Spycraft Without Peer: Who Was Really the Earl of Oxford?

May 20, 2021

Adult life has made it hard to stay in touch with old friends, but every time I do get in touch with them, the conversation is all the sweeter for being so rare. I had the good fortune of talking to my friend Neha Natalya Pandey recently. In spite of the pandemic, she, and all her family, have been keeping well. In fact, her father, the learned Dr Acharya Somuchidonanda Pandey had turned the pandemic to his advantage, and spent the past year carrying out researches in the Saint Basil Archives. Of course, he does that even without a pandemic around him. But his discoveries in the past year have been so astonishing, revelatory, and pathbreaking in our conception of history, that they make up for all the horror of the year gone by.

I could not possibly do justice to Dr Pandey’s discoveries by attempting to paraphrase or describe them myself. As always, I shall share the venerable professor’s research in his own words below, while marveling at the grace he has shown by choosing my humble blog as the platform for his research before sharing it through more formal and academic channels. What follows is the precis Dr Pandey has written of his past year’s work.

The task of the historical entrepreneur is a fearsome and awe-inspiring one. He must confront the millennia of history that has come before him, and with courage and boldness, speculate on the area of his inquiries. The historical project is frequently built upon chance and tiny odds. It is my privilege to have lived a life in which these odds have fallen in my favour, and in my mission of bringing the truth to light. No more so than in the past year, when my routine activity in the Saint Basil Archives of Rostov-upon-Don revealed documents that had been hidden for almost five centuries – first, for reasons of statecraft and intrigue; and then, out of shameful neglect. The Basil-Don papers not only bring about a new understanding of the growth of European nationalism, but overturn a narrative that has besmirched the reputation of a great man. I am a man of history, but equally of justice – and in the few paragraphs that follow, my aim is not so much to discuss the minutiae of statecraft, as it is to give a maligned man his rightful due.

But first, I must explain the nature of these papers, and how they came to rest in Russia. The documents I have found are memoranda from the Elizabethan Age of England, passed between queen and cabinet members. They are a window into the diplomacy and espionage practiced by England, and are astonishingly detailed in not only their discussion of strategic aims, but in the minute details of the English Crown’s agents who were pursuing these aims. They were carefully archived under seal in London for a little over a century; but in the eighteenth century, were moved to the Prussian court, in a quid pro quo for the dowry of Caroline of Ansbach. For two centuries, they remained in Berlin, unopened and unrecognised. In the aftermath of the Great Patriotic War, the liberating Red Army moved the archives from Berlin to the motherland, where Stalin planned for my mentor, Professor Varely Smirzkoff to study them. Unfortunately, Professor Smirzkoff’s untimely death meant that the documents did not see the light of day for another sixty five years. Only last year, when I first opened this trove, did the intrigues of four hundred years past come to light.

The papers reveal that England, though weak in military power, was accomplished in diplomacy and spycraft. This spycraft extends beyond that already acknowledged by history in the activities of Sir Francis Walsingham. There was another ring of spies, working not at home but abroad – one whose existence was unknown until now. Sir Francis Bacon, thought to be merely the legal counsel to Queen Elizabeth, was in fact the leader of this intelligence network, one which sent diplomats and spies across Europe, disguised as poets or members of acting troupes, to keep track of military musters, courtroom gossip, and weapons manufacturing.

Bacon’s circle of spies included the older Edward de Vere. de Vere, the seventeenth Earl of Oxford, had spent the 1570s traveling through France and Italy, and sending intelligence back to Bacon. One of the most important members of the English espionage effort, his contributions were so important that they could never be made public – and in fact, some years later, Bacon encouraged the impression of de Vere having fallen from the queen’s favour as an elaborate ruse to protect him from the vengeful French and Spanish. Despite this ruse, his status remained high in the courts of Europe, who would demand his personal presence in diplomatic negotiations. It was a disaster, therefore, when de Vere suddenly fell ill and died right before a crucial diplomatic conference in 1584.

Bacon urgently needed a replacement for the Earl of Oxford, and one of his agents, a young man named Christopher Marlowe, provided a solution. Bacon did not need a new diplomat – he could get a new man to play the old diplomat. Marlowe introduced Bacon to an up and coming actor, a man of immense talents, but not yet famous enough to be recognised – William Shakespeare.

Shakespeare entered Bacon’s ring of spies, and as his first assignment, impersonated the Earl of Oxford at the diplomatic conference. Shakespeare’s immense acting talent meant that the courts of three foreign powers were utterly taken in, and that the impersonation was a flawless success. With this success done, Bacon would not let Shakespeare go. For the next twenty years, Shakespeare led a triple life – living as the Earl of Oxford in the rich parts of London, as himself in the world of theatre, and as a spy on the Continent whenever Bacon required it of him. It was not until 1604 that Bacon was able to untangle his web of intrigue and lay the impersonated Earl of Oxford to rest. In the intervening time, Shakespeare had made a name for himself as a playwright and actor, but also a name for the Earl of Oxford as a poet. He acted both on stage and off it, disguising himself as a nobleman, a sailor, or a merchant on espionage visits to France, and Italy. Bacon’s other agents had their hands full, destroying all portraits and sketches of Shakespeare that were being created by his devoted stage fans, so that nobody might notice the strange resemblance between the accomplished actor and the Earl of Oxford.

Bacon did not only cover up a death, but in an odd balance, he created a fake one. In 1593, needing Christopher Marlowe to be in the field ever more, he spread the news of Marlowe’s death, and had a poor street urchin buried under Marlowe’s name. Marlowe then spend the next eighteen years spying for Bacon across Europe, and eventually died in 1620, having spent a full and happy life. In the intervening years, he sent intelligence reports to Bacon, with personal letters to his friend Shakesepare, who was happy to take Marlowe’s descriptions of Italian towns, and incorporate them into his own plays. Indeed, the great man was not above wryly commenting on his own situation in his plays, which frequently deal with impersonation, mistaken identity, and ruminations on the nature of self and identity.

While Bacon continued his activities well into the seventeenth century, Shakespeare was exhausted by the triple life he was leading, and eventually retired to his home town, bearing the – alas, very secret – thanks of his queen and country.

Unfortunately, while the passage of the centuries and the final destruction of the Stuart conspiracies should have allowed for Shakespeare’s remarkable talents and accomplishments to have taken their place in the spotlight of history, the transfer of the Baconian archives to Hanover meant that it was not to be. Even more tragically, while independent researchers in the nineteenth century came close to discovering the truth of the connection between Shakespeare and de Vere, in the absence of the archival material, they got the connection the wrong way around – and claimed that de Vere had been Shakespeare, rather than the true facts of the matter – that Shakespeare had been de Vere for more than twenty years.

This reverse identification, although perversely testifying to Shakespeare’s brilliance as an actor, did the great man an injustice and attributed his writerly brilliance not to the actor, but to a character he played.

It is this injustice that I set out to correct in this monograph, and which the future publication of the Saint Basil papers will finally lay to rest. I am delighted that my years of research have allowed me to overturn a longstanding historical myth, and bring a purer truth to light.

(The author of the above monograph is the Hon. Director of the Smirzkoff Centre for Historical Speculation. He lives with his wife, Dr. (Mrs.) Valentina Dimitrieva Pandey, and up to twenty two of their children, in suburban St Petersburg.)

The Hangover of Demonetisation

November 29, 2018

Much to my delight, I was able to catch up with my old friend Neha Natalya Pandey last week. To my even greater delight, in this reunion, I was also able to meet Neha Natalya’s brother, Prof. Dr. Dr. Boris Bhartriraj Pandey, who over the course of dinner, explained to me the hidden significance of Yo Yo Honey Singh’s recent song, This Party is Over Now. Prof. Dr. Dr. Pandey insisted that his insight was trivial and not worth putting out to an academic audience. However, in view of the fact that nobody among the lay public has had the same insight, this represents a perhaps excessive level of modesty on his part. I was able to prevail upon him to quickly write up his observations on this song for a popular audience, and he agreed to let me carry it on my blog. I am, of course, indebted to Prof. Dr. Dr. Pandey for so raising the intellectual tone of this blog, and I trust that my readers will also be thrilled and enlightened after reading the below monograph.

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Mahishamati as Radical Soil: The Maoism of Baahubali

May 29, 2017

My old friend Neha Natalya Pandey, currently engaged in postdoctoral work in the United States, was kind enough to forward me her mother Dr. (Mrs.) Valentina Dimitrieva Pandey (M.A., M. Litt., Ph. D.) ‘s monograph on the Baahubali movies, with a request to share it. The recent turmoil in American – Russian relationships, with both the associated financial sanctions, and, tragically, the vilification of anything Russian among American academe, has made it impossible for Neha Natalya to maintain the Pandey family’s blog; and so she has been forced to forward their works for the popular masses to her friends to ensure that we common people continue to benefit from the erudite family’s research and advocacy. I reproduce Dr. (Mrs.) Pandey’s monograph below, unaltered and unedited. – AK

I have been dismayed at the vilification of Baahubali 2 in the counter-revolutionary press of India. Late capitalist media, sustained like fungi by the rotting advertising dollars of corporate houses, seeks to suppress or mischievously misrepresent truly revolutionary works of art. To serve their corporate masters, media houses have attacked the Baahubali films as racist, casteist, feudal, and antifeminist. As we shall see, nothing could be further from the truth. Baahubali 2, especially, is a pioneering work of cinema that speaks for the proletariat, the downtrodden, and the coming revolution.

That Baahubali 2 is revolutionary could have been anticipated from the creators alone. Like artistic stalwarts David Dhawan and Manmohan Desai, SS Rajamouli has spent his career on cinema that conveys the rage of the forgotten man in an unforgiving system of brutalisation. Yet even I was unprepared for just how far the Baahubali saga was willing to go in its championing of the subaltern. Rajamouli’s earlier body of work – for nobody is perfect – still privileged the individual vengeance over the dismantling of structural inequity. Baahubali goes a step further, and issues a call to arms for revolution.

We see in Baahubali that the land of Mahishamati is ruled by the wise regent Sivagami, and exists as a peasant utopia, untainted by industrialisation. The scholar Dominique Legrand-Metternich, in her work Mutter, Boden, Mensch, has pointed out that in (ab)original societies, the mother (who is not-male by virtue of her role, even though she may be male when observed through the lens of crass empiricism (see: Idle, 1979)) is identified with the land; whereas the father (who is always male, and thus anti-feminine) is identified with the fire. Thus, the preindustrial societies are inherently feminist, while post-industrialist societies are anti-feminist. Sivagami is able to maintain the idyllic conditions of Mahishamati, until Bhallaladeva takes the throne. It is then that industrialisation raises its ugly head.

The senior Baahubali is exiled, and works his revenge by introducing the technology of the gear-drive to Mahishamati. But this is only the spark that lights the fire. Once Sivagami is murdered by Bhallaladeva, the true end of the pastoral Mahishamati is brought about. For the next twenty five years, Bhallaladeva brings about so-called ‘development’ and industrialisation – but all this ‘progress’ is restricted to military technology, like automated chariots; or giant waterworks. Rajamouli’s film is therefore a searing indictment of Greco-capitalism; as the military-industrial complex, created by the American imperialists; and large dam projects, funded by the same imperialists; are both placed in the person of the villainous Bhallaladeva.

Fortunately, the end of ‘development’ is at hand, as Mahendra Baahubali and Avantika lead a peasant guerrilla army. As a Telugu speaker, Rajamouli is well aware of his culture’s glorious history of peasant revolutions. The pairing of the peasant Avantika, and the bourgeois Baahubali; coming together in a glorious synthesis of a proletarian revolution, is an obvious hat-tip to both the Chinese people’s revolution, and the ongoing Naxalite revolution in India. In an atmosphere of increasing suppression of people’s movements, and of their supporters, Rajamouli is as courageous as Baahubali himself in creating a film that so unabashedly propagandises the Naxalite movement.

In conclusion, the Baahubali films represent a pro-people, anti-feudal, anti-Greco-capitalist, and pro-revolutionary message. It remains to be seen, whether the bourgeoisie of India shall recognise the writing on the wall – but the people have awoken. Lal salaam!

– Dr. (Mrs.) Valentina Dimitrieva Pandey
MA (lit.) MPhil (illit.) PhD (corres.) M.A.S. University, Darjeeling

(The writer is the Randal Zakuroff Chair of Gender Studies at the Department of Social Sciences, at the University of St Petersburg, Russia. She lives with her husband Acharya Somuchidononanda Pandey in the Malyeshi suburb of St. Petersburg, where their twenty-two children frequently visit them.)

An Important Announcement

October 3, 2008

Dr. Dr. Mikhail Murugavel Somuchidonandovich Pandey (the son of the eminent Dr. Mr. Acharya Somuchidonanda Pandey and Dr. Mrs. Valentina Dimitrieva Pandey of St. Petersburg) has published extracts of his groundbreaking paper on the shared Tamil past for humanity on the Pandey family blog. These extracts deal with the defeat of Vercingetorix the Gaul – or rather, Veerasinga Thevar the Kallar. Please do read the blogpost as it is about revolutionary and shocking new discoveries.

Pandey on Punjab

August 19, 2008

Last week, as a son of the Punjabi soil claimed a Gold medal at the Olympics, all the credit went to India. Shortly after that, Independence Day was celebrated, cruelly ignoring the fact that there is no Azaadi for Punjab. Our destiny is in the hands of power brokers from UP and Bengal.

Why are we oppressed so much? What is the sinister conspiracy that has kept the inheritors of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s legacy suppressed? Why is it that when Punjab accomplishes something, India gets the credit; but when India screws up, Punjab bears the brunt?

According to the erudite Dr. (Mrs.) Valentina Dimitrieva Pandey, it is because of Greco-capitalism. Please read her post on how the dominant Gujews are conspiring against us.

The Raja-mandala Re-centred

July 15, 2008

There has recently been a controversy in the Indian blogosphere about what the projection of power means. In the interests of enlightening lay readers, I asked my good friend and international relations expert Dr. Boris Bhartriraj Pandey to prepare a guide to power projection. Boris is currently a post-doctoral fellow at Parma, and his family background is even more impressive – his parents are the distinguished academics Dr. Acharya Somuchidononanda Pandey and Dr. Valentina Dimitrieva Pandey. He has written a short monograph on the subject at the Pandey family blog. It is also reproduced in it’s entirety here, with his permission:

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xkcd and नवरस

March 23, 2008

While Wired magazine has commented on the huge popularity of xkcd, it has not been able to provide a reason for this:

This mix of brains and fun, as well as underlying sweetness helped propel xkcd from a hobby to a full-time job for the 23-year-old former NASA roboticist. Since its 2005 launch, xkcd has grown from doodles in the margins of a graphing notebook to T-shirts, radio talks and lectures on humor at MIT, where students batted inflatable raptors around the auditorium. The website drew between 60 million and 70 million pageviews in October, Munroe says, and xkcd’s growing fan base has taken to re-enacting events that take place in the comic.

However, even I don’t have a clue just why it is that xkcd seems to appeal to people so much. So I asked my good friend Neha Natalya Pandey to put fundaes on this. Since she’s majoring in Algorithm Analysis and Design (and minoring in Sanskrit Poetics) at U. Mich., and she has an amazing intellectual pedigree (her parents are Dr. Acharya Somuchidononanda Pandey and Dr. Valentina Dimitrieva Pandey), she’s ideally suited to explain this. I reproduce her correspondence on this subject below, with her permission.

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