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Edward de Vere Timeline

  • April 12, 1550

    Edward de Vere born.

    Born at Castle Hedingham, Essex, to John, 16th Earl of Oxford and Maryery, countess of Oxford. Among other things, John de Vere had a troupe of actors.

  • October, 1554

    De Vere's sister Mary was born.

  • 1554 to 1562

    De Vere under tutelage of Sir Thomas Smith

    Probably at Smith's estate of Ankerwicke, near Windsor. Smith was one of the foremost educators of the day and a man with a wide range of interests - mathematics, arithmetic, law, natural and moral philosophy, geography, astronomy, etc. Many of these interest show up in the Shakespeare's plays.

  • October 1558

    De Vere is enrolled in Queen's College, Cambridge

    Sir Thomas Smith's Alma mater.

  • 1559

    De Vere matriculated at St John's College Cambridge

    De Vere completes the formal process of entering St. John's College in Cambridge

  • August, 1561

    Queen Elizabeth visits Castle Hedingham

    Presumably she met de Vere for the first time.

  • July 1562

    De Vere contracted to marry into the powerful Hastings family.

    While de Vere never married into the Hastings family, Mary Hastings is the person on whom the character MARIA in Love's Labour's Lost. Like MARIA, Mary Hastings turned down an offer of marriage by the envoy of the czar of Muscovy.

  • August 3, 1562

    The 16th Earl of Oxford, de Vere's father, dies and is buried.

    De Vere may not have known his father well. The use of his properties was conveyed in trust to the duke of Norfolk, a 26 year old nephew, and Robert Dudley. Records suggest that Dudley acquired much of the lands belonging to de Vere's father. In Hamlet, Dudley is the character on which the King is based, one who stole an inheritance from HAMLET.

  • September 3, 1562

    De Vere named the 17th Earl of Oxford

    He road into London in procession on his way to take up residence as a Royal Ward of Court at the London home of Sir William Cecil, later Lord Burghley who, as Secretary of State, was the head of Queen Elizabeth's Privy Council. Even though a minor, his full title was Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxenford, Lorde Greate Chamberleyne of Englande, Viscount Bulbecke, and Lorde of Badlesmere and Scales..

  • 1563

    De Vere's title as Earl of Oxford challenged.

    Challenged by the husband of his half sister Katherine de Vere. The challenge did not succeed.

  • 1563

    De Vere tutored by Anglo Saxonist Laurence Nowel

    (who also signed his name on Beowulf manuscript during the same year) and also perhaps by his uncle Arthur Golding.

  • August 19, 1563

    De Vere displays competence in French writing a letter in French to William Cecil.

  • September, 1564

    De Vere receives Master of Arts degree

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  • 1564

    Arthur Golding dedicates his book, to his nephew de Vere

    Arthur Golding dedicated his translation of Justin's Abridgement of the Histories of Trogus Pompeius to his nephew de Vere

  • 1564

    De Vere awarded masters degree from Oxford

  • 1567

    The translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses by de Vere's uncle, Arthur Golding Completed

    The translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses by de Vere's uncle, Arthur Golding, was published. The translation was completed in 1563, around the time when Golding probably tutored de Vere. Many scholar's agree that Golding's translation of Ovid was a major influence on Shakespeare.

  • 1567

    De Vere matriculated from Gray's Inn

    Where he had studied law.

  • July 23, 1567

    De Vere kills William Cecil's under cook Thomas Bricknell

    (probably accidentally) While practicing his fencing. He was acquitted on the argument that he acted in self-defence, and went unpunished.

  • 1567

    De Vere sends his retainer, Thomas Churchyard, on a mission to the Netherlands.

    With the tacit approval of the Privy Council, de Vere sent his retainer, the poet and soldier-of-fortune Thomas Churchyard, on a mission to the Netherlands.

  • December 2, 1568

    De Vere's mother, Margery Golding, Dies

    De Vere's relationship with his mother was probably not close.

  • 1569

    Thomas Underdowne dedicated his translation of An Aethiopian Historie by Heliodorus to de Vere.

  • 1569

    De Vere falls ill.

    De Vere was ill for months, carrying over to the first quarter of 1570. During 1570, de Vere convalesced in Windsor, which was the setting for The Merry Wives of Windsor.

  • March 30, 1570

    Queen Elizabeth sends for de Vere

    Queen Elizabeth sent de Vere to work under Earl of Sussex in the Northern campaign to stamp out Catholic unrest. There was a movement to have Mary Queen of Scots marry the Duke of Norfolk, de Vere's cousin. In traveling north, de Vere would have passed Kimbolton Castle (the scene for part of Henry the Eighth and the city of York and the forest of Galtres (settings for both King Henry the Fourth, Part 1, and King Henry the Sixth, Part 3. King Henry the Sixth, Part 3 depicts the northern rebellion accurately, as if written by a first hand observer, which de Vere was.

  • 1570

    Edmund Elviden's "Peisistratus and Catane"  dedicated to de Vere

  • April 2, 1571

    Queen Elizabeth summons the third Parliament of her reign.

    This was de Vere's first attendance. As Lord Great Chamberlain, he had a ceremonial role.

  • May 7 & 8, 1571

    De Vere victorious in royal tournament at Whitehall

    De Vere was victorious in a royal tournament at Whitehall and was widely seen as one of the up-and-coming stars of Queen Elizabeth's court.

  • December 16, 1571

    De Vere marries Anne Cecil.

    De Vere married Anne Cecil, daughter of William Cecil, the Queen's chief minister. De Vere had grown up with Anne in the Cecil household, since William Cecil raised noblemen whose fathers had died. At sixteen, she was five years younger than de Vere. Shortly before the marriage, William Cecil became the nobleman Lord Burghley and took up the position of Lord Treasurer. Among other things, this may have occurred to address de Vere's concern that Anne Cecil was beneath him in status.

  • 1571

    Thomas Bedingfield's translation of Cardanus Comfort dedicated to de Vere.

    With A preface written by de Vere.

  • 1571

    Arthur Golding dedicates his translation of Calvin's version of The Psalms of David.

    Golding, a staunch Puritan, appeared concerned about the moral directions that de Vere was taking.

  • January 5, 1572

    De Vere writes a preface in Latin to Batholomew Clerke's translation into Latin of Castiglione's Il Cortegiano (The Courtier)

    This made the document accessible to the urbane leadership in Europe, since Latin was a common language. The Courtier outlined proper etiquette and expressed the view that courtiers have a key role in the proper functioning of the state. Among other things, The Courtier urged self-respecting courtiers to hide their poetry and prose from the public.

  • May, 1572

    Queen Elizabeth gives de Vere a licence to begin to repossess family lands that had been taken out of his control when his father died.

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  • June 2, 1572

    The Duke of Norfolk (de Vere's cousin) is executed for treason

    De Vere had tried to save his cousin, but was unsuccessful. Norfolk left three sons. As You Like It mirrors the Norfolk situation. It deals with a deceased and deified father, and the troubles of his sons as they deal with inheritance, marriage and court.

  • 1572

    De Vere takes part in a Royal entertainment at Warwick Castle.

    The theatrics were overdone. An incendiary missile overshot its mark, hitting a nearby house and setting it and neighboring houses on fire, and perhaps killing two people.

  • September, 1572

    De Vere writes to William Cecil wishing to be considered for some military service.

  • October 1572

    An incident occurs at de Vere's Essex Estate of Wivenhoe.

    De Vere and his wife Anne Cecil were at de Vere's Essex estate of Wivenhoe. One of de Vere's servants, Rowland Yorke, had reportedly barred Anne from her husband's chambers. De Vere was spending a lot of money. His servants were behaving riotously. Anne was apparently forced to put up with this bad behaviour.

  • 1573

    Thomas Twyne provides a letter of dedication de Vere in The Breviary of Britain

    The letter noted de Vere's interest in books on geography, histories and other learning.

  • 1573

    De Vere and Thomas Bedingfield publish the English translation of Cardanus's Comfort

    De Vere had commissioned the work, probably around the time of the trial of the Duke of Norfolk, in an attempt to influence the outcome through philosophy.

  • 1573

    One of de Vere's servants is hanged for murder

    Which today, his crime might be considered a crime of passion

  • May 1, 1573

    William Cecil accepts a bribe.

    The Spanish agent Antonio de Gueras wrote to a Spanish governor about an arrangement in which £15,000 would have been paid to William Cecil in as a bribe for a more open and friendly trade policy. Cecil did not want to be directly associated with the bribe. Cecil owed de Vere £15,000 in dowry for marrying his daughter. It is likely that Cecil asked his son-in-law de Vere to pick up the money on the continent.

  • May 1573

    De Vere's servants accused of robbery.

    In a letter to Cecil, three of de Vere's servants were accused of robbing two of Cecil's servants on the Gravesend-Rochester road. It is an event remarkable similar to Act II, Scene 2 in King Henry the Fourth Part 1 in which FALSTAFF and three of PRINCE HAL's companions rob travelers, carrying the King's taxes, on the same road.

  • May 11, 1573

    Anne indicates jealousy about the relationship between de Vere and the Queen.

    A young courtier Gilbert Talbot wrote to his father that Queen Elizabeth was delighted by de Vere's personage, dancing and valour; that Anne had indicated some jealousy at the relationship of his husband with the Queen and that the Queen was originally offended but the two had reconciled; and that Anne's father William Cecil did not meddle in the issue.

  • 1573 or 1574

    De Vere signs over a family estate to William Byrd

    De Vere signed over a family estate called Battails Hall in Essex to William Byrd, a musician and organist at the Chapel Royal, once the elderly occupants passed away. Byrd is now considered one of the finest musicians of the Elizabethan period. One of de Vere's retainers later defrauded Byrd of Battails Hall. Byrd wrote The Earl of Oxford's March.

  • January 1574

    De Vere befriends Antonio de Gueras

    Reports to William Cecil indicated that de Vere was making himself familiar with Antonio de Gueras, presumably in relation to de Vere's collection of £15,000.

  • March 1974

    De Vere makes a proposal to Queen Elizabeth that was refused

    De Vere made a proposal to Queen Elizabeth that was refused. She criticized him for his lack of thrift, and was offended by his reaction.

  • July 1574

    De Vere hires a ship and goes to the low countries

    De Vere hired a ship and went to the low countries. The Elizabethan court was troubled by what appeared to them a defection to the Catholic side. Queen Elizabeth dispatched Thomas Bedingfield to bring de Vere back. De Vere returned by July 27, 1574. If the purpose of the trip was to secure the £15,000, there was no evidence that he did so. It was generally concluded that his trip was not suspicious in any way, and reflected his obvious desire for foreign adventure, which was noted with approval.

  • August 1574

    De Vere disappeares from court.

  • September, 1574

    Anne de Vere asks the Earl Of Sussex to arrange lodging for de Vere

    Anne de Vere asked the Earl of Sussex to arrange lodging for her husband at Hampton Court, in the hope that she could persuade her husband to resume sleeping with her.

  • 1574

    George Baker dedicates a book to de Vere.

    George Baker, the doctor for de Vere and his wife, dedicated a book to de Vere. Baker practiced Paracelsian medicine, a new, empirical approach to healing using chemical distillations and essences that was a forerunner to modern pharmacy.

  • January 30, 1575

    De Vere sets indenture for his estate.

    De Vere made out an indenture dealing with his estate should something happen to him, prior to leaving for his Grand Tour of the Continent. The indenture included a Schedule of Debts, that indicated he and his father had accumulated debts of £9,096.

  • February 7, 1775

    De Vere leaves England

    De Vere left England on the start of his tour.

  • March 17, 1575

    Anne de Vere announces pregnancy

    In a letter to William Cecil from Paris, de Vere thanked Cecil for informing him of his wife's pregnancy. He also indicated that now that he had an heir, he would continue his travels.

  • April, 1575

    De Vedre leaves Paris for Stratsbourg.

    De Vere left Paris for Strasbourg, to visit the humanist scholar Johan Sturmius. Afterward, he traveled through the Alps, probably bypassed Milan, visited Verona and finally arrived in Venice in mid-May. The annual theatrical season in Venice lasted from mid-May to mid-July. Venetian theater was a mixture of high and low theater, proletarian and refined, tragic and comic. The Merchant of Venice probably provides some clues to de Vere's lodgings and dealings in Venice. In 1575, tension between Jews and other Venetians was at its highest. This tension was also incorporated into The Merchant of Venice.

  • Summer. 1575

    De Vere visits Ragusa (now known as Dubrovnik)

    De Vere probably visited Ragusa (now known as Dubrovnik), about 48 hours sailing time from Venice. Ragusa was probably the unnamed Illyrian city that provided the setting for Twelfth Night. The Winter's Tale has several scenes on the seacoast of Bohemia. Between 1575 and 1609, the king of Bohemia held a 35 mile stretch of coastline between Venice and Ragusa. Shakespeare's critics have suggested that he was ignorant of European geography, but in fact, de Vere had a better understanding than the critics, because he had probably been there. While de Vere may have wanted to visit Greece, there is little evidence that he got there. His plays based in Greek settings do not contain the same vivid references to Greece as his Italian plays to Italy.

  • July 2, 1775

    Elizabeth de Vere born

    Anne (Cecil) de Vere gave birth to a daughter, Elizabeth. The date noted by William Cecil was January 3, 1575.

  • Late Summer, 1775

    De Vere in Palermo, Sicily

    De Vere was reported to be in Palermo, Sicily, where he challenged all persons for all manners of weapons in defense of Queen Elizabeth.

  • 1775

    De Vere in Genoa

    De Vere was in Genoa, according to Italian bankers handling de Vere's money. He was there at a time of civil strife.

  • September, 1775

    De Vere in Venice.

    De Vere was in Venice, where he learned that his letters had not made it through the Alps because of plague. He also received two letters from William Cecil, one of which reported that Anne had delivered a daughter Elizabeth.

  • September 24, 1575

    De Vere sends letter to William Cecil

    A letter from de Vere to William Cecil from Venice, reported that de Vere had been sick, liked Italy, was planning to return to England soon, and gave thanks about the news of the delivery of his child. Cecil noted the date of de Vere's letter in notes he wrote while preoccupied with proving the legitimacy of his daughter Anne's child.

  • September 1775

    De Vere visits the famous Italian painter; Titian

    Most cultured visitors to Venice visited with Titian. Titian painted four replicas of Venus and Adonis, based on Ovid's Metamorphoses. In the paintings, VENUS clings to ADONIS, who appears bothered by these actions. In most classical interpretations of Ovid, the attraction between VENIS and ADONIS is mutual. In only one of the four Titian copies, the painting in Titian's studio, ADONIS wears a stylized man's hat known as a bonnet. In Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis, VENUS is attracted to ADONIS, who is bothered by Venus's advances. ADONIS wears a bonnet that hides his angry brow. Undoubtedly, de Vere based his poem on the Titian painting that he had seen in 1575. Titian's friend, Pietro Aretino, provided situations, character studies, and ideas for a dozen Shakespeare plays.

  • November 17, 1575

    De Vere's rising debt

    A letter from de Vere to William Cecil from Padua told Cecil not to block of the sale of his lands because of de Vere's rising debts. Padua was a university town. Ottonelle Discalzio was a celebrated professor and jurists who made regular trips to Venice to adjudicate court cases. In The Merchant of Venice, the celebrated jurist from Padua University, Bellario, was consulted to settle the case of SHYLOCK versus ANTONIO. To get from Venice to Padua, de Vere probably traveled by ferry along the river Brenta, which connected Padua to the Venetian Lagoon. In The Merchant of Venice, PORTIA calls "the tranect, the common ferry". PORTIA lives on the Brenta in the Belmont estate 10 miles from Venice and 2 miles from a monastery. The Villa Foscari meets these criteria. NERISSA, PORTIA's assistant, mentions a recent visit to Belmont by the MARQUIS OF MONTFERRAT, one of the titles of Gonazaga. Gonazaga had visited the Villa Foscari in 1574.

  • November, 1775

    De Vere visits Mantua

    A day's journey from Padua is Mantua, where de Vere's idol Baldassare Castiglione had lived and worked. Because of de Vere's interest in Castiglione, he most likely visited Mantua. A few miles from Mantua is the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie where Castiglione was buried. Atop the tomb of Castiglione and his wife is a sculpture by Giulio Romano to Castiglione's wife, who died nine years before him. Giulio Romano is mentioned in The Winter's Tale, where a painted statue of the wronged wife HERMIONE is compared to a statuary by "that rare Italian master Giulio Romano". He is also alluded to in Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece. While de Vere saw Romano as a sculptor, he was more generally known as a painter. Critics of Shakespeare have occasionally suggested that Shakespeare was ignorant of Italian art. Visitors such as de Vere to Mantua would have stayed as guests to the local duke Guglielmo Gonzaga. One of the guest rooms in the duke's palace, Appartamento di Troia, contained frescoes of famous scenes from The Trojan War by Giulio Romano. Shakespeare's The Rape of Lucrece contained a 202 line description of these frescoes. The description has little connection to the theme of the poem, as if the poet introduced the description to demonstrate his knowledge of these frescoes.

  • December, 1775

    De Vere heads for Florence

    De Vere headed for Florence, probably arriving around December 16. After Florence, de Vere headed toward Rome, where Catholic pilgrims had been summoned by the Pope to celebrate a Jubilee Year. Not coincidentally, HELENA in All's Well that Ends Well tracked down her wayward husband BERTAMm by disguising herself as a pilgrim on Jubilee. Because Rome had reached its capacity, many pilgrims went to overflow sites near Florence, one of which was the shrine of St. James the Great near the Tuscan towns of Pistoia and Prato. Helena in All's Well that Ends Well said her Italian destination was St. Jaques le Grand, in effect stating that she was going toward Florence to track down her husband.

  • January 3, 1576

    De Vere urges William Cecil to sell lands to appease creditors.

    A letter from de Vere to William Cecil from Siena, the southern Tuscan town, urged Cecil to sell some of his lands to appease his creditors. De Vere was intent on making the most of his travels and was prepared to sell land to do so. Cecil was undoubtedly concerned about the long-term income of de Vere, his daughter Anne and their daughter. Over the period from Christmas to January 5, Siena had celebrations, parties and plays. On the January 5 (the twelfth night), a Sienese tradition was the performance of the comedy The Deceived by the Piccolomini's Academy. Twelfth Night mirrors the plot of The Deceived.

  • January, 1576

    William Cecil increasingly worries that his son-in-law de Vere woud not accept paternity of his daughter Anne's child.

    William Cecil was increasingly worried that his son-in-law de Vere woud not accept paternity of his daughter Anne's child, so he drew up a memorandum identifying key dates in the De Vere's and Anne's chronology.

  • January, 1576

    De Vere returns to Venice for Carnival

    After Siena, de Vere returned to Venice for its Carnival season. During this season, the upper and lower classes put on masks and performed masquerades and skits. In Shakespeare's plays such as Much Ado About Nothing, King Henry the Fifth, and Antony and Cleopatra, masks and disguises are common features.

  • March 5, 1576

    De Vere sets off to return to England via Milan

    De Vere left Venice and set off to return to England, via Milan. There are several references to Milan in Shakespeare's plays. In Much Ado About Nothing, MARGARET mentions a gown owned by the duchess of Milan. SILVIA in The Two Gentlemen of Verona speaks of FRIAR PATRICK's Cell, a real place where an Irish friar stopped in 1576. At the time, Milan was controlled by Spain. In The Two Gentlemen of Verona, the DUKE OF MILAN indicates his nationality by addressing his colleagues using the Spanish word "Don". By the end of March, de Vere was out of Italy.

  • April, 1576

    De Vere visits Count Roussillion in Tournon-Sur-Rhône

    De Vere probably visited Count Roussillion in or near Tournon-Sur-Rhône. Tournon represented only a small departure from his likely route. All's Well that Ends Well captures the life of the Roussillion, particularly the daughter Hélène de Tournon, the victim of a haughty lover and family politics.

  • March 21, 1576

    De Vere arrives in Paris.

    De Vere arrived in Paris on the way home. He was advised by one of his men, Rowland Yorke, of all the latest court gossip, including news about his wife Anne and her child.

  • April 4, 1576

    De Vere sends a letter to William Cecil from Paris.

    A letter from de Vere to William Cecil from Paris expressed his 'misliking' of the situation with Anne Cecil..

  • April 20, 1576

    De Vere attacked by Dutch Pirates

    Crossing from France to England, de Vere's boat was attacked by Dutch pirates who looted most of his possessions. This outraged Queen Elizabeth, who sent a special envoy to the Prince of Orange to demand satisfaction at this "disgrace upon her realm". De Vere returned to England humiliated and probably without many of his possessions. William Cecil attempted to intercept de Vere immediately on his return, to address questions related to the paternity of Anne's child. Rather that accepting an invitation to stay at Cecil House, de Vere moved into the house of Edward Yorke, older brother of Rowland Yorke, de Vere's servant. Roland Yorke fought with the Catholic rebels in the Northern Uprising of 1569. While fighting for the English three years later in the Dutch wars of independence, he was infamous for his conduct with young nuns. In 1584, he tried to betray the position of English allies to Spain. He reportedly died through Spanish poison. In addition to these various misdeeds, he was presumed to have provided de Vere with information about Anne's child. Roland's brother Edward worked for the Duke of Leicester, a long-time adversary of both William Cecil and de Vere. Two of Shakespeare's plays deal with servants and associates (IAGO in Othello and IACHIMO in Cymbeline) who put their lords (OTHELLO and POSTHUMUS) into rage and jealousy against wrongly accused wives. In Much Ado About Nothing, a high ranking military commander (e.g. the Duke of Leicester) masterminds the jealousy subplot against a wrongly accused wife.

  • April 27, 1576

    De Vere separates from Anne

    Now back in England, de Vere wrote again to William Cecil saying he had no intention of meeting his wife. This was the start of a five year separation from Anne.

  • July 13, 1576

    De Vere is urged to reconcile.

    A letter from de Vere to William Cecil from London noted that Queen Elizabeth and William Cecil both wanted de Vere to reconcile with Anne Cecil, but stated that de Vere was not interested in a reconciliation.

  • January 1, 1577

    A Historie of Errors is performed before the Queen by the Children of St. Paul's. This likely became The Comedy of Errors.

    This likely became The Comedy of Errors.

  • October 28, 1577

    De Vere attends the wedding of William Howard and Elizabeth Dacre.

    De Vere attended the wedding of William Howard and Elizabeth Dacre. William Howard was the youngest son of the Duke of Norfolk, who had been beheaded for treason. It would take William Howard 23 years to sort out estate issues, particularly since his eldest brother had married into the Dacre family. The play As You Like It, which was probably finalized in 1600, was based on the story of the Howard family.

  • Christmas, 1577

    Mary de Vere marries Peregrine Bertie.

    Mary de Vere, de Vere's sister, married Peregrine Bertie. The Taming of the Shrew was based on their relationship. So was Twelfth Night.

  • January 15, 1578

    Queen Elizabeth awards Castle Rising to de Vere

    Queen Elizabeth awarded Castle Rising to de Vere for his "true and faithful service done and given to us". Castle Rising had belonged to the beheaded Duke of Norfolk, and was worth about £250 per year. The relationship between Queen Elizabeth and de Vere was rocky at this time. Queen Elizabeth was unhappy about de Vere's treatment of his wife. De Vere was probably unhappy about the beheading of the Duke of Norfolk. De Vere had not exchanged New Year's gifts with Queen Elizabeth in several years.

  • 1578

     De Vere invested £3,000 through Michael Lok in Frobisher's voyage to seek out a Northwest passage.

    The Merchant of Venice reflects this experience, as the generous ANTONIO invests 3,000 ducats with thy financier SHYLOCK (based on Michael Lok). Frobisher's venture was a disaster.

  • 1578

    De Vere was praised before the royal Court during the Queen's summer progress by aspiring Cambridge scholar Gabriel Harvey

    Harvey's Latin eulogy was translated to include the phrase "thy will shakes speares". The eulogy noted that de Vere was excellent in letters and had written many English poems.

  • August 14, 1578

    The Spanish Ambassador Bernardino de Mendoza reported on the reception at court for the Duke of Alençon's envoys in pursuit of marriage proposals for Queen Elizabeth.

    De Vere reportedly refused to obey a request from Queen Elizabeth to dance before ambassadors from the Duke of Alençon, presumably because he felt the request was demeaning.

  • December 28, 1578 

    The Lord Chamberlain's Men, a theater group under the Earl of Sussex and De Vere's mentor, performed at Richmond Palace

    A play titled An History of the Cruelties of a Stepmother. Ostensibly, the play was about a conniving stepmother. The courtly audience would have assumed that this stepmother was Catherine de Medici, mother of the Duke of Alençon. Queen Elizabeth was considering marriage to the Duke, and if the marriage took place, Catherine de Medici would become England's "stepmother". De Vere opposed the marriage. The play may have been a preliminary version of Cymbeline, which is also about a conniving stepmother. De Vere's mother in law disliked de Vere, and the feeling was mutual. De Vere and Queen Elizabeth exchanged New Year gifts, presumably reflecting an improving relationship.

  • January 6, 1579

    The Lord Chamberlain's Men performed The History of the Rape of the Second Helen

    About the rape of Helen in the Trojan War. Shakespeare later dealt with this issue in Troilus and Cressida.

  • March 3 , 1579

    De Vere, the Duke of Surrey and others performed A Moor's Masque at court

    This was probably an early version of Othello, a story about a husband who conspires to kill his wife at the goading of a servant.

  • September, 1579

    De Vere and Philip Sidney quarreled over a tennis game

    Sidney was considered a rising literary figure. Both were young, intelligent and well-educated. Sidney had criticized theatrical techniques which compressed time and space into a few hours on the stage, and shifted moods and setting without explanation to the audience. Shakespeare plays regularly did just that. Sidney and de Vere also differed on the Alençon marriage to Queen Elizabeth, with de Vere a supporter and Sidney an opponent. Sidney and de Vere wanted to resolve the dispute through a duel, but Queen Elizabeth ordered de Vere to not leave his quarters.

  • 1579

    De Vere began a relationship with Anne Vavasour.

    A tall, dark-haired nineteen year old from a genteel family living in the north of England. She was known for her beauty, poetic prowess and wit. Her uncle Thomas Knyvet, a groom in the Queen Elizabeth's privy chamber, had introduced her to court, where she became a gentlewoman in the Queen's bedchamber. De Vere probably met Anne Vavasour through his cousin Charles Arundell.

  • 1580

    De Vere purchased Fisher's Folly, a luxurious house near Bishopsgate, across the street from the Bedlam insane asylum, and a third of mile south of London's commercial theaters

    The Curtain and the Theater. At the time, Londoners were flocking to the theaters. A few Puritans and religious types objected, but Elizabeth supported the theaters. In early 1580, de Vere had also taken over the theater group the Earl of Warwick's men. Between 1580 and 1582, De Vere hired John Lyly and Anthony Munday as his private secretaries. He also provided support to Thomas Watson and Robert Greene..

  • February , 1580

    De Vere reportedly confided to his cousin Henry Howard that Anne Vavasour was pregnant.

    Fearing Queen Elizabeth's anger, de Vere was contemplating leaving England. Anne miscarried.

  • 1580

     John Lyly, de Vere's secretary, dedicated Euphues and his England to de Vere.

    The work satirizes courtly manners using pompous and overblown language.

  • June, 1580

    Anne Vavasour became pregnant again.

  • 1580

    John Hester dedicated A Short Discourse upon Surgery to de Vere.

  • 1580

    Gabriel Harvey caricaturized de Vere as 'Italianate Englishman' in Speculum Tuscanismi

    but also praised him as "peerless in England" as a "discourser for tongue".

  • December, 1580

    De Vere confessed to Queen Elizabeth that he, Henry Howard, Charles Arundell, and Francis Southwell had reconciled to Catholicism

    Through a Jesuit priest who was later sneaked out of England through the French Ambassador.

  • January, 1581

    De Vere won a prize in a tournament at Whitehall

    His tournament speech is later published in Edmund Spenser's Axiochus.

  • March 23, 1581

    The unmarried Anne Vavasour, one of the Gentlewomen of the Queen's Bedchamber, bore a son who would be named Edward Vere (and go on to be knighted for his military service).

    De Vere, who was known to be the child's father, fled London, but was soon captured and sent to the Tower of London..

  • June 8, 1581

    Queen Elizabeth ordered de Vere's release from the Tower of London.

    But he remained under house arrest in Greenwich for another month or more.

  • 1581

    De Vere's Catholic cousin Henry Howard, Charles Arundell, and Francis Southwell responded to de Vere's allegations with a one hundred page document accusing de Vere of being a liar, murderer, atheist, pederast, alcoholic, etc. 

    The document is known as the Arundell-Howard libels. Henry Howard and Charles Arundell would later be implicated in another plot against Queen Elizabeth in 1583, and would write another set of libels to extricate themselves from trouble.

  • 1582

     De Vere exiled from court.

    Banishment from court is the theme of Titus Adronicus and Timon of Athens.

  • January 1582

    The Alençon marriage with Queen Elizabeth was essentially dead.

  • December, 1582

    De Vere and his wife Anne (Cecil) began correspondence with de Vere hoping that it would lead to a reconciliation.

    All Anne's letter have been preserved in the Cecil archive. None of de Vere's replies were preserved.

  • 1582

    De Vere and Anne Cecil came to a reconciliation and began living with each other.

  • March, 1582

    There is a 'fray' between de Vere and Sir Thomas Knyvett, uncle of Anne Vavasour, over the latter's honour.

    The fray began an interfamily feud (like the MONTAGUE-CAPULET feud in Romeo and Juliet). De Vere was injured, although he was able to ride on a tournament several years later. The injuries sustained may have contributed to his lameness, which he mentioned in Sonnets 37 and 89.

  • June, 1582

    There were three violent skirmishers between de Vere's men and Sir Thomas Knyvett's men 

    Just as there were three skirmishes between the MONTAGUES and CAPULETS in Romeo and Juliet.

  • 1582

     The poet Thomas Watson dedicated a book of sonnets The Hekatompathia to de Vere.

    The book contains introductory comments that undoubtedly came from de Vere. The quality of the comments is considered Shakespearean in quality.

  • July, 1582

    De Vere's brother in law, Peregrine Bertie (Lord Willoughby), went as Queen Elizabeth's Ambassador to the Danish court at Elsinore for the investiture of King Frederick III.

     He revisited Elsinore in 1585, and spent five months in total there. Elsinore was the setting for Hamlet. While at Elsinore, Bertie met the Danes Rosenkrantz and Guldenstern. He also met the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe, who observed a supernova that was referenced by the guards in Hamlet. Hamlet also includes a small part for the English Ambassador (de Vere's brother in law), who announces that ROSENKRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN are dead.

  • 1583

    The best actors in London merged to form a new company - the Queen's Men

    The Queen's Men subsequently performed early versions of plays that would be later revised and published as Shakespeare's. Queen Elizabeth's spy master Francis Walsingham ran the troupe.

  • May 9, 1583

    The newly born son of Edward and Anne (Cecil) de Vere was buried.

  • June 1, 1583

    Queen Elizabeth and de Vere resolved their differences and de Vere was allowed back into court.

  • June, 10, 1583

    Queen Elizabeth's court visited Oxford University. 

    The court saw a Latin play Dido, a university play that was never published or acted again. The Polish Prince and General Laski was in attendance. HAMLET asks actors to perform Aeneas's tale to Dido, the play that was acted at most once and which was caviar to the General (Laski). Also in attendance at court was the Italian Giordano Bruno, who taught at Wittenburg and who supported Copernicus's theory of the heavens. HAMLET also refers to these theories

  • 1583

    De Vere acquired the sub-lease on the Blackfriars Theater.

    Appoints his secretary Lyly as manager.

  • April 6, 1584

    Daughter Bridget was born to Edward and Anne (Cecil) de Vere.

  • November 17, 1584

    De Vere again won a prize at a Royal tournament.

    Held to celebrate the anniversary of the coronation.

  • December, 1584

    The History of Agamemnon and Ulysses is performed at court by de Vere's troupe of boy actors.

    This was probably an early performance of Troilus and Cressida.

  • August, 1585

    De Vere was appointed commander of the horse in the Lowlands (Dutch) theater of war.

    All's Well that Ends Well includes names of commanders in the lowland campaign.

  • October, 1585

     De Vere was recalled from the lowlands campaign.

    His long-time enemy Leicester was placed in charge. On his return home, a ship containing de Vere's provisions (venison, wine, letter of appointment) was captured by Spaniards. In Hamlet, there is an encounter with pirates and a plot twist involving stolen letters at sea.

  • 1586

    Daughter Francis was born to Edward and Anne (Cecil) de Vere.

  • June 25, 1586

    A letter from de Vere to William Cecil asked Cecil to provide de Vere with £200

    " tyll her Magestie performethe her promes.".

  • June 26, 1586

    Presumably to fulfill her promise, Queen Elizabeth granted Vere £1000 per annum.

    There is no documentary indication about the purpose of the payments, which continued until de Vere's death. It is believed that the purpose of the payments was to produce propaganda plays which supported the Tudors and encouraged English nationalism at a time when the country was facing an invasion by Spain. Shortly after this time, the Spanish Ambassador to England complained to King Philip of Spain about the treatment of the King in English plays.

  • 1586

    De Vere was described by William Webbe as "most excellent" among court poets.

  • October, 1586

    De Vere was third in precedence at the trial of Mary Queen of Scots at Fotheringay.

    His future father in law, Thomas Trentham, had been appointed, as one of the "principal gentlemen in Staffordshire", to accompany the Scottish Queen from her Staffordshire exile to Fotheringay.

  • May 26, 1587

    Daughter Susan was born to Edward and Anne (Cecil) de Vere.

  • September, 1587

    Daughter Frances died in infancy.

  • June 5, 1588

    Anne (Cecil) de Vere died at age thirty-three and was buried in Westminster Abbey.

    According to letters by Thomas Cecil and others, William Cecil was so incapacitated by grief over the death of "my ladie of Oxenford" that he was incapable of conducting Privy Council business. There is no record that de Vere was attended the funeral on June 26.

  • May 30, 1588

    Drake led the English fleet against the Spanish and Portuguese fleet.

    Indirect evidence suggests that de Vere was involved in the campaign. The fleet encountered bad weather (perhaps the inspiration for the opening scene in The Tempest). By June 6, the fleet had returned to Plymouth, where de Vere probably learned about the death of his wife. Drake would make subsequent attempts to set sail. De Vere may have been part of these attempts.

  • July 27, 1588

    De Vere was at Tilbury east of London, supposedly to lead 2,000 men to protect England from a Spanish invasion fleet should the fleet get past English naval defenses

    By August 1, de Vere had abandoned his position, and returned to London.

  • November 24, 1588

    Nobles and military leaders paraded through the streets of London to celebrate the defeat of the Spanish Armada at sea.

  • December 1588

    De Vere sold Fisher's Folley. With Anne (Cecil) de Vere's death, her father William Cecil began suing de Vere for debts.

  • 1589

    The Arte of English Poesie, by George Puttenham was published.

    It notes: "And in Her Majesty's time that now is are sprung up another crew of courtly makers, noble men and gentlemen of her Majesty's own servants, who have written commendably well as it would appeare if their doings could be found out and made public with the rest, of which number is first that noble gentleman Edward, earl of Oxford. ... The earl of Oxford and Master (Richard) Edwards of Her Majesty's Chapel (are the best) for comedy and interlude."

  • 1590

    De Vere had made a verbal agreement to cover the rent of Thomas Churchyard, who had worked for de Vere for various periods since the 1560s.

    De Vere was unable to meet the first payment due on March 25, so Churchyard took refuge in a church. Churchyard's apartment was near the Church of St. Benet's of Paul's Wharf. In Twelfth Night, FESTE begs for cash and includes a reference to St. Benet

  • 1590

    Spencer dedicated a sonnet to de Vere in The Faerie Queen. 

    The sonnet talks about writing of the glory of de Vere's ancestors "under a shady veil". This is presumably a reference to the fact that de Vere had been writing plays glorifying the Tudor regime and its supporters (including de Vere's ancestors) under a pseudonym.

  • September 1590

    De Vere told William Cecil that he was chronically ill.

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  • November 1591

    De Vere married another one of Queen Elizabeth's Maids of Honour, Elizabeth Trentham, daughter of the wealthy Staffordshire landowner the late Thomas Trentham of Rocester Abbey. 

    Elizabeth Trentham was in her thirties, had been one of the Queen's maids of honour for ten years, and was an independent woman with a good understanding of legal and business matters. PORTIA, in The Merchant of Venice, was probably based on Elizabeth. BASSIANO married PORTIA in part to address financial concerns. Elizabeth's brother Francis Trentham took over the management of de Vere's near bankrupt estate and gradually returned it to profitability.

  • December 1591

    De Vere sold the manor of Castle Hedingham - the de Vere family seat from the time of William the Conqueror - to William Cecil in trust for his three daughters Elizabeth, Bridget and Susan.

    By this time, de Vere had lost all the lands he inherited from his father or acquired from the Queen Elizabeth, and was now a landless lord. Three years later, de Vere's story would be retold by the Queen's Men through a play called the True Chronicle History of King Lier. This is a story of a foolish man who wasted his inheritance and independence.

  • 1592

    Edward and Elizabeth (Trentham) de Vere moved into their new home in north London near the Theater and the Curtain (theaters).