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John Shakespeare, and The State under siege

interior of Baddesley Clinton
Interior of Baddesley Clinton
In 1580 rumors were rife of a possible incursion by papal troops and priests, as a prelude to an invasion by Spain. Stoked up by intelligence reports from the infiltrated Jesuit colleges in Rheims and Rome, the State decided it needed to know in advance whom it could count on in a crisis.

On March 18th, military commissioners were appointed throughout the country to militarize those loyal to the Queen and at the same time intimidate those who might be thinking of causing trouble.

John Shakespeare was one of 200 Stratford men and women bound over to keep the peace. It is most likely that the common link between them was not a tendency towards causing trouble or breaking the law, but their Catholicism or at least sympathy with Catholicism. This was Elizabeth exercising a form of psychological internment, letting any possible dissidents know that she knew where they lived, and that they continued to live at Her Majesty's Pleasure. It is a model of State repression familiar from Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia and any number of supposedly modern States today.


portrait not availableJohn Shakespeare


Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-AvonStratford upon Avon, Warwickshire

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