Part Two of Reason 20 — The Dedications Reveal Oxford’s Personal Relationships with Authors Whose Works Would Lead to “Shakespeare”

This part of Reason No. 20 includes several of the many public dedications to Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford, to indicate the scope of his personal relationships with other writers.  The way I see it, anyone who would eventually create the works of “Shakespeare” could not have grown and developed as an artist in a vacuum; on the contrary, he must have been part of a group or even a “community” of fellow authors, poets and playwrights.

Oxford was not only part of such a community; their tributes make clear that he was their leader.  

Arthur Golding (Histories of Trogus Pompeius) wrote to him in 1564: “It is not unknown to others, and I have had experiences thereof myself, how earnest a desire your Honor hath naturally grafted in you to read, peruse, and communicate with others as well the histories of ancient times, and things done long ago, as also of the present estate of things in our days, and that not without a certain pregnancy of wit and ripeness of understanding.”

Thomas Underdowne (Aethiopian History) told him in 1569 that “matters of learning” were good for a nobleman, but then warned the earl that “to be too much addicted that way, I think it is not good.”

(In that same year 19-year-old Oxford ordered “a Geneva Bible gilt, a Chaucer, Plutarch’s works in French, with other books and papers” as well as “Tully’s and Plato’s works in folio, with other books.”  Sounds indeed like a young man “addicted” to learning!)

When Thomas Bedingfield dedicated his translation of Cardanus Comforte to Oxford in 1573, he told him that “I do present the book your Lordship so long desired,” confirming that the earl had been personally involved in this publication [for which he contributed both a Letter to the Reader and a poem].   He reminds Oxford of “the encouragement of your Lordship, who (as you well remember), unawares to me, found some part of this work and willed me in any wise to proceed therein.”

Also in 1573 the distinguished physician Thomas Twyne (Breviary of Britain) referred to Oxford as being “in your flower and tender age” before inviting him to bestow  upon his work “such regard as you are accustomed to do on books of Geography, Histories, and other good learning, wherein I am privy your honour taketh singular delight.”

One of Oxford’s secretaries, Anthony Munday (Mirror of Mutability), told the earl in 1579 that he looked forward to “the day when as conquerors we may peacefully resume our delightful literary discussions.”

Munday was apparently referring to the rivalry between the Euphuists under Oxford and the Romanticists who included Philip Sidney and Gabriel Harvey.  His reference to “our delightful literary discussions” offers a glimpse of Oxford personally engaged with other writers who were developing a new English literature and drama leading to “Shakespeare.”

And the works created by members of this circle (such as John Lyly, another of his secretaries) would later become known as “contemporary sources” upon which “Shakespeare” drew.

Thomas Watson (Hekatompathia, or The Passionate Century of Love) in 1580 reminded Oxford that he had “willingly vouchsafed the acceptance of this work, and at convenient leisures favorably perused it, being as yet but in written hand.”  He cited Oxford as a kind of literary trend-setter, one whose approval would move others to approve as well; and because of this influence he had, his acceptance of Watson’s work in manuscript meant that “many have oftentimes and earnestly called upon me to put it to the press.”

Angel Day (The English Secretary) wrote in 1586 to Oxford about “the learned view and insight of your Lordship, whose infancy from the beginning was ever sacred to the Muses.”

Robert Greene (Card of Fancy) wrote publicly to Oxford in 1584 that he was “a worthy  favorer and fosterer of learning [who] hath forced many through your excellent virtue to offer the first-fruits of their study at the shrine of your Lordship’s courtesy.”

In other words, Oxford encouraged young writers who were working on their very first works to be be published, guiding them to the press.

In 1591 the composer John Farmer, who apparently lived in Oxford’s household, dedicated his first songbook (Plain-Song) to the earl, saying he was “emboldened” because of “your Lordship’s great affection to this noble science” (music) – which, of course, must be said also of Shakespeare.  In his second dedication (First Set of English Madrigals, 1599), Farmer told Oxford that “using this science as a recreation, your Lordship have over-gone most of them that make it a profession.”

So it’s not just the dedications, per se, that are impressive here; it’s also that the comments and praises appear to be absolutely genuine and heartfelt.   Oxford may have had many faults of character, such as a tendency to be jealous and vengeful, but among his fellow writers and other artists he must have been unusually spirited and generous.  Perhaps his relationship with them was akin to Prince Hamlet’s relationship with the players:

“You are welcome, masters!  Welcome, all!  I am glad to see thee well.  Welcome, good friends … Masters, you are all welcome.  We’ll e’en to it like French falconers, fly at anything we see.  We’ll have a speech straight.  Come, give us a taste of your quality.  Come, a passionate speech!”  

[All added emphases above are mine.]

Here’s a “Smoking Gun” that brings together Edward de Vere (Oxford) and Henry Wriothesley (Southampton) in the Context of the 1601-1603 Aftermath of the Essex Rebellion

I’d like to present a document that brings together Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford and Henry Wriothesley  Earl of Southampton within the context of the Essex Rebellion of February 1601 and its aftermath until the death of Elizabeth and the succession of James in March 1603.  I consider it a “smoking gun” in terms of evidence of a relationship between them in connection with those events and that time period – supporting the context put forth and expanded within THE MONUMENT, my edition of the Sonnets (and its companion synopsis-volume SHAKESPEARE’S SON and HIS SONNETS, not to mention ANONYMOUS, the forthcoming movie from Roland Emmerich, due for general release October 28th.

The document is Anagrammata in Nomina Illustrissimorum Heroum (1603) By Francis Davison – published online by the Philological Museum by Dana F. Sutton.

The Anagrammata was a single-page broadsheet with anagrams & epigrams on the names of the following lords: Thomas Egerton, Charles Howard, Thomas Sackville, Chrarles Blunt, John Fortescue, Gilbert Talbot, Henry Percy, Edward de Vere and Henry Wriothesley.

The work was compiled partially during the time of Southampton’s imprisonment in the Tower [1601-1603] and completed after the queen’s death on March 24, 1603.  It was published later the same year. The anagrams/epigrams for Oxford and Southampton are presented ninth and tenth, respectively, as the final two lords.

“In general,” Professor Sutton writes, “the epigrams are fairly predictable exercises in courtly flattery.  A couple, however, may merit more consideration.  The one addressed to Oxford congratulates him on his non-involvement in the Essex Rebellion.  One wonders why Davison thought this necessary.  Even more curious is the one for Southampton, which explicitly states that he had been convicted of treason on false testimony inspired by envy.”


“Though by your zeal, Fortune, you keep perfidy’s murmurs and schemings at a distance, nonetheless I learn (at which my mind and ear quake) that our bodies have been deafened with respect to evil affairs. Indeed, I perceive men who come close to Catiline in deception, freeing other men’s fates by their death.”


“Justly you were able to pour forth this complaint from your mouth; your lot was harsh while a false accusation prevailed. “Lo, Theseus is guilty of nothing; here I fall by an unfair lot’s censure, betrayed by envy’s whim.” But now the complaint is to be altered, because of altered perils. Great man, do you take a fall with an innocent heart bearing witness?  Not at all.  The heir, wielding the scepter of rule conferred under Jove’s auspices, grants you to live free of this care.”

I submit that THE MONUMENT and its synopsis-book SHAKESPEARE’S SON AND HIS SONNETS contain the explanation that Professor Sutton is seeking.  No, it’s not “proof” of the Monument Theory of the Sonnets, but there’s no question that it brings Oxford and Southampton together in connection with the post-Essex Rebellion history.

THE MONUMENT attempts to demonstrate that the Sonnets tell the following story:  Upon the failure of the Essex Rebellion of February 8, 1601, followed by the sentencing of Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton to death for high treason, Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford made a bargain with Secretary Robert Cecil in order to save Southampton’s life.  Essex was executed six days after the trial.  Oxford’s aim was to spare Southampton from execution and gain the promise of his release upon the succession of King James of Scotland as King of England.  Once liberated, Southampton would regain all his lands and titles and receive a royal pardon, freeing him from the threat of being re-arrested for the same crime.  But the outcome of the deal depended on Cecil’s ability to bring James to the throne, so Oxford had no choice but to help him.  In effect, he was blackmailed.

One way Oxford may have helped is by becoming “40” in the secret correspondence between Cecil and James, behind Elizabeth’s back.  Also, shortly before the Queen’s death, he apparently acted to test Lord Lincoln’s loyalty to James.  In addition, having adopted the pen name “Shakespeare” in 1593, Oxford now agreed to take another step – to bury his identity in relation to Southampton after his death and for generations to come:  “I may nevermore acknowledge thee … My name be buried where my body is,” he testifies in Sonnets 36 and 72.

The Southampton Prince Tudor Theory is that, in addition, Oxford and Southampton agreed to bury their father-son relationship; and that Southampton agreed to forfeit any claim to the crown as the natural heir of Queen Elizabeth.   [Two Oxfordians who oppose the Southampton Prince Tudor Theory, Nina Green and Christopher Paul, are thanked by Dana Sutton for suggesting that the Philological Museum include Davison’s Anagrammata.]


Davison was the son of William Davison, whom Elizabeth had blamed for transmitting the warrant for execution of Mary Queen of Scots.  W. Davison and his family were ruined.  Upon the death of Secretary Francis Walsingham in 1590, Essex urged Elizabeth to name W. Davison to replace him.  The post was left vacant until 1596, when the queen gave it to Robert Cecil.

In a work in which every element has a potential or actual meaning beyond what is on the surface, Davison deliberately placed Edward de Vere and Henry Wriothesley one after the other.   As stated above, such placement lends support to the theory of THE MONUMENT that, as expressed in the Sonnets, Oxford and Southampton were linked together at this crucial time.


Catiline: Lucius Sergius Catilina (108 BC – 62 BC), known in English as Catiline, was a Roman politician of the 1st century BC who is best known for the Catiline conspiracy, an attempt to overthrow the Roman Republic, and in particular the power of the aristocratic Senate.  [The name of Catiline was invoked in relation to Essex and his supporters at the joint treason trial of him and Southampton on February 19, 1601.]

“Freeing Other Men’s Fates by Their Deaths” – the final words of the epigram to Oxford could refer to Essex as one who went to his death in order to give Southampton a chance to live; but this epigram is for Oxford and therefore, I submit, it more likely refers to the bargain Oxford made with Cecil to figuratively die, as in Sonnet 81: “I, once gone, to all the world must die.”


Theseus:  the mythical founder-king of Athens, son of Aethra, and fathered by Aegeus and Poseidon, both of whom Aethra had slept with in one night. Theseus was a founder-hero, like Perseus, Cadmus, or Heracles, all of whom battled and overcame foes that were identified with an archaic religious and social order.

“False Accusation … Betrayed by Envy’s Whim” – perhaps refers to Cecil betraying Southampton by falsely accusing him of trying to overthrow Elizabeth and kill her.

“The Heir, Wielding the Scepter of Rule” – appears to refer to King James, who ordered the release of Southampton; but, given the Prince Tudor Theory that Henry Wriothesley was the natural heir of Elizabeth and deserved to become King Henry IX, such language is certainly tantalizing and even, one might say, provocative.

Part One of Reason No. 20 to conclude that the Earl of Oxford was “Shakespeare” — All Those Dedications to Him!

Another no-brainer in the Reasons List can be summed up in one word: Dedications

"The Histories of Trogus Pompeius" by Golding, dedicated to 14-year-old Edward de Vere in 1564

We know of some twenty-seven dedications to Edward de Vere from 1564, when he was a Cambridge student at fourteen, until 1603, the year before his death; and with one in 1619 we have at least twenty-eight such homages from authors whose books range from Greek history to English literature … to translations from Italian and French … to the Psalms … to works on geography, military matters, music, medicine, astrology and so on … just what we’d expect to find in the world that surrounded the myriad mind of Shakespeare.

These dedications present us with an array of diverse topics and genres drawn from the European renaissance; they were very much part of the new age of English literature of which Edward de Vere was a central [or the central] moving force, leading up to Shakespeare’s entrance onto the printed page in 1593.

They were not merely public bids for patronage; they were not the usual stuff of obsequious praise; on the contrary, they poured from writers who worked with Oxford in developing common political and artistic goals.  Over and over they thanked him personally for taking time to read their works and give his advice.  He did not come among them as some lofty noble keeping his distance; instead he rolled up his sleeves and became involved personally and artistically and financially in their varied works that covered so many subjects and forms of literary expression.

And over the past few centuries, all these same authors and books have been cited as specific “sources” upon which Shakespeare drew for his plays and poems — all of which makes sudden and complete sense when “Shakespeare” is seen as the Earl of Oxford himself!

Perhaps the quickest way to view most of these dedications is to go to the Shakespeare Authorship Sourcebook created and operated by Mark Alexander.

Here is a list based on the one compiled by Katherine Chiljan, who is planning to re-issue her own book of dedications to Oxford and to sell them through a new website:

1/ 1564 – Arthur Golding: Histories of Trogus Pompeius (Translation)

2/ 1569 – Thomas Underdowne: An AEthiopian History Written in Greek by Helidorus (Translation)

3/ 1570 – Edmund Elviden: Pesistratus and Catanea, The Most Excellent and Pleasant Metaphysical History (Poetry)

4/ 1571 – Arthur Golding: Psalms of David (Translation)

5/ 1573 – Thomas Bedingfield: Cardanus’ Comforte (Translation)

6/ 1573 – Thomas Twyne: Breviary of Britain … Containing a Learned Discourse of the Variable State and Alteration thereof, under Divers as well as Natural, as Foreign Princes and Conquerors, together with the Geographical Description of the same (Translated from Latin)

"The New Jewell of Health" (1576) by Dr. George Baker, who dedicated two other books to Oxford

7/ 1574 – George Baker:  Oleum Magistrale – the Composition or Making of the Most Excellent and Precious Oil called Oleum Magistrale … the which cureth these diseases following, that is to say Wounds, Contusions, Hargubuth shot, Cankers, pain of the Rains, Apostumes, Hemorrhoids, old Ulcers, pain of the Joints and Gout (Translation)

8/ 1577 – John Brooke: The Staff of Christian Faith, profitable to all Christians … Gathered out of the Works of the Ancient Doctors of the Church, and of the Councils, and many other Doctors … Translated out of the French

9/ 1579 – Anthony Munday: The Mirror of Mutability

10/ 1579 – Geoffrey Gates: The Defense of the Military Profession, wherein is eloquently showed the due Commendation of Martial prowess, and plainly proved how necessary the exercise of Arms is for this our age

11/ 1580 – Anthony Munday: Zelauto, the Fountain of Fame, Erected in the Arcade of Amorous Adventures, Containing a Delicate Disputation, Gallantly Discoursed between Two Noble Gentlemen of Italy, given for a friendly entertainment to Euphues, at his late arrival in England

12/ 1580 – John Lyly: Euphues and His England

13/ 1580 – John Hester: A Short Discourse upon Surgery [by] Master Leonardo Phioravanti Bolognese, translated out of Italian into English

14/ 1581 – Thomas Stocker: Diverse Sermons of Calvin (Translation)

15/ 1582 – Thomas Watson: Hekatompathia, or The Passionate Century of Love (100 sonnets)

16/ 1584 – John Southern: Pandora

17/ 1584 – Robert Greene: Greene’s Card of Fancy, wherein the Folly of those carpet Knights is deciphered…

Title Page of "The English Secretary," first edition, 1586, with a dedication to Oxford referring to his "exceeding bounty" or generosity

18/ 1586 – Angel Day: The English Secretary, wherein is contained a Perfect Method for the inditing of all manner of Epistles and familiar letters…

19/ 1588 – Anthony Munday: Palmerin d’Olivia Pt. 1 – The Mirror of Nobility, Map of Honor, Anatomy of Rare Fortunes, Heroical Precedent of Love, Wonder for Chivalry, and most accomplished Knight in all perfections… (Translation)

20/ 1588 – Anthony Munday: Palmerin d’Olivia Pt. 2 (Translation)

21/ 1590 – Edmund Spenser: The Faerie Queen

John Farmer, famous musician and composer, who was in Oxford's service

22/ 1591 – John Farmer: Plainsong

23/ 1592 – Thomas Nashe: Strange News

24/ 1597 – Henry Lok: The Book of Ecclesiastes

25/ 1599 – John Farmer: The First Set of English Madrigals

26/ 1599 – Angel Day: The English Secretary (Revised Edition)

27/ 1599 – George Baker: New and Old Physic

28/ 1603 – Francis Davison: Anagrammata

29/ 1619 – Anthony Munday: Primaleon of Greece (Translation) – dedicated to Henry de Vere, the 18th Earl of Oxford, who was Edward de Vere’s son by Elizabeth Trentham, his second wife, with warm praise from Munday for his former patron, the 17th Earl….

PART TWO will examine the dedications themselves…

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