Shakespeare Cross-Examination: A Compilation of Articles First Appearing in the American Bar Association Journal

By Tappan Gregory | Go to book overview

A Hoax Three Centuries Old

by Louis P. Benezet

I MUST VIGOROUSLY protest the picture of Edward de Vere, the Seventeenth Earl of Oxford, as given by Mr. Hauser. To describe the earl as a lightheaded dissolute fop who "at the end had the mentality of a failed gambler", can hardly be termed historically accurate.

Oxford a fop! Although he was small in stature, in his early twenties he won first prize in the two tournaments in which he took part. In one he unhorsed Sir Christopher Hatton, the Earl of Sussex, Leicester, the Comte de St. Aignon, and the Prince d'Ausine of France. In the other he won from the Earl of Stafford, Sir Henry Knollys, Sir Thomas Knyvet, and Thomas Bedingfield. When only 20 he had distinguished himself in fighting against the Scots as a staff officer under the Earl of Sussex. When the Spaniards were about to invade Alsace and the Low Countries, the great Sturmius ( Johann Sturm, Rector of Strassburg University) wrote the Queen begging her to send "the Earl of Oxford, the Earl of Leicester, or Sir Philip Sydney" (in that order) to lead the army of resistance. The Queen did send Sir John Norris, with Oxford as second in command (the cavalry).

Next, the man called a dissolute fop fitted out a warship at his own expense and captained it in the three-day battle against the Spaniards. The magazine Navy recently proved that "Shakespeare" had taken part in that battle.

Sir Edward Creasy ( Decisive Battles, page 240) singles out Raleigh, Oxford and Cumberland for their timely arrival to reinforce the Admiral. Hallam,

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