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Christopher Marlowe

Christopher Marlowe (February 6, 1564 - May 30, 1593) was a skillful poet and talented playwright, but nevertheless his works never managed to achieve the great recognition of that of his contemporary Shakespeare. He died young in a pub brawl.

It has been suggested that Marlowe was operating as a secret agent, and that he could have been killed for what he knew about the Queen and various lords' secret doings, particularly within a clandestine organisation, The School of Night. One reason offered is that Marlowe was refused permission to continue his Master of Arts degree at Cambridge, but Queen Elizabeth's Privy Council reversed that decision in a letter in which they wrote that he "Was determined to have gone beyond the seas to Rheims... In all his actions he had behaved himself orderly and discreetly whereby he had done Her Majesty good service, and deserved to be rewarded for his faithful dealing." Government agents often went to Rheims to spy on the Catholic seminary there, which was busily training Englishmen for the priesthood. English agents would visit Rheims to learn the identities of the future priests so that they could be arrested on their return to England.

Marlowe was killed in a pub brawl with his own knife, apparently because he attacked another patron in an argument over "Le Reckoninge" or "the bill." That patron, Ingram Frizer, killed him and is known to have been an agent himself, and also to have worked for Sir Walter Raleigh. It has been speculated that Marlowe may have been ready to divulge secrets about Raleigh, because he had been called to give evidence before Queen Elizabeth's council of ministers known as the Star Chamber. Raleigh survived charges of `loose living` but was executed by Elizabeth's successor, James I in a bid to appease Spanish anger.

The book "The Reckoning : The Murder of Christopher Marlowe" by Charles Nicholl gives a good overview of the times and the people involved.

See also: Thomas Kyd

External Links

e-texts of some of Christopher Marlowe's works:

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