Wednesday, July 19, 2017

How Edward de Vere Didn't Depart Italy (it turns out).

Edward de Vere,
17th Earl of Oxford.
Standard Citation: Purdy, Gilbert Wesley. “How Edward de Vere Didn't Depart Italy (it turns out).Virtual Grub Street. 19 July 2017.

Going back over the documents relating to the Edward de Vere’s return from Venice to England, I am led to a number of observations.  In Edward de Vere was Shakespeare: at long last the proof, I stressed certain documents suggesting that the Earl of Oxford, De Vere, had to have left Venice in December 1575 and departed from a port along the western coast of Italy headed for Marseilles.

True, Benedict Spinola’s brother, Pasquale, had informed him that “the illustrious Count” was preparing to leave Venice after Carnival.  He passed the information along to Oxford’s father-in-law, Lord Burghley, in a letter dated March 23, 1576[1].  But De Vere had written to Burghley from the town of Siena, well south of Venice, on January 3, 1576[2].  Upon his return to England, he’d told stories of visiting Rome.  Spinola had provided bills of exchange to receive funds at both Rome and Naples.  Edward Webbe had written of seeing the Earl in Palermo, Sicily.  A trip to Sicily would require ship passage, the timing of which would have been precisely consistent with a return trip via the southern French port of Marseilles.


It seemed that Pasquale Spinola must have been mistaken or misled.  There would not have been nearly enough time to visit Florence, Siena, Rome, Naples and Palermo and to return to Venice.  Such a trip took considerable time in the 16th century.  A stop of only two weeks in Rome (the Earl’s subsequent stories implied longer), before sailing for Sicily, would have seen the Earl back in Venice well after Carnival even then not yet having had time to inform Pasquale of his intended schedule.  Pasquale’s letter would have taken time to get to Benedict who then could not have written Burghley by March 23.  Viola!  Edward had to have left Venice in December.

But I find myself reminded (by virtue of my review), of the choirboy, Orazio Cuoco, who left with Edward to perform in England.  After his return to Italy, when interrogated by the Venetian authorities about “Millort de Uoxfor,” he stated that they departed Venice after the last day of Carnival.[3]  That Pasquale Spinoza can have been mistaken, I could conceive, but that both he and a member of Edward’s party were mistaken is highly unlikely.  The party departed Venice on March 5 or 6 of 1576.  His luggage departed ahead of time to await him in the French city of Lyon.


 In Benedict Spinola’s letter of March 23, he also mentions his surprise that the Earl of Oxford did not redeem his bill of exchange for Naples.  This strongly suggests that he did redeem the bill for Rome.  It now seems more likely that Edward did visit Rome at some length and then returned north at speed in order to arrive at Venice in time for Carnival. 

But how was he seen in Palermo?  More on this in Part 2.




[1] 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] Nelson, Alan.  Alan H. Nelson Homepage, UC Berkley.  http://socrates.berkeley.edu/~ahnelson/
PERSONAL/760103.html.  “Endorsed (B): 3 Ianuary 1575 The Erle of oxford by M spinolas packett. Received ye 17 of february.”
[3] “Archivio di Stato di Venezia, Savi all’Eresia, Santo Uffizio. b. 41” tr. Noemi Magri. The Oxford Authorship Site (Nina Green), www.oxford-shakespeare.com/
DocumentsOther/Archivio_di_Stato_1577.pdf  “A printed version of Dr. Magri’s English translation is available in the January-February 2002 edition of the De Vere Society Newsletter, and in Malim, Richard, ed., Great Oxford (Tunbridge Wells: Parapress, 2004), pp. 45-9.”




  • Desperately Seeking Bridget (de Vere).  "Even most people who assert that the Earl of Oxford was the poet and playwright Shake-speare (a group to which I resoundingly belong) do not seem to know that she was engaged, in 1598, to William Herbert, soon to inherit the Earldom of Pembroke,..."




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