Legal Support for Elizabeth as Dark Lady

The Monument theory proposes that the so-called Dark Lady is none other than Queen Elizabeth, who kept the Earl of Southampton in the Tower for more than two years until she died on March 24, 1603 and King James set him free a few weeks later; and I’d like to share some new corroboration that I’ve recently found.

In August I obtained a rare book entitled Commentaries on the Law in Shakespeare: With Explanations of the Legal Terms Used in the Plays, Poems and Sonnets; and Discussions of the Criminal Types Presented, written by Edward Joseph White and published in 1911.   The entire text of the book is presented online by Google Books!

It’s a fascinating book in which White shares his massive, detailed evidence that Shakespeare was not only a legal expert but knew “more about criminology and criminal motives and instincts than any other known writer on the subject.”

On page 511 he takes up Sonnet 107 as corresponding to Southampton’s release from prison in the spring of 1603:

Sonnet 107, lines 1-4:

Not mine own fears, nor the prophetic soul
Of the wide world dreaming on things to come,
Can yet the lease of my true love control,
Supposed as forfeit to a confined doom.

He comments:  “These lines clearly refer to a conditional or determinate lease of realty, which is a contract between the lessor and the lessee, for the possession of land, for a fixed or determinate period, for a certain consideration, to be void, or forfeited, on the breach of some certain condition. The Poet had considered his love, formerly possessed, forfeited and ended by Southampton’s confinement in the Tower, but on the death of Elizabeth, the supposedly forfeited lease or tenancy of his friend’s love becomes again a vitalized, live estate, subject to no limitations or forfeiture in law. (Emphasis added)


Then he moves to Sonnet 134 of the Dark Lady series:

Sonnet 134, lines 1-4

So, now I have confess’d that he is thine
And I am mortgaged to thy will,
Myself I’ll forfeit, so that other mine
Thou wilt restore to be my comfort still.

He comments: “This verse clearly refers to the confinement of Southampton in the Tower.” (Emphasis added)

Whether White realized it or not, his statement leads to the inescapable conclusion that the Poet is speaking to Queen Elizabeth, his sovereign Mistress, who is confining Southampton in her prison fortress, the Tower.

He continues:  “And the former verse [Sonnet 133] expresses the Poet’s desire to be permitted to go his bail, by substituting his own person for that of his friend, in jail.”

Sonnet 133, lines 9-12:

Prison my heart in thy steel bosom’s ward,
But then my friend’s heart let my poor heart bail;
Whoe’er keeps me, let my heart be his guard:
Thou canst not then use rigor in my jail.

Again it follows of necessity that the Poet is addressing the Queen, who is a “dark” lady only because of her negative attitude and actions toward Southampton.  The poet (whom I believe to be Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford) tells Elizabeth in Sonnet 131, line 13 that her darkness has nothing to do with physical appearance:

In nothing art thou black save in thy deeds

I hope to add White’s commentary in future editions of The Monument, which continues to draw new evidence in its support.

His rather complicated remarks (for a layman) on Sonnet 134 conclude:

“A mortgage is the temporary pledging of land in security for a debt due the mortgagee, by the mortgagor. The land itself, not being susceptible of a manual delivery, the mortgagee holds the mortgage as an evidence of his right to the land as security for his debt until it is paid. The only way to create a mortgage in early times was to give livery of seisin of the freehold estate, thus passing the estate to the mortgagee. On breach of the condition of the mortgage, to pay the debt the estate was forfeited and became the absolute property of the mortgagee. And the Poet here proffers to forfeit himself as security for his friend, recognizing that the condition of the obligation is broken.”

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hi Hank, great post. As someone who bought your book The Monument, I am always interested in learning about connections that will help us unravel the mysterious sonnets, let alone the mysterious Edward de Vere and his connection to the works of Shakespeare.

    I appreciate your work in this effort. Thanks.

    • Thanks very much, Chris. The stunning aspect is that the author’s statements about Sonnets 133 and 134 are the same conclusions as those of The Monument but reached by an entirely different means, i.e., via the legal context in relation to the Earl of Southampton. Here in 1911, before Looney identifies Edward de Vere as “Shakespeare” in 1920, the legal expert Edward Joseph White calls it as he sees it, without feeling any pressure from tradition-bound academics to modify it: “This verse [Sonnet 134] clearly refers to the confinement of Southampton in the Tower.”

      Without realizing it, he’s also indirectly indicating that the same conclusion applies to Sonnet 42, which is so often linked to Sonnet 134.

      I wonder whether Mr. White ever stopped to ask himself how “the poet” could have been pleading with the Queen to let him trade places with Southampton?
      I should mention that he is quite aware of the then-current theory that Francis Bacon wrote the poems, plays and sonnets of Shakespeare, but he himself will not go there. Not enough proof, he replies to the Baconian heretics.

      All the more remarkable, then, that his conclusions about the biographical and historical context of Sonnets 133-134 (and indirectly Sonnets 40-42) coincide with the conclusions of The Monument!

      Again thanks and best wishes –

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