Scene 1

A factor of Sir Thomas Gresham's tells a Barbary merchant that his master would like to meet with him to discuss a certain business deal between their two countries. Gresham arrives and confirms the deal with the merchant which states that Gresham will invest a large sum of cash to Barbary's king and will receive an annuity of sugar, during the king's lifetime, to make a profit on. Though Gresham knows he is taking a huge risk by undertaking this enterprise, he knows there is also a chance to make a large amount of money. Gresham's factors arrive and tell him that there are many people in England who are nervous about the risky investment he is making, but Gresham is confident in its success and sends the factors to various places within the continent. After they depart, Gresham lectures his nephew, John Gresham, on his wild and unruly behavior. The younger Gresham is able to convince his uncle that he only has the best of intentions and will do whatever it takes to please him. Gresham is happy with these words and says he shall put the youth in the service of a haberdasher named Hobson, whom he will serve as a factor in France. John seems content with this, and the two men depart.

Scene 2

Hobson's two apprentices both leave their master's shop to proceed with their own plans, greatly angering Hobson, who returns to the shop to find no one present. The two apprentices return and beg their master for forgiveness before a paddler enters to buy some fabric. After he departs, the two Greshams arrive to discuss Hobson employing young John as his factor in France. Hobson is skeptical of the youth at first because he is dressed nicely and holds the title of a gentleman. But, John agrees to do whatever it takes to make the arrangement work, even if it means dressing in less lavish garments and spending large amounts of time abroad. Hobson then engages in yet another argument with his apprentices over some missing profit (from the paddler forgetting to pay his bill before leaving; they mark down the man's name as John Tawny-coat on the calender to remember he owes ten pounds) before agreeing to accompany Gresham to a dinner he is attending to resolve a lawsuit he is engaged in with one Sir Thomas Ramsey.

Scene 3

Lady Ramsey enlists the help of Dr. Nowell to act as an intermediate in the lawsuit between her husband, Sir Thomas Ramsey, and Sir Thomas Gresham. Nowell agrees to do whatever he can to help with the situation. Ramsey enters and is followed shortly after by Gresham and Hobson. Gresham and Ramsey immediately begin with harsh words towards each other, and it is revealed that the quarrel is over a piece of land that Ramsey had already put money down on and was planning to purchase that was stolen out from under him by Gresham, who himself has invested a good amount of cash on. A lengthy and heated argument ensues between the two men, and Dr. Nowell steps in to give a verdict. He says that Ramsey shall be given a hundred pounds for his losses and that Gresham shall keep the land since he has already built upon it. Though reluctant, both men agree to Nowell's verdict and become friends once again. A storm then begins and Gresham vows to build a place where merchants can meet before his nephew John enters to take his leave of Gresham before he sets off to France. Hobson is angry with John, thinking that he should have been half way to France by this point, but Gresham excuses his nephew and assigns him the task of retrieving a hundred pounds (to pay Ramsey) from his man Timothy. John gladly agrees to the task, and Dr. Nowell tells him to meet them at his own house, where he invites all present to dine with him.

Scene 4

John meets with Timothy to retrieve the hundred pounds for his uncle, but Timothy, who knows John's irresponsible reputation, refuses to give him the money at first and instead lectures him on virtues and religion. However, Timothy is more than happy to give him the money after John shows him a ring of his uncle's as reassurance. While Timothy is getting the money, John reveals that he has every intention of spending it, considering the fact that his uncle has everything and he has nothing. When Timothy returns with the cash, he again mistrusts John and says he will accompany him to deliver the money to his master, much to John's chagrin.

Scene 5

Honesty, a sergeant, and Quick, his yeoman, are searching for John Gresham, who is fifty pounds in debt. However, they will let him go if he gives them a payoff. John enters, who is still attempting to lose Timothy so he may keep the hundred pounds for himself (and use it in France), reports Timothy to Honesty and Quick, saying that he owes money to his master. Timothy is promptly arrested and admits to owing five hundred pounds to Gresham (as John leaves), and Honesty gives him the option of being taken to the Compter or paying for their drinks at the tavern. Not wanting to go to prison, Timothy chooses the latter option.

Scene 6

As Gresham and the Ramseys await John's return with the hundred pounds, Dr. Nowell brings his guests into a room with portraits of great Londoners over the years. He tells of the stories and charitable contributions of several Lord Mayors and ladies of London, and all present vow to do whatever they can to put their own money to good and noble use. Quick and the clown then enter and inform Gresham that Timothy has been arrested for his debt to him (which was unknown to Gresham) and that John has taken the hundred pounds and left for France. Gresham is surprised that a man of Timothy's virtues would have hid so much money from him and orders him to be brought before him. As for John, Gresham realizes the trick he played on Timothy to get him arrested and, despite his nephew's deceitfulness, is not mad because he knows that he himself was the same way when he was John's age.

Scene 7

The peddler from earlier in the play, whose name is John Goodfellow, looks for Hobson's fabric shop at which he owes ten pounds. He finally finds the business only to be told by the two apprentices that there is no John Goodfellow that owes ten pounds (because his name is marked down as John Tawny-coat). The three continue to argue about the issue before Hobson enters and also sees that there is no John Goodfellow who owes him money. Goodfellow continues to try and pay the bill when one of the apprentices realizes that there is a John Tawny-coat who owes ten pounds from a month ago. At this point, all present realize what has happened, Goodfellow pays his bill and Hobson rewards him by saying he shall have free ware whenever he comes by his shop for his honesty. A pursuviant then enters and informs Hobson that Queen Elizabeth requests to borrow a hundred pounds from him. Hobson gladly, and excitedly, agrees to provide the queen with the money.

Scene 8

As Gresham awaits for the approval of the building of his place for merchants to gather (the Royal Exchange), he tells of how wonderful and beneficial the building will be. The Lord Mayor (Ramsey), the sword-bearer and the sheriffs all enter and inform Gresham that his project has been approved, and much of it will be paid for by the city. Work is begun immediately, and when Dr. Nowell and Hobson arrive, all the men present lay down a brick as Gresham tells them of all the positive things the Royal Exchange will bring about. The men then see a shooting star, which they take to be a bringer of bad news. Lo and behold, a factor enters and informs Gresham that the King of Barbary (along with several other kings and important figures) has been killed in battle. Since Gresham had invested so much money in purchasing the sugar trade for the now dead king's lifetime, he is understandably worried, but orders the factor to return to Barbary and tell the newly crowned heir of the deal he had made with the previous king. If the new king does not agree to the terms, he should return the money Gresham put out. Finally, a boy enters and tells Hobson that John, who is in France, has completely botched an order that will cost him a lot of money. Gresham tells Hobson not to worry, since he is not worried, and he is at risk of losing much more.

Scene 9

Sir Thomas Ramsey and two lords discuss the wonders of the building Gresham has erected and how the queen herself is coming to christen it before they head off to meet Gresham at his house, where he is hosting the Russian ambassador.

Scene 10

Gresham, the Ramseys and the lords meet with the Russian ambassador and welcome him to see the christening of his new building. A merchant then enters and offers the ambassador a pearl, for fifteen hundred pounds, that no one else is willing to buy. The ambassador refuses, because of the high cost, but Gresham willingly offers to buy the precious gem. Next, a merchant arrives and informs Gresham that his ship that was carrying all the portraits of past monarchs of England (that were to decorate his new building) has been sunk at sea. All present expect Gresham to be devastated by this news, but he is only upset about the loss of the portraits, not the ship itself, which is obviously more expensive. Gresham then gets a visit from his factor, whom he had sent to Barbary, who tells him that the new king refuses to give back his money or give him control of the sugar trade, stating that he has no responsibility to uphold deals made by his predecessor, and instead gives him merely a dagger and a pair of slippers. Surprisingly, Gresham is not phased in the least by this horrible news, and even still offers to buy the pearl, as the others present shockingly look on.

Scene 11

John Goodfellow works at his job as a digger because he was reduced to poverty after Hobson sued him for money owed (despite the fact that Hobson was nothing but generous to him earlier in the play and told him he would supply him with merchandise whether he had money or not). Hobson then appears, clad in his night gown and slippers, to randomly inspect certain properties he owns. The two men meet each other and discuss the debt that Goodfellow owes him. At first, Hobson insists he pay him whatever he has, but soon after relents when he sees what a pitiful position Goodfellow is in. Timothy, who has just returned from France, then enters and informs Hobson that his factor, John Gresham, has been associating with some less than reputable women and spending a good deal of time in the taverns. Hobson vows to travel to France, dressed as he is, to confront John. Before he departs, he gives his ring to Goodfellow and tells him to cash it in to receive forty pounds worth of wares so he may get out of his impoverished state.

Scene 12

John is talking lustily with a French courtesan, in Rouen, when Hobson abruptly comes knocking at the door of the brothel. After arguing with the wench who keeps the door, Hobson is let in and severely reprimands John for spending his money on a prostitute. However, John manages to convince his master that the woman he is with is actually a business associate. Hobson attempts to apologize to the woman, who John falsely says speaks no English, before John returns with several factors to whom he has reported Hobson as buying the services of a prostitute. John then threatens to inform Hobson's wife of his dishonest activities. Hobson, who is obviously confused with the situation, begs John not to mention it to his wife, and he will not report him to his uncle. John agrees to this deal, and the men set off to dinner before they return to England.

Scene 13

Ramsey and other London officials await the coming of Queen Elizabeth, who is now dining with Gresham and is set to officially name the new building. The queen then enters with her lords and speaks with several ambassadors before being accosted by Hobson, who is under the impression that she knows him. When Elizabeth tells Hobson she knows him not, he becomes flustered and reminds her that she borrowed a hundred pounds from him. After being informed of this, the queen thanks him and promises that he shall be fully recompensed. She then goes on to name Gresham's building the Royal Exchange and knights him before the party departs to court.

Scene 14

Lady Ramsey discusses her husband's sickness and Hobson's virtues with Dr. Nowell when Hobson himself enters, followed shortly after by Goodfellow. Goodfellow, who is now financially stable again (thanks to Hobson) and works as a master at the hospital, informs Hobson that Timothy is about to be hanged for stealing a hundred pounds from him. Hobson knows nothing about this and is further informed that it was John who reported Timothy. Wanting to stop the execution before it's too late, Hobson sets out at full speed. Lady Ramsey, Dr. Nowell and Goodfellow then set off to see the sick Ramsey, who has named the latter two men as his executors.

Scene 15

Three lords talk of the virtues of Queen Elizabeth and the excitement of having a number of foreign ambassadors in England when they are joined by Dr. Parry. The lords look at Parry, who was once saved from execution (for burglary and attempted murder) by the queen, as a prime example of their sovereign's mercy and compassion. When the Earl of Leicester arrives, the lords follow him, and Parry reveals, in a soliloquy, that he has been ordered, by the Pope's men, to assassinate the queen. Parry feels guilty about doing the deed after the queen saved his life, but remembers that the Pope offered him a full pardon. Elizabeth and her lords arrive and the queen talks cordially with Parry, though she can see something is wrong with him. Parry then attempts to stab the queen, while apologizing in the same breath, and is promptly apprehended by Leicester. Despite the pleadings of both Parry and Elizabeth, Leicester insists that the man be taken to the tower and executed for his heinous crimes.

Scene 16

John Gresham is worried about his debt and that he will be arrested and put in prison for it. Therefore, his plan is to marry Lady Ramsey, who is now a wealthy widow, and live comfortably. At this point, John runs into his two creditors and tells them of his plan, of which they are understandably skeptical. Lady Ramsey and Dr. Nowell enter and John immediately declares his love for her and wishes to marry her. The wooing sequence is a lengthy one, but in the end, Lady Ramsey says she will not marry again but agrees to pay off John's creditors. John is happy with this result, and all depart.

Scene 17

The chorus tells the readers to imagine that the scene has switched to 1588, the thirtieth years of Queen Elizabeth's reign. King Philip of Spain, who is angry that Elizabeth turned down his proposal of marriage, aims to destroy England and the Protestant faith. Elizabeth further instigates Philip by having her men destroy several towns in Spanish territories, prompting the king to send a fleet to invade England.

Scene 18

The Spanish (the Duke of Medina, Don Pedro and John Martinus Ricaldus) sit in their ships and await orders to attack the English coast. As they wait, they describe the strength of the Spanish Armada and wonder why they are even bothering to attack such a small country that is governed by a mere woman, showing that they are extremely arrogant. A Spaniard then enters and informs the men that a significantly smaller, yet crafty, English navy is awaiting them. This message has little effect on the Spanish as they prepare for a victory over their English enemies.

Scene 19

As the English prepare to hear the results of the battle between their fleet and the Spanish Armada, Queen Elizabeth delivers an inspirational speech to her troops at Tilbury. At this point, three successive posts enter to tell a part of the battle and how the English captains, Sir Francis Drake and Sir Martin Frobisher, fought against insurmountable odds against a much larger force. Finally, Drake and Frobisher themselves enter and finish the story of their incredible defeat of the Spanish Armada. The queen thanks the men for their valiant service and sets off back to London to continue her reign in peace to end the play.

Make a Free Website with Yola.