Performing Women in English Books of Ayres
The account of John Bull's meeting with the musician at St. Omer's is likely apocryphal. Yet despite its fantastical nature, the story encapsulates many aspects of Bull's reputation in England at the turn of the seventeenth century. Bull himself often helped to bolster his own reputation as a "superstitious" figure by imbuing his work with a sense of mysticism, and, when he later fell out of favor with King James, he attributed royal persecution of himself to the fact that he was an avowed Catholic. Samuel Rowley's When You See Me, You Know Me was first performed in 1604, shortly after the accession of James and the reopening of the public theaters, which had been closed for over a year following the death of Queen Elizabeth and then during an outbreak of the plague. Rowley's representation of music in When You See Me initially seems unambiguously to reinforce the play's endorsement of Protestant theology.