Evidence That Christopher Marlowe Was The “Ghost” Of William Shakespeare

marlowe and shakespeare

The reasons for doubting that William Shakespeare from Stratford wrote the poems and plays are well-known. Shakespeare’s lack of formal education, his illiterate children, the fact that he owned no books or literary properties when he died, the fact that there were no encomiums or epitaphs immediately after his death (until the Folio), his lack of travel experience outside of England, and his lack of acquaintance with the aristocracy are more than enough to create doubts. However, the purpose of this essay is not to debunk the Shakespeare theory but to summarize the case, as it stands today, for Christopher (Kit) Marlowe. Marlowe would have been the obvious candidate but for a deliberate deception that has been generally accepted – especially by Shakespeare scholars – as history.

-By Robert Ayres

The possibility that Marlowe’s supposed murder in a tavern in Deptford was a carefully staged theatrical production was first suggested by the Canadian doctoral student J. Leslie Hotson following his discovery of the Coroner’s Report on Marlowe’s “death” in 1923(Hotson 1925; Hotson 1964) and, since then, by a number of other scholars including Calvin Hoffman(Hoffman 1955), J. M. L. Grant(Grant 1970), William Honey(Honey 1966), Ida Proper (Proper 1953), Louis Ule (Ule 1995), A. D. Wraight(Wraight and Stern 1965; Wraight 1993, 1995, 1997; Wraight unpublished), Peter Farey(Farey 1998, 2000, 2001, 2004), Peter Bull (Bull 2005), Roberta Ballantine (Ballantine 1989, 1995, 2003a, 2003b, 2005, 2007), and Bastian Conrad (Conrad 2013). The fact that some of these writers were wrong on some particulars is not necessarily attributable to poor scholarship. The difficulty is that the events in question occurred four centuries ago during an era of religious persecution, political paranoia and extreme censorship when the art of ambiguity was a condition for the survival of a free-thinking writer. Connecting the dots, as we say nowadays, inevitably requires some guess-work in which plausibility is the only test. But in constructing scenarios, there is a temptation to “cherry-pick” the evidence and that is what has happened in many cases.

The evidence in favor of Shakespeare today is almost entirely based on fraudulent claims, attacks on doubters, evidence against other “candidates” and implausible statements that “nobody doubted his authorship at the time”. The latter argument fails, because it ignores contrary indications that nobody who mattered in the theater world believed it in the first place), As regards the other 60 or so candidates (except Chris Marlowe), the evidence in their favor consists variously of education, aristocratic connections, languages, travel experience, access to source materials and wishful thinking. The best-known “candidates” – Sir Francis Bacon and the Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford – are also precluded by solid forensic evidence (word length, word frequency) not to mention numerous other problems that have been quite extensively documented by others; e.g. (Shapiro 2010).

The evidence cited by Stratfordians against Marlowe is different. It is primarily that he was officially dead after May 1593 and the “fact” that there is no “documentary” proof – of a kind that would be acceptable to them – of his existence thereafter. The alleged lack of evidence of his survival is not strictly accurate, as will be pointed out later in this essay. The Shakespeare loyalists have tried hard – and mostly successfully – to strengthen their case by attacking Marlowe’s character and making assertions about the superior literary quality of their man’s supposed work. As to that, they are comparing Marlowe’s early works written in haste by a clever youth with much later works written and extensively re-vised by a mature man with more life experience to draw upon. The core point, of course, is that if Marlowe did not die in 1593, and if he kept on writing, albeit under another name, he would be the obvious “candidate”.

The evidence presented hereafter for Marlowe’s survival after 1593 is of several kinds. Most of it involves identification with known historical figures. Some of it is “connecting the dots” while some of the supporting material is admittedly plausible conjecture. But, as G.B. Evans editor of Riverside Shakespeare says:

“The real strength of a case rests not on any single piece of evidence but on the quite  remarkable manner in which several independent lines of approach support and reinforce  one another in pointing to a single conclusion…”

Evans was justifying the lack of solid evidence for Shakespeare, but his point holds for Marlowe as well, or better. Even if many of the plausible conjectures are rejected, the case for Marlowe’s survival is very hard to reject. It follows that, all things considered, the case for Marlowe as the author is considerably stronger than the case for William Shaksper of Stratford.

The thesis

The Marlowe authorship thesis is that (a) he did survive, (b) he continued to write plays and (c) those writings were played and published under the pen name, “William Shakespeare”. The case for Marlowe’s authorship depends, first of all, on rejecting the “evidence” presented by Coroner Danby’s report of his death by a stab-wound “above the eye”(written in Latin, of course). The wound supposedly took place as a result of an argument over the “reckoning” (bill) for a day of – presumed – carousing with three secret service colleagues, in a “safe-house” in Deptford. It all happened on the day and evening of May 30, 1593.

One fact about Marlowe’s previous life is important to understand, in view of what comes later. Kit Marlowe was an occasional secret agent, operating mainly in France, during his college years and later in Spain and Italy. It is a fact that he had been away from the university almost half of all the time he was registered as a student at Corpus Christi College (from 1581 through 1587) and yet he was awarded his MA degree against the rules of his college.

Surprisingly, the Chancellor of Cambridge University, Lord Burghley, received a letter from the Privy Council in late June 1587. It was signed by a number of the other Councilors, including Henry Carey, James Crofts, Christopher Hatton, Archbishop Whitgift and Lord Burghley himself. The letter said that rumors that Marlowe had been seen in Reims and might be converting to Catholicism should be ignored. It demanded that the “rumors” be denied. The letter insisted that Marlowe had done “good service” for Her Majesty the Queen (Hotson 1925; Wraight and Stern 1965) p.359, note 14. The MA degree was duly granted by the University in August 1587, in absentia. For us, today, the very existence of that letter, and the fact that it was acted upon, constitute clear proof that Kit Marlowe was not only a secret agent, but of the very highest importance. There is no other explanation.

Some years later, Marlowe was accused by a colleague – the notorious Richard Baines – of a very serious offense: “uttering” (counterfeiting) coins, a crime that carried the death penalty. This happened in the English-controlled town of Flushing, Holland, under the control of Sir Robert Sidney. Marlowe was shipped back to England as a prisoner, with Baines the accuser. But on arrival, Marlowe was immediately released, with no trial or punishment. This episode also confirms that he must have been in Flushing on secret but official business. There is other less documented, but plausible, evidence of his activities, especially in regard to the uncovering of the Babington plot. Further confirmation of his SSS connection is the fact that the three men who were with him in the house of Dame Bull, on the evening of his supposed murder in Deptford in 1593 were all known to be agents of the state secret service.

Suppose (as Peter Farey and others have argued quite convincingly) that the murder was a fake, and that there is a rational explanation for everything: the body that was buried, the Coroner’s instruction to the jury (that it was self-defense) and for the killer’s prompt acquittal and pardon by the Queen (Farey 1998). If the murder was a fake, Marlowe must have escaped; and, if he did escape, the murder must have been a fake. The fake murder and escape (by ship) could not have been a private enterprise. It was far too complex and involved too many important people. It must have been organized by the State Secret Service (SSS) based on instructions from the Queen herself. After his escape from the Archbishop, into exile, he would certainly have continued to work for the SSS as well as continuing to write plays and poems.

The Marlowe thesis can now be formulated in terms of a different set of questions: Was there a person living outside England after 1593 until at least 1612 (or later) who could have been both an English spy, an extraordinary linguist, and also a great poet? (It is curious how many warriors in those days were also poets. Philip Sidney was one. Ben Jonson was another. Cervantes was a third. Lope de Vega was another.) If so, what name(s) did Mr. X use while in exile? Where did he live? And how did he communicate with his friends back in England (because he must have had friends and means of sending his finished works back to London.) What we can say for sure (assuming the escape) is that, after June 1593 there was a “Mr X” wandering through Europe, continuing to work for the SSS, but also writing marvelous plays that were sent (by various means) back to a “front” named William Shakespeare.

Who was Mr X?

The conclusion of this essay is that from 1593 to 1604 there is a plausible “Mr X” who moved around a lot, under several “work-names”, depending on his spy-mission. I begin with his work-names, the names he used when on a mission.

The first work-name X used, in late 1593 and 1594, was (probably) Jacques Colerdin, a name he had used on previous missions. During those months he was based in Italy, working with the Cavalier Battista Guarini, a poet and university professor and long-time contact and associate of Sir Francis Walsingham (who had spent two years in Italy, probably at Padua, during the reign of Queen Mary).

From 1595 to 1598), Mr X became “M. Louis LeDoux”. The basis for this identification has been explored (up to a point) by A. D. Wraight (Wraight 1997) part 2, and followed up by Peter Farey (Farey 1999) (Farey 2005) and most recently by Christopher Gamble (Gamble 2009). The first evidence was found twenty years ago in microfilms of Anthony Bacon papers, kept in Lambeth House (Bacon 1595-98).(Anthony Bacon , the brother of Sir Francis Bacon, was in charge of the intelligence operations sponsored and financed by the Earl of Essex during the 1590s.) There is a series of microfilmed letters to Anthony Bacon, from his secretary, Jacques Petit, concerning a “French Gentleman” named Monsieur LeDoux. As the letters tell it, this French gentleman was in residence for several months at the home of Sir John Harington, Burley-on-the-Hill, near Exton in Rutland. Perhaps he was there as a tutor to Harington’s young son, starting in October 1595 and extending into spring 1596, but there may have been other reasons. Anthony Bacon had sent his personal secretary, Jacques Petit, to Harington’s house to act as valet to M. LeDoux and, not incidentally, to report back on his activities.

Evidently LeDoux was regarded as an important person, but not wholly trusted. Bacon, totally committed to Essex, was probably worried that LeDoux might have also been reporting to Robert Cecil, who was Essex’s rival for the job of Secretary of State, head of the SSS and the Queen’s favor. So LeDoux’s activities at Burley were reported regularly in Petit’s letters to Bacon. LeDoux left Sir John Harington’s house on January 25, 1596. He received a passport signed by the Earl of Essex, on February 10 in London. Using that passport he traveled to the continent briefly and returned to England early in March 1996. This information is in Anthony Bacon’s papers. The purpose of the trip is not clear.

Another similar passport was issued for LeDoux on March 10, at Richmond, together with a long list of instructions regarding intelligence desired by Essex concerning affairs in Germany and Italy, plus any possible news of Turkey. LeDoux maintained contact with Jacques Petit for a while. His last letter to Petit in Anthony Bacon’s papers was posted from Mittelburg, Netherlands, dated June 22, 1596. It speaks very precisely of current events, including the visit of Cardinal Albert (Archduke of Austria and Duke of Brabant) to Neuport (“four days ago”), and the immediate departure (“tonight”) of the “Count Maurice” (of Nassau) “to forestall the designs of Archduke Albert on Hulst, Axel and Ostend” (Wraight 1997) pp 60-61. Mr X was clearly a spy (or “intelligencer” to be more polite) working for the Earl of Essex during 1596. It would be logical to suppose that Essex would have wanted LeDoux to go to Spain to make be available ‘on site’ in time for the massive naval raid on Cadiz that Essex was to lead soon after LeDoux’s last letter from Mittelburg.

Recent research has uncovered evidence that LeDoux was again working in France and the Netherlands during late 1598 and part of 1599 (Gamble 2009). Indeed, LeDoux, almost certainly the same man already identified in Anthony Bacon’s papers, had a full-time position as diplomatic courier between the French Embassy in the Hague and the newly crowned King Henri IV in Paris. During that time he was working mainly for the French Ambassador to Holland, Paul Choart, Seigneur de Buzanval (Vreede 1846).

Choart was a Huguenot who had personally witnessed the massacre of fellow-Huguenots in Paris in August 1572. There he had met Francis Walsingham, who was the English ambassador to France at the time. They probably stayed in touch. Subsequently Buzanval became Henri of Navarre’s unofficial ambassador to England (1585-1589) before moving to the Hague in 1591 where he remained for many years. Correspondence and items in the Calendar of State Papers (CSP Elizabeth), indicate that Buzanval was highly regarded in the English court, where he knew everybody of importance, as well as the Protestant circles in France and Holland. He knew both Francis and Thomas Walsingham, as well as Anthony and Francis Bacon. There is a street, and a metro station, in Paris, named for him.

Buzenval was providing intelligence to the English, with regard to plots against the Queen, and other matters (ibid). For example, in June 1589 Buzanval wrote a letter to Lord Burghley, on behalf of Henri of Navarre (later Henri IV) requesting an advance of 200,000 crowns to support his fight for the French Crown, against the Guise’s Catholic League (CSP Elizabeth Vol 23). There is also a personal letter from Buzanval to Sir Francis Walsingham (dated July 9, 1589).

Buzenval was sent to England again by Henry IV in November 1596. There he met with Anthony Bacon. The purpose of the mission was to persuade Queen Elizabeth, through Bacon and Essex, to loosen her restrictions on the use of the 2000 English soldiers then secretly in France. Essex was promising to meet with the Queen about this matter, but the letters do not say if he did, or what happened (Birch 1754) Vol 1 p 157, 215. Buzenval was back in England the following April, 1597, possibly on the same mission.

The following year, 1598, Robert Cecil – now officially Secretary of State for England – spent three months in France (February through April) seeking an audience with King Henri IV, in the hope of persuading him not to sign a peace treaty with Spain. England was happier when the two continental superpowers were fighting each other. This part of the mission failed; France was exhausted from 30 years of civil war and Henri wanted peace.

Henry Wriothesley, the young Earl of Southampton (and a close friend of Kit Marlowe’s) accompanied Robert Cecil to France in February 1598. Not only that, he stayed on in Paris, presumably at Henri IV’s Court, for another six months after Cecil’s departure (until November), apart from a quick trip to England in August. During that period it is likely that LeDoux met with him at least a few times and possibly more. If LeDoux was Marlowe, it makes sense.

LeDoux was then operating at a fairly exalted level in France. In Vreede’s collection of Choart’s letters (only those written from October 18 1598 through December 1599), four letters were addressed directly to King Henri IV and another forty-four were addressed to his Secretary of State, Nicolas de Neufville, Seigneur de Villeroy (Vreede 1846). Of those addressed to King Henri, LeDoux was the bearer of three, not to mention others addressed to Villeroy. Evidently LeDoux had been highly recommended (by Anthony Bacon, or Essex?) Of Buzenval’s letters to Villeroy no less than eighteen actually mention LeDoux, often in very respectful terms, praising him for his reliability and trustworthiness. Indeed, it appears that LeDoux was also entrusted, at times, with the conveyance of large sums of money (silver), probably to pay troops fighting in the low countries. Some letters deal with specifics of packing, routes, military escorts, etc (Gamble 2009).

Ungerer states positively that LeDoux quit Buzenval’s  service in 1598 (Ungerer 1974) Vol II p. 241. Since it was a very good post, where he was trusted – and presumably well-rewarded – there must have been a good reason for changing employers. The most likely one is that the SSS needed him, most likely to accompany Essex to Ireland. At any rate, LeDoux seems to have disappeared from history about that time.

The reasons for thinking LeDoux might have been a work-name for Kit Marlowe are several. One arises from the catalog of contents of what must have been a trunk full of books. The catalog was also found in the Bacon papers at Lambeth (Farey 1999). It was Catalogue des livres de mr LeDoux le 15me de Fevrrier 1596. The contents included 8 lexicons and dictionaries in several languages, including French, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, German, Latin and Greek, plus several dialects (Tuscan, Florentine, Castilian). Photocopies are to be found in Wraight’s book (Wraight 1997)

Curiously, there was no English dictionary in the catalog. This suggests strongly that M. LeDoux didn’t need one because he was actually English, not French, and that these books had been purchased by him, abroad, especially in northern Italy. Apart from the lexicons, the collection included twelve books in Latin, twelve in French, ten in Spanish and sixteen in Italian while four were in both Latin and Italian. Only one book, a Bible was in English, though there were some English manuscripts by Francis Bacon. There were several religious or theological texts in the collection, plus texts in medicine, history, and literature (poetry, prose and plays). There were also some letters from Lord Burghley, and a clavis steganographia or code-book. This also confirms that LeDoux was not only English, but that he was an English intelligencer (spy) working in and around France and reporting to the English SSS.

Was LeDoux also a writer of plays? The fact that the trunk contained some of the source-books for Shakespeare’s plays suggests it. More specifically, one of the letters in the trunk, from Burghley, dated April 20, 1596, mentions Sir Antonio Perez, a Spanish expatriate, who had once (1567-1579) been Secretary of State of Castile for Philip II, but had subsequently been charged with murder and had spent twelve years in Spanish prisons. He escaped or was released, and moved to France. He arrived at the Court of Catherine, the sister of Henri of Navarre in November 1591, just before Anthony Bacon returned to England after a decade abroad. Perez subsequently moved on to England in April 1593, where he remained for two years working with Anthony Bacon and the Earl of Essex, on behalf of Henry of Navarre, who was shortly to become Henri IV of France.

Curiously, LeDoux’s trunk also included a copy of a book by this same Antonio Perez, entitled Pedacos o Relaciones, in Spanish. The book had been translated into English and the English edition, supposedly written by Raphael Peregrino, was dedicated to Lord Essex. Perez’s book refers to himself as “el peregrino” in reference to his misfortunes, and uses the rare word “peregrinate” a number of times. The same word appears in Love’s Labour’s Lost (V.i.12-14) but nowhere else in Shakespeare’s works. Some scholars, including Robert Gittings (Gittings 1960) and Perez’s biographers, Gregory Maranon (Maranon 1954) and Gustav Ungerer (Ungerer 1974) believe that Perez was the role model for Don Adriano de Armado, the “fantastical Spaniard” in that play. This is at least a hint that LeDoux was involved in writing at least one of “Shakespeare’s” plays. Various commentators have noted the “French-ness” of that play.

Peter Farey asks (about LeDoux) why should a highly educated, multilingual intelligence agent who was almost certainly English, need to travel in England under another name? (Farey 1999, 2005). The obvious answer is that he could not travel under his own well known name. Kit Marlowe fits that description perfectly, and nobody else does. Beyond that, it appears that the list of books included sources for some of Marlowe’s plays, included at least two on the history of the Turks, De Origine Turdarum Libellus by Baptista Egnatius and Leunclavius’, translations of two parts of the Annals of the Turks – background for his Tamburlaine and Jew of Malta and two more on the history of George Scanderbeg, an Albanian warrior who fought against the Turks, plus a history The Four Empires (including the Babylonian and Persian empires) by Johannes Sleidanus.

Peter Farey has traced the name LeDoux (or LeDoulx), by means of the famous Mormon Church data base on names. One thing he found a wax seal from the sixteenth century, with a picture of a man with the face of a baboon and the letters LOIS LE DOULX. He interprets the baboon face as a mask, indicating a false identity. There is also a possible interpretation as the Egyptian god of wisdom, Thoth, the inventor of writing. Kit Marlowe would have loved the double entendre. The Book of Thoth is part of the Hermetica, dating from the early centuries after Christ and later linked to the alchemists, astrologers, and Freemasons. Huguenots were also depicted as monkeys or baboons in a drawing found in a 16th century book called “De Tristibus Franciae” (Farey 1999, 2005).

Farey subsequently traced the name itself, using the tremendous database of names compiled by the Mormon Church. To summarize his extensive research, there was only one man in England named Loys (Louis) LeDoux (or Le Doulx) living in England. As it happens, that man lived in Canterbury at the same time Marlowe was growing up there. The LeDoux family were Huguenots and probably migrated from Northern France after the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre in Paris. They would have worshiped at the Walloon (strangers) Church in the crypt of the Cathedral, next to the Kings School where Marlowe was a pupil for two years. There is every reason to suppose that Kit Marlowe could have encountered the Le Doulx family and that he could have known young Louis, who was his own age. Incidentally, I think it is very likely that Kit Marlowe actually learned to speak conversational French initially from Louis LeDoux.

Farey has found even more. There is a literary reference in a play by Thomas Dekker (The Pleasant Comedy of Old Fortunatus, 1599) where Dekker (as Fortune) refers to a group of four fallen or deposed kings, now enslaved, chained and used as footstools. Fortune identifies “Louis the Meek” as the third in this group, as a “wretch [who] once wore the diadem of France.” He was followed by “Poor Bajazeth, old Turkish Emperor, And once the Greatest Monarch in the East” who was cast down by “that great Scythian swain, Warlike Tamburlaine”. LeDoux can be translated into English as “the meek” and the reference to Marlowe’s downfall is obvious and unmistakable. Farey thinks that Thomas Dekker knew about Marlowe’s fate, and possibly that he was still alive and wretched.[1] I agree.

To summarize, M. LeDoux was definitely an intelligencer who did some spy-work for Anthony Bacon (who was the Chief of Intelligence for the Earl of Essex, Robert de Vere). A number of indications suggest that LeDoux was English, not French, but that his French employers thought he was French. He almost certainly borrowed the name LeDoux from a childhood neighbor in Canterbury, where Marlowe grew up. He was evidently using a French name for purposes of disguise and travel. That he was also a writer can be inferred from other contents of that trunk, though direct proof of that is lacking. Nevertheless I think it is virtually certain that LeDoux was Marlowe. I think it is fair to say that no other “LeDoux candidate” makes any sense. This would settle the question as to whether Marlowe survived after 1593.

Documentary evidence for the next several years is scarce. I think Marlowe spent some time in Spain with Cervantes, and some time in England, staying with friends (including Mary Sidney Herbert, the countess of Pembroke) where he wrote several plays. He may have lived for a time in a room in the house of the Huguenot Mountjoy family at Cripplegate, near the Barbican. He got to know George Wilkins then (and worked with him later on Pericles). He may have played Amorpheous in Ben Jonson’s first draft of Cynthia’s Revels. Possibly Kit was earning his meals as a comedian at the Marco Lucchese’s Italian restaurant. However, none of the above can be confirmed.

A.D.Wraight thought that Marlowe lived between 1598 and 1604 in the Court of the Duke of Tuscany, probably in service to Don Virginio Orsino, Duke of Bracciano, the Duke Orsino’s nephew. She, like Leslie Hotson, thinks Don Virginio was the model for Duke Orsino in “Shakespeare’s” Twelfth Night. (Wraight 1997) p.53 (Hotson 1954)pp.46-64 and p. 205. I think this is quite plausible, though very uncertain. There is no other evidence. Marlowe would not have needed to live in the Duke’s court for very long – or at all – to use him as a model for a character in a play.

The following entry appears on the register of the College of St. Albans at Valladolid, Spain. (It was the third English Catholic seminary in Catholic Europe inspired by William Allen’s first two English colleges at Douai and Reims). The entry reads: “John Matthew of Cambridge, was admitted to this college on March 30, 1599 and took the oath on February 1600.” “John Matthew” – a name possibly chosen because of its biblical significance – successfully passed through the elaborate screening process such applicants had to undergo (described in a book Liber Primi Examinis). In the margin of the college register someone has written “alias Christopher Marlerus” (Ule 1995) p.448. The marginal notation proves nothing. However another English SSS agent in Valladolid, William Vaughn seems to have recognized John Matthew as Kit Marlowe, at the Seminary. Vaughn wrote a letter to Secretary of State Robert Cecil to warn him that Marlowe (as Matthew) was studying to be a priest, and should not be trusted. So when “John Matthew” finally landed in England early in 1604 he was immediately arrested and imprisoned as “Christopher Marlowe alias John Matthew” (Ule 1995) p. 449. The wording of the official record is revealing:

“Committed by my lord chief justice, Christopher Marlowe alias Matthew(s), a seminary priest, oweth for his diet and lodging for 7 weeks and two days being close prisoner at the rate of 14 s the week, £5 2s. For washing 2s 4d. [total] £5 4s 4d”.

The prisoner was obviously treated as a special case, and Marlowe-Matthew did not remain long in gaol. Moreover, the bill for upkeep in prison was sent directly to, and presumably paid by, Sir Robert Cecil, the Secretary of State and head of the state secret service! Later in 1604 John Matthew, alias “Marley of the city of Canterbury”, already out of prison, was pardoned – in absentia – by Archbishop Richard Bancroft, the newly appointed successor to Archbishop Whitgift, according to the pardon rolls (Anstruther 1968; Baker 2005).

So it seems more than just possible that “John Matthew” was Christopher Marlowe. In fact the records say so explicitly. Was that Christopher Marlowe also Mr X? There is no way to be absolutely sure, but his profile is right if we assume he was in Valladolid as a spy for Robert Cecil. (Cecil was worrying about King Philip III’s intentions with respect to the marriage of the Infanta.) The fact that strings were pulled by Robert Cecil to get Matthew-Marlowe out of prison and “pardoned” (presumably for pretending to be a priest) must be given considerable weight.

Robert Cecil, who was then both Secretary of State and head of the SSS – not to mention being the principal backer of, and advisor to, the newly crowned king James I was far too important and busy to interfere in a trivial matter. I think Matthew was probably Marlowe, if only because pretending to study for the Priesthood was something he had done earlier at the English Catholic Seminary in Reims, when he was supposed to be in attendance at Corpus Christi College in Cambridge. Vaughn’s recognition of him in Valladolid as Marlowe and his release from gaol at the behest of Robert Cecil add to the plausibility of this identification.

But Colerdin, Le Doux and Matthew were only work-names for Mr X, not his “real” name.

The name Kit Marlowe used for personal purposes from 1604 until 1622 (and probably as early as 1593) was Gregorio de’Monti. During the years 1604-1622 de’Monti lived mostly in Venice, but with two extended excursions to Naples and one back to England. In Venice, Gregorio was employed, starting in 1604, as “Secretary of Compliments” under newly appointed Ambassador Sir Henry Wotton at the English Embassy to the Republic of Venice. He continued to work at the Embassy under Wotton’s first replacement, Ambassador Dudley Carleton. During Carleton’s extended absence from November 1615 to June 1616, Gregorio was chargé d’affaires at the embassy, reporting directly to the Secretary of State

Yet the Venetians were still convinced that he was “a Venetian clerk”. There is a letter from Bishop Berlingerio Gessi of Rimini, Papal Nuncio at Venice to Cardinal Millino written on January 28 1617. The letter is worth quoting in part (CSP Venice vol 15, 1617-1619:p.596).

“I have received from you the orders of his Holiness upon the proposals of Gregorio di Monti, secretary of the English embassy, and to throw all the light I can upon what may be expected from his activity and his offer. I have the fullest information about him, as I have frequently heard him discussed since I came to Venice, and have even considered whether anything could be got out of him for the service of his Holiness. He is a Venetian clerk, and for some time served the Cavalier Guarino, after which he entered the English embassy, where he lives entirely, both eating and sleeping there….he is a very astute man and those who know him do not believe he may be trusted, and as regards his present offers, I think it very likely that he would play a double game, if a bargain were struck. All those who know him think the same, I believe, especially considering his intimacy with the ambassador and the great affection he bears him and the affairs of the king…” (In Italian. Underlining added for emphasis).

This letter establishes three important facts, notably (1) that the Venetians thought he was a Venetian (he was able to speak Italian in the Venetian dialect without suspicion), (2) that he was very well known among the diplomatic community and (3) that he had previously worked for Guarini before entering the embassy. His offer to the Pope in 1617 must have been some sort of intelligence, probably in relation to a Spanish invasion threat. His work for Guarini would have been during 1593 and 1594, (before he became Louis LeDoux). There is reason to believe he and Guarini were great friends, because Gregorio de’Monti arranged for post-humous publication of Guarini’s convoluted play “L’Idropica” – which he probably rewrote. He dedicated the first edition to Guarini in person and the later edition to the Guarini family. Published by Ciotti Press, Venice, 1613(Rossi 1886)pp.19-82. Cited by Ballantine (Ballantine 2007)p.369. Gregorio later sent a batch of poems by himself and other friends in honor of Guarini to the Ciotti Press: Varie poesie di molti excelenti autori in morrte del M. Illustre Sig.Cavaliere Battista Guarini. Ed. Gregorio de’Monti.Venice. Pub. 21 March, 1616. Cited by Ballantine (Ballantine 2007) note 344 p.147.So he was a poet.

Again, during Carleton’s second term as Ambassador there was another long absence in 1620-21. Gregorio de’Monti was again chargé d’affaires part of the time and official acting ambassador for almost a year. This episode is recorded in British diplomatic history, available on the internet.

During his second period as acting ambassador during 1620-21 Gregorio de’Monti wrote his weekly reports to Secretary of State Naunton in Italian (probably for fear that his Italian identity would be compromised in case any of these letters were intercepted). Those letters still exist. They are preserved in Eton (where Sir Henry Wotton lived during the last years of his life, and are available in microfilm and his collected letters and dispatches (1855). There is a great deal more about Gregorio de’Monti in standard sources, especially the trove of letters between Dudley Carleton and his friend John Chamberlain (1972)and the Life and Letters of Sir Henry Wotton (Pearsall Smith 1907).

Clearly Gregorio was English, was an extraordinary linguist and was working for the SSS and (later) was reporting directly to the English Secretary of State. Was he also a playwright? As it happens Gregorio did write a comedy in Italian, called L’Ippolito.(De’Monti 1620). The copy I found is from the third printing. It seems likely – conjecture, to be sure – that he wrote it for the woman he later married. He met her when he was on a spy mission in Naples, in 1610, under the work-name Antonio Laredo, in the court of the new Spanish Viceroy, Count Lemos. His presence there was, undoubtedly, to ascertain Spanish intentions toward the Republic of Venice.

While in Naples he met and fell in love with Micaela Lujan, a famous actress and singer in the Sanchez Company, which had moved to Naples with Count Lemos. She had previously been the mistress of the famous Spanish poet, Lope de Vega, with whom she had at least one child. She left de Vega because he refused to marry her (being already married). After a whirlwind romance with Antonio Laredo she came back to Venice with him (Laredo), where he was known as Greg. de’Monti. Later they had several children and it seems Greg finally did marry her in a Catholic Church, despite his Protestant qualms. There is a record of his marriage in Wotton’s correspondence. The words (in English) are interesting:

“I have married a wife who is poor and homely, so she will never be proud and I will never be jealous” Cited by Ballantine (Ballantine 2007) note 354, p.148. Copy in Public Records Office, State papers, reference SP99-21-X/LO9704.

Of course, Micaela was anything but homely, so Harry must have had a shock when he saw her.. Harry Wotton gave Gregorio and Micaela (and children) an apartment in the embassy house.            Ballantine argues that Greg de’Monti was also a writer of stories, in Spanish, known as Noches de Invierno (Winter nights) published in Spanish under the name Antonio Eslava(Eslava 1609). Thomas Frederick Crane, a scholar and author of “Italian Social Customs of the Sixteenth Century” argues convincingly that Antonio de Eslava was not a Spaniard at all, but a foreigner living in Venice.(Crane 1920 (1971))pp.630-32. Gregorio fits that description. Noches de Invierno was evidently the basis of “Shakespeare’s” A Winter’s Tale. So we now can say that de’Monti was probably Eslava and Eslava was a writer of stories (in Spanish) that later were adopted by “Shakespeare”, even though they had never been translated into English.

Micaela Lujan was famous enough in her time to be the subject of a biography (in Spanish) but mainly as the mistress of the Spanish poet Felix Lope de Vega, the most famous Spanish poet of the time. In early June 1616 Gregorio and Micaela had a fight. The cause is unimportant. She left him and returned to Spain with the Lemos party. On July 15, she arrived in Valencia. Lope de Vega, Micaela’s old lover, had been in Valencia for 17 days, waiting for the Sanchez Company, and Micaela, to come. Lope de Vega was hoping she would return to him, as his mistress. She was not interested. She said a cool hello and goodbye to Lope, and went on to Madrid to work in the theater (Barrera 1890). Lope followed her. For 20 days Lope tried to win her back; but without success. She told him something about “Don Gregorio”, and that he was the greatest playwright in the world.

Lope was very jealous and skeptical about the supposed genius “Don Gregorio” – hardly surprising – and he called her “la loca” (the crazy one) in letters to his patron, Duke Sessa, describing these encounters with “La Loca”. The letters still exist (Barrera 1890). Lope de Vega didn’t like to lose “his” mistress to a mysterious foreigner, but found a new girl rather quickly. He wrote in a that she was “intelligent, clean, amorous, grateful and compliant.”(Barrera 1890). This does not prove that Gregorio was Marlowe, but it is strong evidence that Gregorio was, indeed, a playwright. Micaela, an actress and a star in her own right, was certainly a credible authority on whether or not her lover was writing plays and whether they were any good. (He wrote at least one, L’Ippolito, for her.) See Appendix.


None of the numerous clues cited above “proves” by itself that Gregorio de’Monti was Christopher Marlowe. A skeptic can argue with almost anything, short of a handwritten copy of Hamlet – if one were discovered – signed by Marlowe in his “secretarial” hand. But taken together, I think the weight of the evidence presented above, that Marlowe was Gregorio is very convincing. Marlowe did survive, as Gregorio de’Monti, under several work-names, notably Louis LeDoux. He continued to work for the SSS and later as chargé d’affaires and acting Ambassador to Venice, he reported directly two Secretaries of State (Winwood and Naunton)..His linguistic skills were extraordinary, without any doubt. And he wrote stories and plays – quite apart from the “Shakespeare” canon. If Gregorio was not Christopher Marlowe, who could he have been?

Having established that Marlowe was Gregorio, it is but a short further step to accept that he was also the author of almost all of the “Shakespeare” canon. This does not rule out some collaborations, as between Marlowe and Fletcher in one case, and possibly several others. What it does do is to raise a whole series of other fascinating questions deserving of further research. Top of the list, for me, is to elucidate his relationship with Cervantes.

A word about anagrams

I have cited Roberta Ballantine’s book a number of times above, but without citing any of her anagrams, mainly because so many people automatically dismiss anagrams as evidence. Now it is necessary to introduce the subject more formally. Contrary to common opinion, anagrams are not codes or ciphers. The Encyclopedia Britannica (11th edition) defines anagrams as “the result of transposing the letters of a word or words in such a manner as to produce other words that possess meaning.” The anagram of a word is another word constructed from the same set of letters. Anagrams may also apply to sequences of words, such as a sentence, constructed from the same letters (and punctuations) as another sequence or sentence.

The use of anagrams for purposes of “interior writing” goes back at least to the Greek theater (Thompson and Padover 1963) Appendix p.253.

“Authors of the Greek tragedies constructed the first eight iambic lines so that they not only made sense but also provided letters to make eight other iambic lines, the first two giving the writer’s name, the next two the Olympiad, the third a homage to Athena, and the last couplet a warning that the show was about to begin”

It is likely that Kit Marlowe learned about this tradition from his schoolmaster at the King’s School, John Gresshop, who was a Greek scholar (op cit, p. 3). In fact, creating anagrams seems to have been a common word-game among educated people in the 16th and 17th centuries, who had fewer books to read and no TV to distract them. It seems that King Louis XIII of France (1610-1643) actually appointed an official “Anagrammatist to the King”. William Camden, antiquarian, historian and sometime headmaster of Winchester School, author of Remaines Concerning Britain, wrote a chapter on anagrams (Camden 1605 (1657)).

The 11th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica pointed out that anagrams were also used on occasion by scientists like Galileo, Hooke, Kepler and Huygens to assert their discoveries to the initiated without alerting the religious thought police. In particular, Gallileo did it. He announced his discovery of the phases of the planet Venus as follows: “Haec immature a ma jam frustra leguntur—oy” meaning “Cynthiae figuras aemulatur Mater Amorum”.

So notwithstanding the fact that the use of anagrams has lapsed into disrepute, it is an indisputable fact that anagrams were widely used by educated people like Christopher Marlowe and his contemporaries. Indeed, it would be surprising if Marlowe had not inserted anagrams in his plays and poems. As it happens, extensive anagrams have been found in virtually every play or poem written by Marlowe, writing as “Shakespeare” (Ballantine 2007). His anagrams always correspond to pairs of verses (each one consisting of two lines) usually at the beginning of a piece, identifying himself (Marlowe) as the author. In some cases only one pair of verses is thus “anagrammed”. But in some other cases the anagrams continue for more than a hundred verses, telling a story or explaining how he feels about something that has happened.

It is true that, in principle, anagrams are not necessarily unique. If there are two meaningful sets of words with the same lexicon, it is theoretically possible that there might be three (or more). Most literary critics dismiss anagrams altogether, based on the Friedman’s critique (Friedman and Friedman 1957). There is a mathematical proof that the number of possible anagrams in a set of letters increases as an exponent of the number of letters (Malioutov 2004). I will not attempt to explain the reasons in detail, here, but it is really very difficult to create a meaningful anagram of a verse or a long sentence., and even harder to create a sequence of meaningful anagrams that tell a story, such as “Captain Bargrave: A form of Polisie” by “Ignotus” which runs continuously from p. 508 to p. 545 of her book. The last several pages are messages to his wife, apologizing for his coming departure (death from cancer) and advising her as to where to go and how to raise the children when he is gone. He wants her to educate them so they could grow up to be independent and self-sufficient but NOT dependent on working for unscrupulous people like the heads of SSS. He advises her to take the children to Guarini’s family estate where they will find a home. If you can read those pages without weeping, you have a very hard heart.

Does this mean that Ballantine’s 366 pages of anagrams are completely trustworthy? No, it does not. She herself has noted cases where exchanging words, for instance, can change meanings. On the other hand, the anagrams are not meaningless verbal garbage. On the contrary, they can provide clues. In the present context, the most important example is the name Gregorio de’Monti itself, which appears (usually as ‘Greg’ in scores of different anagrams, almost always in combination with one of Marlowe’s various signatures (Chr.M, Kit, Kit M.).

Other clues from the anagrams worth following up in the future include (1) the name of his wife, Micaela Lujan (and her former relationship with Lope de Vega); his relationship with Cervantes and his likely identification as “Thomas Shelton”, based on the names of Thomas Walsingham and his wife Audrey Shelton; his children, notably his illegitimate son William Davenant (who later became Poet Laureate of England under Charles II); not to mention some mysteries from his earlier life, such as his true father (Sir Roger Manwood); his true relationships with the Earls of Oxford and Southampton, the identity of the “Dark Lady”, his relationship with Mary Sidney Herbert and the likely identity of Mr. W.H. The anagrams provide plausible resolutions of these mysteries, and more.

The anagrams tell many interesting anecdotes with obvious relevance to the plays. In Captain Bargrave’s Polisie, he describes the circumstances of the writing (with John Fletcher) of “Two Kinsman”. His experience of a great storm at sea inspired “The Tempest”. The murder of Guarini’s daughter Anna by her own husband and brother (an “honor killing”) was the inspiration for “Othello”. There are many other literary links. But while the anagrams create a remarkable – and very plausible – tapestry, with many surprises – they are icing for the cake, not essential to the argument. But even if all of the other “clues” to be found in Roberta Ballantine’s anagrams are rejected as products of her imagination, the essence of the case for Marlowe as the ghost-writer for Shakespeare remains unaffected The “profile” evidence, cited above, is sufficient by itself to demonstrate that Kit Marlowe did survive. The murder was a fake.


Appendix A: L’Ippolito

The following is a short summary of the original, translated by Barbara Loeb. It is far too incomplete to be judged as “Shakespeare” (though it may be) but it does prove that Gregorio was a playwright. This play must have been moderately successful, since it was reprinted at least twice.



A Comedy by Gregorio de ‘Monti. Dedicated to the very illustrious Sigmori

ALESSANDRO and GUARINO Guarini. Third printing, Venice, Pietro Baba, 16, 1620



Zanobio, a Florentine ‘Lotteringhi’;

Ginevra, his daughter;

Carlo, his servant;

Filippo, Zanobio’s son;

Federigo, A Venetian;

Pippo, his servant;

Margherita, his servant;

Isabella, Federigo ‘s niece;

Ippolito, a young man;

Ortensia, a widow;

Costanza, Zanobio’s sister

Ragazzo, Ortensia’s servant

Giorgio, citizen of Palermo



COMEDY addresses the audience:

“As you saw me before, poor, dressed in rags … ashamed as I am of this memory … now am I restored to my true nature and glory … thanks to many noble souls”

“As we are about to begin … Know that the setting is Florence, recognizable by it’s admirable Dome where you will see various changes of fortune – from misery to happiness and happiness to misery and can return happy to your cafes after seeing how many mishaps occur due to forcing a husband on a young girl in love, a girl who, having been too accommodating to her lover, is pregnant.”

ACT ONE, SCENE ONE: Zanobio and Carlo

Zanobio: “Carlo, I don’t want the fish I’ve caught to escape me.. . the marriage I’ve been trying to arrange so long between my daughter, Ginevra, and this Venetian… Often when the deal delays too long it fails.”

Carlo: “And often the delay opens the eyes of someone too much in a hurry to close them.”

Zanobio: “But I don’t want to lose this chance.”

Carlo: “I think if you pressure this Mr. Federigo too much it may harm your reputation … Offering a beautiful wife, a fine dowry to a foreigner and then chasing after him may look suspicious… This to a Venetian, well past fifty, away from his home.”

Zanobio: “I don’t want him to know anything until I have concluded this affair.”

Carlo: “And how do you know if you give Signora Genevra to this Venetian he won’t return to his home?”

Zanobio: “He won’t return to Venice because that’s where he lost his cherished only son, Marco, the same night a fire destroyed all his goods … and six months before this accident he had lost his wife… so, wanting to distance himself from the loss of his son and his house he now considers Florence his home.”

Carlo: “Oh, I didn’t know these things.”

Zanobio then explains the reason he wants this relationship with Federigo, apart from his merits, is that Federigo has agreed to forgo the dowry during the first five years of marriage while agreeing to pay any taxes there might be and furthermore Zanobio would be the heir to everything.

ACT ONE, SCENE TWO: Ragazzo, Ippolito

Ragazzo is complaining about women and the fact that his mistress, Ortensia ,is constantly sending him to look for Ippolito.

Ippolito appears and Ragazzo tells him that he is the soul and life of his mistress.

Ippolito tells Ragazzo he knows that the widow is in love with him but he himself is in love with Ginevra who is pregnant by him. He says that her aunt, with whom she is living, knows about it.

ACT ONE, SCENE THREE: Zanobio, Carlo, Federigo, Margherita

Federigo is knocking at the door.

ACT ONE, SCENE FOUR: Federigo and Zanobio

Federigo. says he wants to conclude the arrangements but is worried about the age difference with Ginevra, she might not want to marry a man of 50.

Zanobio. answers that she is immature but if she doesn’t want to marry him, he’ll force her. .. He then praises Ginevra for her virtues, her modesty, but says he hasn’t seen her in 8 days, that she has a cold and that, since there are no other women in his house she is living with her aunt..

Federigo. says fine but wants to know when he’s going to get his 3000 piastres.

Zanobio says after the first five years according to the agreement they had made.

Federigo: “As you like.”

ACT ONE, SCENE FIVE: Federigo, Margherita

Federigo complains that Margherita.is shut up in the kitchen. He’s called her twice but she won’t answer him. He orders her to prepare the house for marriage. She asks if he’s going to marry off his niece, Isabella. He says that could happen but, meanwhile, Zanobio is preparing to give him his daughter in marriage.

His maid tells him he is too old for her and that furthermore Ginevra has been brought up without a mother and with an elderly lady guardian and her honor could be in doubt.

He responds that he will send his niece right back to Venice. She argues her point but he orders her to obey. He orders Pippo, her servant, to approach.

ACT ONE, SCENE SIX: Pippo, Federigo

Federigo tells Pippo to hurry up.

Pippo says he does not want to obey a woman (Margherita) and argues with Frederigo.

Federigo says, “Do what I tell you.”

Pippo says, “Do I have any other choice?

Federigo warns him to honor his house and not get friendly with his female servants.

In scene seven Margherita tells Ippolito that her master wants to chase her out of the house because he’s marrying Zanobio’s daughter.

Ippolito is surprised but says he will see to it that the marriage does not take place.

In scene ten Ippolito gives the news to Filippo that his sister’s to be married off.

In scene eleven Zanobio tells how he took Ippolito in to live in his household after Ippolito told him he had written his father who, not having responded, he judged to be dead. Zanobio tells how his son is unhappy if he is not always with Ippolito

In scene twelve Margherita tells Isabella, “There’s no doubt but woe is us if they find we are talking about it. or if Pippo tells them”

Isabella asks her help because she’s in love with Fillipo and wants to marry him. Margherita . asks why she should take a risk to satisfy Isabella’s caprices. They argue (as do all servants with their masters in Venetian comedy). Isabella. gives her a letter for Ippolito.

In scene thirteen Margherita muses how easily masters chase their servants out of the house. She meets Ippolito who tells her to deny to everyone that there’s going to be a marriage.

Ippolito tells her that Ginevra is seven months pregnant, must not be found out, and that they must profit from Margherita’s anger and employ it in their plan to foil the marriage.

In scene fourteen Carlo says Filippo is angry with him for not telling that he knew about his sister’s marriage. He speaks of the risk for servants who don’t get along with the sons of their masters.



In scene one, Zanobio orders Carlo to go to his sister’s house and tell her to find out from Federigo’s servant what marriage preparations are being made and also to discover if his (Federigo’s) niece is willing to see his daughter. He asks Carlo about Federigo’s niece. Carlo praises her.

In scene two Filippo complains that his father doesn’t give him spending money. He says he hasn’t seen Isabella yet but maybe she’s at the window.

Costanza says, ”I’m going to give her the ring today, oh we’re so stingy, poor me!”

Fillipo tells Costanza that Carlo has orders from Zanobio, his father, to arrange for Ginevra’s marriage.

Costanza protests that her brother is crazy to want to marry his daughter to an old man.

Federigo says that he’s only fifty.

Costanza says, “but the girl’s only sixteen and what will she do with him when she’s thirty and why not wait a couple of years? What’s the hurry?”

Federigo complains that his father doesn’t give him a cent, that he must go around in rags. He says that his marriage will make a big difference in their house.

In scene three Costanza confronts her brother, Zanabio, citing the dangers of marrying a young girl to an old man.

Zanobio insists that if his daughter refuses to obey she will confined to the house forever.

In scene three Zanobio tells his son to be careful in walking not to wear out his shoes.

Filippo complains once again about his father’s stinginess.

In scene four Ippolito tells how he’s sure Ginevra loves him. He says that Ginevra’s aunt (Costanza) has promised to tell everything to her brother if necessary to stop the marriage.

In scene five Carlo says, “Before I go home I want to see if the promissory note the goldsmith gave me will be honored. I was stupid not to get paid when I was there.”

Margherita tells Carlo her master (Federigo) is going to Naples to see a piece of land he lately bought from Signor Fighinelli.

Margherita exclaims, “and leaving his young wife?.. ‘He who leaves a young wife becomes a cuckold.’ What about the ring he wants to give her? What about the fine gold chains and the jewels he brought home to adorn her?”

Margherita. tells Carlo that Federigo wants to give his widowed sister to Fighinelli in marriage that Federigo refused even though she was a better age for him – twenty six rather than fifteen –because he did not want to marry at all. She also recounts a rumor that Ginevra is very ill.

In scene six Ippolito persuades Ortensia, who is in love with him, to aid him in a plot to deceive Zanobio. She agrees.



A solo by Ippolito, explaining himself, followed by a series of interactions between Federigo, Filippo, Zanobio and Carlo. Then there is a duet between Filippo and Isabella (her first appearance), then another between Filippo and Ippolito. The Ragazzo enters and there is a lengthy trio with Zanobio and Ippolito. Ippolito leaves and Zanobio talks with Ragazzo. Then Margerita and Pippo talk.



Hortensia gets ready for the festival.

In scene two she goes to Zanobio’s house pretending to be from Padua and saying that once when she was in bad straits she was introduced to a rich older man who promised her marriage, excercised his marital rights, got her pregnant and then disappeared and this man was Federigo. Zanobio believes her and in another scene accuses Federigo of all this and breaks off the marriage.

In scene three there is a confrontation with Ippolito.

But then, in scene four , Ortensia, who feels she has been tricked by Ippolito, goes to Zanobio ‘s house.

Zanobio: “What do you want?”

Ortensia: “I wish to speak to Your Excellence since your son-in-law is not here.”

Zanobio: “Not here? He’ll be back soon. What do you want?”

Ortensia: “It’s not something I can tell you in this moment. If you come down, or let me come up, I will tell you.”

Zanobio: ”I’ll come down.”

Ortensia: “More confirmation that he’s married I could not have. Now I must find a means of vengeance equal to the offense I have endured. I’m going to do all the harm I can because for a woman in love who has been deceived and abandoned that is not a bad thing to do.”

Zanabio: “What are you talking about?”

Ortensia: “I was sent by my mistress to beg Your Excellency, if I couldn ‘t find your son-in-law, to give back the gold chain and those rings that he borrowed in your name to give to the nun your sister so that she could use them in the play. It’s been a month now and I can ‘t wrench them from his hands nor can I find him anywhere.”

Zanobio: “And who told you I am a father-in-law?”

Ortensia: “Someone who said that Ippolito had told him ”

Zanobio: “He might as well have said nothing. And so he said that he had taken things from your mistress in my name. I don’t know who she could be.”

Ortensia: “Your Excellency knows her well by reputation. I have heard you mention her more than once in connection with the gentleman from Palermo”.

Zanobio: “And what could he have done with those jewels because I don’t think he could have given them to my sister. And he would have asked me, not her, for the jewels since I could have supplied mine.”

Ortensia: “We don’t know but since he often spent the night at the home of a prostitute where he lost a lot of money gambling it is possible that he gambled another time with what was not his.”

Zanobio: “So that’s the kind of life he leads? That’s the youth you were looking for?I couldn’t have made a worse choice than the two sons-in-law I’ve chosen. I’ve fallen from the fat into the fire.”

Ortensia: “When someone is addicted to gambling they’ll do anything to get money.”

Zanobio: “Who is this mistress of yours?”

Ortensia: “She’s the wife of the fellow from Pisa.. . .She knew Ippolito in Pisa. .. Her brother used to bring him to dine in our house.”

Ortensia then proceeds to tell him that the woman who claimed to have been seduced and abandoned by the Venetian he was going to marry to his daughter was really a prostitute, that not a word she said was true, and that she had been put up to the job by Ippolito.

She convinces him with much detail, that this woman does not exist, he’ll never find such a woman in all of Florence. He asks what would be her motivation and she replies that this woman was in love with Ippolito and she did it to please him.

Zanobio is furious with Ippolito for having maligned Federigo and robbed him of the wealth he had hoped to acquire. He says Ippolito will never have his daughter and he is going to eject him from his house. He goes to make peace with Federigo and reinstate the marriage.

There is also a romantic subplot of dialogue between Zanobio’s servant, Carlo, and Federigo ‘s servant, Margherita. She does not want her master to marry because she will lose her home and Carlo, as seen in the opening scene, does not want his master to marry either.

In the final part of the play it is discovered, through the appearance of a witness, Giorgio of Palermo, that Federigo ‘s cherished long-lost son who, he thought, had perished in the fire that had destroyed his home, is actually Ippolito who is now free to marry Ginevra and everything ends happily.

Appendix B. Timeline for Gregorio


1593 Greg. De Monti collaborates with Giovanni Battista Guarini to help protect Ferrara from Papal takeover Guarini was a famous poet; his daughter Anna, Contessa Trotti, was a famous soprano. (She was murdered in 1598).

1597-1598 Greg. De Monti collaborates with Giovanni Battista Guarini again

1602 Greg de Monti works again with Guarini in Italy; they are close friends.

1604 Harry Wotton to Venice embassy as ambassador, Greg de Monti is hired as Secretary of “the language or compliments” Gregorio is given almost a full p. of bio in Appendix III of Logan Pearsall Smith’s Life and letters of Sir Henry Wotton.

1605- 1609

1610 Besides serving as Harry’s popular secretary, Gregorio did moonlighting jobs at the waterfront, aiding captains with legal problems—one such is documented “Giovanni Alli, Ecossais,” John Allen, Scotsman…gives power of attorney to Gregorio de’ Monti, secretary of the ambassador of Great Britain….The secretary to receive 100 ducats for his trouble [and because, of course, he doesn’t speak English, there’s a translator: Jiulio di Franceschi]. Greta Davos and Wilfred Brulez. Marchands Flamands À Venise. op. cit., vol 2 p 302, item 2643.

1611 Harry Wotton leaves Venice; Dudley Carleton is appointed ambassador de Monti remains in Venice as Sec’y

1612-1613? De’Monti writes a play, L’Ippolito , published. A copy is in the Folger Shakespeare Library.

1614 De Monti is assisting the Earl of Southampton in outfitting ships for a colonizing expedition to Bermuda. (He hopes to be appointed Governor General).

1615 De Monti takes over embassy in Carleton’s temporary absence. A letter in that year was about Gregorio’s brave capture of pirate ships off Tunis, for the earl of Southampton’s Commission. “Monsu de’ Monti’s marsigliane have captured at Tunis an English [pirate] ship which was coming from Algiers with a great quantity of reales. He has also taken another good ship [a “buonavia”] and a petache. He is at Malta, and is said to be arming all the vessels which he takes, and he thinks it to be to his advantage, as in the case of the English ship, that they should have 22 pieces of artillery; and that he intends to procure the abandonment of the affairs of Barbary.” [Captured cargo to go to the Bermuda Company.]

Citations for the above: film of a letter from Domenico Domenici: Senato, Dispacci Firenze, filza xxix, cc. 132 r.-134 v. Venezia: “23 July, 1614. (Italian): A copy is held in English State Papers, calendared SP Venetian, 1614, and a footnote to that item is part of a letter from Ambassador Dudley Carleton to Chamberlain 15 July (Eng. style), 1614: “We hear of an English ship, the Tiger, taken at Tunis by two marciliane sent out against pirates.” Dudley Carleton to John Chamberlain, 1603—1624, Jacobean Letters. Maurice Lee, Jr., ed. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers U., 1972

1616 Harry Wotton returns to Venice; Carleton departs. There’s an interesting letter from Dudley Carleton to Carleton’s friend John Chamberlain in London, touching Gregorio’s heartbreaking disappointment in 1616 when Gregorio finally lost out in a protracted effort to be part of the development of Bermuda. (A disappointment not made explicit in the letter—Carleton merely asks if something can’t be done to comfort poor Gregorio.) Gregorio is also featured in several other letters to Chamberlain. These mentions, mostly light-hearted, are found in Dudley Carleton to John Chamberlain, 1603—1624 (op cit).

1616-con’t: Greg, de Monti writes to Wotton explaining that he has married (his wife was Micaela Lujan, formerly a famous singer and actress, and former mistress of Spanish poet Lope de Vega.1 On 16 Oct. 1616, Wotton wrote to Sec’y of State Ralph Winwood, saying his— Wotton’s— expense account will be presented by his attorney; it includes an allowance for Gregorio––30 ducats a month, and a tribute to Gregorio for loyal service and “some hazards he hath run here, besides the spoiling of his fortune forever in all other places of Italie by this dependence.” Harry suggests the King sign a few lines for Gregorio’s better protection “which will give him security and courage in his service”.(Gregorio has laid before the Doge a plan for protecting Venice (Quevedo’s aggressive intent is now public), but the Doge won’t approve Gregorio’s scenario unless it’s approved by King James. There is also a letter to Gregorio from the King, thanking him for services, but no reward.

1617 22 March Greg. de Monti receives a “patent” from King James, confirming his service; the Patent is presented to the Doge as evidence of reliability. Harry Wotton hands over Gregorio’s patent to the Collegio (CSP Venice vol 14, item 701, p 473). Meanwhile the Bishop of Rimini writes to Cardinal Millino recommending Greg. De Monti for employment, and citing his earlier work with Guarini! (Appendix 1, vol 15, CSP Venetian)

1618 Robert Naunton becomes Sec’y of State. sub rosa Doge Bembo gives Gregorio permission to create a “sting” against Quevedo’s would-be Spanish invaders. In that charade, Gregorio secretly acts the part of an old French pirate called “Jacques Pierre” who rounds up “mercenaries” for use of the Spanish would-be invaders. An official statement kept in the Frari declares that Jakes Pierre and cohorts are to be executed at sea–Jakes Pierre, being an imaginary character devised by Gregorio for the sting.

1619 Wotton departs 16 May for Padua and on, with Queen Anne’s cousin Duke Joachim Ernest of Holstein. Going to Munich and Augsburg. (Pearsall Smith 1907); de Monti remains in charge; he writes over 60 dispatches to Sec’y of State Robert Naunton in Italian preserved at Eton, available in microfilm and in a book: Letters and Dispatches of Sir Henry Wotton in the Years 1617-1620 [and ’21, new style] pub. by the Roxburghe Club, printed by Wm. Nichol, The Shakspeare [sic] Press, 1855(Roxburghe Club 1855). In June and July Gregorio meets several times with the Collegio. CSP Ven. Sept. Gregorio writes Naunton thanking him for his humane letter of 26 August, comforting to his family. (Did Kit and Micaela lose a baby at birth?) Gregorio writes dispatches. (Roxburghe Club 1855 p 139). No mail comes into Venice; the mailman’s in quarantine (plague?) 11 Dec. Ven. Gregorio finally gets the mailman out of quarantine with a small gratuity for the officer of the Dept. of Health. (Roxburghe Club 1855 p 154).

1620 Winter. No money for Venice embassy. No baga secreta. Food there getting low. Naunton sends 200 lire sterling of his own money to help Gregorio. 15 July Ven. Paul Pindar is lodging in Cannaregio, back from nine years’ service as English ambassador at Constantinople. Gregorio goes to see him, 17 July (Roxburghe Club 1855 p 188). 14 Aug. Ven. Pindar leaves Venice for England. James sent papers to be presented to Pindar, knighting him; Henry Peyton was supposed to do it, but didn’t come ashore, so Gregorio gave them to Paul on 13 August. (Roxburghe Club 1855 p 206-7).Today, Pindar’s biographers wonder how and when he was knighted, though here it is, right in print! Greg de Monti is working for Captain John Bargrave, on a proposed constitution for the Virginia Colony, A copy is in the papers of Lord Sackville.

1621 Gregorio is knighted for his services to the crown. The last letter in the Roxburghe Club, Shakspeare Press collection of Letters and Dispatches, pp 257-258, is one to Secretary of State Robert Naunton from Gregorio, 29 January, 1620 (1621 New Style). All the letters from Gregorio to England are in “choice” (unctuous) Italian, in his own hand: Translation by Charles Re’

“Illustrious Lord, my most Reverend Lord.

With the mail of this week I have received a letter from your Most Illustrious Lordship of the 28th of last month [28 Dec. 1620] which has given me the greatest contentment, for it testifies that my humble services are viewed with favor by His Majesty. For this I render thanks first to God, then to His Majesty who has deigned to bestow on me such great honor; and I shall remain eternally obliged to Your Illustrious Lordship for what you have done on my behalf in securing the great favor of which I am the recipient. Thus, I pray God that I may be allowed to come and attend in person this ceremony, and humbly kiss His Majesty’s feet. Meanwhile, I beg to remain in your good graces and to commend now my humble family to the benevolence of our Gracious Patron…..

Of your Most Illustrious lordship I am your most humble and obedient

Gregorio de’ Monti

1622:Gregorio de’ Monti, knighted in January, dies in Venice (possibly poisoned?), November 22. He tells his wife Micaela to go to Guarini’s house in San Bellino, near Venice. Wotton’s public writing about Gregorio ends 1621/1622 with an elegy on him delivered to the Collegio.

John Taylor, the Water Poet, wrote a 17-page sardonic encomium for Gregorio, published soon after his death:


Gregory Nonsence

His Newes from no place

On the title page is a false date: “Printed in London, and are to bee sold between Charing-Crosse, and Aldgate. 1700.” (Maybe a cipher, surely a joke: Charing Cross was W. of London, Aldgate, E.) In the center of the title page are five weird names which together make this anagram: QUEER KIT M, HE HAS GONE UP TO SPY ON PLUTO––COACHMAN.

The real date of publication is printed on the back page: “FINIS. Printed at London by N.O. 1622.” (a copy from Charles Hindley’s Miscellanea Antiqua Anglicana, at the Folger Library.)

LATER … In the Frari, in the archive of the Ten Savii of the Tithes, in the collection of announcements of worldly goods, there’s a tax record documenting the existence of a son of Gregorio: “Iseppo Monte q. Gregorio, aprile 1661.Iseppo Monte, son of Gregorio would have been about 44 yrs old. He was living in his own home in the Calle dei Fabri assessed at 40 ducats. He was proprietor of a shop at S. Salvador in the street of tinsmiths, valued at 75 ducats, and he had another house at San Luca estimated at 75 ducats.


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[1].There is a theory that Dekker may have been the second incarnation of Thomas Nashe, after Nashe got into trouble with the Church, and went underground, just as Marlowe had (Murphy 2000). Nashe and Marlowe were both members of the University Wits, and they had been friends at Cambridge, so Nashe (Dekker) would have known of Marlowe’s fate.

  1. Gregorio’s name is found, too, in one of a series of letters from Lope de Vega to his patron the duke of Sessa, printed in D. Cayetano Alberto de la Barrera. Nueva Biografia de Lope de Vega. The Spanish Academy (Barrera 1890): in the sixth letter of this series, Lope complains of his abandonment by his former long-time mistress Micaela Lujan, who has fallen in love with Gregorio. Lope writes, (letter six) “Mucho olgaría de ver un papel de aquel ángel de palacio; que después que vi la inoranzia de Don Gregorio, me parece posible qualquiera enredo…..” (I’d very much like to see some writing by that angel of the palace; for after seeing the ignorance(?) of Don Gregorio, any entanglement seems possible…”)

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