Bussy D'Ambois

or, The Husband's Revenge

a tragedy by George Chapman, revised by Thomas d'Urfey

written c. 1604; first published 1607


About the Play

Chapman's best-known play tells the story of French celebrity courtier Louis de Bussy d'Amboise. D'Amboise, notorious for insulting the powerful and for his prowess as a duelist, provided the perfect setting for a Jacobean tragedy, full of blood, torture, death, ghostly apparitions and political intrigue. It kept the stage for many years, even after the Restoration.

In 1691, the play was revived again in a revised version, reworked by Thomas D'Urfey.


Known Editions

Most secondary sources also list a 1616 edition which is likely the result of a printers' error in an early catalog, repeated by later bibliographers.

  • Bussy D'Ambois, A Tragedie, as it hath been often presented at Paules. London: Printed for William Aspley. 1607

  • Bussy D'Ambois, A Tragedie, as it hath been often presented at Paules. London: Printed for William Aspley. 1608

    A reisue of the 1607 edition, with only the date altered

  • Bussy D'Amboys: A Tragedie: As it hath been often Acted with great Applause. Being much corrected and amended by the Author before his death. London. Printed by A.N. for Robert Lunne. 1641

  • Bussy D'Amboys: A Tragedie: As it hath been often Acted with great Applause. Being much corrected and amended by the Author before his death. London. Printed by T.W. for Robert Lunne. 1646

    A reissue of the 1641 edition

  • Bussy d'Ambois, a tragedie. Being much corr. and amended by the author, George Chapman, Gent., before his death. London: Printed for Joshua Kirton. 1657

    A reprinting based on the 1641 edition

  • Bussy d'Ambois: a tragedy by George Chapman, in volume III of Old English Plays; Being a Selection from the Early Dramatic Writers). London; printed by Whittingham and Rowland, Goswell Street; for John Martin, Holles Street, Cavendish Square, Bookseller to Her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales. 1814

    The first modern edition of the play.

  • Bussy d'Ambois, or the Husbands Revenge. A tradegy. Newly revised by Mr. D'Urfey. London: For R. Bently; Jo. Hindmarsh; andAbel Roper, 1691

    D'Urfey's revised edition


References from Secondary Sources

  • George Watson Cole, "Bibliographical Ghosts" (1919)

    Cole's article describes the process by which a typographical error in an 1812 reference work led to later works referencing a nonexistent 1616 edition of this play.

  • Walter Wilson Gregg, A List of English Plays (1900)

    *Bussy D'Ambois: A Tragedie: As it hath been often presented at Paules. for William Aspley. 1607. B.M. (644 d. 41). Bodl. Dyce.

    *[Another issue.] for William Aspley. 1608. The sheets of the 1607 edition re-issued with the date altered. B.M. (644. d. 41). Bodl. Dyce.

    [Another edition.] 1616. See Biographia Dramatica 1812. ii. 73.

    *[Bussy D'Ambois.] As it hath been often Acted with great Applause. Being much corrected and amended by the Author before his death. A.N. for Robert Lunne. 1641. B.M. (644. d. 42). Bodl. Dyce. T.C.C.

    [Another issue.] T.W. for Robert Lunne. 1646. The sheets of the 1641 eition re-issued with the imprint altered. B.M. (644 d. 43).

    [Another issue.] Being much corrected and amended by the Author, George Chapman, Gent. Before his death. for Joshua Kirton. 1657. The sheets of the 1641 edition again re-issued with a new titlepage. B.M. (644. d. 44).

    The 1616 edition listed here likely never existed.

  • James O. Halliwell, A Dictionary of Old English Plays (1860)

    BUSSY D'AMBOIS. Tragedy by G. Chapman. 4to. 1607; 4to. 1608; 4to. 1616; 4to. 1641; 4to. 1657. Entered on the Stationers' Registers, June 3rd, 1607. Reprinted in Dilke's Old Plays. This play was often presented at Paul's, in the reign of James I., and after the Restoration was revived with success at the Theatre Royal. The plot of it is taken from the French historians of the reign of Henry III. of France. Dryden has spoken of it in terms of unwonted severity. "I have sometimes wondered," he says, "in the reading, what was become of those glaring colours which amazed me in Bussy d'Ambois upon the theatre; but when I had taken up what I supposed a fallen star, I found I had been cozened with a jelly: nothing but a cold dull mass, which glittered no longer than it was shooting, a dwarfish thought dressed up in gigantic words, repetition in abundance, looseness of expression, and gross hyperboles; the sense of one line expanded prodigiously into ten: and, to sum up all, uncorrect English, and a hideous mingle of false poetry and true nonsense; or, at best, a scantling of wit, which lay gasping for life, and groaning beneath a heap of rubbish. A famous modern poet used to sacrifice every year a Statius to Virgil's manes; and I have indignation enough to burn a d'Ambois annually to the memory of Jonson." Durfey says that, about 1675, he saw "the Bussy d'Ambois of Chapman acted by Mart, which in spight of the obsolete phrases and intolerable fustian with which a great part of it was cramm'd, had some extraordinary beauties which sensibly charmed me, which, being improved by the graceful action of that eternally renowned and best of actors, so attracted not only me, but the town in general, that they were obliged to pass by and excuse the gross errors in the writing, and allow it amongst the rank of the topping tragedies of that time."

    BUSSY D'AMBOIS; or, the Husband's Revenge. Tragedy by T. Durfey. Acted at the Theatre Royal. 4to. 1691. This is a revival of Chapman's play, with some improvement in the character of Tamyra. For the intrigue of Bussy and Tamyra see Rosset's Histoires Tragiques, Hist. xvii. p. 303, under the feigned names of Lysis and Silvie. The scene lies at Paris. Dedicated to Edward Earl of Carlisle, Viscount Howard of Morpeth, &c. The principal character in it, formerly acted by Hart, was now successfully undertaken by Mountfort.

    The 1616 edition listed here likely never existed.