Sunday, June 5, 2011

Love's Labor's Lost - Authorship Evidence - Part 4

Part 4 of 4 on  Summary Authorship Evidence in Love's Labor's Lost

Finally, there's a connection between a part of the play (LLL) with another French historical fact, and with the play of Hamlet.

In LLL, 5.2.1-9 there is this passage:

Rosaline:   That was the way to make his godhead wax;
                   For he hath been five thousand year a boy.
Katharie:   Ay, and a shrewd unhappy gallows too.
Rosaline:   You'll ne'er be friends with him: a' killed your sister.
Katharine:  He made her melancholy, sad and heavy;
                    And so she died.

There is a strong historical parallel of this in French history, and Francis Bacon was perfectly positioned to hear of it. It almost certainly refers to the daughter of Marguerite's principal Lady-in-waiting. The daughter was Helene de Tournon and she died at Liege in 1577. Marguerite, again, was the sister of the French King Henry III (not to be confused with Henri, King of Navarre, who lived at the same time as the French King Henry, and who took his place as King of France when Henry III died).

Helene de Tournon had fallen in love with a young nobelman, the Marquis of Varembon, while living in Flanders. She later returned to Paris. When the King's sister Marguerite planned to visit Flanders in the summer of 1577, Helene was happy to go along in hopes of again seeing the Marquis of Varembon. When they met again in Flanders the Marquis treated her with indifference. And when he departed on a trip without acknowledging her at all it seems, she became "so stricken that she could only breathe by crying out for mortal pain." She died at Liege 8-9 days later. The cause of death attributed to spasms of the heart. Then the Marquis, having second thoughts of his treatment of her, returned to Liege to apologize. On his arrival he met Helene's funeral cortege and asking whose funeral it was, he was told, then was said to have swooned and fell from his horse.

The Arden editor of 'LLL' wrote that "It is highly probable that this incident suggested not only the decline of Katharine's sister (in the play) but the story of Ophelia in Hamlet". Remember that Hamlet only learned of Ophelia's death when he met her funeral cortege by chance. So how many noblemen first learn of the death of a girl friend by encountering her funeral cortege by chance. Both women were members of royal court, in love with a great nobleman, both facing opposition to such a relationship (the Marquis's family had other plans for him). Both had their hearts broken over overt indifference of their beloved, both of whom relented too late. And as Hamlet had jumped into Ophelia's grave, the soul of the Marquis was said to have gone down into the grave afterward.

Again, Francis Bacon was in France when this historical event occurred and which had likely been a topic of conversation. He may even heard of it directly from Marguerite. Would Shakspere, though, some 20 years later, have known about it? The odds are very low for this.

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