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Warning: My speculations are in italics. The rest is accepted historical fact.
William Shakespeare was a man of words. His world was shaped by the words of others until he mastered the words to create his own world, the Globe Theater. The first word to circumscribe Shakespeare’s fate was his first name. Why William? He was born on St. George’s Day. Not only was St. George the patron saint of England, he was especially important in Stratford on Avon. On the wall of Stratford’s Trinity Church, where Shakespeare was baptized, there had once been a mural of St. George slaying the Dragon. Before Shakespeare, Stratford had produced only two very famous men. One, of them, John de Stratford, was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1333 to 1348. Thanks largely to the efforts of John de Stratford, St George became Patron Saint of England shortly before John’s death. (The other famous Stratfordian, Hugh Clopton, was Lord Mayor of London in 1491, the year Henry VIII was born.) Even after Henry VIII told Englishmen they could no longer be Catholics, after the Church of England told them they could no longer venerate saints, after St. George had been painted over in Stratford’s Trinity Church, many Englishmen still named their sons George, especially secret Catholics like John Shakespeare, especially when their sons were born on St. George’s Day. But John Shakespeare’s son, born on St. George’s Day, was named William. Why William?
Before John Shakespeare’s son was two days old, before the baptism, a modest man named William Allen rode into town. Although John had never before met William Allen, never even heard of him, he named his son after William Allen and named William Allen godfather to his son. Why? One day this William Allen would be a very important man. He would found a college in the Netherlands to train Catholic missionaries to go back to England (where a quarter of them would be drawn and quartered for preaching their outlawed religion). When Philip of Spain planned to capture England with his Armada, the plan called for William Allen as Archbishop of Canterbury and Chancellor of England. But there was little hint of that momentous future in the modest man who had just ridden into town.
To John Shakespeare, William Allen was important because he prophesied that John’s son would become the most important man in the history of England, the man who would reunite England with the Catholic Church once and for all. Allen spun a tale of Shakespeare, Breakspear, and Pole; of the only English Pope and his fertility well; of the false fetus stirred by Pole’s entrance; of almost-Pope Pole’s conception of a new English word, "seminary," and the dissemination of Pole’s "seminary" just as John Shakespeare was conceiving his son; and of two Catholic heirs who never were and one who was to be.
Internal Links[edit | edit source]
Shakespeare, Breakspear, and Broken Pole - The Prophesy (next article in biography)
Where Truth Is Hid - A Speculative Biography of Shakespeare (main article)
--Ray Eston Smith Jr 22:23, 6 March 2007 (UTC)