Reason 48 to Believe the Earl of Oxford was “Shakespeare”: The Many Characters Reflecting Queen Elizabeth

What are the chances of William Shakspere of Stratford upon Avon creating allegorical portraits of Queen Elizabeth I of England?  What are the chances he dared to depict this female ruler, an absolute monarch so intensely proud and protective of her public image, in accurate but often harshly negative detail?

Edward de Vere 17th Earl of Oxford had known Her Majesty from at least 1561, when he was eleven and she was twenty-eight.  The following year he became her first royal ward, in the custody of her chief minister William Cecil, and she became his official mother.  He reached his majority in 1571, entering the House of Lords and quickly enjoying the greatest royal favor at Court.  He had a front-row seat for one of the most sensational tragicomedies in world history – the Golden Age of Elizabeth!

Given that he was also a poet and dramatist, what are the chances of him creating allegorical portraits of the great Virgin Queen?

Scholars of the traditional Bard have fleetingly glimpsed such portraits of Elizabeth in the plays, but for them the full picture is out of focus and blurry.  It’s impossible to see clearly with the wrong author in mind.  Knowledge of the true author creates a lens through which vital aspects of the works become wondrously clear.  Much of what was obscure becomes obvious.

Venus (In the Botticelli painting): Goddess of Love and Beauty, with whom Queen Elizabeth was associated

Through an Oxfordian lens the Shakespeare plays contain quite a few female characters that appear to reflect Elizabeth I of England.

Once the Earl of Oxford is viewed as the author, it becomes clear that he was obsessed with his sovereign mistress and that he was constantly grappling with the extremes of her strengths and weaknesses.

Here are eight of his female characters appearing to represent her:

  1. Cleopatra ………………… Antony and Cleopatra
  2. Cressida ………………….. Troilus and Cressida
  3. Gertrude …………………. Hamlet
  4. Olivia ………………………. Twelfth Night
  5. Portia ………………………. The Merchant of Venice
  6. Rosalind …………………… Romeo and Juliet
  7. Silvia ………………………… The Two Gentlemen of Verona
  8. Titania ……………………… A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Titania, Queen of the Fairies, is most often mentioned in connection with Elizabeth, mainly because Oberon describes Cupid’s vain attempt to ensnare “a fair vestal throned by the west.” Many other aspects of Titania reflect Elizabeth, but the point of Reason 48 is the sheer quantity of such characters that Oxfordians have observed.  The female characters reveal many sides (good and bad) of that extraordinary woman who ruled England for nearly forty-five years; and some of the portraits could have been drawn only by an artist who had experienced them “up close and personal.”

An image of Queen Cleopatra of Egypt on an ancient coin

*  For an accurate view of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the biographical and historical framework of the earliest versions must be moved back in time from the mid-1590’s to the early 1580’s.  In that perspective, it’s possible to see the love affair between Queen Titania and Bottom as depicting the courtship of Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Alencon during the so-called French Match.

*  In Twelfth Night, the portrait of Elizabeth as Olivia stands beside Malvolio as a caricature of Sir Christopher Haton, the Captain of the Queen’s Bodyguard.

* Elizabeth banished Oxford from Court after discovering his affair with Anne Vavasour, who gave birth to his illegitimate child; and we can hear Oxford speaking of his Queen as Silvia in Valentine’s words:

And why not death rather than living torment?
To die is to be banish’d from myself;
And Silvia is myself: banish’d from her
Is self from self: a deadly banishment!

*  The vows of constancy made by Troilus to Cressida reflect those Oxford had to make to the Queen when his Court banishment ended in 1583 and old Roger Manners reported, “The Earl of Oxford came into her [Elizabeth’s] presence, and after some bitter words and speeches, in the end all sins are forgiven.” 

Elizabeth I of England, a potrait

* To the Elizabethans it must have been obvious that Shakespeare modeled Cleopatra on Elizabeth, who appears to have modeled herself on the Queen of Egypt.

Turning to the poems and sonnets, we find more aspects of Queen Elizabeth through the Oxfordian lens.  She was the queen of Love and Beauty, like Venus; she was the chaste queen, like Lucrece [she had it both ways]; she was the Phoenix; and so on!

  1. Venus ………………………….. Venus and Adonis
  2. Lucrece ………………………… The Rape of Lucrece
  3. Phoenix ……………………….. The Phoenix and the Turtle
  4. Woman ………………………… A Lover’s Complaint
  5. Mistress (Dark Lady) …….. Shake-speares Sonnets

In some cases Oxford appears to use male characters to reflect the Queen:

  1. King Cymbeline of Britain ………. Cymbeline
  2. King Richard II of England ………. Richard II

I’m sure Elizabeth would have seen herself (or aspects of herself) in each of these characters.  Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, must have delighted her.  Gertrude, Queen of Denmark, would have sent her into a fury [and we might wonder if she ever attended a performance of Hamlet].

The Queen definitely recognized the unflattering portrait of herself in the character of Richard II, a weak monarch led astray by flattering counselors.  Several months after the failed Essex Rebellion of February 8, 1601, which had been preceded by a special performance  of the Shakespeare play, Elizabeth turned to her in-house historian William Lambarde and said, “I am Richard the Second, know ye not that?”

Before the gifted and perceptive K.C. Ligon died in 2009, she had begun to build an entire blog site entitled Shakespeare and Elizabeth, and I urge you to check it out.

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12 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hank, again you are right on the money. It is funny how different the world looks when looking through the lens of truth. All of the blurry perceptions fade away and all you have left is a reality of historical facts not misguided dogma. That is why the Authership Debate is so important because it is a quest for the truth. Think what a message it would send to the world when the Shakepeare from Stratford is proven to be false, It would show that human beings are always striving to find the truth in things. Which is what this imperfect world desperately needs more than anything! Keep up the good fight old chap.

  2. Hank, (almost) all these information have been including in The Monument. How many books do you know have been sold all around the world? How many people know about your discoveries? I myself think it to be my mission to spread word. In Hungary, there’s a jazz group with the name of W.H. They play Shake-speares’ sonnets with jazz music. And the name comes from as they say “the mystery – nobody knows who W.H. actually was, it’s a perfect name for the mistery of our music”. I wrote to them, that I do know who W.H. was, and I recommended your book for them to read. I’m still waiting fro their reply 🙂

    • Sandy, that’s awesome keep up the good work!!!

  3. Here they are:

    • Thanks for the comments, folks. Sandy, that’s very interesting. Much appreciated! The truth can be communicated in many different ways, for sure!

  4. Whittemore, when I look to Venus in “Venus and Adonis”, as a believer in Tudor Prince Theory Part II and in the Theory Group, I see this goddess as Queen Elizabeth. Is easy to identify her in the poem. But you said that she was to Lucrece in “The Rape of Lucrece” and I have thinking on it. Reading the poem, I think there’s too much methaphors to the War of the Roses (“The Beauty’s Red (…) The Virtue’s White” are through the ALL poem). I think that Lucrece and Tarquin are the same person, Elizabeth. But Lucrece is the “Virgin Queen” that is raped by her own carnal desires (Tarquin) and then kill herself (making Tarquin’s shame public = making Elizabeth’s sexual affairs public). Do you think this is possible or you sugest another theory to Elizabeth as Lucrece. Sorry my bad english

    • That’s an interesting view of it and you could be right. I have always had the tentative idea that Tarquin is one of Oxford’s self-portraits in the vein of Othello, Macbeth, Hamlet, each in different degrees. In this case, he becomes the aggressor — and the implication is that the result, as in Venus and Adonis, is a birth. We don’t know if there was any conception, but in killing herself, Lucrece may be killing her child as well. And this would be a metaphor of Elizabeth’s refusal to name Southampton as her son, in effect committing suicide and taking the whole Tudor dynasty with her. I must study it more. Thanks for the insight, to be continued…

      • Very shakespearean students had already agreed that the Dark Lady/Mistress is most evident inspiration behind Rosaline of “Love’s Labour’s Lost”. The love between her and Berowne (Biron) is very similar with the one that we can find in Sonnets 127-152. Even though, Berowne describes his love (Rosaline) as “ebony” before the critics of the King Ferdinando. Why didn’t you put Rosaline of “Love’s Labour’s Lost” as Elizabeth? Do you think that she’s Anne Vavasour and De Vere Berowne?

  5. Hank:
    I have been searching for an appropriate place on your blog to post these questions. Please forgive me if this is not the right “reason” under which to post it. As you know, I am new to the authorship issue but my heart is fast and fixed and I am learning and absorbing all I can. Perhaps others who read your wonderful an informative blog list here can be of assistance to me in giving their perspective on my questions. I do not have any doubts that Edward de Vere is Shakespeare and I do believe that the Prince Tudor I and II theories that you and Charles Beaucleark espouse are correct and will be vindicated. So I pray you will suffer me to ask these questions regarding the relationship between Oxford and Elizabeth and their child, the Earl of Southampton:

    1. I read in Anderson yesterday that Oxford probably knew by the time
    he was 19 (1569) that he was Elizabeth’s son, because at that age he
    started using the “crown signature” of the coronet and seven lines. Do
    you think that he became sexually involved with her before knowing
    this, or after?
    2. As an adoptee I know my birth mother would have been very happy to know where I was after she gave me away. Is it plausible to think that
    Elizabeth did not know where her bastard children were placed (as is
    speculated in the Anonymous film)? Why would she not have known where they went? It seems she at least knew where Oxford was because she attended his degree ceremonies when he was 15 and 17.
    3. And on this basis of these points, what was going through the minds
    of Oxford and Elizabeth when they entered into a sexual relationship,
    if they both know full well they were mother and son? Or did she know
    initially, and not him, if they came together before he started using
    the crown signature at 19?
    The only perspective I can get on this is regarding my own birth
    mother. She was not raised by her father and only saw him once when
    she was 11, when he raped her– her first sexual experience. I also
    met a birth mother who found her biological son; she told me she felt
    “oddly attracted’ to him–sexually– when she first met him as an adult. I almost wonder if something goes askew in some close biological relationships that are kept apart and then come together later.

    Thank you so much for allowing me to share my thoughts here and for the opportunity for the many great minds that flock to your great words and work here on this blog to perhaps offer some perspective to an eager and receptive learner.

    • Hi there – I am printing this out to take with me, and will get back in a few days or less. Great to hear from you! Cheers, Hank

    • Hi again Theresa and thanks for these very good questions. I’ll do my best, but on many of the points no one can claim definitive answers. I’m copying the question part of your comment below and will interject some answers or comments:

      1. I read in Anderson yesterday that Oxford probably knew by the time
      he was 19 (1569) that he was Elizabeth’s son, because at that age he
      started using the “crown signature” of the coronet and seven lines. Do
      you think that he became sexually involved with her before knowing
      this, or after?

      = First, it must have been Beauclerk in Shakespeare’s Lost Kingdom, or in Paul Streitz’s book Oxford: Son of Elizabeth. It wouldn’t be Anderson.

      = He could have become sexually involved with her before then, but I somehow doubt it. What we don’t know about the 1560s is to what extent he was able to go to court, if he saw the queen at all or often, and so on. If he was actually 21 in November 1569, it may well have occurred during that year. But once he “officially” came of age in 1571 he quickly became her favorite companion, with Hatton quickly jealous of him, etc. And I think we have to look closely at Venus and Adonis to see that he was leaving a record of what had happened — this older woman who was a goddess on earth, powerful, whom he adored, was seducing him! His testimony is that he tried to get away but that he must have given in, because that “purple flower” was born from his blood. And Lucrece may be on some level his testimony that he finally gave in and feels as though he committed a terrible crime, i.e., that he was Tarquin.

      2. As an adoptee I know my birth mother would have been very happy to
      know where I was after she gave me away. Is it plausible to think that
      Elizabeth did not know where her bastard children were placed (as is
      speculated in the Anonymous film)? Why would she not have known where they went?
      It seems she at least knew where Oxford was because she attended his degree
      ceremonies when he was 15 and 17.

      = No, not plausible, and I am sure she knew very well where Oxford was, and then where Southampton was. She and Burghley knew everything.

      3. And on this basis of these points, what was going through the minds
      of Oxford and Elizabeth when they entered into a sexual relationship,
      if they both know full well they were mother and son? Or did she know
      initially, and not him, if they came together before he started using
      the crown signature at 19?

      = Certainly confusing! But I believe it’s as I’ve said, all there in Venus and Adonis. He knew she was his mother. But he may have known that there was very little chance of him becoming king. He had lost his crown before he even knew it was his birthright. And I believe he extracted a promise, a vow, from her — if not regarding himself as king, then surely Southampton. So in a sense it was also a deliberate act of procreation, of begetting a successor of her blood. He was the first born issue of her body, so he would not give up his right except to his own son. “My friend and I are one,” in the sonnets.

      The only perspective I can get on this is regarding my own birth
      mother. She was not raised by her father and only saw him once when
      she was 11, when he raped her– her first sexual experience. I also
      met a birth mother who found her biological son; she told me she felt
      “oddly attracted’ to him–sexually– when she first met him as an adult.
      I almost wonder if something goes askew in some close biological relationships
      that are kept apart and then come together later.

      = Well, I am sure Elizabeth was drawn to him, attracted for sure, and I’d say you have a special perspective on it that can help us understand.

      Thanks again, keep asking anything any time.

      Regards – Hank

  6. Thank you for your response, Hank. Of course you are right, the reference about Oxford beginning to use the crown signature in 1569 is Beauclerk, pp. 81-82, not Anderson. (Sometimes it does not help to read more than one book at a time!). My apologies.

    Regarding Elizabeth “knowing” where her children were once she gave them away, I did not mean to infer that she could not have known– being all-powerful and utilizing her relationship with William Cecil for the placement of the children. I guess I wonder if perhaps she chose not to know. In order to give away a child there has to be a huge disconnect in the soul in order to withstand it. My biological grandmother gave away her second daughter right at birth. It was an issue that she never talked about, never acknowledged, even when the whereabouts of the adoptive family were not unknowable to her. It was as if she never had that child, that this child of her body never existed. To have done it multiple times, as seems to be the case with Elizabeth’s several children, the disconnect, and the ability to hoist that up within one’s psyche, must have required an enormous adaptive mechanism. It seems that to Elizabeth the biology of being a mother was unavoidable– both in the pregnancy and the birthing of children, as well as the issue of succession, birth and blood and inheritance being so closely intertwined. But the issue of being a mother itself, living and breathing that role, never existed. The disconnect was complete in that sense. Hence her ability to become sexually involved with her own son. He was not her son in any meaningful sense to her, that sense was obliterated when she gave him away. The incest would be much more repulsive to the mind had she raised Oxford as her son. Perhaps because she made him not her son that she could act to him like he was not her son. I think the psychology of the relationship between Oxford and Elizabeth to be compelling indeed.

    Thank you so much Hank for the opportunity to ask questions here on your blog. Your posts are full of insight and revelation. For someone new to the authorship issue I am gorging on a feast of the mind.


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