Tudor propaganda is a word that is sometimes thrown about, and it´s usually associated with two names, Thomas More and William Shakespeare, both of them in certain quarters seen as nothing but tools of the reigning Tudor monarch at the time. The purpose of the propaganda probably doesn´t even need to be mentioned, but I will do it anyway; it is to blacken the memory of Richard III. Here I will focus on the alleged propaganda distributed by William Shakespeare through his play Richard III, thought by some to have been written to please, or maybe even commissioned by, Elizabeth I
This has caused rift between what would otherwise have been sane people where one side will claim to be the voices of reason and ask why Elizabeth I, the 5th Tudor monarch on the throne, would towards the end of her reign, feel the need to blacken a king that had been dead for over a century and therefore couldn´t make a claim for the throne even if he wanted to, when she obviously had more pressing matters at hand, such as real live pretenders to the throne and the problem of succession to solve.
Then we have the other side, who will see much more sinister forces at work, for reasons that remain unknown, aiming to utterly discredit “their” king with withered arms, limp and a hunchback and not to mention a murderous mind.
Feeling somewhat uncomfortable by the constant bickering back and forward I, Jeff Sixwhotsitdorf, decided to dedicate myself to an extensive and – as it turned out – ground breaking research into the subject, and what I have found is astonishing.
It has come to light that the so called propaganda had nothing to do with Elizabeth I what so ever. She in fact tried to stop the play, being slightly clairvoyant herself and also having access to the astrologer John Dee she predicted a future where a limping, hunchbacked and generally crippled king opened the door for herself being portrayed with a ridiculously white face, huge wigs and an unstable temperament. She did not want to see that happen, for she actually was vain, that much is true.
But “hell hath no fury like a man whose ancestors has been offended” (ancient saying carved into the wall of a cave that was once passed by by Etruscan migrants, later changed and used for his own purposes by the 17th century playwright William Congreve).
There was simply no stopping Shakespeare. But what was it that had actually happened?
Carefully studying the appropriate sources show us that at one point – at the time very young – Richard Plantagenet once passed through the little village Stratford-upon-Avon, during the mid-15th century so small that you could pass it without noticing. But there it was, and there was also a man by the name of Geffron Shakespeare, father of Hugh Shakespeare and brother of Richard Shakespeare, one day to be referred to as the great grandfather of The Bard.
Geffron had a small establishment serving travelling parties a hearty meal, and this is where his path was to be crossed by a young future king on his way to Southampton for further distribution to the continent, away from the ravings of war (the party had gotten slightly lost due to their drunk guard).
The boy, only aged eight, starred at the innkeeper, who was slightly disfigured due to an unfortunate run-in with an angry bull in childhood, and started mocking him, maybe out of exhaustion from the long journey because history – at least some versions of it – has taught us that Richard was an epiphany of chivalry.
Geffron had since long had quite enough of that sort of behaviour and chased the boy out into the yard. Little Richard (a name later adopted by a performer of the kind of music that would have gotten him burnt at the stake during this time) was dancing around Geffron in a taunting manner with the result that Geffron in his agitated state tripped over a goat which out of sheer fright retaliated with a pair of well-placed horns in the region of Geffron´s bottom that sent him flying to the other end of the well trampled road.
If fate had been kind, it would have allowed Geffron to land relatively soft by the side of the said road. This did not how ever happen. Geffron got stuck in a pane less window of the local baker, head halfway into the oven. Local chroniclers confirm that this was not a pretty sight.
The Plantagenet party scrapped the kids together (the older brother George had been laughing like a madman through the whole debacle) and fled the scene, while the family of Geffron Shakespeare, once the initial shock had abated, swore to seek revenge.
This would eventually tear the family apart, with Geffron´s son Hugh feeling increasingly humiliated by his father´s spectacular demise. He would in time study at Morton College in Oxford, a time during which he in took the opportunity to change his name from Shakespeare to Sawndare, explaining his decision by stating that his former name was of “vile reputum”.
Geffron´s brother Richard though, the great grandfather of William, decided to make good on his vow to revenge his brother and joined the ranks of Henry Tudor, with such success that he was later granted land in Warwickshire by the new king Henry VII and also laid the foundation for the application made by Shakespeare´s father and later Shakespeare himself for a coat of arms.
But William Shakespeare was, like all great artists, a person of a moody nature and sometimes his glass wasn´t even half empty, it was smashed against a wall of a bakery in Stratford. It was during one of these periods he decided to get even once and for all, if not with the actual little brat that had ended the life of his great grand uncle, but also alienated his distant cousin Hugh from the rest of the family, so at least with the posthumous reputation of the brat in question.
He sat down with his pen and paper and gave the last of the Plantagenet king all the crippling features that once a bull had given Geffron Shakespeare during his early years. And he laughed and laughed, convinced that he had for many centuries into the future blackened the reputation of Richard III.
It should be said that Elizabeth I was utterly disgusted by the play, and had she known it would come to somehow have been thought of something she herself had ordered, she would have thrown a tantrum.
still in a state of being astonishingly astonished
The forgotten grave stone of an unknown relative of someone you´ve never heard of (and for good reasons!)
The backside of a black cow
The front of a very old goat
The very hazy table of ancestry of William Shakespeare
The bottom of a wine bottle
Scribblings on a handkerchief thought to once have belonged to William Congreve, ranging from the quote above via “hell hath no fury like a squirrel who lost his nuts” to the more famous “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”
The last meal of a dissected carrot
The phone call no one ever made (me neither)
The content declaration of Ramen Noodles, mushroom flavour
A dream I had
The dark alley medium I found online