First proof that I was literate when only about 3% of the women could read and write. As chamberlady, the first Secretary of State and 4th in line to the throne I, Ursula Stanley aka Anne Vavasor (and other aliases) I invented the above political cartoon and those cute drawings that kids love that have hidden content. You probably are now realizing the reason why I could not possibly have had my name associated with those plays. Had that happened then very quickly 30 million Industrialized Europeans would have declared war on Englands 4 million farmers.
As chamberlady and personal secretary to the queen I could not possibly be associated with the plays I wrote. For example in one of the plays I 'played' France against Austria or was it Hungary and it almost started a war. Then the Habsburgs sent hit teams to find and assassinate the Bard. It would not have worked out well for little England if it had been found out that one of Queen Elizabeth's chamberladies wrote those politically incorrect plays. So one of the most gallant of the queens guards said that he would put his name on 'it'. 'It' being the first compilation of all the plays. So the plays were attributed to the most gallant of the queens guards. William Shakespeare. (Oops, I recall something new about that life every day. This was a book of sonnets which was published in 1606. Not the plays which were first published after Bill died in 1616.)
If you question what I say then please take a look at this picture I drew 400+ years ago. It is of me with a pen next to Queen Elizabeth. It is very obvious that I was Queen Elizabeth's scribe and personal secretary.
Also, nobody in the world believed a woman and servant could have possibly written those plays. We were very desperate. We were having the books printed but who the heck were we going to say was the author? We couldn't put my name on them. It would have been thought that I was covering for someone higher in the court of Queen Elizabeth and frankly there was no one in the court higher than me....except the queen. So it was completely unthinkable that I would put my name on those damn plays.
So Bill said that he would cover for me.
That's the absolute truth and all the evidence you need to convince yourself is in the public domain called the internet and on these pages.Initially, when I wrote the plays in the 1570's to 90's they mostly upset the Church of England because their coffers suffered. When a new play opened church donations and attendance dropped by up to 50%. The plays and the unknown author were considered heretical and they often hunted for me. Due to the fact that the plays spoke of spells, witchcraft and spirits the church decided that I had to be a witch, although the alleged witchery was mainly made up. They wanted to burn the author at the stake for exposing that invented information but they never could find out who I was. Very, very few women could write* so even when someone did tell them that I wrote the plays they were not believed.
Nobody wanted to take credit for those plays. Then after a few years Queen Elizabeth stepped in and put a stop to it all by knighting me!
Then since the plays attacked nearly every European country other than England my death became more certain. There was very little freedom of speech in 16th century Europe and when mad Danish princes were the subject of my play the Danes almost declared war.
The Danes could have possibly declared war on England. The Scottish actually did threaten to invade (they always did) over Romeo and Juliet which was secretly about Mary Queen of Scots. Then her son King James said it really did made his mother looked good since it was all about love and devotion. We were told to forget the threat.
Those countries could probably have legally invaded once I became a chamberlady to the Queen. (As a chamberlady the plays became almost a part of official policy and they could have been construed as violating numerous treaties.) Those countries would have sent assassins had they known who the bard was. The French, Spanish and Portuguese did send assassins. 'Romeo and Juliet' sat very poorly with Italians. 'As You Like It' drove the French into a frenzy of hate with it's ridiculing of their royal family as a bunch of idiots even though it really was not about them, etc. The Tempest especially created turmoil in Spain since it made certain that that no one forgot the disaster of the Spanish Armada and A Midsummers Night Dream branded the French King Henry III and the French as kinky and perverts. A crown they have worn ever since.
After about 15 or so years the plays turned into an incredible phenomenon of popularity. On one hand, by 1610 the plays were England's best propaganda since they showed that nearly every other country to be rotten, evil or both. (Those plays that found fault with England were mainly about times 100 years earlier, like Richard III, so they didn't count.)
However, the plays made everyone want to kill the author even more.
Not since the plays of ancient Greece had anything been seen like this. I thought the plays would only last the season and then be completely forgotten. Then the bards plays were printed in many languages and distributed to thousands of acting troops throughout Europe.
Most of the foreigners that saw the plays when they first came out had been diplomats serving in London and they just pretended that the plays were of no consequence. Most diplomats made no mention of the plays and others reported the part in question was not about the people they had been told they were, like when French royalty was told that Oberon in Midsummers Night Dream was not really about King Henry III when it certainly was.
Then the plays started getting produced thousands of times on the continent of Europe and as far away as India. A run of 100 nights of Romeo and Juliet took Toyko by storm. The plays were loved where ever they were performed and even the Greeks who saw the plays thought they were as good as their own from antiquity.
The plays were being performed in front of those same rulers they often made fun of. It's one thing to hear about you, your brother or your cousin being made fun of on a distant English stage but it is an entirely different matter to watch the insults being acted out directly in front of you.
In Denmark the actor playing Hamlet got stabbed in the middle of the play by an extremely upset man in the audience who claimed that Hamlet was about his uncle. The actor survived the attack but the knife wielding nephew turned out to be royalty so he escaped prosecution.
Then the plays started to be performed for the common people of Europe. In a few years about 1/4 of the common people had seen at least one of the plays and another 1/4 had seen at least part of one. Since the plays were secretly about their rulers which were usually Catholic it meant that each play was actually both heretical and treasonous about ten times over.
Peasants were often hanged or sentenced to long prison terms for criticizing their rulers and here the plays were suddenly doing it for them many times over.
To play it safe no one dared open their mouth and tell the truth of what the plays were really about to the common people. (If you read the pages that I wrote about the different plays you will know what I mean. Most of the plays had a second hidden plot that made even more fun of Europe's rulers than the plays did openly.) Then when the truth finally leaked out it exploded across all of Europe in two weeks time! The rulers simply could not lock up everyone. That is really what caused the problems.
The plays were often declared outlawed but that only made them more popular.
At first the peasants settled for simply making fun of their own rulers. Then they got arrogant and even stopped paying taxes in parts of France and Italy. Then people openly threatened revolution. It was quite real. Most of the people in the plays that got killed were aristocrats or royalty and that was unheard of. Most peasants had never even thought of that possibility. Suddenly they had actors demonstrating how to kill their own rulers right in front of them on the stages of Europe.
The plays were seen as attacks on the various thrones of Europe so those rulers responded by sending assassins to England in order to murder the bard. After the Pope issued a bull which essentially authorized the assassination of Queen Elizabeth then virtually any English person, who was not Catholic, was considered fair game for murder. Remember, this was the false logic that had allowed the Spanish and Portuguese to murder and enslave millions of 'non-Catholic' Native Americans. Anglican English people were considered to be in just about the same category by many Europeans.Now you know why I absolved myself of all credit for my involvement in the plays.
*Almost no other woman wrote anything original in the 16th century except for Queen Elizabeth. Promoting learning among women as Queen Catherine Parr did before her husband, King Henry VIII, died gave us a Queen Elizabeth with brains but had earlier earned Catherine a death by poison after the King died. (It's called an 'alleged poisoning' today but if you were alive then there was nothing 'alleged' about that poison. There was enough arsenic found left in the cup to kill a dog that it was given to. That dog did not allegedly die, it died very dead.)
Catherine Parr was also responsible, in a way, for my education. Queen Elizabeth opened up her own library and since I worked for England training children to ride ponies when I was a child I could take books to read. Some books actually had her notes in them and one book got a corner eaten by one of the ponies. Queen Elizabeth had a woman there at the library who would spend hours helping a visitor like me learn to read. The queen also sent tutors to teach the children that worked for her so I was one of the few girls that learned to read and write in the 16th century.
Later, when I was an adolescent, my father Henry Stanley hired tutors to teach me. Even later, in midlife, I took classes in law by pretending that my husband had broken his hip and that I was there dutifully taking notes for him. I took those law classes because I had to analyze treaties for Queen Elizabeth and needed to know the law. I even went to the mainland to study for a few months in a European university but they caught on to what I was up to and made me leave.
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