Monday, May 21, 2018

Dating Edward de Vere's Sonnet 110.


Traditional Shakespeare scholars have long agreed that Sonnet 110 refers to The Bard’s sense of shame at being a playwright.  How this shame could possibly be the reaction of a glover’s son from a small provincial town has left them more divided.  One popular line of conjecture as to why he might feel this way regardless of his plebian origins was that a man of such genius as the playwright would have felt a natural nobility every bit as inherent as hereditary nobility.  So then, it is not so confusing as it might seem to find such a genius expressing the mores of the English upper classes.

Another popular line has been to claim that players were considered below the dignity of even glovers and other such tradesmen.  Another line claims that he was ashamed of being associated with the theater compared to being the highest of literary types, a poet.  He sorely felt the demands on his time by the theater which took him away from his true love and high calling.  Another less common line claims that the theater life was fraught with every kind of sin and the poet was shamed before God.

Since there has been an authorship debate traditional scholarship has reconfigured itself foremost to refuse to report (much less credit) any finding or professional opinion that might open the door to an alternative author to the Stratford man.  No explanation which provides the opposition the least potential ground to stand upon will be advanced or credited regardless how legitimate it is by the rules of “pre-Authorship” traditional scholarship.  

This being the case, a close corollary to the “man of such genius” line of explanation has come to monopolize the field.  Any and all inconsistencies in the traditional model that fly in the face of reason are declared the result of the Stratford man's astonishing genius.  Genius, we learn, cancels all the normal rules of human behavior, identity and cause-and-effect.  No other explanation is welcome or accepted.  As with all such matters, then, the matter of sonnet 110 is perfectly resolved.  Shakespeare wrote from the perspective of a member of the English upper classes because he was a genius, not because he could ever possibly be an actual member of the upper classes.  He existed outside of all rules.


In my own Edward de Vere was Shakespeare: at long last the proof I dated a number of the sonnets of Shakespeare to the known events of De Vere’s life.  Sonnet 110 I assigned to 1598.  Those who knew that De Vere had written “Venus and Adonis” (likely including the Queen) had not known that the penname “Shakespeare” belonged to anything but the poems  “V&A” and “The Rape of Lucrece”.  The first they knew of the name being associated with popular plays was when they read Francis Meres’s popular Palladis Tamia, Wits Treasury (1598).  Suddenly Edward found himself outed with those at Court who knew his association with the poems.  Among the results were several sonnets including 110.

251.  No one at Court could have missed that, for over a decade, plays were somehow being written that depicted certain secrets at Court.  No one now could miss that many (and, by implication, all) of those plays had been the work of Shake-speare.   It is not difficult to assign a confessional sonnet, here, addressed to the Queen.

Alas ‘tis true, I have gone here and there,
And made my selfe a motley to the view,
Gor’d mine own thoughts, sold cheap what is most deare,
Made old offences of affections new.
Most true it is, that I have lookt on truth
Asconce and strangely: But by all above,
These blenches gave my heart an other youth,
And worse essaies prov’d thee my best of love.
Now all is done, save what shall have no end,
Mine appetite I never more will grinde
On newer proofe, to trie an older friend,
A God in love, to whom I am confin’d.
Then give me welcome, next my heaven the best,
Even to thy pure and most most loving brest.[1]

If this wasn’t uncomfortable enough, quarto editions began being issued with the name William Shake-speare on the title pages.  Quartos not all of which he or the Chamberlain’s Men had sold the rights to.

Shake-speare the poet was now Shake-speare writer for the common stage.  Those who knew he was The Bard, but only knew him as the poet, now knew that he was the person who had written the plays, many of which indeed border on libel in certain scenes.[2]

So then, the lines from Sonnet 76 would have to have been written before 1598.  They serve as context:

Why write I still all one, euer the same,
And keepe inuention in a noted weed,
That euery word doth almost tel my name,
Shewing their birth, and where they did proceed?[3]

There is no need for the ridiculous claim that the William Shaksper, of Stratford upon Avon, wrote them from out of a powerful feeling of the natural nobility of his genius.  The lines were written by an Earl earlier versions of whose plays had already long been performed at Court.  As Meres informed his readers: “so the best for Comedy amongst vs bee Edward, Earle of Oxforde,…”[4]




[1] Alden, Raymond Macdonald.  THE SONNETS OF SHAKESPEARE.  From the Quarto of 1609 with variorum readings and commentary. The Riverside Press Cambridge, 1916.  No. 110, 257.
[2] Purdy, Gilbert Wesley. Edward de Vere was Shakespeare: at long last the proof. Richmond, VA.: The Virtual Vanaprastha, 2013. 251.
[3] Ibid., No. 76, 187.
[4] Meres, Francis. Palladis Tamia (1598).  ELIZABETHAN CRITICAL ESSAYS, Volume 2. Ed. G. Gregory Smith. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1904. 308-324 @320.


  • Edward de Vere in Palermo in the final analysis.  January 29, 2018.  “In Naples he is tortured for 7 months upon suspicion of being an English spy.  Upon his release, he is informed by the Italians and Spaniards that England has lost its battle with the Spanish Armada and the Queen been taken prisoner.  The year, then, is 1588, and is confirmed by the fact that he arrives back in England in May of 1589.”
  • Shakespeare's Apricocks.  February 21, 2017.  "While he may never have been a gardener, he does seem more than superficially knowledgeable about the gardens of his day.  One detail of such matters that he got wrong, however, is as much to the point as any."
  • Sir Anthony Bacon: a Life in the Shadows. January 25, 2016.  "Somehow Sir Anthony had the habit of ingratiating himself in circles of the highest historical interest and most questionable mores."
  • Check out the English Renaissance Article Index for many more articles and reviews about this fascinating time and about the Shakespeare Authorship Question.



Sunday, May 13, 2018

Shakespeare Authorship, March the 17th and Social Media. p. 2.


[cont'd] ...might also have proven unnecessary for present purposes and been rolled over for new bills of exchange redeemable in Italy.  That country was well ahead of most of the rest of the world and featured bank branches that could be depended upon to lawfully redeem bills of exchange issued by other branches, other banks or by wealthy depositors.

In his letter of March 17, De Vere writes of the valued assistance of one Benedict Spinola by way of arranging for “bills of credit” with the pertinent Italian institutions.  Spinola will mention providing such bills of exchange in at least one later letter[1] [Link].  Elsewhere financial transactions involving travelers, however, still largely occurred at the fairs and on much rarer occasions at the shops of especially wealthy merchants.

But that is not all.  The Frankfurt fair included a horse and military equipment fair.  If the Earl did not intend to rent horses, for the trip across the Alps that always started in Southern Germany, with all the additional frustration and risk that entailed, he would have intended to buy a horse at Frankfurt and to sell it shortly before entering Padua (where the prices were kept low by the constant flow of horses for sale).

Also he would likely want to travel in company that could fend off brigands and that knew the best routes.  Venetian merchants found Frankfurt a particularly attractive fair.  Most were Jewish and Leipsig, the site of the next fair in the circuit, was not nearly as welcoming.  Some part of their caravans regularly returned over the Alps from Frankfurt.  For a modest fee, they would agree to provide a guided tour, meals and tolls included, south to Padua and Venice.


While this alone does not prove that Edward de Vere was Shakespeare, we know that The Bard was well aware of some, at least, of these facts, when Shylock cries out: “Why there, there, there, there, a diamond gone cost me two thousand ducats in Franckford,…”[2].  It also gives depth to our knowledge that can prevent embarrassment or even transfer that embarrassment onto those endless hordes of Stratfordian trolls who know so little about the vitally important times and context of Shakespeare.


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[1] Purdy, Gilbert Wesley. “How Edward de Vere Didn't Depart Italy (it turns out).” http://gilbertwesleypurdy.blogspot.com/2017/07/how-edward-de-vere-didnt-depart-italy.html.  Virtual Grub Street, July 19, 2017.  Citing “March 23. 685. Benedetto Spinola to Lord Burghley.”  Calendar Of State Papers, Foreign Series, of the Reign Of Elizabeth, 1575-77.  London: Longman & Co., Paternoster Row; Trubner & Co., Ludgate Hill : 1880.  277.
[2] Shakespeare. Merchant of Venice, III.i.79.


  • The Great Waugh-Bate Debate #1: Steven Steinburg’s Rebuttal and Alexander Waugh’s Encrypted Polimanteia. February 01, 2018. “All of this said, I felt that Alexander Waugh started off slowly but continually grew stronger as the debate proceeded.  He did well.  Jonathan Bate, on the other hand, is a much more effective public speaker.  For all of his many errors, he probably appeared to the general public to be the more knowledgeable party.”
  • Let the sky rain potatoes! December 16, 2017. "In fact, the sweet potato had only just begun to be a delicacy within the reach of splurging poets and playwrights and members of the middle classes at the time that The Merry Wives of Windsor (the play from which Falstaff is quoted) was written.  The old soldier liked to keep abreast of the new fads."
  • Did Falstaff Write a Poem for Lowe’s Chyrirgerie?  December 2, 2017. "Can honour set-to a leg? no: or an arm? no: or take away the grief of a wound? no. Honour hath no skill in surgery, then? no. What is honour? a word. What is that word, honour? air."




Shakespeare Authorship, March the 17th and Social Media.


The notes to Bayle’s Dictionary entry on Johannes Sturmius[1] [Link] are now posted and linked to the main text.  As might be expected of an 18th century reference work for a small educated elite, the notes expand the word count to more than three times that of the base article.  The level of detail they add (better too much than too little) should be gratifying for anyone curious about the person, place or time.

When I informed a friend of the project she wondered what I could possibly expect to gain from it.  The question is all to a number of points.  Certainly, announcing information on Sturmius on social media is no one else’s standard practice.  There has been no rush to see it.  Nor will there likely be.

But for all the battling over the suspected sex lives of the Elizabethan principals in the Authorship realm, alleged secret codes to be found in the texts of various books, and debates over the identities of anonymous sitters from portraits of the time, etc., in comment threads, Wiki edit wars and chat rooms, it is close reading and research that is far more likely to win the day in the end.  Sturmius is a small detail.  One among vastly many that provide the scholar with the context within which the pieces of the greater puzzle might be properly assembled.  The old Latinist will show up in a number of key ways in the Authorship material I will be presenting in the weeks and months ahead.

While close work does not offer the excitement of a poor man’s Game of Thrones, with its lurid episodes, there is a great deal to be said for it.  It is essential.  On the other hand, people don't rush to catch up on the posts to their favorite social media platforms in hopes of a gripping Latin squib or obscure detail.  There is a deeply problematical paradox at the bottom of all of our attempts.

That Edward de Vere departed Paris for Strasbourg, and the hospitality of Sturmius, shortly after his letter of March 17, 1575[2], to his father-in-law Lord Burghley, for example, is a far more important fact than can be seen on the surface.  It is a small detail that effects the Authorship Question and/or De Vere’s itineraries to and from Italy in an over-sized way.


Easter Sunday fell on April 3 that year.  That meant that the bell would ring in the great Frankfurt fair on Tuesday April 5th.  The 17th would have allowed De Vere to arrive at Strasbourg and settle in before traveling the 120 or so miles north to Frankfurt.  In those days, even the excellent roads between the two cities would not have been traversable at more than 30 (modern) miles per day (about 90 standard German miles in 1575).

But De Vere would not be going in order primarily to enjoy the fair.  It would have been unwise to travel with any more money than was necessary to complete any given leg of the trip.  Either in London or in Paris (or both), the Earl would have executed bills of exchange with one or another merchant who would be attending the fair.  There was a circuit of fairs.  The merchants who attended them received preferential treatment on the roads and traveled with workers additionally prepared to provide security should the protection of local authorities prove insufficient.  This was especially true of the roads and waterways leading to the Frankfort fair.

A bill executed in Paris or London could be made redeemable at the Frankfurt fair.  The fair at Frankfort was considered the best for the regulation of such exchanges in order to minimize risk.  The authorities were jealous of the fair's reputation in that and other respects in order to assure that it was heavily attended.  Still, Edward possibly executed several bills, one to each of several trusted vendors, in order to assure that at least the lion’s share of the money would be successfully redeemed.

This is how international financial transactions had been accomplished for centuries until the 16th century and beyond.  The traveler had to carefully make arrangements ahead or be stranded and extremely vulnerable at some point in his trip.

In the major cities of Italy and in London, the first actual bank branches and bourses were just beginning to be established.  One or more of De Vere’s bills of exchange... [cont'd]


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[1] Bayle, Peirre. “Bayle's Dictionary Entry on Johannes Sturmius” http://gilbertwesleypurdy.blogspot.com/2018/04/bayles-dictionary-entry-on-johannes.html.  Virtual Grub Street, April 15, 2018.
[2] Green, Nina.  “Letter dated 17 March 1575 from Oxford to Lord Burghley acknowledging confirmation of his wife's pregnancy, and outlining plans for his continental tour” http://www.oxford-shakespeare.com/CecilPapers/CP_8-24.pdf.  The Oxford Shakespeare Site, no date.





Sunday, May 06, 2018

Sir Francis Walsingham to John Sturmius, Oct. 27, 1576.

Sir Francis Walsingham
Here we see something of the tenor of Francis Walsingham’s relationship to Johannes Sturmius in Strasbourg.   This letter was sent some three years after the previously posted letter from William Cecil [Link], the Baron of Burghley, offering the Strasbourg scholar the stipend that had been paid to Christopher Mount until the recent the death of that old workhorse of the English diplomatic corps.  Incidentally, Sturmius had negotiated with Mount, on the behalf of France, during the mid-1540s.  The English were quite impressed with his abilities.

There are those among the Oxfordian community — as has been pointed out — who consider Sturmius to have been a spy-master for a de facto station operating out of the city.  Here he is pressed “again and again, to write more frequently, according as you have leisure.”  The “any of you” to which Walsingham refers are indeed the group of informants that Sturmius has recruited. So then, we can say, at this point, that he is receiving a stipend from the English Court and sending along information that the Court finds highly interesting but not enough to satisfy their needs.  But there is no sense whatsoever that he is anything more than a valued correspondent: agent yes, spy no, spy-master not even remotely.  Further letters and information, however, will show more precisely what was the nature of the relationship.

Of special interest should be the reference to one “Lewin”.  He is William Lewin, a graduate of Cambridge and the steady older servant of Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford, who wrote a long letter to William Cecil, in July of the previous year[1], to explain that his master, the Earl, had disappeared from Strasbourg leaving him behind at a loss to understand what to make of the matter.

The letters I will be posting between Sturmius and the English, it bears remembering, are translations from the Latin of the originals.[2]




Most learned Sturmius, I have earnestly requested her majesty's envoy[3], who is now in France with the king, to interest himself as much as possible in the arrangement of the money matters between you and the friends of the true religion; in which he solemnly promised his credit and exertions, with this limitation, as far as his influence and power extended. Of whose word I am so far from entertaining any doubt, that I know and am fully assured, that all my own affairs, among which I place yours, will not be less attended to by him than his own: and I doubt not but that, if they will second his efforts in a manner suitable to their piety and religion, the matter will shortly be accomplished according to your wish and desire. With respect to what that worthy man, master Lanscade, wished to be mentioned to her majesty, the lord treasurer has her commands to send you an answer by master Lewin. As to the means by which you should procure your letters to be forwarded to us, I have declared my mind and pleasure to master Ashby, which I know he will explain to you; lest hereafter any of you who shall entertain a desire of writing to us, whenever any occasion may arise, may find any difficulty in this respect. I earnestly entreat you, again and again, to write more frequently, according as you have leisure. Farewell and happily. Dated at the palace of Hampton Court, Oct. 27, 1576.

Your sincere friend,
FRANCIS WALSINGHAM.



[1] A pdf file of a modern language transcription of the letter can be found at html http://www.oxford-shakespeare.com/StatePapersOther/SP_70-134_ff_186-7.pdf.  Green, Nina.  The Oxford Authorship Site (http://www.oxford-shakespeare.com/).
[2] Both the original and the translation of this letter are are found in The Zurich Letters. (Second Series.) A. D. 1558—1602. Cambridge University Press, 1845.
[3] Sir Amias Paulet.


  • Lord Burghley to John Sturmius, Sept. 15, 1572.  April 22, 2018.  "W. Ron Hess has suggested that Sturmius was a spy station-master and money launderer for the infamous spy network of Francis Walsingham and the Baron Burghley and that Edward de Vere's visit, in 1575, was a spy mission."
  • Bayle's Dictionary Entry on Johannes Sturmius.  April 15, 2018.  “Diligence makes clear that his reputation as a cloak-and-dagger English spy is without basis.  He did pass along information he thought might be of interest from his correspondence with many contacts throughout Europe to William Cecil and Francis Walsingham.”
  • Edward de Vere's Memorial For His Son, Who Died at Birth May 1583.  July 5, 2017.  "The brief Viscount Bulbeck being the son of the renowned poet and playwright Edward de Vere, we might have hoped to have the text of the father’s own memorial poem.  As far as traditional literary history is concerned, no such poem has yet been discovered."



Friday, May 04, 2018

Bayle on Johannes Sturmius, Note G.

Note G from Bayle's Dictionary Entry on Johannes Sturmius [Link]:

Some faults in Moreri[1]I. It is not true what Verheiden says that James Sturmious was born at Sleida near Cologne. See the remark [A] in the foregoing article. II. It is not true that Sturmius began his studies at Leige, and went on with them in Paris.  III. And that he persuaded John Sleidan to write the History that made him so famous. See in the remark [B] of the [article on James Sturmius], how far he contributed to that history. IV. It is not true that John Sturmius persuaded him to undertake the establishment of an university at Strasburgh: the only thing they had in view then was a school, or what they call in Holland and Germany an illustrious school[2], which is different from an university: however it be, John Sturmius did not advise such an establishment; for he was sent for from Paris for no other reason, but because they had already formed the project of that school, that is, they had resolved to introduce into the school that was already at Strasburgh, and of which James Sturmius was one of the Curators, the best regulations, and the most proper method to promote study; and they thought, with great reason, that John Sturmius was a man well qualified both to teach and to have the direction of the school. V. Moreri should not have said, that the design of founding an university was happily executed; for, I repeat it again, nothing but a school was designed at that time. VI. He should therefore have said, not that John Sturmius had the foundation of that university confirmed by the emperor, but that he obtained from that prince, that the school should be erected into an university. VII. When Moreri says, that after the year 1566, John Sturmius performed. ... several embassies . . . . and assisted at several conferences; he intimates that Sturmius had no such employment before that time, which is a mistake; for not to mention the other deputations that preceded the year 1566, it is certain that in 1540, he was sent to the conferences of Worms with Calvin, Capito, and Bucer[3]. VIII. He did not lose his sight after he had taught at Strasburgh for the space of fifty-one years. He began to teach there in 1538, and was deprived of his place in 1583, and therefore he taught but forty-five years. IX. If he had taught for the space of fifty-one years, and then if he had lost his sight, Moreri should not have distinguished between the time when he died, and the time when he lost his eyes: for in the year 1589, in which he died, according to Moreri, and according to the truth, falls in with the fifty-first year since he began to teach in that city. X. Moreri should not have said that he died at eighty years of age, for he had said that Sturmius was born in the year 1507, and died in 1589.  Judge whether Moreri had got the art of writing; how carelessly does he make use of Melchior Adam[4]? I omit his calling James and John Sturmius’s deputations, by the names of embassies.  He should have known that an imperial city has, indeed, agents, residents, envoys, and deputies, but not ambassadors. He knew not that the Latin word legatio has a larger sense than the words embassy and deputation.



[1] [Additional Editor’s Note] Louis Moreri compiled Le Grand Dictionnaire Historique, a dictionary which competed with Bayle’s.]
[2] Note that in the illustrious schools, they do not teach grammar and rhetoric;  but they were taught in the school of Strasburgh.
[3] See the second Anti-Pappus of Sturmius, p. 112.
[4] [Additional Editor’s Note] Adam, Melchior. Vitae Germanorum Medicorum. Heidelberg, 1620.  Third edition, Frankfort: Maximilianum à Sandel, 1705. Vita JOANNES STURMIUS, 158.]



Bayle on Johannes Sturmius, Note F.

John Calvin
Note F from Bayle's Dictionary Entry on Johannes Sturmius [Link]:

I have mentioned, in another place[1], the encomium he bestowed upon Calvin's Institutions.] And I said that this encomium concerns the edition of the year 1543, which is the third. I went upon two reasons: one is, that it is certain the second edition is that of the year 1539[2]; the other is that these words of Sturmius, ‘Institutio Christianae Religionis quam primo inchoatam, deinde locupletatam, hoc  vero anno absolutam edidit’; [- - - - ‘The Institution of the Christian religion, which he first begun, and afterwards, enlarged; but the compleat edition of it he published this year,’] suit only with the third edition. But to conceal nothing, I ought to mention here what I have read in the second Anti-Pappus, viz. that Calvin being minister at Strasburgh, enlarged his Institution, and published it in the same city, apud Wendelinum Rihelium[3], and that Sturmius prefixed to that book the judgment he made of it.  Ego meam sententiam in fronte eus libri de Calvino affixi[4]. Which does not agree with the third edition, viz. that of the year 1543, for Calvin was not at Strasburgh that year; he returned to Geneva in September 1541.  My conjecture is thus: Sturmius knowing that the book was reprinting at Strasburgh in 1543, inserted some words, in his judgment, which shewed that it was a third edition. And therefore it is true that the words of Sturmius, which I have quoted in the article of CALVIN, (citat. 27.) concern the third edition, and consequently I have said nothing but what is true; but I think I should have observed that Sturmius had prefixed the same encomium[5] to the second edition, 1539. Let those who have this second edition, judge whether my conjecture be right or not.



[1] In the article CALVIN, remark [F].
[2] This appears by a short epistle of Calvin to the reader, dated at Strasburgh, August 1, 1539.
[3] [Additional Editor’s Note] Wendelinum Rihelium was the name of the Strasbourg publisher.]
[4] Sturmius, Anti-Pappo, secondo, p. 111.
[5] Except the words, which signify that it is the third edition.



Thursday, May 03, 2018

Bayle on Johannes Sturmius, Note E.

Note E from Bayle's Dictionary Entry on Johannes Sturmius [Link]:


He was pressed hard . . . . . and was not the strongest; for they turned him out of his place.] He was suspected of Calvinism from the year 1561, as it appears from the letter he writ to Melchior Speccer, on the 26th of October, of the same year[1]; for he informs him of the reasons that moved him to expound St Chrysostom, and answers what was said of him, that he was like a snail, which began to shew it's horns after they had been hid for a long time[2]. He clearly discovered his thoughts about the Eucharist, which occasioned the first persecution he was exposed to[3]. He defended Zanchius in the quarrel, of which I shall speak in another place[4], which made him more odious still to the Lutherans; and he was so much displeased with their proceedings, that he had a mind to leave Strasburgh and to go to Zurich. I find this particular in a letter of Zanchius to Henry Bullinger. “Sed quid si Sturmius quoque me sequatur, vel potius ego ipsum? Is enim constituit, se ad vos conferre, & fieri posit, praedium aliquod sibi. apud vos comparare, & ibi tamquam in quodam Tusculano, totum se S. literarum studio consecrare, & contra adversarios suum stylum in hac senecta pro Christo exercere. Sed hoc cupit interim celari, donec videat, quem exitum habitura fit causa. Siigitur, ut ante dixi, aliter cadat causa nostra quam ipsa meretur: non solum ego sed etiam Sturmius, libentissimè vobiscum vivemus. Si veró ita controversia nostra componatur, ut nobis quoque liceat veritatem tueri: Sturmius quidem manebit, ego veró faciam, quod tu ipse consultius gloriae Dei futurum judicaveris[5].” 

[“But what if Sturmius should follow me, or rather I him? For he is resolved to retire among you, and to purchase a small estate there, if possible, where he may dedicate himself wholly to the study of the holy Scriptures, and exercise his pen in his old age against his adversaries in behalf of CHRIST. But he desires that this may be kept secret in the mean time, till he see what issue the cause will have. If therefore, as I have already hinted, our cause should be otherwise determined than justice requires, both Sturmius and I will chuse to come and live with you. But if the difference should be so made up, as that we likewise shall  be allowed to defend the truth; in that case Sturmius will remain where he is; and I for my part shall do whatever you think most advisable for the glory of GOD.”]


 The quarrel wherein Zanchius was concerned, had such an issue, that Sturmius did not find himself obliged to retire. But he happened to have much less credit and good fortune, when there arose some difference between him and Pappus, Doctor of Divinity, and Minister of Strasburgh. He published[6], several Anti-Pappus's, and many books were published against him. You will find many things in relating to this in Mr Baillet's Anti. At last Pappus, being supported by authority, obtained the victory, and had Sturmius deprived of the rectorship of the university, and the Calvinists turned out of their places. Idem[7] . . . . adversus Pappum Argentinensem Theologum, turbonem verius, a quo quod loco illo the moti sint Nostri, initio facto a venerando sene Johanne Sturmio, coepit, probavit Michael Beutherus, in Declaratione Agendae Ecclesiae Argentinensis[8].

[“- - - - Beutherur . . . . proved the same thing against Pappus, a Strasburgh Divine, or rather a trubulent fellow, who violently displaced those of our profession, beginning with that venerable, old man John Sturmius.”]

They are the words of a reformed Divine, who calls Pappus a shuffling and factious man; but the Lutherans maintain that he was an excellent servant of GOD, a very stout champion, and an invincible combatant in the spiritual war for the pure Gospel[9];  and that Sturmius was deprived of his place for no other reason but because he had raised some troubles.  Joh. Pappus . . . . . insignis Argentinensum Athleta adversus Joh. Sturmium, Rectorem Academia, Rhetorem Calvinianorum, & ob turbas datas, tandem ab officio remotum.[10]. Perhaps not to overwhelm the good old man, and to make the thing more tolerable to him, the odious words of destitution and expulsion were omitted, and they gave him to understand that they dispensed him from the rectorship of the university by reason of his old age. I have read a reformed author, who makes use of this turn, that Heaven declared him emeritus in the year 1583. ‘Usque ad annum Christi  1583 quo Deo placuit eundem rude donare[11] . . . Existimo autem D. Sturmium nostrum, rude, quo divinitus donatus est, contentum &c[12].

[‘- - - - Till the year 1583, when it pleased GOD to discharge him as one that had served his time . . . . Now I fancy that Sturmius was very well contented with this discharge, &c.']



[1] It is among those of Zanchius in the second book, pag. 223, & seq.
[2] Innius me limacem esse qui annos jam multos latuerim, nunc demum cornua exeramEpist. Zanchii, lib. ii, pag. 225.
[3] Ibid. pag. 28.
[4] In Bayle’s Dictionary article ZANCHIUS (Jerome).
[5] Epist. Zanchii, lib. ii, pag. 17. [Editor’s note: This letter, which appears on pages 14-20 of Volume 2 of Hieronymi Zanchii Bergomatis Epistolarvm, is not dated.  All references, however, and the placement in the volume, place the date of composition no later than the 1563 Strasbourg Concord.  The first of the Anti-Pappus pamphlets that resulted in Sturmius’s censure and removal was written in 1579.]
[6] At Neustad, in the Palatinate in the year 1579, and the year 1580, in 4to.
[7] Viz. that the Formulary of Concord had been often altered by the Lutherans.
[8] Hoornbeeck, Summa Controvers. pag. m. 505.
[9] Strenuum se praestitit in beilo spirituali pro Ecclesia puriere militem atque Athletam invictum. Andr. Carolus, ubi supra, ad ann. 1610, pag. 226.
[10] Micraelius, ubi supra, pag. 785.
[11] Jo. Jacobus Grynaeus, Epist. IX, lib. I, pag. 151.
[12] Ibid. pag. 153.




Sunday, April 29, 2018

Johannes Sturmius's Winding Path to Impress the English.


Johannes Sturmius was born “Johann Sturm,” to Wilhelm and Gertrude Sturm, on the 1st of October 1507.[1]  The family lived on the slopes of the Eifel Valley some 50 miles from the border with Belgium.  Wilhelm was the accountant for the Count de Manderscheidt.  Gertrude was likely a member of the wealthy bourgeois Huls family of Cologne.[2]  Young Johann himself lived a solidly bourgeois childhood and Wilhelm was able to support him financially during his college years and to provide the funds to launch him in his first business venture.

Beginning in 1521, Johann attended the Gymnase de Saint-Jérôme prep school, in Liège, Belgium.  The school had only a loose relationship to the Catholic orthodoxy at the time.  It believed in advanced curriculum and teaching methods.  Latin and Greek classics and mathematics were stressed. 

Three years later he attended the equally progressive Royal College at Louvain.  There he continued to increase his command of Latin and Greek and added Hebrew under the finest professors in each discipline.  There he joined the publishing business of the school’s Greek master, Rudiger Rescius.  He purchased his share with funds provided by his father.[3]

In 1528, Sturm moved to Strasbourg.  He may have chosen to do so because the town was beginning to have a reputation for exceptional professors in Protestant subjects.  The next year he relocated to Paris to act as the sales agent for the books he and Rescius were publishing.  In order to assure himself a sufficient living he took a degree in medicine.  It is not clear that he ever actively practiced as a professional.

What is clear is that he assured himself a living through his association with Guillaume and Jean du Bellay, friends and counselors of the French King Francis I, and many of the finest intellectuals of the day.  Jean du Bellay, in particular, had already been appointed Bishop of Bayonne by Francis.  Sturm’s own reputation as an intellectual — foremost as a Latinist —  was second to none.  For his part, he thought of himself equally as a professor of classical logic.

At the same time, the industrious Sturm was gaining a reputation as an intellectual leader of the Protestant movement.  He was in regular contact with Philip Melanchthon and Martin Bucer (the two greatest Protestant figures of the day after Luther).



After Francis I reacted with violence against the growing population of French Protestants, on two occasions during the 1530s, he found the strength of the backlash surprising.  The Protestant German princes had gathered together in the League of Smalcalde.  The French Protestants looked to them for allies and inspiration.  Creating an enemy simultaneously within and just across the French borders was clearly unwise.

Bishop du Bellay being among his most trusted advisors, the king accepted his nomination, in 1540, of Jean Sleidan and Sturmius as his agents to begin negotiations with the Protestants.[4]  While the two were Protestant and the Royal administration Catholic, du Bellay had absolute trust that his longtime friends would placate the Protestants and properly represent the Catholic’s interests. 

The state of the negotiations would fluctuate for years before Henry VIII and the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, signed a separate treaty that allowed the English king to invade France.  Francis I’s situation was rapidly deteriorating.  Henry, however, had limited funds and could not mount sufficient forces to win a war outright.  By the summer of 1545 England and France were at a stalemate.  Sleidan and Sturmius’s negotiations already having involved Charles V, and the Protestants hugely complicating the situations of both the Emperor and the French King, Du Bellay (now Bishop of both Bayonne and Paris and a Cardinal to boot), advised expanding the mission of the two agents.[5]  At this point Sturmius had been much the more impressive and he was given a French pension (i.e. salary) and acted de facto as France’s most trusted ambassador in spite of the fact that he was not French but a citizen of the free city of Strasbourg.

It is in this way that Johannes Sturmius first came to the attention of the English Court.  The English were begrudgingly impressed.  From the start, Sturmius dominated all other parties in the negotiation.

Thirty years later, Sturmius would be in their employ.  Many members of the English Court would avail themselves of the scholar’s hospitality as would Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford.



[1] Schmidt, Charles, La Vie et Les Travaux de Jean Sturm (1855), 1.
[2] Manes Sturmiani siue Epicedia, scripta in obitum summi viri Ioan Sturmius… (1590). “matre, lectissi
mascemina Gertrudide Нulsana”, A1.  Schmidt, 2.
[3] Schmidt, 7.
[4] Ibid., 50.
[5] Ibid., 60.  “Les Etats désignèrent, pour être ambassadeurs auprès du roi de France , Christophe de Venningen , conseiller du duc de Wurtemberg , Jean Bruno de Nidbruk et Sturm , chargés en même temps d'intercéder en faveur des protestants français persécutés;…”.  Schmidt does not cite Sturm specifically as the head of the delegation but English state papers make the matter clear that he was such from the first.


  • Lord Burghley to John Sturmius, Sept. 15, 1572.  April 22, 2018.  "W. Ron Hess has suggested that Sturmius was a spy station-master and money launderer for the infamous spy network of Francis Walsingham and the Baron Burghley and that Edward de Vere's visit, in 1575, was a spy mission."
  • Bayle's Dictionary Entry on Johannes Sturmius.  April 15, 2018.  “Diligence makes clear that his reputation as a cloak-and-dagger English spy is without basis.  He did pass along information he thought might be of interest from his correspondence with many contacts throughout Europe to William Cecil and Francis Walsingham.”
  • Leonard Digges and the Shakespeare First Folio.  November 30, 2017.  "Upon receiving his baccalaureate, in 1606, Leonard briefly chose to reside in London. After that he went on an extended tour of the Continent which ended around the year that Shaksper died."
  • Edward de Vere's Memorial For His Son, Who Died at Birth May 1583.  July 5, 2017.  "The brief Viscount Bulbeck being the son of the renowned poet and playwright Edward de Vere, we might have hoped to have the text of the father’s own memorial poem.  As far as traditional literary history is concerned, no such poem has yet been discovered."