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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: April ::
Shakespeare and Italy
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.0744  Monday, 10 April 2000.

From:           Carol Barton <
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Date:           Sunday, 9 Apr 2000 08:22:21 -0400
Subject:        Eh, whaddyous tingk aboud dis, ah?

[Thanks to Varda Ullman Novick <
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 .  JK]

April 8 2000

THE mystery of how and why William Shakespeare knew so much about Italy
and gave so many of his plays an Italian setting has been "solved" by a
retired Sicilian academic: it was because he was not English at all, but

Biographies of the Bard admit that there are gaps in his life, but they
all attest without question that he was born at Stratford-upon-Avon in
April 1564, the son of John Shakespeare and Mary Arden, and was buried
there in April 1616.

However, Professor Martino Iuvara, 71, a retired teacher of literature,
claims that he was Sicilian, born in Messina as Michelangelo Florio
Crollalanza, and fled to London because of the Holy Inquisition,
changing his name to its English equivalent.  Crollalanza or
Crollalancia literally translates as Shakespeare.

In an interview with the magazine Oggi yesterday, Professor Iuvara said
that the key to the mystery was 1564, the year John Calvin died in
Geneva.  It was the year that Michelangelo was born in Messina of a
doctor, Giovanni Florio, and a noblewoman named Guglielma Crollalanza,
both of whom had Calvinist sympathies.

The Inquisition was on the trail of Dr Florio because of his heretical
ideas, and the family fled to Treviso, near Venice, buying Casa Otello,
built by a retired Venetian mercenary called Otello (Othello) who, to
local legend, killed his wife out of misplaced jealousy.

Michelangelo studied in Venice, Padua, and Mantua, and travelled in
Denmark, Greece, Spain, and Austria.  He was befriended by the
philosopher Giordano Bruno, who was to be burnt at the stake for heresy
in 1600.  Bruno, Professor Iuvara says, had strong links with William
Herbert, the Earl of Pembroke, and the Earl of Southampton.

In 1588, aged 24, Michelangelo went to England under their patronage.
His mother, Signora Crollalanza, had an English cousin at Stratford, who
took the boy in.  The Stratford branch had already translated their name
as Shakespeare, and had a son called William, who died prematurely.
Michelangelo, the professor says, simply took over the name for himself,
becoming William Shakespeare.

Fifteen of the Bard's 37 plays have an Italian background.

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.