with ugly snakes,

And murd'rers groan with never-killing wounds,

And perjur'd wights scalded in boiling lead,

And all foul sins with torments overwhelm'd.

Twixt these two ways I trod the middle path,

Which brought me to the fair Elysian green,

In midst whereof there stands a stately tower,

The walls of brass, the gates of adamant:

Here finding Pluto with his Proserpine,

I show'd my passport, humbled on my knee;

Whereat fair Proserpine began to smile,

And begg'd that only she might give my doom:

Pluto was pleas'd, and seal'd it with a kiss.

Forthwith, Revenge, she rounded thee in th' ear,

And bad thee lead me through the gates of horn,

Where dreams have passage in the silent night.

No sooner had she spoke, but we were here--

I wot not how—in twinkling of an eye.


When my eternal soul

was still inside my body,

each of them serving the other,

I was a courtier at the Spanish court:

my name was Don Andrea; although I was not

of low ancestry, I reached a far higher

position than my birth in my youth.

In the very prime of life,

through loyal service and deserving love,

I secretly gained a great lady,

called Bellimperia.

But, just as I was enjoying my fortune,

death came to take away my happiness,

forcing my love and I to separate.

In the recent war with Portugal

my bravery led me into danger,

until I died of my wounds.

When I was killed, my soul went straight

to the River Styx,

but Charon the ferryman

said that as I had not been buried

I could not be carried across by him.

Before the sun had

 risen and set three times

the funeral rites were done for me

by Don Horatio, the son of our knight marshal.

Then the ferryman of the underworld was happy

to carry me over the slimy river

leading to the ugly sea of Avernus.

There I pleased Cerberus with sweet words,

and passed through the dangers of the first entrance.

Not far from there, in the middle of ten thousand souls,

sat Minos, Aeacus and Rhadamanth;

no sooner did I approach them,

asking for safe passage for my wandering spirit,

than Minos, making the choice of where I should go,

spoke of how I had lived and died.

 He said, “This knight loved in life and death;

because of his love he went to the war;

and through the fortunes of war he has lost both his life and his love."

“Well then," said Aeacus, “take him away

to walk with lovers in the fields of love,

to spend eternity

under the green myrtle trees and the shades of the cypress."

“No, no," said Rhadamanth, “that's not right,

putting a soldier with the lovers:

he died in war, and must go to the military fields,

where the wounded Hector lives in eternal pain,

and the Myrmidons of Achilles roam across the plain."

Then Minos, the kindest of the three,

proposed this plan to solve the problem:

“Send him," he said, “to the king of the underworld,

to decide what he thinks is best."

I was at once given a passport to go there.

As I went to the court of Pluto,

through the dreadful shadows of eternal darkness,

I saw more sights than a thousand tongues could tell,

pens could write, or hearts of men could imagine.

There were three paths: the one on the right hand side

led straight into the aforementioned fields,

where lovers live and bloody soldiers;

each one kept within their own area.

The left-hand path sloped down terribly,

leading straight into the depths of hell,

where bloody Furies wield their steel whips,

and poor Ixion has to turn a wheel endlessly;

where moneylenders are choked with molten gold,

adulterers are wrapped round with ugly snakes,

murderers grown with wounds which never kill them,

perjurers are scalded with boiling lead,

and all vile sins are punished with tortures.

I took the middle path between these two,

which brought me to the fair fields of Elysium,

in the middle of which there is a great tower,

with brass walls and diamond gates:

I found Pluto there with Proserpine,

and I showed him my passport, bowing down to him;

then fair Prosperine began to smile,

and asked if she could decide my fate:

Pluto was pleased, kissing her in agreement.

At once, Revenge, she called to you,

and told you to lead me through the horn gates,

through which dreams pass in the night.

As soon as she spoke, we were here–

I don't know how–in the twinkling of an eye.



Then know, Andrea, that thou art arriv'd

Where thou shalt see the author of thy death,

Don Balthazar, the prince of Portingal,

Depriv'd of life by Bellimperia.

Here sit we down to see the mystery,

And serve for Chorus in this tragedy.


Then you should know, Andrea, that you have arrived

where you will see the one who caused your death,

Don Balthazar, the Prince of Portugal,

have his life taken away by Bellimperia.

Let's sit down to see the play,

and we will be the chorus in this tragedy.



The Court of Spain.


Enter Spanish King, General, Castile, and Hieronimo.



Now say, lord General, how fares our camp?


Now tell me, lord General, how are things in camp?



All well, my sovereign liege, except some few

That are deceas'd by fortune of the war.


All is well, my King, except for a few

who've died through the fortunes of war.



But what portends thy cheerful countenance,

And posting to our presence thus in haste?

Speak, man, hath fortune given us victory?


But why do you look so cheerful,

and why have you hurried to see us?

Speak, man, have we been lucky enough to win?



Victory, my liege, and that with little loss.


We have won, my Lord, with few losses.



Our Portingals will pay us tribute then?


So the Portuguese will pay tribute to us?



Tribute and wonted homage therewithal.


Tribute and proper respect as well.



Then bless'd be heaven and guider of the heavens,

From whose fair influence such justice flows.


Then thanks be to heaven and its ruler,

which fairly orders such a just result.



O multum dilecte Deo, tibi militat aether,

Et conjuratae curvato poplite gentes

Succumbunt: recti soror est victoria juris.


O beloved one of God, the heavens fight with you,

and spellbound people bow down to you,

for victory always goes to those in the right.



Thanks to my loving brother of Castile.

But, General, unfold in brief discourse

Your form of battle and your war's success,

That, adding all the pleasure of thy news

Unto the height of former happiness,

With deeper wage and greater dignity

We may reward thy blissful chivalry.


My thanks to my loving brother of Castile.

But, General, tell us briefly

how the battle went and how it was won,

so that we can add the pleasure of your news

to all the happiness we had already,

and reward your sweet chivalry

with better pay and higher honours.



Where Spain and Portingal do jointly knit

Their frontiers, leaning on each other's bound,

There met our armies in their proud array:

Both furnish'd well, both full of hope and fear,

Both menacing alike with daring shows,

Both vaunting sundry colours of device,

Both cheerly sounding trumpets, drums, and fifes,

Both raising dreadful clamours to the sky,

That valleys, hills, and rivers made rebound,

And heav'n itself was frighted with the sound.

Our battles both were pitch'd in squadron form,

Each corner strongly fenc'd with wings of shot;

But ere we join'd and came to push of pike,

I brought a squadron of our readiest shot

From out our rearward, to begin the fight:

They brought another wing t'encounter us.

Meanwhile, our ordnance play'd on either side,

And captains strove to have their valours tried.

Don Pedro, their chief horsemen's colonel,

Did with his cornet bravely make attempt

To break the order of our battle ranks:

But Don Rogero, worthy man of war.

March'd forth against him with our musketeers,

And stopp'd the malice of his fell approach.

While they maintain hot skirmish to and fro,

Both battles join, and fall to handy-blows,

Their violent shot resembling th' ocean's rage,

When, roaring loud, and with a swelling tide,

It beats upon the rampiers of huge rocks,

And gapes to swallow neighbour-bounding lands.

Now while Bellona rageth here and there,

Thick storms of bullets ran like winter's hail,

And shiver'd lances dark the troubled air.

Pede pes et cuspide cuspis;

Arma sonant armis, vir petiturque viro.

On every side drop captains to the ground,

And soldiers, some ill-maim'd, some slain outright:

Here falls a body sunder'd from his head,

There legs and arms lie bleeding on the grass,

Mingled with weapons and unbowell'd steeds,

That scatt'ring overspread the purple plain.

In all this turmoil, three long hours and more,

The victory to neither part inclined;

Till Don Andrea, with his brave lanciers,

In their main battle made so great a breach,

That, half dismay'd, the multitude retir'd:

But Bathazar, the Portingals' young prince,

Brought rescue, and encourag'd them to stay.

Here-hence the fight was eagerly renew'd,

And in that conflict was Andrea slain:

Brave man at arms, but weak to Balthazar.

Yet while the prince, insulting over him,

Breath'd out proud vaunts, sounding to our reproach,

Friendship and hardy valour, join'd in one,

Prick'd forth Horatio, our knight marshal's son,

To challenge forth that prince in single fight.

Not long between these twain the fight endur'd,

But straight the prince was beaten from his horse,

And forc'd to yield him prisoner to his foe.

When he was taken, all the rest they fled,

And our carbines pursu'd them to the death,

Till, Phoebus waving to the western deep,

Our trumpeters were charged to sound retreat.


Where the frontiers of Spain and Portugal

meet, their boundaries touching,

that's where our glorious armies met:

both were well armed, both full of hope and fear,

both looking menacing in their force,

both waving their various coloured banners,

both cheerfully playing trumpets, drums and fifes,

both making a terrible noise,

so that the valleys, hills and rivers echoed,

and heaven itself was frightened by the sound.

We both formed up in squadrons,

with each corner strongly reinforced with artillery;

but before we got to close quarter fighting

I brought a squadron of our best artillery

out from our rear, to start the battle:

they brought out one of their own to match us.

Meanwhile, we fired away at each other,

and captains fought to test their bravery.

Don Pedro, the colonel of their best cavalry,

tried bravely with his troop

to break up the order of our ranks:

but Don Rogero, a worthy soldier,

marched out against him with our musketeers,

and blocked the force of his terrible attack.

While they skirmished vigourously to and fro,

the battle was joined, and hand-to-hand fighting began,

the violent shots sounded like the roaring ocean,

when it crashes with great force

on the buttresses of huge rocks,

and floods over the coastal lands.

Now while the war raged over the battlefield,

thick storms of bullets fell like winter hail,

and the disturbed air was dark with spears.

It was toe to toe, spear to spear,

weapons clashing, man against man.

Captains fell to the ground on every side,

as well as soldiers, some badly wounded, some killed outright:

here a body fell headless,

there were legs and arms lying bleeding on the grass,

mixed in with weapons and disembowelled forces,

scattered all over the bloodstained plain.

For more than three long hours, after all this turmoil,

victory had not come to either side;

until Don Andrea, with his brave Lancers,

made such a great inroad into their main forces

that, dismayed, most of them retreated:

but Balthazar, the young Prince of Portugal,

rallied them, and encouraged them to stand.

So the battle was eagerly rejoined there,

and Andrea was killed in the fight:

he was a brave soldier, but he could not resist Balthazar.

But the Prince rejoiced over his victory,

shouting out proud boasts, insulting us,

both our loyalty and our bravery together,

and that made Horatio, the son of our knight marshal,

challenge that Prince to single combat.

The fight did not last long between those two,

the Prince was knocked off his horse straight away,

and forcibly taken prisoner by his enemy.

When he was captured, all the rest fled,

and we chased after them, firing and killing,

until the sunset came

and our trumpeters were ordered to sound the retreat.



Thanks, good lord General, for these good news;

And for some argument of more to come,

Take this and wear it for thy sovereign's sake.

[Gives him his chain.

But tell me now, hast thou confirm'd a peace?


Thank you good lord General, for this good news;

with the promise of more to come,

take this and wear it to show the favour of your king.

But now tell me, have you signed a peace agreement?



No peace, my liege, but peace conditional,

That if with homage tribute be well paid,

The fury of your forces will be stay'd:

And to this peace their viceroy hath subscrib'd,

[Gives the King a paper.

And made a solemn vow that, during life,

His tribute shall be truly paid to Spain.


Not complete peace, my lord, but a conditional one,

that if tribute is respectfully paid,

we will hold back the fury of your forces:

their viceroy has agreed to this peace,

and made a solemn promise that, during his life,

he will pay proper tribute to Spain.



These words, these deeds, become thy person well.

But now, knight marshal, frolic with thy king,

For 'tis thy son that wins this battle's prize.


These words and these deeds are very praiseworthy.

But now, knight marshal, celebrate with your king,

for it's your son who won the battle.



Long may he live to serve my sovereign liege,

And soon decay, unless he serve my liege.


May he live long to serve my great King,

and soon die if he doesn't.



Nor thou, nor he, shall die without reward.

[A tucket afar off.

What means the warning of this trumpet's sound?


Neither you nor him will die without their reward.

What does this warning trumpet mean?
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