The Mysterious Death of Christopher Marlowe

Many versions of what happened May 30, 1593 exist.

1) Christopher Marlowe, according to Francis Meres, was “stabbed to death by a bawdy servingman, a rival of his in his lewd love”.

2) Marlowe, according to Sir Sidney Lee, was killed in a drunken fight.

3) Marlowe, according to Marlovian Theory, was not killed and faked his death.

4) According to Professor David Riggs, the “Queen Elizabeth and her Privy Council were cracking down on disobedient subjects, Marlowe gave offense and the Queen, in turn, made him pay”.

While there isn’t much documentation on the first version, perhaps a jab at the ambiguous nature of Marlowe’s sexuality and the society view of homosexuality at the time, there is plenty of theory on the other three.

Version 2: The Drunken Fight
In a house owned by Eleanor Bull, Christopher Marlowe along with Ingram Frizer, Nicholas Skeres, and Robert Poley had lunch, a walk in the garden, and then dinner before the murderous end. An argument is said to have occurred between Marlowe and Frizer over the reckoning (the bill). Marlowe supposedly grabbed Frizer’s own dagger and grazed him twice on the head. Frizer then overtook Marlowe and stabbed him two inches deep above the right eye. According to the coroner’s report it was in self defense and therefore Frizer was pardoned for the act.

Version 3: The Faked Death
It seems highly suspect that Marlowe’s death comes a mere 10 days after his interrogation on heresy charges. In 1955 Calvin Hoffman’s book “The Murder of the Man who was Shakespeare” launched the case for the Marlovian Theory. The Marlovian Theory believes that Marlowe was not killed that evening in 1593, but went on to write under the name William Shakespeare. The theory believes his patron, Sir Thomas Walsingham, would get the plays from Marlowe in England, copy them into different handwriting, and then continue to be the same man he was, only secluded.

The Marlovian Theory was begun as early as 1895, but wasn’t pushed to the forefront of reasoning until 1955. It was further explored in 2001 with a documentary by Michael Rubbo called “Much Ado about Something”. It is said there are secret codes in “Shakespeare’s Sonnets” attributing workmanship to Christopher Marlowe.

Similar writing styles also fuel version three of the theories. Both Marlowe and Shakespeare have an average of 4.2 letters on their word count, with similar pace and rate of tempo, and parallel vocabularies. Couple these similarities with Shakespeare’s first licensed play coming in April 4, 1593 with “Venus and Adonis” and Marlowe’s Venus in “Dido, Queen of Carthage”.

Version 4’s Queenly assassination was fodder of a book “The Killing of Christopher Marlowe” by Professor David Riggs of Stanford University. He views the religious and political content of Marlowe as something the Queen had to sequester.

For More Info:
“It was Marlowe” by Wilbur Gleason Zeigler 1895
“The Murder of the Man Who Was Shakespeare” by Calvin Hoffman 1955
“The Story that the Sonnets Tell” by A D Wraight 1994

Quotes from Christopher Marlowe

“I am Envy. I cannot read and therefore wish all books burned”

“It lies not in our power to love, or hate, for will in us is over ruled by fate”

“Virtue is the fount whence honour springs”

“Who ever loved that loved not at first sight”

“Lone women, like empty houses, perish”

“Honour is purchased by the deeds we do”

“That love is childish which consists of words”

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