For the company’s staging of Edward II, a medieval setting was chosen in order to reflect the 14th century world of the work’s real life subjects. Interestingly, Elizabethan playgoers were largely uninterested in historical accuracy, so the original 16th century production of the play would probably have been acted in contemporary dress.
Edward II was first published and performed in 1594; after Marlowe’s untimely death. When the play opens, the newly crowned Edward II has summoned Piers of Gaveston out of exile. Edward bestows titles and wealth upon Gaveston, and the nobles of England object strongly to their King’s favoritism and turn against him.
The nobles plot to kill Gaveston. Queen Isabella, spurned by her husband, conspires with the nobles to depose Edward and place their son on the throne. Civil war breaks out and Edward’s followers are victorious on the field of battle. Isabella joins Kent and Mortimer in the plot to overthrow Edward. Edward, Spencer, and Baldock are pursued and finally apprehended. Edward is deposed and taken to prison.
The young Prince is crowned and Lightborn murders Edward with the assistance of Gurney and Arundel. Discovering Isabella’s and Mortimer’s culpability in his father’s murder, the new King, Edward III, imprisons his mother and cuts off Mortimer’s head, ending the play with the funeral dirge of Edward II.