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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: May ::
"Shakespeare and the Gunpowder Plot" at the Globe
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0871  Wednesday, 4 May 2005

From:           Peter Bridgman <
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Date:           Tuesday, 3 May 2005 19:54:14 +0100
Subject: 16.0851 "Shakespeare and the Gunpowder Plot" at the Globe
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0851 "Shakespeare and the Gunpowder Plot" at the Globe

Al Magary quotes Richard Morrison's article in The Times ...

 >And Shakespeare's connection? A few months after the Gunpowder
 >conspirators were hanged, drawn, castrated, burnt and quartered (not
 >necessarily in that order), the Bard produced a new tragedy ...

Indeed.  But there is far more to Shakespeare's connection than the
themes of regicide and equivocation in Macbeth.

For a start there is the family connection.  Plotters Robert Winter,
Thomas Winter, John Winter, Robert Catesby and Francis Tresham were all
distant relatives of WS through his mother's Arden connection (Edward
Arden of Park Hall was uncle to Catesby and Tresham).  In addition,
Judith Shakespeare's brother-in-law Adrian Quiney was married to Eleanor
Bushell, whose aunt Elizabeth Winter was also the aunt of plotters
Thomas Winter, Robert Winter and John Winter.  Furthermore, their sister
Dorothea Winter was married to another plotter, John Grant, the grandson
of John Shakespeare's business partner Edward Grant.

There is the patronage connection.  Robert Catesby was married to a
niece of Ferdinando Stanley, Lord Strange, whom many biographer's
believe was WS' first aristocratic patron.  WS' next patron, Henry
Wriosthesley, Earl of Southampton, was arrested in the Essex Rebellion
along with plotters Catesby and Tresham.

There is the Jesuit connection.  Catesby's father, Sir William Catesby,
lived at Lapworth, just north of Stratford.  Numerous biographers have
suggested that it was when Jesuits Edmund Campion and Robert Persons
stopped at Lapworth in 1580 that John Shakespeare picked up his copy of
Borromeo's Spiritual Testament.  In London in 1605 the plotters
attempted to meet up (they were refused) at a secret Catholic
mass-house.  This was the Blackfriars Gatehouse that Shakespeare was to
purchase in 1613.

To quote Prof Richard Wilson, "All through his life, it seems,
Shakespeare was writing just a wall away from the secret cell of
Catholic extremism, studiously oblivious to the violent preparations
going forward in the room beyond".

No wonder then that he felt the need to publicly distance himself from
the men of violence by writing Macbeth.

Peter Bridgman

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