Ingram Frizer - Christopher Marlowe - Motives


Although some contend the "self defence" evidence offered at Marlowe's inquest was quite in keeping with the victim's alleged propensity for sudden violence, this has been brought into question by Charles Nicholl, who notes that Marlowe's supposed previous history of violence has been somewhat exaggerated. The tendency, particularly by Park Honan, to portray Marlowe as violent is also challenged by Rosalind Barber in her essay ‘Was Marlowe a Violent Man?’. It has likewise been suggested Frizer could have had other motives. Park Honan proposes that Marlowe's presence at Scadbury was a threat to Walsingham's reputation and influence, and thus threatened Frizer's interests also: The Privy Council certainly suspected Marlowe of atheism and heresy, and yet he was a regular and welcome house-guest of one of Elizabeth's former spymasters. At the start of 1593 it was upheld in Parliament that heresy was tantamount to the greatest crime of all—treason. Honan considers it possible that, given the circumstances, it was Thomas Walsingham himself—accustomed "not to look far into Frizer's…trickery"—who initiated the deed by making his agent aware that Marlowe was becoming a liability to them both, and so indirectly securing his former friend's death. Another theory suggests that Marlowe, as a supposed member of "The School of Night", became aware of Essex's plots against Raleigh, and Skeres was sent to warn him to keep silence. It was only when Marlowe refused to heed the warning was the unpremeditated decision taken to silence him in a more certain and final way. In this surmise Frizer is no more than one of Skeres's associates, and not the principal player. The Marlovian theory suggests that Frizer took part in the faking of Marlowe's death to allow him to escape trial and almost certain execution for his subversively atheistic activities, a deception which allowed him to make a major contribution to the works attributed to William Shakespeare.

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