“Macbeth” is No. 86 of 100 Reasons Why the Earl of Oxford was “Shakespeare”

The official record states that Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford died in 1604. Was the play “Macbeth” inspired by the Gunpowder Plot against James I and Parliament in 1605 and the subsequent treason-and-equivocation trial of Jesuit priest Henry Garnet in 1606, thereby ruling out Oxford as the author? The answer, in a word, is …. No!

An enormous amount of work on “Macbeth” – all pointing away from that oft-repeated dating of the play – has been done by traditional scholars and Oxfordian researchers alike. Among the latter, Richard Whalen has compiled powerful arguments in both a paper published in the 2003 issue of “The Oxfordian” (available online) and in the second edition of “Macbeth” (under his editorship) as part of the Oxfordian Shakespeare Series.

Lady Macbeth and Macbeth (Kate Fleetwood and Patrick Stewart, 2007)

Lady Macbeth and Macbeth
(Kate Fleetwood and Patrick Stewart, 2007)

No. 86 of these 100 reasons to conclude that Edward de Vere was “Shakespeare” is the evidence, as Whalen writes, “that it was Oxford who wrote and rewrote Macbeth many years before James became King of England.”

1567: The Murder of Darnley
In February 1567, when Oxford was not yet seventeen, the Elizabethan court learned that Henry Stewart Lord Darnley, husband of Mary Queen of Scots and King Consort of Scotland, had been assassinated. Darnley’s death at Kirk o’ Field was preceded by gunpowder explosions beneath the room where he slept; he and his valet escaped the blasts only to be strangled to death; and later their bodies were found in the orchard, mysteriously surrounded by a cloak, a dagger, a chair and a coat.

Oxford, enrolled at Gray’s Inn for law, was still a royal ward in the custody of William Cecil, whose informants in Scotland were sending streams of updated intelligence. Young De Vere had a ringside seat as the gruesome details became urgent topics at court and Cecil House. Cecil’s vision for military security called for a peaceful Scotland sympathetic to England, but now that country was on the brink of civil war.

Contemporary Sketch of the Darnley murder with  "floating dagger" at top right corner

Contemporary Sketch of the Darnley murder with “floating dagger” at top right corner

Darnley’s assassination reportedly had been engineered by Mary’s chief advisor and lover, the ambitious Earl of Bothwell. Other intelligence held that she was the responsible party, having lured her husband into a vulnerable position on the pretext that the “wholesome air” would be good for his health – a notable detail of Macbeth. Cecil’s agents sent a sketch of the crime scene, circulated in Scotland, showing a gate and Darnley’s body and a “floating dagger” – key features of the Shakespearean play.

Agents reported that Mary had been so traumatized by fear and horror that she had fallen into a trance – not unlike that of Lady Macbeth in the Shakespeare play. Then came news she had married Bothwell, the murderer, and that many assumed they had planned it together – ready models for Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, who plan the murder of King Duncan. Soon enough Mary was forced to abdicate and her baby son by Darnley, born in 1566, was crowned James VI of Scotland.

Plays of Seneca such as Agamemnon and Medea had recently been translated at Cambridge, where De Vere had received an honorary degree. “Most of the Elizabethan writers of tragedy are purely Senecan in their use of rhetoric, of violent action, and of horror,” writes Eric C. Baade, editor of Seneca’s Tragedies (Classics of Greece and Rome series, 1969), “and even the works of Shakespeare, which transcend all influences, show strong Senecan elements.”

1568: “The Tragedy of the King of Scots”
On March 3, 1568 an anonymous stage work The Tragedy of the King of Scots [now lost] was performed for Queen Elizabeth by the Children of Her Majesty’s Chapel – a boys’ company of which Oxford would become the patron. The murdered monarch might have been the ancient Macbeth or “any other King of Scotland,” Charlotte Stopes writes in Shakespeare’s Industry (1916), indicating the play could have been an early source of Shakespeare’s play. “It might even have represented the death of Darnley,” she adds.

Given that Oxford had been privy to new translations of Seneca’s bloody tragedies, and now to the real-life Senecan horrors in Scotland, wasn’t he as likely as anyone to write such a topical play for the Queen?

1577: Raphael Holinshed and his “Chronicles”
The main source for Shakespeare’s Macbeth is the 1577 edition of Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland by Raphael Holinshed, dedicated to Cecil, who had become Lord Burghley and Oxford’s father-in-law in 1571. Back in July 1567, when Oxford had killed an under-cook while practicing his fencing, Cecil had called upon “Randolph” Holinshed to serve on the jury that ruled the victim had run upon the point of Oxford’s sword, committing suicide. Alan Nelson, De Vere’s Stratfordian biographer (Monstrous Adversary, 2003), has no doubt it was Holinshed the chronicler (whom he calls Cecil’s “protégé”) on the jury.

Holinshed's "Chronicles" 1577

Holinshed’s “Chronicles”
1577

Oxford and Raphael Holinshed were both connected to Burghley and would have known each other early on; and the young earl’s interest in history would have made him extremely curious about the chronicler’s work-in-progress. [Oxford’s uncle Arthur Golding had written to him in 1564 about “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…”] So it stands to reason that he was privy to the Scottish history for Macbeth in Holinshed’s Chronicles while Holinshed himself was writing it!

The historical Macbeth, who died in 1057, led a rebellion against King Duncan and defeated him at Dunsinane. He ruled Scotland for the next seventeen years until he was defeated and killed by Malcolm’s rebel forces. Holinshed’s work was by no means the original source; he derived Macbeth’s story from Hector Boece’s History of Scotland, a Latin chronicle published in 1526 and translated into the Scottish vernacular in 1535 by William Stewart, who embellished it with details drawn upon directly by the author of Macbeth.

1570: Personal Experience in Scotland
The author of Macbeth knows so much about Scotland that he must be drawing from personal experience. “I must consider the strong evidence of Shakespeare’s acquaintance with the scenes he described,” Stopes writes. “No Englishman who had not visited Inverness, and experienced the unexpected mildness of its northern climate, would have thought of describing it as pleasant, delicate, or of noting the martins and their nests…

“Nor would he have changed ‘the green lawn’ of Holinshed and ‘the pleasant wood’ of other writers into the blasted heath near Forres, as the spot where the witches appeared, unless he had seen some such moors lying gaunt and terrible, as witnesses of past winter storms. I can hardly imagine an Englishman who had not visited Scotland dreaming of using the peculiarly Scottish idiom ‘How far is it called to Forres ?’ It is possible, and even probable that Shakespeare visited Scotland…”

Edward de Vere spent several months in Scotland during 1570, serving under the Earl of Sussex in the military campaign against the Northern Rebellion of powerful Catholic earls, who had planned to bring their armies down to London — in order to overthrow Elizabeth and replace her with the Catholic Mary Queen of Scots, who had become a captive in England after fleeing Scotland in 1568.

1572: Assassination and Massacre in France
Critics have compared Lady Macbeth with Catherine de’ Medici, who plotted with Catholic noblemen in France to murder her wedding guests in August 1572, triggering the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre of Protestant Huguenots and their leader, Admiral Coligny, as noted by the University of California:

“It is quite likely that details of the murders by Shakespeare’s Macbeth were taken from accounts of this massacre. Like Lady Macbeth, Catherine de Medici was the driving force behind the King of France, her son, when he approved Coligny’s assassination, as Lady Macbeth forced Macbeth to kill Duncan … Catherine de Medici used a church bell as the signal to kill Coligny. In the play, Macbeth has Lady Macbeth ring a bell as a signal to kill Duncan … The neurotic reactions of King Charles IX after the Massacre resemble Macbeth’s neuroses …”

Oxford was on progress with Elizabeth when, in September, they learned the full details of the massacre. He wrote to Lord Treasurer Burghley, “I would to God your Lordship would let me understand some of your news, which here doth ring doubtfully in the ears of every man, of the murder of the Admiral of France,” continuing in a highly emotional state about the tragedy and pledging his complete support.

Edward de Vere was learning about the assassination and massacre in detail when this very possible contemporary source of Macbeth was sending shock waves through the English court. In his letter he compared Burghley to the slain Coligny: “And think, if the Admiral in France was an eyesore or beam in the eyes of the Papists, then the Lord Treasurer of England is a block and a crossbar in their way.”

1574: Supper with Lady Lennox
Lord Darnley was the eldest surviving son of Mathew Stuart, fourth Earl of Lennox and Lady Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox. When Darnley was assassinated, Lennox was the most ardent pursuant of justice against Bothwell and other lords who had conspired in the murder.

Although Lord and Lady Lennox are never mentioned by Holinshed, both appear in Macbeth [Lady Lennox is in the First Folio text, but editors have removed her as insignificant]. And just as the contemporary Lennox demanded justice for the murder of his son, Lennox in the Shakespeare play is a pivotal character who gradually questions Macbeth’s tyrannical rule. Giving voice to the anger felt by other Scottish nobles, he prays that “a swift blessing may soon return to this our suffering country under a hand accursed!”

Darnley’s father Lord Lennox was killed in Scotland in 1571, possibly also the victim of assassination. In his diary Burghley recorded that on September 19 and 20, 1574, he held supper parties at his Theobalds estate attended by Oxford and Lady Lennox, who would have had much to say about her son’s assassination.

1575: The French Royal Court
Oxford spent most of March 1575 in France, where he was presented to King Henry III, the fourth son of Catherine de’ Medici. Three years earlier, Henry was involved in the plot for the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre. Once again Oxford was brought into personal contact with individuals linked to an event perceived as Shakespeare’s contemporary source for Macbeth.

1588-89: Assassinations in France
Henry III of France, whom Oxford had met in 1575, assassinated the Duke of Guise, on December 23, 1588. The weak son of Catherine de’ Medici had lured the popular Guise to his Chateau of Blois, while his mother was inside – and once inside he was murdered by the royal guard. [The King himself was the victim of an assassination on August 1, 1589, naming Henry of Navarre his successor before he died.]

Catherine de' Medici  1519 - 1589  (Portrait by Francois Clouet, 1515 - 1572)

Catherine de’ Medici
1519 – 1589
(Portrait by Francois Clouet, 1515 – 1572)

Oxfordian scholar Eva Turner Clark, in Hidden Allusions in Shakespeare’s Plays (1931), observed “many points in common” between the Killing of Duncan by Macbeth and the murder of Guise by Henry III, leading her to believe the play was written in 1589, shortly after the King himself was murdered. She cites “the power and influence” of Catherine De’ Medici, who was inside the Chateau of Blois in France when the murder took place, just as Lady Macbeth is in Macbeth’s Castle in Scotland during the murder of Duncan.

The fact that “Macbeth” was never printed until the First Folio of Shakespeare plays in 1623 may be a sign it was never written to flatter King James at any time, especially after he became King of England in 1603. For one thing, given that his father had been strangled to death in 1567 and his captive mother Mary Stuart had been beheaded in 1587, James was understandably terrified of assassination or any kind of violent death, and probably would have fled from the theater!

Also, the orthodox idea that the play was based on the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 becomes absurd under examination. As Richard Whalen writes, that event allegedly involved a plan “by a gang of Roman Catholic radicals – none of whom was in any position to take power – to massacre the whole government of Great Britain, including King James, in a gigantic explosion of gunpowder under Parliament during a ceremonial meeting in broad daylight. Thousands might have been killed. In contrast, Macbeth, ambitious to gain the throne, stabs his guest, King Duncan, in the night while he sleeps alone in his bed. The two regicides could hardly have been more different.”

What about the charges of “equivocation” – dissembling under oath, to avoid the sin of lying – against Father Garnet in 1606 and the appearance of that term in “Macbeth”? “Although equivocation and witchcraft certainly influenced the playwright,” Whalen writes, “neither was specific to the early 1600s. Equivocation had been notorious for years. A decade earlier, it was a principal accusation in the trial of Robert Southwell, a Jesuit priest … Similarly, witchcraft and witch hunts were notorious long before James became King of England.”

Moreover, Whalen observes that it “strains belief to suggest that an English actor/playwright would celebrate the new Scottish king of England by writing a gloomy, violent, bloody tragedy depicting the assassination of a Scottish king that is instigated by witches. That’s not the way playwrights, especially commoners, celebrate their monarchs. Nor is it credible that the king’s own acting company would dare to perform it. There is no documentary evidence that James ever saw the play, read it or even heard about it, much less felt celebrated.”

Amen!

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19 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Nice work as usual, Hank. Anyway, Oxenford didn’t die in 1604.

  2. Thanks as always, Hank, for this comprehensive overview.

    Here’s a 2013 article that shows all the terms alluding to equivocation in Macbeth (including “Porter”) could have come from a 1603 book–
    https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B9YH_poTOlrbUmViR1c0UER0RDA/edit

    • Thanks, Richard! I think “Macbeth” is still very much an Oxfordian mystery. Your addition here is a valuable help. Perhaps the reason the play is so short is that certain things were cut during the James reign, all the way to the Folio, where it first sees print. Or cut right then, in preparation for the Folio. In any case, it would really seem that the play would have terrified and angered James.

  3. Tremendous work. We can always thank Strats for their incredibly obtuse attempts to explain things.

    • It’s really amazing, the comparison between the Gunpowder Plot and the plot of “Macbeth” — as Whalen says, they couldn’t be more different.

  4. The historical Macbeth did not kill Duncan at Dunsinane. Hint…read the source material. You can use Boece, and either the 1577 or 1587 versions of Holinshed to get it right. BTW, Shakespeare used the 1587 version. Hint….”Kernes & Gallowglasses”: In the 1587 but not in the 1577 which you claim was used by the author.

    As for Mr Whalen, he doesn’t even know which century the historical Macbeth lived and died in. In his article “What did the author of Macbeth know” etc he states twelfth century.

    How can Oxfordians expect to be taken seriously when such basic mistakes are evident.

    • I had occasion to read Mike Gordon’s remarks following your column and in particular his censure of Richard Whalen’s in the Shakespeare Oxford Society article which discussed ‘Macbeth’.

      First Mr. Gordon states, “The historical Macbeth did not kill Duncan at Dunsinane.” As I read your column now, the relevant sentence actually says: “The historical Macbeth, who died in 1057, led a rebellion against King Duncan and defeated him at Dunsinane.” Nothing about killing Duncan at Dunisinane, Mr. Gordon. I’m sure you will be a gentleman and apologize for this peevish misreading.

      Concerning Mr. Gordon’s assertion that “Shakespeare” used the 1587 edition of Holinshed, not the 1577 version, for ‘Macbeth’, there seems to be a logical disconnect. Could the author not have used the one and then the other, depending on which version of the Macbeth play he was composing at the time? It appears there was a 1567-8 interlude and a revised play that for example included the new topical reference of a 1580’s voyage to Aleppo. (Incidentally, a copy of Holinshed was part of the lot auctioned in 1948 from the estate of Henrietta Stanley Wentworth, the Earl of Oxford’s great-granddaughter. It and several other scholarly books had been in the family for 350 years. Another volume, Amyot’s Plutarch, was autographed by Henry Wriothesley. To this date. Shakspere of Stratford has never been documented as having or reading a book.)

      Finally, Mr. Gordon is quite correct that Mr. Whalen referred to Macbeth the historical Scottish King as living in the 12th century–in his 2003 Oxfordian article (p. 56) and its website condensation. I should like to point out however that in my 2013 copy of the Oxfordian Shakespeare Series ‘Macbeth’, (pp. 22-3) he noted ‘Macbeth’ as ‘a play about eleventh century Scottish kings and warriors’; ‘the Thane of Ross as an eleventh century warrior thane’; and ‘Macbeth’s rise to power and reign in eleventh century Scotland’. Thus, the minor error of twelfth rather than eleventh century was adjusted in the course of ten years between 2003 and 2013.

      So the conclusion– “How can Oxfordians expect to be taken seriously when such basic mistakes are evident.”–seems to be misplaced. Mr. Gordon made the far greater mistakes in fact and tone.

      I will add only that Mr. Gordon neglected to place a question-mark at the end of his question in addition to errors elsewhere. Invoking the memory of Don Newcombe, the old Brooklyn Dodger, “Man, you not only wrong, you loud wrong.”

      thanks for the column Hank,

      Bill

      • Thanks, Bill, for this eloquent comment. An interesting and perhaps important point here is that Raphael Holinshed died by 1580 (I have also read 1578), so there was quite some time before the 1587 edition was printed. John Harrison was one of the publishers who had the rights — a future publisher of Venus and Adonis, I believe. But who was working on the manuscript and getting it ready for print? The edition was being prepared by Harrison, Bishop, Newberie, Denham and Woodcock, with John Hooker (alias Vowell) as hands-on editor. Things were being added by others — but your point still holds, because we are talking here of an evolving play text. This could use much more Oxfordian research. Thanks again.

      • Hi Bill, If you’ll bear with me, I’d like to take a closer look at the theory regarding earlier versions of Macbeth. You wrote:

        “It appears there was a 1567-8 interlude and a revised play that for example included the new topical reference of a 1580′s voyage to Aleppo.”

        My focus is on the first part of this, where you refer to an “interlude”. Hank mentions a play – now lost – “The Tragedy of the King of Scots”. In his article on Macbeth, Richard Whalen mentions an “interlude of boys”, put on in Sterling, and reported to Cecil by Sir William Drury in 1567.

        I’m assuming that you’re referring to the play of 1568, rather than the interlude of 1567 – is that correct?

        If so, then it is this play that you’re suggesting was an early version of Macbeth, written by Oxford, right?

        I’m sure you know already where I’m going with this – we’ve been here before! The idea just doesn’t sit right with me. Since the play is lost, and all we have is the title, there is no way to prove or disprove the theory. It is pure speculation of the sort that, repeated often enough, hardens into an assumption, which is then asserted by the unwary as fact.

        Oxford might not have written “The Tragedy of the King of Scots”. If the play were to surface, we may find it had no material in common with Macbeth. I do understand the intriguing possibility that Macbeth contains topical references to the Darnley murder – I thought as much myself, after reading two biographies of Mary Queen of Scots, and before I’d read Winstanley and others. But without the text itself, it doesn’t seem worthwhile to cite at all, when making a case for a pre-1604 Macbeth. It will only dilute the authority of whatever facts you do have on hand.

  5. This is very curious. Lately in my own blog I talked about those plays who are generally dated pos-1604. “Macbeth” was one of them. People, get serious: “Macbeth” is everything except something that Shakespeare would wrote to celebrate James’ coronation. Scots killing, scots ploting, scots making the worst things people can do to a monarch. No, “Macbeth” isn’t very flatterer. The same thing for “Henry VIII”. I think this post fits the matter: http://shakespearebyanothername.blogspot.pt/2014/02/these-1602-jokes-about-macbeth-explode.html

    • Yes, Francisco, it’s amazing what incorrect assumptions can lead to.

  6. Responding to W.J. Ray:- First of all, let’s confirm the factual error. Here’s the quote ““The historical Macbeth, who died in 1057, led a rebellion against King Duncan and defeated him at Dunsinane.”

    None of possible sources under discussion, recounting what happened to Duncan, locate the events to Dunsinane. Further, ALL the possible sources describe a single event that results in Duncan being killed.

    I was perfectly correct to state Duncan was not killed at Dunsinane.

    Mr Ray, are you suggesting there were two events? A defeat at Dunsinane and the subsequent death of Duncan at another place and time?

    Let me help you out: Boece, Holinshed, Bellenden, Stewart and Buchanan ALL locate the death of Duncan at or close to Inverness. Boece (translated) states “murder”; Holinshed states “slue”; Bellenden writes “slew”; Stewart has it “Duncane wes slane”; Buchanan says “killed him”.

    On the query about the author using both editions of Holinshed. Yes, of course both could have been used, my point was that the 1587 contains “Kernes and Gallowglasses”. These words are NOT in the 1577. Conclusion: The author was reading from the 1587. The allusion to The Tiger and Alleppo is from 1606 as confirmed by “Weary sennights nine times nine” in Act 1 Scene 3: I.e. 7x9x9 = 567. The number of days of the Tiger’s voyage.

    Thank you for accepting that Mr Whalen had made the mistake of misplacing events to the twelfth century. Will you now acknowledge Mr Whittemore’s error about Dunsinane?

    • Hi Gordon, great comment. I have to admit: even more of what I could say. Forgive my rude English, I’m not even English. Maybe I’m no the answer you want, but I saw in your comments some errors.

      I don’t see why Oxford couldn’t have wrote Macbeth after 1588. He could have read both versions of Holinshed. Answer me, anyway, because I’m curious about your opinion: could the great and (phiscally) absent Shakespeare wrote a play to “celebrate” the failure of the Gunpowder Plot (I think I said before it was to celebrate James’ coronation… my bad), where he represented the scots ploting and killing and doing everything bad to a monarch? Would James not even get the offense? After all, the play has a monarch who is killed in his bedroom by a couple of greedy courtiers. This doesn’t sound anything like a gunpowder plot, I don’t think the English public would remebered it seeing the play, nor the King… but that just my opinion. This regicide fits, however, that of Lord Darnely. Also the scene where Lady Macbeth is seen sleepwalker may fitts the fact that Mary Stuart was said to be in a kind of transe after her husband’s death. The greedy murder couple of Lady Macbeth and Macbeth fitts perfectly that of Mary and James Hepburn.

      When to the Tiger in Aleppo in 1606, I think you’re seeing the wrong scenario. The Tiger was a very common name to ships, and a very famous ship name also The Tiger was already in Aleppo in 1583. And equivocation was a famous douctrine between Jesuits, it was heard already very loud in 1595 in Jesuits trails. The play could have been revised by that time. I already post in a comment above a link showing satires of “Macbeth”‘s lines already in 1602…

    • Question: did Hank Whittemore say that Macbeth killed Duncan at Dunsinane?
      Answer: no he did not. He wrote: The historical Macbeth, who died in 1057, led a rebellion against King Duncan and defeated him at Dunsinane.
      Question: did Mike Gordon assume that Hank had claimed Macbeth had killed Duncan at Dunsinane?
      Answer: evidently yes, since he wrote the statement of correction: “The historical Macbeth did not kill Duncan at Dunsinane.”
      Thus Mike Gordon answered a question making sense to only himself and he answered it correctly and satisfactorily, whether or not it was relevant to anything or anybody else.

      I will now make an admission in reply to his question: Will you now acknowledge Mr Whittemore’s error about Dunsinane?
      I plead guilty to reading the English language. It is my mother tongue.

      In response to the virtuous and erudite Marie Merkel, I concur that there is too little to go on for a definitive Macbeth identification of the early interlude played in Scotland and London for the ruling elite in 1567-8. It certainly SEEMED like the same dramatic material taken from life–double-trust taboo and regicide–with the same anarchic backdrop in the recognizable play, if we take together the circumstantial padding of 1) Oxford’s horror in the St. Batholomew’s Day Massacre; 2) his proximity to Lady Lennox at Theobalds and her tale of her son, the assassinated queen-consort Darnley; his access to the Stewart translation of the ancient chronicle about Macbeth which she brought from Scotland and left with Cecil; and the favor he enjoyed as playwright with Queen Elizabeth and the court elite. Pretty amazing that a child would be taken that seriously. He must have been a boy wonder. But it will have to be a speculative unknown, since too sketchy a package of evidence to rate as a strong case for Oxford and the Shakespeare canon. But no matter how poorly one rates the speculation, it is a mile ahead of the twisted nonsense that crams the writing of Macbeth into a Jacobean strait-jacket. best wishes, Bill

  7. Hi Francisco, I don’t subscribe to the view that Macbeth ‘celebrates the failure of the Gunpowder Plot’. Nor do I think the allusions to equivocation can be taken as thematic. The Tiger/Aleppo reference is confirmed as being 1606 by the recorded number of days of the voyage. It is the witches who describe their interference with the voyage. King James wrote of witches doing the same thing!

    I don’t understand why you say Shakespeare was physically absent. Ten days after arriving in London, King James issued a Royal Patent to Shakespeare by name ” Freely to use and exercise the Art and Facultie of playing Comedies, Tragedies, Histories, Enterludes, Morals, Pastoralls, Stage Plaies and such others, like as these have alreadie studied or hereafter shall use or studie”. Are you suggesting King James was an idiot, or in on some kind of authorial conspiracy?

    Commentators do see a possible allusion to MQS, Darnley and Bothwell. But there’s a massive difference between killing a husband for a lover and killing a king for his throne. If you want to find a directly relevant allusion, the suspicious death of Amy Robsart, leaving Dudley free to marry Queen Elizabeth 1st, is far closer.

    I did a word search on this page: “Banquo”. He’s not mentioned once! Mr Whittemore mentions Boece as the original source of the material that appears in the play. Here’s what Boece wrote about Banquo:

    “I do not think I shall be acting beside the point, if at this place I insert, as briefly as I can, the origin of the kings descended from Banquo, since my subject appears to require that readers be informed in a single place of the origins of the clan which has produced a long line of kings and continues in its possession of the realm”. As you will know, what Boece and his subsequent translators wrote appears as a Show of Kings. If somebody wants to date Macbeth to the Elizabethan era, I think they need to explain how delineating the successional claim of King James would have been welcome to ER1?

    Further, the scene depicting Macduff’s inter-locution with Malcolm is representative of a future king being sought. Seeing Macbeth as Elizabethan makes even less sense with this is mind. ER1 knew James was likely to succeed her, but negotiations took place in secret. In the vernacular “she didn’t want to know”. Depicting arrangements to replace one monarch with another, violently, would have been about as welcome as a Spanish Galleon in Elizabeth’s bath!

    • Curious words, Gordon.

      When to Shakespeare physically absent, that isn’t even an evidence. As an author, he IS physically absent. For example, his son-in-law, who fails to mention Shakespeare’s connections to literature and drama. The King was no idea, of course, but that also remember me that Shakespeare didn’t write and elegy to Elizabeth, nor was called by the King to write plays or masques to the Court in 1604, at the same time Jonson was. Even it was to expect from such a writer like Shakespeare to have written letters, elegies to the Queen or his son or to anybody else, or even that he educated his daughters to be literate… which didn’t happen. Also the hyphen it’s curious… remember Martin Mar-Prelate or Tom Tell-Truth.

      But you didn’t start this conversation to debate Shakespeare’s authorship, but Macbeth’s date and themes. Curious you didn’t even bother to seek the link I posted above and comment something about the satires to Macbeth already in 1602… you don’t have to, I just citted because I thought it would fitt the matter.

      As I said, equivocation was at tune again in 1595. The play, like many other Shakespearean plays, was certainly rewritten but the true author and was certainly revised by the same and others of it’s death. The same happen with Hamlet: mentioned in 1589, in 1593 but only staged in about 1602-1603. Or was he staged before by the author and revised by the same person under another name? Remember also Oxford was involved in Elizabeth’s sucessions and his letter from the time reveals how conscient he was of the “candidates”: we don’t need Whittemore’s alternative reading to the Sonnets to know that, this is History. Shakespeare wouldn’t have know it profoundly… even the Tiger 1606 mention could have been another author revision of the passage mentioning the Tiger by 1583.

      Witches bothering the weather isn’t something knew nor something the King would have to write so that Shakespeare could write also… everyone thought witches could do anything with the Devil’s help. Remember also that Scotishs witches sailed the seas in sieves. “News from Scotland” in 1591 mentioned a trial where two hundred “witches” were judged for sailing in the sea in sieves, singing and dancing after landing near a church. I don’t really see why connect Macbeth’s witches to James’ writings…

      When to the love triangule Mary Stuart – Hepburn – Darnley, it really fitts. A queen ploting with her lover to have him in the throne it’s common to historians: but Eliazbeth didn’t have any man in her bed in the 1560’s beside Leicester. There was no need to represent or think of the Queen as Lady Macbeth (the link I postted, yet, cites this idea, of which I disagree). Reality mixed with fantasy it’s also common in Shakespeare, it’s common in all literature. “Hamlet” it’s an example of that: Oxford’s biography mixed with a little of imagination and adaptions of myths and reality to satire and criticize.


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