Friday, October 16, 2009

Memorial Poem to Sir Francis Vere by Cyril Tourneur with dedication to the Earl of Oxford

On October 16, 1609, a book was registered at the Stationers’ Hall, called, “A Funerall Poeme. Upon the death of the most worthie and true souldier, Sir Francis Vere, Knight. Captaine of Portsmouth, &c. L. Gouernour of his Maiesties Cautionarie Towne of Briell in Holland, &c.”

The author was Cyril Tourneur (c.1575-1626) whose father, Captain Richard Turner, served in Holland at the same time as Sir Francis Vere and Sir Horatio Vere. We have evidence that Cyril himself saw some service there in 1613. Prior to that it is assumed he was living in London.

Tourneur has left us with a very limited set of works: one long poem, The Transformed Metamorphosis (1600), is often described as deeply imitative of Shakespeare. He wrote elegies for Sir Francis Vere (1609) and for Prince Henry, the doomed Stuart heir (1613). He is credited with only two plays, The Revenger's Tragedy (1607) and The Atheist's Tragedy (1611); Revenger, however, is now often credited to Middleton, leaving Atheist’s as the principal “certain” dramatic work of Tourneur.

Tourneur was also associated with various members of the Cecil family and left an unpublished MS with an intriguing title, The Character of Robert, Earl of Salisburye, Lord High Treasurer of England, "ritten by Mr Sevill Tumour." The text was discovered within a larger MS in possession of one Lord Mostyn and is descibed in Hist. MSS. Commission, 4th Report, appendix, p. 361. I haven’t seen this work, but I would like to. Usually books called “The character of…” are filled with personal details, scandals, dirt, etc., not easily found elsewhere.

Cyril Tourneur’s association with both the Vere family and the Cecil family, and his emergence as an imitator of Shakespeare, gives me pause to consider that he might have known the inside story --- the one we are now trying to reconstruct.

The 1609 elegy to Francis Vere begins with a one-page dedication. It is ambiguously written and may be designed to honor Francis, or his nephew, Henry, the 18th Earl of Oxford, or the 1604-deceased 17th Earl of Oxford. This dedication has never been discussed before, not by Miller, the Ogburns, Chiljan, or myself in previous articles. The principal source for finding and identifying dedications is the book, Index of dedications and commendatory verses in English books before 1641‎, by Franklin B. Williams, 1962. In that book, Williams lists this opening dedication in Tourneur’s 1609 elegy as pertaining to Henry, 18th Earl of Oxford. My thinking at the moment is that while Henry is probably the obscure but overt dedicatee, his father, Edward de Vere (17th Earl) is, in fact, the covert dedicatee. Let’s read the text:










In most other works, when a book is dedicated to a known, living nobleman, that man’s name and titles are delineated explicitly. Thus, the only path to reading this as pertaining to Henry (born February 23, 1593, and therefore age 16 in October 1609) would lie in the words, “…which ascends to the inherent honour of the heroyque hope of nobilitie, the Earl of Oxford, etc.”

But one can read this another way. In the first section, “Dedicated to his living memorie which ascends to…” would seem to refer to the recently deceased Sir Francis. But how does the living memory of Francis ascend to his nephew? Francis is honored in section three with, “this immortall worthie,” descended from the same noble family.
I propose that section one honors Edward, 17th Earl, section two honors Henry 18th Earl, and section three (and the poem that follows) honors the soldier, Sir Francis.

Next consider the layout of the dedication. There are three sections, each in the shape of a “V” or inverted triangle. This is the exact same shape as the famous dedication to the 1609 Sonnets. The number of lines in each triangle differs. In the Sonnets, the sequence is the famous 6, 2, 4. Here we have 3, 4, 5. Add ‘em up. Each dedication has twelve lines! Is it possible that Tourneur is drawing readers’ attentions to a similarity? Consider that the typesetter has gone out of his way to stretch the last section into five lines and has played with the justification of letters (kerning) to create the three triangles.

There are also some lines in the elegy where Tourneur seems to be thinking of Edward de Vere’s poems, and his legacy:

His Minde was like an Empire, rich and strong,

In all defensive pow'r against the wrong,

That civill tumult or invasive Hate
raise against the peace of her estate.”

In all his gestures and his Countenance,

He did so pleasing a consent expresse
Of Noble Courage, and free Cherefulnesse;
That his assurance had the pow'r to raise
The most deiected spirit into praise
And imitation of his worth. And thus,

By meanes Heroique and iudicious,

He did incline his armies gen'rous part

With love unto the practise of Desart.

And in that moouing Orbe of active warre;

His high command was the transcendent Starre,

Whose influence
, for production of mens worthes,

Did gouerne at their militarie Birthes”

Offences done against his owne estate,
(Which alwayes doth more strongly aggravate
The weight of iniurie to private sense,

Then publique apprehension of offence

And stirres mens passions more;) have oftentimes
Subduc'd the Malefactors for those crimes,
Into the hands of lustice: where he might
With approbation and consent of right…”

“Upon the instant of his waking, hee

Did with such life, and quicke dexteritie,

His troupes direct; the seruice execute;

As practis'd Printers, Sett and Distribute

Their Letters: And more perfectly effected;

For what he did, was not to be corrected.”

“His praise may iustly (then) extend thus farre;

Hee was a Man, fit both for Peace and Warre.

Whose Monument, while Historie doth last;

Shall neuer be forgotten or defac'd

Cyril Tourneur.”

These lines are all in elegiac praise of Francis, but one cannot escape the feeling that Cyril Tourneur was talking about the loss of two Veres, one in 1604, and one in 1609.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Henry Hudson 'discovers' Manhattan Island

Henry Hudson (1565-1611), the famed English explorer with the Dutch East India Company, was on a mission to find a Northwest Passage to the Far East in 1609. The river that now bears his name had been found earlier, by Giovanni da Verrazano in 1524.

In 1609, Hudson and company founded a settlement at the harbor at the mouth of the river.
Hudson recorded a name for the island, “Manna-Hata,” on his map. Various derivations of this name have been offered. One is that Manna-hata is Lenape for "many-hilled land." [Manah= "island" / Atin= "hill.") However, the native Lenape and Delaware Indians often gave a different (some argue incorrect) account of the name, calling the island “Manahachtanienk,” meaning "the island where we all got drunk." A legend has it that their encounter with Hudson was the first time they tasted alcohol and they all got completely plastered, as do many modern-day inhabitants of the isle.

Pictured below is a commemorative coin, issued just this year, by the Dutch Royal Mint in honor of the 400th anniversary of Hudson's contact.
The front of the new 5 euro coin shows lower Manhattan. The inscription reads:

The Half Moon, 2 October, 1609
It Is On That Side Of The River That Is Called Manna-Hata

Concerning the date

Other accounts of Henry Hudson's landing at Manhattan give various dates in September 1609. I have gone with the date featured on the Dutch coin. The problem, as always, is the disparity between the Julian and Gregorian calendars. England did not adopt the new system in 1582. Parts of the Netherlands (Catholic controlled) did adopt the system that year, while Protestant areas kept the Julian calendar, as did the British, until the 18th century. Because Englishman Hudson's voyage was a Dutch enterprise there are multiple sets of dates in the various histories of his voyages.

Below, an image of Hudson on the river between upper Manhattan and the Pallisades.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Elizabeth de Vere Stanley, Countess Derby, and the Isle of Man

Elizabeth de Vere was the eldest child of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, and his wife, Anne Cecil.

There was considerable doubt in Oxford’s mind as to whether he had really fathered the girl; she was born (July 2, 1575; christened July 10) while he was overseas… and he did not feel the math added up correctly for his role in her conception. Nevertheless, Oxford did come to accept her, and the three surviving daughters he had with Anne (Elizabeth, Susan and Bridget, all granddaughters of England’s Lord Treasurer Burghley) all married well (i.e., to wealthy aristocrats).

Elizabeth married Wiliam Stanley, the 6th Earl of Derby in January, 1594/5, at the Royal Court at Greenwich. There is some thought, even in orthodox Shakespeare theory, that Midsummer Night’s Dream was written for this ceremony and first performed on that occasion.

This page at the British Library mentions the Derby wedding theory (without mentioning that the bride’s father might very well have written the play).

The purpose of playing : Shakespeare and the cultural politics of the Elizabethan theatre by Louis Adrian Montrose, 1996 has a representative entry.

Mark Anderson’s Beauty and the Paradigm goes into more detail about why the Vere-Stanley 1595 wedding is a good candidate for the theme of MND.

The Stanley – Derbys were the hereditary “owners” and rulers of the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea. However, due to the suspicious death of Ferdinando Stanley in April 1594, Not only was William Stanley’s inheritance in question, but the rulership of Man was brought into dispute. Elizabeth Vere eventually took on many administrative roles appertaining to the Isle, and as early as 1609 we have her attempting to influence business on behalf of the Island.
What’s interesting is that at exactly this time (1609) the normative management and power of the Isle of Man had completely slipped it’s moorings.

This list is instructive:

LORDS OF THE ISLE OF MAN c 1570 - 1627
*Oct. 24, 1572 - Sep. 25, 1593 -- Sir Henry Stanley, Earl of Derby (1531-1593) 

* Sep.
25, 1593 - Apr. 16, 1594 --Ferdinando Stanley, Earl of Derby (1559-1594) 

* Apr. 16, 1594 – 1607 -- Vacant; disputed by daughters of Ferdinando 

* 1607 - 1608 Henry Howard, Earl of Northampton, (1540-1614) 

* 1608 - 1609 Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury (1563-1612) 

* Jul. 7, 1609 - 1627 William IV Stanley, Earl of Derby (c.1561-1642) 

* 1612 - 1627 Elizabeth, Countess of Derby (1575-1627) 

(government admin) 

* Mar. 10, 1627 - Oct. 15, 1651 James I Stanley, Baron Strange (1607-1651) 

(from 1642, Earl of Derby)
 (from Sep. 1651, in rebellion)

Here is Countess Derby’s September 15, 1609, letter to Robert Cecil regarding the Isle of Man.

The Countess of Derby to the Earl of Salisbury and the Earl of Suffolk
1609, Sept. 15.

I have made choice of John Ireland, esq, your Lordships' lieutenant and captain of the Isle of Man, for the receiving of all moneys henceforth due upon the foot of the accounts of officers there, and to cause the same to be transported to Liverpole for my use. The doing thereof may sometimes prove dangerous by means of piracy or wreck, and I hold it not convenient the loss should be charged upon him. I pray your Lordships by your letters will be pleased to undertake the saving of him harmless from such casualty and danger, so as the same happen not through his own negligence. I hereby promise to discharge your Lordships from all loss that may grow to you by such undertaking. From the Stronde, the 15th day of September, 1609.

Signed: 'Your lordshipes moost loving nece and cosin, E.Derbye.'

Endorsed "Countess of Derby's undertaking to save my Lord and Lord Chamberlain harmless for the warrant they have given the Lieutenant of the Isle of Man for transportation of money from thence.'

Note, in the list above the letter, that Countess Derby was the Lord of Man from 1612 to 1627. This is probably the only recorded time in Manx history that a woman was the “ruler” of Mnax affairs. Elizabeth de Vere Stanley, Countess Derby, died in 1627 and was buried in Westminster Abbey.

John Ireland (mentioned in the letter) was Governor of Isle of Man 1609 - 1623.

The Earl of Suffolk in 1609 was Thomas Howard 1st Earl of Suffolk (fourth and final creation). This Thomas Howard (seen below) was Admiral and a Knight of the Garter. He achieved political prominence in the Jacobean era. At first, King James favored him, making Suffolk his Lord Chamberlain immediately in April 1603. Later, James distrusted him, calling Howard/Suffolk, along with Cecil/Salisbury and Howard/Northampton his “trinity of knaves.”

The above Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk was the son of Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk (pictured below), who was imprisoned by Queen Elizabeth in 1569 for scheming to marry Mary Queen of Scots. Next he was involved in the related Ridolfi plot, sent to the Tower, and executed for Treason in 1572. The doomed Norfolk followed in his father’s footsteps. His parents were Henry Howard the poetical Earl of Surrey and his wife, Frances de Vere.

So the 1609 Earl of Suffolk in question was a close cousin to Edward de Vere 17th Earl of Oxford, and an uncle or “cousin” to Elizabeth Vere.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Sir Francis Vere dies in London

Sir Francis Vere (1560-1609) was a notable military officer who served for years leading English troops in the Netherlands in battles against the Spaniards. Sir Francis died in London on August 28, 1609. Born in Essex to a cadet branch of the Vere family, Francis was first cousin to Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford.

While not a lot is known of Francis' childhood or early years, we know from documents that he traveled to Paris with another young Vere, on behalf of Edward de Vere. A letter from the English ambassador noted the two teenage Veres at Court in the summer of 1577, volunteering to fight in the religious wars. In Francis' journal, written many years later, he recalls that he served the Duke of Guise -- on the Catholic side ! -- until he was called in by command of Queen Elizabeth and persuaded to change his ways. Thereafter, Francis fought only for the Protestant armies. Francis' brother, Sir Horatio Vere, was the much more religious of the two. By all accounts, Horatio and his wife and family were ardent Calvinists. Francis wanted military glory and to be on the right side and the winning side.
Around 1580 he traveled to Eastern Europe, visiting Poland, a rare adventure at the time.

Francis fist served in the Netherlands as a mercenary in 1581-'82. He is first noted under the command of the Earl of Leicester's forces in 1585 and was active in many skirmishes and battles after that. He showed courage and valor at the siege of Sluys where he served under Sir Roger Williams (1540-1595), the Welsh warrior who was also a friend to Edward de Vere. Williams has also been suggested as the likely model for the character of Fluellen, the Welsh soldier in Shakespeare's Henry V. How do we know that Oxford knew Sir Roger Williams? There’s a letter by Sir Francis Vere to Sir Robert Cecil of November, 160,5 in which he writes:

"I received the enclosed from Thomas Morgan this morning by an Englishman, a stranger to me, but as he says well known to Sir William Waad. It was delivered to him by Sir Robert Dormer. The contents are strange to me, for I never borrowed money of him, nor to my remembrance spake with him; but such a man I saw when I was very young at Paris, by reason of the company I kept with Sir Roger Williams and one Denys a Frenchman, followers of my Lord of Oxford's, to whom he sometimes resorted."

Francis Vere fought at Bergen op Zoom in 1588, where he was knighted on the battlefield by Peregrine Bertie, the 13th Lord Willoughby, who was Edward de Vere’s brother-in-law (by marriage to his sister, Mary). Sir Francis sailed with the Cadiz "mission" of the Earl of Essex' in 1596. In 1598 he negotiated on behalf of England with the Dutch to get them to provide more money materiel and men to the war against Spain being fought on their land. Vere's achievement with the Dutch led to him achieving the rank of general and became Governor of Brill.

Vere's moment of greatest military triumph came at the Battle of Neuport in July 1600. General Vere and his associates trounced the best of the Spanish armies. When Spain retaliated against Ostend in 1601-02, Vere bravely defended the city.

In 1604 King James' commission drafted a treaty of peace with the Spanish Empire. This was a marvelous breath of air in the international struggles --- but it shortly left Sir Francis Vere with nothing to do. There were negotiations to have him stay on in governance in the Netherlands, but there was a power struggle. As it worked out, the Dutch and English worked out a severance package to General Francis Vere of £300 per year, for life.

Thus, Sir Francis finally returned to England for good, wrote his military memoirs, and settled into several houses. Aching for more useful work, Sir Francis got himself appointed as Governor of Portsmouth. The years of naval warfare had severely run down England's coastal defenses and strongholds. With active warfare itself abated, much money formerly wasted on bloodshed could now be flowed into military and defense infrastructure spending at home. Vere's mission was to rebuild Portsmouth, a task he threw himself into wholeheartedly. And then, out of the blue, Sir Francis fell in love with a girl --- and got married to the very young Elizabeth Dent, step-daughter to Sir Julius Caesar, the jurist, a close friend to Sir Francis. Caesar opened his purse wide and paid for an elaborate wedding, held October 26, 1607. Elizabeth came with a dowry of £2,000. She was 16. General Vere was three times her age. The "age" issue will be treated below, but in 1607 Sir Francis was at least 47 and perhaps as old as 52! Their married bliss must have comforted the old soldier. But less than two years later, Sir Francis died rather suddenly, on August 28, 1609. Sir Francis was buried the next day. Over the next few years, his young widow arranged for a monument to Sir Francis to be designed and erected in Westminster Abbey where it stands today, in the chapel of St John the Evangelist, on the eastern side of the north transept. The alabaster and black marble monument shows Sir Francis lying recumbent wearing the clothes of a civilian magistrate. This likeness lies underneath a black-marble bier on which his suit of armour is arranged, in pieces: "a helmet with plumes, breastplate, a shield with eight quarterings, pouldrons, vantbraces, gauntlets, taces, and spurs, all carved in white marble." Sir Francis' feet are resting on a wild boar, the crest of the de Vere family. This bier is carried on the shoulders of four life-sized knights in armour seen kneeling at the four corners. The Latin inscription reads, around the outer edge, in gold lettering:

"Francisco Vero equiti aurato, Galfredi F. Joannis Comitis Oxoniae nepoti, Brieliae et Portsmuthae praefecto, Anglicarum copiarum in Belgia ductori summo. Elizabetha uxor vero charissima, quocum conjunxissime vixit, hoc supremum amicis et fidei conjugatis monumentum maestissima, et cum lacrymis gemens posuit. Obiit xxviii Die Augusti anno salutis MDCVIIII et anno aetatis suae LIIII."

I have translated this anew as it has never been done properly before.

To Francis Vere, Knight, son of Geoffrey and grandson of John [15th] Earl of Oxford, Governor of Brill and Portsmouth, chief leader of the English forces in Belgium. Elizabeth, his true beloved wife, with whom he lived, has in great sadness and sobbing with tears, placed this supreme monument to conjugal faith and love. He died 28 August, in the year of our savior 1609, and in the 54th year of his age.

According to The Fighting Veres, the age of Sir Francis, as recorded here, is incorrect. If born in 1560, he was 49 at death. Apparently his own letters suggest he was born in 1560 as does a document in the College of Heralds. The above mentioned annuity from service in the Dutch wars was not lost. The £300 annual payment continued to Henry de Vere, 18th Earl of Oxford (heir of Earl Edward). In addition to the monument inscription there is an additional inscription adjacent to the display:

"When Vere sought death, aim'd with his sword and shield,
Death was afraid to meet him in the field;

But when his weapons he had laid aside,

Death, like a coward, strooke him, and he died."

Saturday, August 1, 2009

“Egyptians” (Gypsies) Banished from Scotland

The Gypsies or Romani people were spread widely throughout Europe by the 17th century. They were first noted in the British Isles in the 1500s. As with Jews, the Gypsies were feared, persecuted, and exiled. Scotland and Ireland, being among the westernmost outposts of Europe, have often served the same frontier function that, by analogy, California or Alaska have provided for Americans. Go west to seek freedom. On August 1, 1609, by Scots law, Gypsies were banned from Scotland.

The name or descriptive, “Gypsies,” as such, and linked to "Egyptians" (their imagined origin), appear several times in the Shakespeare plays.

Antony & Cleopatra
ANTONY ….Betray'd I am.

O this false soul of Egypt! this grave charm-

Whose eye beck'd forth my wars and call'd them home,
Whose bosom was my crownet, my chief end-

Like a right gypsy hath at fast and loose

Beguil'd me to the very heart of loss.
What, Eros, Eros!

PHILO. ….His captain's heart,
Which in the scuffles of great fights hath burst
The buckles on his breast, reneges all temper,

And is become the bellows and the fan
To cool a gipsy's lust.

Romeo & Juliet
Ben. Here comes Romeo! here comes Romeo!

Mer. Without his roe, like a dried herring.
O flesh, flesh, how art
thou fishified!
Now is he for the numbers that Petrarch flowed
Laura, to his lady, was but a kitchen wench
(marry, she had a
better love to berhyme her),
Dido a dowdy, Cleopatra a gypsy

Helen and Hero hildings and harlots...

As early as 1541, the Scots King James V (grandfather of James Stuart VI / I) issued an order evicting all gypsies from Scotland. However, After the elder James died in 1542, the gypsies started returning en masse to Scotland, led by their putative ‘king,’ one John Faw, “Lord and Earl of Upper Egypt.” There are several popular ballads extant - usually called “The Gypsy Laddie" - which give memory to the gypsy king, Faw.

After the younger James ascended to the throne of Scotland in 1567, an act was passed against ‘the idle people calling themselves Egyptians,” with regular renewals from 1592-1603. This final act, concerning the ‘Egyptians’ became law on August 1, 1609, demanding that all gypsies leave Scotland, never to return on pain of death. After August 1, 1609, any of the King’s subjects could, ‘take, apprehend, imprison and execute to death the said Egyptians, either men or women, as common, notorious and condemned thieves’. 

 Most gypsies fled Scotland. Others assimilated. In subsequent decades gypsies who were found in Scotland were forcibly emigrated to colonies in Virginia, Jamaica and Barbados.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Ignatius of Loyola Beatified

Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556)

Ignatius Loyola was a prime mover in the Catholic counter-reformation, the Vatican's formal strategic reaction to the Lutheran-originated reformation of the church. Loyola was the main founder and first superior general of his religious order, the Society of Jesus, also called the Jesuits.

Ignatius was beatified by Pope Paul V on July 27, 1609, and canonized (made a Saint) by Pope Gregory XV on March 13, 1622. These dates are on the Gregorian Calendar and would have been ten days out of sync with England’s calendar at the time.

Loyola is revered by many as a pious man of god. Perhaps there are just as many who despised him as a fanatical gatekeeper of ideology and dogma, a cold persecutor of religious dissenters, philosophers, Latina wise women, and anyone who may have bumped into things that go bump in the night. Loyola, himself harassed by the Spanish Inquisition, created in the Jesuits a vast intelligence operation that served as a model for modern intelligence services. In fact, many of the famous operatives in 20th-century military intelligence were directly influenced by Jesuit education.

In England, the fear of Jesuit plots drove Elizabeth I bonkers, and James I was also a frequent Jesuit target. (Note previous post.)


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Thomas Harriot Views Moon Through Telescope

Thomas Harriot (1560-1621) was the significant catalyst of science in the English Renaissance. Harriot was a hands-on scientist where Bacon was mostly lofting thought balloons of theory and ideology.

It is Harriot, not Galileo, who gets the credit (proven by documents) as the first person to look at a celestial object through a telescope. Harriot studied our Moon a few months before the more famous Italian did. Harriot first aimed his Dutch-made telescope at the Moon on July 26th, 1609, and sketched his findings. The July 26 sketch is pictured below.

Thomas Harriot’s historic lunar sketch, dated July 26, 1609, shows the terminator line marking the boundary between day and night on the moon that day. The dark areas show Mare Crisium, Mare Tranquilitatis, and Mare Foecunditatis.

Harriot received his BA at Oxford in 1580, then taught mathematics. He accompanied Raleigh on the first Virginia expedition and was a resident of the famous Roanoke Colony. While Harriot’s associates often got in trouble and ended up in the Tower --- or dead (Raleigh, Earl of Northumberland, Marlowe), Harriot managed to stay out of trouble. Perhaps because Harriot remained both low-key and well-off, his story has been eclipsed by the more dramatic tales of persecuted Galileo and martyred Bruno.

Thomas Harriot's map of the whole Moon circa 1610.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Earl of Worcester writes to Lord Treasurer Cecil

E. Somerset, 4th Earl of Worcester

Edward Somerset, 4th Earl of Worcester (c.1568–1628) was an influential aristocrat and office holder in the reigns of both Elizabeth I and James I. Worcester was made Knight of the Garter in 1593. See Garter Knights roster here. Worcester was one of the investigators of the Earl of Essex after the failed rebellion of 1601. Elizabeth then favored him with Essex’ former position: Master of the Horse. The Stuart king appointed Worcester Keeper of the Great Park and, eventually, Lord Privy Seal.

In June 1603
Worcester was nominated custos rotulorum (keeper of the rolls) for Monmouthshire. In the 16th century this was the highest position within each county.
In Shakespeare’s play, The Merry Wives of Windsor, at Act I, sc. 1, Slender jokes about Shallow being a “ratolorum.’

SHALLOW: Ay, cousin Slender, and Custalorum.
SLENDER: Ay, and Ratolorum too.

On September 5, 1604, in spite of his personal preference for the Roman Catholic faith, Worcester was given a seat on a royal commission for the expulsion of the Jesuits; later he examined the conspirators of the "Gunpowder plot" in the Tower.

Edward Somerset became a patron of drama; in 1601, Worcester’s Men had comedian Will Kempe in its ranks. Worcester’s Men combined with the Earl of Oxford’s Men in 1602 and, due to Oxford’s successful petition. they were able to play the Boars Head Theatre. John Heywood’s controversial pamphlet, An apology for actors of 1612, was dedicated to Worcester.

Worcester’s letter to Cecil of July 24, 1609. is an interesting window into the times.

He discusses King James' annoyance at the slowness of letter carriers.
He discusses the interrogation of Mr. Strange, an accused Jesuit and Papist.
He relates the story of a stable fire that killed royal horse, and worried it might have been a Jesuit plot.
He calms down Robert Cecil, who was apparently upset at being called a fool... and worse.

The Earl of Worcester to the Lord Treasurer, July 24, 1609

"Your letter I received this day, being Tuesday, at 2 in the afternoon, whereby I found great laziness in the posts. The King was very inquisitive all the morning what might be the cause, examining the hours and miles, concluding it could be no other but the post was 'sonke.' I showed him your letter, wherewith he was well satisfied, saying there needed no dispatch. Not long after he would needs have me write concerning the examination of Strange, that you might be thoroughly resolved by his learned counsel of the state of that cause against your coming to Salisbury. His desire, as you know, is that he might be proceeded with not substantially, mentioning his priesthood or Jesuitical profession, but finding by his confession main points of treason to be his declared opinion; beside his flying from a direct answer to the interrogatories argues his treasonable heart. For example, at the first examination before the Lords, he confessed the King being excommunicated by the Pope, that it was lawful or at least a happiness for any that could light upon him to kill him. Being put from that by the grossness of his argument, he said it was the common opinion, but he would not be the doer of it. Now being urged to declare his opinion, he believes as the Church does; but being demanded what the Church holds in that point, he does not remember: which forcibly must needs be concluded that he thinks the Church holds so, and he is of the same mind, which no jury in the world will doubt to avow him a traitor. This proceeding of the Jesuit he merrily alludes to Peter's thrice denial of Christ, for three times he has refused directly to deliver his opinion, as bound in duty to his Sovereign. For the Venetian's cause he will make no judgment until he be advertised what success the confronting will produce: I mean of the priest and Dabscat.

Yesternight the King's stable fell on fire by negligence of a candle set on a post, which fell into the litter and burned the stable, 20 or 30 horse being in the stable. There miscarried but 4, and but 2 of them burnt to death, the other 2 unlike to recover. If our coach horses had miscarried, which were in the same place, we had made a short progress. I waited on the King as my duty was. He lost a pad horse, I lost another; he one hunting horse, I another; all our saddles both his and mine burnt, and the Queen's coach harness. While this tragedy was acting, it was a world to hear the report here. Some said it was a new Powder treason. An Englishman said a Scottish man was seen there with a link and he fired the stable. Some other said it was a device to set the stable on fire to draw all the guard and Court thither, that they might work some practice upon the King. But God be thanked, neither King, Queen or Prince slept the worse or even waked until the morning in due time.

One word more touching yourself. You take exceptions to be called 'fool,' and as it will be maintained, not only so but a parrot monger and a monkey monger and twenty other names; which fearing the issue of future inconvenience or challenge I will forbear to speak of any more."
Farnham, 24 July.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Letter from the Bishop of Limerick to the Earl of Salisbury (R. Cecil)

Bernard Adams (1566-1625) held the position of Anglican Bishop of Limerick from 1604–1625. Educated at Trinity College, Adams was a scholar and a liberal churchman. At that time in Ireland, the official Anglican hierarchy was in competition with Catholic priests and bishops who were legion throughout Ireland. Adams' letter to Cecil, on July 22, 1609, gives a remarkably humorous insight into these conditions.

1609, July 22.
"How 'tranquillous' this country is, there [are] none but know and 'infinite' rejoice at it. What certainty may be expected of the continuance, seeing many buzzing bees, crawling out of the old beehive of treasonous conspiracies, swarm here about daily, your watchful eye can easiest discern. Yet the multitude and presumption of 'mistary' priests (who, more than ever was usual, exercise all papal jurisdiction as confidently as if Italy were in Ireland: prescribe frequent masses almost openly: insolent pilgrimages of many thousands in an assembly, and some of them armed: procure secret offerings for unknown uses: publish toleration by suggestion of warrant from his Highness: proclaim penny pardons for sundry years past and to come: proscribe his Majesty in printed pamphlets to be no Christian), are prologues, as wisest prognosticators here affirm, of some consequences, the catastrophe whereof may prove a tragedy. These things I write but out of my study, and with silence pass them over, as being a mere divine and no politician, assuring myself that whilst the religious pillars of commonwealth stand, Holy Church can never miscarry. Therefore, fearing that these suspicions by the 'understandinger' sages may be called needless carefulness, I only solicit the all-ruling power for continual peace, and for your prosperity as one of the chiefest stays of true religious maintenance and the safety of God's saints. Limerick, July 22, 1609.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Federico Zuccaro, court artist, dies July 20, 1609

Federico Zuccaro (c.1543-1609), also spelled “Zuccari” and "Zucchero" was an Italian painter of the Mannerist school. Zuccaro got his training on various church projects throughout Italy. In 1574 he traveled to England, where he quickly earned commissions to paint the royalty and nobility of the Tudor Court. Of his proposed painting of Elizabeth I, we have only the sketch, seen below.

Zuccaro’s other commissions included Mary, Queen of Scots, Sir Nicholas Bacon, Sir Francis Walsingham, and Lord Admiral Howard.

One of Zuccaro’s most interesting legacies is his “Allegory of Calumny,” a recreation of a lost painting by the Greek master, Apelles, based on a description of that lost work in Lucian.

Zucarro's Calumny allegory

Calumny is like slander; it is said that this work got Apelles in trouble, and in similar fashion, got Zuccaro exiled from Rome.
There is also a 16th century engraving by Giorgio Ghisi of the Calumny of Apelles, and paintings by Mantegna and Boticelli. Apelles was the celebrated painter in ancient Greece. His painting of grapes was said to be so realistic that birds tried to eat the painted fruit. This anecdote is alluded to in Shakespeare’s Venus and Adonis (601-606):

“Even so poor birds, deceived with painted grapes,

Do surfeit by the eye and pine the maw;
Even so she languisheth in her mishaps
As those poor birds that helpless berries saw.

The warm effects which she in him finds missing
She seeks to kindle with continual kissing.”

Roman satirist Lucian gave the only eyewitness description of Apelles’ Calumny, from which the Renaissance painters managed their recreations, though mediated through Alberti (Leon Battista Alberti “On Painting” 1435):

“Invention is praised when one reads the description of Calumny which Lucian recounts was painted by Apelles. I do not think it alien to our subject. I will narrate it here in order to point out to painters where they ought to be most aware and careful in their inventions. In this painting there was a man with very large ears. Near him, on either side, stood two women, one called Ignorance, the other Suspicion. Farther, on the other side, came Calumny, a woman who appeared most beautiful but seemed too rafty in the face. In her right hand she held a lighted torch, with the other hand she dragged by the hair a young man who held up his arms to heaven. There was also a man, pale, ugly, all filthy and with an iniquitous aspect, who could be compared to one who has become thin and feverish with long fatigues on the fields of battle; he was the guide of Calumny and was called Hatred. And there were two other women, serving women of Calumy who arranged her ornaments and robes. They were called Envy and Fraud. Behind these was Penitence, a woman dressed in funeral robes, who stood as if completely dejected. Behind her followed a young girl, shameful and modest, called Truth. If this story pleased as it was being told, think how much pleasure and delight there must have been in seeing it painted by the hand of Apelles. [Alberti, On painting, Book 3]

The donkey-man is often described elsewhere as King Midas. This theme, Apelles allegory of calumny, was most famously painted by Botticelli, though only he portrays Envy, Malice, and Deceit as women.

An essay by modern author, Richard Dutton, “The Comedy of Errors and The Calumny of Apelles: An Exercise in Source” argues that the allegory of calumny as transmitted from Apelles, to Lucian, to-Alberti, to Boticelli, Zuccaro, and others, served as inspiration for the plot of Comedy of Errors.

The main point is that the ruler or judge is so overcome with bad information that his ears have grown ridiculously long. Slander is the enemy of Truth.

Federico Zuccaro, court artist, died July 20, 1609.
(Note, this date is by the Continental or Catholic Gregorian calendar, then 10 days out of sync with the British who were still using the Julian.)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Castle Hedingham and Countess Oxford in 1609

Castle Hedingham in county Essex was the ancestral home of the de Vere family. It is the best-preserved Norman-era moated castle in Europe. The keep was built in the 12th century by Aubrey De Vere II.

Edward de Vere (1550-1604) was born there and spent a portion of his childhood in and around the imposing castle and estate.

In the 1580s-1590s a series of transactions saw the ownership of the castle and grounds leave the hands of the Earl of Oxford: first, in trust to the Queen, then to William Cecil, Lord Burghley, on behalf of Oxford’s three daughters by Anne Cecil: Elizabeth, Susan, and Bridget de Vere.

On July 8, 1609, Countess Elizabeth Trentham Oxford, the 17th Earl’s widow, signed papers that brought Castle Hedingham back into the family.

But first, some background:

1587, July 3: Oxford grants Castle Hedingham to the Queen with the stipulation that Elizabeth re-grant it to him and his three daughters; Oxford entered into a bond of £4000.

1587, October 6: a follow-up document records Oxford’s transfer of clear title to Castle Hedingham to the Queen.

1588, March 8: letter from Lord Burghley authorizing Castle
Hedingham to be brought “by extant” into the Queen’s possession to save it from ‘utter spoil’.

1591, November 25: Oxford transfers clear title to Hedingham and the manors of Hedingham, Shetleford, and Parkes to Lord Burghley and his heirs by fine.

1591, December 2: authorization for Oxford to alienate the manors
of Castle Hedingham and Gosfield to Lord Burghley and to Oxford's three daughters Elizabeth, Bridget, and Susan Vere.

1592, April 12: Oxford and his second wife, Elizabeth Trentham, transfer clear title to the manors of Castle Hedingham and Gosfield to Lord Burghley and his heirs and to Oxford's three daughters Elizabeth, Bridget, and Susan.

More detail about these transactions can be found on Nina Green’s website.

After 1592 the paper trail goes cold for some 17 years. At the time of this writing it is not clear to me who, if anyone, resided at Hedingham in the 1590s and the first decade of the 1600s. In 1609 we have records that indicate that Countess Elizabeth Trentham Oxford was endeavoring to purchase back the castle and manors of Hedingham on behalf of her son, Henry, the 18th Earl of Oxford.

A document from 1609 (no precise date) describes a private act of Parliament (HL/PO/PB/1/1609/7J1n33) allowing the sale of the manor of Bretts to help finance Elizabeth Trentham’s apparent 1609 repurchase of Castle Hedingham. (Essex Record Office
D/DRg 2/39):

Anno 7 Regni Jacobi
An Act for the sale of the manor of Bretts and farm of Playstowe in the county of Essex, parcel of the possessions of Henry, Earl of Oxenford, towards the repurchasing of the castle, manor, & parks of Hedingham in the same county, being the ancient inheritance and chief mansion-house of the Earls of Oxenford.
Document transcription (pdf file) by Nina Green.

However, there seems to have been an objection to this deal. From the Calendar of State Papers Domestic: James I, 1603-1610:

1609 - June 24. Eston Lodge. Sir Hen. Maynard to Salisbury. Trusts he will not disapprove of his not yielding to the Countess of Oxford's desire in the business of Herringham, though the young Earl, Mr. Trentham, his uncle, and the Countess herself, earnestly pressed his giving up the bargain. Web source here.

By “Herringham” is meant Hedingham. The “young Earl” refers to Henry, the 18th earl of Oxford (age 16). "Mr. Trentham" is Francis Trentham, Countess Elizabeth’s brother. On the face of it, this note appears to indicate that Henry Maynard was trying to squash the proposed deal.

Who was Sir Henry Maynard?
Sir Henry Maynard (1547-1610), an English politician and bureaucrat, was secretary to Lord Treasurer Burghley. By virtue of his position he was able to take advantage of troubled assets and gradually became a major landowner, especially in Essexshire. He also developed a reputation as a moneylender (see An Elizabethan: Sir Horatio Palavicino - by Lawrence Stone.) Maynard also served terms as MP for St. Albans in the parliaments of 1586, 1588, 1592 and 1597. In 1603 Maynard was High Sheriff of Essex and was knighted by Elizabeth’s. In July 1603, James I appointed Maynard as Deputy Lieutenant for Essex.

What and where is Eston Lodge?
Eston Lodge is now called Easton Lodge, near Great Dunmow, Essex, only a few miles from Castle Hedingham. Sometime around 1590, Elizabeth I granted the 10,000 acre Manor of Estaines to Henry Maynard as a reward for his duties as Private Secretary to the Lord Treasurer. Maynard demolished an existing hunting lodge and constructed a vast, “H”-shaped mansion. In 1847, almost the entire Elizabethan part of the mansion was destroyed by fire. The property was rebuilt and is now a tourist destination.

Maynard wrote his will on August 20, 1609. He died in 1610 and was buried at Little Easton, Essex. His epitaph in Little Easton Church reads: “Here resteth, in assured hope to rise in Christ, Henry Maynard, Knight, descended of the ancient family of Maynard, in the county of Devon; and Dame Susan, his wife, daughter and one of the coheirs of Thomas Pierson, Esq. to whom she bear eight sonnes and two daughters. He ended this life the 11th of May, 1610; his lady, six sonnes, and two daughters then living.”

Thanks to research (conducted independently) by Jeremy Crick and Christopher Paul, I learned that an additional detail of the Hedingham saga is found in Philip Morant's The History and Antiquities of the County of Essex (1763-68). I looked at Morant’s History and have transcribed the full passage, presented here on the web for the first time:

“For Edward, the 17th Earl of Oxford, having taken to his second wife Elizabeth daughter of Thomas Trentham of that place, Esq; her brother Francis Trentham Esq; advanced ten thousand pounds to clear incumbrances on the Oxford Estates. In consideration whereof, 8 July 1609, by deed inrolled, and recovery suffered pursuant thereto, the three daughters of the said Earl Edward, by his first wife, with their husbands, William Earl of Derby, Francis Lord Norris, and Philip Earl of Montgomery, by the appointment of the forementioned Elizabeth Vere Countess dowager of Oxford, conveyed the Honour of Castle Hedingham to her for life, remainder to her son Henry Earl of Oxford for his life, and to his sons in taile male; remainder to Trustees to perform contingent estates, remainder to Francis Trentham Esq. brother of the said Countess, and his heirs for ever.”
[From Philip Morant's ‘The History and Antiquities of the County of Essex (1763-68)]

It is not entirely clear what document Morant consulted for these details. Other documents do not support the notion that Francis Trentham paid out ten thousand pounds to clear Oxford’s incumbrances. However, the amounts that Francis Trentham did forward on behalf of his sister and brother in law do add up to significant sums, and perhaps the ten thousand is a fair aggregate amount.

Did the Countess move to Hedingham in 1609? Well, she did sell King’s Place (Hackney) in spring 1609 to Fulke Greville. But the little evidence we have suggests that the Countess continued living in London, at Cannon Row.
The Countess’ letter to Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury, Lord High Treasurer of England, and the Earl of Northampton, Lord Privy Seal, dated July 22, 1611, is signed by her:

"In the meantime myself for this and sundry other your honourable favours shall now and ever rest exceedingly bound unto your Lordships, and thus craving pardon for this my boldness I humbly take my leave from my house in Cannon Row this 22nd of July 1611. Your Lordships’ assured friend, Elizabeth Oxenford"

Canon Row, in the White Hall / Downing Street area of London, abuts Derby Gate. This, I think, was the location of the Derby House, home of the 6th Earl of Derby, William Stanley, and his wife, Elizabeth de Vere, daughter of Edward Earl of Oxford. Apparently the older Oxfords were comfortable staying with the next generation. Earl Edward penned a letter in 1596 from Canon Row, which ends:

"...Thus taking my leave from Cannon Row, this 6 of September, 1596...."

Confusing the issue is the larger "Cannon Street" (two "n's"), located further east, that is, indeed, the general location of London Stone and St Swithin where the Vere House in town was located on Candlewick Street. Yet, Oxford is said to have sold this house around 1588.

So while it is not completely clear where the Countess was living, she does say "Cannon Row," not Street, just as her husband did in 1596. It is simply a strong conjecture that she was living with the Stanley-Derbys.

If any readers can help with the following questions, please post a comment here or send me an e-mail.

Robert Sean Brazil – July 8, 2009

*Why did Henry Maynard try to squelch the Hedingham deal?

*What document served as Morant’s source?

*Who lived in Hedingham in the 1590s?

*Is there any evidence that Countess Oxford moved there in 1609 or at any time before her death?
Some of the documents in this matter suggest that Hedingham in the 1590s was run down and unlivable. Other documents, however, suggest that the residence(s) were in shape for habitation. Is it possible that no one was living there because the estate was too far in disrepair to provide country comfort?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Old Folks Boogie in Herefordshire

What do you get when a dozen octo-, nono-, and cento-genarian senior citizens of Hereford danced the Morris in June 1609? You get a marvelous cultural event more outrageous than the Nine-day Morris, though now almost completely forgotten.

Old Meg of Herefordshire for a Mayd Marian, and Hereford towne for a Morris-dance; or twelve Morris-dancers in Herefordshire of 1200 years old was registered at Stationers’ Hall on June 20, 1609.

The event had taken place that spring. Although the book was anonymous, one modern source states that the work was by Will Kemp, and a sequel of sorts to his Nine Daies Wonder of 1600.

The men dancing ranged in ages from 80 to 108, or so is claimed. The one woman, named Meg Goodwin, at 80 years old, danced the part of Maid Marian. See this page for images related to the Robin & Marian dance.

“But now give way for the Maide-marrian, old Meg Goodwin the famous wench of Erdisland, of whom Maister Weauer, of Burton that was fourescore &: ten yeares old, was wont to say, she was twentie yeares elder then he, and he dyed ten yeares since. This old Meg was at Prince Arthurs death at Ludlow, and had her part in the dole, she was threescore yeares (she saith) a Maide, and twentie yeares otherwise, thats what you will, and since hath beene thought fit to be a Maide-marrian. "

Read the full text of Old Meg here.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Curious Inscribed Slate of 1609 era Discovered at Jamestown in 2009

On June 8, 2009, the National Geographic news service reported that archaeologists excavating a well in Jamestown, Virginia, have found an inscribed slate tablet dating back to around 1609. The slate is etched on both sides with caricatures of people, flora, and fauna, and features enigmatic words and numbers begging for decipherment. The slate measures approximately 5” x 8” inches.

The slate was uncovered down a well at James’ Fort. It is known that Captain John Smith dug a well for the settlement in 1609. By 1611 the well’s water went bad and settlers filled it in with trash. This slate was found below the level of general trash, and among a layer that includes early trade trinkets, so it may have been accidentally dropped in, or tossed in to evade discovery. The slate, now being studied closely, is perhaps the earliest known graffiti record of early English Colonists. (There are earlier inscribed stones in the Americas conventionally described as either native, or forgeries, but in some key instances, may be remnants of early arrivals on the continent by Norsemen, Vikings, Irish, Romans, Greeks, Carthaginians, and Chinese. See links below.)

The curious slate tablet is etched with the words:


Above this sentence are the letters and numbers:

"EL NEV FSH HTLBMS 508," and strange symbols that have, so far, resisted interpretation.

"Minon" is, no doubt, intended as "minion" and can mean anything from "follower," to "sycophant," to "ass-kisser," which might make the slate a critique of a camp officer. Complicating that theory is the fact that minion also referred to a type of cannon (weapon) that was used at Jamestown. Rough sketches on the slate show several flower blossoms and birds that may be attempts to represent native eagles, songbirds, and owls.

A cartoon-like image of a settler smoking a pipe adds humor and a contemporary activity.
An image of a palmetto tree, not native to Virginia at that time --- but widely seen in the Caribbean and more southern areas of North America --- is something a settler might have seen on the way to Jamestown, which often involved a loopy southern route. Another possibility is that the artist of the slate was one of the survivors of the Sea Venture shipwreck. The slate also has images of heraldic lions rampant, as seen in the Arms of England.

Archaeologists relate that slates such as these were used and reused, and while the pencil-like sketch’s surface materials are long gone, the scratches remain, and, as a result, the slate today carries multiple overlapping images. In books and manuscripts such an effect is called a palimpsest. The point is, we are not looking at a single message, but many records overlaid upon each other.
The scientists studying the slate hope to use CT-scan technology to trace the layering and separate out the superimposed images via software.

By Robert Sean Brazil, June 18, 2009

PS- If you are interested in the idea that there may be evidence of Pre-Columbian visitors to the Americas see the following web-pages for starters:

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Arabella Stuart's Letter to Shrewsbury

Arabella Stuart (1575-1615), cousin of King James I of England, had also been considered a successor to Queen Elizabeth I, as she was also directly descended from Henry VII. In 1582 she became one of the wards of William Cecil, Lord Burghley. She was housed mostly in the care of the famous Bess of Hardwick, but she also must have been a familiar to fellow ward Henry Wriothesley (3rd Earl of Southampton, born 1573) at times.

After James’ succession there was a plot (The Main Plot), implicating Raleigh, to get rid of James and put Arabella on the throne.
Arabella (sometimes spelled Arbella) was a prolific letter writer.

On June 17, 1609, she penned a curious letter to her uncle, the Earl of Shrewsbury. The holograph letter still exists, shown below.
The Earl of Shrewsbury in question was George Talbot 7th Earl, son of George Talbot 6th Earl ((1528–1590) and his wife, Gertrude Manners, daughter of the 1st Earl of Rutland. The 7th Earl married Mary Cavendish, daughter of his stepmother, Bess of Hardwick who had become the 6th Earl’s second wife.

George Talbot 7th Earl of Shrewsbury

While of only minor historic importance, this letter has a few fascinating features. We see Arabella’s literary flair. “Idle lines” resonates with the sonnets of Thomas Watson and Shakespeare’s poetry. We see her wicked dry sense of humor at play as she compares herself to Pope Joan. And I find charming Arabella’s description of some sort of illusion show in which two virginals (small harpsichords) were seen and heard to play by themselves. Another contraption heated a glass invisibly.

To the right honorable my very good uncle the Earl of Shrowsbury,

"Because I know not that your lordship hath forsaken one recreation that you have liked
heretofore, I presume to send you a few idle lines to read in your chair, after you have tired yourself either with affairs or any sport that bringeth weariness; and, knowing you well advertised of all occurrents in serious manner, I make it my end only to make you merry, and show my desire to please you even in playing the fool, for no folly is greater, I trow, than to laugh when one smarteth; but that my aunt's divinity can tell you St. Lawrence, deriding his tormentors even upon the gridiron, bade them turn him on the other side, for that he lay on was sufficiently broiled, I should not know how to excuse myself from either insensibleness or contempt of injuries. I find if one rob a house and build a church with the money the wronged party may go pipe in an ivy leaf for any redress ; for money so well bestowed must not be taken from that holy work, though the right owner go a-begging. Unto you it is given to understand parables or to command the comment ; but if you be of this opinion of the Scribes and Pharisees, I condemn your lordship, by your leave, for an heretic, by the authority of Pope Joan; for there is a text saith, you must not do evil that good may come thereof. But now from doctrine to miracles. I assure you within these few days I saw a pair of virginals make good music without help of any hand, but of one that did nothing but warm, not move, a glass some five or six feet from them. And if I thought thus great folk, invisibly and far off, work in matters to tune them as they please, I pray your lordship forgive me, and I hope God will, to whose holy protection I humbly recommend your lordship. From Broad Street, June 17, 1609.

in margin:

"I humbly pray your lordship to bestow two of the next good personnages of yours
shall fall on me; not that I mean to convert them to my own benefit, for though I go rather for a good clerk than a worldly-wise woman, I aspire to no degree of Pope Joan, but some good ends, whereof this bearer will tell your lordship one. My boldness shows how honourably I believe of your disposing of such livings.
Your lordship's niece, "ARBELLA STUART."

Although her political ambitions were thwarted, Arabella successfully made a killing in commodities through monopolies granted by James. For a time she had rights to control imports of wine and spirits into Ireland, and sought the the grant for exclusive rights for licensing, brewing and selling beer in Ireland! Now that’s a profitable market!