Saturday, December 19, 2015

Henry VIII – the case for Francis Bacon - 12 - Queen Catherine/Katherine

Henry VIII – the case for Francis Bacon (as primary author) - 12

Finally, there’s the depiction of Queen Catherine in the play.

Here is what Edwin Reed wrote about Shakespeare’s depiction of her in Coincidences, Bacon and Shakespeare (1906):

Queen Catherine, the first wife of King Henry VIII, made her residence during the latter part of her life at Kimbolton in Huntingdonshire. The Duke of Manchester, to whom the place belongs, published in 1864 a valuable collection of papers, found in the castle and at Simancas in Spain, which show that of all the numerous and gifted persons who have written of that unfortunate princess, two, and two only, have correctly adjudged her character. These two, thus in singular agreement, are Francis Bacon and the author of the Shake-speare dramas.

The Duke [of Manchester] says:

“So far as concerns all popular ideas of her, Catherine is a creature of the mist. Shakespeare and Bacon, the highest judges and firmest painters of character, have, it is true, described her, if only lightly and by the way, as a woman of flesh and blood; the flesh rather stubborn, the blood somewhat hot; as a lady who could curse her enemies and caress her friends; a princess full of natural graces, virtues, and infirmities. Had the portraits by Shakespeare and Bacon been painted in full, they would have been all that we could hope or wish. But they are only fragments of the whole; and the work of all minor hands is nothing, or worse than nothing. In these inferior pencillings [from writers other than Shakespeare and Bacon], the woman is concealed beneath the veil of a nun. In place of a girl full of sun and life, eager to love and to be loved, enamoured of state and pomp, who liked a good dinner, a new gown, above all a young  husband; one who had her quarrels, her debts, her feminine fibs, and her little deceptions, even with those who were most  near and dear to her; a creature to be kissed and petted, to be adored, and chidden, and ill-used – all of which Catherine was in the flesh – we find a cold, grim Lady Abbess, a creature too pious for the world in which her lot was cast, too pure for the husband who had been given to her. Such a conception is vague in outline and false in spirit. Catherine was every inch a woman before she became every inch a queen.” – Court and Society, i. 5

Reed continues:

This judgment is confirmed by high literary authority:

The whole story of the Queen, as now told from ample Simancas text, is in perfect harmony with what Shakespeare and Bacon say of her.” – The Athenaeum, January 16, 1867.

Lord Montagu of Kimbolton, first Earl of Manchester, was one of Bacon’s dearest friends. [So it would have been expected that Bacon would have easy access to detailed information of her personality and character from her family’s descendants and others that knew stories of her and that kept records of her life.]

And from Wikipedia: “William Shakespeare’s play Henry VIII succeeds in recreating with great accuracy Catherine's statement about the legitimacy of her marriage at the court in Blackfriars before King Henry, and Shakespeare's portrayal of Catherine is remarkably sympathetic.

Is there any rational and justifiable hypothesis how someone like the Stratford Shaksper (of Shakespeare if you prefer) could accurately imagine what Catherine’s personality and character were like, and further, to have such sympathy for her?
End of series

The evidence for Bacon as primary author of this play cannot, I think, be equaled by any other person living in England at the time. It answers why Bacon, after leading both King James and Prince Charles for some time to expect a History of Henry VIII, never  produced one, even knowing that he spent time researching the topic and could easily have produce a draft, which was his practice.  It explains the unusual break from Holinshed that Shakespeare had followed so closely until 4 peers, rather than the historical 2, came to take the Seal from Wolsey. It best explains why the scene with Cranmer waiting with footboys and lackeys was included in the play. Though a similar event can be found in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, it would have more meaning to Bacon than to another playwright. The many close parallels in ideas and language between this play and Bacon’s writings are also now more easily explained. And who other than Bacon would be more able to write the political philosophy in it as well as the dialogue on commissions for taxes that Bacon was directly involved with during his time? Also, not only is there no evidence for the Stratford man writing this play, how could he have so accurately depicted Queen Catherine, when no one else could do so, except Bacon, whose familiarity with her life and character is documented and fully explainable? Finally, this play is considered “the most controversial of Shakespeare's history plays because it seems to be utterly devoid of any dramatic alterations to the sources. It lacks the creativity of Shakespeare's other works and one is left with a sense of confusion when reading the compressed and mixed-up chronology of the events of Henry's reign.” 

One good explanation for this is at this time Bacon was far busier in his work at court than in earlier times when he was mostly unemployed. In these circumstances it’s easy to see him not putting the time in to enhance the historical narrative with greater drama that would require more effort, and so more time, than he may have had available. On the other hand we would assume a ‘man of the theater’ who hardly ever needed to blot a line to easily and naturally spill drama from his pen with nearly every stroke.

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