Tamburlaine Part One by Christopher Marlowe

Title: Tamburlaine the Great, Part the First.
Author: Christopher Marlowe.
Date: 1586-87.

Genre: Historical.
Language Difficulty Rating: 4 (slightly difficult).
Setting: Scythia, Persia, Anatolia, Syria; late 14th to early 15th century.

One must wonder what Muse convinced young Christopher Marlowe to choose such a bizarre and exotic topic as the 14th century Mongol conqueror Timur for a play, in an era when drama was dominated by tales of religion, romance and myth. Regardless, the combination of an audaciously Napoleonic protagonist and a new, powerful blank verse, wielded in Marlowe’s hands like an old English broadsword, proved a block-buster, and in hindsight can be seen as the formal beginning of the era of great Elizabethan drama.

Our Story: Tamburlaine is a shepherd who has turned to banditry, but his dream is to become king of the world. Possessed of almost supernatural good luck, military skill, and oratorical ability, Tamburlaine defeats every army and overthrows every monarch he meets. Oh, and his extreme cruelty is legendary.

Download and Read Tamburlaine the Great, Part One:

Map for Tamburlaine Part One:
Western Asia

On-line Reading:
Annotated Edition, pdf file

White Background for Printing:
Annotated Edition, pdf file

Theatre Script:
Tamburlaine Part One Script


Still-Familiar Words and Phrases that Research Suggests Appeared
in English Literature for the First Time in Tamburlaine, Part One:

astounding (as an adjective: e.g. “this is astounding!”)

(meaning to lead one)
obdurate (modern meaning of stubborn)

the phrase rue the day
(meaning to greet again)
(applied as an insulting term to people)

sled (applied to a snow-traveling vehicle)
top (as a verb, meaning to out-do someone: e.g. “he topped him.”)
the expression thundering hooves
the expression vast and deep
the expression to marshal the way
to quiver like a leaf