This article examines William Davenant's Interregnum drama, The Siege of Rhodes (1656), and its political and aesthetic interventions in debates about sovereignty and the emergent possibilities of English imperial power under Cromwell's Commonwealth government. Davenant's play, which dramatizes the imperial power of the Ottoman Turks against European forces in the Mediterranean, should be contextualized in relation to Cromwell's Western Design, a plan for foreign policy that sought to advance English colonialism in the West Indies. Although Davenant's play at first appears to support English expansionism, Davenant's language and stagecraft reveal the limits and contradictions of the desire for empire.

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