THE BLOODY ASSIZE CONSENTS BOOK I - SOWING THE WIND Lucy Walter Monmouth Titus Gates George Jeffreys The Popish Plot The Trial of Coleman. The Murder of Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey Fill. Prince Monmouth The Downfall of Oates The Rise of Jeffreys BOOK II - REAPING THE WHIRLWIND The Landing of Monmouth Somerset Marches The Battle of Sedgemoor The Execution of Monmonth A Summer Circuit The Trial of Alice Lisle The Triumph of Jeffreys The Reign of Terror The End of the Campaign Rex v. Elizabeth Gaunt and others The Revolution Index LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS BOOK I SOWING THE WIND Chapter I : Lucy Walter I MUST confess to a lifelong habit of taking my history dramatically If I cannot get it in the form of plays, which is the best form of all, I like to read it in the lives of the actors and make my own drama of it. I am sure there is more truth to be obtained in that way than in relying in too docile a spirit upon state papers, which appear to have been cunningly drafted with intent to deceive, and still do deceive really learned and scholarly historians, There are plenty of official and other documents relating to the Bloody Assize and the historical events that led up to it but they do not, as far as I can discover, explain to you why this terrible event should have happened in a comparatively civilized community. And to my mind, although no doubt the basic cause of the affair was the clash and hatred of rival religious organizations, the actual human beings who brought about these horrors were essentially comedians Monmouth, the leader of the Rebellion, was not a hero but a walking gentleman Titus Gates is a low comedy buffoon Jeffreys, the villain of the piece, but for his lust of cruelty, would be a comic villain, And it was to give these three characters opportunity to display their talents that our oldfashioned stage manager, the Devil, seems to have planned the scenario of the spectacular melodrama which we call the Bloody Assize. As I read the story I feel sure these three parts are the r61es that the best actors would choose for them selves, They have the most lines to speak. They are always fighting each other for the centre of the stage, and hugging the limelight. Jeffreys is the most successful in this contest, for his business naturally allows him to speak as many lines as he chooses, and sets him in the centre but Gates, in the early part of the dramas evolution, has his moments and Monmouth perhaps gets the biggest curtain. You will find that there are several small parts and minor characters that in history books are given great prominence, but are not serviceable in drama. Kings are seldom fat parts in good plays. And in the human drama of the Bloody Assize, James II. is not so important as one would imagine. From an actors point of view he is a bad part, for as a human being he was only a puppet with a company of Jesuit priests pulling the strings. True, they did this so deftly that the royal monarch began to fancy he was alive and walking about and doing things and though a puppet can play an actor well enough, an actor does not care to demean himself to so wooden a business as to portray a puppet ling. The staging of the Bloody Assize, following the sound conventions of wellconstituted spectacular drama, gives excellent opportunities for soldiers to march across the stage, simple peasants to crowd on and listen to orations about liberty, and throw up their hats and cheer, and the villain has more than his fill of bullying and insulting innocence and virtue, and ordering his victims to be dragged to the whippingpost, the pillory, the scaffold, the gibbet and the stake.