Emilia Lanier (Bassano)

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Emelia Lanier (Bassano)

Birthdate: (76)
Death: 1645 (75)
Place of Burial: London, England
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Baptista Bassano and Margaret Bassano
Wife of Alphonso Lanier
Mother of Henry Lanier and Odillya Lanier
Sister of Lewes Bassano and Phillip Bassano
Half sister of Angela Holland

Managed by: William Chandler Lanier Jr.
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Emilia Lanier (Bassano)

Learning about the events of Lanier's life has not always been an easy task for researchers. Very little is known about her. Scholars have had to piece together Lanier's biography by relying on the sparse amount of church, court and legal records that mention Lanier's name and her activity. Researchers have also relied upon entries from astrologer Simon Forman's (1552–1611) professional diary, which mention his accounts with Lanier. Lanier visited Foreman many times during 1597 for astrological readings, and because Forman was evidently sexually interested in her and rejected, his account is likely biased.

Church records show that Lanier was baptised Aemilia Bassano at the parish church of St. Botolph, Bishopsgate, on 27 January 1569. Her father, Baptiste Bassano, was a Venice-born musician at the court of Elizabeth I. Her mother was Margret Johnson (born ca. 1545–1550), possibly the aunt of court composer Robert Johnson. Lanier also had a sister, Angela Bassano, who married Joseph Hollande in 1576. There were also brothers Lewes and Phillip, both of whom died before they reached adulthood.[3]

Baptiste Bassano died on 11 April 1576, when Aemilia was seven years old. Bassano's will dictated to his wife that he had left young Aemilia a dowry of £100, to be given to her either when she turned 21 years old or on the day of her wedding, whichever came first. Forman's records indicate that Bassano's fortune might have been waning before he died which caused him to be unhappy.[4]

Foreman's records also indicate that, after the death of her father, Lanier went to live with Susan Bertie, Countess of Kent. Some scholars have questioned whether Lanier went to serve Bertie rather than be fostered by her, but there is no conclusive evidence to confirm this. It was in Bertie's house that Lanier was given a humanist education and learned Latin. Bertie greatly valued and emphasised the importance of young girls receiving the same level of education as young men.[5] Later evidence indicates that this decision may have greatly impacted Lanier and her own decision to publish her writing. After living with Bertie, Lanier went to live with Margaret Clifford, Countess of Cumberland, and Margaret's daughter, Lady Anne Clifford. Dedications in Lanier's own poetry seem to confirm this information.[6]

Lanier's mother died when Lanier was eighteen. Church records show that Johnson was buried in Bishopsgate on 7 July 1587.[6]

Not long after her mother's death, Lanier became the mistress of Tudor courtier and cousin of Queen Elizabeth I, Henry Carey, 1st Baron Hunsdon. At the time of their affair, Lord Hunsdon was Elizabeth's Lord Chamberlain and a patron of the arts and theatre (he supported Shakespeare's theatre company, known as the Lord Chamberlain's Men, but not until two years after their affair was over). He was also forty-five years older than Lanier. Records indicate that Carey gave her a pension of £40 a year. Lanier apparently enjoyed her time as Carey's mistress. An entry from Forman's diary reads "[Lanier] hath bin married 4 years/ The old Lord Chamberlain kept her longue She was maintained in great pomp... she hath 40£ a yere & was welthy to him that married her in monie & Jewells".[7]

In 1592, when she was 23, Lanier became pregnant with Carey's child. Carey paid her off with a sum of money. Lanier was then married to her first cousin once removed, Alfonso Lanier. He was a Queen's musician and church records show the two were married in St. Botolph's church, Aldgate, on 18 October 1592.[8]

Another of Forman's diary entries indicates that the marriage was an unhappy one. It also indicates that Lanier was much happier as Carey's mistress. It reads "...and a nobleman that is ded hath Loved her well & kept her and did maintain her longe but her husband hath delte hardly with her and spent and consumed her goods and she is nowe...in debt".[7]

Alfonso and Aemilia remained married until his death in 1613. Forman's diary entries suggest Lanier told him about having several miscarriages. It is known that Lanier gave birth to a son, Henry, in 1593 (presumably named after his father, Henry Carey) and a daughter, Odillya, in 1598. Odillya died when she was ten months old and was buried at St. Botolph's, Bishopsgate. Lanier's son married Joyce Mansfield in 1623; they had two children, Mary (1627) and Henry (1630). Henry senior died in October 1633. It is implied from later court documents that Lanier may have been providing for her two grandchildren after their father's death.[9]

In 1611, Lanier published her volume of poetry, Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum. Lanier was forty-two years old at the time and the first woman in England to declare herself a poet. People who read her poetry considered it very radical and many scholars today refer to its style and arguments as "proto-feminist".[10] After the death of her husband, Lanier supported herself by running a school. She rented a house from Edward Smith to house her students but, due to disputes over the correct rent price, was arrested on two different occasions between 1617 and 1619. Because parents weren't willing to send their children to a woman with a history of arrest, Lanier's dreams of running a prosperous school ended.[11]

Little else is known about Lanier's life between 1619 and 1635. Court documents state that, in this year, Lanier brought a lawsuit against her husband's brother, Clement, for money owed to her from the profits of one of her late husband's financial patents. The court ruled in Lanier's favour, declaring that Clement pay her £20. Clement couldn't pay her immediately, so Lanier brought the suit to court again in 1636 and in 1638. There are no records that verify whether Lanier was ever paid in full but it is known that, at the time of death, she was described as a "pensioner", someone who has a steady income or pension.[11]

Lanier died at the age of seventy-six and was buried at Clerkenwell, on 3 April 1645.

Emilia Lanier, the author of the collection of poetry known as "Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum" (1611) was only the fourth woman in England to publish a book of original poetry, with Isabella Whitney, Anne Dowriche, and Elizabeth Melville preceding her. Her volume centres on the title poem, a long narrative work of over 200 stanzas.

Aemilia Lanier’s book of poetry, Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum has been viewed by many critics to be one of the earliest feminist works of British literature. Barbara Kiefer Lewalski in her article, "Writing Women and Reading the Renaissance," actually calls Lanyer the "defender of womankind". Lewalski claims that with the first few poems of the collection, as dedications to prominent women, Lanyer is initiating her ideas of the genealogy of women. The genealogy follows the idea that "virtue and learning descend from mothers to daughters".


Provided by Homer Lanier

This biography was compiled and written by Kari Boyd McBride. Please use it freely in your teaching and writing, citing the source of your information as appropriate.

To suggest further information or corrections, click Contact Profile Manager to send an e-mail message.'

Much of the information available about Lanyer's life comes from the casebooks of the astrologer Simon Forman whom Lanyer consulted about her husband's prospects for promotion. Forman tried, unsuccessfully, to seduce Lanyer. Many of his comments are deformed by jealousy and pique and must, therefore, be used as sources advisedly. Data for reconstructing Lanyer's life come also from parish records and government documents. This biography draws principally on Greer, Hastings, Medoff, and Sansone; Lewalski (various); Rowse (The Poems of Shakespeare's Dark Lady); and Woods (Dictionary of Literary Biography). For full references and other resources (including others cited parenthetically below), consult Bibliography. Thanks to Kristen Strandberg for her corrections.

Aemilia Lanyer was She was the daughter of Baptista Bassano and Margaret Johnson. It is possible that she was the Margaret Johnson born ca. 1545-1550 who was the aunt of Robert Johnson (1583?-1633), lutenist and composer, musician of Shakespeare's company, and, later, musician to the court of Charles I (DNB s.v. "Robert Johnson"; Woods, Lanyer, 3-4).

Lanyer's father's family, the Bassanos, were court musicians who had come to England from Venice at the end of Henry VIII's reign. It has been argued that they were converted Jews (Lasocki and Prior; Rowse, "Revealed at Last," and ensuing correspondence; Greer et al., s.v. "Aemilia Lanyer"), but Ruffatti has argued persuasively that the family was Christian. Lanyer had an elder sister, Angela (d. 1584), and two brothers, Lewes and Phillip, who did not survive to adulthood (Lasocki and Prior 46). Lanyer's father died when she was seven and was also buried in Bishopsgate, on May 11, 1576 (Rowse 14).

Internal evidence of Lanyer's poems tell us that she was fostered in the household of Susan Bertie Wingfield, Countess Dowager of Kent (information also confirmed by Forman), and that she was later attached to the household of Margaret, Countess of Cumberland, and her daughter, Anne Clifford. Lanyer memorializes her time with them at the estate of Cookham Dean in "The Description of Cooke-ham." Lanyer must have been educated along with the noble girls whom she attended, for her work shows familiarity with poetic genres and verse forms and with the (Geneva) Bible (McBride, Engendering Authority, "Appendix").

As a young woman, Lanyer frequented the court of Elizabeth I and was mistress to Henry Carey, Lord Hunsdon, forty-five years her senior, who "maintained [her] in great pomp," says Forman, and provided her with an income of forty pounds a year (Rowse 11). (There is no conclusive evidence that Lanyer was William Shakespeare's mistress, an argument advanced by Rowse, nor, indeed, that she was the "dark-eyed lady" of Milton's sonnets, a theory advanced early in this century by John Smart.)

She became pregnant at the age of twenty-three, was paid off by Hunsdon, and married her cousin by marriage, Alphonso Lanyer, a Queen's musician, on October 10, 1592 (Lasocki and Prior 106, 102).

The Lanyers were from Rouen and had come to England under Elizabeth (Rowse 14). Alphonso was a member of the recorder consort originally started by the five Bassano brothers that included Lanyer's father, Baptista. (Indeed, Alphonso was the recipient of the royal stipend that had once been Baptista's [Lasocki and Prior 147].) Alphonso served as gentleman volunteer in the Essex Islands Voyage of 1597 and had also done service in Ireland (Lewalski, "God" 205; Rowse 11; Woods 213). He was one of fifty-nine musicians who played at Elizabeth's funeral, and he moved at her death into the service of James I (Rowse 18). He had been preferred by Elizabeth's closest advisor, William Cecil, Lord Burghley, and granted a monopoly for the weighing of hay and straw in London (six pence for every load of hay and three pence for every load of straw brought into London and Westminster) (Rowse 19; Lasocki and Prior 108-09). When he died in 1613, Aemilia Lanyer made over the grant to her brother-in-law, Innocent, evidently with an understanding that she would continue to receive a portion of it, though her right to that income was a source of later dispute.

Lanyer told Forman that she had suffered many miscarriages (Rowse 11), but she had at least two children: the first (presumably the son of Hunsdon) named Henry, born early in 1593, and a daughter, Odillya, born in December of 1598, who died at ten months of age and was buried at St. Botolph's, Bishopsgate (Rowse 11, 15; Woods 213). Henry became one of the king's flautists on September 29, 1629. He had two children by his wife, Joyce Mansfield, whom he married in 1623: Mary, baptized July 25, 1627, and Henry, baptized January 16, 1630. The children may have been orphaned on Henry's death in October 1633. At any rate, Lanyer says in 1635 that she has "two grandchildren to provide for" (Rowse 35).

Lanyer first consulted Simon Forman, the astrologer, on May 17, 1597 (Rowse 11). She was then living in Longditch, Westminster, next to Canon Row, which Rowse calls "a fashionable quarter full of the houses of grandees" (13-14). Forman provides the only physical description we have of Lanyer--that she had a wart or mole in the pit of her throat (Rowse 12). Lanyer consulted Forman again on June 3 and 16, asking whether her husband would come into any preferment (Rowse 11). Forman reported that she was unhappy with her husband who had "dealt hardly with her" and "spent and consumed her goods" (Rowse 12). Forman thought her (supposed) emotional and financial neediness would make her "a good fellow," that is, a willing sex partner, but, though she seems to have had continued contact with Forman over the next few years and may have engaged in sexual play with him, she refused to have intercourse, prompting him to wonder "whether or not she is an incuba" and to call her a whore (Rowse 12, 13).

Lanyer published her volume of poetry, Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum (Hail, God, King of the Jews), in 1611, when she was forty-two years old. All the poems are in iambic pentameter, though the verse forms vary. Two prefatory pieces and an afterword are prose. "The Description of Cooke-ham" must have been written between February 25, 1609 (when Anne Clifford married and took the name "Dorset," by which she is called in the poem), and October 2, 1610 (when the poem was entered in the Stationers' Register) (Lewalski, "Lady" 275 n. 28), but there is no internal evidence to date other portions of the book so precisely and nothing to suggest that all of the poems were written at the same time.

The book was issued twice, though the contents of extant copies make reconstruction of its publication history complicated. STC 15277 includes prefatory addresses to 1) Queen Anne, 2) the Princess Elizabeth, 3) "all vertuous Ladies in generall," 4) Lucy, Countess of Bedford, 5) Anne, Countess of Dorset (seven stanzas), and 6) Margaret, Countess of Cumberland. That version has a typesetting error in the second and third stanzas of D4 verso which is corrected in STC 15227.5, suggesting that version is the second printing. However, both STC versions have a five-line publisher's imprint on the title page, though a four-line imprint marks the first printing.

This discrepancy suggests that later collectors cannibalized damaged copies to make "complete" versions (which, indeed, is the case with the Alexander Dyce copy held by the Huntington Library). STC 15277.5 has prefatory addresses to 1) Queen Anne, 2) the Princess Elizabeth, 3) "all vertuous Ladies in generall," 4) Arabella Stuart, 5) Susan, Countess of Kent, 6) Mary Sidney, Countess of Pembroke, 7) Ludy, Countess of Bedford, 8) Margaret, Countess of Cumberland, 9) Katherine, Countess of Suffolk, 10) Anne, Countess of Dorset (eighteen stanzas), and 11) "the vertuous reader." Lewalski argues that "most of the dedicatees were linked through kinship or marriage with the staunchly Protestant faction of Robert Dudley" ("God" 207). Nine copies of the book survive, including a presentation copy from Prince Henry's library (Greer et al. 45; Woods 214). There are no extant contemporary references to Lanyer's book.

Lanyer's book is radical in its theology and politics and could aptly be called proto-feminist. Both the prefatory poems and the title poem argue for women's religious and social equality, and the longer version of the poem addressed to Anne Clifford (to whom the book is actually dedicated) includes a levelling tirade against class privilege.

In addition to the prefatory poems, Lanyer's book consists of the long (1840-line) title poem, "Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum," "The Description of Cooke-ham," and a final prose address "To the doubtfull Reader" wherein Lanyer says that she dreamed of the book's title long before she wrote the book, implying its divine commissioning. "Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum" is a meditation on the Passion which argues that men (not women) were responsible for the crucifixion of Christ. Lanyer further argues in an extended section entitled "Eves Apologie in Defense of Women" that Eve was less culpable than Adam. Lanyer then compares women's sinfulness in the Edenic context to men's sinfulness in the context of the crucifixion to argue for women's social and religious equality with men. "The Description of Cooke-ham" is the first country house poem to be published in English (predating Ben Jonson's "To Penshurst" [1616]). Drawing on classical generic features, Lanyer figures the virtue of the "Lady" of the poem, Margaret, Countess of Cumberland, in the homage accorded her by the estate's flora and fauna.

After her husband's death, Lanyer supported herself, at least in part, by runnning a school, as she put it, for "children of divers persons of worth and understanding." She leased a house for that purpose from Edward Smith, an attorney, in St. Giles in the Fields (an aristocratic London suburb) in the summer of 1617. Lanyer and Smith were almost immediately engaged in a series of lawsuits and countersuits. Lanyer claimed her right to deduct from the rent ten pounds she had spent on repairs; Smith sued her for nonpayment and had her arrested, a scene not apt to inspire confidence among the parents of one's students. She seems to have lost most of her pupils but stayed on in the house through August 1619 when she left without paying her midsummer rent, whereupon she was arrested again (Rowse 33-35; Lasocki and Prior 104).

Lanyer appears again in the law courts in 1635 (at age sixty-six), two years after the death of her son, Henry. She was supposed to receive half the profits from the hay and straw weighing patent she had made over to her late husband's brother, Innocent, but had received only eight pounds. She describes herself as being "in great misery and having two grandchildren to provide for." Her suit was complicated by the fact that, in the intervening years since her husband's death, Innocent had made over the patent to another brother, Clement. Charles I ordered Clement to pay Lanyer twenty pounds a year, but Lanyer had to bring suit again the next year, as Clement had paid her only four pounds. Their legal wrangling continued through 1638 with Clement repeatedly ordered to pay her and repeatedly complaining that he has not been able to collect on the patent (Rowse 35-37; Lasocki and Prior 104-105). Whether Lanyer was ever able to obtain the full amount awarded to her is unclear, but she died, at age seventy-six, a "pensioner," that is, possessed of a regular income, and was buried on April 3, 1645, at Clerkenwell (Rowse 37; Lasocki and Prior 106).

Return to the Lanyer Home Page. Also see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emilia_Lanier

Wikipedia entry on Emilia Lanier:

In a March 2007 lecture at the Smithsonian Institution, John Hudson proposed a new authorship candidate, the Jewish poet Aemelia (Emilia) Bassano Lanier (1569-1645), the first woman in England to publish a book of poetry Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum (1611).

Born in London, into a family of Marrano Jewish musicians who came from Venice and were of Moorish ancestry, Hudson posited that Lanier fit many aspects of the biographical profile described in the plays.[126]

A.L Rowse proposed Lanier as the 'dark lady' of the Sonnets.[127] She was also the longterm mistress of Lord Hunsdon, the man in charge of the English theatre and the patron of the Lord Chamberlain's Men.[128]

Hudson proposed that, as a hidden Jew, this explained the use of Hebrew and Jewish religious allegories in the plays.

Also, unlike Mr Shakespeare, she died poor, depised, lacking honor and proud titles, as described in Sonnets numbers 37,29,81, 111 and 25." [Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shakespeare_authorship_question ]

The name Emilia is often written as Aemilia. Many times she is referred to as Aemilia Lanyer.

Emilia for some time was a mistress to Henry Carey, the first Lord Hunsdon, (son of Mary Boelyn and it seems Henry VIII) who was also Lord Chamberlain.

She became pregnant by Henry Carey and was married off to Alphonse Lanier.

Henry Carey was the father of her son, Henry Lanier. Emilia Bassano was raised with the Countess of Kent, Susan Wingfield.

Most scholars now believe that Emilia Bassano was the Dark Lady of

Sonnets 127-151 written by William Shakespeare and that she had an

affair with him. Emilia Bassano was a feminist at a time when

there were not many others. Emilia Bassano was a musician and a

poet. The instrument she played was called the virginals and was a

forerunner of the piano of today. She published a book of poetry with

a Christian theme not long after Shakespeare's sonnets were published.

Around 1617 (4 years after Alphonso's death) Emilia took the lease of a house in the parish of St Giles-in-the-Fields to set up a school, so perhaps she and Alphonso had already been living in that area. In a law suit of 1620 relating to the school, Emilia deposed that Alphonso's death had left her badly off, 'he having spent a great part of her estate in the service of the late Queen in her wars of Ireland and other places'. Therefore, 'for her maintenance and relief was compelled to teach and educate the children of divers persons of worth and understanding'. When sued for non-payment of rent, she managed to stay in the house until August 1619, then was arrested and evicted.

What Emilia did for the next sixteen years is not yet known. But we discover something of her later life through another law suit. After Allphonso's death, his monopoly on the weighing of hay and straw brought into the London area passed to his brothers Innocent, then Clement. With this monopoly, Clement inherited a mare's nest.

According to Emilia she had been left a grant on her husband's death. She then agreed to surrender her right to Innocent so that he might obtain a new grant and allow her half the profits. But she had only received 8 pounds 'being in great misery and having two grandchildren to provide for'. After Innocents death in 1625, Charles I made the grant over to Clement. Emilia had not been provided for in it. According to Clement she exhibited a bill in Chancery against him and, after that was dismissed, sued him in forma pauperis (the practice of allowing the poor to sue or defend in a court of law without paying costs? in the Court of Requests. On 11 Nov 1634 the court ordered that Clement should pay her 20 nobles per annum until the hearing of the case. He paid the money but she never brought the case to be heard. Instead she petitioned the Privvy Council on 19 Feb 1635, asking for 50 pounds per annum from the profits of the grant. The Council made Clement agree to pay her 20 pounds per annum and after her death 10 pounds per annum to her grandchildren during the continuance of the grant.

From the book 'The Bassanos'

Aemilia became the Lord Chamberlain's (Lord Hunsdon) mistress, married a musician from the French Huguenot family Lanier (Lanyer), later became a poet herself and is today the most likely candidate for Shakespeare's 'dark lady'. Aemilia Lanyer's nephew Nicholas Lanier not only composed numerous songs and published a book of etchings, but also brought Van Dyck to England.



Did Jewish 'Ministers of Pastime' shape the music of the Tudor Court?

  What's in a name? Shakespeare may have found little of value, but for historians investigating the music of Tudor England, a handful of names unlocked a secret history at the very root of art music in England.

Roger Prior, a retired lecturer in English Literature at Belfast University, investigated the names of the instrumentalists imported from Italy in the late 1530s by Henry VIII and found that one by one they revealed their bearers to be Jewish.

Some of these Jews - among them the Bassanos, Comys and Lupos - were to found musical dynasties that definitively shaped the English style and dominated the King's music.

How these Jewish musicians came to England had always been well documented: in preparation for his fourth marriage, Henry VIII instructed his ambassadors to seek out the best "musicians and other ministers of pastime" throughout Europe and bring them to his court.

An English resident in Venice identified four brothers thought to be among the best musicians in the city and recruited them for the king - against the express wishes of the Venetian government, which refused to grant the Bassano brothers permits to leave the city.

The Bassanos, all wind players, were soon followed by a group of six string players, also from Venice. With first names like Alberto, Vincenzo and Antonio, and family names denominating towns in northern Italy - Bassano, Vicenza and Milan - there was nothing about them identifying them as Jews. But according to Prior, the musicians had one set of names they used in official business, and another set of names which were revealed only in private or at rare documented moments, such as the witnessing of wills.

In these,

  • "John Anthony" became "Anthonius Moyses,"
  • "Peregrine Symonds" became "Simon de Maion" and
  • "Antony Maria" signed as Cuson or Cossin, both variants of the name Gershon.

Another musician, Ambrose of Milan, appeared in one record as "deolmaleyex," which Prior convincingly interprets as an English scribe's awkward attempt to transliterate the name "de Almaliach."

Beyond the Jewish character of these names, the discovery of these "secret" names was significant for the evidence they provided of a Spanish, and in some cases Portuguese, origin of the musicians.

De Almaliach, or Elmaleh, was a well-known Jewish family from pre-expulsion Spain. Two other string players in the King's consort, George and Innocent de Combe, could be traced back to Coimbra in Portugal.

Of course the very fact that the Italian musicians had been active in Venice outside the Ghetto - as the Senate's attempt to keep them in the city suggests - is evidence that they were Marranos who had settled in Venice, living outwardly as Christians.

Their official names, including several Johns and Baptists, confirm this. But the uncovering of the crypto-Jewish identity of the musicians, together with their Iberian roots, allowed Prior to shed light on an episode in Anglo-Jewish history which had long been a riddle.

"Toward the end of 1541, Henry VIII received information that some Portuguese nationals living in London were 'secret Jews,'" recounts Prior. "Normally, so far as one can tell, he would have taken little notice of such an accusation. All his other actions suggest that, if anything, he tended to favor Jews rather than persecute them.

But the circumstances were exceptional. He was anxious at this time to ally himself more closely with the Emperor Charles V, and the prosecution of crypto-Jews was one way of showing himself a true Catholic and a friend of Spain.

Around Christmas time of 1541, these 'certain persons' were imprisoned and their property confiscated." The imperial envoy in London, Eustace Chapuy, reported the arrests to the chief minister in Spain. However, due to pressure from the Emperor's sister, and of the King and Queen of Portugal, Chapuys was forced to retract his accusations and ask Henry VIII to free them again. When they were released, in March 1543, Chapuys wrote in a bitter letter to Madrid: "Most likely, however well they may sing, they will not be able to fly away from their cages without leaving some of their feathers behind." Chapuys seemed to be calling the prisoners songbirds, a metaphor for musicians.

"But," explains Prior, "this interpretation had always come up against the difficulty that no Portuguese or Jewish musicians were known of in Tudor England, and the remark has never been explained.

It is now no longer a problem, for we know that there were musicians in England who were both Portuguese and Jewish." In addition, court records showed that the other Jewish musicians left England abruptly at the time of their colleagues' arrest, and returned only the next summer when the affair had blown over.

The Jewish musicians stayed at the Tudor court, shaping the nature of English music. The appointment of the original six string players from Venice, incidentally, marks the first use of the word "violin" in English, although the terms viol, violin and violon would continue to be used interchangeably to describe the different-sized string instruments of the court band. Its function was essentially as a dance band, according to Boothby, and the rediscovery of some of the earlier viol music in Fretwork's new program brought to the surface the original Italian dance rhythms. "It was a discovery to play some of these more obscure composers. It's very clear, functional dance music," says Boothby of the Pavanes, Courantes, Allemandes and other dances the Jewish musicians brought over to England.

"By the end of the sixteenth century, it becomes much more intricate and arty, more sophisticated, but not as danceable as the music of the original generation. "The Lupo family established themselves as stalwarts of the royal music establishment and stayed there for a century," says Boothby. "They developed what came to be called the English style." In addition, they developed reputations as excellent instrument makers, with the Ashkenazic families specializing in wind instruments, and the Sephardic families in the making of string instruments. The Bassanos turned out wind instruments that, according to contemporary records, were "so beautiful and good they are suited for dignitaries and potentates." And it was the daughter of one of these, Emilia Bassano, who may have left the greatest mark of all on English culture as Shakespeare's Dark Lady. The inspiration behind his central sonnets, the poet immortalized her beauty, wit and cruelty - but not her name. After all, what's in a name?

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Emilia Lanier (Bassano)'s Timeline

January 1569
Age 24
December 1598
Age 29