Robert Daborne’s A Christian Turned Turk (1612) has attracted scholarly attention for its representation of English attitudes towards Islam, the economic and cultural allure of piracy, and the religious and political stakes of conversion. Yet the play also deserves to be considered for its treatment of Jewish characters, whose dynamicity complicates early modern understandings of Jewish difference. Daborne’s play links Jews to renegades – individuals who threaten England’s integrity by rejecting religious and national ties for the sake of personal profit. Applying the epithet ‘Renegado Jew’ to its main Jewish character, A Christian Turned Turk seeks to define the relationship between these two bogeymen of the English imagination. Drawing on a biblical origin story for renegades, as well as parallels between the play’s main Jewish and renegade characters, I argue that A Christian Turned Turk offers Jewishness as the proper lens through which to understand the allures and dangers of renegadism.
Adriana Streifer is an Assistant Professor and Assistant Director of the Center for Teaching Excellence at the University of Virginia.