Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford

Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford

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Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford (12 April 155024 June 1604) was an Elizabethan
Elizabethan era
The Elizabethan era was the epoch in English history of Queen Elizabeth I's reign . Historians often depict it as the golden age in English history...

 courtier
Courtier
A courtier is a person who is often in attendance at the court of a king or other royal personage. Historically the court was the centre of government as well as the residence of the monarch, and social and political life were often completely mixed together...

, playwright, lyric poet
Lyric poetry
Lyric poetry is a genre of poetry that expresses personal and emotional feelings. In the ancient world, lyric poems were those which were sung to the lyre. Lyric poems do not have to rhyme, and today do not need to be set to music or a beat...

, sportsman and patron of the arts
Patronage
Patronage is the support, encouragement, privilege, or financial aid that an organization or individual bestows to another. In the history of art, arts patronage refers to the support that kings or popes have provided to musicians, painters, and sculptors...

, and is currently the most popular alternative candidate proposed for the authorship of Shakespeare's works
Shakespeare authorship question
Image:ShakespeareCandidates1.jpg|thumb|alt=Portraits of Shakespeare and four proposed alternative authors.|Oxford, Bacon, Derby, and Marlowe have each been proposed as the true author...

.

Oxford was the only son of John de Vere, 16th Earl of Oxford
John de Vere, 16th Earl of Oxford
John de Vere, 16th Earl of Oxford was born to John de Vere, 15th Earl of Oxford and Elizabeth Trussel, daughter of Edward Trussel...

 and Margery Golding. After the death of his father on 3 August 1562 he became a ward of Queen Elizabeth
Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty...

, and received an excellent education in the household of her Principal Secretary, Sir William Cecil
William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley
William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley , KG was an English statesman, the chief advisor of Queen Elizabeth I for most of her reign, twice Secretary of State and Lord High Treasurer from 1572...

. He was a champion jouster, and travelled widely throughout Europe. He served briefly in a military campaign after the Northern Rebellion
Rising of the North
The Rising of the North of 1569, also called the Revolt of the Northern Earls or Northern Rebellion, was an unsuccessful attempt by Catholic nobles from Northern England to depose Queen Elizabeth I of England and replace her with Mary, Queen of Scots.-Background:When Elizabeth I succeeded her...

 (1569–1570), and at Flanders
Flanders
Flanders is the community of the Flemings but also one of the institutions in Belgium, and a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. "Flanders" can also refer to the northern part of Belgium that contains Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp...

 in the Anglo-Spanish War (1585), although in what capacity is unknown.

Oxford was noted for his literary and theatrical patronage. Between 1564 and 1599 some 28 books were dedicated to him, including works by Golding
Arthur Golding
Arthur Golding was an English translator of more than 30 works from Latin into English. While primarily remembered today for his translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses because of its influence on Shakespeare's works, in his own time he was most famous for his translation of Caesar's Commentaries, and...

, Lyly
John Lyly
John Lyly was an English writer, best known for his books Euphues,The Anatomy of Wit and Euphues and His England. Lyly's linguistic style, originating in his first books, is known as Euphuism.-Biography:John Lyly was born in Kent, England, in 1553/1554...

, Greene and Munday
Anthony Munday
Anthony Munday was an English dramatist and miscellaneous writer. The chief interest in Munday for the modern reader lies in his collaboration with Shakespeare and others on the play Sir Thomas More and his writings on Robin Hood.-Biography:He was once thought to have been born in 1553, because...

. He held the lease of the first Blackfriars Theatre
Blackfriars Theatre
Blackfriars Theatre was the name of a theatre in the Blackfriars district of the City of London during the Renaissance. The theatre began as a venue for child actors associated with the Queen's chapel choirs; in this function, the theatre hosted some of the most innovative drama of Elizabeth and...

 in the mid-1580s, produced entertainments at Court
Hampton Court Palace
Hampton Court Palace is a royal palace in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, Greater London; it has not been inhabited by the British royal family since the 18th century. The palace is located south west of Charing Cross and upstream of Central London on the River Thames...

, and sponsored companies of players and musicians.

Early life


Heir to the second oldest continuously inherited earldom in England, Edward de Vere was born 12 April 1550, the only son of John de Vere, 16th Earl of Oxford
John de Vere, 16th Earl of Oxford
John de Vere, 16th Earl of Oxford was born to John de Vere, 15th Earl of Oxford and Elizabeth Trussel, daughter of Edward Trussel...

 and his second wife, Margery Golding (died 1568). The name Edward, unique in the de Vere family, was perhaps a compliment to the young King Edward VI, who bestowed a 'standing cup gilt' at Oxford's christening five days later on 17 April. The young Oxford was styled Viscount
Viscount
A viscount or viscountess is a member of the European nobility whose comital title ranks usually, as in the British peerage, above a baron, below an earl or a count .-Etymology:...

 Bulbeck, and raised in the Reformed Faith
English Reformation
The English Reformation was the series of events in 16th-century England by which the Church of England broke away from the authority of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church....

. He had a sister, Mary (c. 1554–1624). and an older half-sister, Katherine (1538–1600), the daughter of his father's first marriage to Dorothy Neville (d. 1548).

While never of consequence in the Tudor court, the 16th Earl's support for Queen Mary was instrumental in her accession to the throne in 1553, though he was given no preferment by her. During her reign he was active as the principal magnate in Essex. The Earl was known as a sportsman, and among his son's earliest accomplishments were mastery of riding, shooting and hawking
Falconry
Falconry is "the taking of wild quarry in its natural state and habitat by means of a trained raptor". There are two traditional terms used to describe a person involved in falconry: a falconer flies a falcon; an austringer flies a hawk or an eagle...

. Like several noblemen of his day, he retained a company of actors. His circle included the scholar and diplomat Sir Thomas Smith and his brothers-in-law, the poets Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey
Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey
Henry Howard, KG, , known as The Earl of Surrey although he never was a peer, was an English aristocrat, and one of the founders of English Renaissance poetry.-Life:...

 and Edmund Sheffield, 1st Baron Sheffield, and the translator Arthur Golding
Arthur Golding
Arthur Golding was an English translator of more than 30 works from Latin into English. While primarily remembered today for his translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses because of its influence on Shakespeare's works, in his own time he was most famous for his translation of Caesar's Commentaries, and...

.

Edward de Vere, like most children of his class, was raised by surrogate parents. Oxford lived in the household, and under the supervision of, Sir Thomas Smith, and was tutored there by Thomas Fowle
Thomas Fowle
Thomas Fowle was a Church of England clergyman, Fellow of St John's College, Cambridge, rector of Redgrave and Hinderclay, Suffolk, and prebendary of Norwich Cathedral....

, a former fellow
Fellow
A fellow in the broadest sense is someone who is an equal or a comrade. The term fellow is also used to describe a person, particularly by those in the upper social classes. It is most often used in an academic context: a fellow is often part of an elite group of learned people who are awarded...

 of St John's College, Cambridge
St John's College, Cambridge
St John's College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge. The college's alumni include nine Nobel Prize winners, six Prime Ministers, three archbishops, at least two princes, and three Saints....

. The evidence as to when Oxford resided with Smith is unclear and Smith was not among those granted annuities by the 16th Earl, who did however grant an annuity on 4 May 1558 to Fowle 'for service in teaching Edward Vere, my son, Viscount Bulbeck, done & to be done'. In November of that year, Oxford matriculated as an impubes, or immature fellow-commoner, of Queens' College
Queens' College, Cambridge
Queens' College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge, England.The college was founded in 1448 by Margaret of Anjou , and refounded in 1465 by Elizabeth Woodville...

, Cambridge
University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge is a public research university located in Cambridge, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest university in both the United Kingdom and the English-speaking world , and the seventh-oldest globally...

 in November 1558, and remained there one year. In January 1559 he was admitted as a fellow commoner of St John's
St John's College, Cambridge
St John's College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge. The college's alumni include nine Nobel Prize winners, six Prime Ministers, three archbishops, at least two princes, and three Saints....

, while remaining resident at Queens'. His name disappears from the Queens' college registers in March 1559, and he did not graduate BA
Bachelor of Arts
A Bachelor of Arts , from the Latin artium baccalaureus, is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, the sciences, or both...

 with his classmates in the Lent term
Lent term
Lent term is the name of the spring academic term at the following British universities:*University of Cambridge*Kings College London*London School of Economics and Political Science*Exeter University*University of Lancaster...

 of 1562.

Wardship



On the death of his father on 3 August 1562, the twelve-year-old Oxford became the 17th Earl of Oxford
Earl of Oxford
Earl of Oxford is a dormant title in the Peerage of England, held for several centuries by the de Vere family from 1141 until the death of the 20th earl in 1703. The Veres were also hereditary holders of the office of master or Lord Great Chamberlain from 1133 until the death of the 18th Earl in 1625...

 and Lord Great Chamberlain
Lord Great Chamberlain
The Lord Great Chamberlain of England is the sixth of the Great Officers of State, ranking beneath the Lord Privy Seal and above the Lord High Constable...

 of England, and heir to an estate whose annual income, though assessed at approximately £2000, may have run as high as £3,500. Because the 16th Earl held land from the Crown by knight service, Oxford became a royal ward
Ward (law)
In law, a ward is someone placed under the protection of a legal guardian. A court may take responsibility for the legal protection of an individual, usually either a child or incapacitated person, in which case the ward is known as a ward of the court, or a ward of the state, in the United States,...

 of the young Queen Elizabeth
Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty...

, and was placed in the household of Sir William Cecil
William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley
William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley , KG was an English statesman, the chief advisor of Queen Elizabeth I for most of her reign, twice Secretary of State and Lord High Treasurer from 1572...

, Secretary of State
Secretary of State (England)
In the Kingdom of England, the title of Secretary of State came into being near the end of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I , the usual title before that having been King's Clerk, King's Secretary, or Principal Secretary....

 and Master of the Court of Wards. Under Cecil's supervision Oxford studied French, Latin, writing, drawing, cosmography
Cosmography
Cosmography is the science that maps the general features of the universe, describing both heaven and Earth...

, dancing, riding and shooting. The first of Oxford's extant letters, dated 23 August 1563, is in French. During his first year at Cecil House
Cecil House
Cecil House refers to two historical mansions on The Strand, London, in the vicinity of the Savoy. The first was a 16th century house on the north side, where the Strand Palace Hotel now stands...

 Oxford was tutored by Laurence Nowell
Laurence Nowell
Two sixteenth-century English cousins, one an antiquarian and the other a churchman, were named Laurence Nowell. Their biographies have been confused since the seventeenth century.-Antiquarian:Laurence Nowell Two sixteenth-century English cousins, one an antiquarian and the other a churchman, were...

, one of the founding fathers of Anglo-Saxon studies. The brevity of his tutorship has been interpreted variously as a sign of Oxford's precocity, or evidence he was intractable. In May 1564 Arthur Golding, in his dedication to his Th’ Abridgement of the Histories of Trogus Pompeius, attributed to his young nephew an interest in ancient history and contemporary events.

In 1563 the legitimacy of the marriage of Oxford’s parents was challenged in the Ecclesiastical court
Ecclesiastical court
An ecclesiastical court is any of certain courts having jurisdiction mainly in spiritual or religious matters. In the Middle Ages in many areas of Europe these courts had much wider powers than before the development of nation states...

 by a petition to Archbishop Matthew Parker
Matthew Parker
Matthew Parker was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1559 until his death in 1575. He was also an influential theologian and arguably the co-founder of Anglican theological thought....

 filed by Oxford’s half-sister, Katherine, then the wife of Edward Windsor, 3rd Baron Windsor
Edward Windsor, 3rd Baron Windsor
Sir Edward Windsor, 3rd Baron Windsor was an English peer.His wife was Katherine de Vere , an older half-sister of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford...

 (c. 1532–1575). On 28 June 1563 Oxford’s maternal uncle Arthur Golding replied on behalf of Oxford and his sister, Mary, requesting the Archbishop to stay the petition on the ground that legal proceedings against a ward of the Queen could not be maintained in any other court without prior licence from the Court of Wards and Liveries
Court of Wards and Liveries
The Court of Wards and Liveries was a court established during the reign of Henry VIII in England. Its purpose was to administer a system of feudal dues; but as well as the revenue collection, the court was also responsible for wardship and livery issues....

. Some time prior to October that year, Oxford's mother, Margery, Countess of Oxford, remarried. Her second husband was the Queen's Gentleman Pensioner, Charles Tyrrell, sometimes identified as the sixth son of Sir Thomas Tyrrell of East Horndon
East Horndon
East Horndon is a village in the south of the Brentwood borough of Essex and in the East of England. It is situated just south of the A127 road near Herongate...

. Oxford's mother died five years later, on 2 December 1568, and was buried beside her first husband at Earls Colne
Earls Colne
Earls Colne is a village in Essex, England named after the River Colne, on which it stands, and the Earls of Oxford who held the manor of Earls Colne from before 1086 to 1703.-Manor of Earls Colne:...

. Oxford's stepfather, Charles Tyrrell, died in March 1570, leaving in his will a bequest to Oxford of 'one great horse' which de Vere had formerly given him. Oxford never spoke of his step-father thereafter except contemptuously.

On 10 August 1564 Oxford was among 17 noblemen, knights and esquires in the Queen's entourage who were awarded the honorary degree of Master of Arts by the University of Cambridge. On 6 September 1566 Oxford and others accompanying the Queen were granted honorary M.A. degrees by the University of Oxford. On 1 February 1567 he was admitted to Gray's Inn
Gray's Inn
The Honourable Society of Gray's Inn, commonly known as Gray's Inn, is one of the four Inns of Court in London. To be called to the Bar and practise as a barrister in England and Wales, an individual must belong to one of these Inns...

. In later years Burghley was to upbraid Oxford frequently for his prodigal extravagance. However he allowed de Vere to spend upwards of £1,000 per annum during the wardship: his tailor's bills alone, from the age of 12 to 16, totalled some £600.

On 23 July 1567 the seventeen-year-old Oxford killed Thomas Brincknell, an under-cook in the Cecil household, while practising fencing with Edward Baynham, a Westminster tailor, in the backyard of Cecil House in the Strand
Strand, London
Strand is a street in the City of Westminster, London, England. The street is just over three-quarters of a mile long. It currently starts at Trafalgar Square and runs east to join Fleet Street at Temple Bar, which marks the boundary of the City of London at this point, though its historical length...

. At the coroner
Coroner
A coroner is a government official who* Investigates human deaths* Determines cause of death* Issues death certificates* Maintains death records* Responds to deaths in mass disasters* Identifies unknown dead* Other functions depending on local laws...

's inquest
Inquest
Inquests in England and Wales are held into sudden and unexplained deaths and also into the circumstances of discovery of a certain class of valuable artefacts known as "treasure trove"...

 held the following day, the 17 jurymen, one of whom was Oxford's servant, and another identified as Cecil's protégé the future historian Raphael Holinshed
Raphael Holinshed
Raphael Holinshed was an English chronicler, whose work, commonly known as Holinshed's Chronicles, was one of the major sources used by William Shakespeare for a number of his plays....

, found that Brincknell was drunk and instigated by the devil when he ran upon de Vere's foil
Foil (fencing)
A foil is a type of weapon used in fencing. It is the most common weapon in terms of usage in competition, and is usually the choice for elementary classes for fencing in general.- Components:...

, causing his own death. Cecil later recalled that he attempted to have the jury find for Oxford as acting in self-defence rather than Brincknell committing suicide.

By an indenture
Indenture
An indenture is a legal contract reflecting a debt or purchase obligation, specifically referring to two types of practices: in historical usage, an indentured servant status, and in modern usage, an instrument used for commercial debt or real estate transaction.-Historical usage:An indenture is a...

 of 1 July 1562 the 16th Earl had contracted with Henry Hastings, 3rd Earl of Huntingdon
Henry Hastings, 3rd Earl of Huntingdon
Sir Henry Hastings, 3rd Earl of Huntingdon, KG KB was the eldest son of Francis Hastings, 2nd Earl of Huntingdon and Catherine Pole.-Ancestry:...

 a marriage for Oxford with one of Huntingdon's sisters. The indenture provided that when he reached the age of 18 in 1568 Oxford could choose to marry either Elizabeth
Elizabeth Somerset, Countess of Worcester (1556–1621)
Elizabeth Hastings, later Countess of Worcester was a noblewoman born in Scotland to Francis Hastings, 2nd Earl of Huntingdon and Catherine Pole. In December 1571, she married Sir Edward Somerset, 4th Earl of Worcester, son of Sir William Somerset, 3rd Earl of Worcester and Christian North...

 or Mary Hastings. However after the death of the 16th Earl the indenture was allowed to lapse. Elizabeth Hastings later married Edward Somerset
Edward Somerset, 4th Earl of Worcester
Edward Somerset, 4th Earl of Worcester, KG, Earl Marshal was an English aristocrat. He was an important advisor to King James I, serving as Lord Privy Seal....

, while Mary Hastings died unmarried.

On 22 April 1569 Oxford received his first vote, cast by his kinsman Lord Howard of Effingham
William Howard, 1st Baron Howard of Effingham
William Howard, 1st Baron Howard of Effingham , was the eldest son of Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk by his second wife, Agnes Tilney...

, for membership in the Order of the Garter
Order of the Garter
The Most Noble Order of the Garter, founded in 1348, is the highest order of chivalry, or knighthood, existing in England. The order is dedicated to the image and arms of St...

, a dignity he was never to attain, although he received many votes over the years.

Records of books purchased for Oxford in 1569 attest to his continued interest in history, as well as literature and philosophy. Among them were editions of Chaucer, Plutarch
Plutarch
Plutarch then named, on his becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus , c. 46 – 120 AD, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia...

 (in French), two books in Italian, and folio editions of Cicero
Cicero
Marcus Tullius Cicero , was a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the equestrian order, and is widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.He introduced the Romans to the chief...

 and Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

 (probably in Latin). In the same year Thomas Underdown
Thomas Underdown
Thomas Underdown, also spelled Underdowne , was a translator. He translated the Æthiopian History of Heliodorus in 1566, and the Ibis of Ovid ....

e dedicated his translation of the Æthiopian History
Aethiopica
Aethiopica or Theagenes and Chariclea is an ancient Greek romance or novel. It was written by Heliodorus of Emesa and is his only known work.-Author:...

 of Heliodorus
Heliodorus of Emesa
Heliodorus of Emesa, from Emesa, Syria, was a Greek writer generally dated to the third century AD who is known for the ancient Greek novel or romance called the Aethiopica or sometimes "Theagenes and Chariclea"....

 to Oxford, praising his 'haughty courage', 'great skill' and 'sufficiency of learning'.
After recovering from an illness, Oxford petitioned Cecil on 24 November 1569 for a foreign military posting, saying that he had always wanted to "see the wars and services in strange and foreign parts". A Catholic rebellion, the Revolt of the Northern Earls
Rising of the North
The Rising of the North of 1569, also called the Revolt of the Northern Earls or Northern Rebellion, was an unsuccessful attempt by Catholic nobles from Northern England to depose Queen Elizabeth I of England and replace her with Mary, Queen of Scots.-Background:When Elizabeth I succeeded her...

, had broken out that year, and after a delay (despite an interview with Oxford, Queen Elizabeth
Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty...

 was hesitant to grant him leave), Cecil obtained a position for de Vere under the Earl of Sussex
Thomas Radclyffe, 3rd Earl of Sussex
Thomas Radclyffe 3rd Earl of Sussex was Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland during the Tudor period of English history, and a leading courtier during the reign of Elizabeth I.- Family:...

 in the Scottish campaigns the following spring, although in what capacity is unknown.
In 1570, Oxford according to several reports, became interested in occultism, and studied magic
Magic (paranormal)
Magic is the claimed art of manipulating aspects of reality either by supernatural means or through knowledge of occult laws unknown to science. It is in contrast to science, in that science does not accept anything not subject to either direct or indirect observation, and subject to logical...

 and conjuring, having made the acquaintance of the mathematician and astrologer John Dee
John Dee
John Dee was a Welsh mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, occultist, navigator, imperialist, and consultant to Queen Elizabeth I.John Dee may also refer to:* John Dee , Basketball coach...

 that winter, to whom he wrote 'favourable letters'.

Coming of age



On his coming of age on 12 April 1571, Oxford reached the age of majority, and took his seat in the House of Lords
House of Lords
The House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the House of Commons, it meets in the Palace of Westminster....

. Great expectations attended the young Oxford, with Sir George Buc
George Buck
Sir George Buck was an antiquarian who served as Master of the Revels to King James I of England.George Buck was educated at the Middle Temple, and served on the successful Cádiz expedition of 1596 under Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex...

 recalling how honourable acquaintances at the time said that 'he was much more like . .to acquire a new erldome then to wast & lose an old erldom', which however he proceeded to do.

He was now, technically, freed of Burghley's control, and entitled to an income of £666, though properties set aside to pay his father's debts would not come his way for over another decade (1582). One third of a titled ward's estate reverted to the Crown
The Crown
The Crown is a corporation sole that in the Commonwealth realms and any provincial or state sub-divisions thereof represents the legal embodiment of governance, whether executive, legislative, or judicial...

. In July, the Queen demanded a payment of £3,000 for his wardship and a further £4,000 for 'suing his livery
Livery
A livery is a uniform, insignia or symbol adorning, in a non-military context, a person, an object or a vehicle that denotes a relationship between the wearer of the livery and an individual or corporate body. Often, elements of the heraldry relating to the individual or corporate body feature in...

'. Oxford signed an obligation to pay double the sum, if he failed to pay the £7,000 when it fell due, effectively risking a total obligation of £21,000.

The year saw him participating in the tilt, tourney and barrier
Hastilude
Hastilude is a generic term used in the Middle Ages to refer to many kinds of martial games. The word comes from the Latin hastiludium, literally "lance game"'...

 before the Queen in May, an account of which survives in Stow's
John Stow
John Stow was an English historian and antiquarian.-Early life:The son of Thomas Stow, a tallow-chandler, he was born about 1525 in London, in the parish of St Michael, Cornhill. His father's whole rent for his house and garden was only 6s. 6d. a year, and Stow in his youth fetched milk every...

 Annals. His prowess won admiring comments from participants. In August, Oxford attended on Paul de Foix
Paul de Foix
Paul de Foix de Carmain was a French prelate and diplomat.He was son of Jean de Foix, comte de Carmain, by his wife Aldonce. He studied Greek and Roman literature at Paris, and jurisprudence at Toulouse, where shortly after finishing his curriculum he delivered a course of lectures on civil law,...

, who had come to England to negotiate a marriage between the Queen and the Duke of Anjou, the future King Henry III of France
Henry III of France
Henry III was King of France from 1574 to 1589. As Henry of Valois, he was the first elected monarch of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth with the dual titles of King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1573 to 1575.-Childhood:Henry was born at the Royal Château de Fontainebleau,...

. He began to publish his poetry date to this period and, with Edward Dyer
Edward Dyer
Sir Edward Dyer was an English courtier and poet.-Life:The son of Sir Thomas Dyer, Kt., he was born at Sharpham Park, Glastonbury, Somerset. He was educated, according to Anthony Wood, either at Balliol College, Oxford or at Broadgates Hall , and left after taking a degree...

, figured as one of the first courtiers to introduce vernacular verse to the Queen's court.

Sir William Cecil had been raised to the peerage on 25 February 1571 as Lord Burghley, and by the summer of that year Oxford declared an interest in Cecil's eldest daughter, Anne
Anne Cecil
Anne Cecil, Countess of Oxford was the daughter of statesman William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley, the chief advisor of Queen Elizabeth I of England, and the translator Mildred Cooke. In 1571, she became the first wife of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford...

, aged 14, and received the queen's consent to the marriage. She had been pledged to Philip Sidney
Philip Sidney
Sir Philip Sidney was an English poet, courtier and soldier, and is remembered as one of the most prominent figures of the Elizabethan Age...

 in August 1569, and others had apparently sought her hand. Cecil was displeased with the arrangement, apparently having entertained the idea of her marrying the earl of Rutland
Edward Manners, 3rd Earl of Rutland
Edward Manners, 3rd Earl of Rutland, 15th Baron de Ros of Helmsley, KG was the son of Henry Manners, 2nd Earl of Rutland, whose titles he inherited in 1563....

 instead. Oxford's rank, however, trumped all else. The wedding was deferred until Anne's maturity and then celebrated in the presence of the Queen, together with the marriage of Lady Elizabeth Hastings and Lord Herbert
Edward Somerset, 4th Earl of Worcester
Edward Somerset, 4th Earl of Worcester, KG, Earl Marshal was an English aristocrat. He was an important advisor to King James I, serving as Lord Privy Seal....

, on 16 December 1571 at Whitehall
Palace of Whitehall
The Palace of Whitehall was the main residence of the English monarchs in London from 1530 until 1698 when all except Inigo Jones's 1622 Banqueting House was destroyed by fire...

, tying two young English nobles into Protestant families, as England's Catholic enemies noted. Burghley gave Oxford a marriage settlement
Dowry
A dowry is the money, goods, or estate that a woman brings forth to the marriage. It contrasts with bride price, which is paid to the bride's parents, and dower, which is property settled on the bride herself by the groom at the time of marriage. The same culture may simultaneously practice both...

 of £800 worth of land and a cash gift of £3,000, an amount equal to Oxford's livery fees and probably intended for such use, but the money vanished without trace. Oxford assigned Anne a jointure
Jointure
Jointure is, in law, a provision for a wife after the death of her husband. As defined by Sir Edward Coke, it is "a competent livelihood of freehold for the wife, of lands or tenements, to take effect presently in possession or profit after the death of her husband for the life of the wife at...

 of £669 6s 8d. Although he had reached the age of majority and had married, Oxford was still not in possession of his inheritance. After suing his livery
Livery
A livery is a uniform, insignia or symbol adorning, in a non-military context, a person, an object or a vehicle that denotes a relationship between the wearer of the livery and an individual or corporate body. Often, elements of the heraldry relating to the individual or corporate body feature in...

, Oxford was finally licenced to enter on his lands on 30 May 1572. However this privilege came at a price.

On 2 June 1572 one of Oxford's closest kinsmen, his first cousin, Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk
Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk
Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk, KG, Earl Marshal was an English nobleman.Norfolk was the son of the poet Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey. He was taught as a child by John Foxe, the Protestant martyrologist, who remained a lifelong recipient of Norfolk's patronage...

 was executed on Tower Hill
Tower Hill
Tower Hill is an elevated spot northwest of the Tower of London, just outside the limits of the City of London, in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. Formerly it was part of the Tower Liberty under the direct administrative control of Tower...

. Oxford had petitioned both the Queen and Lord Burghley on Norfolk's behalf, and it was also reported that he had provided a ship to help Norfolk escape to Spain.

On 11 May 1573 Gilbert Talbot
Gilbert Talbot, 7th Earl of Shrewsbury
Gilbert Talbot, 7th Earl of Shrewsbury, 7th Earl of Waterford, KG was was a peer in the peerage of England.He was the eldest surviving son of George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury, by the latter's first marriage to Gertrude Manners, daughter of the first Earl of Rutland.In 1568, Gilbert was...

 wrote to his father, the Earl of Shrewsbury
George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury
George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury, 6th Earl of Waterford, 12th Baron Talbot, KG, Earl Marshal was a 16th century English statesman.-Life:...

, of the Queen's favour towards Oxford:
My Lord of Oxford is lately grown into great credit, for the Queen's Majesty delighteth more in his personage and his dancing and valiantness than any other. I think Sussex doth back him all that he can; if it were not for his fickle head, he would pass any of them shortly. My Lady Burghley unwisely has declared herself, as it were, jealous, which is come to the Queen's ear, whereat she has been not a little offended with her, but now she is reconciled again.


Allusive language in a letter from Sir Christopher Hatton to the Queen in June 1573 suggests rivalry between Hatton and Oxford for the Queen's favour ('reserve it to the sheep; he hath no tooth to bite where the boar's tusk may both raze and tear').

In the summer of 1573 Oxford made plans to travel abroad. In a document prepared in anticipation of his foreign travel, he estimated his current debts to be £6000. For reasons which are unclear the trip did not take place.

In a letter to his father on 28 June 1574 Gilbert Talbot reported discord between Oxford and the Queen:
The young Earl of Oxford, of that ancient and Very family of the Veres, had a cause or suit that now came before the Queen, which she did not answer so favourably as was expected, checking him, it seems for his unthriftiness. And hereupon his behaviour before her gave some offence.


Three days later, on 1 July 1574, Oxford left England without licence, reportedly travelling to Calais
Calais
Calais is a town in Northern France in the department of Pas-de-Calais, of which it is a sub-prefecture. Although Calais is by far the largest city in Pas-de-Calais, the department's capital is its third-largest city of Arras....

 in the company of Lord Edward Seymour (1548–1574), and from thence to Flanders
Flanders
Flanders is the community of the Flemings but also one of the institutions in Belgium, and a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. "Flanders" can also refer to the northern part of Belgium that contains Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp...

, and 'carrying a great sum of money with him'. The Queen recalled him, and Oxford was back in England by 28 July. Although the Queen's displeasure was somewhat mollified by his return, it was reported that she 'doth not mean to wrap up his contempt without using some kind of reprehension, that he may not think but that his fault is not only to be reproved, but were also to be corrected'. By 21 August Oxford had won back the Queen's favour because of his loyalty to her when approached by her exiled rebel subjects in Flanders, and had secured from her a promise to grant him licence to travel.

Foreign travel


The Queen issued Oxford's licence to travel on 24 January 1575, and provided him with letters of introduction to foreign monarchs. Prior to his departure Oxford entered into two indentures. By the first indenture, dated 20 January 1575, he sold his manors in Cornwall, Staffordshire and Wiltshire to three trustees for £6000. By the second indenture, dated 30 January, he entailed the lands of the earldom on his first cousin, Hugh Vere, giving as his reason that he had no issue of his body as yet born, and if he should die abroad without heirs the lands of the earldom would therefore descend to his sister, Mary, his next of kin of the whole blood. The indenture also provided for payment of debts in an attached schedule amounting to £9096 10s 8/12d, of which sum £3457 was owed to the Queen in the Court of Wards.

Oxford left England in the first week of February, and on 6 March was presented by Dr. Valentine Dale
Valentine Dale
-Life:He supplicated the university of Oxford in 1541 for the degree of B.A., but does not appear to have been admitted. He was, however, elected a fellow of All Souls' College in 1542...

 to the French King and Queen, who 'used him honourably'. In mid-March he travelled to Strasbourg
Strasbourg
Strasbourg is the capital and principal city of the Alsace region in eastern France and is the official seat of the European Parliament. Located close to the border with Germany, it is the capital of the Bas-Rhin département. The city and the region of Alsace are historically German-speaking,...

, where he met with the scholar Sturmius, and from thence he made his way to Venice via Milan. On 3 January 1576 Oxford wrote to Lord Burghley from Siena
Siena
Siena is a city in Tuscany, Italy. It is the capital of the province of Siena.The historic centre of Siena has been declared by UNESCO a World Heritage Site. It is one of the nation's most visited tourist attractions, with over 163,000 international arrivals in 2008...

 mentioning complaints that had reached him concerning the demands of his creditors, including the Queen and his sister, and directing that more of his land be sold to pay them. On 2 March 1576 Oxford's licence to travel was renewed for a further year, but for unknown reasons Oxford left Venice
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

 on 5 March, intending to return home by way of Lyons and Paris. One report published 15 years later has him as far south as Sicily. A note stating that Benedict Spinola
Benedict Spinola
Benedict Spinola , also called Benedick Spinola, and in Italian Benedetto Spinola, was a 16th century Genoese merchant of the Spinola family who lived his whole adult life in the City of London, then the principal seaport of the Kingdom of England...

 had caused £3761 4s 5d to be paid to Oxford in France and Venice indicates that the Spinola brothers had between them paid him out close to £4000 for his 15 month long continental tour, while over one hundred tradesmen in England were seeking settlement of debts totalling thousands of pounds.

On Oxford's return across the Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

 in April, his ship was hijacked by pirates from Flushing
Flushing, Netherlands
Vlissingen is a municipality and a city in the southwestern Netherlands on the former island of Walcheren. With its strategic location between the Scheldt river and the North Sea, Vlissingen has been an important harbour for centuries. It was granted city rights in 1315. In the 17th century...

, who according to the French ambassador, Mauvissiere, took his possessions, stripped him to his shirt, and might have murdered him had not one of them recognized him.

During Oxford's absence from England, his wife, Anne, had given birth to a daughter, Elizabeth
Elizabeth de Vere, Countess of Derby
Elizabeth de Vere, Countess of Derby, Lord of Mann was an English noblewoman and the eldest daughter of Elizabethan courtier, poet, and playwright Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford....

, on 2 July 1575. The news of Anne's pregnancy had reached Oxford on 17 March 1575 while he was in Paris, at which time he wrote to Lord Burghley expressing his pleasure that what Lord Burghley had mentioned doubtfully in an earlier letter had turned out to be true:
My Lord, your letters have made me a glad man, for these last have put me in assurance of that good fortune which your former mentioned doubtfully. I thank God therefore with your Lordship that it hath pleased him to make me a father where your Lordship is a grandfather. And if it be a boy I shall likewise be the partaker with you in a greater contentation. But thereby to take an occasion to return, I am far off from that opinion, for now it hath pleased God to give me a son of mine own (as I hope it is), methinks I have the better occasion to travel sith whatsoever becometh of me I leave behind me one to supply my duty and service either to my prince or else my country.


Although Elizabeth was born at the beginning of July, for unexplained reasons Oxford did not learn of the birth until 24 September. When he returned to England, he refused to live with his wife and took rooms at Charing Cross
Charing Cross
Charing Cross denotes the junction of Strand, Whitehall and Cockspur Street, just south of Trafalgar Square in central London, England. It is named after the now demolished Eleanor cross that stood there, in what was once the hamlet of Charing. The site of the cross is now occupied by an equestrian...

. Although he never named the cause openly, Oxford appears to have been told that Anne's daughter, Elizabeth, was not his child. The most Oxford would allow himself to say on the subject to Lord Burghley was that:
Until I can better satisfy or advertise myself of some mislikes I am not determined as touching my wife to accompany her. What they are, because some are not to be spoken of or written upon as imperfections, I will not deal withal; some that otherways discontent me I will not blaze or publish until it please me. And last of all, I mean not to weary myself any more with such troubles and molestations as I have endured.


Numerous memoranda compiled by Lord Burghley at the time reveal a flood of complaints by Oxford against his wife's family, but the crux of the matter seems to have been his unspoken conviction that Anne's daughter, Elizabeth, was not his child. He allowed Anne to attend the Queen at court, but only when he himself was not present, and stipulated that Lord Burghley must make no further appeals to him on Anne's behalf.

Courtier


In 1576 eight poems by Oxford were published in The Paradise of Dainty Devises, a collection in which all the poems were meant to be sung. Oxford's eight poems in the Paradise 'create a dramatic break with everything known to have been written at the Elizabethan court up to that time.'

On 16 February 1577 Thomas Screven reported to the Earl of Rutland a rumour that Oxford's sister Mary would marry Lord Gerald Fitzgerald (1559–1580). By 2 July, however, the Duchess of Suffolk
Catherine Willoughby
Catherine Willoughby, Duchess of Suffolk, suo jure 12th Baroness Willoughby de Eresby , was an English noblewoman living at the royal courts of King Henry VIII, King Edward VI and later, Queen Elizabeth I...

 reported in a letter to Lord Burghley that 'my wise son has gone very far with my Lady Mary Vere, I fear too far to turn'. Both the Duchess and her husband Richard Bertie
Richard Bertie (courtier)
Richard Bertie was an English landowner and religious evangelical. He was the second husband of Catherine Willoughby, 12th Baroness Willoughby de Eresby, Duchess Dowager of Suffolk and a woman who Henry VIII was considering as his seventh wife shortly before his death; she also received a proposal...

 initially opposed the marriage, and the Queen withheld her consent momentarily. Oxford's own opposition to the tie was so vehement that Mary's prospective husband Peregrine Bertie
Peregrine Bertie, 13th Baron Willoughby de Eresby
thumb|Peregrine Bertie, 13th Baron Willoughby de EresbyPeregrine Bertie, 13th Baron Willoughby de Eresby was the son of Catherine Willoughby, 12th Baroness Willoughby de Eresby, and Richard Bertie. Bertie was Lady Willoughby de Eresby's second husband, the first being Charles Brandon, Duke of...

, later Lord Willoughby d'Eresby, feared for his life for some time. Mary did however marry him sometime after Christmas 1577 and before 12 March 1578.

Although details are unclear, there is evidence that in 1577 Oxford was again attempting to see service in the French Wars of Religion
French Wars of Religion
The French Wars of Religion is the name given to a period of civil infighting and military operations, primarily fought between French Catholics and Protestants . The conflict involved the factional disputes between the aristocratic houses of France, such as the House of Bourbon and House of Guise...

 on the side of King Henry III
Henry III of France
Henry III was King of France from 1574 to 1589. As Henry of Valois, he was the first elected monarch of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth with the dual titles of King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1573 to 1575.-Childhood:Henry was born at the Royal Château de Fontainebleau,...

.

In 1577 John Brooke dedicated to Oxford a translation entitled The Staff of Christian Faith, 'the only work by the popular writer Guy de Brès to be printed in English'.

In July of the same year John Stanhope
John Stanhope, 1st Baron Stanhope
John Stanhope, 1st Baron Stanhope of Harrington was an English courtier, politician and peer.-Life:He was the third son of Sir Michael Stanhope, born in Yorkshire, but brought up in Nottinghamshire after his father's attainder for treason in 1552...

 wrote to Lord Burghley indicating that as a result of Oxford's suit to the Queen for the grant of Castle Rising
Castle Rising (castle)
Castle Rising Castle is a ruined castle situated in the village of Castle Rising in the English county of Norfolk. It was built in about 1138 by William d'Aubigny, 1st Earl of Arundel, who also owned Arundel Castle. Much of its square keep, surrounded by a defensive mount, is intact...

, a property which had been forfeited to the Crown on Norfolk's attainder
Attainder
In English criminal law, attainder or attinctura is the metaphorical 'stain' or 'corruption of blood' which arises from being condemned for a serious capital crime . It entails losing not only one's property and hereditary titles, but typically also the right to pass them on to one's heirs...

 in 1572, 'some unkindness and strangeness ensueth betwixt my Lord of Surrey
Philip Howard, 20th Earl of Arundel
Saint Philip Howard, 20th Earl of Arundel was an English nobleman. He was canonised by Pope Paul VI in 1970, as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales...

, my Lord Harry
Henry Howard, 1st Earl of Northampton
Henry Howard, 1st Earl of Northampton was a significant English aristocrat and courtier. He was suspect as a crypto-Catholic throughout his life, and went through periods of royal disfavour, in which his reputation suffered greatly. He was distinguished for learning, artistic culture and his...

, and his Lordship'.

In 1577 Oxford invested £25 in the second of Martin Frobisher’s
Martin Frobisher
Sir Martin Frobisher was an English seaman who made three voyages to the New World to look for the Northwest Passage...

 expeditions in search of the Northwest Passage
Northwest Passage
The Northwest Passage is a sea route through the Arctic Ocean, along the northern coast of North America via waterways amidst the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans...

.

On 15 December 1577 the Duchess of Suffolk wrote to Lord Burghley describing a plan she and Oxford's sister Mary had devised so that Oxford could see his daughter Elizabeth. Whether the scheme came to fruition is unknown.

On 15 January 1578, the Queen's grant of Castle Rising to Oxford was finalized. As noted earlier, Oxford had sold his inherited lands in Cornwall, Staffordshire and Wiltshire prior to his continental tour. On his return to England in 1576 he sold his manors in Devonshire. Sales continued apace in the following two years, and by the end of 1578 he had sold at least 7 more manors, including his recent grant of Castle Rising.

In 1578 Oxford sank £3000 into the third Frobisher expedition. The ‘gold’ ore brought back by Frobisher turned out to be worthless, and Oxford lost his entire investment.

In the summer of 1578 Oxford attended the Queen on her progress through East Anglia
East Anglia
East Anglia is a traditional name for a region of eastern England, named after an ancient Anglo-Saxon kingdom, the Kingdom of the East Angles. The Angles took their name from their homeland Angeln, in northern Germany. East Anglia initially consisted of Norfolk and Suffolk, but upon the marriage of...

. The royal party stayed at Lord Henry Howard's
Henry Howard, 1st Earl of Northampton
Henry Howard, 1st Earl of Northampton was a significant English aristocrat and courtier. He was suspect as a crypto-Catholic throughout his life, and went through periods of royal disfavour, in which his reputation suffered greatly. He was distinguished for learning, artistic culture and his...

 residence at Audley End from 26–31 July, where Gabriel Harvey
Gabriel Harvey
Gabriel Harvey was an English writer. Harvey was a notable scholar, though his reputation suffered from his quarrel with Thomas Nashe...

 dedicated his Gratulationes Valdinenses to the Queen. The volume consists of four ‘books’, the first addressed to the Queen, the second to Leicester, the third to Lord Burghley, and the fourth to Oxford, Sir Christopher Hatton, and Philip Sidney
Philip Sidney
Sir Philip Sidney was an English poet, courtier and soldier, and is remembered as one of the most prominent figures of the Elizabethan Age...

. Harvey's encomium to Oxford is double-edged, praising his English and Latin verse and prose while encouraging him to 'put away your feeble pen, your bloodless books, your impractical writings'. A contretemps occurred during the progress in mid-August when the Queen twice requested Oxford to dance before the French ambassadors Bacqueville and Quissy, who were in England to negotiate a marriage between the Queen and the Duke of Alençon
François, Duke of Anjou
Francis, Duke of Anjou and Alençon was the youngest son of Henry II of France and Catherine de' Medici.-Early years:...

. Oxford refused on the ground that he 'would not give pleasure to Frenchmen'.

In a letter of 5 March 1579 Gilbert Talbot wrote to his father of a 'show' presented by Oxford and his kinsmen before the Queen:
It is but vain to trouble your Lordship with such shows as was showed before her Majesty this Shrovetide at night. The chiefest was a device presented by the persons of th' Earl of Oxford, th' Earl of Surrey, the Lords Thomas Howard
Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk
Admiral Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk, KG, PC was a son of Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk by his second wife Margaret Audley, Duchess of Norfolk, the daughter and heiress of the 1st Baron Audley of Walden....

 & Windsor. The device was prettier than it had hap to be performed, but the best of it (& I think the best liked) was two rich jewels which was presented to her Majesty by the 2 Earls.


On 8 April the Spanish ambassador, Mendoza
Bernardino de Mendoza
Bernardino de Mendoza was a Spanish military commander, a diplomat and a writer on military history and politics.- Life and works :Bernardino de Mendoza was born in Guadalajara, Spain around 1540...

, wrote to King Philip of Spain
Philip II of Spain
Philip II was King of Spain, Portugal, Naples, Sicily, and, while married to Mary I, King of England and Ireland. He was lord of the Seventeen Provinces from 1556 until 1581, holding various titles for the individual territories such as duke or count....

 that it had been proposed that if Alençon were to travel to England in connection with negotiations for his marriage to the Queen, Oxford, Surrey and Windsor should be hostages for his safe return. Alençon himself did not arrive in England until the end of August, but his ambassadors were in England from the 15th to the 27th of that month. Oxford was sympathetic to the proposed marriage, but Leicester and his nephew Philip Sidney were adamantly opposed to it. This difference of opinion may have triggered the well known quarrel between Oxford and Sidney on the tennis court at Whitehall. The most detailed version of the quarrel survives in the account of Sidney's friend, Fulke Greville. It is not entirely clear from Greville's account who was playing on the court when the quarrel erupted. What is clear is that Oxford 'scornfully call[ed] Sir Philip by the name of puppy', and that Sidney responded by giving Oxford the lie, averring that 'all the world knows puppies are gotten by dogs, and children by men'. All this was overheard by the French ambassadors, who 'had that day audience in those private galleries whose windows looked into the tennis court'. What happened next is not entirely clear from the conflicting accounts, but it appears that whether it was Sidney who challenged Oxford to a duel or the other way around, Oxford failed to take the duel any further, and the Queen personally took Sidney to task for not recognizing the difference between his status and Oxford's. Sir Christopher Hatton and Sidney's friend Hubert Languet
Hubert Languet
Hubert Languet was a French diplomat and reformer. The leading idea of his diplomacy was that of religious and civil liberty for the protection and expansion of Protestantism...

 also tried to dissuade Sidney from pursuing the matter, and it was eventually dropped.

Oxford was also in confrontation with Leicester about this time. A memorandum from 1579 details 'Articles whereof Oxford would have accused Leicester', and Oxford was confined to his chamber at Greenwich for a time 'about the libelling between him and my Lord of Leicester'.

In 1579 two works were dedicated to Oxford, Geoffrey Gates' Defense of Military Profession, and Anthony Munday's
Anthony Munday
Anthony Munday was an English dramatist and miscellaneous writer. The chief interest in Munday for the modern reader lies in his collaboration with Shakespeare and others on the play Sir Thomas More and his writings on Robin Hood.-Biography:He was once thought to have been born in 1553, because...

 Mirror of Mutability.

In the summer of 1580 Gabriel Harvey, apparently motivated by a desire to ingratiate himself with Leicester, satirized Oxford in verses entitled Speculum Tuscanismi in Three Proper and Witty Familiar Letters. Over a decade later, Harvey's satire was pilloried in Thomas Nashe's Strange News in 1592:
Needs he must cast up certain crude humours of English hexameter verses that lay upon his stomach; a nobleman stood in his way as he was vomiting, and from top to toe he all-to-bewrayed him with Tuscanism.


On 27 January 1580 Arthur Throckmorton wrote in his diary that Oxford had written a challenge to Sidney, and that on the 29th Oxford had been commanded to keep his chamber, not being released until 11 February. The cause of the challenge and of Oxford's confinement to quarters by the Queen is unknown.

By April 1580, Oxford had taken over the Earl of Warwick's
Ambrose Dudley, 3rd Earl of Warwick
Ambrose Dudley, 3rd Earl of Warwick, KG was an English nobleman and general, and an elder brother of Queen Elizabeth I's favourite, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester...

 playing company:
The Duttons and their fellow-players forsaking the Earl of Warwick, their master, became followers of the Earl of Oxford and wrote themselves his comedians, which certain gentlemen altered and made chameleons.


The company may have included the famous comedian, Richard Tarleton. At this time Oxford also patronized boy actors, as indicated by an entry for 1580-1 recording payment for a performance in Bristol of 'my Lord of Oxford's players', consisting of '1 man and 9 boys'.

On 9 June 1580 Lord Burghley wrote to John Hatcher, Vice-chancellor of the University of Cambridge, requesting that Oxford's Men be allowed to 'repair to that university and there to make show of such plays and interludes as have been heretofore played by them publicly, as well before the Queen's Majesty as in the city of London'. Hatcher denied the request, citing various reasons.

On 15 June 1580 Oxford purchased a tenement and seven acres of land near Aldgate
Aldgate
Aldgate was the eastern most gateway through London Wall leading from the City of London to Whitechapel and the east end of London. Aldgate gives its name to a ward of the City...

 in London from the Italian merchant Benedict Spinola for £2500. The property was known as the Great Garden of Christchurch in the parish of St Botolphs, London, and had formerly belonged to Magdalene College, Cambridge
Magdalene College, Cambridge
Magdalene College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge, England.The college was founded in 1428 as a Benedictine hostel, in time coming to be known as Buckingham College, before being refounded in 1542 as the College of St Mary Magdalene...

.

Sometime in 1580 Oxford also purchased a London residence, a mansion in Bishopsgate
Bishopsgate
Bishopsgate is a road and ward in the northeast part of the City of London, extending north from Gracechurch Street to Norton Folgate. It is named after one of the original seven gates in London Wall...

 known as Fisher's Folly. According to Lord Henry Howard, writing to the Queen in early January 1581, Oxford had paid a large sum for the property and for renovations to it.

In 1580 three works were dedicated to Oxford, John Hester's A Short Discourse . . . of Leonardo Fioravanti, Bolognese, upon Surgery, John Lyly's Euphues and his England, and Anthony Munday's Zelauto. In the dedication to Zelauto, Munday also mentioned having delivered the now lost Galien of France to Oxford for his 'courteous and gentle perusing'. Both Lyly and Munday were in Oxford's service at the time, Lyly dedicating his book to 'my very good Lord and master, Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxenford', and Munday identifying himself on the title page as 'Servant to the Right Honourable the Earl of Oxenford'. In addition, in his A Light Bundle of Lively Discourses Called Churchyard's Charge, and A Pleasant Labyrinth Called Churchyard's Chance, Thomas Churchyard
Thomas Churchyard
Thomas Churchyard , English author, was born at Shrewsbury, the son of a farmer.-Life:Churchyard received a good education, and, having speedily dissipated at court the money with which his father provided him, he entered the household of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey...

 promised to dedicate future works to Oxford.

Banishment from court



In a letter dated 11 January 1581 to King Henri III, the French ambassador, Mauvissiere, relayed a report that after his return from Italy in 1576 Oxford had made profession of the Catholic religion with some of his relatives and best friends, and that just recently, in late December 1580, Oxford had denounced three of his Catholic friends, Lord Henry Howard, Charles Arundel, and Francis Southwell, to the Queen. According to Bossy, Leicester had "dislodged Oxford from the pro-French group", that is, the group at court which favoured Queen Elizabeth's marriage to the Duke of Alençon, and had "persuaded him to make a public confession to the Queen in the ambassador's presence, accusing his former friends of becoming reconciled to Rome and conspiring against the state". Peck concurs, stating that Leicester was "intent upon rendering Sussex's allies politically useless". The Spanish ambassador, Mendoza, was also of the view that Leicester was involved, and that the incident revolved around his opposition to the Queen's projected marriage to Alençon.

The Privy Council
Privy council
A privy council is a body that advises the head of state of a nation, typically, but not always, in the context of a monarchic government. The word "privy" means "private" or "secret"; thus, a privy council was originally a committee of the monarch's closest advisors to give confidential advice on...

 ordered the arrest of Howard and Arundel, and Oxford met secretly with Arundel to enlist his support for Oxford's allegations against Howard and Southwell. According to his own later accounts of their meeting, Arundel refused Oxford's offer, and he and Howard sought asylum with Mendoza, who later wrote to King Philip of Spain that he accorded them sanctuary as Catholics to save their lives. On being assured they would only be placed under house arrest in a gentleman's house, they gave themselves up.

Howard and Arundel were then interrogated, and released from the Tower to the custody of members of the Privy Council. During the first weeks after their arrest they issued a stream of allegations against Oxford in pursuit of a threefold strategy by which they would admit to minor crimes, discredit Oxford as a witness against them, and demonstrate that Oxford posed a danger to the Crown. Despite these efforts, Howard remained under house arrest into August, while Arundel was not freed from house arrest until October or November. In the meantime Oxford was at liberty, and won the prize at a tournament at Westminster on 22 January 1581. His page's speech at the tournament, describing Oxford's appearance as the Knight of the Tree of the Sun, was published in 1592 in a pamphlet entitled Plato, Axiochus.
Oxford's triumph was short-lived. On 23 March 1581 Sir Francis Walsingham advised the Earl of Huntingdon that on 21 March Anne Vavasour
Anne Vavasour
Anne Vavasour was a Maid of Honour ) to Queen Elizabeth I of England, and the mistress of two aristocratic men. Her first lover was Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, by whom she had an illegitimate son - Edward. For that offence, both she and the earl were sent to the Tower of London by the...

, one of the Queen's Maids of Honour, had given birth to a son, and that 'the Earl of Oxford is avowed to be the father, who hath withdrawn himself with intent, as it is thought, to pass the seas'. Oxford was captured and imprisoned in the Tower, as was Anne for a time. On 9 June the Privy Council wrote to Sir William Gorges that Oxford had been released from the Tower the previous day. While Oxford was under house arrest in May 1581, Thomas Stocker dedicated to him his Divers Sermons of Master John Calvin, stating in the dedication that he had been 'brought up in your Lordship's father's house'. Oxford was still under house arrest in mid-July, but took part in an Accession Day
Accession Day
An Accession Day is the anniversary of the date on which a monarch succeeds to the throne upon the death of the previous monarch.-Monarchy:The custom of marking this day was inaugurated during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England....

 tournament at Whitehall on 17 November 1581.

After a five year separation, Oxford reconciled with his wife, Anne, at Christmas 1581. His affair with Anne Vavasour continued to have repercussions. In March 1582 there was a fray in the streets of London between Oxford and Anne's uncle, Sir Thomas Knyvet
Thomas Knyvet, 1st Baron Knyvet
Thomas James Knyvet, 1st Baron Knyvet was the second son of Sir Henry Knyvet of Charlton, Wiltshire and Anne Pickering, daughter of Sir Christopher Pickering of Killington, Westmoreland. His half-sister Catherine Knyvet was married to Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk...

. Richard Madox reported that 'my Lord of Oxford fought with Mr Knyvet about the quarrel of Besse Bavisar, and was hurt, and Gerret his man slain', while Nicholas Faunt wrote to Anthony Bacon that both men were hurt, 'but my Lord of Oxford more dangerously' adding that 'Mr Knyvet is not meanly beloved in Court, and therefore he is not like to speed ill, whatsoever the quarrel be'. In a letter to Lord Burghley on 25 March 1595 Oxford offered to attend Lord Burghley at his house 'as well as a lame man might', but whether his lameness resulted from the injuries sustained in the fray with Knyvet is unknown. There was another fray between Knyvet's and Oxford's men on 18 June, and a third on 22 June in which it was reported that Knyvet had 'slain a man of the Earl of Oxford's in fight'.

In this troubled period Thomas Watson
Thomas Watson (poet)
Thomas Watson , English lyrical poet, was the son of William Watson and Anne Lee . He was educated at Winchester College and OxfordUniversity. He then spent 7 years in France and Italy before studying law in London...

 dedicated his Hekatompathia or Passionate Century of Love to Oxford, stating in the dedication that Oxford had taken a personal interest in the work.

Oxford's standing in court was further compromised by unpaid debts. The Close Rolls contains record of a recognizance in the amount of £2000 acknowledged by Oxford to Sir William Spring of Lavenham
William Spring of Lavenham
Sir William Spring of Lavenham was an English politician and merchant, the son of Sir John Spring and Dorothy Waldegrave. Spring was MP for Suffolk in 1570. He was High Sheriff of Suffolk in 1578/9 and oversaw Elizabeth I's visit to the county in 1578...

 on 19 February 1583 in connection with an indenture. A fine was levied regarding the sale of the manor of Earls Hall in Cockfield, Suffolk by Sir William Spring against Oxford in 1583. The Earl was forced to swear before the Queen to pay the money.

Meanwhile the frays continued. Another of Oxford's men was slain on 21 February 1583, and on 12 March Lord Burghley wrote to Sir Christopher Hatton mentioning the death of one of Knyvet's men, and thanking Hatton for his efforts 'to bring some good end to these troublesome matters betwixt my Lord and Oxford and Mr Thomas Knyvet'. On 6 May 1583 Nicholas Faunt wrote to Anthony Bacon that 'God had sent my Lord of Oxford a son, but hath taken it away from him'. Oxford and Anne's infant son was buried at Castle Hedingham on 9 May.

Oxford's two-year banishment from court ended a month after the death of his son. On 2 June 1583 Roger Manners wrote to the Earl of Rutland that Oxford had come to the Queen's presence, and 'after some bitter words and speeches, in the end all sins are forgiven, and he may repair to the court at his pleasure. Mr Raleigh
Walter Raleigh
Sir Walter Raleigh was an English aristocrat, writer, poet, soldier, courtier, spy, and explorer. He is also well known for popularising tobacco in England....

 was a great mean herein'. As May notes, however, Oxford never regained his position as a courtier of the first magnitude.

Middle years


On 6 April 1584, Oxford and Anne's daughter, Bridget
Bridget de Vere
Bridget de Vere, Countess of Berkshire , was an English noblewoman, the daughter of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford. Bridget was brought up by her maternal grandfather, the powerful statesman William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley...

, was born.

In 1584 two works were dedicated to Oxford, Robert Greene's Gwydonius; The Card of Fancy, and John Southern's Pandora. Verses in the latter work mention Oxford's knowledge of astronomy, history, languages and music.

Oxford's financial situation was steadily deteriorating. By the mid-1580s Oxford had sold almost all his inherited lands, alienating his principal source of income. Moreover, as he stated in a letter to Lord Burghley on 30 October 1584, as a result of these sales he had:
entered into a great number of bonds to such as have purchased lands of me to discharge them of all encumbrances, and because I stand indebted unto her Majesty, as your Lordship knoweth, many of the said purchasers do greatly fear some trouble likely to fall upon them by reason of her Majesty's said debt, & especially if the bonds of the Lord Darcy and Sir William Waldegrave should be extended for the same, who have two several statutes of great sums for their discharge, whereupon many of the said purchasers have been suitors unto me to procure the discharging of her Majesty's said debt, and do seem very willing to bear the burden thereof if by my means the same might be stalled payable at some convenient days.


Because Oxford's lands were security for his unpaid debt to the Queen in the Court of Wards, Oxford had had to enter into bonds to the purchasers as a guarantee that he would indemnify them if the Queen were to extend against the lands for his debt. To avoid this eventuality, the purchasers of his lands were willing to repay Oxford's debt to the Court of Wards if he could persuade the Queen to let them do so by instalments.

During the mid-1580s Oxford's Men continued to perform at court, in the countryside, and in London. 'The Earl of Oxford his servants' received £20, paid to John Lyly
John Lyly
John Lyly was an English writer, best known for his books Euphues,The Anatomy of Wit and Euphues and His England. Lyly's linguistic style, originating in his first books, is known as Euphuism.-Biography:John Lyly was born in Kent, England, in 1553/1554...

 for performances on 1 January and 3 March 1584, and on 1 January 1585 a troupe performed at court under the name of 'John Symons and other his fellows, servants to th' Earl of Oxford'. Oxford's Men also had success touring the provinces, as indicated by records of performances from the years 1580 through 1587, and in 1587 the company was one of four principal companies performing in London.

Oxford's company of boy players was also still in existence. On 27 December 1584 Henry Evans
Henry Evans (theatre)
Henry Evans was the Welsh scrivener and theatrical producer primarily responsible for organizing and coordinating the activities of the Children of the Chapel and the Pauls Boys at Blackfriars for a short period in 1583-84, and later during the second theater after the property was revived by...

 received payment "for one play... by the children of th' Earl of Oxford". According to Chambers, the companies working at the Blackfriars under Lyly and Evans in 1583-4 were 'a combination of Oxford's boys, Paul's and the Chapel'. For a time Oxford held a lease of the premises used by the boy companies in the Blackfriars. In a document dating from about 1585, Sir William More of Loseley complained that his property in the Blackfriars had gotten into the hands of a succession of sub-lessees, including Oxford and Lyly, after More had leased it to Richard Farrant
Richard Farrant
Richard Farrant was a composer of English church music, also a choirmaster, playwright and theatrical producer noted for creating the Blackfriars Theatre that hosted children's companies.Very little is known about him...

. Oxford also patronized a company of musicians, as evidenced by payments in 1584–85 by the cities of Oxford and Barnstaple to "the Earl of Oxford's musicians".

On 19 January 1585 Anne Vavasour's brother Thomas sent Oxford a written challenge, which Oxford appears to have ignored.

In 1585 negotiations were underway for King James
James I of Scotland
James I, King of Scots , was the son of Robert III and Annabella Drummond. He was probably born in late July 1394 in Dunfermline as youngest of three sons...

 to come to England to discuss the release of his mother, Mary, Queen of Scots, and, on 4 March, Mendoza wrote to the King of Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 that Oxford was to be sent to Scotland as one of the hostages for the King's safety.

In late summer of that year Oxford was commissioned to command a company of horse in the Low Countries
Low Countries
The Low Countries are the historical lands around the low-lying delta of the Rhine, Scheldt, and Meuse rivers, including the modern countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and parts of northern France and western Germany....

. On 9 September it was reported that "five or six thousand English soldiers have arrived in Flanders with the earl of Oxford and Colonel Norris
John Norreys
Sir John Norreys , also frequently spelt John Norris, was an English soldier of a Berkshire family of court gentry, the son of Henry Norris, 1st Baron Norreys a lifelong friend of Queen Elizabeth....

, and it is said that Sir Philip Sidney will follow them shortly to take possession of Flushing, ... and the earl of Leicester will then follow as chief of the expedition." On 21 October William Davison reported that "My Lord of Oxford is returned this night into England, upon what humour I know not."

On 25 June 1586 the Queen granted Oxford an annuity of £1000 a year 'to be continued unto him during our pleasure or until such time as he shall be by us otherwise provided for to be in some manner relieved, at what time our pleasure is that this payment of one thousand pounds yearly to our said cousin in manner above specified shall cease'.

In October of that year Oxford was at Fotheringay Castle in Northamptonshire
Northamptonshire
Northamptonshire is a landlocked county in the English East Midlands, with a population of 629,676 as at the 2001 census. It has boundaries with the ceremonial counties of Warwickshire to the west, Leicestershire and Rutland to the north, Cambridgeshire to the east, Bedfordshire to the south-east,...

 for the trial of Mary, Queen of Scots, and was among the peers who on 13 October 'went unto her in her lodging', and 'remained with her almost the space of two hours, signifying unto her that if she would not come forth before the Commissioners they would proceed against her' in her absence.

In 1586 Angel Day
Angel Day
Angel Day was an Elizabethan rhetorician and scholar chiefly known for his The English Secretary , the first comprehensive epistolary manual to employ original English rather than classical models...

 dedicated to Oxford his The English Secretary
The English Secretary
The English Secretary, by Angel Day, was the most important manual for the art of letter writing during the almost fifty years of its first ten + editions ....

, the first epistolary manual for writing model letters in English, noting that Oxford was one 'whose infancy from the beginning was ever sacred to the Muses'. In the same year William Webbe
William Webbe
William Webbe was an English critic and translator. Little is known about him except that he attended Trinity College, Cambridge, and was a tutor for distinguished families....

 wrote in his Discourse of English Poetry that:
I may not omit the deserved commendations of many honourable and noble Lords and gentlemen in her Majesty's court which in the rare devices of poetry have been and yet are most excellent skilful, among whom the right honourable Earl of Oxford may challenge to himself the title of the most excellent among the rest.


Oxford and Anne's daughter Susan
Susan de Vere, Countess of Montgomery
Susan de Vere, Countess of Montgomery was an English noblewoman and the youngest daughter of Elizabethan courtier, poet, and playwright Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford.-Family and early years:...

 was born on 26 May 1587.

On 1 July 1587 the Queen granted Oxford lands which had belonged to Edward Jones, who had been attainted and executed for his part in the Babington plot
Babington Plot
The Babington Plot was a Catholic plot in 1586 to assassinate Queen Elizabeth, a Protestant, and put Mary, Queen of Scots, a Catholic, on the English throne. It led to the execution of Mary. The long-term goal was an invasion by the Spanish forces of King Philip II and the Catholic league in...

. The grant was made in the name of two trustees in order to protect it from Oxford's creditors.

On 12 September 1587, Oxford and Anne's daughter, Frances, was buried at Edmonton
Edmonton, London
Edmonton is an area in the east of the London Borough of Enfield, England, north-north-east of Charing Cross. It has a long history as a settlement distinct from Enfield.-Location:...

. Although her birthdate is unknown, she must have been between one and three years of age.

Earlier in the year a plan had finally been devised for the purchasers of Oxford's lands to pay his debt to the Court of Wards, and on 29 November 'the decree was made whereby the Earl's whole debt of £3306 18s 9-1/4d was appointed to be paid by the purchasers' over a five-year period, finishing in 1592. By 1 July 1591 only £800 remained unpaid.

On 15 December 1587 Lord Burghley defended himself against accusations that he had not tried to further Oxford’s advancement, writing to Oxford in part:
Secondly, that there hath been no ways prepared for your preferment I do utterly deny, and can particularly make it manifest by testimony of Councillors how often I have propounded ways to prefer you to services, but why these could not take place I must not particularly set them down in writing, lest either I discover the hinderers, or offend yourself in showing th’ allegations to impeach your Lordship from such preferments.


On 5 June 1588 Oxford's first wife, Anne, died at court of a fever at the age of 31. She lies buried in Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey
The Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, popularly known as Westminster Abbey, is a large, mainly Gothic church, in the City of Westminster, London, United Kingdom, located just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English,...

.

In July and August 1588 England was threatened by the Spanish Armada
Spanish Armada
This article refers to the Battle of Gravelines, for the modern navy of Spain, see Spanish NavyThe Spanish Armada was the Spanish fleet that sailed against England under the command of the Duke of Medina Sidonia in 1588, with the intention of overthrowing Elizabeth I of England to stop English...

. Richard Hakluyt
Richard Hakluyt
Richard Hakluyt was an English writer. He is principally remembered for his efforts in promoting and supporting the settlement of North America by the English through his works, notably Divers Voyages Touching the Discoverie of America and The Principal Navigations, Voiages, Traffiques and...

 lists Oxford as among those 'great and honourable personages' who flocked to the English Channel to serve prince and country, and the manuscript of a pamphlet published in 1588 contains an interlineation in Lord Burghley's hand stating that "the Earl of Oxford also in this time repaired to the sea coast for service of the Queen in the navy". The nature of Oxford's service is unclear. On 28 July Leicester, who was in overall command of the English land troops, advised Walsingham that Oxford had gone to London "for his armour and furniture" and would return to Tilbury
Tilbury
Tilbury is a town in the borough of Thurrock, Essex, England. As a settlement it is of relatively recent existence, although it has important historical connections, being the location of a 16th century fort and an ancient cross-river ferry...

. Leicester asked for instructions, stating that "I trust he be free to go to the enemy, for he seems most willing to hazard his life in this quarrel". On 1 August Leicester wrote to Walsingham that the Queen had consented to allow Oxford to serve and that:
she was pleased that he should have the government of Harwich ... a place of trust & of great danger. My Lord seemed at first to like well of it, afterward he came to me & told me he thought that place of no service nor credit, and therefore he would to the court and understand Her Majesty's further pleasure to which I would not be against, but must desire you as I know Her Majesty will also make him know that it was of good grace to appoint that place to him having no more experience than he hath, and then to use the matter as you shall think good. For my own part ... I am glad to be rid of my Lord of Oxford seeing he refuseth this, & I pray you let me not be pressed any more for him, what suit soever he make.


By 20 December 1588 Oxford had secretly sold his London mansion of Fisher's Folly to Sir William Cornwallis (c.1551–1611).

In 1588 Anthony Munday dedicated to Oxford the two parts of his Palmerin d'Oliva.

On 14 April 1589 Oxford was among the peers who found Philip Howard, Earl of Arundel
Philip Howard, 20th Earl of Arundel
Saint Philip Howard, 20th Earl of Arundel was an English nobleman. He was canonised by Pope Paul VI in 1970, as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales...

, the eldest son and heir of Oxford's cousin, Thomas, Duke of Norfolk, guilty of treason.

In that year The Arte of English Poesie, usually attributed to George Puttenham
George Puttenham
George Puttenham was a sixteenth-century English writer, literary critic, and notorious rake. He is generally considered to be the author of the enormously influential handbook on poetry and rhetoric, The Arte of English Poesie ....

, placed Oxford among a 'crew' of courtier poets:
And in her Maiesties time that now is are sprong vp an other crew of Courtly makers Noble men and Gentlemen of her Maiesties owne seruauntes, who haue written excellently well as it would appeare if their doings could be found out and made publicke with the rest, of which number is first that noble Gentleman Edward Earle of Oxford, Thomas Lord of Bukhurst
Thomas Sackville, 1st Earl of Dorset
Thomas Sackville, 1st Earl of Dorset was an English statesman, poet, dramatist and Freemason. He was the son of Richard Sackville, a cousin to Anne Boleyn. He was a Member of Parliament and Lord High Treasurer.-Biography:...

, when he was young, Henry Lord Paget, Sir Philip Sydney
Philip Sidney
Sir Philip Sidney was an English poet, courtier and soldier, and is remembered as one of the most prominent figures of the Elizabethan Age...

, Sir Walter Rawleigh
Walter Raleigh
Sir Walter Raleigh was an English aristocrat, writer, poet, soldier, courtier, spy, and explorer. He is also well known for popularising tobacco in England....

, Master Edward Dyar
Edward Dyer
Sir Edward Dyer was an English courtier and poet.-Life:The son of Sir Thomas Dyer, Kt., he was born at Sharpham Park, Glastonbury, Somerset. He was educated, according to Anthony Wood, either at Balliol College, Oxford or at Broadgates Hall , and left after taking a degree...

, Maister Fulke Greuille
Fulke Greville, 1st Baron Brooke
Fulke Greville, 1st Baron Brooke, de jure 13th Baron Latimer and 5th Baron Willoughby de Broke , known before 1621 as Sir Fulke Greville, was an Elizabethan poet, dramatist, and statesman....

, Gascon
George Gascoigne
George Gascoigne was an English poet, soldier, artist, and unsuccessful courtier. He is considered the most important poet of the early Elizabethan era, following Sir Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey and leading to the emergence of Philip Sidney...

, Britton
Nicholas Breton
Nicholas Breton , English poet and novelist, belonged to an old family settled at Layer Breton, Essex.-Life:...

, Turberuille
George Turberville
George Turberville, or Turbervile was an English poet, second son of Henry Turberville of Winterborne Whitechurch, Dorset, and nephew of James Turberville, Bishop of Exeter...

, and a great many other learned Gentlemen.


Puttenham also considered Oxford among the best comic playwrights of the day:
Of the later sort I thinke thus. That for Tragedie, the Lord of Buckhurst, & Maister Edward Ferrys for such doings as I haue sene of theirs do deserue the hyest price: Th'Earle of Oxford and Maister Edwardes
Richard Edwardes
Richard Edwardes was an English poet and playwright; he was made a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal, and was master of the singing boys...

 of her Maiesties Chappell for Comedy and interlude.


In 1590 Edmund Spenser
Edmund Spenser
Edmund Spenser was an English poet best known for The Faerie Queene, an epic poem and fantastical allegory celebrating the Tudor dynasty and Elizabeth I. He is recognised as one of the premier craftsmen of Modern English verse in its infancy, and one of the greatest poets in the English...

 appended a sonnet to Oxford in his The Faerie Queen, referring to 'the love which thou dost bear/ To th' Heliconian imps and they to thee', likely in reference to Oxford's literary protegees Lyly, Munday, Greene and Watson, 'and now, at least prospectively, Spenser himself'.

By July 1590 discussions were underway between Lord Burghley and Viscount Montague for a marriage between Oxford's daughter, Elizabeth, and the Earl of Southampton
Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton
Henry Wriothesley , 3rd Earl of Southampton , was the second son of Henry Wriothesley, 2nd Earl of Southampton, and his wife Mary Browne, Countess of Southampton, daughter of the 1st Viscount Montagu...

, then a royal ward.

On 6 January 1591 Thomas Churchyard
Thomas Churchyard
Thomas Churchyard , English author, was born at Shrewsbury, the son of a farmer.-Life:Churchyard received a good education, and, having speedily dissipated at court the money with which his father provided him, he entered the household of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey...

 wrote to Juliana Penne concerning rent owing for rooms he had taken in her house on behalf of Oxford.

On 18 May 1591 Oxford, clearly weary of the unsettled life of a courtier, wrote to Lord Burghley outlining a plan to purchase the demesnes of Denbigh in Wales if the Queen would consent, offering to pay for the lands by commuting his £1000 annuity and relinquishing his claim to the Forest of Essex:

Oxford concludes: 'So shall my children be provided for, myself at length settled in quiet and, I hope, your Lordship contented, remaining no cause for you to think me an evil father, nor any doubt in me but that I may enjoy that friendship from your Lordship that so near a match, and not fruitless, may lawfully expect'.

In the spring of 1591 the plan by which the purchasers of Oxford's lands were repaying his debt to the Court of Wards was disrupted by extents by the Queen against some of the lands. In the same letter of 18 May 1591 Oxford complained that his servant Thomas Hampton had fraudulently taken advantage of these extents by taking money from the tenants of the lands to his own use, and had also fraudulently colluded with another of Oxford's servants, Israel Amyce, to pass a document under the Great Seal of England
Great Seal of the Realm
The Great Seal of the Realm or Great Seal of the United Kingdom is a seal that is used to symbolise the Sovereign's approval of important state documents...

 to Oxford's detriment. Although the details are unclear, Thomas Skinner
Thomas Skinner (Lord Mayor of London, 1596)
Thomas Skinner was a master of the Worshipful Company of Clothworkers and a London Alderman. He was elected Sheriff in 1587 and Lord Mayor of London in 1596...

 was also involved in the fraud occasioned by the Queen's extents against Oxford's lands. On 30 June 1591 Oxford wrote to Lord Burghley reminding him that he had agreed with the Queen to forego his claim regarding the Forest of Essex for three reasons, including the Queen's reluctance to punish Skinner's felony.

In 1591 the composer John Farmer, who was in Oxford's service at the time, dedicated The First Set of Divers & Sundry Ways of Two Parts in One, to Oxford, noting in the dedication Oxford's love of music ('I was the rather emboldened for your Lordship's great affection to this noble science').

Remarriage and suits to the Queen


On 4 July 1591 Oxford sold the Great Garden property at Aldgate
Aldgate
Aldgate was the eastern most gateway through London Wall leading from the City of London to Whitechapel and the east end of London. Aldgate gives its name to a ward of the City...

 to John Wolley and his future brother-in-law, Francis Trentham. The arrangement was stated to be for the benefit of Elizabeth Trentham
Elizabeth Trentham, Countess of Oxford
Elizabeth de Vere, Countess of Oxford, formerly Elizabeth Trentham , was the second wife of the Elizabethan courtier and poet Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford.-Family and early years:...

, then one of the Queen's Maids of Honour, whom Oxford married later that year. An entry records a gift from the Queen to 'the Countess of Oxford at her marriage the 27 of December Anno 34'.

In July of that year Oxford applied to the Queen for a licence to import oils, fruits and wools, citing the promise the Queen had given him when he had abandoned his suit for the Forest of Essex at her command.

In 1591-2 Oxford disposed of the last of his large estates. In late 1591 he sold Castle Hedingham, the seat of his earldom, to Lord Burghley in trust for his three daughters by his first marriage, Elizabeth, Bridget and Susan. On 7 February 1592 he sold Colne Priory to Roger Harlakenden, who purchased in the name of his son, Richard. The sale resulted in lawsuits by Oxford for fraud against Roger Harlakenden which dragged on into the next generation.

On 24 February 1593 Oxford's only surviving son and heir, Henry de Vere
Henry de Vere, 18th Earl of Oxford
Henry de Vere, 18th Earl of Oxford was an English aristocrat, courtier and soldier.-Life:He was born on 24 February 1593 at Newington, Middlesex, the only son of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, by his second wife, Elizabeth Trentham. He succeeded his father as on 24 June 1604.He is said to...

, was born at Stoke Newington
Stoke Newington
Stoke Newington is a district in the London Borough of Hackney. It is north-east of Charing Cross.-Boundaries:In modern terms, Stoke Newington can be roughly defined by the N16 postcode area . Its southern boundary with Dalston is quite ill-defined too...

, where 'the Earl of Oxford is sometime resident in a very proper house'.

On 25 October 1593 Oxford wrote to Lord Burghley concerning his suit for a licence to import oils, fruits and wools, again citing the Queen's promise made to him when she had commanded him to abandon his claim to the Forest of Essex:
My very good Lord, I hope it is not out of your remembrance how long sithence I have been a suitor to her Majesty that she would give me leave to try my title to the forest at the law, but I found that so displeasing unto her that, in place of receiving that ordinary favour which is of course granted to the meanest subject, I was browbeaten and had many bitter speeches given me.


Oxford reminds Lord Burghley that the Queen had committed the matter to Sir Christopher Hatton for arbitration, but when Hatton was ready to deliver his report, the Queen:
flatly refused therein to hear my Lord Chancellor, and for a final answer commanded me no more to follow the suit for, whether it was hers or mine, she was resolved to dispose thereof at her pleasure.


On 7 July 1594 Oxford wrote to Lord Burghley concerning abuses in his office of Lord Great Chamberlain which had prejudiced both himself and the Queen.

On 25 September 1594, King Henri IV
Henry IV of France
Henry IV , Henri-Quatre, was King of France from 1589 to 1610 and King of Navarre from 1572 to 1610. He was the first monarch of the Bourbon branch of the Capetian dynasty in France....

 of France wrote to Oxford, thanking him for 'the good offices you have performed on my behalf in [the Queen's] presence'.

About this time Anthony Munday dedicated to Oxford his Primaleon; The First Book. The dedication is lost; however in the dedication of the second edition in 1619 to Oxford's heir, Munday recalls that 'these three several parts of Primaleon of Greece were the tribute of my duty and service' to 'that most noble Earl, your father'.

In late 1594 negotiations for a marriage between Oxford's daughter, Elizabeth, and the Earl of Southampton came to an end. In a letter endorsed 19 November 1594, six weeks after Southampton turned 21, the Jesuit Henry Garnett wrote that 'the young Earl of Southampton, refusing the Lady Vere, payeth £5000 of present money'.

On 26 January 1595 Oxford's daughter Elizabeth married William Stanley, 6th Earl of Derby
William Stanley, 6th Earl of Derby
William Stanley, 6th Earl of Derby was an English nobleman. Stanley inherited a prominent social position that was both dangerous and unstable, as his mother was heir to Queen Elizabeth I under the Third Succession Act, a position that fell to his deceased brother's oldest daughter in 1596,...

. A few months later, on 24 April, Oxford wrote to his brother-in-law, Sir Robert Cecil
Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury
Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury, KG, PC was an English administrator and politician.-Life:He was the son of William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley and Mildred Cooke...

, stating that he had 'dealt with the Earl of Derby about my daughter's allowance' and that Derby had promised to assure his new bride £1000 a year, but was now about to leave for Lancashire without having made any financial provision for her.

From March to August of 1595 Oxford actively pursued a suit, in competition with Lord Buckhurst
Thomas Sackville, 1st Earl of Dorset
Thomas Sackville, 1st Earl of Dorset was an English statesman, poet, dramatist and Freemason. He was the son of Richard Sackville, a cousin to Anne Boleyn. He was a Member of Parliament and Lord High Treasurer.-Biography:...

, to farm the tin mines in Cornwall. On 20 March 1595 he wrote to Lord Burghley, summing up past years of fruitless attempts to amend his financial situation:
[I] heartily desire your lordship to have a feeling of mine infortunate estate, which although it be far unfit to endure delays, yet have consumed four or five years in a flattering hope of idle words. But now, having received this comfortable message of furtherance & favour from your Lordship, although her Majesty be forgetful of herself, yet by such a good mean I do not doubt if you list but that I may receive some fruit of all my travail. This last year past I have been a suitor to her Majesty that I might farm her tins, giving £3000 a year more than she had made.


Oxford's letters and memoranda indicate that he pursued his suit into early 1596 and renewed it again in 1599,but was ultimately unsuccessful in obtaining the tin monopoly.

On 20 October 1595 Oxford wrote to Sir Robert Cecil mentioning friction between himself and the Earl of Essex
Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex
Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, KG was an English nobleman and a favourite of Elizabeth I. Politically ambitious, and a committed general, he was placed under house arrest following a poor campaign in Ireland during the Nine Years' War in 1599...

, partly over the Forest of Essex:
[Lord Burghley] wisheth me to make means to the Earl of Essex that he would forbear to deal for it [i.e. the Forest of Essex], a thing I cannot do in honour sith I have already received divers injuries and wrongs from him which bar me of all such base courses.


The next day Oxford wrote again to his brother-in-law on the subject of his claim to the Forest, terming him 'the only person that I dare rely upon in the court'. Unlike Lord Burghley, however, Sir Robert Cecil seems to have done little to further Oxford's interests.

On 28 March Oxford advised Michael Hicks
Michael Hicks (1543-1612)
Sir Michael Hicks was an English courtier and politician who was secretary to Lord Burghley during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. The son of a Bristol merchant and elder brother of Baptist Hicks, 1st Viscount Campden, he matriculated at Trinity College, Cambridge in 1559 and was admitted to...

 that he was unable to go to court because he had not yet fully recovered from an illness. On 4 June he wrote to Lord Burghley that 'I have been this day let blood', and on 7 August he wrote to Burghley from Byfleet
Byfleet
Byfleet is an inland island village forming a suburb of Woking in Surrey, England. It is in the east of the borough between the River Wey and the River Mole, and is within the M25 motorway....

, where he gone for his health:
I most heartily thank your Lordship for your desire to know of my health, which is not so good yet as I wish it. I find comfort in this air, but no fortune in the court.


On 9 November Rowland Whyte  wrote to Sir Robert Sidney
Robert Sidney, 1st Earl of Leicester
Robert Sidney, 1st Earl of Leicester , second son of Sir Henry Sidney, was a statesman of Elizabethan and Jacobean England. He was also a patron of the arts and an interesting poet...

 that 'Some say my Lord of Oxford is dead'. Whether the rumour of Oxford's death was related to the illness mentioned in his letters earlier in the year is unknown.

On 11 January 1597 Oxford wrote to Sir Robert Cecil concerning a petition to the Privy Council by Thomas Gurlyn against Oxford's wife, Elizabeth. The background to Gurlyn's petition is obscure, but appears to relate to events which transpired shortly after Oxford's arrival in the Low Countries on 27 August 1585. Gurlyn's claim was dismissed at trial.

In 1597 Oxford's servant, Henry Lok
Henry Lok
-Life:He was third son of Henry Lok, a London mercer , by his wife Anne Vaughan, the poet. Michael Lok the traveller was the poet's uncle, and Sir William Lok was his grandfather; Michael Cosworth was his cousin....

, published his Ecclesiastes containing a sonnet to Oxford. On 2 September 1597 the executors of Sir Rowland Hayward were authorized to sell King's Place in Hackney
Hackney (parish)
Hackney was a parish in the historic county of Middlesex. The parish church of St John-at-Hackney was built in 1789, replacing the nearby former 16th century parish church dedicated to St Augustine . The original tower of that church was retained to hold the bells until the new church could be...

 to Oxford's wife, Elizabeth, and three of her kinsmen.

On 8 September Oxford again spoke of ill health, writing to Lord Burghley that 'I am sorry that I have not an able body which might have served to attend her Majesty in the place where she is, being especially there, whither without any other occasion than to see your Lordship I would always willingly go'. On 14 December 1597 Oxford attended his last Parliament, perhaps another indication of failing health.

Oxford's father-in-law, Lord Burghley, died on 4 August 1598 at the age of 78, leaving substantial bequests to Oxford's two unmarried daughters, Bridget and Susan. Any hope Oxford might have had of assuming parental care of his daughters was dashed by Sir Robert Cecil, who wrote to Michael Hicks that 'whether he that never gave them groat, hath a second wife and another child be a fit guardian, consider you'.

In his Palladis Tamia
Palladis Tamia
Palladis Tamia, subtitled "Wits Treasury", is a 1598 book written by the minister Francis Meres. Meres calls it "A Comparative Discourse of our English Poets, with the Greek, Latin, and Italian Poets", and is important in English literary history as the first critical account of the poems and early...

, published in 1598, Francis Meres
Francis Meres
Francis Meres was an English churchman and author.He was born at Kirton in the Holland division of Lincolnshire in 1565. He was educated at Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he received a B.A. in 1587 and an M.A. in 1591. Two years later he was incorporated an M.A. of Oxford...

 referred to Oxford as one of "the best for Comedy amongst vs".

On 28 April 1599 Oxford was sued by Judith Ruswell, widow of William Ruswell, for an alleged debt of £500 for services rendered by Ruswell as a tailor 18 or 20 years earlier. Oxford defended the suit, alleging that not only had he paid Ruswell, but that Ruswell had subsequently absconded with 'cloth of gold and silver and other stuff' belonging to Oxford worth £800. The outcome of the suit is unknown.

Earlier negotiations for a marriage to William Herbert
William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke
William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke, KG, PC was the son of Henry Herbert, 2nd Earl of Pembroke and his third wife Mary Sidney. Chancellor of the University of Oxford, he founded Pembroke College, Oxford with King James. He was warden of the Forest of Dean, and constable of St Briavels from 1608...

 having fallen through, in May or June 1599 Oxford's 15-year-old daughter Bridget married Francis Norris
Francis Norris, 1st Earl of Berkshire
Francis Norris, 1st Earl of Berkshire was an English nobleman with the title of Earl of Berkshire.He was the son of Captain William Norreys and Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Morrison of Cassiobury in Hertfordshire, and was born at Wytham in Berkshire . He married Bridget de Vere, although they...

.

In 1599 John Farmer dedicated a second book to Oxford, The First Set of English Madrigals, alluding in the dedication to Oxford's own proficiency as a musician ('without flattery be it spoken, those that know your Lordship know this, that using this science as a recreation, your Lordship have overgone most of them that make it a profession'. In the same year, George Baker dedicated a second book to Oxford, his Practice of the New and Old Physic, a translation of a work by Conrad Gesner, stating that he had published it under Oxford's 'honourable protection . . . because your wit, learning and authority hath great force and strength in repressing the curious crakes of the envious'.

Two entries in the Stationers' Register attest to the continued existence of Oxford's Men in the early 1600s. The Weakest Goeth to the Wall was registered on 23 October 1600 as having been "sundry times played by the right honourable the Earl of Oxenford, Lord Great Chamberlain of England, his servants", while The True History of George Scanderbeg was registered on 3 July 1601 "as it was lately played by the right honourable the Earl of Oxenford his servants".

In July 1600 Oxford wrote requesting Sir Robert Cecil's help in securing an appointment as Governor of the Isle of Jersey
Jersey
Jersey, officially the Bailiwick of Jersey is a British Crown Dependency off the coast of Normandy, France. As well as the island of Jersey itself, the bailiwick includes two groups of small islands that are no longer permanently inhabited, the Minquiers and Écréhous, and the Pierres de Lecq and...

, once again citing the Queen's unfulfilled promises to him:
Although my bad success in former suits to her Majesty have given me cause to bury my hopes in the deep abyss and bottom of despair rather than now to attempt, after so many trials made in vain & so many opportunities escaped, the effects of fair words or fruits of golden promises, yet for that I cannot believe but that there hath been always a true correspondency of word and intention in her Majesty, I do conjecture that with a little help that which of itself hath brought forth so fair blossoms will also yield fruit. Wherefore having moved her Majesty lately about the office of the Isle....


On 2 February 1601 Oxford again wrote to Cecil for his support, this time for the office of President of Wales. As with his former suits, Oxford was again unsuccessful. About this time he was also listed on the Pipe Rolls
Pipe Rolls
The Pipe rolls, sometimes called the Great rolls, are a collection of financial records maintained by the English Exchequer, or Treasury. The earliest date from the 12th century, and the series extends, mostly complete, from then until 1833. They form the oldest continuous series of records kept by...

 as owing £20 for the subsidy.

After the abortive Essex rebellion on 8 February 1601, Oxford was 'the senior of the twenty-five noblemen' who rendered verdicts at the treason trials of Essex and Southampton
Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton
Henry Wriothesley , 3rd Earl of Southampton , was the second son of Henry Wriothesley, 2nd Earl of Southampton, and his wife Mary Browne, Countess of Southampton, daughter of the 1st Viscount Montagu...

. After Essex's co-conspirator Sir Charles Danvers was executed on 18 March 1601, Oxford became involved in a complicated suit concerning the Queen's right to lands which had escheat
Escheat
Escheat is a common law doctrine which transfers the property of a person who dies without heirs to the crown or state. It serves to ensure that property is not left in limbo without recognised ownership...

ed to the Crown at Danvers' attainder, a suit opposed by Danvers' kinsmen. On 7 August Lord Buckhurst and Sir John Fortescue
John Fortescue of Salden
Sir John Fortescue of Salden was the seventh Chancellor of the Exchequer of England, serving from 1589 until 1603....

 wrote to the Attorney-General, Sir Edward Coke, that "my Lord of Oxford doth desire that he may have a copy of the case as you have collected it out of the evidences showed before us to the intent he may consider thereof with his learned counsel for the benefit of her Majesty, as he affirmeth, the which we think fit he have".

While pursuing the Danvers suit, Oxford continued to suffer from ill health. On 7 October he wrote to Cecil saying that 'if my health had been to my mind, I would have been before this at the court'. On 22 November he wrote again, saying that "In that I have not sent an answer to your last letter as you might expect, I shall desire you to hold me for excused sith ever sithence the receipt thereof by reason of my sickness I have not been able to write", and asking that Cecil "bear with the weakness of my lame hand".

On 4 December Oxford wrote again to Cecil, expressing shock that Cecil, who had encouraged him to undertake the Danvers suit, had now withdrawn his support.

As with his other suits aimed at improving his financial situation, this last of Oxford's suits to the Queen ended in disappointment. On 22 March 1602 he wrote to Cecil: "It is now a year sithence by your only means her Majesty granted her interest in Danvers' escheat. I had only then her word from your mouth. I find by this waste of time that lands will not be carried without deeds." Oxford's only successful suit to the Queen during these years involved his playing company. On 31 March 1602 the Privy Council sent a letter to the Lord Mayor of London, Sir John Garrard:
We received your letter signifying some amendment of the abuses or disorders by the immoderate exercise of stage plays in and about the city by means of our late order renewed for the restraint of them, and withal showing a special inconvenience yet remaining by reason that the servants of our very good Lord the Earl of Oxford, and of me, the Earl of Worcester
Edward Somerset, 4th Earl of Worcester
Edward Somerset, 4th Earl of Worcester, KG, Earl Marshal was an English aristocrat. He was an important advisor to King James I, serving as Lord Privy Seal....

, being joined by agreement together in one company, to whom, upon notice of her Majesty's pleasure at the suit of the Earl of Oxford, toleration hath been thought meet to be granted, notwithstanding the restraint of our said former orders, do not tie themselves to one certain place and house, but do change their place at their own disposition, which is as disorderly and offensive as the former offence of many houses, and as the other companies that are allowed, namely of me, the Lord Admiral
Charles Howard, 1st Earl of Nottingham
Charles Howard, 1st Earl of Nottingham , known as Howard of Effingham, was an English statesman and Lord High Admiral under Elizabeth I and James I...

, and the Lord Chamberlain
George Carey, 2nd Baron Hunsdon
George Carey, 2nd Baron Hunsdon KG was the eldest son of Henry Carey, 1st Baron Hunsdon and Anne Morgan. His father was first cousin to Elizabeth I of England....

, be appointed their certain houses, and one and no more to each company, so we do straitly require that this third company be likewise appointed to one place. And because we are informed the house called the Boar's Head is the place they have especially used and do best like of, we do pray and require you that that said house, namely the Boar's Head, may be assigned unto them, and that they be very straitly charged to use and exercise their plays in no other but that house, as they will look to have that toleration continued and avoid farther displeasure.

Last years


In the early morning of 24 March 1603 Queen Elizabeth died without naming a successor. A few days before the Queen's death Oxford entertained the Earl of Lincoln
Henry Clinton, 2nd Earl of Lincoln
Henry Clinton or Fiennes, 2nd Earl of Lincoln, KB was an English peer, styled 10th Baron Clinton from 1572 to 1585.-Life:...

, a nobleman known for his erratic and violent behaviour, at his house at Hackney, and after dinner:
discourse[d] with him of the impossibility of the Queen's life, and that the nobility, being peers of the realm, were bound to take care for the common good of the state in the cause of succession, in the which himself, meaning the Earl of Lincoln, ought to have more regard than others because he had a nephew of the blood royal, naming my Lord Hastings
Henry Hastings, 5th Earl of Huntingdon
Henry Hastings, 5th Earl of Huntingdon was a prominent English nobleman and literary patron in England during the first half of the seventeenth century.-Life:...

, whom he persuaded the Earl of Lincoln to send for, and that there should be means used to convey him over into France where he should find friends that would make him a party, of the which there was a precedent in former times.


Lincoln relayed his conversation with Oxford to Sir John Peyton
Sir John Peyton
Sir John Peyton was an English soldier, MP and administrator.He was born in Knowlton, Kent to John Peyton and Dorothy Peyton, who was the daughter of John Tyndale....

, Lieutenant of the Tower, who later defended his refusal to take Lincoln's report as a serious threat to King James' accession:
At the first apprehension of my Lord of Lincoln's discovery I was much moved and troubled, but when he had made me understand what great person it was whom he meant, I knew him to be so weak in body, in friends, in ability and all other means to raise any combustion in the state as I never feared anything to proceed from so feeble a foundation.


In light of his discussion with Oxford, Lincoln was astonished to find Oxford's name among the signatories to the proclamation of James of Scotland as King immediately after the Queen's death.

On 25 and 27 April 1603 Oxford wrote to Cecil:
I have always found myself beholding to you for many kindnesses and courtesies, wherefore I am bold at this present, which giveth occasion of many considerations, to desire you as my very good friend and kind brother-in-law to impart to me what course is devised by you of the Council & the rest of the Lords concerning our duties to the King's Majesty, whether you do expect any messenger before his coming to let us understand his pleasure, or else his personal arrival to be presently or very shortly. And, if it be so, what order is resolved on amongst you, either for the attending or meeting of his Majesty for, by reason of mine infirmity, I cannot come among you so often as I wish, and by reason my house is not so near that at every occasion I can be present, as were fit.


In the same letter Oxford expressed his grief at the late Queen's death, and his fears for the future:
I cannot but find a great grief in myself to remember the mistress which we have lost, under whom both you and myself from our greenest years have been in a manner brought up, and although it hath pleased God after an earthly kingdom to take her up into a more permanent and heavenly state wherein I do not doubt but she is crowned with glory, and to give us a prince wise, learned and enriched with all virtues, yet the long time which we spent in her service we cannot look for so much left of our days as to bestow upon another, neither the long acquaintance and kind familiarities wherewith she did use us we are not ever to expect from another prince, as denied by the infirmity of age and common course of reason. In this common shipwreck, mine is above all the rest who, least regarded though often comforted of all her followers, she hath left to try my fortune among the alterations of time and chance, either without sail whereby to take the advantage of any prosperous gale or with anchor to ride till the storm be overpassed. There is nothing therefore left to my comfort but the excellent virtues and deep wisdom wherewith God hath endued our new master and sovereign Lord, who doth not come amongst us as a stranger but as a natural prince, succeeding by right of blood and inheritance, not as a conqueror but as the true shepherd of Christ's flock to cherish and comfort them.


Oxford fears were ill-founded, however. In letters to Cecil in May and June 1603 he again pressed his decades-long claim to be restored to the keepership of Waltham Forest and the house and park of Havering, and on 18 July 1603 the new King granted his suit. On 25 July Oxford was among those who officiated at the King's coronation. On 2 August King James confirmed Oxford's annuity of £1000.

On 18 June 1604 Oxford granted the custody of the Forest of Essex to his son-in-law, Lord Norris, and his cousin, Sir Francis Vere. Six days later Oxford died on 24 June 1604 of unknown causes at King's Place, Hackney, without leaving a will, and was buried on 6 July in the parish church of St. Augustine. In her will, his widow, Elizabeth, requested that she too be buried 'in the church of Hackney . . . as near unto the body of my late dear and noble Lord and husband as may be; only I will that there be in the said church erected for us a tomb fitting our degree'. Although the Countess's will and parish registers confirm Oxford's burial at Hackney, his cousin Percival Golding later stated that his body lies at Westminster:
I will only speak what all men's voices confirm: he was a man in mind and body absolutely accomplished with honourable endowments. He died at his house at Hackney in the month of June anno 1604, and lieth buried at Westminster.

Heirs and inheritance


By his first marriage to Anne Cecil Oxford had a son and a daughter who died young, and three daughters who survived infancy. The Earl's daughters all married into the peerage
Peerage
The Peerage is a legal system of largely hereditary titles in the United Kingdom, which constitute the ranks of British nobility and is part of the British honours system...

. Elizabeth married William Stanley, 6th Earl of Derby
William Stanley, 6th Earl of Derby
William Stanley, 6th Earl of Derby was an English nobleman. Stanley inherited a prominent social position that was both dangerous and unstable, as his mother was heir to Queen Elizabeth I under the Third Succession Act, a position that fell to his deceased brother's oldest daughter in 1596,...

. Bridget
Bridget de Vere
Bridget de Vere, Countess of Berkshire , was an English noblewoman, the daughter of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford. Bridget was brought up by her maternal grandfather, the powerful statesman William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley...

 married Francis Norris, 1st Earl of Berkshire
Francis Norris, 1st Earl of Berkshire
Francis Norris, 1st Earl of Berkshire was an English nobleman with the title of Earl of Berkshire.He was the son of Captain William Norreys and Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Morrison of Cassiobury in Hertfordshire, and was born at Wytham in Berkshire . He married Bridget de Vere, although they...

. Susan
Susan de Vere, Countess of Montgomery
Susan de Vere, Countess of Montgomery was an English noblewoman and the youngest daughter of Elizabethan courtier, poet, and playwright Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford.-Family and early years:...

 married Philip Herbert, 4th Earl of Pembroke and Montgomery
Philip Herbert, 4th Earl of Pembroke
Philip Herbert, 4th Earl of Pembroke and 1st Earl of Montgomery KG was an English courtier and politician active during the reigns of James I and Charles I...

.

By his mistress Anne Vavasour Oxford had an illegitimate son, Sir Edward Vere.

By his second wife, Elizabeth Trentham, Oxford had his only surviving legitimate son and heir, Henry de Vere
Henry de Vere, 18th Earl of Oxford
Henry de Vere, 18th Earl of Oxford was an English aristocrat, courtier and soldier.-Life:He was born on 24 February 1593 at Newington, Middlesex, the only son of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, by his second wife, Elizabeth Trentham. He succeeded his father as on 24 June 1604.He is said to...

, later 18th Earl of Oxford.

As noted earlier, 12 years before his death Oxford had sold his interest in Castle Hedingham to Lord Burghley in trust for his three daughters by his first marriage. After the death of Oxford's widow, Elizabeth, their son, Henry, inherited the remainder of Oxford's estate. Two inquisitions post mortem were taken after Oxford's death, the first in 1604 for his property in Essex, the second in 1608 for his Great Garden property in London. Magdalene College brought suit against Oxford’s heir for the Great Garden property, and legal proceedings continued for decades. The value of the property to both Magdalene College and Oxford's heir is indicated by a 1615 case in Chancery stating that in 1575:
[T]he Queen at the suit of the said College licensed them to alien . . . .The same was accordingly performed by a conveyance to her Majesty, and from her Majesty to Spinola, and the rectory from Spinola to the College, after which Spinola and the Earl of Oxford, his assignee and his under-tenants have built upon the garden 130 houses, and therein bestowed £10,000, which assignee and his under-tenants have bonds and security given for the enjoyment thereof to the sum of £20,000.

Reputation



Oxford was, in the words of Gordon Braden, 'famously improvident with his fortune and erratic in his behaviour.'

A stream of dedications attests to Oxford's intellectual reputation and his lifelong patronage of writers, musicians and actors. Stephen May terms Oxford 'a nobleman with extraordinary intellectual interests and commitments', whose biography exhibits a 'lifelong devotion to learning'. Of the thirty-three works dedicated to him, forty percent were literary and thirteen consisted of original and translated works of literature. The figures suggest he was more sought out for patronage than other peers of similar means and with some reputation for cultivating the arts.

As noted above, Oxford maintained companies of boy actors and men players in the years from 1580 to 1602, held the lease of the Blackfriars Theatre for a time, and patronized a company of musicians.

Oxford also had a high reputation as a poet amongst his contemporaries, and his verses were published in several poetry miscellanies. Of his 16 canonical poems, his modern editor Steven May says that they are the 'output of a competent, fairly experiement poet working in the established modes of mid-century lyric verse.'

Contemporary critics such as Webbe and Puttenham praised his poetic ability, and the latter quoted his verses:

Shakespeare authorship question


In Shakespeare Identified, published in 1920, J. Thomas Looney
J. Thomas Looney
John Thomas Looney . was an English school teacher who is best known for having originated the Oxfordian theory, which claims that Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford was the true author of Shakespeare's plays.-Life:Looney was born in South Shields...

, an English schoolteacher, proposed Oxford as a candidate for the authorship of Shakespeare's works
Shakespeare authorship question
Image:ShakespeareCandidates1.jpg|thumb|alt=Portraits of Shakespeare and four proposed alternative authors.|Oxford, Bacon, Derby, and Marlowe have each been proposed as the true author...

. His theory was based on perceived analogies between Oxford's life and poetic techniques in Shakespeare's plays and sonnets
Shakespeare's sonnets
Shakespeare's sonnets are 154 poems in sonnet form written by William Shakespeare, dealing with themes such as the passage of time, love, beauty and mortality. All but two of the poems were first published in a 1609 quarto entitled SHAKE-SPEARES SONNETS.: Never before imprinted. Sonnets 138 and 144...

. It supplanted an earlier popular theory involving Francis Bacon
Baconian theory
The Baconian theory of Shakespearean authorship holds that Sir Francis Bacon, lawyer, philosopher, essayist and scientist, wrote the plays conventionally attributed to William Shakespeare, and that the historical Shakespeare was merely a front to shield the identity of Bacon, who could not take...

. Academic consensus rejects alternative candidates for authorship, including Oxford.

This authorship idea is dramatized in the 2011 film
Film
A film, also called a movie or motion picture, is a series of still or moving images. It is produced by recording photographic images with cameras, or by creating images using animation techniques or visual effects...

, Anonymous
Anonymous (film)
Anonymous is a political thriller and historical drama which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 11, 2011. Directed by Roland Emmerich and written by John Orloff, the movie is a fictionalized version of the life of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, an Elizabethan...

, with Rhys Ifans
Rhys Ifans
Rhys Ifans is a Welsh actor and musician. He is known for his portrayal of characters such as Spike in Notting Hill and Jed Parry in Enduring Love and as a member of the Welsh rock groups Super Furry Animals and The Peth. Ifans also appeared as Xenophilius Lovegood in Harry Potter and the Deathly...

, Jamie Campbell Bower
Jamie Campbell Bower
James "Jamie" Campbell M. Bower is an English actor, singer and former model. Bower is best known for his role as Anthony Hope in Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, his role of Caius in The Twilight Saga: New Moon and his role of King Arthur in the Starz original series...

 and Luke Thomas Taylor playing de Vere at different ages.

External links