Sunday, December 13, 2015

Henry VIII – the case for Francis Bacon - 10 - Wolsey Great Seal Surrey Camberlain Cromwell

Henry VIII – the case for Francis Bacon (as primary author) - 10

Act 3, Sc. 2, 227.2

Enter to Wolsey, the Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk, the Earl of Surrey, and the Lord Chamberlain.

This is historically inaccurate according to Holinshed as only the Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk entered to Wolsey to take his Great Seal.

NORFOLK: Hear the King’s pleasure, Cardinal, who commands you
To render up the great seal presently Into our hands ….”

The Arden (2000) edition has these notes:

227.2 “Holinshed describes an encounter between Wolsey and the two Dukes only.”
228-32 “The scene now returns to Holinshed, extrapolating from the chronicle account of the confrontation of Wolsey and the Dukes, and incorporating from slightly later in Holinshed the list of charges brought against the Cardinal. Norfolk’s opening speech is almost verbatim Holinshed: ‘the seventeenth of November the king sent the two dukes of Norfolke and Suffolke to the cardinals place at Westminster, who went as they were commanded and finding the cardinall there, they declared that the kings pleasure was that he should surrender up the great seale into their hands….”.
232-5 “This exchange closely parallels Holinshed….”
236-50 “Holinshed’s account is the basis for Wolsey’s defiance here…”

So by these notes it appears that Shakespeare followed Holinshed quite closely from the beginning of this scene. So what reason would he have to significantly change the historical record he was closely following and add in the Earl of Surrey and the Lord Chamberlain?  And if he was going to add anyone, why them in particular?

Probably the Baconian Authorship Theory can best provide the most reasonable solution. Here is the comment by Howard Bridgewater (Barrister-at-Law):

         The extraordinary point about this is that while the writer adheres, with historical accuracy, to the names of two of the peers who were sent to relieve Cardinal Wolsey of the great seal, on the occasion of his downfall, he adds two more to the number of them. And it is remarkable that the titles (though not their only titles) of these other peers are those of two of the four Peers who, upon the occasion of the downfall of Lord Verulam, waited upon him for this same purpose!

            While it would be natural enough for Francis Bacon (at this time Lord Verulam) thus to bring the circumstances of Wolsey's fall into line with his own, the chance that anyone else would do so is so remote that, expressed in figures, it could scarcely be greater than as one is to a million. For firstly, what are the chances that anyone at all, other than a man who had suffered the same experience, would, in such a matter, depart at all from the historical requirements of the case? Is it not entirely improbable that the thought of so doing would ever cross the mind of any other person? And if by chance it had done so, what are the chances that he would then have selected, as the other two peers to be sent to relieve Wolsey of his seal, two of those four who actually were sent to do that office in the case of Verulam?”

*Note. - “Surrey” was the second title of Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel, while the Lord Chamberlain, in Verulam's [Bacon’s] time, was the Earl of Pembroke.

Others have also noted the following famous speech of the same scene as above and it’s relation to Bacon:

Also, in the play Henry VIII its principal character Cardinal Wolsey says a speech in which he’s fallen from greatness. The following lines:

"O Cromwell, Cromwell!
Had I but served my God with half the zeal
I served my King, he would not in mine age
Have left me naked to mine enemies."
Act 3, Sc. 2, 454

In 1621 Bacon fell from power, a few months afterward he wrote a letter to King James in which he says "Cardinal Wolsey said that if he had pleased God as he had pleased the King he had not been ruined." Is it a coincidence that Cardinal Wolsey’s fallen greatness exactly fits Francis Bacon’s? And who other than Bacon and major historians such as Holinshed would likely be so interested and  familiar with Wolsey’s personality and career?

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