Christopher Marlowe was a 16th century English playwright. He was the leading Elizabethan tragedian before Shakespeare. His works are known for their overreaching protagonists and his use of blank verse. Little is known about Marlowe's life, but there is much speculation about his possibly being a spy, homosexual, a heretic, magician and atheist. Written in 1589 The Jew of Malta tells the story of religious conflict, intrigue, and revenge, set against a backdrop of the struggle for supremacy between Spain and the Ottoman Empire in the Mediterranean on the island of Malta. Barabas is introduced as a man owning more wealth than all of Malta. When Turkish ships arrive to demand tribute, Barabas's wealth is seized and he is left penniless. Barabas uses a slave and his daughter's beauty to attempt revenge and regain his fortune.