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Scholars have often described Thomas Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy as an indictment of Spanish cruelty. This article instead reads the play in relation to the English government's increased application of torture in the 1580s. Unknown to the common law tradition and controversial even in the period, torture appeared as the conceptual twin of another practice, the execution of summary justice in civilian contexts—an activity scrutinized in the play's Portuguese subplot. By having Hieronimo bite out his own tongue to escape torture, Kyd adapts his Senecan source material to portray defiant and public skepticism of these extralegal practices.