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Home :: Archive :: 2008 :: September ::
My Name Is Will
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0532  Friday, 5 September 2008

[1]  From:    Jess Winfield <
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      Date:    Monday, 01 Sep 2008 11:56:02 -0700
      Subj:    Re: SHK 19.0523 My Name Is Will

[2]  From:    Nicole Coonradt <
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      Date:    Wed, 03 Sep 2008 05:55:54 +0000
      Subj:    Re: SHK 19.0523 My Name Is Will


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Jess Winfield <
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Date:       Monday, 01 Sep 2008 11:56:02 -0700
Subject: 19.0523 My Name Is Will
Comment:    Re: SHK 19.0523 My Name Is Will

On Sep 1, 2008, at 10:03 AM, Larry Weiss wrote:

 >I know that Eliz R killed more Catholics than the number of
 >Protestants killed by Mary. But that doesn't mean that she did not
 >have a "don't ask, don't tell" policy with respect to recusants
 >generally. Campion, for example, was executed because he was
 >actively trying to kill the Queen, and the "rebels" referred to my
 >Nicole Coonradt were also trying to overthrow her government.
 >Ordinary recusant Catholics, possibly including John Shakespeare,
 >were pretty much left alone.

I think this assessment by Larry Weiss is misleading. If there is  evidence that 
Campion was "actively trying to kill the queen," I  haven't seen it. All 
accounts (Wilson and Sams come to mind) of  Campion's trial for "treason" 
indicate it was a sham. Reports of his  execution -- even Anthony Munday's -- 
agree that up to and including  his last moments on the scaffold, he bore 
Elizabeth no ill will and in  fact proclaimed his love and respect for her. His 
stand seems to have been one advocating a simple freedom of religion.

I am neither Catholic nor gay, but the parallel drawn to today's  "don't ask 
don't tell" policy, and the suggestion that it is in any  way benign, is 
chilling. As with gays in the military, to say that  ordinary recusant Catholics 
were "pretty much left alone" diminishes  the extent of their isolation. As 
second-class citizens without  either sympathy or legal protection, they were 
subject to state- sanctioned discrimination and harassment by local guilds, 
magistrates  and other governmental authorities -- harassment that might 
include,  say, overly-scrupulous financial auditing, banishment from public 
offices for refusal to sign the Oath of Supremacy, large fines for  small 
misdemeanors -- all examples of financial distress which  the  Shakespeare 
family seem to have endured in the 1570s and 1580s.

To be sure, Elizabeth had reason to be jumpy, as after 1570 (as  Kennedy rightly 
points out) there were numerous Catholic plots to  assassinate her and put Mary 
Queen of Scots on the throne. But to  paint all executed Catholics with the 
brush of conspiracy, and to  minimize the effect of the Crown's policies on 
ordinary Catholics in  the provinces, seems to oversimplify the historical record.

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Nicole Coonradt <
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Date:       Wed, 03 Sep 2008 05:55:54 +0000
Subject: 19.0523 My Name Is Will
Comment:    Re: SHK 19.0523 My Name Is Will

Of course the Protestants did not think the Catholics were "real" Christians and 
"Papist" is indeed a bitter word.  Look at the source.  The point is that the 
Protestants did not behave as Christians, not whether they believed those they 
killed were Christians.  It's beyond comprehension how anyone can perform 
unspeakable tortures and executions in the name of Christ.  How is this behavior 
not hypocritical?  Isn't Christ supposed to be about love and mercy?  And how is 
the "evidence" of the Pope as anti-Christ being used?  Yes, the idea did 
originate with the Reformation, which is rather key.  Do people like Paisley 
strike us as acting in a Christian manner--you know, "love thy neighbor," etc.? 
  Certainly they think they are, but is that the reality?  Was it in 
Shakespeare's day?  Was he blind to such details?  Do we imagine that the Bard 
lived in such unrest but was unaffected by it, that it did not influence his art?

Winfield was right-- the clever shift is that the Protestant laws made a refusal 
to take the oath(s) not heresy but treason.  (See topical discussion in Macbeth 
4.2.)

I wonder if Larry Weiss could explain and provide some evidence for Campion as 
would-be hit-man "actively trying to kill the queen"?  That statement confuses 
me.  Do you mean that he actually was or that QEI and her supporters believed 
that he was?

Thanks,
Nicole

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