Count von Count

This page is brought to you by the Number 17. And 16. And 18 and 19. And with the kind help of our friends at The Folger Library.
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Seventeen is magic to Oxfordians. They see it everywhere in Shakespeare’s work, enwoven in the very fabric of his poetry. Septimodecimists find 17s in the praises of Ben Jonson, in Francis Meres’s catalog of poets, underlying and denying what they plainly wrote.

That language, to initiates, is but a screen, devised to hide a deeper truth, encoded in, occulted by these writers' “arithmetical arrangements.” "Read the puzzle, not the poem," they urge us.1 Words lie; but numbers? Never, if properly manipulated. By divination with 17s, the tribe of Ned can find him stamped on every page. This belief is more than talismanic—it is Trinitarian, the central mystery of their faith. Their Lord has hidden patterns of himself—his “authorial watermark”—in his creation.

Behold, the priesthood speaks: “Can this pattern of deviations from symmetry, in itself balanced, be ascribed to mere chance? ... Here de Vere is concealed and at the same time, by a fugue-like textural procedure, revealed as Shakespeare.”2

They could have used any number.

There was no Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, until the antiquary Thomas Milles invented him in 1610.

There had been, of course, an Edward, Earl of Oxford, who succeeded John, the sixth of that name. There was still an Earl of Oxford, for that matter: a Henry. There had been one since the Domesday Book—it was among the oldest of creations—and the living earl was always just the Earl of Oxford, as the king’s the King. Who else could it be? Comes mortuus est, vivat comes.

You will note that this lineage begins with Edgare Ethelinge, and that Edward’s is the 19th name on the roll, the 18th called Earl, and the 16th called the Earl of Oxford. So much for the sacrosanctity of 17!


It is only dead earls who must be distinguished. In the De Vere family papers, father and son were “the late Earle of Oxenford” and “the Earle that nowe is.” 3 No ordinals (1st, 2nd, 3rd...). In chronicle histories, where there are many nobles, and it all gets complicated, De Veres are sorted by their forenames and relationships, within the context of a reign: “the Earle of Oxford then liuing high[t] Robert Ueer”; “the earle of Oxford, and his sonne the lord Vere ... both slayne by king Edward the fourth.”

Edward Oxenford signed himself “Edward Oxenford.” He never used an ordinal; nor did his peers; nor do any of their 21st-century descendants and supplanters. None is needed. Ordinals are used of a peer, not by him. While he lives, he is the Earl.

There is no evidence that anyone in Oxford’s lifetime ever called him the 17th Earl. I’ve searched surviving documents. That ordinal is absent even from the most formal of court papers, even from his uncle’s petition concerning the young earl's legitimacy. The Cecils didn’t use it. I’ve searched Early English Books Online for ordinals proximate to “earl of Ox[en]ford,” in all its variant spellings. Nothing. Not in dedications, not in libels, not at tourneys nor in parliamentary pomp, not in the order of King James's coronation ceremony.

Seventeen—that fetishized number—just wasn’t a thing.


— II —

 Why not?

Because Elizabethans didn’t number peers that way. We do.

After a time, a collection of anything—earls, books, Star Wars figurines—gets unwieldy. Numbers are a great convenience. Since the 14th century, kings and queens have been numbered by their Christian names: “Roy Henry quart puis le conquest pier a Roy qore est” (King Henry, fourth since the conquest, father to the king that now is). 4 It took far longer to agree upon a system for the aristocracy. Now we assign ordinal numbers (1st, 2nd, 3rd...) to each duke, marquess, earl, or viscount in the order of succession. With each new creation of a title, the counter is reset, and starts over at 1st. Historians and heralds then were still experimenting with new ways of ordering their data. In the 16th century, and through much of the 17th, the use of numbers is occasional, and there is no one system.

To the early chroniclers, what matters is: what reign? If they’re writing of events in the reign of Richard II, the earl then living is simply the Earl of Whatever, or if a distinction is needed, “the earl that now is” as against “the late earl.” So in Froissart: “the erle of Ormonde father to the Erle that nowe is.” That style appears over and over: “the Duke of Vrbine that nowe is”; “vncle to the kyng that nowe is”; “quene Elizabeth that now is.”

“That now is” is crucial: it’s an affirmation of the title. Edward III’s Nova statuta Angliae begins with a chronicle of Edward II’s deposition, and throughout it, even while the late king reigned, he is described as a past king, a bygone, one who had the name of King Edward (“le dit Roi Edward”). He is merely “King Edward, father to our Sovereign Lord the King that now is” (“Roi Edward piere nostre Seigneur le Roi qore est”). 5 Think of Queen Margaret’s curse in Richard III (1.3.668-71), with its ominous exchanges of tense and pronoun:

Edward thy Sonne, that now is Prince of Wales,
For Edward our Sonne, that was Prince of Wales,
[...]
Thy selfe a Queene, for me that was a Queene...

If in writing of a present earl, the chronicler needs to bring in an earlier avatar, that noble is the last, the late, the said, the sometime Earl, “the old Countesse of Oxford.” There may be kinship markers: "grandfather of the saide Erle that nowe is." Really, those old writers could have used a proper system of ordinals. Their pedigrees get eye-crossingly complex: “being the sonne of the other Humfrie and brother to the last Humfrie...”

Often chroniclers will number earls by Christian name, like royalty. “Simon the second, Earle of Northampton, then liuing.” (He was the 4th Earl.) Compare in Holinshed: “Malcolme the third of that name king of Scots” or “Charles the eight of that name, king of France” with “Gilbert de Clare the second of that name that was earle of Glocester and Hertford.” By our count de Clare was the 7th Earl of Gloucester and the 6th Earl of Hertford, but he was the second Gilbert de Clare to be earl of both: there was a Richard in between.

Now and then, but inconsistently, chroniclers will number by family name: “Humfrie de Bohune, the eight [seventh, in fact] & last erle of Hereford of that surname of Bohune.” This is almost but not quite modern practice: nobility in one creation can have different surnames, or bearers of a single surname can belong to more than one creation. So for example, in the first creation of the Earls of Arundel, the 1st–5th are surnamed d’Aubigny, and the 6th–8th are FitzAlan.

With some families, it comes to the same count either way: “sir Iohn Neuill knight, brother of Rafe the third of that name erle of Westmerland”; “the earle of Northumberland Henrie Persie the fift of that name.” (There would be nine Harry Percys before they came up with an Algernon—say what?—then a Josceline, who ended the line.)

Once or twice, Holinshed combines both systems: “Archembald Dowglasse (the third earle of that name, and fift of that familie).” Once, remarking on a rare unbroken lineage, he comes closest to the modern convention. You can see that the idea is unusual to him: “...this earle that now liueth is the tenth earle of Kildare, to whome from Iohn the first earle, there hath alwaies continued a lineall descent from father to son.”

Ordinals, in any case, are scarce. I’ve searched EEBO for texts from 1473-1675 naming the three oldest earldoms still extant in the 16th century: Arundel, Oxford, and Northumberland. Before Thomas Milles—that is, through 1609—there were 670 hits in 94 records for all variant spellings of “Earl of Arundel.” There was one ordinal. For “Earl of Ox[en]ford” (471 hits in 109 records) there was one, in 1605, and that merely a “first.” For “Earl of Northumberland” (819 in 93 records), there were only three, despite the bewildering proliferation of Percys (“and every one was an ‘Enery”).

Numbers are for hoi polloi. The metric that matters to the aristocracy is precedence. The number of earls who have borne a title does not determine rank, any more than hat size measures height. The English nobility is ranked “according to the anciencie of their creations, or first calling to their degrees.”6 That is their fixed place in the heavens of the court. Until the ending of their lines, the Earls of Arundel outrank those of Oxford, who outrank Northumberland. It’s Aries, Taurus, Gemini. The number of stars in the constellation is irrelevant.

By these time-honored conventions, Edward’s father would have been “the Earl of Oxenford that nowe is“; then “the late Earl” or just possibly “John de Vere, the sixth of that name.” Not the 16th Earl, any more than the Queen was the nth monarch of England.  She was Elizabeth, the first of that name.


— III —

Quick, what King of England is Richard III?

Richard III.

No, what number King?  How many?

If you're like me, you'd have to count on your fingers:

Willie, Willie, Harry, Stee, (Hey, what about Matilda? Are we counting her?)
Harry, Dick, John, Harry three;
One, two, three (shut up, I'm trying to count) Neds, Richard two
Harrys four, five, six ... then who?
Edwards four, five, Dick the bad...

Eighteen. Or is it 19? I lost count.

I wonder what mnemonics the Elizabethans might have used.

If you were a courtier who dared to ask, “My Lord, what Earl of Oxford are you?” you’d have gotten a cold blank stare.

“Edward that now is, the first of that name,” the secretary at his elbow would have said.

And if you’d rephrased the question—“How many Earls of Oxford have there been?”— the courteous but puzzled secretary would have counted on his knuckles (Aubrey, Aubrey, Robert, Hugh...), and pronounced, “Eighteen. Seventeen, in this present creation.”

Of course, that learned secretary would have had access to archives, muniments, achievements of arms—it was his job to know the family history, disentangled from such sources as this “dissent and pedegree of Edwarde de Veere Erle of Oxforde.”7

Folger Pedigree 1

Folger Pedigree 2

You will note that this lineage begins with Edgare Ethelinge, and that Edward’s is the 19th name on the roll, the 18th called Earl, and the 16th called the Earl of Oxford.  So much for the sacrosanctity of 17!

At first glance, this pedigree looks authoritative—if you don't already know what the lineage ought to be.  We know, because of long hard work by antiquaries.  They, the Elizabethans, were only just beginning to sift and weigh evidence in genealogy; to work from original documents and artefacts, rather than fables.  They were learning to map.

On closer study, this document is deeply flawed. It reads like an alternate history. Two earls are written out entirely: Aubrey the 2nd and Robert the 6th. The first earl is married to a non-existent daughter of the Earl of Gloucester. The fifth earl, instead of siring ten children, dies without issue; his son becomes his second brother and his grandson his nephew. Weirdest of all is a mysterious intruder, slipped in between 13 and 14:

Robt de Veere second sonne to the forsaid Ric[hard] de Veere E of Oxford was by right of inheritance created E of Oxford vicovnt bullock baron Samford Badlesmeres Lord & great chamberlain of Engl marr Margaret ye davght of Sr hughe courtnoy by whom he had issue john de veere

Sir Robert de Vere was never Earl.  He was the second son of Richard 11th, and his brother, nephew, and great-nephew, all Johns, were the 12th through 14th Earls. He was the grandfather of John 15th, not the father of John 14th.  And his wife was Jeane.

An anomalous record? This looks like the result of centuries of accreted errors, copied and recopied. Eye-skip? But it's all worked out. You could draw a family tree from this, and never know that it was wrong.  A fraud? The errors swerve from the true descent, but don’t branch: the legitimate heir is still legitimate.
 
And so down to Edward, with blanks left for his wives’ first names, and “Trenthams daught” in fainter ink, overwritten.

Seventeen minus two plus one = sixteen Earls of Oxford.

Imagine you’re the Viscount Bulbeck, trying to learn your ancestry from such a heap of contradictory and confusing documents, all gorgeously blazoned. Could you guess what history was true, amid the forgeries and faults and romance?  Would you believe a pedigree deduced from Adam or from Arthur? Yes, if it ended in Edward. Mind you, this was knowledge for the inner circle, the elite. These are the histories that the ruling classes told of themselves. The cover title of this manuscript notes that the blazons within were “tricked [sketched in ink] and extracted, from visitations & pedigrees in the Heralds Office”: that is, from genealogies collected from the families themselves, under warrant, by an officer at arms. Government records are only as good as their sources.

If even the College of Arms couldn’t get Oxford’s number straight, how on earth would a mere Elizabethan commoner—a Meres—have figured out what it was, even if he'd wanted to? He would not, I think, have had access to the de Vere family papers, safe in whatever library still had a roof. There was nothing like a systematic peerage—a Debrett’s—to consult. Neither Stow nor Holinshed nor Camden numbers any of the Earls of Oxford, save the first, that mysterious “Edgare Ethelinge” or “Algar the sonne of Leofrike.” (He appears to be Ælfgar, Earl of Mercia, son of Leofric and Godgifu—that’s Lady Godiva to you.)8 Even the closest reader would have had to puzzle out the Earl’s lineage like a jigsaw scattered into many boxes, missing half its pieces—why bother?

Truly it boggles the imagination that anyone in Edward’s lifetime—including himself—would have pegged him as the 17th Earl of Oxford. Who knew?


— IV —

But in 1610—the year of Cymbeline—this changed. Thomas Milles published The catalogue of honor or tresury of true nobility peculiar and proper to the isle of Great Britaine. For the first time, there was a orderly and comprehensive catalogue of British royalty and aristocracy: a peerage. And innovatively, though patchily, Milles uses a rational, consistent system of ordinals. In each creation, he through-numbers each successive title-holder, first to nth. 9

Catalog

Another Jacobean sea change Oxford didn’t live to see.

Edgar (surnamed Adeling, or Etheling) ... was the first Earle of Oxford,” Milles writes. “Aubrey de Vere, the third of that Christian name ... was the first Earle of Oxford of this line,” and so forth down the years. In the largest of type, denoting the blankest of lives—Milles had a whole page and nothing to fill it with—he writes “Edward Vere, the 17. earl of Oxforde...”

miles

From that unexceptionable arithmetic has sprung a great Laputan academy of lunar mathematics: sortilege by 17s, “authorial watermarks,” infinitely nested epicycles, and a “kind of arithmancie, fathered on Pythagoras, yet never invented by him.” 10

Milles’s book was clearly a labor of love. Though a gentleman amateur—he worked as a customs officer, like Chaucer and Melville—he was the nephew of the late extraordinary Somerset Herald, Robert Glover, and worked from his uncle’s unpublished manuscripts, consulting with many of the greatest antiquaries of his time: Lord William Howard, Sir Robert Cotton, William Camden. Indeed, Camden’s own Britannia (1594) had been founded on Glover’s work.

“Glover was the heralds’ heraldist,” writes Nigel Ramsay in the ODNB. “In the ten years to 1588 he succeeded in locating and copying most of the medieval English rolls of arms ... Glover's ordinary was assembled in its first form in 1584; with its 15,000 coats it was soon recognized as being of unprecedented accuracy and fullness. It came to form the basis of all subsequent ordinaries, and only in 1992 did it start to be superseded.” And that took a computer. Four hundred years as a gold standard of scholarship! Now that’s a geek. I’m awed.

The catalogue of honor is a beautiful, expensive folio. Few could have afforded it. By itself, it might have had little public effect. But Milles’s was not the last word. His thumping huge book on the nobility of England and their lines of descent was answered by another, by a far less mannerly antiquarian.


— V —

Will-arms

Enter Ralph Brooke, that contentious herald.

What the new heraldry needed was more than a monument. It needed a controversy.

Brooke, of course, is that captious York Herald who charged Sir William Dethick, the shady Garter King of Arms, with the elevation of riff-raff 11 like “Shakespear the player” to the gentry. Later, he would play a cruel prank on another rival, Sir William Segar, tricking him into granting arms to a common hangman. Both trickster and gull were imprisoned, briefly.

These alarums and excursions were but battles in the Praecomachia or Flame Wars of the Heralds, and  Brooke’s long bitter feud with William Camden. It irked York Herald that a mere usher in a school (“the inferior province of boy-beating”) should be made Clarenceux King of Arms. He had countered Britannia with A discouerie of certaine errours published in print in the much commended Britannia (1599), in which he charged that Camden had misunderstood and misreported Glover: “I would his gloves might have fitted your hands.”

Camden

His 1619 masterwork, A catalogue and succession of the kings, princes, dukes, marquesses, earles, and viscounts of this realme of England, intended as a scourge and a correction to all previous heraldry, provoked the bitterest passage in the war.

Brooke

Brooke’s corrective Catalogue itself turned out to be riddled with errors, as his critics (not without malice) pointed out. Brooke, in turn, accused his printer, Jaggard, of creating the faults. Then he flounced. He gave his book to one of Jaggard’s competitors, and a second edition appeared in 1622, with a stinging dismissal of Jaggard on its title-page.

In his turn, Jaggard, meanwhile, halted work on the First Folio to rush Augustine Vincent’s rejoinder into print. His fastidious Discoverie of errours in the first edition of the catalogue of nobility (1622) includes the original text, “printed heerewith word for word,” a critical metatext, a commendatory letter from Jonson’s close friend Selden, and a so-there! preface by Jaggard, who rewarded Vincent with one of the first First Folios to come off the press.

 

— VI —

Since the tribe of Ned believes that Ben Jonson’s great poetic praise of Shakespeare in that Folio is full of occult 17s, it might be useful to interrogate his heraldry.

Not Brooke’s, I would assume. That herald had aligned himself against a constellation of Jonson’s friends and associates: Shakespeare, Camden, Selden (the great legal and linguistic scholar, Camden’s champion), Jaggard. Vincent, by then Rouge Croix pursuivant, was a protegé of Camden’s.

Jonson's own titling convention—in his letters to nobility, in dedications, and on title pages—is perfectly plain: “William Earle of Penbrooke,” “Robert, Earle of Sussex.”

Selden is likewise plain in his Titles of Honor (1614). No ordinals:

Earle of Hereford vnder the Conqueror
William Earl of Glocester vnder Henry II.
Vnder Hen. III. the Earle of Glocester
the Earle of Worcester high Constable of England vnder Edward IV
the Earle of Oxford, Robert of Vere, Richard the second's Mignion 12

That book is not another collection of genealogies, but a study of the bases of nobility. Jonson not only wrote the prefatory poem: he read the book in draft, advised on it. Selden speaks in his preface of going to consult a book in Jonson's library: “having examin'd it with him, I ... found, as I ghesse, a New but more proper Interpretation of the Place.”

Jonson begins:

I Know to whome I write: Here, I am sure,
Though I be short, I cannot be obscure.
Lesse shall I for the art, or dressing care;
Since, naked, best Truth, and the Graces are.
Your Booke, my Selden, I haue read; and much
Was trusted, that you thought my judgment such
To aske it:

He goes on to laud Selden

In offering this thy work to no great name,
That would, perhaps, have praised, and thanked the same,
But naught beyond. He thou hast given it to,
Thy learnèd chamber-fellow, knows to do
It true respects.

In turn, the second edition (1631) is expanded with a discourse on poetic laurels, an earned aristocracy (granted to Ben); and with an argument for the necessity of parliaments. Selden wrote that from prison. With others of the parliament of 1628, he was arrested on its dissolution. His last work there was to draft an English bill of rights. 13

Jonson shared with Selden a nascent belief in meritocracy, in honor derived from virtue. “There is clear evidence in Selden’s works that the scholar saw fit to demythologize the poetic myths of the aristocracy; Christianson is right to argue that in Titles of Honor, Selden eroded ‘the mystique of blood so favoured by some Renaissance European nobles and their apologists.’” 14

So much for Great Oxford.

They also shared wit, though Selden's was drier: “Great Lords by reason of their Flatterers, are the first that know their own Vertues, and the last that know their own Vices. … The Lords that are ancient we honour, because we know not whence they come; but the new ones we slight because we know their beginning.” 15

So much for 17.

I doubt that Jonson would be writing eulogies in multiples of 17; nor swooning for an earl ungraced by virtues of the mind or spirit.


— VII —

Afterlife of ordinals: did they catch on? Eventually, of course, they would be de rigueur in genealogies, so much so that Oxfordians cannot imagine an aristocracy without them. But at first, they were a bit of a fizzle.

After Milles, William Martyn was the first to write of Oxford’s lineage. In a “succession of dukes and earles” appended to The history, and lives, of twentie kings of England (1615), he gives the family descent like so:

John de Vere, the sonne of John de Vere, who was the sonne of Robert de Vere, who was brother to John de Vere, the twelfth Earle of Oxford, of that name, who was Father to the before named George, enjoyed all those dignities.

He’s the fifteenth de Vere Earl. I had to count twice, using “twelfth” as an anchor.

John de Vere, being the heire male of that Familie, was the sixth Earle of that Christian name ... Edward de Vere, his sonne, enioyed all those Honors.

One token “twelfth” amid all the old stylings.

Gervase Markham, on the other hand, took up the new convention (1624): “there haue beene of the name of Vere eighteene Earles of Oxford”; “Edward the 17 Erle of Oxford.” Others did as well: "Iohn Vere the xii. Earle of Oxford" (1631); “nephew to ... the fifteenth Earle” (1634); “Robert Vear ... the fourth of that name, and ninth Earle of Oxford” (1636).

But rival and retrograde conventions went on appearing through the 17th century.

In his manuscripts, John Aubrey uses the old style of ordinaling by Christian names, a habit which his editor corrects:  he calls the 5th Earl of Pembroke, “Philip (2nd).” 16  

heylynPeter Heylyn, in A help to English history (1652), lays out his own new method, “a bare and naked Catalogue of names and honours,” set forth in a series of tables. He lists every holder of a title ever, and then numbers them straight through. Having counted in a Matilda (Edgar Atheling), he makes Edward 18.

A Restoration gossip, T.S., Gent., going perhaps on hearsay, thought Edward's son Henry was the 17th Earl (Fragmenta aulica; or, Court and state jests in noble drollery, 1662).

In 1625, there were proceedings in the House of Lords, with the rights of the de Veres to the earldom and the office of Great Chamberlain at stake. There could scarcely be a weightier occasion. The Chief Justice of the King’s Bench himself spoke eloquently on the family’s ancientry: “Where is Bohun, where’s Mowbray, where’s Mortimer? &c. Nay, which is more and most of all, where is Plantagenet?” 17 All gone: yet there were still de Veres. How many earls did that make? Who knew? The court spoke only of “the now earl of Oxford” and of “late” earls, dead in several reigns. Any numbering was still in the archaic kingly style:

John the Fourth, Earl of Oxford, who had Issue, John the Fifth ... and three Daughters.

They were wrong.  In a case about the pedigree, the lawyers botched the pedigree.  Like the Folger manuscript above, they made the fourth John father to the fifth. Worse still, they deposed that the fifth John, Edward's father's father, died childless, that his phantom sisters were his heirs. Was that what the family itself believed? They must have sworn to it. Long afterward, an anonymous critic set them straight:

It was John the Fourth, Earl of Oxford of that Christian name, who dyed in 18. H. 8. without Issue.
And the three Daughters mentioned were neither the Daughters of the said John the Fourth, nor of the said John the Fifth,
But of Sir George Vere Knight, third Son of John the Second, Earl of Oxford, who dyed in primo E. 4.18

Ordinals count. That mistake in genealogy, the jurist argues, lost Robert de Vere the great chamberlainship to Lord Willoughby. It forfeited his lesser titles to the crown. These honors should have gone from John the fifth—the writer traces the descent—to “Awbrey de Vere now Earl of Oxford.” By now it's 1661.  A hundred years after Edward, Viscount Bulbeck awoke to find himself an Earl, we’re still at now.

 

— VIII —

How would de Vere have counted himself? All but certainly as Edward Oxenford, the earl that now is: the living avatar, in all his power and potential. In the new convention, which he’d never know, he would have been the 17th, the latest of a series. But the old style put him at the center of his august family, with all the others relative to him: the late, the last, the sometime earls.

You can see his self-conceit in his signature, 19 which interlaces “Edward Oxenford” with a scribbled coronet, a herald’s hieroglyph for “earl.”

 Kings Earls and Coronets
Kings Earls And Coronets

And posterity? It is sobering to see how poorly Edward was remembered in the histories, before a Gateshead dreamer reinvented him. Others of his line have stories: Richard’s minion, briefly a duke; the soldier; the traitor. Even his cousin Sir Francis Vere got a eulogy by Cyril Tourneur. Edward? Aubrey’s fart. The earl who was extravagantly praised while he had money—flattered to the point of parody—was all but nobody in death. No eulogies, no Works, no monument, no namesake. There would be, before the earldom was extinct, four Aubreys, five Roberts, six Johns. But Edward the First would be Edward the Last, merely the 17th of 20.


Notes


  1. Steven Steinburg, The Shakespeare Puzzles: The Hidden Autobiography of Edward de Vere (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2015), 3.
  2. Robert Detobel and K.C. Ligon, "Francis Meres and the Earl of Oxford" Brief Chronicles 1 (2009): 107: http://www.shakespeareoxfordfellowship.org/wp-content/uploads/MeresOxford.DetobelLigon.pdf
  3. Oxford's Indenture and Schedule of Debts 30 January 1575 (Essex Record Office D/DRg2/25): http://socrates.berkeley.edu/~ahnelson/DOCS/indent75.html.
  4. Statutes of the Realm, 2 Hen V stat. 2 c.6
  5. Rosemarie McGerr, A Lancastrian Mirror for Princes: The Yale Law School New Statutes of England (Indiana University Press, 2011), 76.
  6. Holinshed (1587), 3.5.1
  7. Research photos taken by Elizabeth DeBold. Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, D.C., MS V.b.375, p. 155-156.
  8. This is by far the coolest thing I know about Oxford.
  9. Compare Claude Paradin’s Les alliances généalogiques des rois et des princes (1561): “Charles, deuxième de ce nom, Duc huitième de Bourbonnois, d'Auvergne, &c de Chaíteleraud.”?
  10. William Harrison, quoted in Holinshed (1587) 1.81.
  11. "Master" is a title. Thomas Milles ranks Gentlemen as "Noblemen of the lesser sort": the least of the lesser, but above the salt. Brooke wasn't having upstarts at his table.
  12. Was that epithet, I wonder, strictly necessary?
  13. http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/25052?docPos=1
  14. Reid Barbour, John Selden: Measures of the Holy Commonwealth in Seventeenth-century England (University of Toronto Press, 2003), p. 178.
  15. John Selden, Table-Talk.
  16. Noted by Oliver Lawson Dick in his edition of Aubrey’s Brief Lives (Godine, 1999), p. 588.
  17. “The Earldom of Oxford and Office of Great Chamberlain, &c.” Proceedings, precedents and arguments on claims and controversies ... published from the manuscript collections. Ed. Arthur Collins (London: Thomas Wotton, 1734), 173-194.
  18. Errors appearing in the proceeding in the House of Peers in Parliament in the first and second years of the reign of King Charles the First, in the case betwixt Robert De Vere Earl of Oxford, and the Lord Willoughby of Eresby, concerning the office of Great Chamberlain of England (London?: s.n., 1661)
  19. Undoubtedly an earl's coronet: it’s spiky, knopped with “pearls.” A royal crown, in heraldry, is squashy, like a bun. The arms of Elizabeth’s bastard half-brother, Henry Fitzroy, bore a ducal coronet with strawberry leaves.

 One of the most useful examples of Oxfordian work, principally drawn from The Complete Peerage by GE Cokayne, is an up-to-date family tree for the De Veres.

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