Edward II

by

Christopher Marlowe

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Edward II

Edward is, of course, the play's title character, and the plot more or less corresponds to the course of his actual historical reign (though the play significantly compresses the events of his reign), beginning with… read analysis of Edward II

Piers Gaveston

Gaveston is Edward II's companion and (almost certainly) lover. The two men have known each other for some time by the time the play opens, but had recently been separated by Edward's father, the former… read analysis of Piers Gaveston

Mortimer Junior

Mortimer Junior is a powerful member of the English nobility and, eventually, the lead challenger to Edward II's rule. As Marlowe states outright in the play's full title, Mortimer is extremely “proud,” and he views… read analysis of Mortimer Junior

Isabella

Isabella is a daughter of the King of France, Edward II's wife, and mother to his son, Prince Edward. She is also one of the play's most ambiguous characters. The historical Isabella was a… read analysis of Isabella

Edmund, Earl of Kent

Kent is Edward II's brother, and thus spends much of the play torn between loyalty to his family and loyalty to England. Kent initially condemns the English nobles for voicing their dissatisfaction with Edward and… read analysis of Edmund, Earl of Kent
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Prince Edward/Edward III

The son of Edward II and Isabella. Prince Edward is absent for the first half of the play, which makes sense given his young age: the real Edward III was fourteen at the time… read analysis of Prince Edward/Edward III

Mortimer Senior

Mortimer Senior is the uncle of Mortimer Junior and a powerful member of the English nobility. Although he shares his nephew's frustration with Gaveston's influence, Mortimer Senior is somewhat more inclined to give Edward the… read analysis of Mortimer Senior

The Earl of Lancaster

Other than Mortimer Junior, Lancaster is perhaps the most outspoken of the lords who oppose Gaveston's relationship with Edward. He repeatedly warns the king, for instance, that his favoritism places his rule in… read analysis of The Earl of Lancaster

Guy, Earl of Warwick

The Earl of Warwick is one of the nobles who opposes Gaveston's position at court and (ultimately) the rule of Edward himself. Edward describes Warwick as having "silver hairs," and suggests at one point that… read analysis of Guy, Earl of Warwick

Spencer Junior

After Gaveston's death, Edward II relies instead on the support and advice of two of Gaveston's former retainers: Spencer Junior and his father, Spencer Senior. Neither man is well born, but (as he had… read analysis of Spencer Junior

The Earl of Pembroke

Pembroke is one of a group of nobles who oppose Edward's reliance on Gaveston. Nevertheless, after Gaveston’s capture he eventually insists that the king should be allowed to see Gaveston one last time before… read analysis of The Earl of Pembroke

Bishop of Canterbury

The Bishop of Canterbury is the head of the Catholic Church in England. His anger with Edward II and Gaveston over the latter's assault on the Bishop of Coventry therefore reflects the king's broader and… read analysis of Bishop of Canterbury

Bishop of Coventry

The Bishop of Coventry is a high-ranking official of the Catholic Church who evidently helped persuade Edward II's father to exile Gaveston. He does not hide his displeasure over Gaveston's return in Scene 1… read analysis of Bishop of Coventry

Lord Maltravers/Earl of Arundel 

Maltravers is a noble who initially remains loyal to Edward II, delivering the king's request that he be allowed to see Gaveston before the latter is executed. At some point, however, Maltravers switches sides… read analysis of Lord Maltravers/Earl of Arundel 

Gourney 

Like Maltravers, Gourney serves as one of Edward II's sadistic jailkeepers after the king is deposed. Unlike Maltravers, Gourney does not appear to be a noble, which is perhaps why he does the dirty… read analysis of Gourney 

Lightborne

Lightborne is the assassin Mortimer Junior hires to kill Edward II. He specializes in murders that do not leave physical traces of violence on the victims' bodies (such as pouring poison in the victim's… read analysis of Lightborne

Lady Margaret de Clare

Lady Margaret is the daughter of the Earl of Gloucester, and thus the niece of Edward II. She is engaged to marry Gaveston, presumably because Edward wants his favorite to have official standing… read analysis of Lady Margaret de Clare

The Earl of Leicester

Leicester is an English noble who first appears in the play after Edward's defeat, arresting Baldock and Spencer Junior and also conveying the deposed king Edward to Kenilworth. He is nevertheless generally kind and sympathetic… read analysis of The Earl of Leicester

The Mower

A man who maintains the grounds around the monastery. He is, literally, a mower of grass and other vegetation. The mower informs Rhys ap Howell and the Earl of Leicester of Edward's whereabouts when the… read analysis of The Mower
Minor Characters
Spencer Senior
Spencer Senior is the father of Spencer Junior, who becomes a favorite of Edward II's after Gaveston's death. Edward similarly favors Spencer Senior and makes him Earl of Wiltshire. In return, Spencer Senior remains loyal to the king and is eventually arrested for supporting him.
Baldock
Baldock is a retainer of Gaveston's who frequently appears alongside Spencer Junior. He is also an Oxford scholar and the tutor of Lady Margaret, who is engaged to marry Gaveston. He remains loyal to Edward II until the king's defeat.
Bishop of Winchester
Although Edward II's actions earn him many enemies within the Church, the Bishop of Winchester is the only religious official who appears to openly side with Mortimer Junior against the king. In fact, he is one of the men sent to persuade Edward to abdicate.
Lord Berkeley
When Mortimer Junior decides the Earl of Leicester may be untrustworthy, he sends Lord Berkeley to Kenilworth to convey Edward II to imprisonment at Berkeley. Nevertheless, Mortimer quickly decides Berkeley is too lenient with Edward as well, and replaces him with Maltravers and Gourney.
Sir John of Hainault
Hainault is a French lord who offers shelter and aid to Isabella even when her brother, the King of France, refuses to side with her in her dispute with Edward II.
Abbot of Neath
The Abbot of Neath is one of the few Church officials in the play who seem to support Edward II. He hides the king, Spencer Junior, and Baldock in his monastery, although the three men's whereabouts are ultimately betrayed.
Rhys ap Howell
A Welsh supporter of Mortimer Junior who helps arrest Spencer Senior, Spencer Junior, Baldock, and eventually Edward II himself.
Trussel
Trussel is a representative from Parliament who accompanies the Bishop of Winchester when he comes to collect Edward II's crown.