(Note: It’s best to read ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost’ Revisited, Part One first)

In the time of Queen Elizabeth I, every Earl would have his entourage…..

They would dress in his livery…….

entourage in garden (2)

……board and eat in his house…..

….. accompany him when he travelled….

entourage on boat (2)

……and identify with his interests….

entourage on steps

This is shown most graphically at the start of Romeo and Juliet when the Montague and Capulet entourages bait each other in the streets of Verona….

thumbs (2)

Shakespeare, The Shakespeare Code argues, was part of the Earl of Southampton’s entourage…..

(as he later became a liveried member of King James’s entourage, as a Groom of the Chamber).

In the 1590’s he worked as a ‘fac totum’ for the Southampton family…..

…..secretary, tutor, schoolmaster, entertainer and…..

….generally nice fellow to have around.

Earls would befriend other Earls…..

…and their entourages would merge….

Harry Southampton had a natural friend in Sir Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex….

essex young beardeless

Both men had lost their fathers in childhood……

…..and both had been wards of William Cecil, Lord Burghley…….

burghley on donkey 001


Essex had been born in 1565, and so was eight years older than Harry…..

At the first performance of Love’s Labour’s Lost at Titchfield in 1592, Essex would have been 28 years old….

…..and Harry nineteen…

(He had been desperate to follow his hero, Essex, to the Siege of Rouen, but he was deemed too young to fight in a war.)

Another close friend of Southampton and Essex was Roger Manners, 5th Earl of Rutland…..

roger manners fifth earl of rutland

……who was also a ward of Burghley’s…..

He was three years younger than Southampton, so would have been sixteen at the premiere of Love’s Labour’s Lost.

(Harry had gone back to Cambridge University to visit Manners in June, 1591, after he himself had graduated.)

Another nobleman who became a friend of Essex and Southampton was Sir Charles Blount (pronounced ‘Blunt’)

….who later, unexpectedly, became 8th Baron Mountjoy….

Charles Blount Lord Mountjoyu

He was a couple of years older than Essex…….

……and the two men had originally been rivals for the attention of Queen Elizabeth…..

Both wore the Queen’s white….

essex in white

…and both had fought a duel……

(Blount had been given a favour by Elizabeth…..

…an enamelled chess queen)

After this both men became close friends….

…..and formed a political alliance which lasted up to Essex’s execution in 1601.

Essex, Southampton, Blount and Manners were massively influenced as a group by the chivalric philosophy of Sir Philip Sidney….

sidney sir philip hand on hip in white

….who had given up his water to a wounded soldier at Zutphen even though he was dying himself…..

sidney zutphen

…..and who was obsessed with achieving fame….


A motto in the top right hand corner reads 'Caetera Fama'

A motto in the top right hand corner reads ‘Caetera Fama’

He also gave his sword to Essex…..

….indicating that Essex was his spiritual heir.

Essex in turn had secretly married his widow, Frances…..

frances walsingham

……who became bosom friends with Essex’s sister….

……the beautiful Penelope Rich…..

penelope rich

…….an accomplished singer and dancer – famous for her golden hair and black eyes.

Penelope had married, against her will, Robert Rich, 3rd Baron Rich of Lees Hall in Essex….

robert rich 2

- a man who was literally ‘rich’.

Penelope’s father, Sir Walter Devereux, First Earl of Essex……..

walter devereux

……. had wanted her to marry Sir Philip Sidney…….

…….and the bisexual Sidney had been in love with her…..

When he was dying, he reportedly told the preacher George Gifford of …..

…..a vanity in which he had taken much delight of which he must now rid himself, naming Lady Rich……

She had certainly been the muse of Sir Philip: he had written a whole Sonnet sequence about her – and to her – entitled Astrophel and Stella -

 ….or the Lover of the Star and the Star Herself…..

…..which had been published in a pirated edition in 1591 – the year before Love’s Labour’s Lost - with a forward by Thomas Nashe…

This edition was recalled – and it was only in 1598 that the full sonnet sequence was published by Sidney’s sister, the Countess of Pembroke.

It was in this edition that Sonnet 37 was first printed, which openly played on Penelope’s married name of….


 My mouth doth water, and my breast doth swell,

My tongue doth itch, my thoughts in labor be;

Listen then, lordings, with good ear to me,

For of my life I must a riddle tell.

Towards Aurora’s court [Essex – in the East] a nymph doth dwell,

Rich in all beauties which man’s eye can see;

Beauties so far from reach of words, that we

Abase her praise, saying she doth excel;

Rich in the treasure of deserved renown;

Rich in the riches of a royal heart;

Rich in those gifts which give the eternal crown;

Who though most rich in these, and every part

Which make the patents of true worldly bliss,

Hath no misfortune, but that Rich she is.

…..and Sidney attacks Robert Rich even more openly in Sonnet 24…

Rich fools there be whose base and filthy heart

Lies hatching still the goods wherein they flow:

And damning their own selves to Tantal’s smart,

Wealth breeding want, more blest more wretched grow.

Yet to those fools heav’n such wit doth impart

As what their hands do hold, their heads do know,

And knowing love, and loving, lay apart,

As sacred things, far from all danger’s show.

But that rich fool who by blind Fortune’s lot

The richest gem of love and life enjoys,

And can with foul abuse such beauties blot;

Let him, depriv’d of sweet but unfelt joys,

(Exil’d for aye from those high treasures, which

He knows not) grow in only folly rich.

By 1590 Penelope had become the mistress of Charles Blount…

On 17th November of that year (Tournament Day which celebrated Queen Elizabeth’s Accession) Sir Charles Blount wore Penelope Rich’s colours openly.

George Peele, also punning on ‘Rich’ wrote:

Comes Sir Charles Blount…

Rich in his colours, richer in his thoughts,

Rich in his fortune, honour, arms and art.

The Elizabethans loved this word-play on people’s names – and Shakespeare was no exception…..

In his Sonnets – which were originally intended for distribution only among his……

……private friends….

…..Shakespeare also plays on the surnames of this coterie…..

Rich, Manners and Blount…..

Sometimes he uses the names singly…..

…..as in Sonnet 97….

……The teeming autumn big with rich increase…..

……a reference to Penelope Rich’s habit of often falling pregnant….

(She had just given birth to Blount’s daughter in March, 1592…..

…..just a couple of months before the production of Love’s Labour’s Lost…..)

Shakespeare also makes reference to Roger Manners’s hero-worship of Harry Southampton in Sonnet 39…..

O how thy worth with manners may I sing…..

Shakespeare makes a particular point with this code, though, by sometimes coupling TWO coterie names together….

Sonnet 85 begins……

My tongue-tied muse in manners holds her still,

While comments of your praise, richly compiled….

…..and Sonnet 52…..

So am I as the rich, whose blessed key

Can bring him to his sweet up-locked treasure,

The which he will not every hour survey,

For blunting the fine point of seldom pleasure.

Shakespeare also played on Penelope Rich’s name in Love’s Labour’s Lost….

At the beginning 0f the final scene in the play, the Princess of France says:

Sweet hearts we shall be rich ere we depart

If fairings come thus plentifully in….

….and the word ‘rich’ is then used a further SEVEN times in the same scene!

In Love’s Labour’s Found Stewart Trotter suggested that the ‘shadowy lords’ in the play were played by Southampton’s friends.




Here it is, Brothers and Sisters of The Shakespeare Code!!!






…where William Shakespeare….

shakespeare 1588

 …..was employed in 1590 by Mary,  2nd Countess of Southampton…..

Mary Browne

….as fac totum, entertainer, poet, secretary, schoolmaster….

…and tutor and friend to her gay, wayward teenage son,

Henry Wriothesley (pronounced ‘Ryosley’)

Third Earl of Southampton….

…and Baron of Titchfield…

tomb henry wriothesley

……and where Shakespeare fell in love  with Aemilia Bassano….


….The Third Earl…







Also see:



Just How Gay was the Third Earl of Southampton?

Paw-Print smallest‘Bye, now…


Brothers and Sisters of the Shakespeare Code……

At a meeting of the august Hampshire Writers’ Society in December last year (2014)….

…the Titchfield Festival Theatre Company performed an extract from Stewart Trotter’s play….


Here is the HIGHLY LITERATE report from the Society itself….

The evening began with Her Grace Queen Elizabeth 1 (Barbara Large, most elegantly attired) greeting her subjects. Her first assignment was to welcome the Titchfield Festival Theatre Group, under the stewardship of their chairman and artistic director, Kevin Fraser……

…..who were to perform part of a new play ‘Our Cousin Will’ by Stewart Trotter.

Kevin then introduced the troupe, the performances that they carry out, and posited Titchfield as the location where Shakespeare wrote the play ‘Love Labour’s Lost’. Stewart Trotter gave a brief outline as to why it was thought that Shakespeare could have spent a period in Titchfield as a teacher.

Several scenes from the play were performed, and this involved the Lady Mary, the mother of the Earl of Southampton, engaging Will Shakespeare to teach her son Harry the art of writing sonnets, which she hopes will turn his attentions to women; instead of his dressing like one.

Will endeavours to do this, although his efforts with Harry appear futile. Will is then drawn to Aemilia; however, she resists his advances with a curt “Get lost, Baldy!” Will is then involved in an affair with Harry himself, much to Lady Mary’s disquiet. However, Will and she are eventually reconciled; and Harry’s own situation is accepted. The dialogue was witty, lively, and the performances of the actors were highly amusing.

Here then is the twenty minute extract the Titchfield Festival Players performed…..

WILLIAM BEESTON (the narrator)

falstaff beaming

Disaster struck the acting profession. The Spanish Armada attacked England. Actors were despised. The public wanted ‘real men’. Playwrights pulled strings to get teaching jobs. Will, aged by touring and with his hair starting to fall out, pulled Papist strings….

(Enter MARY, COUNTESS OF SOUTHAMPTON, early middle aged and beautiful…..

Mary Browne

She shows the OLDER SHAKESPEARE a painting of the 2nd Earl of Southampton, which is presumed to be out front. SHAKESPEARE, at this stage of his life, is still thin)


And this, Master Shakespeare, is my late husband, the second Earl of Southampton.

full face second earl of southampton (2)

If you are to become tutor to my son, you must be aware of the facts, however painful. The second Earl was a fine Catholic: he fought to bring the Blessed Mary Queen of Scots to the English throne.

NPG 1766,Mary, Queen of Scots,by Unknown artist

(MARY and SHAKESPEARE cross themselves) He was imprisoned in the Tower and nearly lost his head. However, as a husband he was….unappreciative. He accused me, quite insanely, of falling in love with a common person…(Looking SHAKESPEARE, discreetly, up and down)…I can see you’ll be needing some new clothes…….And an allowance

shakespeare 1588

(Recovering herself – she is clearly taken with SHAKESPEARE) My husband snatched my young son, Harry, away. He turned his manservant into his wife and left him everything. I overturned the will, of course, but could not overturn the damage done to Harry….

(BEESTON holds up a painting of Henry Wriothesley in drag which MARY and SHAKESPEARE look at)


As you can see, he loves dressing up as a girl. Other than that, has no interest in women whatsoever. This, Master Shakespeare, is where you come in. (SHAKESPEARE looks startled) You are a married man with children. I want you to get Harry excited by the idea of fatherhood. Unless he marries, the Southampton line will die out…Soon it will be Harry’s seventeenth birthday… I want you to write seventeen sonnets to show him the joys of the opposite sex. I want you to ‘turn the vessel round’ as it were….Wait here….(MARY exits)


(To himself) Sonnets? Aaaagh! (MARY re-enters)

MARY (announcing)

Master Shakespeare, my son, Henry Wriothesley, the third Earl of Southampton and Baron of Titchfield….[‘Wriothesley’ is pronounced ‘Ryosely’]

(SHAKESPEARE kneels as HARRY enters to trumpets and drums. HARRY, a handsome young man with shoulder length hair, offers SHAKESPEARE his ring to kiss. SHAKESPEARE does so, then looks up into HARRY’S face)

tomb henry wriothesley


(in all innocence) I’m sure you two will get on like a house on fire….



Harry turned seventeen….And read the seventeen Sonnets Shakespeare had written for him…

(Enter HARRY with SHAKESPEARE following behind, quill and paper in hand)


(Brandishing the seventeen pieces of paper)  Master Shakespeare, these Sonnets are an utter failure…(SHAKESPEARE looks crestfallen)  I still don’t like girls!

(SHAKESPEARE rallies: it’s not his writing that is being attacked after all)


Even though you look like one?


Are you being offensive?


No. It’s the theme of this new sonnet I’m writing about you….

(SHAKESPEARE sits and writes. HARRY hates not being looked at, so he reads aloud from his Birthday Sonnets, gesturing with his hand as he recites)


Unthrifty loveliness, why dost thou spend

Upon thyself thy beauty’s legacy….

(HARRY’S hand-gestures turn into a suggestion of masturbation)

Does that mean what I think it means? (SHAKESPEARE continues to write, not looking at him) And what about…..

No love towards other in that bosom sits

That on himself such murderous shame commits…

(Looks down at his codpiece)

Master Shakespeare, are you implying that I am a…(He is about to say ‘wanker’)


(cutting him off) Sir! I have nothing but the highest respect for you…(hesitates)…love, even….

HARRY (brightening)

You do praise my beauty….


And continue to do so in this…..


Let’s hear it then!  (He lies back, anticipating flattery like a warm bath)


It’s not finished….


(Suggestively) Perhaps I can give you some ideas….


(Pretending not to pick up the implication, reading from his Sonnet)

A woman’s face with nature’s own hand painted

Hast thou, the master-mistress of my passion….

(HARRY shows interest)

A woman’s gentle heart but not acquainted

With shifting change as is false women’s fashion….

An eye more bright than theirs, less false in rolling….

(HARRY can contain himself no longer)


See! You don’t like girls either!


(Ploughing on)

Gilding the object where-upon it gazeth,

A man in hew, all hews in his controlling

Which steals men’s eyes…


(Excited) Ha!


….and women’s souls amazeth……

(HARRY, disappointed, groans)

And for a woman wast thou first created

Till Nature as she wrought thee, fell a-doting….

(SHAKESPEARE is unconsciously beginning to find HARRY attractive)


Go on….


That’s as far as I’ve got, sir….


Would you like me to finish the Sonnet for you, Master Will….


The greatness of your words, sir, would utterly eclipse my own…I shall finish the sonnet in my own spare time.

(SHAKESPEARE folds the paper and starts to put it away)


(Suddenly imperious) Finish it NOW! HERE! (For a moment we should  think that SHAKESPEARE is about to tell HARRY where to go. But HARRY, sensing this, immediately lightens his tone and starts to flirt) As Master-Mistress of your passion, I command you!

(SHAKESPEARE seems to comply. He scribbles a few lines…then hands them to HARRY)


Till Nature as she wrought thee fell-adoting….

And by addition me of thee defeated

By adding one THING to my purpose nothing….

(HARRY looks down at his cod-piece again)

Master Shakespeare, does this also mean what I think it means….?

Your conclusion, please…..

(SHAKESPEARE scribbles again – and hands him the sheet)


But since she prick’d thee out for women’s pleasure


Is this a poetic way of telling me to get stuffed?


No, sir. It’s a poetic way of telling you to stuff women…

(MARY SOUTHAMPTON enters, looking white and shaken and near to fainting. SHAKESPEARE sees her and kneels. Alarmed)



(HARRY looks round and bows stiffly)


I have some dreadful news….(SHAKESPEARE rushes to her and leads her to a chair) The Moon intends to beam over Titchfield….(Blank incomprehension from the men) Queen Elizabeth is coming to stay!

old elizabeth

 (HARRY and SHAKESPEARE look aghast. BEESTON claps. All exit)


…………And stay she did. With all her court. And with all her soldiers. She had a beautiful musician with her….the dark-skinned Aemelia Bassano…

rosaline nina 1.

(Enter AEMELIA, with  black, wiry hair. She sits and plays a lute)

…mistress to the Queen’s randy old cousin, Lord Hunsdon.

hunsdon raffish

He paid her £40 a year for her services…

(To BEESTON, £40 a year is a fantastic sum…SHAKESPEARE enters and gazes at AEMELIA)

Will wanted to find out if £40 gave Hunsdon exclusive rights.

(BEESTON opens First Folio and reads…)

SHAKESPEARE (approaching AEMELIA, who continues to play)

berowne rosaline 1

Did not I dance with you in London once?

AEMELIA (a cockney girl)

Did I not dance with you in London once?


I know you did.


How needless was it then to ask the question.!


You must not be so quick.


Tis long of you to spur me with such questions.


Your wit’s too hot, it speeds too fast, ‘twill tire.


Not till it leave the rider in the mire.


What time of day?


The hour that fools should ask.

(She puts down her lute and puts on a mask)


Now fair befall (sees AEMELIA’S mask) your mask.


Fair fall the face it covers.


And send you many lovers.


Amen, so you be none….


(After a pause, in which he can’t think of anything to say) Nay then will I be gone.

(SHAKESPEARE exits – then AEMELIA, with another infatuated man to add to her list, exits as well)

BEESTON (looking up from First Folio)

Shakespeare was ’ooked… (Looks back at book)

SHAKESPEARE (re-entering with parchment and pen)

berowne soliloquy

O! And I forsooth in love!

I that have been love’s whip!

A very beadle to a humorous sigh: a critic,

Nay, a night-watch constable,

A domineering pedant o’er the boy…

What I love? I sue? I seek a wife?

A woman that is like a German clock,

Still a re-pairing, ever out of frame,

And never going aright, being a watch:

But being watch’d that it may still go right.

A whitely wanton with a velvet brow

With two pitch balls stuck in her face for eyes,

Aye, and by heaven, one that will do the deed,

Though Argus were her Eunuch and her guard…

(BEESTON closes book with a bang)


The Plague was raging in London, so Aemelia stayed on at Titchfield. Will started writing sonnets to her instead of Harry…

(SHAKESPEARE sits and writes. HARRY approaches him quietly from behind and peers over his shoulder. SHAKESPEARE senses he is there and looks round.  He quickly turns the page over so that HARRY cannot read it)


It’s another Sonnet, Will.  I saw it. (Sitting) Read it to me. (Anticipating SHAKESPEARE’s excuse) I don’t care if it’s not finished….


(Reddening, reads) My (hesitates) master’s eyes are….nothing like the sun….

(HARRY looks startled)

Coral is far more red than his lips red,

If snow be white, why then his breasts are dun;

(Trailing off) If hairs be wires, black wires grown on his head…..


(In a fury) Breasts? Black wires? (Snatching sonnet from SHAKESPEARE) HER breasts! HER head! (AEMELIA enters) Will, you’re not writing to me – you’re writing to that dreadful….(SHAKESPEARE indicates to HARRY that AEMELIA has entered. HARRY turns to look at her)


(Curtsying beautifully) Good day, m’Lord….

(HARRY bows stiffly and exits. AEMELIA crosses and gazes rapturously after HARRY, glancing surreptitiously back at SHAKESPEARE to make sure he’s noticing)


Aemelia liked to play hard to get….


(Turning AEMELIA around) Tell me thou lov’st elsewhere; but in my sight

Dear heart, forbear to glance thy eye aside…

What need’st thou wound with cunning, when thy might

Is more than my o’er pressed defence can hide….

(Looking into AEMELIA’S eyes) Thine eyes I love, and they, as pitying me,

Knowing thy heart torments me with disdain,

Have put on black, and loving mourners be,

Looking with pretty ruth upon my pain…..

 (SHAKESPEARE starts to hug AEMELIA closely.)

Will’t thou, whose will is large and spacious

Not once vouchsafe to hide my will in thine?

(He holds her even closer)

Shall will in others seem right gracious

And in my will no fair acceptance shine…..

(AEMELIA breaks away…SHAKESPEARE pursues her)

He rises at thy name and points out thee

As his triumphant prize, proud of this pride:

He is contented thy poor drudge to be,

To stand in thy affairs, fall by thy side…..

(He pulls AEMELIA to him and tries to make love to her. AEMELIA pushes him away…)


Get lost, baldy!

(AEMELIA runs off.  SHAKESPEARE, recovering, muses to himself…)


Then will I swear beauty herself is black

And all they foul that her complexion lack…..




Will asked Harry to plead his love-suit with Aemelia. Now Harry wanted to hurt Will in any way he could. And, for Aemelia, a rich, handsome, young aristocrat, however gay, was better than an aging playwright. So, to Will’s horror, Harry started an affair with Aemelia….


(Entering and sitting) Two loves I have of comfort and despair

Which like two spirits do suggest me still:

The better angel is a man right fair…..

(Enter HARRY – stands near to SHAKESPEARE)

The worser spirit, a woman coloured ill.

(Enter AEMELIA, standing some distance away from SHAKESPEARE)

To win me soon to hell my female evil

Tempteth my better angel from my side….

(AEMELIA approaches HARRY and kisses him. She then takes him away from SHAKESPEARE’S side)

And would corrupt my saint to be a devil,

Wooing his purity with her foul pride…

(AEMELIA starts to make violent and graphic love to HARRY…They exit)

And whether that my angel be turned fiend

Suspect I may, yet not directly tell;

But being both from me both to each friend….

I guess one angel in another’s….

(SHAKESPEARE, overcome with sexual jealousy, cannot finish what he was to say. He exits)


Will left Titchfield and went on tour again. He had to admit that the loss of Harry meant more to him than the loss of Aemelia….



That thou ha’st her it is not all my grief

And yet it may be said I loved her dearly…

That she hath thee is of my wailing chief

A loss in love that touches me more nearly….


Will, finally, told Harry that he loved him…


(Writing. Music beneath.) Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

(He looks up – and we can see he is thinking ‘No!’)

Thou art more lovely and more temperate.

Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May

And winter’s lease hath all too short a date….

Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines…

And often is his gold complexion dimm’d,

And every fair, from fair, sometime declines,

By chance, or nature’s changing course untrimm’d….

But thy eternal summer shall not fade,

Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest….

Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,

When in eternal lines to time thou growest….

So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,

So long lives this, (holding up the Sonnet)

…and this gives life to thee….


Aemelia became pregnant and was married off ‘for colour’. Will returned to Titchfield and Harry….

(Music continues. HARRY enters.  SHAKESPEARE enters and kneels in front of him, but HARRY raises SHAKESPEARE to his feet and embraces him. NASHE enters and sees this. SHAKESPEARE and HARRY walk off)

There was a problem in all this for Will and Harry….(COUNTESS MARY  enters)

Mother Mary! (MARY sits and does needlework) Will wasn’t exactly fulfilling his job description…

(NASHE crosses over to MARY, bows, kneels to her) Nashe felt obliged to tell Mary what he had seen. (NASHE whispers in MARY’s ear. MARY looks horrified. NASHE whispers again) And one or two things that he hadn’t. (MARY looks even more horrified. NASHE exits) Mary summoned Will….

(SHAKESPEARE enters and kneels in front of MARY. BEESTON opens First Folio)


 Do you love my son?


Your pardon noble mistress?


Love you my son?


Do you not love him, madam?


Go not about. My love hath in’t a bond,

Whereof the world takes note. Come, come, disclose

The state of your affection, for your passions

Have to the full appeach’d.


Then I confess

Here on my knees, before high heaven and you,

That before you, and next unto high heaven,

I love your son. My dearest madam,

Let not your hate encounter with my love,

For loving where you do….


Will then reminded Mary that, when she was younger, she herself had been in love with someone she shouldn’t have been….


…..but if yourself

Whose aged honour cites a virtuous youth,

Did ever in so true a flame of liking,

Wish chastely and love dearly, that your Diane

Was both herself and love – o then give pity

To him whose state is such that cannot choose….

(A pause. MARY reddens, then raises SHAKESPEARE to his feet and kisses him on the cheek. She is accepting him into the family)


Our Cousin Will….

 (End of Extract)






Brothers and Sisters of The Shakespeare Code…..

It is more in sorrow than in anger  that Your Cat reports ANOTHER piece of nonsense from the Guardian……

…..endorsed by Stanley Wells…..

…..an academic…..

Stanley Wells, being interviewed by the B.B.C.

Stanley Wells, being interviewed by the B.B.C.

…..which argues that the ‘Mr. W. H.’ of the dedication to the  Sonnets……

sonnets frontispiece

…….is NOT Henry Wriothesley, the Third Earl of Southampton….

tomb henry wriothesley


Your Cat has shown that Henry Wriothesley is attacked as ‘Mr. H.W.’ in ‘Willobie his Avisa’…….

See:‘Willobie his Avisa Decoded. Aemilia Lanyer is the secret Author.’

 Mr. W. H

…….is INTENDED to be an insult to Southampton as Shakespeare had fallen out with his patron – and lover – see Sonnet 126……

Also see: ‘The Background to King Lear. Part Two’.

We also know from Thomas Heywood that Shakespeare supervised the publication of his Sonnets…..

…….to do himself right……

He also promised…….


……..to the subject of the Sonnets in the conclusion to Sonnet 18:

So long as men can breathe or eyes can see

So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Shakespeare also wishes…….

All Happiness….

…..to Henry Wriothesley directly in his dedication to ‘Lucrece’.

Why not read Your Cat’s original article?

‘The Dedication to Shakespeare’s Sonnet Decoded’.

 ‘Bye, now….

Paw-Print smallest



In 2002, Stewart Trotter…….

……The Shakespeare Code’s Chief Agent…

…….published Love’s Labour’s Found…..

book cover

This book has formed the foundation of The Shakespeare Code…..

…..and its ideas have been examined, developed, enhanced……

…..and sometimes changed…

…..in 200 + Posts.


William Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost was first performed, at Whitsun in 1592, in the park and grounds of Place House….

place house 2

…..the stately home of the Southampton family in Titchfield, Hampshire…….



…..to whose topography the play makes reference….

A 1610 Map of Titchfield, showing the 'The Place' and 'The Parke' - both mentioned in 'Love's Labour's Lost'.

A 1610 Map of Titchfield, showing the ‘The Place’ and ‘The Parke’ – both mentioned in ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost’.

See: ‘Shakespeare in Titchfield – a Summary of the Evidence’ and ‘Shakespeare was a Schoolmaster in the Country – Titchfield.’

The play had been commissioned by Mary, the widowed Second Countess of Southampton…..

Mary Browne

…..a committed and politically active Roman Catholic…..

….. to honour the return to England of Robert Devereux, the Second Earl of Essex……

essex young beardeless

…..the close friend of her son, Henry Wriothesley, Third Earl of Southampton…….

 tomb henry wriothesley


…..also known as Harry Southampton….

Although Essex wanted freedom of worship for English Catholics, he had been fighting against the Catholic League at the siege of Rouen in France…..

siege rouen

(The siege had been a catastrophic failure – for which Essex had been partly responsible: but it was being spun in England as a triumph.)

Two years before the Countess had also commissioned Shakespeare to produce seventeen sonnets for the seventeenth birthday of her son, Harry….

 ….to try to persuade him to marry Elizabeth de Vere…..

lady elizabeth de vere

…  grand-daughter of William Cecil, Lord Burghley…..

burghley on donkey 001


(See:‘Trixie the Cat’s Guide to the Birthday Sonnets.’)

Burghley was Harry Southampton’s guardian……..

…..(and had been guardian to the Earl of Essex)……

……so he had the legal right to name the woman Harry should marry.

Harry, though, preferred male company……..


See: ‘Just how Gay was the Third Earl of Southampton?’

If Harry were to refuse Elizabeth’s hand, the Southampton family faced a tremendous £5,000 fine….

So Love’s Labour’s Lost tries to do what the Sonnets tried to do…..


……..by praising heterosexual love……

In the play, Fedinand, the King of Navarre, and his young aristocratic friends, Berowne, Longavill and Dumaine……

…..take an oath to cut themselves off from women in order to devote themselves to study…..

oath taking love's

Ferdinand, King of Navarre…

king of navarre

….is Shakespeare’s compliment to two different noblemen….

Henri of Navarre….

henri of navarre

…….under whose command Essex had fought the siege at Rouen.

….and Ferdinando, Lord Strange…..

strange, ferdinando

…..for whose ‘Men’ Shakespeare had acted, written and collaborated before he joined the Southampton household in 1590…..

…..and who was also a cousin of Mary Southampton…..

(Earlier in the year, Shakespeare had obliquely complimented Lord Strange in the figure of the gallant Lord Talbot in what is now Henry VI Part One. One of Talbot’s titles mentioned in the play is ‘Lord Strange of Blackmere’. )



……is a play on…….


……the maiden name of Mary, Second Countess of Southampton…..

…….daughter of Sir Anthony Browne, 1st Viscount Montague…..

anthony browne, first viscount montague.

……..one of England’s leading Roman Catholics…..

We know that the character’s name was pronounced like the colour  brown…….

……..with an extra syllable after the ‘B’……

……..because Berowne says to Rosaline:

Studies my lady? mistress, look on me;

Behold the window of my heart, mine eye,

What humble suit attends thy answer there:

Impose some service on me for thy love.


……here is a reference to…..

Brown studies

……defined by Samuel Johnson as…..

…gloomy meditations

……and was a phrase which was in  use by 1555……

The author of Manifest Detection Diceplay wrote….

Lacke of company wyll son lead a man into a brown study.

(The character is still called ‘Berowne’ in the First Folio edition of Shakespeare’s plays.  But in later editions – when the topical reference had been lost – the name is changed to……


…..a reference to Charles de Gontaut, duc de Biron


…..who was also fighting at the siege of Rouen)

The name……


……is a reference to Henri d’Orleans, duc de Longueville…..

henri II de orleans, duc de longueville....



…..to Charles, duc de Mayenne……..

charles duc de mayenne

….who ALSO fought at the Siege of Rouen…..

…..but on the other side!!!

In the play the beautiful Princess of France arrives with her entourage,  Rosaline, Katherine and Maria…….

……in a parody of Queen Elizabeth I’s progress to Cowdray and Titchfield the year before (1591)….

……when, like the Princess in the play, Elizabeth shot deer from a specially erected….



The London 'Globe' production of 'Love's Labour's Lost.' Queen Elizabeth actually used a crossbow.

The London ‘Globe’ production of ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost.’ Queen Elizabeth actually used a crossbow.

 See: ‘The Progresses of Queen Elizabeth.’

 The vows of celibacy the young men take in the play are soon forgotten…..

……….and in a scene identical to the eaves-dropping scene in The Fair Em…….

fair em frontispiece

…….a play Shakespeare collaborated on with Robert Greene for Lord Strange’s Men…..

 …..the Lords catch each other out writing love poetry to their mistresses…..

……and finally give in to the power of love….

As Berowne, echoing the Birthday Sonnets, says in one of the finest passages in the whole of Shakespeare….

But love, first learned in a lady’s eyes,

Lives not alone immured in the brain;

But, with the motion of all elements,

Courses as swift as thought in every power

And gives to every power a double power,

Above their functions and their offices.

It adds a precious seeing to the eye;

A lover’s eyes will gaze an eagle blind;

A lover’s ear will hear the lowest sound,

When the suspicious head of theft is stopp’d:

Love’s feeling is more soft and sensible

Than are the tender horns of cockl’d snails;

Love’s tongue proves dainty Bacchus gross in taste:

For valour, is not Love a Hercules,

Still climbing trees in the Hesperides?

Subtle as Sphinx; as sweet and musical

As bright Apollo’s lute, strung with his hair:

And when Love speaks, the voice of all the gods

Makes heaven drowsy with the harmony.

The Code believes Love’s Labour’s Lost was written by Shakespeare in collaboration with Thomas Nashe……

Nashe thomas

…..who wrote the jokes…..

…..and, being beardless and tiny….

also played the part of the……

…… well-educated infant……


Shakespeare himself played the  witty and lyrical part of Berowne…..

See: ‘Shakespeare as Berowne and Nashe as Moth’.

The Shakespeare Code believes that many of the characters in Love’s Labour’s Lost were lampoons of the ‘enemies’ of the Southampton and Essex….

…..as well as ‘enemies’ of Shakespeare and Nashe.

 The boastful lover, Don Armado, who is in love with a country wench, Jacquenetta, was a satire on Sir Walter Raleigh…..

raleigh lovely

……who at the time of the first production of the play was in love with Elizabeth (‘Bess’) Throckmorton…..


Shakespeare and Nashe even have Costard, the Clown, refer to Bess’s fan….

…….shown in the painting above…..

Armado o’ th’ one side, O, a most dainty man!

To see him walk before a lady and to bear her fan!

…and Nashe, writing by himself in his pamphlet Pierce Pennilesse, had also referred to Raleigh in code as an…

….inamorata poeta…..

…..who would….

…..sonnet a whole quire of paper in praise of Lady Swine-Snout, his yellow-faced Mistress [Bess Throckmorton] and wear a feather of her rain-beaten fan for a favour, like a fore-horse….

Raleigh married Bess without the Queen’s permission….

And so was banished from the Court.

When news came that Elizabeth Throckmorton was pregnant, the plot of the play had to be changed…..

Instead of being rejected by Jacquenetta……..

…..as he is at the beginning of the play….

….by the end of it Armado has managed to impregnate her!!!

Raleigh was a major rival with the Earl of Essex for the Queen’s affections….

And he had angered Nashe by not coming up with the money he had promised him for a commission….


The edition of the play that has come down to us is one that had been…

……..presented before her Highness this last Christmas. Newly corrected and augmented by W. Shakespere…

love's Labour's Lost frontispiece. 001

‘Last Christmas’ was probably 1597 – and Raleigh was back at Court and back in favour.

The Code has argued how Shakespeare ‘adapted’ the part of Armado to suggest a attack on Antonio Pérez….

antonio perez


……a conniving gay Spaniard who was part of Essex’s entourage….

….and who was hated by the Queen.

(See:‘Thomas Nashe’s revenge on Sir Walter Raleigh.’)


boyet 1

…..the lisping sycophant fac totum to the Princes, was a satire on the Rival Poet to whom Shakespeare makes coded reference in the Sonnets…..

…..George Chapman….

Chapman, George

See:‘Boyet – Shakespeare’s revenge on George Chapman’. 

Chapman was a practising occultist……..

…..part of ….

…The School of Night…..

…. mentioned in the play….

…..which the Jesuits described as….

….the School of Atheism….

……a group of ‘scientific’ free-thinkers whose numbers included ‘The Wizard Earl’ Henry Percy, Ninth Earl of Northumberland……


…….who lived at nearby Petworth….

…..Sir George Carey….

carey george 2nd lord hunsdon

…..a rioter and gourmet who was later to be Shakespeare’s model for Sir Toby Belch….

See: ‘Sir Toby Belch as George Carey, the Lord Hunsdon’

…and who lived across the water from Titchfield on the Isle of Wight….

Titchfield can be seen between Portsmouth and Southampton, near to Fareham.

Titchfield can be seen between Portsmouth and Southampton, near to Fareham.

Ferdinando Strange was associated with the School……

(Sir Nathaniel, the Curate in the play, uses the coded phrase ‘Strange without heresy’)

…..as was Raleigh…..

…and as was Christopher Marlowe.

Marlowe, Christopher

(Marlowe might well have written the séance-obsessed Doctor Faustus for the group, in collaboration with Nashe – who again supplied the jokes…

We know for certain that Nashe collaborated with Marlowe on Dido, Queen of Carthage – a satire on Queen Elizabeth’s infatuation with the Earl of Essex)

dido frontispiece small

 Chapman would regularly summon up the spirit of Homer….


…..and, later on....

……after he had been stabbed in Deptford in 1593……

…. Christopher Marlowe himself…..

(For Chapman’s rôle in the Sonnets, please see:‘Chapman talks to Marlowe’s Ghost.’)

The pedantic schoolmaster in the play, Holofernese, was first identified as a satire on John Florio…..


….by William Warburton(1698-1779) The Bishop of Gloucester.

william warburton

Florio was part of the Southampton household at the time of the play, tutoring young Harry in Italian, translating the Essays of Montaigne into English and compiling an Italian/English dictionary…..

Florio defines…



…the heaven, the sky, the firmament or welkin…..

Holofernes describes the deer that Princess shoots as…

…ripe as the pomewater [a whitish apple] who now hangeth like a jewel in the ear of caelo, the sky, the welkin, the heaven….

Florio employs heavy alliteration….

Proverbs are the pith, the properties, the proofs, the purities of language….

So does Holofernes…..

The preyful Princess pierc’d and prick’d a pretty, pleasing pricket….

Dame Frances Yates……..

frances yates

…… believed Florio was placed in the Catholic household by Lord Burghley as part of his spy network…..

The Code believes he replaced Shakespeare as the local schoolmaster in the Titchfield Grammar School….

old schoolhouse

As Love’s Labour’s Found also argues, Florio could well have written the Progress Entertainment which Mary Southampton’s father, Lord Montague, put on at nearby Cowdray for Queen Elizabeth the previous year….

And which Shakespeare lampoons in the entertainment Holofernes put on for the Princess of France….

See: ‘Shakespeare in Titchfield – a Summary of the Evidence’ and ‘Shakespeare was a Schoolmaster in the Country – Titchfield.’

 Love’s Labour’s Lost was clearly a coterie play…….

…..intended for an aristocratic, coterie audience…..

…..with an aristocratic, coterie cast.

The next Post reveals who these people were…..


Brothers and Sisters of The Shakespeare Code…..

It is with great pride that the Agents of the Code….

….along with Trixie the Cat….


…..announce that on…..

Wednesday, 14th January, 2015…

The Shakespeare Code recorded its……

175,000th VIEW!!!

In addition, FIVE more countries joined The Code……

They are:


sint maarten flag


lesotho flag


mali flag


flag french polynesia


central african republic

This brings the number of participating countries to…..






The Code has received congratulations from its


Michael Hentges, F. S. C.

It was Michael who responded with enthusiasm to The Code’s very first Post…..

….and encouraged us all to continue with our work.


(To read more about Michael’s induction as Fellow to The Code, click: HERE.)

The Hentges Crest

The Hentges Crest

Michael has given us permission to quote from his private correspondence with our Chief Agent….

Stewart Trotter.

I actually (for a change) had some quality research time available last winter/spring. I spent said time re-reading the early “Collected Works”, looking primarily for timeline and biographical clues. In the process, I frequently found myself referring back to corresponding earlier posts in the Shakespeare Code. Without going into hard details – what struck me most at the time was the clarity with which you manage to “read between the lines”. So many of your theories do resonate: they’re not just possibly true – they’re probably true. And “probably” (given the absence of verified historical facts) is about as good as it gets…
Thank you, Michael, for your kind observations…..
 Brothers and Sisters of  The Code are invited, if they wish, to post theirs…..
Trixie 2.

P. S.

To read The Code’s next Post…..

Love’s Labour’s Lost REVISITED…..

Please click: HERE!

loves deer hunt old photo

P.P.S.  If you came here searching for ‘Fairie Lore and Roman Catholicism in A Midsummer Night’s Dream’….


…..click: HERE! 

(It’s best to read Parts ONE, TWOTHREE and FOUR first)

puck lead

 Puck thinks all mortals are fools.

 puck quizzical

He terrifies them…..

puck terrifying

……manipulates them…..

puck manipulates

……imitates them….

puck imitating

……and laughs at them….

puck roaring

But in the end he blesses them….

puck magic

When thou wakest,

Thou takest

True delight

In the sight

Of thy former lady’s eye:

And the country proverb known,

That every man should take his own,

In your waking shall be shown:

Jack shall have Jill;

Nought shall go ill;

The man shall have his mare again,

And all shall be well.

Shakespeare here gives Puck the same words that God Himself used when he spoke to Mother Julian of Norwich….

mother julian of Norwich

All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well….

At the end of the play, the iron tongue of midnight tolls twelve.

Theseus and Hippolyta…

theseus leaving feast (2)

…….Lysander and Hermia…….

lysander hermia bed

…….. and Demetrius and Helena……

demetrius helena bed

…….. leave the wedding feast to consummate their love in their bedchambers.

Puck then enters, lit by the dying embers of the fire….

The fireplace at Copped Hall.

The fireplace at Copped Hall.

……broom in hand, to cleanse the Hall and prepare it for magic….

Now the hungry lion roars,

And the wolf behowls the moon;

Whilst the heavy ploughman snores,

All with weary task fordone.

Now the wasted brands do glow….

Whilst the screech-owl, screeching loud,


Puts the wretch that lies in woe

In remembrance of a shroud.

Now it is the time of night

That the graves all gaping wide,

Every one lets forth his sprite,

In the church-way paths to glide:

And we fairies, that do run

By the triple Hecate’s team,

From the presence of the sun,

Following darkness like a dream,

following darkness (2)

Now are frolic: not a mouse

Shall disturb this hallow’d house:

I am sent with broom before,

To sweep the dust behind the door.

puck woodcut 1629

Oberon then enters with Titania followed by the fairy band…..

oberon titania flying in

….with, the original stage directions say…..

……waxen tapers on their heads…..

Queen Elizabeth might have banned candles from her subjects’ altars….

But King Oberon floods Theseus’s palace with living light…..

oberon light end

Through the house give glimmering light

By the dead and drowsy fire

Every elf and every sprite

Hop as light as bird from briar…

We can be sure that when Mary married the Second Earl of Southampton, Catholic priests were in secret attendance…..

(Mary’s father kept them on his payroll, disguised as liveried servants and gardeners)

One of them would have said the ‘Benedictio Thalami’…….

…..the traditional blessing on the wedding bed…..

Benedicto domine thalamum hunc….

Bless o Lord this bed. May all who dwell in it remain in Thy peace, abide in Thy will, grow to old age, and be multiplied to the length of days and attain at last to the kingdom of heaven.

Per Christum dominum nostrum. Amen

The priest then sprinkles holy water over the bed……

……and over the bride and groom……

benedictio thalami

……in the form of a cross…

Shakespeare gives Oberon a fairy version of this blessing.…

oberon blessing

To the best bride-bed will we,

Which by us shall blessed be;

And the issue there create

Ever shall be fortunate.

So shall all the couples three

Ever true in loving be;

And the blots of Nature’s hand

Shall not in their issue stand;

Never mole, hare lip, nor scar,

Nor mark prodigious, such as are

Shall upon their children be.

But instead of using holy water for the consecration, Oberon uses dew from the fields….

With this field-dew consecrate,

Every fairy take his gait;

And each several chamber bless….

Through this palace, with sweet peace;

And the owner of it blest

Ever shall in safety rest.

Trip away; make no stay;

Meet me all by break of day…

Puck, left alone, addresses the audience directly……

puck at end (2)

If we shadows have offended,

Think but this, and all is mended,

That you have but slumber’d here

While these visions did appear.

And this weak and idle theme,

No more yielding but a dream…..

But nothing is ever straightforward with Puck…

The rest of his speech is filled, if not with the equivocation of the fiend, then certainly with ambiguity….

Gentles, do not reprehend:

If you pardon, we will mend:

Does he mean ‘If you pardon our failings as actors, we will improve as performers….’?

Or does he mean ‘If you pardon our failing as fairies we will make your lives better for you…..’?

And, as I am an honest Puck…..

…..which clearly he isn’t….

 If we have unearned luck

Now to ‘scape the serpent’s tongue,

We will make amends ere long….

Is ‘the serpent’s tongue’ the hiss of a displeased audience?

Or is it the tongue of Satan himself, tempting figures of light – as he tempted Eve – to become figures of darkness like himself?

And what are these ‘amends’?

Else the Puck a liar call…..

puck liar

So, good night unto you all.

Give me your hands, if we be friends,

And Robin shall restore amends.

What does Puck mean by ‘Give me your hands’?

Does he mean: ‘Applaud’?

Or does he mean: ‘Take your hands in mine’?

And what does he mean by ‘Robin shall restore amends’?

Does he mean he will make amends for what he has done?

Or does he mean he will make amends for what has been done to you?

 Is Puck saying:

Applaud us and we will produce better plays for you in the future….

 Or is he saying:

 Reach out and grasp my hands and I will make up for all you have suffered…..

 I will heal the past….

Puck means both……

………and Shakespeare is directing these last lines at his patron, the Countess Mary…..

Mary Browne

Did she reach out to grasp the hands of Puck?

Did the reconciling magic of the play work ?

We are in the extraordinary position of knowing that it did…

Heneage, sadly, died the year after the play was performed……

….but  Mary went on to marry a third, much younger husband ….

When, however, she finally came to write her will in 1607, she asked to be interred at St. Peter’s, Titchfield…..

….as near as may be unto the body of my honorable and dearly beloved Lord and husband, Henry, late Earl of Southampton…..

second earl close-uo

The Fairies had done their work well…….



When The Shakespeare Code first announced these Posts……

…… the Rev. Canon Tony Dickinson…..

canon tony dickinson

…..Vicar of  Giles Gilbert Scot’s St. Francis of Assisi Church, High Wycombe…

…..contacted The Code’s Chief Agent…..

…Stewart Trotter…

…and asked him if he planned to quote from….


This was written by Bishop Robert Corbett (1582-1635)

…..who would have been twelve years old when A Midsummer Night’s Dream was first performed.

Stewart could not believe his eyes when he read the poem!!!

It entirely corroborates The Shakespeare Code’s theory…..

That magic and spirituality fled England in the reign of Elizabeth…..

….and that the Fairy World was equated completely with…..

‘The Old Profession’….


Here is the poem, with thanks again to Rev. Canon Dickinson….

FAREWELL rewards and Fairies!

Good housewives now may say;

For now foul sluts in dairies

Do fare as well as they;

And though they sweep their hearths no less

Than maids were wont to do,

Yet who of late for cleanliness

Finds sixpence in her shoe?

sweeping hearth

Lament, lament old Abbeys,

The fairies lost command;

They did but change priests’ babies,

But some have chang’d your land;

And all your children stol’n from thence

Are now grown Puritans,

Who live as changelings ever since,

For love of your demaines.

puritans 2

At morning and at evening both

You merry were and glad,

So little care of sleep and sloth

These pretty ladies had.

When Tom came home from labour,

Or Ciss to milking rose,

Then merrily went their tabour,

And nimbly went their toes.

fairies dancing


Witness those rings and roundelayes

Of theirs, which yet remain;

roundelay 3

Were footed in Queen Mary’s days

Mary Tudor

On many a grassy plain.


But since of late Elizabeth

old elizabeth

And later James came in;

king james de critz

They never danc’d on any heath,

As when the time hath been


By which we note the fairies

Were of the old profession:

Their songs were Ave Maries,

Their dances were procession.

fairy procession

But now, alas! they all are dead,

Or gone beyond the seas,

Or farther for religion fled,

Or else they take their ease.

fairy asleep


The Shakespeare Code would also like to acknowledge the work of Richard Simpson, M. A. (1820-76)

….an Oxford Graduate and Anglican Priest who converted to Roman Catholicism in 1844.

He was the first to advance the theory that William Shakespeare was a Catholic…….

….and met with howls of derision from the Victorian Academic Establishment.

They needed their Bard to be  a Protestant…..

…..in the way our own Establishment once needed him to be Straight!!!

shakespeare rainbow




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