Was Oxford Don Ricardo Barbarossa in Nashe’s “Have With You”?-Rolymo

Rolymo: You referred to a  “Richard Vere” at Christ’s Church Oxford in your posting on Oxford’s college years.   In Nashe’s dedication to “Have With You to Saffron Waldon”  “Don Ricardo Barbarossa de Caesario” is the dedicatee.  Nashe goes on with a huge play on words about the name Dick. Could this be referring to a name Oxford used, Ricardo and Dick both being forms of Richard?

Hughes:  Sure it’s possible. In my view, all the badinage between Nashe and Harvey was a pretend fight between Oxford and his friend and colleague, Francis Bacon, all of whose pamphlets were written primarily to amuse each other and other members of their coterie, with Harvey involved only as their helpless scapegoat.  “Barbarossa” means “Red Beard,” one of the characteristics of the fictional Robert Greene, who (to me at least) was clearly Oxford.  In this comic paper duel (“may games” on paper), Nashe refers to Oxford by many different names and terms, but obviously there were others involved whose identities haven’t yet been determined.

Oxford as “Richard Vere” would have been long before Bacon/Nashe entered the picture, while “Have With You” appeared in 1596, some thirty years later.  That’s an awfully long time for a nickname to continue without evidence of any other usage.  At this point, attempts to decipher exactly what Greene, Nashe, or pseudo-Harvey are talking about is skating on very thin ice, almost as thin as deciphering the backstory to the Sonnets.  But it’s fun!

Once we’ve got most of the Big Picture (Oxford’s life, Shakespeare’s works, and how they connect) assembled we can turn to these minor puzzles with some assurance that we have at least some basis for deciphering what was meant to escape just such attempts.  We’ll have to feel fairly secure that our view of the biographical and historical background to these byways is detailed and accurate before we can create scenarios with any degree of security.  In 1596, after three years of no exchanges, what would have been “Nashe’s” reason for publishing “Have With You”?  That’s got to come first.

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