Generally Eclectic

De Vere/Shakespeare

Chronology of the Life of Edward De Vere

Time Event
1550
April 12
Edward de Vere was born at Castle Hedingham, Essex, to John, 16th Earl of Oxford and Maryery, countess of Oxford. Among other things, John de Vere had a troupe of actors.
1554 De Vere's sister Mary was born.
1554 to 1562 De Vere was under tutelage of Sir Thomas Smith, probably at Smith's estate of Ankerwicke, near Windsor. Smith was one of the foremost educators of the day and a man with a wide range of interests - mathematics, arithmetic, law, natural and moral philosophy, geography, astronomy, etc. Many of these interest show up in the Shakespeare's plays.
1558
October
De Vere was enrolled in Queen's College, Cambridge - Smith's alma mater.
1559 De Vere matriculated at St John's College Cambridge
1561
August
Queen Elizabeth visited Castle Hedingham, where she presumably met de Vere for the first time.
1562
July
De Vere, who was twelve years old at the time, was contracted to marry into the powerful Hastings family. While de Vere never married into the Hastings family, Mary Hastings is the person on whom the character MARIA in Love's Labour's Lost. Like MARIA, Mary Hastings turned down an offer of marriage by the envoy of the czar of Muscovy.
1562
August 3
The 16th Earl of Oxford, de Vere's father, died and was buried. De Vere may not have known his father well. The use of his properties was conveyed in trust to the duke of Norfolk, a 26 year old nephew, and Robert Dudley. Records suggest that Dudley acquired much of the lands belonging to de Vere's father. In Hamlet, Dudley is the character on which the King is based, one who stole an inheritance from HAMLET.
1562
September 3
De Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, road into London in procession on his way to take up residence as a Royal Ward of Court at the London home of Sir William Cecil, later Lord Burghley who, as Secretary of State, was the head of Queen Elizabeth's Privy Council. Even though a minor, his full title was Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxenford, Lorde Greate Chamberleyne of Englande, Viscount Bulbecke, and Lorde of Badlesmere and Scales.
1563 De Vere's title as Earl of Oxford was challenged by the husband of his half sister Katherine de Vere. The challenge did not succeed.
1563 De Vere was tutored by the Anglo Saxonist Laurence Nowell (who also signed his name on Beowulf manuscript during year)) and also perhaps by his uncle Arthur Golding.
1563
August 19
De Vere displayed competence in French by writing a letter in French to William Cecil.
1564
September
De Vere and other prominent men, including William Cecil, received Master of Arts degrees from Cambridge. Queen Elizabeth participated in the celebrations, despite an edict which she issued in 1561 that no women were to stay over night at an English University or abbey. Historians of the time overlooked this example of royal hypocrisy, but Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost addresses the issue of breaking oaths.
1564 Arthur Golding dedicated his translation of Justin's Abridgement of the Histories of Trogus Pompeius to his nephew de Vere
1566
September
De Vere was awarded a masters degree from Oxford.
1567 The translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses by de Vere's uncle, Arthur Golding, was published. The translation was completed in 1563, around the time when Golding probably tutored de Vere. Many scholar's agree that Golding's translation of Ovid was a major influence on Shakespeare.
1567
February
De Vere matriculated from Gray's Inn, where he had studied law.
1567
July 23
De Vere killed (probably accidentally) William Cecil's under cook Thomas Bricknell while practicing his fencing. He was acquitted on the argument that he acted in self-defence, and went unpunished.
1567 With the tacit approval of the Privy Council, de Vere sent his retainer, the poet and soldier-of-fortune Thomas Churchyard, on a mission to the Netherlands.
1568
December 2
De Vere's mother, Margery née Golding, died. De Vere's relationship with his mother was probably not close.
1569 Thomas Underdowne dedicated his translation of An Aethiopian Historie by Heliodorus to De Vere.
1569 De Vere was ill for months, carrying over to the first quarter of 1570. During 1570, de Vere convalesced in Windsor, which was the setting for The Merry Wives of Windsor.
1570
March 30
Queen Elizabeth sent de Vere to work under Earl of Sussex in the Northern campaign to stamp out Catholic unrest. There was a movement to have Mary Queen of Scots marry the Duke of Norfolk, de Vere's cousin. In traveling north, de Vere would have passed Kimbolton Castle (the scene for part of Henry the Eighth and the city of York and the forest of Galtres (settings for both King Henry the Fourth, Part 1, and King Henry the Sixth, Part 3. King Henry the Sixth, Part 3 depicts the northern rebellion accurately, as if written by a first hand observer, which de Vere was.
1570 There was a dedication to de Vere in Edmund Elviden's Peisistratus and Catanea.
1571
April 2
Queen Elizabeth summoned the third Parliament of her reign. This was de Vere's first attendance. As Lord Great Chamberlain, he had a ceremonial role.
1571
May 7 and 8
De Vere was victorious in a royal tournament at Whitehall and was widely seen as one of the up-and-coming stars of Queen Elizabeth's court.
1571
December 16
De Vere married Anne Cecil, daughter of William Cecil, the Queen's chief minister. De Vere had grown up with Anne in the Cecil household, since William Cecil raised noblemen whose fathers had died. At sixteen, she was five years younger than de Vere. Shortly before the marriage, William Cecil became the nobleman Lord Burghley and took up the position of Lord Treasurer. Among other things, this may have occurred to address de Vere's concern that Anne Cecil was beneath him in status.
1571 There was a dedication to de Vere, with a preface by him, published in Thomas Bedingfield's translation of Cardanus Comfort.
1571 Arthur Golding made a dedication to de Vere in his translation of Calvin's version of The Psalms of David. Golding, a staunch Puritan, appeared concerned about the moral directions that de Vere was taking.
1572
January 5
De Vere wrote a preface in Latin to Batholomew Clerke's translation into Latin of Castiglione's Il Cortegiano (The Courtier). This made the document accessible to the urbane leadership in Europe, since Latin was a common language. The Courtier outlined proper etiquette and expressed the view that courtiers have a key role in the proper functioning of the state. Among other things, The Courtier urged self-respecting courtiers to hide their poetry and prose from the public.
1572
May
Queen Elizabeth gave de Vere a licence to begin to repossess family lands that had been taken out of his control when his father died.
1572
June 2
The Duke of Norfolk (de Vere's cousin) was executed for treason. De Vere had tried to save his cousin, but was unsuccessful. Norfolk left three sons. As You Like It mirrors the Norfolk situation. It deals with a deceased and deified father, and the troubles of his sons as they deal with inheritance, marriage and court.
1572 De Vere took part in a Royal entertainment at Warwick Castle. The theatrics were overdone. An incendiary missile overshot its mark, hitting a nearby house and setting it and neighbouring houses on fire, and perhaps killing two people.
1572
September
De Vere wrote to William Cecil wishing to be considered for some military service.
1572
October
De Vere and his wife Anne Cecil were at de Vere's Essex estate of Wivenhoe. One of de Vere's servants, Rowland Yorke, had reportedly barred Anne from her husband's chambers. De Vere was spending a lot of money. His servants were behaving riotously. Anne was apparently forced to put up with this bad behaviour.
1573 Thomas Twyne provided a letter of dedication de Vere in The Breviary of Britain. The letter noted de Vere's interest in books on geography, histories and other learning.
1573 De Vere and Thomas Bedingfield published the English translation of Cardanus's Comfort. De Vere had commissioned the work, probably around the time of the trial of the Duke of Norfolk, in an attempt to influence the outcome through philosophy.
1573 One of de Vere's servants was hanged for murder which today might be considered a crime of passion.
1573
May 1
The Spanish agent Antonio de Gueras wrote to a Spanish governor about an arrangement in which £15,000 would have been paid to William Cecil in as a bribe for a more open and friendly trade policy. Cecil did not want to be directly associated with the bribe. Cecil owed de Vere £15,000 in dowry for marrying his daughter. It is likely that Cecil asked his son-in-law de Vere to pick up the money on the continent.
1573
May
In a letter to Cecil, three of de Vere's servants were accused of two of Cecil's servants on the Gravesend-Rochester road. It is an event remarkable similar to Act II, Scene 2 in King Henry the Fourth Part 1 in which FALSTAFF and three of PRINCE HAL's companions rob travelers, carrying the King's taxes, on the same road.
1573
May 11
A young courtier Gilbert Talbot wrote to his father that Queen Elizabeth was delighted by de Vere's personage, dancing and valour; that Anne had indicated some jealousy at the relationship of his husband with the Queen and that the Queen was originally offended but the two had reconciled; and that Anne's father William Cecil did not meddle in the issue.
1573 or 1574 De Vere signed over a family estate called Battails Hall in Essex to William Byrd, a musician and organist at the Chapel Royal, once the elderly occupants passed away. Byrd is now considered one of the finest musicians of the Elizabethan period. One of de Vere's retainers later defrauded Byrd of Battails Hall. Byrd wrote The Earl of Oxford's March.
1574
January
Reports to William Cecil indicated that de Vere was making himself familiar with Antonio de Gueras, presumably in relation to de Vere's collection of £15,000.
1574
March
De Vere made a proposal to Queen Elizabeth that was refused. She criticized him for his lack of thrift, and was offended by his reaction.
1574
July
De Vere hired a ship and went to the low countries. The Elizabethan court was troubled by what appeared to them a defection to the Catholic side. Queen Elizabeth dispatched Thomas Bedingfield to bring de Vere back. De Vere returned by July 27, 1574. If the purpose of the trip was to secure the £15,000, there was no evidence that he did so. It was generally concluded that his trip was not suspicious in any way, and reflected his obvious desire for foreign adventure, which was noted with approval.
1574
August
De Vere disappeared from court.
1574
September or
October
Anne de Vere asked the Earl of Sussex to arrange lodging for her husband at Hampton Court, in the hope that she could persuade her husband to resume sleeping with her.
1574 George Baker, the doctor for de Vere and his wife, dedicated a book to de Vere. Baker practiced Paracelsian medicine, a new, empirical approach to healing using chemical distillations and essences that was a forerunner to modern pharmacy.
1575
January 30
De Vere made out an indenture dealing with his estate should something happen to him, prior to leaving for his Grand Tour of the Continent. The indenture included a Schedule of Debts, that indicated he and his father had accumulated debts of £9,096.
1575
February 7
De Vere left England on the start of his tour.
1575
March 17 to 18
In a letter to William Cecil from Paris, de Vere thanked Cecil for informing him of his wife's pregnancy. He also indicated that now that he had an heir, he would continue his travels.
1575
April
De Vere left Paris for Strasbourg, to visit the humanist scholar Johan Sturmius. Afterward, he traveled through the Alps, probably bypassed Milan, visited Verona and finally arrived in Venice in mid-May. The annual theatrical season in Venice lasted from mid-May to mid-July. Venetian theater was a mixture of high and low theater, proletarian and refined, tragic and comic. The Merchant of Venice probably provides some clues to de Vere's lodgings and dealings in Venice. In 1575, tension between Jews and other Venetians was at its highest. This tension was also incorporated into The Merchant of Venice.
1575
Summer
De Vere probably visited Ragusa (now known as Dubrovnik), about 48 hours sailing time from Venice. Ragusa was probably the unnamed Illyrian city that provided the setting for Twelfth Night. The Winter's Tale has several scenes on the seacoast of Bohemia. Between 1575 and 1609, the king of Bohemia held a 35 mile stretch of coastline between Venice and Ragusa. Shakespeare's critics have suggested that he was ignorant of European geography, but in fact, de Vere had a better understanding than the critics, because he had probably been there. While de Vere may have wanted to visit Greece, there is little evidence that he got there. His plays based in Greek settings do not contain the same vivid references to Greece as his Italian plays to Italy.
1575
July 2
Anne (Cecil) de Vere gave birth to a daughter, Elizabeth. The date noted by her father William Cecil was January 3, 1575.
1575
Late Summer
De Vere was reported to be in Palermo, Sicily, where he challenged all persons for all manners of weapons in defense of Queen Elizabeth.
1575 De Vere was in Genoa, according to Italian bankers handling de Vere's money. He was there at a time of civil strife.
1575
September
De Vere was in Venice, where he learned that his letters had not made it through the Alps because of plague. He also received two letters from William Cecil, one of which reported that Anne had delivered a daughter Elizabeth.
1575
September 24
A letter from de Vere to William Cecil from Venice, reported that de Vere had been sick, liked Italy, was planning to return to England soon, and gave thanks about the news of the delivery of his child. Cecil noted the date of de Vere's letter in notes he wrote while preoccupied with proving the legitimacy of his daughter Anne's child.
1575
September
De Vere likely visited Titian, the famous Italian painter. Most cultured visitors to Venice visited with Titian. Titian painted four replicas of Venus and Adonis, based on Ovid's Metamorphoses. In the paintings, VENUS clings to ADONIS, who appears bothered by these actions. In most classical interpretations of Ovid, the attraction between VENIS and ADONIS is mutual. In only one of the four Titian copies, the painting in Titian's studio, ADONIS wears a stylized man's hat known as a bonnet. In Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis, VENUS is attracted to ADONIS, who is bothered by Venus's advances. ADONIS wears a bonnet that hides his angry brow. Undoubtedly, de Vere based his poem on the Titian painting that he had seen in 1575. Titian's friend, Pietro Aretino, provided situations, character studies, and ideas for a dozen Shakespeare plays.
1575
November 27
A letter from de Vere to William Cecil from Padua told Cecil not to block of the sale of his lands because of de Vere's rising debts. Padua was a university town. Ottonelle Discalzio was a celebrated professor and jurists who made regular trips to Venice to adjudicate court cases. In The Merchant of Venice, the celebrated jurist from Padua University, Bellario, was consulted to settle the case of SHYLOCK versus ANTONIO. To get from Venice to Padua, de Vere probably traveled by ferry along the river Brenta, which connected Padua to the Venetian Lagoon. In The Merchant of Venice, PORTIA calls "the tranect, the common ferry". PORTIA lives on the Brenta in the Belmont estate 10 miles from Venice and 2 miles from a monastery. The Villa Foscari meets these criteria. NERISSA, PORTIA's assistant, mentions a recent visit to Belmont by the MARQUIS OF MONTFERRAT, one of the titles of Gonazaga. Gonazaga had visited the Villa Foscari in 1574.
1575
November
A day's journey from Padua is Mantua, where de Vere's idol Baldassare Castiglione had lived and worked. Because of de Vere's interest in Castiglione, he most likely visited Mantua. A few miles from Mantua is the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie where Castiglione was buried. Atop the tomb of Castiglione and his wife is a sculpture by Giulio Romano to Castiglione's wife, who died nine years before him. Giulio Romano is mentioned in The Winter's Tale, where a painted statue of the wronged wife HERMIONE is compared to a statuary by "that rare Italian master Giulio Romano". He is also alluded to in Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece. While de Vere saw Romano as a sculptor, he was more generally known as a painter. Critics of Shakespeare have occasionally suggested that Shakespeare was ignorant of Italian art. Visitors such as de Vere to Mantua would have stayed as guests to the local duke Guglielmo Gonzaga. One of the guest rooms in the duke's palace, Appartamento di Troia, contained frescoes of famous scenes from The Trojan War by Giulio Romano. Shakespeare's The Rape of Lucrece contained a 202 line description of these frescoes. The description has little connection to the theme of the poem, as if the poet introduced the description to demonstrate his knowledge of these frescoes.
1575
December 12
De Vere headed for Florence, probably arriving around December 16. After Florence, de Vere headed toward Rome, where Catholic pilgrims had been summoned by the Pope to celebrate a Jubilee Year. Not coincidentally, HELENA in All's Well that Ends Well tracked down her wayward husband BERTAMm by disguising herself as a pilgrim on Jubilee. Because Rome had reached its capacity, many pilgrims went to overflow sites near Florence, one of which was the shrine of St. James the Great near the Tuscan towns of Pistoia and Prato. Helena in All's Well that Ends Well said her Italian destination was St. Jaques le Grand, in effect stating that she was going toward Florence to track down her husband.
1576
January 3
A letter from de Vere to William Cecil from Siena, the southern Tuscan town, urged Cecil to sell some of his lands to appease his creditors. De Vere was intent on making the most of his travels and was prepared to sell land to do so. Cecil was undoubtedly concerned about the long-term income of de Vere, his daughter Anne and their daughter. Over the period from Christmas to January 5, Siena had celebrations, parties and plays. On the January 5 (the twelfth night), a Sienese tradition was the performance of the comedy The Deceived by the Piccolomini's Academy. Twelfth Night mirrors the plot of The Deceived.
1576
January 3
William Cecil was increasingly worried that his son-in-law de Vere woud not accept paternity of his daughter Anne's child, so he drew up a memorandum identifying key dates in the De Vere's and Anne's chronology.
1576
January
After Siena, de Vere returned to Venice for its Carnival season. During this season, the upper and lower classes put on masks and performed masquerades and skits. In Shakespeare's plays such as Much Ado About Nothing, King Henry the Fifth, and Antony and Cleopatra, masks and disguises are common features.
1576
March 5
de Vere left Venice and set off to return to England, via Milan. There are several references to Milan in Shakespeare's plays. In Much Ado About Nothing, MARGARET mentions a gown owned by the duchess of Milan. SILVIA in The Two Gentlemen of Verona speaks of FRIAR PATRICK's Cell, a real place where an Irish friar stopped in 1576. At the time, Milan was controlled by Spain. In The Two Gentlemen of Verona, the DUKE OF MILAN indicates his nationality by addressing his colleagues using the Spanish word "Don". By the end of March, de Vere was out of Italy.
1576
March April
De Vere probably visited Count Roussillion in or near Tournon-Sur-Rhône. Tournon represented only a small departure from his likely route. All's Well that Ends Well captures the life of the Roussillion, particularly the daughter Hélène de Tournon, the victim of a haughty lover and family politics.
1576
March 21
De Vere arrived in Paris on the way home. He was advised by one of his men, Rowland Yorke, of all the latest court gossip, including news about his wife Anne and her child.
1576
April 4
A letter from de Vere to William Cecil from Paris expressed his 'misliking' of the situation with Anne Cecil.
1576
April 20 or so
Crossing from France to England, de Vere's boat was attacked by Dutch pirates who looted most of his possessions. This outraged Queen Elizabeth, who sent a special envoy to the Prince of Orange to demand satisfaction at this "disgrace upon her realm". De Vere returned to England humiliated and probably without many of his possessions. William Cecil attempted to intercept de Vere immediately on his return, to address questions related to the paternity of Anne's child. Rather that accepting an invitation to stay at Cecil House, de Vere moved into the house of Edward Yorke, older brother of Rowland Yorke, de Vere's servant. Roland Yorke fought with the Catholic rebels in the Northern Uprising of 1569. While fighting for the English three years later in the Dutch wars of independence, he was infamous for his conduct with young nuns. In 1584, he tried to betray the position of English allies to Spain. He reportedly died through Spanish poison. In addition to these various misdeeds, he was presumed to have provided de Vere with information about Anne's child. Roland's brother Edward worked for the Duke of Leicester, a long-time adversary of both William Cecil and de Vere. Two of Shakespeare's plays deal with servants and associates (IAGO in Othello and IACHIMO in Cymbeline) who put their lords (OTHELLO and POSTHUMUS) into rage and jealousy against wrongly accused wives. In Much Ado About Nothing, a high ranking military commander (e.g. the Duke of Leicester) masterminds the jealousy subplot against a wrongly accused wife.
1576
April 27
Now back in England, de Vere wrote again to William Cecil saying he had no intention of meeting his wife. This was the start of a five year separation from Anne.
1576
July 13
A letter from de Vere to William Cecil from London noted that Queen Elizabeth and William Cecil both wanted de Vere to reconcile with Anne Cecil, but stated that de Vere was not interested in a reconciliation.
1577
January 1
A Historie of Errors is performed before the Queen by the Children of St. Paul's. This likely became The Comedy of Errors.
1577
October 28
De Vere attended the wedding of William Howard and Elizabeth Dacre. William Howard was the youngest son of the Duke of Norfolk, who had been beheaded for treason. It would take William Howard 23 years to sort out estate issues, particularly since his eldest brother had married into the Dacre family. The play As You Like It, which was probably finalized in 1600, was based on the story of the Howard family.
1577
Christmas to
1578
March
Mary de Vere, de Vere's sister, married Peregrine Bertie. The Taming of the Shrew was based on their relationship. So was Twelfth Night.
1578
January 15
Queen Elizabeth awarded Castle Rising to de Vere for his "true and faithful service done and given to us". Castle Rising had belonged to the beheaded Duke of Norfolk, and was worth about £250 per year. The relationship between Queen Elizabeth and de Vere was rocky at this time. Queen Elizabeth was unhappy about de Vere's treatment of his wife. De Vere was probably unhappy about the beheading of the Duke of Norfolk. De Vere had not exchanged New Year's gifts with Queen Elizabeth in several years.
1578 De Vere invested £3,000 through Michael Lok in Frobisher's voyage to seek out a Northwest passage. The Merchant of Venice reflects this experience, as the generous ANTONIO invests 3,000 ducats with thy financier SHYLOCK (based on Michael Lok). Frobisher's venture was a disaster.
1578 De Vere was praised before the royal Court during the Queen's summer progress by aspiring Cambridge scholar Gabriel Harvey. Harvey's Latin eulogy was translated to include the phrase "thy will shakes speares". The eulogy noted that de Vere was excellent in letters and had written many English poems.
1578
August 14
The Spanish Ambassador Bernardino de Mendoza reported on the reception at court for the Duke of Alençon's envoys in pursuit of marriage proposals for Queen Elizabeth. De Vere reportedly refused to obey a request from Queen Elizabeth to dance before ambassadors from the Duke of Alençon, presumably because he felt the request was demeaning.
1578
December 28
The Lord Chamberlain's Men, a theater group under the Earl of Sussex and De Vere's mentor, performed at Richmond Palace a play titled An History of the Cruelties of a Stepmother. Ostensibly, the play was about a conniving stepmother. The courtly audience would have assumed that this stepmother was Catherine de Medici, mother of the Duke of Alençon. Queen Elizabeth was considering marriage to the Duke, and if the marriage took place, Catherine de Medici would become England's "stepmother". De Vere opposed the marriage. The play may have been a preliminary version of Cymbeline, which is also about a conniving stepmother. De Vere's mother in law disliked de Vere, and the feeling was mutual. De Vere and Queen Elizabeth exchanged New Year gifts, presumably reflecting an improving relationship.
1579
January 6
The Lord Chamberlain's Men performed The History of the Rape of the Second Helen about the rape of Helen in the Trojan War. Shakespeare later dealt with this issue in Troilus and Cressida.
1579
March 3 or so
De Vere, the Duke of Surrey and others performed A Moor's Masque at court. This was probably an early version of Othello, a story about a husband who conspires to kill his wife at the goading of a servant.
1579
September
De Vere and Philip Sidney quarreled over a tennis game. Sidney was considered a rising literary figure. Both were young, intelligent and well-educated. Sidney had criticized theatrical techniques which compressed time and space into a few hours on the stage, and shifted moods and setting without explanation to the audience. Shakespeare plays regularly did just that. Sidney and de Vere also differed on the Alençon marriage to Queen Elizabeth, with de Vere a supporter and Sidney an opponent. Sidney and de Vere wanted to resolve the dispute through a duel, but Queen Elizabeth ordered de Vere to not leave his quarters.
1579 De Vere began a relationship with Anne Vavasour, a tall, dark-haired nineteen year old from a genteel family living in the north of England. She was known for her beauty, poetic prowess and wit. Her uncle Thomas Knyvet, a groom in the Queen Elizabeth's privy chamber, had introduced her to court, where she became a gentlewoman in the Queen's bedchamber. De Vere probably met Anne Vavasour through his cousin Charles Arundell.
1580
early
De Vere purchased Fisher's Folly, a luxurious house near Bishopsgate, across the street from the Bedlam insane asylum, and a third of mile south of London's commercial theaters - the Curtain and the Theater. At the time, Londoners were flocking to the theaters. A few Puritans and religious types objected, but Elizabeth supported the theaters. In early 1580, de Vere had also taken over the theater group the Earl of Warwick's men. Between 1580 and 1582, De Vere hired John Lyly and Anthony Munday as his private secretaries. He also provided support to Thomas Watson and Robert Greene.
1580
February
De Vere reportedly confided to his cousin Henry Howard that Anne Vavasour was pregnant, and fearing Queen Elizabeth's anger, de Vere was contemplating leaving England. Anne miscarried.
1580 John Lyly, de Vere's secretary, dedicated Euphues and his England to de Vere. The work satirizes courtly manners using pompous and overblown language.
1580
June or July
Anne Vavasour became pregnant again.
1580 John Hester dedicated A Short Discourse upon Surgery to de Vere.
1580 Gabriel Harvey caricaturized de Vere as 'Italianate Englishman' in Speculum Tuscanismi, but also praised him as "peerless in England" as a "discourser for tongue".
1580
December
De Vere confessed to Queen Elizabeth that he, Henry Howard, Charles Arundell, and Francis Southwell had reconciled to Catholicism through a Jesuit priest who was later sneaked out of England through the French Ambassador.
1581
January
De Vere won a prize in a tournament at Whitehall. His tournament speech is later published in Edmund Spenser's Axiochus.
1581
March 23
The unmarried Anne Vavasour, one of the Gentlewomen of the Queen's Bedchamber, bore a son who would be named Edward Vere (and go on to be knighted for his military service). De Vere, who was known to be the child's father, fled London, but was soon captured and sent to the Tower of London.
1581
June 8
Queen Elizabeth ordered de Vere's release from the Tower of London, but he remained under house arrest in Greenwich for another month or more.
De Vere's Catholic cousin Henry Howard, Charles Arundell, and Francis Southwell responded to de Vere's allegations with a one hundred page document accusing de Vere of being a liar, murderer, atheist, pederast, alcoholic, etc. The document is known as the Arundell-Howard libels. Henry Howard and Charles Arundell would later be implicated in another plot against Queen Elizabeth in 1583, and would write another set of libels to extricate themselves from trouble.
1582 De Vere was exiled from court. Banishment from court is the theme of Titus Adronicus and Timon of Athens.
1582
January
The Alençon marriage with Queen Elizabeth was essentially dead.
1581
December
De Vere and his wife Anne (Cecil) began correspondence with de Vere hoping that it would lead to a reconciliation. All Anne's letter have been preserved in the Cecil archive. None of de Vere's replies were preserved.
1582
January
De Vere and Anne Cecil came to a reconciliation and began living with each other.
1582
March
There is a 'fray' between de Vere and Sir Thomas Knyvett, uncle of Anne Vavasour, over the latter's honour. The fray began an interfamily feud (like the MONTAGUE-CAPULET feud in Romeo and Juliet). De Vere was injured, although he was able to ride on a tournament several years later. The injuries sustained may have contributed to his lameness, which he mentioned in Sonnets 37 and 89.
1582
June
There were three violent skirmishers between de Vere's men and Sir Thomas Knyvett's men (just as there were three skirmishes between the MONTAGUES and CAPULETS in Romeo and Juliet.
1582 The poet Thomas Watson dedicated a book of sonnets The Hekatompathia to de Vere. The book contains introductory comments that undoubtedly came from de Vere. The quality of the comments is considered Shakespearean in quality.
1582
June
De Vere's brother in law, Peregrine Bertie (Lord Willoughby), went as Queen Elizabeth's Ambassador to the Danish court at Elsinore for the investiture of King Frederick III. He revisited Elsinore in 1585, and spent five months in total there. Elsinore was the setting for Hamlet. While at Elsinore, Bertie met the Danes Rosenkrantz and Guldenstern. He also met the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe, who observed a supernova that was referenced by the guards in Hamlet. Hamlet also includes a small part for the English Ambassador (de Vere's brother in law), who announces that ROSENKRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN are dead.
1583 The best actors in London merged to form a new company - the Queen's Men. The Queen's Men subsequently performed early versions of plays that would be later revised and published as Shakespeare's. Queen Elizabeth's spy master Francis Walsingham ran the troupe.
1583
May 9
The newly born son of Edward and Anne (Cecil) de Vere was buried.
1583
June 1
Queen Elizabeth and de Vere resolved their differences and de Vere was allowed back into court.
1583
June 10
Queen Elizabeth's court visited Oxford University. The court saw a Latin play Dido, a university play that was never published or acted again. The Polish Prince and General Laski was in attendance. HAMLET asks actors to perform Aeneas's tale to Dido, the play that was acted at most once and which was caviar to the General (Laski). Also in attendance at court was the Italian Giordano Bruno, who taught at Wittenburg and who supported Copernicus's theory of the heavens. HAMLET also refers to these theories
1583 De Vere acquired the sub-lease on the Blackfriars Theater and appointed his secretary Lyly as manager.
1584
April 6
Daughter Bridget was born to Edward and Anne (Cecil) de Vere.
1584
November 17
De Vere again won a prize at a Royal tournament, held to celebrate the anniversary of the coronation.
1584
December
The History of Agamemnon and Ulysses is performed at court by de Vere's troupe of boy actors. This was probably an early performance of Troilus and Cressida.
1585
August
De Vere was appointed commander of the horse in the Lowlands (Dutch) theater of war. All's Well that Ends Well includes names of commanders in the lowland campaign.
1585
October
De Vere was recalled from the lowlands campaign. His long-time enemy Leicester was placed in charge. On his return home, a ship containing de Vere's provisions (venison, wine, letter of appointment) was captured by Spaniards. In Hamlet, there is an encounter with pirates and a plot twist involving stolen letters at sea.
1585 or 1586 Daughter Francis was born to Edward and Anne (Cecil) de Vere.
1586
June 25
A letter from de Vere to William Cecil asked Cecil to provide de Vere with £200 " tyll her Magestie performethe her promes.".
1586
June 26
Presumably to fulfill her promise, Queen Elizabeth granted Vere £1000 per annum. There is no documentary indication about the purpose of the payments, which continued until de Vere's death. It is believed that the purpose of the payments was to produce propaganda plays which supported the Tudors and encouraged English nationalism at a time when the country was facing an invasion by Spain. Shortly after this time, the Spanish Ambassador to England complained to King Philip of Spain about the treatment of the King in English plays.
1586 De Vere was described by William Webbe as "most excellent" among court poets.
1586
October
De Vere was third in precedence at the trial of Mary Queen of Scots at Fotheringay. His future father in law, Thomas Trentham, had been appointed, as one of the "principal gentlemen in Staffordshire", to accompany the Scottish Queen from her Staffordshire exile to Fotheringay.
1587
May 26
Daughter Susan was born to Edward and Anne (Cecil) de Vere.
1587
September
Daughter Frances died in infancy.
1588
June 5
Anne (Cecil) de Vere died at age thirty-three and was buried in Westminster Abbey. According to letters by Thomas Cecil and others, William Cecil was so incapacitated by grief over the death of "my ladie of Oxenford" that he was incapable of conducting Privy Council business. There is no record that de Vere was attended the funeral on June 26.
1588
May 30
Drake led the English fleet against the Spanish and Portuguese fleet. Indirect evidence suggests that de Vere was involved in the campaign. The fleet encountered bad weather (perhaps the inspiration for the opening scene in The Tempest). By June 6, the fleet had returned to Plymouth, where de Vere probably learned about the death of his wife. Drake would make subsequent attempts to set sail. De Vere may have been part of these attempts.
1588
July 27
De Vere was at Tilbury east of London, supposedly to lead 2,000 men to protect England from a Spanish invasion fleet should the fleet get past English naval defenses. By August 1, de Vere had abandoned his position, and returned to London.
1588
November 24
Nobles and military leaders paraded through the streets of London to celebrate the defeat of the Spanish Armada at sea.
1588
December
De Vere sold Fisher's Folley. With Anne (Cecil) de Vere's death, her father William Cecil began suing de Vere for debts.
1589 The Arte of English Poesie, by George Puttenham was published. It notes: "And in Her Majesty's time that now is are sprung up another crew of courtly makers, noble men and gentlemen of her Majesty's own servants, who have written commendably well as it would appeare if their doings could be found out and made public with the rest, of which number is first that noble gentleman Edward, earl of Oxford. ... The earl of Oxford and Master (Richard) Edwards of Her Majesty's Chapel (are the best) for comedy and interlude."
1590 De Vere had made a verbal agreement to cover the rent of Thomas Churchyard, who had worked for de Vere for various periods since the 1560s. De Vere was unable to meet the first payment due on March 25, so Churchyard took refuge in a church. Churchyard's apartment was near the Church of St. Benet's of Paul's Wharf. In Twelfth Night, FESTE begs for cash and includes a reference to St. Benet
1590 Spencer dedicated a sonnet to de Vere in The Faerie Queen. The sonnet talks about writing of the glory of de Vere's ancestors "under a shady veil". This is presumably a reference to the fact that de Vere had been writing plays glorifying the Tudor regime and its supporters (including de Vere's ancestors) under a pseudonym.
1590
September
De Vere told William Cecil that he was chronically ill.
1591
November or
December
De Vere married another one of Queen Elizabeth's Maids of Honour, Elizabeth Trentham, daughter of the wealthy Staffordshire landowner the late Thomas Trentham of Rocester Abbey. Elizabeth Trentham was in her thirties, had been one of the Queen's maids of honour for ten years, and was an independent woman with a good understanding of legal and business matters. PORTIA, in The Merchant of Venice, was probably based on Elizabeth. BASSIANO married PORTIA in part to address financial concerns. Elizabeth's brother Francis Trentham took over the management of de Vere's near bankrupt estate and gradually returned it to profitability.
1591
December 2
De Vere sold the manor of Castle Hedingham - the de Vere family seat from the time of William the Conqueror - to William Cecil in trust for his three daughters Elizabeth, Bridget and Susan. By this time, de Vere had lost all the lands he inherited from his father or acquired from the Queen Elizabeth, and was now a landless lord. Three years later, de Vere's story would be retold by the Queen's Men through a play called the True Chronicle History of King Lier. This is a story of a foolish man who wasted his inheritance and independence.
1592
Early
Edward and Elizabeth (Trentham) de Vere moved into their new home in north London near the Theater and the Curtain (theaters).
1592 The critic William Webbe notes: "I may not omit the deserved commendations of many honorable and noble lords and gentlemen of Her Majesty's court, which in the rare devices of poetry have been and yet are most excellent skillful-among whome the right honorable earl of Oxford may challenge to himself the title of most excellent among the rest."
1593
January
The satirist and pamphleteer Thomas Nashe isssued a pamphlet referring to Will. Monox (probably a reference to William My Ox, alias Edward De Vere). The pamphlet was dedicated to a prolific poet who Nashe calls "Gentle William Apis (=the name of a legendary Egyptian ox) Lapis (=Latin for "lacking empathy")", in other words, de Vere. The pamphlet described Gentle William as a little fellow and drunkard, with one of the best wits in England". De Vere captured his relationships with Nashe in Love's Labour's Lost.
1593
February 24
Henry de Vere, son and heir of Edward and Elizabeth (Trentham)de Vere was born.
1593
April 18
Venus and Adonis was approved for publication, dedicated to Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton. The message of the play appears to be advice to the Earl to be wary Queen Elizabeth, an old but lusty queen. The author is William Shakespeare. This was the first time this name appeared in print.
1593
September 3
Robert Greene died. In October, Greene's Groatsworth of Wit was published. The story involved a country author who initially put together morality plays in traveling carnival shows. After seven years, he moved to London, produced plays written by others, had a wardrobe used in his plays, and used Latin phrases he did not understand. Greene warned his play-writing friends to be wary of an "upstart crow, beautified with our (play write's) feathers, that with his tiger's heart wrapped in a player's hide supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blank verse as the rest of you. And being an absolute Johannes Factotud is in his own conceit the only shake-scene in the country." This is probably the first public reference to William Shakspere from Stratford on Avon. Like the character in Groatsworth of Wit, Shakspere had left Stratford on Avon in 1585 and seven years later appeared in London.
1593 The poem Willobie His Avisa was printed anonymously. There were many similarities between the relationship between Edward and Elizabeth (Trentham) de Vere and the relationship between Willobie and Avisa. Willobie's Avisa had served ten years with the Queen, starting at twenty, just like Elizabeth (Trentham) de Vere. Avisa was born in western England where "Austin pitched his tent". Elizabeth (Trentham) de Vere was from Austin priory of Rocester, to the northwest of London. After marriage, Avisa and her husband lived near a famous well and a castle bought and sold by brothers. Edward and Elizabeth (Trentham) De Vere lived near the Well of St. Agnes and the site of a former priory bought and sold by the actor James Burbage and his brother-in-law that became the Curtain and the Theater. Willobie His Avisa also suggested that the Earl of Southampton had courted de Vere's wife. De Vere became aware of the courting, and encouraged it. In the end, Elizabeth remained faithful to de Vere.
1594
May 9
The Rape of Lucrece, an epic poem dedicated to the Earl of Southampton by William Shakespeare was published. The story is of a constant and faithful wife in a male dominated world of ruthless courtiers. The message for Southampton was to be careful, and marry Elizabeth de Vere, because among other things the Cecil clan, including William Cecil, wanted this marriage.
1594 July 7 De Vere wrote William Cecil seeking redress for various abuses that hindered him in the performance of his office. While there is no formal documentation as to what that office was, on the assumption that the office was to write propaganda plays in support of the Tudor regime, the abuses in question were likely the expropriation of his anonymously produced by various others, perhaps including William Shakspere.
1594
October 6
Southampton reached the age of majority, where he could make decisions for himself. He indicated he would not marry Elizabeth de Vere. William Cecil demanded Southampton pay a fine of &Pound;5,000
1594 The Taming of the Shrew and The First Part of the Contention betwixt the two famous Houses of York and Lancaster (King Henry the Sixth, Part 2)were published anonymously.
1595
January 26
De Vere's daughter Elizabeth married William Stanley, the Earl of Derby who maintained his own company of players. It is widely believed by scholars that, at the fabulous wedding feast in the presence of the whole court, the festivities concluded with a performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream. The play tells the story of de Vere's obsession with a possible husband for his daughter, while the possible husband and daughter had other ideas.
1595
March 25
De Vere tells William Cecil of his lameness. Over the period 1590 to 1602, seven other de Vere letters refer to lameness, infirmity or ill health. Sonnets 37 and 89 also mention lameness.
1595 October to 1596 De Vere visited Bath, a city known for its mineral springs. Sonnets 153 and 154 talk of a journey to Bath.
1597
January
Elizabeth (Trentham) De Vere was served with a legal notice to pay an outstanding bond. She had nothing to do with the transaction triggering the law suit. In the end, the de Veres won the legal case. The situation roughly parallels the proceedings in The Merchant of Venice, where ANTONIO takes out a loan from SHYLOCK, cannot meet his obligations, and ends up in court. In court, PORTIA (Elizabeth De Vere) addresses one of the leading issues of the day - the letter of the law justice versus fairness - with a clear argument in favour of fairness.
1597
July
Rumours arose that Essex, an enemy of de Vere's and the one who was luring Southampton away from de Vere's camp, had slept with de Vere's daughter and recent bride Elizabeth. Annoyed with Essex, de Vere responded with sonnets 78 to 86. In these sonnets, de Vere tried to warn Southampton to stay out of the Essex camp.
1597
September 2
Elizabeth (Trentham) de Vere and her brother Francis Trentham purchased the large manor house of King's Place in Hackney - a substantial country manor house with a celebrated Great Hall, a classic Tudor Long Gallery, a chapel and "a proper lybrayre to laye bokes in". The land included orchards and gardens and around 270 acres of farm land. It would remain the principal London home of de Vere and his wife until his death in 1604. His wife finally moved out in 1609 after selling it to the poet ffulke Greville.
1597
September
De Vere told Robert Cecil in a letter: "I have not an able body".
1597
December 14
This was de Vere's only day in the House of Lords in a Parliament that was called in October and continued for four months. It was also de Vere's last day to ever sit in Parliament.
1598
August 4
William Cecil died. De Vere's remembrances were probably reflected on the one hand in the character of POLONIUS in Hamlet, and on the other hand, in PROSPERO's description of GONZALO in The Tempest as the owner of the best library in England and a provider of books to de Vere.
1598 Cuthbert Burby published "A Pleasant Conceited Comedy Called Love's Labour's Lost ... Newly corrected and augmented by W. Shakespere". This was the first publication of a Shakespeare play.
1598 De Vere was named as "best for comedy" in Francis Meres' Palladis Tamia. Meares also cited Shakespeare as one among others who has enriched the English language. Shakespeare is cited as among England's best for tragedy and comedy.
1599 The Lord Chamberlain's Men performed Shakespeare's King Henry the Fifth at the newly constructed Globe Theater.
1599
May or June
Edward and Anne (Cecil) De Vere's second daughter Bridget married Francis Norris, an aspiring politician.
1599 An anonymous play Histrio-Mastix spoofed Troilus and Cressida. TROILUS describes himself as one who "shakes his furious spear" (meaning De Vere, whose coat of arms featured someone shaking a spear).
1599 Ben Jonson wrote an poem about a "poet-ape" who now stole entire plays from others and called them his own, but who originally started stealing bits and pieces of plays and putting them together. When accused of stealing plays, the"poet-ape" would suggest it was up to others to figure out who really wrote the plays. Jonson thought everyone understood that the "poet-ape" did not write the plays. This was probably a reference to William Shakspere from Stratford on Avon. When de Vere and other authors made their plays available anonymously, their works were easy targets.
1599 William Jaggard published The Passionate Pilgrim by W. Shakespeare. The publication contained some sonnets and other poems that showed de Vere's feelings toward Southampton. It was most unlikely that the author (de Vere or anyone else) would want these sonnets made public in his or her lifetime. Of the twenty poems in the publication, fifteen were by other authors. The publication was most likely the work of a publisher trying to make money by capitalizing on the Shakespeare name.
1599
December 25
Robert Armin, one of Shakespeare's greatest clowns, visited de Vere at de Vere's home. The likely purpose was to assist de Vere with As You Like It, a play about fortunes of the three sons of the executed Duke of Norfolk. William Howard, one of the sons, was finally about to receive his inheritance, after twenty two years. Armin's character in the play would have been TOUCHSTONE. One scene expressed de Vere's displeasure at this time toward William Shakspere from Stratford on Avon.
1600 Based on references to Timon of Athens in the work of John Marston and Ben Jonson, the Shakespearean play would have been performed in London by 1600. Timon of Athens mirrored de Vere's life, in telling the story of an aristocrat who had fallen from grace.
1601
February 19
The trial of Essex and Southampton for treason began. De Vere joined twenty-five other peers on the tribunal. The tribunal condemned both Essex and Southampton to death.
1601
March 18
There was news that Southampton's death sentence has been changed to life imprisonment in the Tower of London.
1601
spring
De Vere unsuccessfully sought the lands of Sir Charles Danvers, who was executed for his part in the Essex Rebellion.
1601
February to
May
De Vere unsuccessfully sought the governorship of Jersey.
1602 De Vere's acting company and that of Worcester merged and took up residence at the Boar's Head.
1603
March 24
Queen Elizabeth died. A state funeral took place on April 28. Queen Elizabeth was succeeded by James, son of Mary Stuart, thus uniting the English and Scottish thrones for the first time.
1603
April 10
King James I released Southampton from the Tower of London and restored to him his former titles and appointments.
1603
April 28
There was a state funeral for Queen Elizabeth.
1603
May 7
De Vere wrotes Robert Cecil seeking the possession of former family properties of Waltham Forest and Havering House. Undoubtedly to his surprise, de Vere received notification on July 18 that King James I had granted de Vere's wish.
1603
July 25
De Vere participated in the coronation dinner and services of King James I.
1603
August 2
De Vere's crown annuity of £1,000 was renewed by King James I. As a thank you, de Vere closed Hamlet, with HAMLET, in his dying voice, saying that FORTINBRAS (James I), the prince from the north, should inherit the thrown of England. This reference suggests that Hamlet was one of the last plays that de Vere worked on. HAMLET's dying words to HORATIO probably reflected de Vere's state of mind as his death approached. "What a wounded name, Things standing thus unknown, shall I leave behind me! ... Absent thee from felicity awhile ... to tell my story."
1604
March 15
De Vere and other peers escorted King James I through London.
1604
June 24
De Vere died, presumably of the illnesses that plagued him. There was no will or record of any funeral or any memorial. These facts suggest a suicide. On June 24, Southampton and others were arrested on the charge that they had plotted to slay several Scots who were friends of King James I. They were released the next day.
1604
July 6
Edward de Vere was buried at St John's Church, Hackney.
1604 A new quarto version of Hamlet was published.
1604
Christmas
Southampton staged Love's Labour's Lost for King James and the court.
1604
December
Susan De Vere, the youngest daughter of Edward and Anne (Cecil) de de Vere, married Sir Philip Herbert (later the Earl of Montgomery). At the time, the Herberts were the premier literary family in England.
1608 King Lear was published. Other works published around this time include Pericles and Troilus and Cressida.
1609
April 1
Elizabeth (Trentham) de Vere received permission to sell King's Place house and grounds.
1609
May 20
The publisher Thomas Thorpe registered "A Booke called Shake-speare's Sonnets" for publication with the Stationer's Company. In the dedication and title page, Thorpe wished the person who acquired the sonnets - one W. H. - the eternity promised by the "ever living poet". "W.H." was probably William Hall, a relative of Anthony Munday, who was de Vere's private secretary. The sale of King's Place probably encouraged Elizabeth (Trentham) de Vere to clean up some loose ends, including doing something with the sonnets that de Vere had been writing for years. It is inconceivable that a living author would have published these versus in his or her lifetime.
1613
January 3
Elizabeth (Trentham) de Vere was buried.
1614 William Shakspere from Stratford on Avon moved from London back to Stratford on Avon.
1616
April 23
William Shakspere from Stratford on Avon died, a few days after making his will. There was a singularly uninspiring poem on the grave. There was a monument near his grave. There are no records for the construction of the monument, and no mention of the monument before 1623. The epitaph graph on the monument was not one what one expect for one of the greatest writers in the English language. The language was similar to that used by Ben Jonson on similar monuments. If Jonson wrote the epitaph, then it was probably created in 1623, around the time that Jonson wrote the introduction to the Shakespeare's Folio.
1621
Fall
Othello by William Shakespeare was published. This previously unpublished play was about an insecure leader who was manipulated by the villain IAGO. At the time, King James I was seeking a marriage of his son with Spain. The marriage was opposed by Southampton, de Vere's son Henry, and the Earls of Montgomery and Pembroke, who had married de Vere's daughters. The publication of Othelloat this time may have been a literary attempt to express opposition to the marriage.
1622 Henry Peacham produced a book on courtly etiquette called The Compleat Gentleman. The book included a list of Elizabethan poets. Shakespeare was not mentioned. De Vere was at the top of the list.
1623
November 8
William Jaggard presents Shakespeare's Folio to the London Stationer's company. The Folio contained thirty-seven plays, of which nineteen had not yet been published in any form. The Folio was dedicated to the earls of Pembroke and Montgomery, who were husbands of de Vere's daughters. The publication of the Folio at this time can be seen in several ways: the last chance for the de Vere daughters to get their father's work into the public domain; a glorification of Elizabethan protestant England and its defiance of Spain at a time when King James I wanted to get close with Catholic Spain; a political literary protest by protestant forces opposing the marriage of the King's son to Spain. Because of the political sensitivities at the time, ascribing the works to Edward De Vere would have been dangerous, so the Folio continued the now long-standing practice of attributing the works to Shakespeare. The publisher undoubtedly preferred this, since Shakespeare material tended to sell well.