(An Exercise in Forensic Astrology)
In my own personal view within the Shakespeare Authorship Contention there are two leading contestants for the appellation “Swan of Avon”, “Soul of the Age”, or “Star of Poets”; since clearly the bucolic wool merchant and jobbing actor from Stratford-upon-Avon, William Shagsper has been largely dismissed firstly by J. T. Looney’s revelations in the 1920’s and in Charlton Ogburn’s book “The Mystery of William Shakespeare” (1984 Cardinal Press). Even the editors of the Oxford English Literary Compendium have finally admitted that Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford was by far the most likely author of the Shakespeare’s poetry and the 1623 Folio of plays. Still there are numerous academics who still cling to the common belief that a wool merchant’s son, without any formal education wrote the works attributed to the pseudonymous William Shakespeare. In my recent book “Shakespeare’s Qaballah” I have made a comprehensive and comparative analysis of these prospective authors and discovered that the Earl of Oxford’s claim to authorship is by far the strongest. However, the vacuum left by the rejection of William Shagsper has subsequently been filled by other candidates by literary authors vying with each other to uncover who the real author was. Among those playwrights and poets suggested have been Sir Christopher Marlowe, Roger Manners, the Earl of Rutland, William Hastings, Sir Henry Chettle, and even Queen Elizabeth 1st herself. But seriously folks for someone to write over 38 plays and seven volumes of poetry is quite an undertaking which only someone with the time, the means and motivation could achieve in one short lifetime. Furthermore, to have the knowledge, wisdom and creative potential for such an enterprise would not have been the preserve of just anybody but somebody who was destined and educated to the degree of a prolific polymath. Shakespeare’s imagery and vast literary references include the legal and social elements of the Inns of Court, geography, history, war and weaponry, sports and games, classical mythology, drama, the natural world, sea-faring, hunting and falconry, astrology, medicine, art and culture, fashion, gardening and animal husbandry, fencing and fighting, the stage, religion, the occult/magic, paganism, folklore, metaphysics and oratory. Furthermore, to write so accurately about these subjects he would have had a library containing over 3,000 books and yet in the final last will and testament of the Stratford actor, William Shagsper there is no mention of any library, any books or manuscripts. No, not even a bible.
It is generally accepted by academics that the pseudonymous “William Shakespeare” must have had a good grasp of classical Latin, Greek, Italian, French and Spanish, that is those languages specifically taught in England’s schools, colleges or universities. However, we are informed that William Shagsper left Stratford-upon-Avon in 1587 without ever attending a college or university or being tutored in any language save his own native Warwickshire. How and why was this anonymuncule given credit for plays and poetry far beyond his personal capacity and comprehension? Naive academic credulity is partly responsible as well as academic group think or simply shoddy academic research. In actual fact no mention whatsoever is made of Stratford or Warwickshire in any of Shakespeare’s plays or poetry. So how could someone who was untutored in languages be able to read so many books in Greek, French and Latin and speak or write so innovatively, eloquently and articulately in the English language?
Indeed, how was this relatively illiterate man, who could barely sign his own name towards the end of his life, able to develop an extraordinary vocabulary of some 29,000 words of which 1,700 were coined by him in such a short space of time. Why was his death in 1616 not eulogised and nationally mourned as a literary and dramatic genius? How could a man who had never known military service describe the historical battlefield so accurately and with such personal experience. If the man from Stratford had never travelled abroad how could he have known so much about the geography, customs and cultural traditions of towns and countryside in Venice, Padua, Antwerp and Rome? These were locations actually visited by the Earl of Oxford while Sir Francis Bacon’s “brother”, Anthony Bacon was working as a spy in Antwerp. While the Earl of Oxford owned a seagoing galley named the Edward Bonaventure which took part in discovering the northwest passage and against the Spanish Armada in 29th July 1588. On top of that Edward de Vere’s brother-in-law, Peregrine Bertie was ambassador to Denmark for several years when Hamlet, Prince of Denmark was being written. Furthermore, historically the Earl of Oxford’s ancestors were supportive of Henry Bollingbroke’s claim to the English throne during the Wars of the Roses and instrumental in defeating his enemies in France and England.
Well perhaps it is time to examine the historical facts and life experience of Sir Francis Bacon, Baron Verulam, Viscount St. Albans and the most noble Edward de Vere, Baron Bulbeck, the 17th Earl of Oxford a little more closely. Firstly, Thomas Looney ascertained that the author of the 1623 Folio would have been:
- A man with strong feudal connections
- A member of the higher aristocracy
- A supporter of the Lancastrian cause
- A man who had visited Italy and France
- A man of sporting ability
- A man who loved music
- Improvident in financial matters
- Ambivalent towards women
- Of Catholic belief, but touched with scepticism
So if we take J.T. Looney’s definitions as a credible benchmark for authorship the question remains who between Sir Francis Bacon and Edward de Vere would be the strongest and most viable candidate?
It is relatively well known that Sir Francis Bacon was in actual fact the secret love-child of Queen Elizabeth 1st and the Earl of Leicester, Sir Robert Dudley although Robert Nield in his book “Breaking the Shakespeare Codes” suggests that Queen Elizabeth had several children who worked secretly for the Crown or William Cecil, Lord Burghley, among them presumed to be the spy William Hastings. Peter Dawkins, the artistic director of Shakespeare’s Globe in London (author of “The Shakespeare Enigma”) claims that it was Sir Francis Bacon and like Robert Nield attempts to unravel the mystery by deciphering the codes and anagrams supposedly contained in Shakespeare’s literary endeavours. If that was the case then we should presume that Sir Francis Bacon, as the illegitimate child of the sovereign would automatically succeed to the throne on the death of Queen Elizabeth. However, this did not happen since Elizabeth failed to name a suitable successor and the main reason for that was that Elizabeth Tudor was herself the illegitimate daughter of Henry VIIIth who, seeing that after his six failed marriages to differing women in Europe and England rightful succession was being brought into chaos and confusion amended the Act of Succession. He clearly made it unlawful for any illegitimate child of the reigning monarch to accede to the English throne, let alone the illegitimate child of an illegitimate monarch. This meant that between Elizabeth Tudor and Mary Stuart, the former should have been barred from acceding to the throne of England and the latter made eligible. This is one of the bones of contention between Catholics and Protestants that prevailed during Elizabeth’s reign. Nevertheless, Elizabeth did accede to the throne because Parliament as well as William Cecil, Secretary of State, Baron Burghley perceived the young Elizabeth to be the better candidate since Mary had strong and uncompromising Catholic leanings. That is why Elizabeth prevaricated and even prorogued Parliament over signing the warrant for the execution of her step-sister Mary Queen of Scots but was overruled by Robert Cecil, Lord Burghley’s son. Therefore Sir Francis Bacon, although the son of a monarch was duty bound to look elsewhere for his fortune and fame and where better than as a politician, member of parliament, statesman and eventually became the director of a new Masonic movement “The Secret Order of the Rosy Cross” which originally developed in Germany by Michael Maier. (See The Secret Alchemy of Shakespeare)
Francis Bacon was supposedly born at York House the “second son” of Anne Bacon (nee Cooke) and Nicholas Bacon a very close friend of William Cecil, Lord Burghley. He was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge in 1573, then at Gray’s Inn in 1576. He served as a diplomat in France for three years but was eventually called to the Bar in 1582. He was a member of five consecutive Parliaments representing Melcombe Regis in 1584, Taunton 1586-7, Liverpool 1597, Middlesex 1593 and Ipswich 1597-8. From 1592 he was a political ally of the Earl of Essex which meant he temporarily fell out of favour with Queen Elizabeth. Moreover, he failed to achieve several posts including Solicitor General, Master of the Rolls and failed to marry Elizabeth Hatton until in 1598 he was arrested for debt then in 1627 was sent to the Tower for accepting bribes. However, in 1597 his fortunes had changed and he was appointed Queen’s Council and soon after began to publish his famous Essays. The following is an extract from his poem The Life of Man which though written around 1592 was published in 1629:
The world’s a bubble, and the life of man
Less than a span,
In his conception wretched, from the womb,
So to the tomb;
Curst from the cradle, and brought up to years,
With cares and fears.
Who then to frail mortality shall trust
But limns on water, or but writes in dust.
He was perceived by some as abandoning any support for the Earl of Essex in 1600-1 during his rebellion and conversely assisted in prosecuting him for his treachery and misdemeanours in Ireland. However, he was not a man of sporting ability, sea-faring experience nor of military experience unlike Edward de Vere who was an expert fencing and jousting champion. Like many other noblemen of the time his career flourished under the reign of King James 1st to whom he dedicated his Advancement of Learning in 1605. In 1607 he was appointed Solicitor General after marrying Alice Burnham, the daughter of a London Merchant. In 1608 he received a remuneration for his post as Clerk of the Star Chamber and soon after was appointed Lord Chancellor from 1618-1621. However, at the close of this post he was found guilty of corruption by Sir Edward Coke, fined £40,000 and sent to the Tower. These penalties were eventually remitted by King James 1st who recognised his extraordinary intellect and years devoted to the Crown. Among his greatest achievements being Novum Organum, a philosophical study that took him thirty years to complete. Bacon was recognised for even more additions to that for example Instauratio Magnum which remained incomplete. A History of Henry VIIth appeared in 1622 followed by an ambitious History of Life & Death. He also published a great number of legal maxims, literary studies (Apothegms New & Old 1624), A Natural History (Sylva Sylvarum 1627) as well as an extended edition of his Essays in 1625. His essay “The New Atlantis” was published in 1627 rejecting the Aristotelian perspective as irrelevant to modern science. He died leaving some £20,000 worth of debts and from the 18th century onwards many academics have claimed that he was the real author of Shakespeare’s poetry and plays. He died while experimenting with the properties of snow, catching a chill from which he did not recover. Given the extent of his activities and preoccupation with law, secret intelligence, politics, parliamentary representation and an extensive portfolio of literary achievements how did he find the extra time required to write another 36 plays and 7 volumes of poetry?
Now the astrological chart of Sir Francis Bacon has several astrological indicators associated with politicians, inventors, writers and poets. Firstly, the sun is in Aquarius, and conjunct the ascendant, also in Aquarius (1st house). With Jupiter and the moon in Aries (3rd House) suggests that writing and communications are well-favoured with an interest in mathematics. The Sun/Mercury conjunction is significant and suggests an interest in writing, communications particularly of a political or humanitarian nature, although because Mercury rests in the 12th house it could suggest someone of a criminal or evasive mind, apt to make fraudulent claims, prone to blackmail or instigating secret agreements and contracts. The Pluto/Venus conjunction in the second house suggests affections/relationships or personal/legal contracts would be the key to financial success and that the natives or their partners are highly charged sexually. Furthermore, that jealousy or money paid for sexual favour may inadvertently enter the romantic scene or that suitors become demanding, unmanageable or argumentative because of the Mars/Saturn square. The rather loose Jupiter/Moon conjunction again suggests someone who undertakes immense philosophical writing projects but may have some difficulty finishing them off. Mars and Uranus in the ninth suggests someone with an interest in astrology, science or invention particularly when applied to the military, politics, law and religion. Saturn in Gemini suggests a person with a serious and calculating mind but also someone who has difficulty in childhood with their family or home conditions. Neptune in the third house suggests a psychic sense of place, an appreciation of music, may even have musical instruments in their home. The person may attract money or possessions which are fortunate and they are prone to ostentation.
Edward de Vere was born in 1550 the son of John de Vere whom he succeeded in 1562 when he died and consequently became the ward of William Cecil (Lord Burghley) until he came of age in 1571. He was educated at St. John’s College, Cambridge and obtained his MA in 1564 and an Oxford MA in 1566 when he entered Gray’s Inn the following year. Oxford was by heredity tutelary Lord Great Chamberlain of England, amongst other such titles and performed his office at court during the Armada celebrations. He was a talented musician, dancer and poet and may have been at court tutoring some of England’s gentry in the finer arts although he did obtain a reputation as a bit of an upstart and a rogue. Nicknamed “The Turk” by Queen Elizabeth he was for a brief period a favourite at court and noted for his love of sporting activity, writing plays and poetry, dancing, fencing and musical composition. His secretary was the poet and playwright John Lyly, the author of Euphues and he patronised the Children of the Revels, as well as the choristers at the Chapel Royal, and Oxford’s Boys who performed at the Blackfriar’s Theatre and numerous poets, actors and playwrights during Elizabeth’s reign. He was once complemented on his musical ability and knowledge as being superior to his tutors and contemporaries. Anthony Munday went on to publish “Zelato” with a dedication to the Earl of Oxford along with thirty other authors on subjects such as botany, medicine, anatomy, history, Greek and Roman drama, Ovid’s Metamorphoses (his uncle Arthur Golding). In his youth he was tutored by Roger Ascham, Dr. John Dee, Sir Thomas Smith, and was granted an annuity of £1,000 to act as a propagandist and spin-doctor for the Protestant cause. Indeed, not only was he thought to have written or had a hand in plays but his first attempts at poetry seem strangely familiar in subject and tone:
The labouring man, that tills the fertile soil,
And reaps the harvest fruit, hath not in deed
The gain, but pain; and if for all his toil
He gets the straw, the lord will have the seed.
However, he is also assumed to have been a ladies’ man and may have had an early affair with Queen Elizabeth:
What cunning can express
The favour of her face,
To whom in this distress
I do appeal for grace.
A thousand cupids fly
About her gentle eye.
The natal Tropical chart of Edward de Vere born at 10:10 pm on April 12th 1550 at Sible, Hedingham, Oxford features a Sagittarius ascendant, which suggests a man of action, sporting ability and good at sales or promotion. Moon in Pisces (3rd House), an innate gift in writing, advertising, and communication. With the conjunction to Mars an agile, adaptable and assertive quality that suggests a playful mind, the mental wit being influenced by the planet Mercury and the zodiac sign of Gemini. The Sun in Taurus (5th House), conjunct Neptune denotes an imaginative faculty, keen perception and a love of the great outdoors, art, painting and enjoyment of possessions or money generally. The native will have an interest in drama, enjoys encounters of all sorts and is especially generous towards children. Furthermore, Mercury is also in Aries (5th house), therefore the person is likely to enjoy military expeditions and be inclined to write or report about them. With Venus (7th House) in Gemini, the person will not be entirely reliable with their spouse, he would be imbued with considerable personal charm and eloquence, and attractive to the opposite sex. The placement of Jupiter in Taurus (6th House) suggests a great deal of work and involvement in the arts, a degree of humour and good taste. The trine to Uranus suggests opportunities abound in developing his personal status and integrity despite occasional personal attacks. Saturn in Aquarius (3rd House) a strong interest in politics, the legal sphere or religion. Pluto is significantly placed in Aquarius close to the lunar stellatum applying to the Moon and Mars again in the 3rd house. This gives considerable agility and strength in the wrists, arms and lungs which would have enabled him to become proficient in fencing, jousting and dancing. Finally, Uranus alongside the midheaven and conjunct the North Node in the sign of Libra suggests a professional and authoritative interest or preoccupation with astrology and the reformation of the legal and socio-political sphere. Taking into consideration that the outer planets would have been unknown to Elizabethan astrologers then the aspects to these planets has to be quite significant for us today in determining firstly the character and life of Edward de Vere and whether he is the real author of Shakespeare’s canon. The number of astrological references and quotes in Shakespeare’s work suggests someone with more than just a passing interest in the art and science of astrology.
The links to my publications “Shakespeare’s Qaballah”, a Companion to Shakespeare Studies and my anthology of poetry, “Pathenogenesis” are as follows: