Monday, January 19, 2009

Did the Inquisition Hate William Shakespeare?

Given that his creative vision and philosophy could at times be at odds with the dogma endorsed by the Inquisition, did this Pan-European religious bureaucracy ever hated William Shakespeare?

By: Vanessa Uy

Current findings by notable Shakespearean scholars show that he could only have wrote some of his plays – especially Romeo and Juliet – if he had seen Venice first hand. But given that William Shakespeare had free access to these notable Italian cities, does this mean that our conjecture that the Inquisition and even the Holy Catholic Church is on to him and hates his works is dead in the water?

Though documents proving the disdain of both the Inquisition and the Holy Catholic Church on William Shakespeare and all that he stands for is about as common as hen’s teeth. There is still plenty – from our own post-September 11 early 21st Century perspective – of reasons on why The Vatican and the Inquisition has plenty to worry about this Renaissance era English bard. Barring the fact that both The Vatican and the Inquisitions have other greater concerns to tackle that pose a clear and present danger to their grip on power over much of Europe. Like that sodomite painter Michaelangelo Caravaggio, the Italian polymath Galileo flirting with the Copernican view of the universe, and even Queen Elizabeth I not wanting a return to Papist loyalty. Which does deserve the use of their secret Vatican / Papal Police apparatus.

The premise behind Romeo and Juliet and the story’s salient theme of “Romantic Love” could have easily tripped alarm bells and red flags of Europe’s most powerful arbiter of morality at the time – namely the Holy Catholic Church. Especially when viewed through the eyes of prevailing societal morays of the supposedly enlightened ways of Renaissance-era Italy. But still, no documents exist on whether The Vatican and the Inquisition ever scrutinized the works of William Shakespeare that made him a candidate to be burned alive at the steak like Giordano Bruno.

But if history were used as a guide, maybe our creative world-weary English bard simply got lucky. Maybe William Shakespeare was lucky enough to fall under the protection of Queen Elizabeth I ’s “Golden Age” which got him insulated against the reach of both the Inquisition and The Vatican. That’s why we in the 21st Century still love Shakespeare for the characters that he created and their philosophy that is deemed way too radical for Renaissance era Catholic Church. That’s why William Shakespeare and his works never seem to become out of date. Even in the fictitious 23rd Century world of Star Trek, the brilliant works of Shakespeare still provide recreation to Captain Jean-Luc Piccard on the Starship Enterprise.

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