First, an aside. I noticed when reviewing the new evidence on the doubtaboutwill website that they were renewing their challenge of having a mock trial to prove that the Stratford William was the great author Shakespeare “beyond reasonable doubt” and that if they succeeded then the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition (SAC) would donate £40,000 to the Birthplace Trust. But more interesting, they are now saying that if the challenge is not accepted, that the SAC and the public then “have every right to conclude that they concede the issue by default”. That would be quite an interesting event. And I imagine that they don’t even know how it would turn out. But I suppose something has to be done.
Shakespeare and Italy continued:
More from Chapter 1
1B. Villafranca -- ‘free town’ in English. This place is mentioned by the previous authors of the R&J story. But Shakespeare adds something unique to him. Roe says that anyone that knew this area more thoroughly would have known it was silly to think there was a Capulet castle at Villafranca outside of Verona. Only in Shakespeare (in the first scene) we have the enraged Escalus, the great prince of Verona stopping the brawl between the Montagues and Capulets and saying:
You, Capulet, shall go along with me;
And, Montague, come you this afternoon,
To know our farther pleasure in this case,
To old Free-towne, our common judgment place.
Only to Shakespeare is this the old place where Prince Escalus pronounces his common (public) judgments. No other teller of this story had called it old or mentioned anything about public judgments. Villafranca, south of Verona, turns out to be a formidable medieval castle with tall towers, gates, forbidding walls and ramparts, etc. It shows itself to have been the unmistakable seat of the della Scala power. The original R&J story were told from a man that was called Peregrino who mentioned the original event occurred during the time of Prince Bartolomeo della Scala. Escalus is a sort of Latin form for della Scala. A more modern form of the name is Scaligero, or in English as Scaliger. Modern Veronese say the R&J event occurred in 1302.
The Scaligeros had many castles. But only this one was the site of their princely court, the seat of Scaliger authority, and the venue for their public judgments. At the time of the R&J event this castle was already ‘old’ as it was built in 1202. Roe called it ‘old in tradition old in family, old in power, and old in medieval protocol’. So Montague would have had no doubt where to present himself on that designated afternoon. This seems pretty clearly to be unusual knowledge, especially for someone thought to be a moderately learned playwright. If someone can show that the average Elizabethan theater-goer knew about it then it could be dropped as evidence.
1C. Saint Peter’s Church [Act III, Sc. 5]. Though no scene is set there it is mentioned in connection with Juliet. No other version of the story mentions it, so why would Shakespeare? And why this church name of all others. Roe reasoned it had to be the Capulet parish church. Even the modern local guides don’t seem aware of it as the author did, suggesting he had a ‘keen knowledge of the layout of Verona’. For instance, though unaware of the Capulet church, the modern locals realize that the early fight scene would have been fought at the end of Via Cappello, at Stradone San Fermo, when the Stradone was called ‘il Corso.’“ So if Shakespeare knew something that even the modern locals don’t know that would be an indication of his intimate knowledge of the town. Roe found four Saint Peter’s churches that had been there around Shakespeare’s time. He found one perfectly located. The San Pietro Incarnario is the local parish church on the direct path from the Capulet home to the cell of Friar Francis.