It Was No Carnival in Flanders

Banner - Flanders and Liberty from the film - Flanders Gascoigne Spain Burghley

· 28 May 2019 ·
[My four-week trip to the Eighty Years’ War]

In 1574, the Dutch Revolt was six years old. I was twenty-four. I was in Flanders, in a hurry. I was on a mission. Probably nothing you’ve read about, if you’ve read anything. Most of the little that’s been written is ridiculously wrong.

  • For untruth is untruth though ever so old, and time cannot make that true which was once false.

Or something like that. [1]

Time for the truth, never so old but told anew.

George woodcut portrait - Tam Marti Quam Mercurio - Flanders Gascoigne Spain BurghleyGeorge Gascoigne
(~1537 – 7 Oct 1577)

Early June 1574

George Gascoigne was in trouble.

Not his typical litany – affray, disinheritance, default, marrying a woman who already had a breathing husband. Those weren’t trouble, only inconvenience. This was trouble.

George was a captain in a contingent of five hundred English volunteers fighting in the Low Countries with Willem the Silent of Orange, against their Spanish overlords. At the end of May the men were forced to abandon their defence of a fort at Valkenburg, near Leiden. The Leideners, with more suspicion than sympathy for their allies, refused them safety inside the town walls, and the English could only surrender to the army of Philip II. When the news reached England, no one knew their fate.

The problem, paradoxically, was that England and Spain were not at war. Elizabeth looked through her fingers at English free-lancers who fought with the Dutch insurgents against Philip’s Catholic rule, but she maintained her official deniability. Because of this policy policyless, the prisoners held no military status in the eyes of their captors. They could be put to death at any moment as foreign agitators, abettors of rebellion.

England couldn’t afford to hazard the status quo for these men. The threat of war was too great, the realm wasn’t ready. Even the captives knew this. They were on their own.

1562, 1567, 1572, 1574

At the time of my father’s death in 1562, George was one of the hundred and forty horsemen in my escort from Hedingham Castle to Cecil House, where I commenced my altered life as a royal ward. I was twelve, George was twice that, or thereabout [2]. It was an early crossing of our paths, but our true friendship began in 1567. I was just turning seventeen, a new student at Gray’s Inn, there to learn the laws of the land that I owned a lot of. George was there for the second time, an incomplete stint well behind him. He had dropped out for several years amid an extended run of inconvenience, but thereupon chastened (somewhat), he settled down (somewhat) and returned to his studies not long before I arrived.

George portrait in armour - Flanders Gascoigne Spain BurghleyGeorge was my first artistic friend, someone who shared my passion for poetry, drama, languages, the classics. Despite our age difference, we got on like twins. Because of it, he became a role model to me at a time in my life when I yearned for one. Someone who could show me the new world of my adulthood. Someone who knew what my allowance should buy. Someone I liked, unlike my guardian. Witty, wicked George ticked all the boxes. He had the year before translated Ludovico Ariosto’s Supposes from the Italian, adapted it into the first prose comedy in English, and had it performed at the Inn. Though I wasn’t yet enrolled, I sneaked in to see it. It was brilliant. It was so new.

We doled out time to the Law and lavished the balance on the Muses. We hardly slept, as our chandlery bills attested. We taught each other what we knew, and learned from each other what we didn’t. The days flew by. When our stays at Gray’s ended and our familiar paths diverged, our bond held fast.

Now I must turn the accomplishment of several years into an egg-timer.

In 1572 George was again facing inconvenience. Barred from returning to a seat in Parliament for Midhurst, threatened with returning to a cell in prison for debt, he abandoned Mercury and his creditors in England, and pinned his hopes on Mars across the sea.

I had inconveniences of my own. I was twenty-two, newly married to my bride of fifteen. Cecil, now Lord Burghley, was now my father-in-law. I was suing my livery to re-enter my estates, the expensive process that would terminate my royal wardship. Over at the Tower, cousin Tom of Norfolk awaited the executioner’s axe for his inability to resist the siren song of the Queen of Scots. Amid these stirs I kept my friendship with George safe in my heart, among my chiefest jewels.

Jumping o’er two more years. Valkenburg fell, and George was in trouble.

Mid through Late June 1574

Once it was known that the prisoners were alive, rescuing George became my only objective. I’d require cash for passage and horses and guides and bribes, but mortgages were easy to get. They would be repaid, so I figured, from Anne’s dowry, still owed me by Burghley after two and a half years. £15,000, well above any amount needed to liberate George and redeem the loans. For reasons best explained in a footnote [3], the money was to be waiting for me, in gold, in Dunkirk.

My wife objected, weeping. Her father objected, railing. Her Majesty objected, forbidding. To all I was obdurate who were obdurate to my friend. I was the only man in Christendom who could deliver George Gascoigne. He would not perish because I chose not to.

On the 2nd of July I was on my way to Calais.

Route map of my first continental trip in 1574 - Flanders Gascoigne Spain BurghleyI know there are no cannonballs. It’s only a map.
Google Maps (initially)

The Spanish Threat

Burghley Bess Walsingham larger image - Flanders Gascoigne Spain BurghleyElizabeth with her right and left hands,
and two others holding her regalia.

Wellcome Collectioncc-by

The Regnum Cecilianum was an oppressive regime under which many people suffered. I was one of them, and it is not an exaggeration to say that Shake-Speare suffers still. But there’s a difference between an (ostensibly) insular, autonomously-governed surveillance state, bad as that may be, and a subject state ruled by an expansionist foreign power who maintains political control with an army and doctrinal control with an Inquisition. The Low Countries were states of the second sort, who desired self-determination and were willing to go to war to get it. It took the Dutch eighty years of fighting against the bloody constraint of Spain before their independence was assured.

England wanted to avoid that fate. Those who governed the realm (that’s them in the picture) knew that Spain would launch an invasion in due course, flying the flags of the Habsburg king, the Roman pope, and the Scottish pretender queen. The fears at home were not unjustified. Philip, Pius (then Gregory), and Mary were all on record: Elizabeth had to go.

We had to prepare. Not only with culverins and race-built galleons to fire them from, but by re-examining who we were and why we’d be fighting. Our sense of English identity had taken a beating during the years of Lancaster versus York, when nobles and their affinities split into factions of blood and self-interest (all my rose-plucking fiction dramatic licence). After Bosworth, what Henry VII had begun to repair was rent again asunder when his son tore England from Rome. Young Edward then swung far to the Protestant side, and Bloody Mary far to the Catholic. Elizabeth tried to find a via media, but few were satisfied. The widening rift was now the breach through which our enemy could enter.

Elizabeth trusted her people to remain loyal to her, English first. Burghley called her naïve, and slept poorly. Walsingham didn’t sleep at all.

Intermedio Primo

Many of my memories of Flanders returned to me in one unsettling jolt when I saw Lech Majewski’s 2011 film The Mill and the Cross, which recreates The Procession to Calvary painted by Dutch artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder in 1564. From the film’s first scene I was transfixed. It conducted me like an electric shock back to that place and time.

First the painting. Click on the image for an enlargement. The caption links to others. The work’s actual size is 124×170 cm, 49×67 in. It’s big.

Bruegel Procession to Calvary display image - Flanders Gascoigne Spain Burghley· The Procession to Calvary ·
by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1564
Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien
also 2018 KHMV Bruegel exhibit,
Wikimedia Commons

Next, a quick bit of analysis and historical context.

Bruegel used his talents for observation and synthesis to add political relevance to his sacred story. Flanders was not Calvary, but the shift in location and time, the analogy of persecution for a new faith, and the substitution of Spain for Rome combined to make an ironic, prescient comment about the conflict that was only beginning to begin in 1564.

Philip’s Red Riders (Roode Rocx) were not cavalry troops. They were his mounted paramilitary police force, notorious for their tactics as well as their tunics. Both are on display in The Mill and the Cross. Many Roode Rocx were mercenaries, including Walloons from the south. I had an almost-too-close encounter with a drunken lout of a Walloon in his red tunic, when I was trying to get around Ghent unnoticed. I didn’t forget.

The Mill and the Cross DVD cover - Flanders Gascoigne Spain BurghleyIf you live in the US, Canada, or Australia, you can stream The Mill and the Cross without cost at You don’t even need a login. If you’re in the UK or EU, that site is broken thanks to the GDPR. Wherever you live, you should hunt down the Blu-ray disc and play it on a large screen. This film needs high-end hardware to do it justice.

If you expect The Mill and the Cross to contain conventional leading characters and a well-defined story arc, it doesn’t. There isn’t much dialogue. Majewski gave Bruegel’s vision breath and a beating heart, but it’s more like a series of animated tableaux than linear plots. Bruegel himself and his patron Nicolaes Jonghelinck serve as the connectors between them.

Dutch actor Rutger Hauer portrays Bruegel. Jonghelinck is played by Michael York, a veteran of many of my roles. This is as good a time as any to encourage you to listen to him speak of his Doubt About Will.

The lack of Instagram in my day (okay, photography) means that opportunities are rare where I can say This is what I saw, this is what it looked like, this is what was happening. Something I can show that I experienced myself, or near enough, more than four hundred years ago. The Mill and the Cross is a film about a painting of the Crucifixion made ten years before I was in the region depicted. As unlikely as it sounds, this is one of those rare opportunities. The narrator in the video above called it a strange movie. My word is magnificent.

Mid through Late July 1574

As I sped on lathered horses through the dangers of the Flemish countryside, I had no way of knowing that the new Spanish Grand Commander (effectively Philip’s regent), Luis de Requesens, had sent Bernardino de Mendoza to England for a face-to-face meeting with Elizabeth. On the 17th, in a spontaneous gesture surely planned in advance, the English prisoners were cast in a set-piece of political theatre. Mendoza, to prove himself a trustworthy fellow while demonstrating that Requesens wasn’t as bloodthirsty as his predecessor the Duke of Alva, promised to obtain from his master this favour: the safe return of the captives to England, in Elizabeth’s name.

Thus the condemned were spared. Bess ex machina.

I learned most of this from Tom Bedingfield when he caught me up in (Zalt)Bommel. Wiliest great boar I ever tracked, he laughed. I never did make the last fifty miles to the royal prison at Haarlem where the officers were held. Elizabeth wanted me safely home without delay. Since George was no longer in peril, I didn’t give Tom a hard time.

All the hush-money and safe-conducts and livery advances I had laid out along my route, both for myself and in anticipation of returning with George in haste and secrecy, were now pointless, but more to the point they were gone. That’s where the money went, not into the hands of exiled Catholic plotters. And there wasn’t any dowry in Dunkirk. So much for my mortgages.

I didn’t put the return trip on the map. I believe we shipped out of Rotterdam, but I was soaking my frustrations in a lot of genever so my recollection is fuzzy. Tom hired our passage, and we landed at Dover just before the end of the month.

As for the captives, the common soldiers were soon repatriated. Requesens held the officers back a bit longer, keeping them as hostages to insure that a Spanish fleet heading eastward would be allowed to resupply safely in England. George was home in October with a crumpled draft of The fruites of Warre in his pocket, written during his internment. He hadn’t abandoned Mercury after all.

A decade later, trusty Mendoza was discovered up to his elbows in the Throckmorton plot, yet another attempt to replace Elizabeth with Mary Stuart. The ambassador was booted from the country.

Also in 1574

In Warwickshire, young Willy Shakspere was a lad of ten. He might have been at his desk in his hypothetical classroom, head bent over his book, giggling at Latin wordplay in the comedies of Plautus. Or he might have been mired in his own local war of rebellion, fighting against the fowl forces of occupation scratching for grubs on the high ground of his father’s illegal dunghill. Who can say. [4]

Intermedio Secondo

The film Carnival in Flanders is set in 1616 in the Flemish town of Boom, which is today a suburb of Antwerp. The Twelve Years’ Truce in the Eighty Years’ War began in 1609, thus 1616 was a time of reduced violence, though not peace.

When informed that Spanish troops are to billet in Boom, the town’s younger aldermen want to give them the benefit of the doubt in the name of commerce. “Passing soldiers bring passing trade” they suggest. Distressed, the older aldermen remind their juniors of the depredations of the Army of Flanders a generation before. The film flashes back forty years to the Sack of Antwerp, which took place over three days in early November 1576 (4th-6th).

Carnival in Flanders, made in 1935 by Flemish director Jacques Feyder, is (believe it or not) a proto-feminist comedy of manners, a bourgeois cousin to Lysistrata. This flashback scene stands in stark and intentional contrast to the rest of the film’s ebullient humour. But the Sack represents an event in the region’s collective memory not forgotten by Flemings like Feyder, even after three and a half centuries.

November 1576

Google Arts and Culture has historical images of the Sack, also called the Spanish Fury at Antwerp, from Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum and elsewhere. Some of the pictures look just like Feyder’s flashback.
Sack of Antwerp image mosaic - Flanders Gascoigne Spain BurghleyWhat prompted this rampage? Deficit spending. Insolvent from funding simultaneous wars against Protestantism in Europe and the Islamic Ottomans encroaching from the east, Philip declared Spain bankrupt at the end of 1575As he had done in 1557, 1560, and 1569, and would do again in 1596. All the treasure in the New World was still not enough.. The chronic lack of pay for his armies led to mutinies and pillage, with Antwerp’s sacking a year later being the most infamous example. Nearly eight thousand people were killed.

An account of the Sack of Antwerp was written by an English eyewitness who happened to be there doing business for Elizabeth’s government. That eyewitness was George Gascoigne. I can’t make this stuff up.

George survived the turmoil, returning to London on 21 November. He reported to the Privy Council, then quickly published his account in a pamphlet, 1576’s analogue to blogging. The spoyle of Antwerpe, Faithfully reported, by a true Englishman, who was present at the same. Novem 1576. Seene and allowed. The internet is a gift.

The spoyle of Antwerpe reads like vintage Georgian prose, colourful in detail though his death toll of 17,000 is sensational hyperbole. Nor is his story without humour, despite its grim subject. But while George did see the Sack and lived to tell the tale, the tale he told was a brazen hoax. Witty, wicked George lifted nearly all of what he Faithfully reported out of an anonymous Dutch pamphlet that he brought home with him. Lock, stock, and most of the barrel. This explains why he didn’t put his name on his version, forgoing the credit he was usually eager to claim. It’s not that he couldn’t have written an original narrative, but he wanted to cash in before the hot story cooled off. George was always stone broke or worse, and writing his own pamphlet would have cost valuable time, reducing the proceeds. This was not Art, this was Commerce.

So if you read Georges hoax, read also this article in the journal Dutch Crossing, which describes how he did it. Audacity, thy name was Gascoigne. I can confirm for the article’s author that by 1576 George was quite proficient in Dutch. He had no need to steal from a French translation when he could easily steal from the original.

You do need to keep in mind that in the days before authorial copyright, sharp practice like this was not uncommon. Someone could purchase or otherwise acquire something written or published without clear attribution, or even with it, or from a foreign source, then fiddle with it a little, or maybe not at all, and sell it at a handsome profit, either anonymously or under his own name. A noteworthy example of the latter case comes to mind, involving a glover’s son from Warwickshire who did some brokering in plays he didn’t write.

Georges CV included (among much else) the first prose comedy in English, the first instructional manual for aspiring English poets, first-person disaster journalism, and the theft of intellectual property before the term was ever defined. He lived ahead of his time, and he died the same way. Eleven months after Antwerp he succumbed to an illness, barely forty (probably). His unwritten contributions to English literature can only be imagined. I mourned deeply for him for the rest of my life.

Early through Mid August 1574

Elizabeth did not angrily dispatch Tom Bedingfield to haul me back to England ‘under threat of heavy penalties’. What a barrow of butcher’s offal. Tom was no bail bondsman, he was a trusted friend and a fellow writer, much as George was. Tom and I had broken lances together in the joust, and in ’73 I had arranged for the publication of his English translation of Cardanus Comforte – later (and still) known as ‘Hamlet’s book’ – which he dedicated to me. Having my trust was crucial; it was why Elizabeth gave him the job. There were few men who could run me to ground in that country and then say You can stop here, George won’t be harmed, he’ll be released soon, let’s go home, whose word I would take.

The non-offal truth was this: once Bess had Mendoza’s word that George and the others were safe, her objective was to get me out of harm’s way, preserving what she could of my pocket as well as my person. She knew that the longer I was gone, the less likely any of my money would return intact, even if I did. She knew nothing of the alleged Spanish dowry, which would have cost Burghley his job, his title, his fortune, and probably his head had she learned of it.

From Dover, Tom and I returned to London, where I restored myself with hot baths, good suppers, and sound sleep. I arranged for new apparel that proclaimed the man, then at mid-month I travelled with my querulous father-in-law to meet the royal progress in the West Country.

Burghley assailed me the whole way, barely pausing to inhale. I was so bored I counted time in my head: his record was thirty-two allegretto beats between breaths. (It’s odd what you remember.) I kept hoping he’d pass out. It was an unrelenting, whining spate of rebuke and worry and spin that went on and on and on for a hundred interminably slow miles in the insufferable August heat and no genever. He had rehearsed his diatribe in a letter to Walsingham, who was already with the queen. Just one, endless, sentence gives you the idea:

I beseech you to impart such parts of this my scribbling with my Lords of the Council with whom you shall perceive Her Majesty will have to deal in this case, that not only they will favourably reprehend him for his fault, but frankly and liberally comfort him for his amends made both in his behaviour beyond seas and in his returning as he hath done, and beside this that they will be suitors to her Majesty for him, as noble men for a noble man, and so bind him in honour to be indebted with goodwill to them hereafter, as indeed I know some of them hath given him good occasion, though he hath been otherwise seduced by such as regarded nothing his honour nor well doing, whereof I perceive he now acknowledgeth some experience to his charge, and I trust will be more wary of such sycophants and parasites.

– Burghley to Walsingham, 3 August 1574

He was even more painful to hear than to read.

I was to confess my sins and receive royal absolution in the port city of Bristol, amid mock naval battles celebrating the queen’s visit and the signing of the Convention (Treaty) of Bristol. This was an important diplomatic and trade agreement between (wait for it) England and Spain.

After what I had just been through in Flanders, I was in no mood for celebrations with Spaniards. It was difficult to watch them dispensing smiles and gifts in England when I recalled what their brethren were dispensing in the Low Countries. And I couldn’t very well ask anyone about the dowry in those surroundings.

Bristol, dependent upon Spanish trade for its prosperity, showed its civic gratitude to Burghley with presents of sack, claret, and sugar. Not much of the sack made it back to Theobalds.

Why did Burghley care so much about me? I may have been the first royal ward who became his charge, but I wasn’t the last. He controlled the finances of raised half a dozen orphaned earls and a couple of barons in the twenty or so years following my ride to Cecil House in 1562.

Was it the paternal affection of a surrogate father for a foster son? Please. He lacked affection even for his own sons, though he was fond of his daughters. He and I were ever chalk and cheese. Was it my money? He took full advantage of that while he could (though Leicester was the greater thief), but I was now of age and not so easy to fleece. So why didn’t he get an annulment for Anne, and start over with a less recalcitrant son-in-law? In 1574 Anne was still only seventeen, and young for her age. But she loved me, or she loved the idealized version of me that she carried in her girl’s heart. Sadly for her it bore little resemblance to my human self.

Ultimately though, even Anne’s love was not the brake on her father. What you must understand is that William Cecil’s greatest desire, unachieved though he was the most powerful man in the realm, was to become the grandfather of the heir to the Oxford earldom. He had run my life for the preceding twelve years in order to achieve that one end. To complete the rise of the Seisylls – from his own grandfather, third son of a Welsh borderman, through himself, to a de Vere grandson owning blood that crossed with the Conqueror. None of the other young nobles-in-residence ever came close to my ancestry, and Burghley was never one to settle for half when he could take the whole. The answer to the question is his ambition, relentless and all-consuming.

In his mind, the sins I committed with my run to Flanders were threefold: I left with a lot of borrowed money and returned with none, I disobeyed a royal command, and (worst by far) I put myself into physical danger which threatened the future existence of his unconceived grandson. And I committed these sins for no better reason than to save the life of one of my sycophantic, parasitic poet pals. The old man was beside himself.

Raging Ruler Requires Runaway’s Rapid Return, Repentance is, and always has been, a fiction based on a contrivance. What took place between Bess and me at the Great House in Bristol was not a dressing-down, but a private meeting of minds, followed by a little masquerade staged for Burghley’s benefit. To calm his jangled nerves, the Queen and I played parts in a scene consisting of a bowed head over a bent knee, a wrist gently slapped, an apology made and accepted, a hand extended and kissed. A performance à deux for an audience of one.

It is true that Her Majesty was not most happy when I went AWOL, but at least she understood why I did it. Burghley the parvenu peer never had the slightest grasp of the obligations of honour that came with the birthright of nobility. Blood will tell. I still have occasional moments when I regret not exposing the Lord Treasurer’s corruption in the Spanish trade deal, but the man was far too cunning to leave me with any way to prove what I knew. His entire career was an exercise in covering his tracks, making the record, his record, look good. Whistle-blowing wouldn’t have procured Anne’s dowry in any case. (Don’t even ask.) And for all that I loathed his hypocrisy and detested his methods, I wasn’t heartless enough to denounce the beloved father of my guileless young wife. I’m sure he knew that, and relied upon it.

My Flanders trip was an important if indirect input into what would become the history plays, but when I look back on it now from this temporal distance, what matters most is that it was the harbinger of Italy. The catalyst. If I hadn’t first gone to Flanders without Elizabeth’s permission, I doubt I’d have ever gone to Italy with it. As I talked with her at Bristol – describing my journey, offering opinions, answering her questions, making her laugh with a couple of slightly tall tales – the scales fell from her eyes. She could finally see what I had known for a long time: I needed a change, a reprieve from my own life.

Six months later I was back in France, on my way to Venice. This time I was rescuing myself.

[1] The original quote is:

  • …for truth is truth though never so old, and time cannot make that false which was once true…

It was written by me to my former brother-in-law Robert Cecil, at the beginning of May 1603. See this PDF [] for a transcription of the entire letter, which concerns the long-delayed royal restoration of de Vere rights to the keepership of Waltham Forest.

[2] George’s age was something of a mystery. Whatever it was he didn’t look it, but he never wanted to reveal his years and by so doing admit to how much of his candle he had burned up with his wild living. Most sources guess a birth year ranging from 1528 to 1537. Ward proposes a date as late as the early months of 1542, based on the inquisition post mortem of George’s father. That would make him only eight years older than me, which I think is too young, especially as he sat in Parliament in 1558 and 1559. I put him at 12-14 years older than me, birth year 1536 to 1538. It never mattered enough for me to press him on the subject.

[3] The article Burghley’s Bribe, De Vere’s Dower? in the Sources below has more details, but TL;DR: the Lord High Treasurer of England was conspiring to pay his daughter’s dowry with gold he’d been offered as a bribe by a Spanish agent, in return for better terms in the negotiations that led to the Bristol trade treaty. Burghley’s scheme was for me to take all the risk by collecting and transporting my own money, while he kept his hands and his reputation clean at home. Of course something was rotten in the city of Dunkirk, and when I got there nobody knew anything. I couldn’t stay to investigate, I had to get to George.

[4] I’m aware that Johannes Shakyspere suum illicitum sterculinium fecit in MDLII, a dozen years before his boy was born. (The original Stratford court citation calls the dungheap a sterquinarium, but sterculinium is better Latin.) John had presumably cleaned up his smelly mess by MDLXXIV, since no additional fines in the town records have been discovered. I’m not letting it spoil my anecdote. Twelve years too late is the same sort of self-serving, incorrect temporal shift that Stratford likes to impose upon my plays. At least I know when I’m joking.

John Shakspere’s public reprimand comes down to us from the National Archives by way of the Shakespeare Documented [sic] exhibition and website, put-on by the Folger. I was amused to notice the writer of this obsequious apologia for the forbidden midden of Shakspere père. A man I’m accustomed to finding behind a poison-filled pen aimed directly at me, Professor Emeritus (of English, not history) Alan Nelson is the cited source for most of the information in my hostile Wikipedia entry. He is the credited writer of my malignant ODNB entry. He is the author of a monstrously adversarial full-length biography so slanted and slipshod that it can’t stand upright. There’s more, but that’s more than enough. When I take time to ponder his antipathy, extraordinary even by Stratfordian standards, I wonder why the not-so-gentleman doth protest so much. There must be Arundel blood in his pedigree.

  • Sources and Additional Reading/Viewing
  • in no special order
  • • Banner image: from Carnival in Flanders, 1935, directed by Jacques Feyder. French title La Kermesse Héroïque (The Heroic Carnival).
  • The film [] has an interesting [] and even controversial [] history, both before and after the Second World War. François Truffaut hated it. Chacun à son goût.
  • The Mill and the Cross [book review at]
  • · by Michael Francis Gibson
  • · University of Levana Press, 2012 edition, paperback, 156 pages
  • The original 2001 edition of this book inspired Majewski to make his film, which he and Gibson co-wrote. This edition includes a great many close-up images from the painting, and what would have been a fine two-page reproduction of the whole thing, except that the binding almost swallows Jesus entirely, and everything else near the vertical center of the painting. It’s an unforgivable crime against Art that the publisher didn’t make the painting a fold-out.
  • Also included are location photos that Gibson took during the film’s shooting in 2008. He was given a tiny part, but it fell to the cutting room floor. Gibson died in 2017, so now it’s sad that he’s not in the film. His ability to communicate meaningfully in words about visual art explains why he was such a respected critic. This portion of his preface was a surprise that made my day:

[I was] distressed at the thought that very few people would ever be allowed close enough to the painting to appreciate Bruegel’s surprisingly expressionistic brushstroke, and with it the virtuosity, wit, and humanistic scope of an artist whom I have come to regard as the true Shakespeare of Flanders.

  • A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres []
  • · by George Gascoigne
  • · edited by G W Pigman III
  • · Clarendon Press, Oxford, 2000, 781 pages
  • Representing War and Violence: 1250-1600 []
  • · edited by Joanna Bellis and Laura Slater
  • · Boydell Press, 2016, 218 pages
  • · Chapter 8, Tudor Soldier-Authors and the Art of Military Autobiography, by Matthew Woodcock
  • “Shakespeare” By Another Name: The Life of Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, the Man who was Shakespeare [Amazon US | UK]
  • · by Mark Anderson
  • · Gotham Books/Penguin Group USA, 2005, hardback, 640 pages
  • · also paperback, audiobook, and ebook formats
  • Mark always impresses me with his research. This newsletter from the Shakespeare Fellowship (a progenitor of the SOF) also contains a review and commentary about the monstrous Nelson biography mentioned in Note 4 above.
  • • Here is the only Supposes I could find on video, performed by The Young Actors Company at the Mumford Theatre in Cambridge, 27 Sept 2017. I’d have put it into the body of the post, but the muddy diction combined with muddier audio recording renders it unintelligible. I presume it was shot with a mobile which is unfortunate, as George deserves much better. I gave up quickly, but perhaps you can make sense of it. Subtitles would have helped.