Posted By Roger Stritmatter on September 13, 2011
A kind soul just asked me whether I would put my vote fer or agin “Prince Tudor.”
“O Geeze,” I said, “That’s sort of like asking me whether I should render taxes unto Caesar. I think so, maybe not, it all depends, capisce?”
Here is my statement. I would prefer that my statement not be quoted out of context, and that if reported, it is reported in its entirety:
When I survey the entirety of the evidence available to me, from historical anecdotes to the most literary “maskings” of Endymion, it is not difficult for me to believe that the 3rd earl of Southampton was a changeling child born to Queen Elizabeth I and fathered by the seventeenth Earl of Oxford.
I see many factors pointing in that direction. I have, however, seen other reasons of substance on the traditional historical side, and chief among them is the enthusiasm with which some Oxfordians embrace that one side of the story while leaving unexplored so many others of possible consequence. This is a dispiriting phenomenon indeed, and it has made me reluctant to take any definite position on this subject.
As for the newer theory arguing that Edward de Vere himself was the son of Queen Elizabeth, I have never found it to be a particularly plausible connecting of the relevant dots. How can you plausibly raise a baby supposedly born in April 1550 but actually born, as proponents of this theory must have us require, in October or November 1548 without rather visible credibility problems? The thought that servants would not notice such a thing and some record of it survive seems a bit condescending.
Of course someone would have noticed. But so far no one has produced any evidence for such a tradition. It is just assumed that an eighteen month age difference is inconsequential. I doubt if many mothers could agree.
When we turn by contrast to study the early history of the family of the 2nd Earl of Southampton, we find just the extraordinary involutions of conflict we might expect within a family fostering a prince of uncertain promise. Such things cannot be brushed aside lightly, especially in view of the larger public discourse around Southampton during the 1590s and subsequent decades.
After his imprisonment for his very public part in the Essex rebellion for three years, under James’s pardon Southampton became one of the most effective representatives of constitutionalists who sought to limit the powers of the Stuart monarchy. James showered him with rewards even though he must have been a terrible pain in the ass from the royal view. This was not all for nothing, at least it sure seems that way to me.
That’s the end of my statement.
Now you are free to do what you like — gnash your teeth over the obscenity of this post, or weep for joy over the future prospect, approved by Prospero himself, of some real debate about the authorship question — one that doesn’t treat “PT” like a cause for a nervous breakdown on either side.
You cannot legislate morality in the sphere of history or literary interpretation. It won’t work. Someone will want to know why you are so hung up on whether or not Queen Elizabeth was a virgin.
Signing off from Baltimore,
Doc Stritmatter, again…..:)