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Crotilda, disguised as a eunuch, in 'The Fatal Contract' (1639)

The publisher's dedication says that this 1654 book was a posthumous publication. It was originally written c. 1639 according to this plot summary. Previously it had been circulating in "private Transcripts, where it past through many hands".

As the Blogging the Renaissance plot summary explains, "one of [Queen Fredigond's] sons (Clotair) raped the fair Crotilda, and one of Crotilda's family killed the queen's brother (Clodimir) by mistake." Thus begins a dark tragicomedy of errors in which everyone is mad at everyone. Crotilda is in disguise as a dark-skinned, villainous eunuch for the entire play. This is known to the reader at the very beginning, as "Crotilda, by the name of Castrato, as an Eunuch" is named in the character list, but it probably would not have been obvious to an audience when the play was performed.

In his first appearance, the eunuch (Crotilda) summons two soldiers, her relatives (who for some reason do not recognize her), to the Queen. Disguised as the queen's eunuch, he hands them bags of gold and a letter and walks offstage with no words exchanged. One soldier says to the other, "It was the Eunuch." The other replies: "That needs no deciding." The soldiers correctly perceive that the Queen is extending a false olive branch and she intends to punish them for crimes of their parents against her brother.

Next, the queen, alone with her eunuch, contemplating her revenge against the soldiers, says:

“Hark, hark Castrato, the musick of the Sphæres,
O ravishing touch, hark how the others voice
Ecchoes the Lute, is’t not a divine softnesse?"

The eunuch replies:

Eu. Oh were I but a man as others are,
As kind and open-handed nature made me,
With Organs apt and fit for womans service.
Qu. What if thou wert?
Eu. What if I were great Queene?
I'd search the Deserts, Mountaines, Vallies, Plaines,
Till I had met Chrotilda, whom by force
I'd make to mingle with these sootie limbs,
Till I had got on her one like to me,
Whom I would nourish for the Dumaine line;
That time to come might story to the world,
They had the Devil to their Grand-father.
Qu. I find thee Eunuch apt for my imployments,
Therefore I will unclaspe my soul to thee.
I've alwaies found thee trusty, and I love thee.
Eu. With thanks I ever must acknowledge it,
And lay my life at my great Mistress feet,     Kneels.
To spend it when she pleases.
Qu. We need it not
As yet Castrato, but we may hereafter.

The queen begins to detail the physical punishment she'd like to mete out. The eunuch praises her: "You are the Goddess of invention." The queen then announces her attraction to him:

Now by this light I'm taken strangely with thee,
Come kiss me, kiss me sirra, tremble not.     (Queene kisses him.)
Fie, what a January lip thou hast,
A paire of Iscicles, sure thou hast bought
A paire of cast lips of the chast Diana's,
Thy blood's meere snow-broth, kiss me again:     (again)

The two soldiers are brought into the presence of the queen and the young king Clotair, and the queen immediately and discreetly poisons the king, planning to blame it on the soldiers.

Eu. Madam, is't done?
Qu. I my black Genius, such a fatal dram
I have administred, will wing his soul
With expedition to the other world...

In this passage, the queen is referring to her eunuch as a "black Genius" (as in, "Aye, my black Genius," a spelling that is used later in the play when Clotair says "I Dumain" to Dumain).

She then asks the eunuch: "See'st thou not death thron'd in his hollow eye, / Great tyrant over Nature?" It is a little unclear whether she is referring to the king or the eunuch as a "tyrant over Nature" (a king is more likely to be described as a tyrant, but a eunuch is more likely to be described as unnatural).

In a following scene, the eunuch, carrying a candle, leads Aphelia to Clotair, assuring her that the Clotair will not advance sexually on her. Clotair, however, threatens violence against her if she does not submit to him. The eunuch acknowledges his own villainy in the play's violent intrigues: "Thus on all sides the Eunuch will play foul, / And as his face is black he'll have his soul."

In a following scene, the eunuch comments: "The venom'd poyson of a womans tongue / Is more sublim'd than Mercurie." The queen spars verbally with Clotair, and the eunuch comments again:

How cunningly she spits her poyson forth!
I know her soul is light, she's glad he's dead,
And joyes in the opportuntie to curse the killer,
For which she gaines the name of pious mother;
Here's pretty woman-villany and dissimulation.

The queen asks, "Eunuch is our bed ready?" suggesting that bedchamber arrangement was an expected duty of his. She then invites her lover Landry to bed. The eunuch says to himself: "to cover my discoverie / I'll set on fire the Queens Bed-chamber". He also says he'll warn King Clotair to send help to rescue his mother. "About it then, this is a happie night, / The more it works their woe more's my delight."

Clotair, still dying from poison, says, "Castrato stay, / And with they Counsell cure they dying Prince; / Thou art my bosome, Eunuch, and to thee / I dare unclasp my soul..." The eunuch tells him he saw Landrey, a former page, in his mother's bed. He also tells him that Landrey and the Queen wanted to kill Aphelia so she would not become queen.

The queen then wonders aloud, to the eunuch, how she could have been found out. The eunuch says: "This is strange, / Some comick Devil crosses our designes..." She conspires with the eunuch, telling him, "My dul Æthiope, I will instruct thy blacknesse," that she intends to hide with Landrey in a secret chamber. "Excellent mistris, I applaud your brain," he replies. She asks him to inform Landrey of the plan. He anticipates her request for him to kill either Aphelia or the young king, and she replies:

Thou hast a brain which doth ingender thoughts
As regall as our own, which do beget
A race of rare events; what pitty 'tis
Thy body should be sterril, since thy mind
Is of so pregnant and a fruitful kind;
Farewell, remember me.

The eunuch says to himself: "Learn ye that pamper up your flesh for lust, / The Eunuch in his wickedness is just." He brings Landry and the queen poisoned food, first saying, "You'll let me tast it for you, will you not?" Then, after they have eaten, he laughs: "Ha, ha, ha, y'have both eat and drunk abominable poyson," adding, "The poyson's sure, I did prepare it for ye, / And have my self taken an Antidote". He taunts Landry: "You are our cushion, and i'l sit on you. / I am not very heavie, am I sir? / I do not altogether weigh a man." The queen calls him a "Villanous Traytor," and he responds: "So perish all that love Adulterie."

The eunuch's next mischief is to tell Clotair that his wife Aphelia is pregnant by another, unnamed man. Aphelia denies it, and Clotair calls a torturer with hot irons and threatens to destroy her breasts so she cannot "suckle lawless issue". Clotair, despairing of his overall situation, then asks the eunuch to shoot him with a pistol that he'd previously intended for Landrey. One of the soldiers who was originally selected by the Queen to be framed for the poisoning of her son asked the "Hel-hound Eunuch" to "tell us who ha's done these fatall deeds." The eunuch responds, "Chrotilda and a woman." To the disbelieving soldier, Clotair supports Chrotilda's reveal, and says that even the Queen didn't know the truth: "no Eunuch she; / No sun-burnt vagabond of Æthiope, / Though entertain'd for such by Fredigond." The revealed Chrotilda says, "I should have kill'd thee King, and had put on / A masculine spirit to perform the deed," but claims she was prevented by "A womans weakness".

It is free on Google or can be bought printed on demand.

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