restricted access (De)Valuing the Crown in Tamburlaine, Dido Queen of Carthage, and Edward II

In Elizabethan England, the term “crown” could signify either a coin or a royal diadem. This duality resonates strongly in Christopher Marlowe’s drama. Whereas contemporary sovereigns’ crowns were said to signify divine monarchical right, Marlowe’s fictional rulers reduce their crowns to objects that can be traded at will: Tamburlaine treats diadems as prizes to be stolen, Dido bribes Aeneas with her regalia, and Edward II offers crowns to his favorites. The crown’s treatment in these plays brings contemporary political ideology into question, as Marlowe interrogates the royal diadem’s reinvention as a marketable commodity.