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Tomson stated that he did not know his queen’s will, but that if al-Mansur was serious about the invasion, he The Moor on the Elizabethan Stage 25 should send an ambassador to England to discuss the matter. 61 Al-Mansur’s motion did not seem to generate much laughter since the queen gave permission for a Moroccan ambassador to travel to England. There was, after all, the important trade with Morocco and the need for continued cooperation against Spanish intrusion and piracy. Also, the wealth of Morocco was irresistible, and if there was any way of tapping into it, she would try.
16 Britain and Barbary, 1589–1689 While anxiety about succession and about Spanish control of Portugal was deeply felt by the audience, Peele addressed another more immediate and pressing anxiety by dramatizing from a Euro-Christian perspective the build-up to, and consequences of, the famous but disastrous battle. 21 Peele rode the Moorish wave, and in writing a play about Moroccans and their relations with Europeans ten or more years after the actual events he described, he presented in his play not so much the anxiety about succession as excitement over the arrival of the Moroccan delegation from Mulay al-Mansur.
52 Indeed, Mulay Ahmad al-Mansur had come to be known around the Mediterranean as “the Golden,” al-dhahabi, in recognition of the magnitude of his coffers. Eager to show England’s superiority, Shakespeare had the Moroccan prince praise Elizabeth’s coinage—and fail in the casket test. Given the fabulous wealth of Morocco, it was important that England and her queen not be overshadowed. 53 In The Merchant of Venice, and given the favorable change of political climate between England and Morocco, he presented a benign Moor, but still, a Moor who could not be accommodated in the European polis: the only way in which Shakespeare could bring about stability to Belmont was by sending the Prince of Morocco and his retinue back to where they came from.