Skip to comments.Shakespeare Scholars Say the Bard was Catholic?
Posted on 03/31/2009 1:07:00 PM PDT by Coleus
MANCHESTER, England - It is early in the Protestant Reformation, and a time of fierce persecution of Catholics in England. Every Catholic faces the same questions: Will I rise up against the Queen if required? Will I become a martyr if given the chance? If a group of English scholars are right, one Catholic poet summed up the dilemma nicely:
To be or not to be, that is the question.
Whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take up arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?
An international gathering of scholars this summer examined the theory that playwright and poet William Shakespeare was a secret Catholic. The meeting was held at Hoghton Tower, in Lancashire, North England, a country manor house which may have figured largely in the poet's life. They claimed Shakespeare even used the name Shakeshafte to avoid scrutiny by the anti-Papist authorities in Elizabethan England, and examined the emerging consensus about the poet's undocumented missing years. Organizer Professor Richard Wilson, Professor of Renaissance Studies at the University of Lancaster, England, said a 16-year-old Shakespeare came to Hoghton Tower, the nerve-center of a Catholic counter reformation in 1580, with the Jesuit priest and martyr St. Edmund Campion. That was the start of a period of 10 years for Shakespeare in a series of Catholic houses in North West England, he said.
Scholars also cite the spiritual testament of John Shakespeare, the writer's father, to support their account of the family's faith. The document, found in 1750 in the rafters of the family home in Stratford-Upon-Avon, is a fervent declaration of faith and is believed to have been written by St. Charles Borromeo and brought to England from Milan to Father Campion. A connection with the Catholic undergroundheadquartered at Hoghton Tower would make Shakespeare a much more subversive figure than many English assume. A few days after Father Campion's arrest and torture in the Tower of London, Hoghton was raided. A record of the time notes that the head of the family, Alexander Hoghton, asked in his will, for a neighboring family to take care of a young scholar called William Shakeshafte. Academics are convinced this was an alias for Shakespeare. They believe he took the name of his grandparents to escape persecution.
Said Professor Wilson, It was a common thing for young Catholics, who may have been heading for seminaries in Northern France, to take an alias. It does look as if Shakespeare was heading, with other Catholic young men of the era, for the Catholic seminaries such as the one at Douai in northern France to train as a priest. But it also looks as if Campion's arrest and execution and the ongoing persecution of Catholics halted his plans. Perhaps the evasiveness and anonymity, which mean that we know so little of Shakespeare's life, were produced as a defense.
To be or not to be
Citing Hamlet's, To be or not to be soliloquy as an indication of this spiritual turmoil, Professor Wilson said, This is Hamlet contemplating suicide but it is also about the self-destruction ... of a generation of martyrs. He added, Shakespeare's plays revolve around the 'bloody question,' where your true loyalty lies. It was a question of what would happen if there was a move by Rome against the Protestant Queen. The claims of the Bard's Romish leanings were greeted by delight by Catholic thespians. Michael Slater, Master of the British Catholic Stage told the Register, There is such humanity which encroaches into his plays it wouldn't surprise me if he was a Catholic. The plays speak for themselves. I just wish I was his agent.
Slater, who is currently involved in supporting a new theatrical project based on the life of Father Campion, said, It does open all sorts of possibilities. Scholars often speculate about the identity of the 'dark lady' in his sonnets. Maybe it was our Lady, he said. Asked about the Hamlet claim, he replied, I don't know about that I would have to reread the text. Theories about Shakespeare's Catholicism have been percolating throughout the century. In the 1913 edition of the Catholic Encyclopedia, Herbert Thurston recounts that Anglican Archdeacon R. Davies wrote at the end of the 17th century that the dramatist had a monument in Stratford. In his diary, Thurston added the words, He dyed a Papyst. Thurston commented, Davies, an Anglican clergyman, could have had no conceivable motive for misrepresenting the matter in these private notes.
Shakespeare on Purgatory
I am thy father's spirit,
Doomed for a certain term to walk the night,
And for the day confirmed to fast in fires,
Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature
Are burnt and purged away.
Ghost of Hamlet's father,
Hamlet, Act I, Scene 5
Plans are currently being made to turn Hoghton Tower into a Shakespeare center, including a library, study center and 800-seat theater. David Thacker, a former director with the Royal Shakespeare Company, will be artistic director and Prof. Wilson will be director of the study center. The project has attracted support from the United States. Former President of Colombia Pictures Steve Sohmer has agreed to be a trustee along with his wife Deirdie Hall, star of The Days of Our Lives.
The Religion of Shakespeare
From the Catholic Encyclopedia 1912
Of both Milton and Shakespeare it was stated after their deaths, upon Protestant authority, that they had professed Catholicism. In Milton's case the statement is certainly untrue. This emphasizes the need of caution the more so that Sahkespeare at least had been dead more than seventy years when Archdeacon R. Davies (d. 1708) wrote in his supplementary notes to the biographical collections of the Rev. W. Fulman that the dramatist had a monument at Stratford, adding the words: He dyed a Papyst.
Davies, an Anglican clergyman, could have had no conceivable motive for misrepresenting the matter in these private notes and as he lived in the neighbouring county of Gloucestershire he may be echoing a local tradition. To this must be added the fact that independent evidence establishes a strong presumption that John Shakespeare, the poet's father, was or had been a Catholic. His wife Mary Arden, the poet's mother, undoubtedly belonged to a family that remained conspicuously Catholic throughout the reign of Elizabeth.
On the other hand many serious difficulties stand in the way of believing that William Shakespeare could have been in any sense a staunch adherent of the old religion. To begin with, his own daughters were not only baptized in the parish church as their father had been, but were undoubtedly brought up as Protestants, the elder, Mrs. Hall, being apparently rather Puritan in her sympathies. As regards the internal evidence of the plays and poems, no fair appreciation of the arguments advanced by Simpson, Bowden, and others can ignore the strong leaven of Catholic feeling conspicuous in the works as a whole. Archdeacon Davies's statement that he dyed a Papyst is by no means incredible, but it would obviously be foolish to build too much upon an unverifiable tradition of this kind. The point must remain forever uncertain.
Old news. Probably true too.
yes, about 425 years old and current news on the EWTN series.
There was a book written about 5 years ago by a woman who claimed that he had secret Catholic codes in his plays.....can’t remember the name of the good book.......SHADOWPLAY ....just came to me.
Probably so...at least that’s what Sister Dominic Marie told us back in 1964.
Put The 7 Books back in the bible and You will have the Catholic Bible supported for 15 Centuries by all. Somehow the holy spirit said I was wrongin telling St jerome in 70 AD what to Include...Take out the exact same 7 Books the jews took out in 90 ad because they weren’t in hebrew? later found in hebrew but jews said nevermind! Hmm Is that the Sin of Pride?
it depends how those books are translated. Once you’ve mastered the 66 books, then worry about the deuterocanon, IMO. I’ve read The Wisdom of Solomon, and I can certainly understand why it’s deuterocanonical. It sort of does the same thing Proverbs does - opening with a lot of writing about wisdom, and personifying wisdom in a literary kind of way, but then it goes too far, sort of deifying the personified wisdom. it totally felt wrong in my spirit.
Anyway that’s not the point. The point is, post this kind of thing on DU. Split their “protestants” from their “catholics”. It’s a disunity bomb. Posting it here is either retarded or worse.
7 Books are Missing in the King James Bible.. a translation doesn’t do anything if they are Missing!Please ...
****7 Books are Missing in the King James Bible.. ***
They were in the origional KJV and can still be purchased in a separate binding. You can get a copy of the 1611 KJV with them in it.
Everyone should read them once and see why they are irrelivant, like the Shepherd of Hermas was in the Alexandrian bible but not in bibles today. They are just pious fiction of the times.
England had been Catholic a generation or so before Shakespeare's birth, and there's evidence that suggests that Shakespeare's father may have remained Catholic after the Reformation.
Whether Shakespeare himself was a Catholic is still argued about.
Go into a Book store today and they are missing! Where did the holy spirit come in on that decision!
Well, that is interesting. I have never read the Wisdom of Solomon, but I have read that the early Church always interpreted wisdom in the Old Testament as the the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, that is to say as Christ in the Old Testament. If wisdom is deified, then that would make sense as the Logos revealing Himself in the Old Testament before the Incarnation.
I will try to read the Wisdom of Solomon this summer.
***Go into a Book store today and they are missing! ***
they are all still available in a separate book. Just ask and they can order you one.
The reproductions of the Geneva Bible also has them as does the reproductions of the KJV.
Again they are just pious fiction.
I found a documentary a couple of years ago that tried to prove that he was gay.
good link to Shakespeare’s beliefs in Purgatory
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.