Article Title

The Islamization of Spain in William Rowley and Mary Pix: The Politics of Nation and Gender


The sustained Muslim presence in Spain between 711 and 1492 provides a fascinating example of intercultural dynamics that has never ceased to engage the literary imagination of many authors across countries and chronological periods. One episode in particular, the Islamic invasion and conquest of 711, was in its very swiftness so hard to explain that it has remained a tantalizing puzzle for centuries. This essay addresses the politics of the representation of the Islamic irruption on the Iberian peninsula in the plays of two Stuart playwrights, William Rowley and Mary Pix. Rowley’s All’s Lost By Lust, first performed in 1622, tells the events of Tariq’s invasion and Roderick’s defeat in a vague but still recognizable form. Rowley’s deployment of the Islamic characters in his play is based on a presumed anti-Spanish intent, because the presence and actions of the Moors help convey the inadequacy and decadence of the Spanish Christians. In 1705, Mary Pix revised this play in her own The Conquest of Spain, though this time the playwright emphasizes the figure of the ravished woman as the site of intercultural and patriarchal conflict. Pix’s reforms of Rowley’s play deemphasize the participation of the Moors, and she introduces a doubling technique that stresses the commonalities between Moors and Christians in their victimization of women, thus subordinating racial concerns to her preoccupation with patriarchy.

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