Crossing the Divide between Christianity and Islam: Representations of Religious Conversion in Three Seventeenth-Century English Plays

Ludmilla Kostova


This article focuses on three English plays, The Renegado, or the Gentleman of Venice (1624) by Philip Massinger, The Tragedy of Mustapha, Son of Solyman the Magnificent (1665) by Roger Boyle, Earl of Orrery, and The Siege of Constantinople (1675) by Henry Neville Payne, which were written at a time when the illdefined entity generally known as “the West” today was not in the ascendant and apprehensions of the expansionist Ottoman Empire and its dependencies in North Africa played an important role in European social and political life. The plays are approached from a historicist perspective as attention focuses on anxieties aroused by the early modern European perception of Islam as an alien religion that nevertheless attracted Christians and incited them to convert. Representations of religious conversion are also analysed in terms of gender differences. In addition, each of the plays is read as a response to a particular set of social and political problems, which troubled early modern England and were re-imagined through dramatized stories of encounters between Muslims and Christians.

Ключови думи:

Christianity, Islam, conversion, gender, drama, early modern England, Europe, Ottoman Empire


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