Something that Stephanie Hopkins Hughes has noticed over at the politicworm I’ve always wondered about. She brings up the Cecil’s doctoring records throughout their stay in history. Although Hughes says that Cecil was getting rid of records regarding the Earl of Oxford, I wonder how much they (father and son) may have gotten rid of regarding Christopher Marlowe. I’ve always noticed a large hole regarding correspondence and Marlowe. Of course, it could also be that people like J.P. Collier also destroyed records. But in the back of my mind I’ve always registered a lack of data regarding Marlowe. Data that should be there, in the form of letters, correspondence and other minutiae. It all seems too sanitized.
Hughes believes that the Cecils were hated for the power, ‘the way they used it to further their own fortunes’ which of course is true – court politics. And who are the haters? Oxford of course, and some of the old nobility. She thinks that because the Cecils were in power they promoted themselves and sought to show their enemies in their worst light. Which is also probably true. They were, after all, record keepers and secretaries of the empire and the victors always write history. Cecil also was notorious for protecting his ward, the Earl of Oxford.
But why would they have gotten records regarding Marlowe? Because he was a non-entity after his exile. He had to be expunged. All records lost. And why Oxford? Because he was involved in the affair. And those that were left were probably purged by J.P. Collier and friends.
But the interesting thing is what Hughes has dug up: “That Oxford began seeking the stewardship of the Forest of Waltham with a previously unseen intensity in October 1593, a few months after the assassination of Marlowe, suggests that this was when he first began looking for a way to protect himself and his papers from the animosity of Walsingham’s successor.” I would suggest that Oxford was looking to protect himself from the fact that he was behind Marlowe’s demise and staged exile and all the other implications that that political maneuver brought to fruition. He had to get out of the frying pan because he’d soon be in the fire.
Hughes also states: “These records of the Privy Council were kept religiously over many years, so a hiatus cannot be due to lackadaisical record keeping, while destruction by fire or flood would itself be part of the record. With this in mind, it’s interesting that for a period of over two years, from August 27, 1593 to October 1, 1595, according to Andrew Gurr, the minutes of the Privy Council are missing (Peculiar Letter 55), leaving half of 1593, all of 1594, and half of 1595 in the dark. This period covers the months following Marlowe’s assassination…”