The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1450 Monday, 19 July 2004
Date: Friday, 16 Jul 2004 12:46:25 +0100
Subject: Henry Wotton, Poet, Spy, Ambassador to Venice
WOTTON AND HIS WORLDS
SPYING, SCIENCE AND VENETIAN INTRIGUES.
The first book in almost a century on Sir Henry Wotton (1568-1639).
Wotton was a poet, an intelligencer, a campaigner on land and sea, a
diplomat and an amateur scientist. His public life was a switchback:
early promise - disgrace - ambassador to Venice - ambitions dashed by a
wisecrack - return to favour. His sex life was an enigma. His
remarkable range of acquaintances included King James I, the so-called
'wisest fool in Christendom', the charismatic but flawed Earl of Essex,
the formidable intellectual Francis Bacon, the statesmen William and
Robert Cecil, the eccentric traveller Thomas Coryat, the gentle Izaak
Walton and the poets Donne and Milton. There were also two Italians,
Paolo Sarpi, monk, polymath, secret atheist and the astonishing serial
apostate, Marc Antonio de Dominis, Catholic Archbishop of Spalato,
Anglican Dean of Windsor, who returned to Rome and died in the hands of
Wottton wrote an influential book on architecture and pioneered the
appreciation of Italian art in England. He sent Galileo's Messenger of
the Stars which clinched the new astronomy to Robert Cecil on the day it
came out. As ambassador to Venice Wotton pursed an extraordinary scheme
to draw it away from the Roman Church and towards Anglicanism. He later
became Provost of Eton, peacefully fishing in the Thames with Izaak
Walton. Many of his diverse activities had something in common being
manifestations of 'the new' in religion, science, art and architecture.
Wotton was himself a 'new man' of the dominant class of the Tudor age
who were taking over from the old aristocracy.
Paperback, $19.54 ISBN 1-4134-2512-7
Hardback, $29.69 ISBN 1-4134- 2513-5.
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