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Decoding Shakespeare

What's in a name? That which we call a rose--from Romeo and Juliet

By Stella Maris     April 25, 2009

 

Like most of us who endured the tortuous analysis of William Shakespeare's plays at school, I only ever took them at face value. A sprinkling of fauns and fairies, a gaggle of cauldron-stirring witches... and get thee to a nunnery!
 
It never even occurred to me that these works could possibly contain encrypted messages which were cleverly coded into the popular plays, generated a good four hundred years before the success of The Da Vinci Code. So, Dan Brown eat your heart out--Shakespeare beat you to it!
 
Or… was it really indeed William Shakespeare?
 
There is an intriguing theory gaining momentum in academic and theatrical circles that Shakespeare's name was actually “rented” by various eminent Elizabethan noblemen as a pseudonym to cover up the source of the potentially explosive revelations that were embroidered into the underbelly of these popular theatrical performances.
 
Although there is not a unanimous agreement yet on exactly who penned Shakespeare’s masterpieces, the most likely candidate for puppet master is thought to be Sir Francis Bacon. A successful lawyer and politician, Bacon was best known as the Viscount of Saint Alban and the Lord Chancellor to King James I. But, what historians won’t acknowledge is that Sir Francis was also regarded as a practicing philosopher (in multiple senses of the word), poet, and the secret illegitimate son of Queen Elizabeth I.
 
As this was all complete news to me, I was delighted to accept my old pal Simon Miles' invitation to attend his lecture for the Francis Bacon Society last week at the University of London.
 
Simon and I go back a long way, having spent many years in the underground pursuing the investigation of secret societies and obscure ancient philosophies. However, since he splits his time between the Australian outback and the infamous French village of Rennes-le-Chateau, we tend to only meet up every five years or so. Therefore last week was a special occasion, despite the fact that neither of us could spare more than a couple of hours to catch up and compare notes as he breezed through town.
 
I was entranced by the proliferation of new ideas presented by Simon in his fascinating lecture, even though most of it went over my head. But what intrigued me greatly was the unveiling of the overt cryptographic elements embedded into the theatrical artforms that we all take utterly for granted.
 
And once you get the hang of how the Elizabethan mindset works, you start seeing codes everywhere… Shakespeare's cunningly crafted couplets start taking on a whole 'nother layer of meaning.
 
Even the Elizabethan theaters were themselves designed in code. It's no coincidence that the most famous playhouses were constructed in the round and aligned to the properly deployed zodiac signs... and given names like The Globe, The Rose (after the symbol representing Sun’s movement in relation to the Universe) and The Swan (after the constellation, Cygnus).
 
This past week in London, the reconstructed Globe Theatre patriotically celebrated Shakespeare's immense contribution to the theatrical arts, as the Bard conveniently both was born and died on April 23rd, which is also Saint George's Day, the Patron Saint of England.
 
But I wonder if the celebrations included any secret, coded tributes to Sir Francis Bacon…?
 
 
Newton Coordinate:- The Feast Day of Saint George, April 23rd, corresponding to the anniversary of Shakespeare's birth and death, on the Greenwich Meridian. With a special wink to fellow Rosicrucian Operative, Adrian Gilbert.
 

 

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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redhairs99 4/26/2009 10:15:29 AM

I like the article, but I would have liked to have read about some specific examples of these codes.

Allan55 4/26/2009 5:30:54 PM

There is a lot of evidence for Francis Bacon as Shakepeare being presented at

http://forums.about.com/n/pfx/forum.aspx?nav=messages&webtag=ab-shakespeare&lgnF=y

on the Authorship Controversy 2 subject, beginning about 7 groups in.

zaldar 4/26/2009 5:31:21 PM

uggg....as someone who has a mother in the english field I am suprised and upset to find this here.  There are no codes hidden in the plays this is not real academic research, just something for people to do who want to get a pHD in english but not do anything more worthwhile like actually write a play or book...

Shakespere was a real person and was the author of his plays.  The "movement" to make them someone elses is because they don't want to admit that a normal uneducated person in this time period could have his genius.  Sorry, genius isn't about education and no matter how much education you get you are not going to be able to replicate his plays.

Anyway you should read them again or see them stagged, they are incredible.

StellaMaris 4/27/2009 12:15:47 AM

I wasn't convinced, either, at first... but the more I look into it, the more intrigued I become. There were several PhDs at the lecture I went to. 

And during the recent Globe celebrations, both Sir Derek Jacobi and Mark Rylance came out and publicly declared that Edward de Vere was the real author of Shakespeare's plays, so the games are going to begin. As the former artistic director of Shakespeare's Globe here in London, Mark Ryland is no slouch. 

Several papers ran the story, here's one:-

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23679831-details/Shakespeare did not write his own plays, claims Sir Derek Jacobi/article.do

As for the codes themselves, on the surface level, they consist of choosing the first letter of each sentence so that messages can be read vertically down the page. Curiously, the Elizabethan magician John Dee also used this device in some of his letters.

Or, in some cases, there were very intriguing groupings of letters around the first letter of the opening sentence. 

The others are more complicated... based around what the French call The Language of the Birds.

ProfessorW 4/27/2009 3:02:02 AM

 Surely, what is important is what is in the plays themselves.  There may be doubts over the authorship, but isn't this all part of the new order which treats the artist as more important than the work or tries to see secret codes instead of doing the work to try to understand the plays?  There is immense richness in the great plays which makes the thought of any secret codes seem minor by comparison, doesn't it?  Does it really matter if Beethoven didn't write the nine symphonies?

FBrigdon 4/27/2009 4:54:57 AM

Or, as one of my favorite professors once said, "The question of Shakespeare's identity is a moot one. Regardless of who he 'really' was, Shakespeare's plays were written by Shakespeare....."

StellaMaris 4/29/2009 12:01:48 AM

It's been pointed out to me that Mark Rylance is actually a supporter of the theory that Bacon wrote the plays attributed to Shakespeare, not de Vere as I stated above. So, it looks as though the Bacon theory is gaining momentum. 

Here is a fascinating interview with Rylance where he explains his position in his own words. He also elucidates upon the hermetic and alchemical undercurrents that he feels are incorporated into the plays, in the manner that I was alluding to:-

http://www.sirbacon.org/markrylance.htm

I think I'm going to try to track Rylance down, he sounds intriguing...

RogerXXII 5/8/2009 3:21:49 PM

"However, since he splits his time between the Australian outback and the infamous French village of Rennes-le-Chateau"

Isn't that as close as never-mind to schizophrenia?

In the interest of being true-to-form and bloody-minded, I shall state that I am a stout defender of the notion that Spearchucker Will wrote his own damn plays.

DrMoebius 5/11/2009 1:56:30 AM

"In the interest of being true-to-form and bloody-minded, I shall state that I am a stout defender of the notion that Spearchucker Will wrote his own damn plays."

No doubt you are. given that you pass psychological judgements on people based on where they might live, it comes as no surprise that you count yourself amongst the army of fools who still hold to the notion that Shaxper, the illiterate malt-dealer and money-lender, the uneducated, grasping, actor and businessman,  was the author of the greatest works of art of all time. The man who passed away and not one person honoured him. Whose daughter signed her name on her marriage day with an X. Who left not so much as a shopping list in his own handwriting, let alone a manuscript. Who owned no books. Who mentioned no literary matters of any kind in his will. Who sent no correspondence. Who never went to university. Who somehow displayed a masterful command of legal matters when he had no legal training. Who never left england and thus had never visitted France or Spain and yet knew intimate geographical details of those places. Whose own father was also a moneylender, lending money at the illegal interest rate of 20%, and yet who wrote Merchant of Venice, condemning usury and the sins of moneylenders. Who wrote entire scenes in French. Who never went to court and yet knew court customs like an insider. Who dedicated works to people he claimed to know well who he never met. Who left no evidence of any kind whatsoever in his lifetime that would connect him to writing the plays.

As a matter of fact, it was Bacon. Proof is abundant. start with the Northumberland Manuscript, the Manes Verulamium and the Promus Notebook. What's that? Never heard of them? Ahuh. Well, gee, isn't that as close as never-mind to...oh never mind.

 

 

swisshammer 5/12/2009 10:57:37 AM

Who cares? Does it really matter who writes anything anyway?

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