Dr. Michael Delahoyde
Washington State University
The 25-year-old Oxford was permitted an extensive tour of the continent: France, Germany, and especially Italy over the course of sixteen months. In Italy, he visited almost all of the Italian locations that later would provide the settings for Shakespeare's Italian plays. Mantua seems especially key to a number of Shakespeare/Oxford connections (esp. Lucrece and The Winter's Tale) and to Oxford's musical life.
January 7, 1575 -- Oxford left Court with Paris as his first destination; he took 8 men with him (two gentlemen, two grooms, a housekeeper, etc.).
"By February 7, de Vere had left the country." Nathaniel Baxter was one retainer known to have accompanied him from the start. They probably travelled from Dover to Calais, then would have undertaken a five- or six-day journey to Paris, Henri III's royal court at the Louvre, where he likely met Catherine de Medici, Henri of Navarre, and Ronsard.
March 7, 1575 -- an ambassador wrote to Burghley, indicating Oxford had
been in Paris for some time.
The following week, notice arrived confirming the attaining of all passports and letters including from the Ambassador of Venice.
(Ward 102; Anderson 78):
March 17, 1575 -- According to a letter from Paris to Burghley, Oxford is jubilant at the news that his wife is pregnant, and he is looking forward to Venice.
(Ward 104; Anderson 79):
That day or a few days later, Oxford travelled from Paris to Strasburg. He visited the 68-year-old Johan Sturmius, whose teaching at the university there "became the basis for that of the Jesuits, and through them of the public school instruction of England" (Ward).
(Ward 105; Anderson 79)
April 26, 1575 -- When spring allowed for a crossing of the Alps, Oxford left Strasburg; he probably stopped near Milan, and later in the month he reached Padua.
A letter-writer detached from Oxford's group doesn't now know if he went to Greece or is still in Italy. Anderson suspects he did go to Greece in the summer (Anderson 85ff).
The plays offer evidence that de Vere travelled to Sicily, Palermo, and Messina. He was certainly in Genoa at some point in 1575 (Anderson 92).
(Ward 106; Anderson 93)
By September, he is in Venice.
September 24, 1575 -- Oxford received letters reporting that his wife had given birth on July 2nd. He reports that he wants to see more of Italy and Germany, and that hopes for Spain seem currently unwise. He had been sick and was prevented from travel for some time.
(Ward 109; Anderson 97):
November 1575 -- Oxford had reached Padua again. Mantua is just a day's journey from there.
December 11, 1575 -- Oxford received money from Pasquino Spinola at Venice and left for Florence the next day.
(Ward 110; Anderson 101f):
January 3, 1576 -- Oxford wrote Burghley from Siena.
The next three months, we don't know. Oxford seems to have visited Sicily, via Rome?
(Ward 112; Anderson 107ff):
March 1576 -- He is at Lyons.
March 31, 1576 -- He arrived in Paris, from Venice according to an ambassador's report.
(Ward 118; Anderson 113):
April 3, 1576 -- Oxford seems to be in good spirits on his way home, although he is about to meet some pirates.
April 20, 1576 -- He refused to land in Dover where various Cecils had gone to meet him. He refused to speak to them at all and went straight to the Queen.
Anderson, Mark. "Shakespeare" by Another Name. NY: Gotham/Penguin, 2005.
Nelson, Alan H. Monstrous Adversary. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2003.
Ogburn, Charlton. The Mysterious William Shakespeare: The Myth and the Reality. 2nd ed. McLean, VA: EPM Pub., 1992. Probably the most influential Oxfordian book currently.
Ogburn, Dorothy and Charlton Ogburn. This Star of England. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, Pub., 1952. Nearly 1300 pages.
Ward, Bernard M. The Seventeenth Earl of Oxford (1550-1604) from Contemporary Documents. London: John Murray, 1928.