The Poet-Earl of Surrey, Who Introduced the “Shakespearean” Sonnet, was the Earl of Oxford’s Uncle: No. 55 of 100 Reasons Why Oxford was the Great Author

If William Shakspere of Stratford-upon-Avon (1564-1616) could have boasted that one of his uncles had introduced the sonnet form later used and made famous by “Shakespeare,” probably fewer folks in the future would have questioned his identity as the great writer and author of SHAKE-SPEARES SONNETS.

Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1517-1547)

Well, the Stratford man had no such uncle; but in fact that was the case for Edward de Vere,  seventeenth Earl of Oxford (1550-1604), whose uncle Henry Howard, the Earl of Surrey (1517-1547), was one of the founders of English Renaissance poetry.

Sir Thomas Wyatt, who belonged to the cultivated circle at the Court of Henry VIII and was Surrey’s senior by fifteen years

One of Oxford’s aunts, Frances de Vere (a sister of his father, the sixteenth Earl), had married Surrey, the nobleman-poet who, with his friend Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542), had pioneered the writing of English sonnets.  [Wyatt and Surrey are known as the “Fathers of the English Sonnet.”]  Surrey himself was the one who created the rhyming meter and quatrain divisions of the “Elizabethan” or “Shakespearean” form of sonnet.

Surrey was beheaded in January 1547 by the dying Henry VIII, who had become increasingly paranoid as illness overwhelmed him.  Without evidence the king had accused the poet-earl of treason, charging him with planning to usurp the crown from his nine-year-old son, the future Edward VI of England.

“Songs and Sonnettes,” usually called Tottel’s Miscellany, 1557, was the first printed anthology of English verse, containing 271 poems, forty of them by Oxford’s uncle the Earl of Surrey and ninety-six by Sir Thomas Wyatt

In 1557, ten years after Surrey’s death and when Oxford was seven, the publisher Richard Tottel issued Songes and Sonettes written by the right honorable Lorde Henry Haward, late Earle of Surrey and other, known later and more famously as Tottel’s Miscellany.  (It was the custom for noblemen’s poetry to be printed posthumously.)  This was the first printed anthology of English poetry in history.  It was also the most important verse collection of the sixteenth century, running into many editions during Elizabeth’s reign.

With his translations of two books of Virgil’s Aeneid, Surrey was the first English poet to publish blank verse; and in this, too, Oxford’s uncle prepared the way for Shakespeare.  Well before his death Surrey’s poetry (inspired by the Italians) had been circulated in manuscript, so that Edward de Vere as a very young child would have seen copies held by his relatives.  Aunt Frances, his father’s sister and Surrey’s widow, herself a versifier, lived until 1577 when Oxford was twenty-seven.

Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1517-1547), creator of the English or “Shakespearean” form of sonnet and uncle of Edward de Vere

[As a young man Oxford was close to his cousins, Surrey’s sons Thomas Howard, fouth Duke of Norfolk (1536-1572), who was executed for taking part in the Ridolfi plot to put the Catholic Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots on the throne; and Henry Howard, the future Earl of Northampton (1540-1614), who was one of those responsible for turning Oxford against his wife Anne Cecil in 1576.  This younger son of Surrey was extremely well-educated and intelligent, which would have drawn Oxford to him, but he also had a “stupendous want of principle,” as Sir Sidney Lee writes in the Dictionary of National Biography (DNB); and Oxford would accuse him in 1580 of plotting a Catholic overthrow of Queen Elizabeth on behalf of the still-captive Mary Stuart.]

Oxford’s relatives and their friends had been personally and actively involved in the rise of English poetry that would flourish in the Elizabethan age and reach its extraordinary heights in the poems, plays and sonnets of “William Shakespeare.”  These poets had included not only Wyatt and Surrey, but others such as:

Thomas, Lord Vaux, who died in 1556; two of his poems appeared in Tottel’s Miscellany (1557); thirteen are in The Paradise of Dainty Devices (1576), which contains youthful poetry of Edward de Vere

Thomas Lord Vaux (1509-1556), inventor of the six-line stanza used for verses of both Oxford and “Shakespeare.”  Lord Vaux contributed some verse posthumously to The Paradise of Dainty Devices (1576), in which seven of Oxford’s poems appeared under the initials E.O.; and that nobleman-poet of an earlier generation had also created a song incorporated by “Shakespeare,” with adaptation, into the Gravedigger’s song in Hamlet.

Edmund Baron Sheffield (1521-1549), another of Oxford’s poet-uncles.  Sheffield, husband of the sixteenth Earl of Oxford’s sister Anne de Vere, has been linked with Surrey as an upholder of “chivalric poetry.”  He was reported to have had great “skill in music” and to have written “a book of sonnets in the Italian fashion,” but all these have been lost.  (Sheffield had little time; he died at twenty-eight, in the act of helping to suppress a rebellion.)

Tottel’s Miscellany, Penquin Classics, Introduction by Tom McFaul & Amanda Holton

Thomas Churchyard (1520-1604), a soldier-poet and an indefatigable “miscellaneous” writer who, according to the DNB, “was attached in his youth to the household of the famous Earl of Surrey, whose memory he fondly cherished throughout his long life.”

After serving militarily against Spain in the Low Countries on behalf of Prince William of Orange, the Protestant champion, Churchyard returned to England in 1567 and a year later entered the employ of eighteen-year-old Edward de Vere.  [He soon embarked on an intelligence mission abroad, probably for Oxford’s guardian William Cecil, chief minister to the Queen.]

In 1580, according to Steven May, Churchyard proposed dedicating two works to “the most worthiest (and towards noble man), the Erle of Oxford,” who was spending his own money (and draining his purse) on patronizing many men of letters.  Among them was Thomas Churchyard, who must have captured Oxford’s full attention while recalling his youthful service to the Earl of Surrey – bringing us back full-circle to No. 55 of 100 Reasons why Edward de Vere was “Shakespeare.”

“Set Me Whereas the Sun Doth Parch the Green”

A Sonnet by Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey

Set me whereas the sun doth parch the green

Or where his beams do not dissolve the ice,

In temperate heat where he is felt and seen,

In presence prest of people, mad or wise;

Set me in high or yet in low degree,

In longest night or in the shortest day,

In clearest sky or where clouds thickest be,

In lusty youth or when my hairs are gray.

Set me in heaven, in earth, or else in hell,

In hill, or dale, or in the foaming flood;

Thrall or at large, alive whereso I dwell,

Sick or in health, in evil fame or good:

Hers will I be, and only with this thought

Content myself although my chance be nought.

The Author as Gardener: No. 54 of 100 Reasons Why the Earl of Oxford was “Shakespeare”

Central Park, New York City

“One occupation, one point of view, above all others, is naturally his, that of a gardener; watching, preserving, tending and caring for growing things, especially flowers and fruit.  All through his plays he thinks most easily and readily of human life and action in the terms of a gardener … it is ever present in Shakespeare’s thought and imagination, so that nearly all his characters share in it.” – Caroline Spurgeon, Shakespeare’s Imagery and what it tells us, 1935

At age twelve in 1562, after a childhood in the Essex countryside, Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford became a royal ward of Queen Elizabeth in the custody of chief minister William Cecil, the future Lord Burghley, living at Cecil House for the next nine years.

An illustration from Walter Crane’s 1906 book Flowers from Shakespeare’s Garden: a Posy from the Plays

“One of the chief features of Cecil House was its garden.  The grounds in which the house stood  must have covered many acres, and were more extensive than those of any of the other private homes in Westminster.  John Gerard, well known as the author of Herbal, or General History of Plants (1597), was for twenty years Sir William Cecil’s gardener [1577-1598]; and Sir William himself evidently took a great pride in his garden … Cecil imbued his sons and the royal wards under his charge with his own keenness in horticulture.” – B. M. Ward, The Seventeenth Earl of Oxford 1550-1604 from contemporary documents, 1928

Number 54 of 100 Reasons to believe that Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford was “Shakespeare” is that he was uniquely positioned to assume the point of view — as well as the love and knowledge of seeds, plants, flowers and trees — possessed by the gardener.  We might imagine the teenage royal ward strolling through the great Cecil gardens, examining and smelling the flowers and learning their names and characteristics — the kind of education that “Shakespeare” must have had.

John Gerard’s landmark book (1597)

“Gardens were laid out on three sides of the mansion [Cecil’s country seat of Theobalds, which Oxford knew well] by the horticulturalist John Gerard … Trees and shrubs seen rarely if at all in Britain were imported from abroad.  The gardens were widely known in Europe.” – Charlton Ogburn Jr., The Mysterious William Shakespeare: The Myth & the Reality, 1984

O, what pity is it
That he [the king] had not so trimm’d and dress’d his land
As we this garden! We at time of year
Do wound the bark, the skin of our fruit-trees,
Lest, being over-proud in sap and blood,
With too much riches it confound itself:
Had he done so to great and growing men,
They might have lived to bear and he to taste
Their fruits of duty: superfluous branches
We lop away, that bearing boughs may live:
Had he done so, himself had borne the crown,
Which waste of idle hours hath quite thrown down.

— The Gardener in Richard II, 3.4

Central Park, New York City

The gardener sows the seeds, whereof flowers do grow,

And others yet do gather them, that took less pain I know.

So I the pleasant grape have pulled from the vine,

And yet I languish in great thirst, while others drink the wine.

Edward de Vere, The Paradise of Dainty Devices, 1576

O thou weed,

Who art so lovely fair and smell’st so sweet

That the sense aches at thee…

When I have plucked the rose,

I cannot give it vital growth again,

It must needs wither: I’ll smell it on the tree.

John Gerard, 1545-1612

Othello, 4.2 and 5.2.

“What doth avail the tree unless it yield fruit unto another?  What doth avail the rose unless another took pleasure in the smell?  Why should this tree be accounted better than that tree, but for the goodness of his fruit?  Why should this vine be better than that vine, unless it brought forth a better grape than the other?  Why should this rose be better esteemed than that rose, unless in pleasantness of smell it far surpassed the other rose?  And so it is in all other things as well as in man.” – Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford, prefatory letter to Cardanus’ Comfort (1573)

“Shakespeare’s Imagery” by Caroline Spurgeon, 1935

The laboring man that tills the fertile soil

And reaps the harvest fruit, hath not indeed

The gain but pain, and if for all his toil

He gets the straw, the Lord will have the seed.

The machete fine falls not unto his share,

On coarset cheat, his hungry stomach feeds.

The landlord doth possess the finest fare,

He pulls the flowers, the other plucks but weeds.

– The Earl of  Oxenforde to the reader (of Cardanus’ Comfort by Thomas Bedingfield, 1573)

The Royal Family Triangle: Part Two – No. 53 of 100 Reasons why the Earl of Oxford was “Shakespeare”

When Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford appeared as “the Knight of the Tree of the Sunne” for the January 1581 tournament at the Whitehall Tiltyard, and his Page delivered a “Sweet Speech” or “Oration” to Queen Elizabeth, he was declaring his undying loyalty to Her Majesty and her Tudor dynasty.

The Sweet Speech spoken by Oxford’s page to Queen Elizabeth in 1581 was included in this book printed in 1592 [the name of Edw (sic) Spenser as translator of the Greek dialogue is, to me, a mystery] – Note the image of the Phoenix

He vowed to “incorporate his heart into that Tree,” the Page announced, referring to “the sole Arabian tree” or dynastic seat of Elizabeth the Phoenix.  The tableau of Queen, Knight and Boy was that of a family triangle representing Elizabeth, Oxford and their unacknowledged Royal Son – the latter being seven-year-old Henry Wriothesley, third Earl of Southampton, who would arrive in London at the end of 1581 to take up residence at Cecil House as a royal ward.

Some two decades later, Southampton was imprisoned as a traitor in the Tower of London on the night of 8 February 1601 for his role in the abortive Essex Rebellion that day.  Now with Secretary Robert Cecil in complete control over Southampton’s fate, Oxford composed The Phoenix and Turtle, a funeral dirge lamenting the end of the Tudor dynasty, published that year.  And here again he served up an image of the same family triangle, now as Beauty (Elizabeth), Truth (Oxford) and Rarity (Southampton), united by their “grace” or royal blood but now turned to ashes:

Beauty, truth and rarity

Grace in all simplicity

Here enclosed in cinders lie

The Phoenix emblem worn by Queen Elizabeth

The dynastic hopes of Elizabeth (Phoenix) are dead; and Oxford’s (Turtle-Dove’s) loyal heart, which he had incorporated into the Phoenix’ Nest (the Queen’s Dynastic Seat), lies forever in the cinders with her:

Death is now the phoenix’ nest

And the turtle’s loyal breast

To eternity doth rest

Oxford had considered himself married to the so-called Virgin Queen, but they would leave behind no record of their union and no descendants to be recognized by future generations:

Leaving no posterity

‘Twas not their infirmity

It was married chastity

Truth may seem, but cannot be

Beauty brag, but ‘tis not she:

Truth and Beauty buried be.

I am grateful to the Shakespeare scholar Charles F. Herberger, Ph.D., retired Professor Emeritus of Nasson College, Maine, for his endorsement of The Monument, my edition of the Shakespeare sonnets – which, he writes, “has so convincingly shown that Southampton was the son of Queen Elizabeth by Oxford, and a presumptive heir to the throne, that it invites taking a renewed look at The Phoenix and Turtle.”

“There can be no doubt that Oxford knew the significance of the Phoenix as a symbol of an era of time governed by the sun,” Professor Herberger writes, “for this meaning is clearly set forth in Ovid’s Metamorphoses (Book 15, lines 391-410).  That Oxford knew Ovid’s Metamorphoses and possibly was its translator rather than Arthur Golding is well known.

“If Southampton was secretly the son born to Elizabeth and Oxford in June (the month of the sun at solstice and apogee) of 1574,” he continues, “Oxford’s assumed title as Knight of the Tree of the Sunne might well have been an intended play on the word ‘son’ that only he and the Queen would understand.

“What is important is the full significance of the myth of the Phoenix.  In essence it symbolizes renewal or rebirth in a period of time.  If the Tudor dynasty which Queen Elizabeth embodies is to survive her death, it must be renewed by an heir.  If she is the Phoenix and the Tree of its rebirth, her ‘Sunne’ or rather ‘son’ must carry on the Tudor dynasty.”

A theme of The Monument is that Oxford agreed to a deal with Robert Cecil to forgo any claim by Southampton to succession to the throne, in exchange for Southampton’s life and Oxford’s own pledge to remain forever hidden behind the pseudonym “William Shakespeare,” which he had adopted in connection with Southampton, as a means of public support: “What I have done is yours, what I have to do is yours,” he wrote under the Shakespeare name in the 1594 dedication to him of Lucrece, “being part in all I have, devoted yours.”

“In 1601 the Queen, Oxford and the heir, Southampton, were still alive but the Tudor dynasty was doomed,” Professor Herberger writes,” and so also was Oxford’s public recognition as Shakespeare.”

According to The Monument the actual death of Queen Elizabeth on March 24, 1603 is recorded by Oxford in Sonnet 105, where he once again mourns the loss of the same family triangle, which has never held the same “seat” or dynastic throne in the person of the “one” royal son or heir:

Fair, kind, and true, is all my argument,

Fair, kind, and true, varying to other words,

And in this change is my invention spent,

Three themes in one, which wondrous scope affords.

Fair, kind, and true, have often lived alone,

Which three, till now, never kept seat in one.

Reason 53 (part one) Why the Earl of Oxford = “Shakespeare”: The 1601 Elegy “The Phoenix and Turtle” is Explained by Oxford’s Role in 1581 as “Knight of the Tree of the Sunne”

The famous “Phoenix Portrait” of Queen Elizabeth, created by Nicholas Hilliard in the 1570s after she had turned forty in 1573 (Rigoursly controlling her image, the Queen had herself portrayed as red-haired and fresh-faced, a wrinkle-free young woman

“But as the Bird of Wonder dies, the Maiden Phoenix, her ashes create another heir, as great in admiration as herself”Archbishop Cranmer in Henry VIII, 5.4, speaking of Queen Elizabeth as the Phoenix from whose ashes a new heir will arise.

While looking through my notes for additions to Reason 52 why Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford wrote the works of “Shakespeare,” an entirely separate piece of evidence became apparent — the clear link between Oxford’s appearance in 1581 before Queen Elizabeth as “the Knight of the Tree of the Sunne” and the allegorical elegy The Phoenix and Turtle, printed in 1601 as by “William Shake-speare” in a compilation of verses called Love’s Martyr or Rosalins Complaint.

No. 53 of 100 Reasons why Oxford=Shakespeare is that the enigma of The Phoenix and Turtle in 1601 begins to dissolve, and ultimately disappears, when Edward de Vere is viewed as the author and this extraordinary link is fully realized.

The Phoenix pendant is right above Elizabeth’s hand

Edward de Vere in January 1581 depicted Elizabeth as the Phoenix, the mythical bird that consumes itself in flames ignited by the sun, but is then reborn from its own ashes.  Well before then the Queen had used the Phoenix as a symbol of her chastity and of the rebirth (through succession to the throne) of her Tudor dynasty.

In the same tiltyard performance, Oxford depicted himself as the Queen’s loyal Knight devoted to protecting “the Tree of the Sunne” — the single or sole Arabian tree in which the Phoenix had her nest, symbolic of the English throne and Elizabeth’s dynastic seat.

The Acacia Tree, which Oxford called “The Tree of the Sunne” in 1581, is “the sole Arabian tree” in “The Phoenix and Turtle” of 1601

The earl’s boy-page delivered an oration to the Queen describing how the earl had made “a solemn vow to incorporate his heart into that Tree,” adding that “as there is but one Sun to shine over it, one root to give life unto it, one top to maintain Majesty, so there should be but one Knight, either to live or die for the defense thereof.”

Oxford was symbolically merging with Elizabeth, as if they were a single entity, and pledging to protect the Queen and her dynasty with his “constant loyalty” as well as his life.

In 1601, twenty years later, The Phoenix and Turtle in Love’s Martyr opens with that same Sun-Tree or dynastic throne of Elizabeth-the-Phoenix, but now an imposter or usurper (the bird with the loudest singing voice) is calling all others (the English people) to gather in mourning at a funeral:

Cover page of “Loves Martyr” (1601)

Let the bird of loudest lay

On the sole Arabian tree

Herald sad and trumpet be,

To whose sound chaste wings obey.

In the next part it will become clear that the usurper or imposter is James Stuart, King James VI of Scotland, who, now in 1601, is being prepared behind the scenes to succeed Elizabeth on the throne when she dies.  (The Queen will die two years later, in 1603, and James will be proclaimed King James I of England, replacing the House of Tudor with the Stuart dynasty).

Oxford, previously the “Knight of the Tree of the Sunne” who had pledged to Elizabeth-the-Phoenix that his “life should end before his loyalty” to her, is now in 1601 the equally loyal bird known as the Turtle-Dove.

A Turtle-Dove (Oriental)

The Phoenix and Turtle becomes a lament for Elizabeth and Oxford, whose mutual dynastic hopes for the next Tudor succession have gone up in flames:

Here the anthem doth commence:

Love and constancy is dead.

Phoenix and the turtle fled

In a mutual flame from hence

The poem is also a funeral dirge for the imminent death of “the Phoenix’ nest” or Elizabeth’s throne, along with the disappearance of her Tudor dynasty.  The future for which Oxford and the Queen had hoped could no longer happen; no such future would be recorded in posterity:

Death is now the Phoenix’ nest,

And the turtle’s loyal breast

To eternity doth rest.

Leaving no posterity

Part Two of this Reason will explore the deeper aspect of this amazing link between Edward de Vere’s pledge of loyalty to the Queen in 1581 and the printing of The Phoenix and Turtle as by “Shake-speare” in 1601.

[I highly recommend the website The Place 2 Be for its material on this subject and acknowledge its contribution to my posting here.]

Part Two of Reason 52 Why Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford was the Bard: the “Sweet Speech” to the Queen in 1581 was Shakespearean

On January 22, 1581 prior to a jousting tournament at the Whitehall Palace Tiltyard, the Page to Edward de Vere, the seventeenth Earl of Oxford delivered an “Oration” or “Sweet Speech” to Queen Elizabeth, undoubtedly presenting a story that his master had created and written.   The story is about “The Knight of the Tree of the Sunne,” a role to be played on the tournament field by Oxford himself.

In the previous month the earl had accused (correctly) his Catholic associates of treasonous plots against Elizabeth, incurring their wrath as well as accusations against him that included alleged mockery and criticism of the Queen.  Now, in a mighty effort to avoid falling from the royal favor, Oxford devised this story to expresses his “constant loyalty” to her.

Included below is the text of the speech (in more modern English), based on a reprinting by Charles Wisner Barrell in 1947 and a transcription made in 2004 by Oxfordian researcher Nina Green for her Oxford Authorship Site.  Oxford’s imagery in the Sweet Speech of 1581 is virtually the same as imagery in the works appearing under the “Shakespeare” name in the 1590s.

The beautiful and majestic Tree of the Sunne is Queen Elizabeth herself; and “Shakespeare” will also describe royal or noble persons as plants or trees.  Here, for example, is Richard, Duke of Gloucester, (in Richard III, 3.7), praising King Edward IV (while intending to take his crown):

The royal tree hath left us royal fruit,

Which, mellowed by the stealing hours of time,

Will well become the seat of majesty,

And make, no doubt, us happy by his reign.

Here is Antiochus speaking to the prince in Pericles, Prince of Tyre (1.1):

Yet hope, succeeding from so fair a tree

As your fair self, doth tune us otherwise.

Sebastian in The Tempest (3.3) alludes to the Arabian Tree as the throne of Queen Elizabeth, whose emblem was the Phoenix:

Now I will believe

That there are unicorns, that in Arabia

There is one tree, the Phoenix’s throne, one Phoenix

At this hour reigning there.  

The next and final part of Reason 52 will consider the Tree of the Sunne as combining both Queen Elizabeth and the tree of the Phoenix, which she used for her emblem.  (Oxford was also likened by writers of the time to Alexander the Great, who is mentioned in the Speech alongside the Phoenix.)  Meanwhile, here is the text of the oration (with some added emphases) that Oxford’s page delivered to the Queen:

THIS KNIGHT (most fair and fortunate Princess) living of a long time in a Grove, where every graft being green, he thought every root to be precious, found at the last as great diversity of troubles as of Trees:

The Oak to be so stubborn that nothing could cause it to bend: the Reed so shaking, that every blast made it to bow; the Juniper sweet, but too low for succor; the Cypress fair, but without fruit; the Walnut tree to be as unwholesome to lie under, as the bud of the Fig-tree unpleasant to taste; the Tree that bore the best fruit, to be fullest of Caterpillars, and all to be infected with worms; the Ash for Ravens to breed; the Elm to build: the Elder to be full of pith and no perfection, and all Trees that were not fertile, to be fit for fuel, and they that were fruitful, but for the time to please the fancy.

Which trying, he forsook the wood, and lived a while in the plain Champion: where, how he was tormented it were too long to tell, but let this suffice: that he was troubled, when every Moat fell in his eye in the day, and every Ant disquieted him in the night: where, if the wind blew, he had nothing to shield him but head and shoulders, if the Sun blazed, he could find the shadow of nothing but himself, when seeing himself so destitute of help, he became desperate of hope.

Thus wandering a weary way, he espied at the last a Tree so beautiful, that his eyes were dazzled with the brightness, which as he was going unto, he met by good fortune a Pilgrim or Hermit, he knew not well, who being appareled as though he were to travel into all Countries, but so aged as though he were to live continually in a Cave.

Of this old Sire he demanded what Tree it was, who taking this Knight by the hand, began in these words both to utter the name and nature of the Tree:

‘This Tree fair Knight is called the Tree of the Sun, whose nature is always to stand alone, not suffering a companion, being itself without comparison: of which kind, there are no more in the earth than Suns in the Element.

The world can hold but one Phoenix, one Alexander, one Sun-Tree, in top contrary to all Trees: it is strongest, & so stately to behold, that the more other shrubs shrink for duty, the higher it exalteth itself in Majesty.

‘For as the clear beams of the Sun cause all the stars to lose their light, so the brightness of this golden Tree eclipseth the commendation of all other Plants.

‘The leaves of pure Gold, the bark no worse, the buds pearls, the body Chrisocolla, the Sap Nectar, the root so noble as it springeth from two Turquoises, both so perfect, as neither can stain the other, each contending once for superiority, and now both constrained to be equals.

‘Vestas birth sitteth in the midst, whereat Cupid is ever drawing, but dares not shoot, being amazed at the princely and perfect Majesty.

‘The shadows hath as strange properties as contrarieties, cooling those that be hot with a temperate calm, and heating those that be cold with a moderate warmth, not unlike that Sun whereof it taketh the name, which melteth Wax, and hardeneth Clay, or pure fire, which causeth the gold to shine, and the straw to smother, or sweet perfumes, which feedeth the Bee, and killeth the Beetle.

No poison cometh near it, nor any vermin that hath a sting. Who so goeth about to lop it, lanceth himself, and the Sun will not shine on that creature that casteth a false eye on that Tree, no wind can so much as wag a leaf, it springeth in spite of Autumnus and continueth all the year as it were Ver. [An identification of Edward de Vere.]

‘If, Sir Knight you demand what fruit it beareth, I answer, such, as the elder it is, the younger it seemeth, always ripe, yet ever green. [Ever = E. Vere; Green = Tudor green]

‘Virtue, Sir Knight, more nourishing to honest thoughts, than the beauty delightful to amorous eyes; where the Graces are as thick in virtue, as the Grapes are on the Vine.

‘This fruit fatteneth, but never feeds, wherewith this Tree is so laden, as you cannot touch that place which virtue hath not tempered.

‘If you inquire whether any grafts may be gotten, it were as much as to crave slips of the Sun, or a Mould to cast a new Moon.

‘To conclude, such a Tree as it is, as he hath longest known it, can sooner marvel at it than describe it, for the further he wadeth in the praise, the shorter he cometh of the perfection.’

This old man having ended, seeming to want words to express such worthiness, he went to his home, and the Knight to his Sun Tree, where kissing the ground with humility, the princely tree seemed with [  ] to bid him welcome.

But the more he gazed on the beauty, the less able he was able to endure the brightness, like unto those that, looking with a steadfast eye to behold the sun, bring a dark dazzling over their sight.

At the last, resting under the shadow, he felt such content, as nothing could be more comfortable.

The days he spent in virtuous delights, the night slipped away in golden Dreams; he was never annoyed with venomous enemies, nor disquieted with idle cogitations.

Insomuch, that finding all felicity in that shade, and all security in that Sun: he made a solemn vow, to incorporate his heart into that Tree, and engraft his thoughts upon those virtues, Swearing, that as there is but one Sun to shine over it, one root to give life unto it, one top to maintain Majesty: so there should be but one Knight, either to live or die for the defense thereof.

Where-upon he swore himself only to be the Knight of the Tree of the Sun, whose life should end before his loyalty.

Thus cloyed with content, he fell into a sweet slumber, whose smiling countenance showed him void of all care. But his eyes were scarce closed when he seemed to see diggers undermining the  Tree behind him, that the Tree, suspecting the Knight to give the diggers aid, might have punished him in her [  ], but failing of their pretense, and seeing owe they struck to light upon their own brains, they threatened him by violence, whom they could not match in virtue.

But in clasping the Tree, as the only Anchor of his trust, they could not so much as move him from his cause, whom they determined to martyr without color.

Whereupon they made a challenge to win the Tree by right, and to make it good Arms – at which saying, the Knight being glad to have his Truth tried with his valor, for joy awakened. [Truth = Oxford’s motto “Nothing Truer than Truth”]

And now (most virtuous and excellent Princess), seeing such tumults towards for his Tree, such an Honorable presence to judge, such worthy Knights to Joust: I cannot tell whether his perplexity or his pleasure be the greater.

But this he will avouch at all assays himself to be the most loyal Knight of the Sun-tree, which who so gain-sayeth he is here pressed, either to make him recant it before he run, or repent it after; offering rather to die upon the points of a thousand Lances, than to yield a jot in constant loyalty.

In Shakespeare Sonnet 12, warning his royal son Henry Earl of Southampton against destroying the “green” Tudor dynasty of “beauty,” the Queen, whose blood he has inherited:

When lofty trees I see barren of leaves,

Which erst from heat did canopy the herd,

And summer’s green all girded up in sheaves

Borne on the bier with white and bristly beard;

Then of thy beauty do I question make

That thou among the wastes of time must go…

To the Dark Lady (Queen Elizabeth) in Sonnet 152:

And all my honest faith in thee is lost.

For I have sworn deep oaths of thy deep kindness,

Oaths of thy love, thy truth, thy constancy…

Edward de Vere Stages Another Real-Life Production for Her Majesty and the Crowd: No. 52 (Part One) of 100 Reasons to Believe He Wrote the Works of “Shakesepare”: Oxford is “The Knight of the Tree of the Sunne”

Whitehall Palace, 22 January 1581:

The Old Whitehall Palace by Hendrick Dankerts, 17th century. Before it was destroyed by fire in 1698, Whitehall was the largest palace in Europe, with more than 1,500 rooms.

A great crowd at the Whitehall Tiltyard watches 30-year-old Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, Lord Great Chamberlain of England, as he once again proves himself a master showman.  The spectators gasp as he emerges from his magnificent Tent beside a glittering Bay-tree, appearing as the Knight of the Tree of the Sunne.  His boy-page approaches Queen Elizabeth and, facing her, delivers a “Sweet Speech” written, no doubt, by the earl himself.  Now, after an exchange with his delighted Queen, he mounts his horse and rides to defend his title against the challenger.  At the end he is still champion of the tilt; and members of the cheering, frenzied crowd race to tear the Tent and Tree into pieces …

Contemporary drawing of a tournament in the Tiltyard of Whitehall Palace during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, where Edward de Vere was champion of the “solemn joust at the tilt, tournay and barriers” on both occasions when he participated, in May 1571 and January 1581.

This dramatic episode of the Elizabethan reign will be described nine years later, in 1592, in a book published by Cuthbert Burby ( who will also issue three quartos of the “Shakespeare” plays  including The Most Excellent and lamentable Tragedie of Romeo and Juliet in 1599, advertised as “newly corrected, augmented and amended” by the author).  The description of Oxford’s 1581 production (rendered in more modern English) in the tiltyard (without the page’s Sweet Speech) follows here:

The long rectangle at left-middle is the Tiltyard opposite Whitehall Palace, where Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford was the victor of both tournaments in which he participated

“By the tilt stood a stately Tent of Orange tawny Taffeta, curiously embroidered with Silver & pendants on the Pinnacles very slightly to behold.  From forth this Tent came the noble Earl of Oxenford in rich gilt Armor, and sat down under a great high Bay-tree, the whole stock, branches and leaves whereof were all gilded over, that nothing but Gold could be discerned.

A Bay-Tree, this one with a spiral stem. Bay-trees can grow much larger.

“By the Tree stood twelve tilting staves, all which likewise were gilded clean over.  After a solemn sound of most sweet Music, he mounted on his Courser, very richly caparisoned, when his page ascending the stairs where her Highness stood in the window, delivered to her by speech this Oration:


“The speech being ended, with great honor he ran, and valiantly broke all the twelve staves. 

And after the finishing of the sports: both the rich Bay-tree, and the beautiful Tent, were by the standers-by torn and rent in more pieces than can be numbered.”

When J.T. Looney published his landmark book identifying Edward de Vere as “Shakespeare” in 1920, he was apparently unaware of this “show” that Oxford produced and directed and in which he played the starring role.  But let us imagine Looney making observations and gathering evidence, which would come together as an initial Oxfordian theory of Shakespearean authorship, and coming upon the above account of an event in Oxford’s life when he was not yet thirty-one in 1581.

Isn’t this extravaganza just the kind of thing he might have expected to find?

Oxford steps into the arena, in front of the crowd, wearing the “rich gilt Armor” of “The Knight of the Tree of the Sunne,” within a stage set that includes a shimmering “Tent of Orange tawny Taffeta, curiously embroidered with Silver & pendants,” and a “great high Bay-tree.”  In addition to this visual feast, the Queen and the crowd are treated to the sound of “most sweet Music.” 

Perhaps Oxford’s page looked like this Elizabethan boy…

And then, before the dangerous and dramatic real-life action of the tournament begins, Oxford’s page faces Elizabeth and speaks aloud the written oration.

The crowd gazes upon the sight of what appears to be a family threesome:  the Earl and the Queen and the Boy…

In virtually every respect, here is a most wondrous dramatic play, produced by Oxford a dozen years before the name “Shakespeare” will appear in print.

Next we’ll get into the Sweet Speech itself; meanwhile, this piece of evidence is No. 52 – Part One of 100 Reasons to believe Oxford wrote the great works attributed to William Shakespeare.

WATCH THE TRAILER FOR “LAST WILL. & TESTAMENT” — The First Major Documentary on the Shakespeare Authorship Question in Over Two Decades — Is it a Game Changer?



The New Shakespeare Authorship Documentary “Last Will. & Testament” Soon to be Available Nationwide

On 23 October 2012, the Shakespeare authorship documentary LAST WILL. & TESTAMENT will finally be launched in the United States via ON DEMAND and ITUNES, bringing this powerful argument for Edward de Vere, the seventeenth Earl of Oxford to a nationwide audience.

Two days before, on 21 October 2012, the documentary will have its U.S. Premier at the Austin Film Festival.  Meanwhile the film is now on a college tour that has already included a stop on Oct. 5 at DePaul University in Chicago and, today, Oct. 7, at the Film Society of Minneapolis.  The upcoming schedule so far:

OCT 12 Southern Oregon University -OLLI – Ashland, OR

OCT 14 University of Missouri – Kansas City/ESU-KC

OCT 19 Caltech/Shakespeare Authorship Conference – Pasadena, CA

And, as mentioned above:

OCT 21 US Premiere at the Austin Film Festival – Austin TX

OCT 23 – available nationwide On Demand and iTunes on October 23, 2012.

The most important result of all this, in my view, is that more and more folks will have information — just plain information, to which they had never had access.  This is not about making overnight converts to the Oxfordian theory of Shakespeare authorship; rather, it’s about letting people know what’s behind one of the most amazing and important investigations related to literature and history.

It’s especially gratifying to know that this information will now be available to members of a new generation of students, who will not be as brainwashed (and deprived of the facts) as so many other generations have been.  These young people will not be trapped in the old Shakespearean paradigm; they will be able to look at the information with more open minds.

Let the new era begin!

Part Two of Reason 51: Images of “The Defense of the Military Profession” Dedicated to Edward Earl of Oxford

I thought I’d add to Reason 51 by sharing facsimiles of some of the pages from The Defense of Militarie Profession (1579), dedicated to Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford by Geffrey Gates.  (Cover page at left.)

The volume was printed by Henry Middleton for publisher John Harrison, who would go on to publish Venus and Adonis in 1593, introducing “William Shakespeare” with a narrative poem personally overseen by the author.

Immediately inside the book, on the first lefthand page, is the coat-of-arms usually used by Oxford, with his earldom motto VERO NIHIL VERIUS or Nothing Truer than Truth displayed along the bottom.

On the first righthand page begins the dedication “TO THE RIGHT honorable, Edward de Vere, Earle of Oxenford, vicount Bulbecke, Lord of Escales and Baldesmere, and Lord great Chamberlaine of England.”

Experience bears such a sovereignty over all things human and divine,” it begins [modern English], “that without it the quality or power either of word, deed, devise, or matter, cannot make itself known to the understanding of men: for the heavenly truth justifies itself by the effects of his nature and power, made apparent to the eyes & capacities of earthly creatures…”

The sixty-three-page treatise begins [also modern English]:  “It has been an old controversy in the opinions of the English nation what profession of life is most honorable in worldly states…”

My feeling is that Edward de Vere not only acted as patron but financed the publication himself; and beyond that, I am sure he took great interest in this work and probably contributed a great deal to it behind the scenes.

When the Northern Rebellion began in November 1569, Oxford wrote to his guardian William Cecil, the future Lord Burghley, asking for military service against the northern Catholic earls.  To the nineteen-year-old earl, such service was the most honorable course.  He told Cecil that “at this time I am bold to desire your favour and friendship that you will suffer me to be employed by your means and help in this service that now is in hand … ” 

He reminded Cecil that “heretofore you have given me your good word to have me see the wars and services in strange and foreign places … Now you will do me so much honour as that by your purchase of my License I may be called to the service of my prince and country …”

In September 1572, after the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacrre of Protestants in France, Oxford wrote to Burghley saying he would be eager to serve the Queen abroad, on the Continent:  “I had rather serve there than at home where yet some honor were to be got; if there be any setting forth to sea, to which service I bear most affection, I shall desire your Lordship to give me and get me that favour and credit, that I might make one.  Which if there be no such intention, then I shall be most willing to be employed on the sea coasts, to be in a readiness with my countrymen against any invasion.”

Oxford never lost his eagerness to serve as a military man.  He connected that activity with honor.  It’s easy to imagine him composing Hamlet and having Ophelia cry out, “O what a noble mind is here o’erthrown!  The courtier’s, soldier’s, scholar’s, eye, tongue, sword, the expectancy and rose of the fair state…”

Edward Earl of Oxford was all of that … and much more.

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