Christopher Marlowe’s 1588 play Tamburlaine the Great Part I was so popular among London audiences that Marlowe wrote a sequel to continue the conqueror's grisly exploits. The second part takes place several years after the events of the first part, and primarily concerns Tamburlaine’s assault on the kingdoms of Mesopotamia: Trebizond, Soria, Jerusalem, and Amasia. While on the war-path, Tamburlaine’s beloved queen Zenocrate succumbs to illness, and her death spurs Tamburlaine on to even greater acts of savagery. Meanwhile, Callapine, the son of slain Turkish Emperor Bajazeth, has sworn revenge on the conqueror, and is gathering an army of tributary kings to help him in his vendetta.
The Tamburlaine plays were loosely based on the historical conquests of Timur in the 14th Century, events which Marlowe likely would have learned about during his studies in Cambridge. The play is considered by scholars to be one of the first truly popular pieces of English language theatre, and Marlowe’s use of verse defined the genre for the next century.
Tamburlaine The Great Part II guide sections