Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Malfi 2

A continuation of the period of The Duchess of Malfi:

And there was The State.

Elizabeth developed a domestic spy system. The printing of domestic news was outlawed. Several of Marlow's friends suffered terribly. Raleigh died after seventeen years in prison, Overbury was poisoned in the Tower by the Countess of Essex in a complex court intrigue.
In Derek Wilson's biography of Sir Francis Walsingham, he writes: "State sponsored terrorism, hit men paid to eliminate Heads of State, mobs fueled by shrieking holy men, fanatics ready to espouse martyrdom in the hopes of heavenly reward, asylum-seekers, internment camps, the clash of totally irreconcilable ideologies--an accurate picture of England 1570-90."

Perhaps Mr. Wilson was just hoping to make his book more relevant. But this was an unsettled time.

There is a small, telling moment in the beginning of Hamlet where Bernardo, a soldier on the watchtower, explains to Horatio that the watch, for the last two nights, had seen a ghost. He times the apparition "When yond same star that's westward from the pole hath made its course to illume that part of heaven."
That star heralds the ghost and the chaos it brings.
Most people think the star is SN 1572, the supernova that suddenly appeared in the November sky in 1572. It was as bright as Venus, could be seen with the unaided eye even in the daylight, and lasted visible in the sky for sixteen years before it faded.
Tycho Brahe was the star's main student--although there were many--and his observations--that the sky was much bigger and deeper than believed before, and mutable--was unimagined, revolutionary and disruptive.

For those skeptics, the surnames of Brahe's maternal grandparents were Rozencrantz and Gildenstern.

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