Reason No. 96 Why Oxford = “Shakespeare” — Edward de Vere was with Elizabeth before her Famous Speech to the Troops at Tilbury

Queen Elizabeth the First of England gave her famous speech to the troops at Tilbury, a village on the Thames, at a time when they still believed the Great Enterprise of Phillip II of Spain, the Armada, was about to land. A ruthless military force, convinced of God’s will for it to succeed, was about to conquer England. But in this moment of terror Gloriana appeared in their midst, riding from rank to rank and smiling as the soldiers cheered, before delivering an address to be remembered for all time.

(click on images for larger views.)

52-spanish-armada-1588-granger

The speech, preserved in at least three versions, has been studied from then to now for its rhetorical structure, its simplicity and nobility, its power to inspire and motivate. It has been likened often to the St. Crispin’s Day speech in Henry V, when the king rallies his troops at Agincourt before they head into battle despite the overwhelming odds against them.

This reason to believe Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford was “Shakespeare” is the likelihood that, while Elizabeth certainly inspired him, there can be little doubt that he inspired her as well.

elizatilbury

Oxford was with the 55-year-old Queen at Whitehall Palace not long before her visit to Tilbury. The earl had been commanding own ship the Edward Bonaventure, as part of the English fleet led by Lord Admiral Charles Howard, his longtime supporter and close friend, during some of the early fighting against the Armada; but the Bonaventure had been put out of commission, so Oxford left the fleet and arrived on July 27 at the Tilbury camp, reporting to his long-time enemy Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, whom Her Majesty had appointed Supreme Commander of the Army.

The next day Leicester wrote to Secretary Francis Walsingham that Oxford had set off to retrieve his “armor and furniture.” The Supreme Commander wondered where to assign Oxford on land. “I would know from you what I should do,” he wrote. “I trust he be free to go to the enemy [engage in close combat], for he seems most willing to hazard his life in this quarrel.”

(c) Essex County Council; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

When Oxford returned, Leicester told him he was being put in charge of two thousand men at Harwich, a peninsula that promised little if any military action. Leicester wrote again to Walsingham on August 1, reporting that Oxford “seemed at the first to like well of it,” but then “came to me and told me he thought the place of no service or credit…”

We can only imagine the face-to-face confrontation between these two men, whose mutual enmity had finally erupted in the midst of the long-dreaded attempted invasion, the outcome of which would determine England’s future. Emotions were already running high; there was a very real fear that their country might be taken over by the King of Spain and the Pope of Rome, and this fear may have driven Oxford to an act of insubordination.

The Queen with Leicester at Tilbury

The Queen with Leicester at Tilbury

“Clearly Oxford’s motivation was pique,” Alan Nelson scolds him in Monstrous Adversary, “rather than cowardice or subversion; but pique cannot excuse a refusal to obey a superior officer in time of war.”

Rather than accept such an order from this man he thought of as a “villain, villain, smiling, damned villain,” as Hamlet called his uncle, King Claudius, viewed by Oxfordians as representing Leicester, he scoffed at it and hurried away. By August 1, when Leicester was writing to Walsingham about the confrontation, Oxford had returned to London, exclaiming he “would to the court and understand Her Majesty’s further pleasure.”

So Oxford had gone to Whitehall to be with Elizabeth, who was now within a week of making her dramatic speech to the troops at Tilbury. The historical record tells no more of Oxford’s doings until the victory celebration to St. Paul’s on November 24; but what, we may ask, was the substance of his meeting with Elizabeth? How long was he with her at the palace? From what they knew during that week, the conquest of England was very possibly imminent; and in this dire situation, what would they have talked about?

Was it decided right then, between the two of them, that the Queen would go to Tilbury to plead for unity and loyalty?

Elizabeth had been Edward de Vere’s official mother from the time he became a royal ward at twelve in 1562. He had been in her Majesty’s highest favor all during the 1570s and even through his second triumph in the tiltyard, at the great tournament of January 22, 1581. That had been just a few months before his steep fall from grace when his mistress, Anne Vavasour, one of the Queen’s own Maids of Honor, gave birth to his illegitimate son (Sir Edward Vere). Even so he had alerted Elizabeth and Burghley to the treasonous plots of his erstwhile Catholic associates, proving yet again that his loyalty to her had never wavered.

Now in the midst of England’s greatest military crisis, and when Elizabeth herself was in grave danger, she and Oxford would have dropped all petty concerns and shared their old ties and old feelings in the kinds of words and phrases that we should expect to find in speeches from the pen of Shakespeare. Just two years before, in 1586, the earl had been cited by William Webbe as “the most excellent” of poets at court; in the next year, 1589, he will be cited in The Arte of English Poesie as one of the courtiers “who have written excellently well as it would appear if their doings could be found out and made public with the rest.”

(c) Essex County Council; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Elizabeth and Oxford would have understood that this might be their final meeting. In this highly charged circumstance, could they avoid the subject of how she might rally her troops in the face of the Spanish fury? How could Oxford fail to suggest the kind of speech she might make?

Certainly no other candidate for the authorship of Shakespeare was in a position to inspire the Queen to make a positively Shakespearean speech to the army!

When Henry V in Shakespeare’s play addresses his soldiers at Agincourt, he descends to their level as one of them: “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; for he that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother.”

And Elizabeth does the same, telling her troops: “I am come amongst you, as you see, at this time, not for my recreation and disport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live and die amongst you all.”

King Henry reminds his men of the honor they will gain: “And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by, from this day to the ending of the world, but we in it shall be remembered.”

So, too, Queen Elizabeth at Tilbury, promising: “I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field … I know already, for your forwardness you have deserved rewards and crowns; and We do assure you in the word of a prince, they shall be duly paid to you; [and] we shall shortly have a famous victory.”

[It cam be no coincidence that her promise of a “famous victory” echoes the much earlier play The Famous Victories of Henry the Fifth, which Oxfordians feel was written by a young Edward de Vere, and which quite obviously forms the basis of 1 Henry IV, 2 Henry IV and Henry V by Shakespeare.]

Inevitably we should find within Elizabeth’s address at Tilbury some phrases here and there to be found in Shakespeare:

Elizabeth: “Let tyrants fear! I have always so behaved myself that, under God, I have placed my chiefest strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and goodwill of my subjects.”

Shakespeare in The Comedy of Errors: “Money by me! Heart and goodwill you might.”

Elizabeth: “… and [I] think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm.”

Shakespeare in 1 Henry VI: “I owe him little duty, and less love; and take foul scorn to fawn on him by sending.”

The Queen’s most famous statement is her ringing declaration: “I know I have the body of a weak, feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king” – and then there is Portia, wife of Brutus, in Julius Caesar by Shakespeare: “I grant I am a woman; but withal a woman well-reputed, Cato’s daughter. Think you I am no stronger than my sex …?”

So … did the Earl of Oxford help or influence Queen Elizabeth’s speech at Tilbury? A case can be made that “Shakespeare” surely did!

The most-often-cited version of the Queen’s speech was found in a letter from Leonel Sharp sometime after 1624 to the Duke of Buckingham:

My loving people,

We have been persuaded by some that are careful of our safety, to take heed how we commit ourselves to armed multitudes, for fear of treachery; but I assure you I do not desire to live to distrust my faithful and loving people. Let tyrants fear. I have always so behaved myself that, under God, I have placed my chiefest strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and goodwill of my subjects; and therefore I am come amongst you, as you see, at this time, not for my recreation and disport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live and die amongst you all; to lay down for my God, and for my kingdom, and my people, my honor and my blood, even in the dust.

I know I have the body of a weak, feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm; to which rather than any dishonour shall grow by me, I myself will take up arms, I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field.

I know already, for your forwardness you have deserved rewards and crowns; and We do assure you on a word of a prince, they shall be duly paid. In the mean time, my lieutenant general shall be in my stead, than whom never prince commanded a more noble or worthy subject; not doubting but by your obedience to my general, by your concord in the camp, and your valour in the field, we shall shortly have a famous victory over these enemies of my God, of my kingdom, and of my people.

Here is the text of Henry the Fifth’s famous speech, starting with Westmoreland’s remark provoking it:

WESTMORELAND: O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work to-day!

KING: What’s he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;
If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say “To-morrow is Saint Crispian.”
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say “These wounds I had on Crispian’s day.”
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day!

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Wow! Excellent exegesis. A 1586 speech-writer. And the Histories were the foundation narrative glorifying the golden Tudor Age. Gulp! This is getting too close to Karl Rove. Then he signed on regular, wages of gold four times a year in exchange for surrendering his copyright? “Almost thence my nature is subdu’d To what it works in, like the dyer’s hand.” Whew! The plot thickens.

    • Ha! Maybe we should re-cast the entire plot in an updated world of 20-21st Century….

  2. As far as I see you recapitulate the case of Looney 1920 (almost 100 years ago) that the real Shakespeare (of course the Earl of Oxford) did help or influence Queen Elisabeth’s speech at Tilbury.
    And you give us 2 arguments:
    1) No other candidate for the authorship of Shakespeare was in a position to inspire the queen, you probably mean ….to inpire the Queens advisers who provided her with a positively speech to the army
    ….Is there a special reason why you omit Marlowe ??
    2) The Queens promise of a Famous Victory“ echoes the much earlier play „The Famous Victories of Henry V (the base of the Lancaster trilogy], Oxfordians (such as the top ranking Hank Whittemore) „feel“ it was written by the young Edward de Vere
    …..Is there a special reason why you omit Marlowe.( see also Quiz Nr 62 and 63)
    62 http://www.der-wahre-shakespeare.com/quiz-blog-english/q-062-shakespeare-authorship
    63 http://www.der-wahre-shakespeare.com/quiz-blog-english/q-063-shakespeare-authorship

    • Oxford was one of those advisors.
      I believe Famous Victories originated back in the early 1570s if not earlier. It surfaces for us the repertory of the Queen’s Men in the 1580s. Oxford had connections to the Queen’s Men. Marlowe at the time was a student and then by 1585 traveling for the government. What evidence is there for him as a writer before 1594?
      We have extant writings of Oxford from age thirteen….

      • Sorry hank
        how could I forget, that you deny the existence of Marlowe as a writer even before his death, with all your impressive evidence of the Earl as the greatest playwright and dramatist genius of dr.faustus, edward II, tamburlaine etc


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