Sunday, July 31, 2016

Shakespeare and Italy - 15 - Florence cont., The St. Francis

Another aside---since it seems the usual Stratfordian supporters are unable to explain the increased evidence of the growing chasm of expected connections between their William and the author Shakespeare, maybe some of you would like to give it a try. When the authorship topic comes up, then instead of the usual rolling of the eyes, or some distracting antic disposition, or the ranting and raving that is still popular among some leading scholars, you might try coming up with some rational explanations of at least some of the new arguments that are elaborated upon here:

The first one I think that I could even explain away. So you should be able to handle that and then move on to the second one which is:

2. We mention that “almost uniquely among Elizabethan poets, Shakespeare remained silent following the death of Queen Elizabeth I.” We should add that equally strange for a Jacobean poet is the author’s silencefollowing the death of Prince Henry, the hugely popular son of King James, and heir to the throne, in 1612.It makes no sense that the retired “lead dramatist of the King’s Men” would have been silent at such a time.

Then, if you think you can explain that too then you’ll have some confidence to try and tackle those that follow it. Good luck and feel free to share any responses you devise!
Shakespeare and Italy, Roe’s Chapter 9 continued:

9D. So when the widow worries that the troops might “approach the City” she is saying that then they would be at the wrong bridge to see the spectacle.  As they try to determine the troops route into Florence they listen for the trumpets for clues. And as they suspect they chose the wrong bridge to see them, Helena arrives, dressed as a pilgrim, and a conversation with a most important clue for Roe is provided. The Widow says:

“Look, here comes a pilgrim. I know she will lie at my house”. 
Helena says that she is bound “to Saint Jaques le Grand” and asks “Where do the palmers lodge?”.  To which the widow answers:
“At the Saint Francis here beside the port.”

So the widow runs an inn, the Saint Francis, where pilgrams normally stay and it is beside “the port”. What Roe discovered through his Italian scholar contact was that there was a specific landing along the Arno river running through Florence that since Roman times became known as “the Port”, as it was not just any port along the river there.  And because we know they were “beside” it, Roe could deduce that the bridge they were at was the Ponte alla Carraia. And again, he calls for the editors to restore the capital “P” to “the Port” as the FF had it.

9E. Even more interesting is that as Roe studied the history of that particular “Port” he found that the church next to it has long belonged to the Franciscans. This suggested that there might actually be a place that had been known as the “Saint Francis” close by. But how to find it? He phoned a Franciscan monastery near where he lived in California and asked them. They quickly sent him a small sketch of the Franciscan symbol – a cross surmounting two crossed arms with stigmata in the palms. Roe then walked the streets near the Port and soon found above one door the exact symbol the Franciscan’s sent him! This is further strong evidence that the author knew this area of Florence in great detail. Even today tourists to Florence are told that the old city is so small that it makes fairly easy to see all the main historic and cultural sights by walking around in it. And the old Saint Francis inn is a bit off this main part of the city, not easily come across by those seeking to see the most interesting sights of the city. So the average visiting traveler or tourist, back in the 16th century and as now, would not likely even pass by and note it. It’s much more likely to have been noted by someone who stayed in the city for some time and knew it fairly well, or at least someone who deeply interrogated travelers or citizens there that knew the city well.

9F. Further than this, and as confirmation, the play continues with Bertram’s troops coming over the bridge where the group of women were waiting. And Roe explains logically why they would come that direction rather than over a different bridge that would have led to the City where a royal reception would be waiting for them. If they had gone directly to the palace in the City they wouldn’t have had a chance to rest, wash, change their clothes, etc. before being welcomed by the Duke. But the route they did take led directly to Fortezza da Basso, Florence’s enormous citadel. And that first destination would be their most sensible goal and fits perfectly with the location of the Port and the Saint Francis.

So the evidence, taken together, again supports the argument that the author had detailed accurate knowledge of Italian geography as well as the area of France where Rossillion was, not to mention of some military customs, though some of these military customs might be expected of average citizens in England too.

As mentioned, Francis Bacon’s closest friend, Sir Tobie Matthew, perfectly fits such a contact. He lived and traveled throughout Italy for about 12 years, even converting to Catholicism (which could help explain Shake-Speare’s Catholic tolerance). He has even been called “the most Italianated of all Englishmen”. He visited Florence on more than one occasion, and as he was welcomed at the royal courts wherever he went, sometimes as a representative of the English government, he seems to have become friends with the Duke of Tuscany there, Cosimo II de’ Medici. They would even be likely to much enjoy each other’s company since they shared common interests, such as in art, literature, and supporting Galileo. Later, Matthew translated into Italian two books of Francis Bacon, his Essays and his Wisdom of the Ancients, and dedicated them to Cosimo II in the format of a personal letter to him, implying a close personal friendship.

Such connections are most valuable to Baconian theory since recent discoveries suggest he did not travel through Italy as had been long thought. Instead, it seems he had been holed up at Gray’s Inn with his legal studies. Since many non-Stratfordians believe Shake-speare very likely saw Italy personally, this is now a hurdle for Baconians and gives other candidates that are known to have travelled there an advantage on this significant branch of the authorship evidence.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Shakespeare and Italy 14 - Florence Rossillion Tuckets

9A. Chapter 9 in Roe’s book looks at the clues in All’s Well That Ends Well. Eight of the scenes of this play supposedly take place in Florence. The other scenes took place in Paris and “Rossillion” of which there have been guesses of what location the playwright had in mind, if any. Though Spain had been suggested for the country of Rossillion, Roe found that in the source for the play, The Decameron of Giovanni Boccaccio, it is stated that it’s in the “kingdom of France”. There were two towns of that name in France and Roe found enough converging evidence to conclude that the one between Marseilles (“Marcellus” in the play) and Paris was a perfect fit.
Bertram says he will go to the Tuscan wars, referring to the battles between Florence and Siena and in which Florence prevailed. Roe speculates that the reference is most likely to the war that ended in 1555 and would be remembered by the Elizabethan audience. Though the play was not published until 1623 it may have had a private performance earlier for Queen Elizabeth and her court, which would make any personal allusions, as there appear to be in the play, more relevant. 
9B. The most important Italian clues for Roe were found in Act III, Scene 5. He starts off with pointing out a clear error in modern editions of the play. In this scene at line 7 has been added “[Tucket]”. At the beginning of the scene there was a stage direction for “A tucket afar off” per the FF. But this second “tucket” was added by Edward Capell 145 years later. Roe explains that a “tucket” “was a musical declaration sounded by a harbinger to announce a personage of high rank at a city gate or castle or palace. Each personage had his or her own distinctive, personalized tucket.” So the first tucket stage direction makes perfect sense in announcing Bertram’s arrival at an outer gate of Florence. However, the second tucket at line 7 makes no sense and shouldn’t have been added since it would be redundant. Apparently, Capell thought that a tucket was just another marching signal. And this is how the OED describes it and Roe explains why this is a mistake also. The OED describes a tucket as “a flourish on a trumpet” and as “a signal for marching used by cavalry troops.” But then it describes a “flourish” as “unmeaning ornamentation” and a “signal” as “an identifiable series of notes or tune that broadcasts a specific command”. But a flourish can’t be simultaneously unmeaningful as well as meaningful.

9C. Further, the stage location for the scene added to modern editions is “Outside Florence”. This arose from the bigger misunderstanding of the widow’s line “Nay, come; for if they do approach the City, we shall lose all the sight.” It may sound like she is saying that the troops, as well as the Widow, her daughter Diana, and Mariana are all outside of the city of Florence. But that makes no sense since the opening tucket announced that Bertram was already at one of the gates. The confusion arose because the editors didn’t understand that in Florence there was an older Roman walled district that was called “The City”, and that’s why the author use a capital “C” for City. The editors were wrong to change this proper name to an ordinary noun. An untraveled poorly educated Englishman would be unlikely to have known the difference but a well-traveled, well-educated Englishman who had been to Florence and/or studied closely its history through well-connected sources, could know the difference, and this author obviously did.

The first two points above may merely support that the author knew what was sensible as far as French geography and military custom were concerned. So I included them primarily because this information wasn’t known by modern editors, even though educated play attendees in Shakespeare’s time might have understood them.  The third point (9C) is more important that these two in that it adds support to the evidence that the author was also unusually acquainted with the city of Florence and its history, and may have travelled there. It would be unlikely that he was an untraveled commoner.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Shakespeare and Italy 13 - Sabbioneta Athens Duke's Oak

8A. This chapter presents discoveries from Roe’s side trip to Sabbioneta, near Mantua. He had not even heard of it until a fellow traveler mentioned it to him at breakfast. The city’s unique architecture, being all designed according to the “Mannerist” style, was meant for the use of Vespasiano Gonzaga. Roe was given a tourist brochure when he arrived, that described the old city as “Little Athens”. This Gonzaga valued learning very highly and so he was known for “inviting the erudite among both Italy’s, and other western Europe’s, nobility and intelligentsia for a visit”, thus accounting for its second name or “Little Athens”. As a gathering place for scholars and intellectuals it would naturally attract the attention of many learned visitors from England as well

By chance, toward the end of his tour there, Roe heard the guide mention that the main gate passage was also known as “il ‘Quercia dei Duca”. Since the word “Quercia” wasn’t familiar to him he asked about it and was told it meant “Oak”, so the gate was “The Duke’s Oak”. And as you know the comic rustic characters putting on Pyramus and Thisbe, met to rehearse, per Quince, “At the Duke’s Oak”. 

So the setting of the play is in “Athens” and there are many references to it or to “Athenians”. However, there is no mention of Greece, Greek, Grecians, Attica or such. There is actually no mention in the play that the Duke’s Oak refers to a large Oak tree in the woods in Athens, Greece. But with all the other Italian references, especially peculiarly accurate ones, and such that only a select minority in the audience might recognize, the weight of the evidence supports this as another subtle hint of Italian knowledge insight. The reason the town’s entrance way was called “The Duke’s Oak” was that the passage opened to an oak forest where Gonzaga had a hunting ground. 

A final discovery Roe made there was that there are a couple references to “temple” where the play’s marriages would take place. Roe found that there is a church in Sabbioneta, and it is in fact, called “the Temple”. And though modern editions of the play have “temple” with a non-capitalized “t”, the Quarto and First Folio have “Temple” with the “T” capitalized, as it would be for a proper noun. 

The discoveries taken together, along with knowing that Vespasiano Gonzaga used Sabbioneta as a type of then modern day “Athenian academy” for intellectual and cultural seminars, supports the case that the author either personally visited this town in Italy or had unusually intimate knowledge of parts of the country and culture not available to even most native Italians. Only the well-travelled and culturally advanced, and with connections to the elite and powerful, would most likely visit such a place.