Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Monsieur Le Doux was European scholar Catharinus Dulcis (1540-1626) by Geoffrey Caveney and Peter Farey

Readers of this blog are probably well familiar with Monsieur Le Doux, who in 1595 was a tutor at the home of Sir John Harington in Rutland, was instructed on the gathering of intelligence for the Earl of Essex and Anthony Bacon in 1596, and whose name appears briefly in Thomas Birch's Memoirs of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth and in Bacon's papers. We had believed until very recently that Le Doux might have been an identity for the surviving Christopher Marlowe in hiding. But we now know this was not the case.

In fact, this Monsieur Le Doux was Catharinus Dulcis or Catherin Le Doux, a reputable European scholar of the Italian and French languages. He was born in Savoy in 1540, worked for a long time as an itinerant tutor to young noblemen, and became a professor of Italian and French at the University of Marburg in Germany in 1605. He compiled an Italian-Latin dictionary, translated works by Tasso and Terence, and wrote a comedy of his own, Tobie (Tobias). Much information about his life can be found at this German website.

Marburg was the world's first Protestant-founded university, and in fact Dulcis's Protestant beliefs were the reason he had to leave the Continent and stay in England as Monsieur Le Doux in the period 1594-1596.

Co-author Caveney first discovered the identity of Le Doux as Dulcis in a letter Dulcis wrote from London in November 1594 to Sir John Skene. It appears on pp. 156-157 of the book Memorials of the family of Skene of Skene..., published in 1887. The letter is written in French and signed "Le Doulx," and below it, "CATHARINUS DULCIS".  Among other things in the letter,  he mentions the kindness and courtesy of Anthony Bacon.

Further research by the two of us has uncovered abundant confirming information that clearly shows that this man must have been Monsieur Le Doux. Dulcis's own autobiographical sketch Vitae Curriculi Breviarium, written in Latin, mentions his time in England working for Essex and Bacon and even tutoring for the Haringtons, the main activity of Le Doux that we knew of from Bacon's papers. This work of Dulcis also mentions Antonio Perez, Mittelburg, Baron Zeirotine, Count Maurice of Nassau, Archduke Albert and Henri d'Eberbach, all figures who appeared in Le Doux's correspondence as we knew it.

Finally, co-author Farey examined a letter by Dulcis in 1607 and found that the handwriting and signature are so similar to those found in the letters that we have of Monsieur Le Doux, that it is quite clear that they were written by the same person.

©  Geoffrey Caveney and Peter Farey, May 2014


Anthony Kellett said...

Excellent work; and yet more evidence (if any more were needed) that those seeking honesty, in this subject, are well served by those contributing to this blog and to the IMSS.

It is obviously disappointing when potential leads to ‘post-1593 Marlowe’ are excluded from further consideration. However, it is essential that scholarly integrity is maintained throughout, and we resist ignoring facts in order to tell a good story; or fill galleries with dubiously attributed paintings.


Anonymous said...

I was never very fond of the LeDoux hypothesis as it put Marlowe in London when he should have been in Italy, in my view. So disproving this notion is not a disappointment. In fact, it goes to show that Marlovians are sincere in tracking down the evidence and reporting it appropriately.


daver852 said...

Outstanding work! Closing off nonproductive areas of research is just as important as discovering new ones.

Donna Murphy said...

Congratulations! How wonderful that this work was done by Marlovians who pursued truth and headed where the facts took them, even though the new finding contradicts beliefs based upon previous Marlovian scholarly work. Stratfordians could learn much from your diligence and integrity.

Peter Farey said...

Thanks Anthony, Peter H, Dave R, and Donna,

Another good thing about it is that there are some people (at Universities in Marburg and Prague) who have a special interest in Catharinus Dulcis. Because of Geoffrey's discovery we have been able to fill in a significant gap in their knowledge about him, and I have been able to point out no fewer than twenty documents in the Lambeth Palace Library in which he is named, and about which until now they knew absolutely nothing.

Maureen Duff said...

Great research, Geoffrey and Peter. Agree with all the comments. In the light of this, Peter, do you think that Ida Du Vault could still be a contender for the Dark Lady? Is there any evidence for this apart from her connection with M Le Doux as per Jacques Petit's letters to Anthony Bacon complaining about the risque behaviour of M Le Doux and Ida Du Vault at John Harrington's Burley-On-The-Hill estate in the winter of 1595/6.

Peter Farey said...

Absolutely not, Maureen. There really is no longer any credible connection between Marlowe/Shakespeare and Burley on the Hill. In fact – given what we have since discovered about the Bassano family – even if there had still been such a connection, I would have nevertheless thought that Emilia Lanier was a better candidate for the Dark Lady anyway.

shiar chapman said...

what about lois le doux lodovico dolche and william le doux mentioned by farey duff and jacques le doux by gamble?
Identifying the le doulx of Harington douse not preclude one of the others from beeing the le doux of the book list and the coffer

Peter Farey said...

I'm sorry, but neither Louis Le Doux, Lodovico Dolce, William Le Doux (whoever that was!) nor Jacques Le Doux are – since Geoffrey's discovery – of any relevance at all to the Marlovian theory. They have all been relegated to the "False Trails" section of the book which I am still hoping to complete one day!

Peter Balscs said...

I am reading Standhal's "Memoirs of an Egotist" and have just come across a section in which he refers to Dulcis's "Hamlet". I had never heard of Dulcis, so Googled his and found your blog. Are you aware Dulcis having written a version of Hamlet, or indeed of other plays? Best wishes, Peter

Peter Farey said...

Thanks for the interest, Peter, but I fear you have the wrong person. The author of this Hamlet, according to Stendhal, was 'Ducis' not 'Dulcis'. He was referring to the French dramatist and adapter of Shakespeare, Jean-François Ducis, whose Hamlet was published in 1769.