Friday, April 1, 2016

"Sonny do you see anything of the pig's foot coming?"

The Religion of George and Anne Mynne Calvert

Expressed in Art, Words and Deeds

Revised from Remarks at the Spring Meeting of

The American Catholic Historical Association

March 31, 2007

©Ed Papenfuse, Maryland State Archivist Emeritus

In attempting to reconstruct the past, historians have long since learned that evidence is elusive and imagination is necessary to explain what hints survive. Rarely do you find the silver bullet, the verification in uncontestable form of whatever aspect of the narrative you are attempting to weave. Defining and explaining George Calvert and Anne Mynne’s faith is no exception. [100]

Was a Yorkshire lad with a devout catholic mother and an apparently devout catholic wife, secretly a catholic during the years he outwardly conformed as a trusted servant of King James the first? Simply defining what it meant to be a Catholic in 17th century England in the face of the Penal Laws is difficult enough. In 2004 Harvard professor Stephen Greenblatt published his eminently readable Will Power about Shakespeare's world, which was also George Calvert's. Adam Gopnik in the New Yorker ably summed up Professor Greenblatt's thesis: [101]

Drawing on surprisingly fertile decades of biographical scholarship, Greenblatt is not afraid to make definite assertions.He begins with a fine, disabused picture of Stratford circa 1564, when the poet was born. Against the old notion of an expansive Elizabethan culture connected by the open English road, he draws a portrait of a society nearly Soviet, or perhaps South American, in its paranoias, public persecutions, and sudden, murderous changes of ideology. The underlying crisis was religious. In half a century—within the lifetime of Shakespeare’s father, John—England had gone through a very conservative regime of Catholicism, to an uneasy form of improvised state Catholicism under Henry VIII, through a period of radical Protestantism under King Edward VI, back to Roman Catholicism under Queen Mary, and then on to the staunchly Protestant monarchy of Elizabeth. As each sect seized power, it set about burning and disembowelling those who had been ascendant moments before. By the time Shakespeare was a young man, to be a Catholic priest at all was a capital offense.

The fear and brutality of this unending religious civil war was relieved by the richness of the surrounding folk culture: May Days and Robin Hood pageants, morality plays in tavern courtyards and miracle plays on holidays. “Folk culture is everywhere in his work, in the web of allusions and in the underlying structure,” Greenblatt writes. And this folk culture was, for Shakespeare, inextricably tied up, as it is in the Mediterranean world to this day, with the rituals and calendar and enveloping presence of the old faith. Greenblatt is assured here, where earlier generations of scholars were reserved: little doubt remains that Shakespeare, whose father, mother, and daughter were all, at times, secret Catholics, was at some level a partisan of the old religion. (A disinterested record remarks after his decease that “he dyed a papist.”) His mother, Mary Arden, came from an old, distinguished, and ardently Catholic family. His father, John, a glove maker (and therefore an artisan, but one who dealt in luxury goods), was a leading citizen of Stratford, an alderman and bailiff, who participated in the Protestant ascendancy, arranging to have the local church ripped up and its icons and paintings removed—but who at the same time helped make sure that the schoolmasters hired for the public school were Catholic sympathizers, and secretly signed a Roman Catholic “Spiritual Testament” and hid it in the rafters of his house. (The testament of faith was found, still concealed, in the eighteenth century.)

An even more strident interpretation of Shakespeare's Catholicism is to be found in Claire Asquith's book Shadowplay. She summarizes her thesis on line: [102]

Ever since a seventeenth-century Protestant clergyman, Richard Davies, remarked that "William Shakespeare dyed a papist," Shakespeare's religion has been a thorny subject for scholars and biographers. Protestant England would much rather he had not died a papist. Three hundred years after Shakespeare's death, English Catholics were still viewed as a fifth column liable to join forces with the country's enemies at a moment's notice. Even today, England's entry into the European Union is portrayed in some quarters as a Vatican plot to reclaim England for Catholic Christendom. Until recently the English nation was viewed as incontrovertibly Protestant, and, of course, so was the national poet. Favorite schoolboy quotations stressed his solidarity with the Elizabethan nation-state. The patriotic concluding speeches of King John and Henry VIII, the battle cry of the "reformed" military hero, Henry V, the support throughout Shakespeare's works for authority and the rule of law all identified the playwright as a staunch Protestant Englishman. "Naught shall make us rue," as the Bastard says at the end of King John, "If England to herself do rest but true."

But what was England's "self," exactly— to what should she rest "true"? These lines have always been read in the light of the play's depiction of the proud reunion of the country after the divisions created by the pope's mischievous interdict of the English king—supposedly a parallel to the country's antipapal solidarity in the face of the similar interdict of Elizabeth (1533-1603). Yet in the play the Bastard's lines actually celebrate the moment England submits to the authority of the papal deputy and resumes relations with Rome.

What are we to make of this kind of ambiguity, which is so typical of Shakespeare? Many scholars see it as evidence of his political and religious neutrality. Still, there is another possible explanation, one that politically oppressed audiences such as those in Soviet-dominated Eastern Europe would readily understand. During my years in Moscow as the wife of a British diplomat, I was introduced to the double-speak of subversive drama, an ingenious method designed to circumvent the Communist censor. Minute alterations to plays by classical authors enabled dissidents to communicate with their audience about contemporary politics. The result gave initiates an enjoyable sense of complicity, but was innocent enough to hoodwink the authorities. I began to wonder whether the many incongruities in the apparently apolitical works of Shakespeare and his contemporaries indicated that they were playing the same dangerous game. So long as Shakespeare was seen as a pillar of the establishment, no one dreamed of looking for coded meanings in his work. Today the characteristic ambiguity of his writing is beginning to take on a new significance. Since the Second World War, England has become less certain of her Protestant identity. "Is This the Death of Protestant England?" asked one apprehensive headline in the wake of the blanket coverage by the English media of the funeral of Pope John Paul II. Historians no longer feel obliged to perpetuate the orthodox "Whig" view of England's history, and have been re-examining the nature of Protestantism in Shakespeare's day. Influential books such as Eamon Duffy's Stripping of the Altars conclude that the embrace of Protestantism was largely reluctant. This is a revolutionary position. As presented by Protestant historians, England welcomed the Reformation. Henry VIII's (1491-1547) quarrel with the pope and dissolution of the monasteries constituted a break with the superstitious past. Reformers swept away the obscurantist ceremonies and the humiliating subservience to Rome and gave the country a national church, the Protestant work ethic, the Bible in English. They released a new spirit of intellectual inquiry and national self-confidence which was to be embodied some seventy years later in the works of Shakespeare.

The key to understanding both these works, whether you agree with them or not, is accepting that historians must be both very careful with the meaning of the evidence they find, whether it be literary or artifact, and be willing to cast the evidentiary net as wide as possible. The same words may intentionally have different meanings to different intended audiences. Nor can artifacts be ignored. By artifact, I mean whatever has survived of material evidence of the past from archaeological remnants found in the ground to paintings on the walls, from descriptions of long lost furnishings to watermarks in paper that possibly document the trail of Jesuit priests through the English cathedral towns and in St. Mary's City Maryland in the 1660s and 1670s as the Puritan damaged cathedrals are restored by Catholic craftsmen, and as the Jesuits construct the largest brick chapel in English speaking North America. How else do you explain the presence of Low Country Jesuit made paper with a cross, crown, IHS, and the word MARINAUD appearing in so many places in England and in Maryland at the same time?

The focus of this essay is on George Calvert's faith. John Krugler has masterfully culled almost every scrap of evidence that can be found about the life of George Calvert. [103] Not only is his book well written and a delight to read, any scholar who follows his footnotes, as I have done, will find that he is meticulous in his search for the surviving record and sensitively accurate in his characterization of its meaning. That is not to say that something new might not emerge. [104] Not too long ago, John and I were having dinner when he mentioned a relatively new work by Diane Purkess, The English Civil War: Papists, Gentlewomen, Soldiers, and Witchfinders in the Birth of Modern Britain (Hardcover - Jun 30, 2006).

Without footnotes she tells a fascinating tale of the raid on Henrietta Maria's Chapel at Somerset House by Puritan terrorists in 1643. They slashed and dumped into the Thames a large painting by Rubens of the Crucifixion that George Calvert had given the Duke of Buckingham who in turn had given it to King Charles I and his Queen, Henrietta Maria. This stimulated my imagination and provided a potential bolstering of my intended remarks. Not only was George Calvert instrumental in the founding of Maryland, his son Cecil named the prospective colony after Henrietta Maria. But what was George doing with such a large Catholic painting in the first place in 1622, if he was not yet a convert?

I couldn't resist taking up the challenge of finding the documentation for such a tale, even if it meant missing some interesting sessions at the conference where I was to comment on Professor Krugler's assessment of George Calvert's catholicism. I began, as most undergraduates do these days, with Google, by looking for any collaborative information on the episode at Somerset House. There I found references in another work by Michelle Anne White, Henrietta Maria and the English Civil Wars, and in the old standby, Samuel Rawson Gardiner, The English Civil War, both of which now exist in full or in part as scanned books placed on the web by Google Books. Fortunately Michelle White's book was footnoted and I was led to some extraordinary art history in two articles by Albert J. Loomie published in the Burlington Magazine in 1996 and 1998, which I copied during a morning's enjoyable sojourn in the library.

Professor Krugler (English and Catholic, p. 68) notes that to curry favor with the Duke of Buckingham in 1625, George Calvert gave him a large painting by Rubens of the Crucifixion. What Professor Loomie adds to the story is fascinating, and provides a further window into George Calvert's faith. Professor Loomie notes that George Calvert solicited the painting in October 1621 from Jean Baptiste van Male, the representative of Archduchess Isabella of the Spanish Netherlands. Van Male explains the encounter to the Archduchess's secretary, Della Faille:

Finally, sir, [a name in cipher] our good friend had earnestly begged me to obtain for him a painting of the Crucifixion, with Our Lady St John and the Magdalen of one aulne in height," which should be done in the finest style we have in our country. As I am anxious to be of service to him in this business, yet having no one to whom to turn, I have preferred to ask you to please arrange that Master Rubens receive the commission for it and that he be paid out of the Treasury. I assure you that the gift will very much enhance our position and this good lord will cherish it, as he will understand its worth.

Della Faille was not willing to ask the Archduchess to commission the work unless he could assure her that Calvert was a reliable Catholic. Van Male was quick to reply:

I can assure you that our friend, on whose behalf I asked for the painting, is fully devoted to our religion and I consider him to be more a Catholic than anything else. And I have some knowledge of this matter, having had a private correspondence about it with him over some time. Furthermore, having lately been in his private chamber (cabinet), I saw there several paintings of Our Lady and other saints, which he valued highly, holding them in as much honour and reverence as we do, so much so that I am convinced that this gift will be very useful: it will be well received and one can proceed without any scruple.

That the painting was thought to be a testament to the Catholicism of its owner it confirmed by its subsequent ownership. Calvert gave it to Buckingham. Buckingham gave it to King Charles. King Charles gave it to Henrietta Maria, his queen, who placed it over the high altar in her chapel at Somerset House where by virtue of her marriage treaty she was permitted to have Catholic services which to all accounts became very popular. As the intensity of the English Civil War increased, dissatisfaction with the privilege mounted. In March of 1643 the Chapel was desecrated by Puritan members of Parliament. The painting was slashed to pieces and thrown into the Thames, never to be seen again.

How did Calvert come to even think of wanting a crucifixion by Rubens? I would love to know what books he had in his library by 1621, which might indicate his taste in religious works. Perhaps he had Missale Romanorum, Plantin Press, Antwerp [1617] from which we have the only image of an early Crucifixion attributed to Rubens? [105] In any event it was an impressive Catholic painting given by a Catholic Monarch, Archduchess Isabella of the Spanish Netherlands, to a minister of the English King who she was assured was a good Catholic.

But what does all of this about a painting necessarily prove about Calvert's secret faith? That is a much more complicated question. To answer it, I think we must step back from a history of religion and faith that does not, in my opinion, give enough credence to the role of the wife and mother and her female circle in shaping the religious views of her children, in particular sons and husbands.

Professor Krugler paints a strong picture of George Calvert as a conforming protestant until after his wife's death. If he were to pick a year for conversion to Catholicism, it would be in 1625, nearly three years after Anne Mynne Calvert died. That George Calvert's stepmother was a strong catholic is clear. The DNB article on George Calvert, as corrected, asserts that Anne Mynne' father was Catholic implying that the Church the Mynne's attended and were buried at in Hertingfordbury, St. Mary's, was only nominally Anglican. On August 8, 1622, Anne Mynne died at Arundel House where she was apparently staying with Anne Dacre Howard, the staunchly Catholic mother of Thomas Howard, 2nd Earl of Arundel. Reportedly, after a high mass the funeral procession made its way to St. Mary's Hertingfordbury, her family parish church, where she was ultimately laid to rest in an elaborate italianate tomb erected by her husband. [106] The Catholic leanings of Anne Dacre Howard were well known. Illustrative is the treasured rosary she was given by the martyred Mary, Queen of Scots.

Upon Anne Mynne's death, a suspected Catholic tutor and poet, James Shirley, [107] living only 26 miles distant at St. Alban's School in Hertfordshire, mourned her passing in less than inspiring rhyme.

Vpon a Gentlewoman that died of a Fever

Death, time, and sicknes, had been many a day

Conspiring this sweet Virgin to betray;

At last impatient, vow'd o're the next Sun,

To finish what their malice had begun.

Sicknes went slowly on, but time, apace,

Death lag'd behind, by night all reacht the place.

But when resolv'd of a surprize, they came,

They found her guarded by a holy flame

Her waking Fever kept, this did affright

The theeves, who are still fearful of the light.

Time stayed without; but sicknes, by the sin

Of bribing a false servant, was let in.

Death follow'd the advantage, and did creep

Into her chamber, where though in her sleep,

Sicknes faint-hearted could not stop her breath,

But she soon found the Icie hand of death.

Her grone awak'd some friends, and the maid kild,

With sighes, and clamors all the ayre was fill'd;

Fearing a swift pursuite, time ran away,

Sicknes no longer had the heart to stay,

Death with his prey soon hid him under ground,

Not since by any living creature found.

Why James Shirley would write a poem about Anne Mynne is somewhat of a mystery, although his earlier attachment to Queen Anne, wife of James I, who died in 1619, and his later affiliation with Catholic Queen Henrietta Maria (who married King Charles in 1625, and who became Maryland's namesake in 1632) , would bring him to Mass in Somerset House before the high altar adorned with Calvert's gift of the crucifixion painting. Perhaps he was already a willing participant in the Catholic underground in August 1622?

The answer to this and other questions of the expressions of faith and communication among people who are persecuted for their views may lie in the intended meaning of the words they use and the hidden ways in which they use imagery and symbols such as heraldry and even the notes of music to convey their beliefs in code to others who would understand their double meaning. It is asserted, for example, the recusant composer William Byrd communicated with a fellow Catholic in France through the exchange of motets, the notes of which spelled out strong pro-Catholic message hidden to the untrained eyes of correspondence spies.

To better understand the faith of the fathers, more attention needs to be paid to the faith of the mothers and wives, and the saints they revered as indicators and educators in the faith. While not all children followed in the faith of their mothers, they could have great influence on what their children and their husbands believed. In examining the persistence of faith the family context ought not to be ignored, and particularly the role mothers and wives played in the religious education and the maintenance of religious beliefs across generations.

You can't begin to talk about Anne Mynne Calvert who George Calvert married in 1604 without talking about St. Cecilia. St. Cecilia was the patron saint of the blind and of music, whose tragic death at the hands of the Romans elevated her to sainthood, and whose feast day is a recurring day of importance to our appreciation of Maryland history. In many ways Maryland began with the blessing of St. Cecilia on her feast day in 1633 as those first 200 or so adventurers set out in blind faith from the Isle of Wight to seek a new life in America on the shores of the Chesapeake. Chaucer immortalized St. Cecilia in poetry, and how she was depicted by noted artists during the lifetime of the first of the Calvert women is as much a history of the secularization of religious art and society as it illuminates the meaning of her sainthood to the Calvert family.

The Second Nun's Tale of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales is about the life of St. Ceciliae who was martyred in Sicily under Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (c.176 a.d.). It was written sometime between 1387 and Chaucer's death in 1400. Chaucer begins by explaining the significance of Cecilia's name:

First let me tell you whence her name has sprung,

Cecilia, meaning, as the books agree,

'Lily of Heaven' in our English tongue,

To signify her chaste virginity;

Or for the whiteness of her constancy,

The greenness of her conscience, of her fame

The scent and sweetness, 'lily' was her name.

Cecilia may betoken 'path to the blind'

From the example given in her story;

Or in Cecilia some would have us find

A union as it were of 'Heaven's glory' ...

Cecilia may be also said to mean

'Wanting in blindness,' as she had the light

Of sapience and bearing calm and clean; ...

And just as one may look to heaven and see

The sun and moon, and where the stars are hung,

so in this maiden, spiritually,

We see her faith and magnanimity

And the whole clarity of her wisdom thence

In many works of shining excellence.

[quote from pp. 452-453 4-2744]

Chaucer also reminds his readers that when confronted with the threats of her enemy, Almacius, the Emperor's official,

Cecilia replied:

Your power is little to be feared indeed;

Power of mortal man is soon discerned

to be a bladder full of wind and spurned;

for prick it with a needle when it's blown

and the inflated boast is overthrown.'

To the end, even when half dead with 'carven neck' from the blows of her assassin's knife, Cecilia never ceased in teaching, singing, playing, and preaching her faith.

In time, Raphael's saintly St. Cecilia became less so, as images of her 'proliferated throughout' the 16th and 17th centuries. About 1610 the Florentine painter, Orazio Gentileschi portrayed her as a simply dressed young woman playing the organ for an angel. By the time of Anne Mynne Calvert's death in 1622, Bernardo Strozzi, the master painter of Genoa had depicted her as a quite sensuous, richly dressed, young woman "with an organ (barely visible pipes, left, rear) - which she is traditionally credited with having invented- a violin (mid-left), and a lute (center, right)."

[Walter's Catalogue, p. 26]

Orazio Gentileschi, c. 1610, Florence, St. Cecilia and an Angel, National Gallery of Art, 12-241

Strozzi, St. Cecilia, ca. 1618-1620

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of history and all the related disciplines (like art and archaeology), is that there is always something new to learn, something more to discover to challenge what we know and how we know it. Finding definitive answers is not easy and a lot of digging can lead to competing conclusions, difficult to resolve. Robert Barakat's article in the December 1976 Aspects, a publication of the Newfoundland Historical Society, is a perfect example. Based upon the same evidence, two people came to quite different conclusions on the site of George Calvert's house at Ferryland, both asserting vociferously that each had found 'the' place, leading Dr. Barakat to the challenging conclusion that "the two proposed sites for Baltimore's house appear equally valid in light of the evidence, superficially at least. Moreover, the historical evidence brought to bear is sufficiently ambiguous to creat[e] problems of interpretation." While they might not agree, each new generation of scholars has the opportunity to tell us something new and often profoundly important about the past that we did not know, believed differently or had conveniently forgotten. Sometimes what we learn is based upon old evidence seen in a new light. Sometimes new evidence is unearthed which completely (or at least partially) alters our perspective and interpretation of the past. Take for instance, how Maryland got its name. While savoring the joys of research in the new British Library not too long ago, the Pulitzer Prize winning author, William Warner, revisited the origins of the story of the naming of Maryland, a story which he and I agree, deserves more than a footnote of explanation. Written some time after the event, it purports to be based upon the account of someone present in 1632 when the blank left for the name of the new colony was filled in by King Charles I. It is not the King's second choice that makes the story interesting. That we all know was to honor his Queen, Henrietta Maria. It is his first choice that makes the tale intriguing, especially in light of what happened to Charles. Charles lost his head to the executioner's axe sixteen years after the Ark and the Dove arrived in Maryland. His first choice of a name for the new colony in 1632 would make me Archivist of "Mariana" today, but Lord Baltimore gently reminded the King that "Mariana" was the name of a Jesuit Priest who not only wrote against monarchy, but according to one scholar, William J. Banger, also "supported the proposition that a tyrant should be removed from office, killed if necessary. ..." Charles chose his queen's name instead for Maryland, but did not heed Mariana's warning about the fate of tyrants.

In returning to the sources of Maryland History, it is time we gave St. Cecilia and the Calvert women their due, paying heed to their contributions and their impact on Maryland in name and substance, all the while admitting that not everyone will agree with my interpretation of the surviving evidence.

This constant probing of the past even leads at times to conclusions contradicting the law, and opposing even the College of Heralds. The Maryland code states categorically that the cross botany, the red, and the silver (today transformed into white) in the Great Seal of Maryland and the Maryland Flag are derived from the armorial bearings of the Crosslands, purportedly George Calvert's mother's family. But don't always believe what you read in the law books. It is also well known that Shakespeare had no difficulty in bribing the College of Heralds into giving him a manufactured coat of arms (see Greenblatt's chapter The Dream of Restoration for details). By misidentifying the source of the cross and half the colors that make up the official seal and flag of our state, we not only miss an extraordinary contribution of one of the Calvert wives, we also miss singularly important elements of feminism and Catholicism in the Calvert vision for the New World.

By not delving more closely into the lives of the women who were either born or married into the Calvert family, we miss significant facts concerning the financing of the Maryland venture, and fail to understand the degree to which some of the members of the Calvert family (Cecil in particular), went to great lengths to make illegal contributions to support the faith, even to the extent of depriving his first born (Charles) of the benefit of his Yorkshire patrimony for a considerable length of time.

To document conclusions that contradict Maryland Law and the rules of of the College of Arms, and to give the Calvert women their due, we need to look more closely at the evidence as it relates to Anne Mynne Calvert, wife of George Calvert and to suggest that from her marriage to George Calvert in 1604, she was the bulwark of his secret Catholic faith.

George Calvert (1578/1579-1632) married Anne Mynne on St. Cecilia's feast day, November 22, 1604, at St. Peter's Church, Cornhill in London. From that day forward, the religious symbolism of St. Cecilia, patron saint of music, the blind, and education, and the secular significance to the family's fortunes of Sir Robert Cecil's patronage, were intertwined in the naming of the Calvert children and in the remembrance of such significant events as the sailing of the Ark and the Dove from the Isle of Wight on November 22, 1633.

Anne Mynne grew up in a strong Catholic household in a village near London called Hertingfordbury. George Calvert grew up in Yorkshire where he built a country home, Kiplin Hall, for himself, Anne, and their rapidly growing family.

Between 1605 and 1622 Anne bore eleven children, dying in childbirth with the last. A contemporary recorded the event: "On Thursday [August 8] Secretary Calvert's lady went away in childbirth, leaving many little ones behind her. She had not been sick above two days." [14-327-8-24]

[illus: George Calvert from Justin Winsor's Narrative andCritical History, III]

George Calvert was called 'Secretary' because in 1619 King James I appointed him Secretary of State, the equivalent of a Foreign Minister. His predecessor in the office, Sir Thomas Lake, had been dismissed because of his wife's indiscretions. The King wanted to be certain that Calvert did not have the same problem with Lady Calvert. Before making up his mind about the pending appointment, he questioned Calvert carefully on many subjects, including pointed inquiries about the reliability of his wife.

"She is a good woman," Calvert replied, "and has brought me ten children; and I can assure your majesty, she is not a wife with a witness," a response which historians construe to mean that "Lady Calvert was by no means a second Lady Lake" who "would betray what was confided to her." It also seems that the King had had enough of "head strong, high spirited wives" like Lady Lake of whom he had experienced "much willfulness and [a] violent temper." It may also mean that Lady Lake was too openly a Catholic like his own wife Anne of Denmark, and that he wanted to be sure that Anne Mynne Calvert would be discrete in her worship.

[14-327-8, p. 10-11; 12-62]

George Calvert got the appointment, only to lose Lady Anne three years later. She died of a fever giving birth in London where her husband was immersed in efforts to secure a Spanish bride for Prince Charles. Her body was taken to her family's parish church, St. Mary's Hertingfordbury, in Hertfordshire, about nineteen miles north of London.

St. Mary's, sign, 12-143-1

St. Mary's church, 12-143-2

George was overcome by grief. He wrote the Marquis of Salisbury thanking him for his words of comfort:

I am much bound to you for the sense you have of my sufferings,

and for the wise advice you give me to bear it patiently. I shall

strive to do it, but there are so many images of sorrow that

represent themselves every moment to me in her loss, who was the

dear companion and only comfort of my life, as I doubt I shall not

so easily forget it as a wise man should; for which God forgive me

if I offend, who for my sins only has laid this heavy cross upon me,

and yet far lighter than I deserve, though to my weak heart it be

almost insupportable."

[12-45-1, Krugler]

Anne Mynne's Tomb, St. Mary's church, 12-143-3

As a memorial George Calvert built Anne Mynne a splendid Italianate tomb placing his recumbent wife in marble before a mantel adorned with the Calvert shield on the Left, the Mynne Coat of Arms on the right, and the two coats of arms elevated and joined in the middle.

In the language of heraldry there were "three shields of Arms. On the centre shield: Paly of six, or[gold] and

sable [silver], a Bend counterchanged for Calvert; impaling, Sable [silver]; a Fess dancette paly of four, gules and ermine, between six crosslet argent[silver], for Mynne. On the other, Calvert and Mynne emblazoned alone."[12-144]


George Calvert sought solace in the household of the Catholic Earl of Arundel where supposedly a high mass had been held in memory of his wife Anne and where she seemed to have spent much of her time while in London. It was this same Earl of Arundel who may have been a student and patron of the noted poet and compiler of the first Italian-English dictionary, John Florio (1533-1625). Indeed, both Florio and George Calvert had their portraits painted by the same artist, Daniel Mytens the elder at about the same time (1618).

It is plausible to argue that George Calvert may have chosen to honor the memory of both his wife (who died in 1622) and John Florio (who died in 1625) by adopting as his family motto Fatti Maschii Parole Femine which from Florio's perspective translates gentle words, strong deeds. Written in latin on the margin of a 1622 description of his coat of arms, it is first found in use on a wax seal affixed to George Calvert's last surviving letter of March 28, 1632 and is now boldly emblazoned on the Great Seal of Maryland which is affixed to all laws and most official pronouncements of the state.

So important was the memory of his wife Anne Mynne that when George Calvert was elevated to the Irish Peerage as Baron Baltimore in 1625, he incorporated the crosslet or cross botany, and the color red from her coat of arms into his own, a practice that Sir Bernard Burke of Burke's Peerage fame later commended to Victorian widowers of the Aristocracy if they had been left with children, and, I suspect, their wife's money, much as George Calvert had been.[12-145]. Time has dimmed the memory of Anne Mynne, just as her tomb has been moved from a place of honor near the altar to a dark corner in the rear of St. Mary's Church.

Subsequent generations of scholars and the annotated code of Maryland have mistaken the Cross that appears on the Calvert Coat of Arms, the Great Seal of Maryland, the State Flag, and by law on every flag pole where the State Flag is flown, as a Cross Botany of the Crossland family to which George Calvert's mother may or may not have belonged. Perhaps it is time to change the law and give Anne Mynne her due. Not only does she deserve credit for at least half of the most visible symbols representing Maryland, but she also provided material wealth and inspiration for her husband who renounced the political world, openly joined the Catholic church, and who may have been far less sexist than contemporaries and historians may have imagined.

Have I proven that in his heart, if not in his outward performance as the King's servant, George Calvert was a closet Catholic? No. I may have pushed Professor's Krugler's hard and fast date back three years or so based upon the evidence professor Loomie found, although I believe that in his heart George Calvert never left the Church and after 1604 entrusted the raising of his children in the faith to his wife, Anne Mynne. What I hope I have done for certain, is to suggest that we need to take into consideration a broader base of evidence, such as the use of language, art, and adopted symbols as signs of resistance to oppression and an indication of adherence to beliefs despite penal laws and other forms of harassment. Perhaps we need to take more seriously the gossip of the Bishop of Gloucester who is quoted by Professor Krugler (p. 70), substituting Anne for the Secretary in the instruction of the children.

Speaking of the period between 1619 and 1623[8?], he recalled that Calvert, as the only secretary employed in the Spanish negotiations, "did what good offices he could therein for religion's sake." He asserted that Calvert was "infinitely addicted to the Roman Catholic faith." Goodman, who died a Catholic, attributed Calvert's conversion to the Spanish ambassador, Gondomar, and to Count Arundell, "whose daughter Secretary Calvert's son had married." The bishop repeated the gossip that the secretary did usually "catechize his own children so as to ground them in his own religion, and in his best room having an altar set up, with chalice, candlesticks, and all other ornaments, he brought all strangers thither never concealing anything, as if his whole joy and comfort had been to make open profession of his religion."

On May 19, 1870, Frederick Douglass returned in triumph to Baltimore where he led possibly the largest parade of African Americans ever to assemble until the March on Washington in 1963. The parade ended at the Battle Monument. Douglass mounted the temporary platform erected for his speech only to have it collapse under him. He brushed himself off, told the crowd that it must have been built by a Democrat, and proceeded to the balcony of the Gilmore House seen to the left in a stereo view of the crowd. There he gave an extemporaneous speech which the Editors of the Douglass papers missed. It was a powerful speech, calling on the crowd to make the most of the 15th amendment to the Constitution granting free adult black males the right to vote, the passage of which they were celebrating that day. As he addressed the crowd, Douglass reminded them that they no longer had to speak a coded language. As the Baltimore SUN reported :

To him this day was the day of all days. He was permitted to appear before them in the more dignified, the more elevated character of an American citizen. Thirty five years ago it was his lot to be a slave in Talbot county working side by side with slaves on a plantation. He remembered that he always looked forward with yearning to the time when Maryland should not contain a slave. Uneducated as he was he knew enough of logic of events, of the sense right and wrong that the day would come when not a chain should clank nor fetter gall, nor whip crack over a slave. The change is amazing, when he remembers how slavery was interwoven with everything civil, political social and ecclesiastical in this State. He remembers that he and his fellow slaves desired to talk about emancipation, but were prevented by the presence of the overseer. They invented a vocabulary of their own so that they would not be understood as saying anything but the most harmless things. They were talking of liberty, in fact they were the original abolitionists. The old aunty would ask a slave, "Sonny do you see anything of the pig's foot coming?" That was the way we talked about emancipation...

The quest for answers in history is never ending, with clues abounding in places we have yet to think to look. It is the challenge of our discipline to be forever interpreting "Sonny do you see anything of the pig's foot coming." As long as we do, there may be indeed a day of emancipation from the possibly mistaken interpretations of the past.

note to file:

secondary sources consulted:

English and Catholic : the Lords Baltimore in the seventeenth century

by John D Krugler, Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004.

The English Catholic Community, 1570—1850 (London: Oxford University Press, 1975) by J. Bossy.

Prince Charles and the Spanish Marriage, 1617-1623:. A Chapter of English History ... (2 vols, 1869) By Samuel Rawson Gardiner

The Prince and the Infanta: The Cultural Politics of the Spanish Match (Yale University Press, 2003) By Glyn Redworth

Catholicism and Community in Early Modern England: Politics, Aristocratic Patronage and Religion .. (Cambridge University Press, 2006) By Michael C. Questier

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Meaning of Words

Fatti Maschii Parole Femine

Strong Deeds Gentle Words?

Source: Huntingfield Corporation Map Collection, Maryland State Archives, MSA SC 1399-1-526

The earliest known public printing of the George Calvert family coat of arms with the family motto was in 1635. It appeared on a map of Maryland that accompanied a pamphlet written to promote the new colony that George Calvert’s son, Cecil Calvert, had begun on the shores of the St. Mary’s River in what is today St. Mary’s County, Maryland.

Engraving of the west range of the stableyard ("aula") of Arundel House by Adam Bierling, 1646, after a drawing by its tenant Wenceslas Hollar. Source:

The motto on the coat of arms, Fatti Maschii: Parole Femine, is not associated with George Calvert until 1622, the year his wife, Anne Mynne Calvert died in childbirth with their 11th child. Anne died in August and George retired disconsolate to Arundel House, the Roman Catholic household of Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel.[1] On August 12, 1622, George Calvert wrote William Cecil, the son of his patron, the second Earl of Salisbury:

1622, August 12.

I am much bound to you for the sense you have of my sufferings, and for the wise advice you give me to bear it patiently. I shall strive to do it, but there are so many images of sorrow that represent themselves every moment to me in her loss, who was the dear companion and only comfort of my life, as I doubt I shall not so easily forget it as a wise man should; for which God forgive me if I offend, who for my sins only has laid this heavy cross upon me, and yet far lighter than I deserve, though to my weak heart it be almost insupportable. St. Martin's Lane, 12 August, 1622.

Holograph. 1 p. (130. 59.) [2]

The following December someone annotated his request for official recognition of a coat of arms with the marginal note “Fatti Maschii Parole Femine”.[3] By 1632, the year of his death, he was sealing his documents with wax, embossed with a signet ring that contained the motto.[4]

Anne Mynne Calvert’s tomb, St. Mary’s Huntingfordbury, courtesy of Tom and Jane Coakley

Anne Mynne Calvert was temporarily buried at St. Martin-in- the-Fields, until her elaborate italianate tomb was completed in St. Mary’s church, Hertingfordbury.[5] The plaque beneath her reclining marble figure is a glowing tribute, apparently in Italian, and the Calvert family shield is merged into one with that of the Mynne’s, a combination reflected in Maryland’s flag today.

George Calvert was always a man of words which he attempted to translate into action first as secretary to a powerful politician, Sir Robert Cecil, and then as Secretary of State for King James the First, where he demonstrated a mastery of Italian, French, and Spanish. It was said of him “he is so well instructed in all things, as that he is able to make a large comment upon any text you should propose.”[6]

George Calvert was not always successful at verbal or written persuasion, particularly in attempting to defend the King before parliament, and in negotiating a marriage between James’s son and future King, with a Spanish princess.[7] Worn down by the effort and devastated by the loss of his wife, George Calvert, by then Baron Baltimore, as a reward from a grateful sovereign, returned to the faith of his mother and father, and sought further refuge in establishing a colony in Newfoundland that offered religious freedom, the grant for which he received on December 31, 1622.[8] The “Sad Face of Winter” proved too much for him there, and he successfully convinced the King to grant him land north of Virginia in a more accommodating climate.[9] He did not live to see the new colony, but his shield and family motto were incorporated into the great seal of Maryland which today is used to authenticate the acts of the legislature and official documents.

Since at least 1886, scholars have attempted to puzzle out the most appropriate translation of Fatti Maschii Parole Femine. One scholar suggested ‘courage and courtesy’, while the most widely touted translation in 1886 proved to be “manly deeds womanly words” based on the 17th century common translation of variant forms of an Italian or Tuscan proverb.[10] In 1886, however, they did not have the benefit of the careful research of Thomas M. Coakley, John D. Krugler, Henry Miller, and others into the lives of the Calverts. Their research uncovered new sources, and provided access to documentation that offered a new approach to the meaning of the Calvert motto. Still, as late as 1993, William Safire the noted wordsmith of the New York Times ridiculed the motto as sexist in one of his columns. Even though he generously included two letters that challenged his point of view when he published the best of his columns as a book in 1997 entitled Watching My Language, efforts to change the English interpretation of the motto in the Maryland State Code faltered.[11]

George Calvert by Daniel Mytens

Source: Jackson-Stops, Gervase. 1985. The Treasure houses of Britain: five hundred years of private patronage and art collecting. Washington [D.C.]: National Gallery of Art., p. 137.

Translating from one language to another is never easy, particularly when the matter of intent and usage is concerned. There is no question that the prevailing translation of the Italian proverb Le parole sono femine e i fatti sono maschi(i)! in Lord Baltimore’s day was “words are women deeds are men.” The great scholar and book collector Thomas Bodley after whom the Bodleian Library at Oxford University is named, used that translation disparagingly in 1605 to mean associates who did not live up to their word[12], while over two centuries later Elizabeth Herzogenberg would flirt with the composer Johannes Brahms in a long letter praising his songs and passing on gossip:

I already know a few Tuscan proverbs, one of which I will quote, because it will both bring grist to your wicked mill and serve to excuse me for sending nothing better than a gossiping epistle by way of thanks for your songs: Le parole sono femine e i fatti sono maschi![13]

George Calvert was a linguist who began his college education as a poor 14 year old Yorkshire lad admitted to Trinity College Oxford in 1593.[14] As his biographers found, his mastery of language and his ability to write, provided him with a path to wealth and employment by the Crown where he served as the King’s chief diplomat, fluent in Italian. His marriage to Anne Mynne joined him to a wealthy family whose resources he would draw upon for his colonial ventures, and provided them with eighteen years of marital happiness.[15]

It is not known if George Calvert knew of John Florio, an Italian Scholar, when he was at Oxford, but it is safe to assume that he knew his publications. He also would have known him through his friend Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel, one of Florio’s students, and through his contacts with Queen Anne, wife of James I. Queen Anne proved to be Florio’s most influential patron, having been introduced to him by George Calvert’s patron and first employer, Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury. It was to Queen Anne to whom Florio dedicated his second edition of the Worlde of Words (1611), the first Italian/English dictionary, a work George Calvert would have relied upon in his use of Italian.[16]

Title page to the second edition of Worlde of Wordes, 1611

John Florio did his best to convince the world that Fatti Maschii Parole Femine should be understood gender neutral, without deprecating, sexist overtones that gave weight to deeds as masculine and disparaged words as exclusively feminine.

John Florio, possibly from a painting by Daniel Mytens

who also painted a portrait of George Calvert at about the same time.


In the dedication to the first edition of Worlde of Words published in 1598, Florio wrote:

… as our Italian’s saie, Le parole sono femine, & i fatti sono maschii, Wordes they are women, and deeds they are men. But let such know that Detti and fatti, wordes and deeds with me are all of one gender...[17]

Considerable scholarship over the past several years, especially by Stephen Greenblatt at Harvard, and Clare Asquith, the Countess of Oxford, has demonstrated that in Shakespearean England, words and phrases were coded. Their meanings contained multiple interpretations depending upon the audience. Both Greenblatt and Asquith conclude that Shakespeare’s words sent secret messages to fellow Roman Catholics, interpreted one way by his Protestant audiences, and another by Catholics.[18] The same could be said about portraits. For example take this remarkable portrait of John Florio’s Patron, Queen Anne (Anna) of Denmark in which the brooch containing the monogram symbolic of the Roman Catholic church, IHS, is prominently displayed:[19]

Anne of Denmark, after Paul van Somer, 17th century (circa 1617) - NPG 127 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

Anne of Denmark after Paul van Somer

oil on canvas, feigned oval, 17th century (circa 1617)

24 3/4 in. x 21 in. (629 mm x 533 mm)

Purchased, 1861

Primary Collection

National Portrait Gallery, 127

It is time to approach interpreting the Calvert family motto as being a coded message, utilizing a gender neutral meaning that George Calvert intended for family and friends, one that he adopted shortly after Anne Mynne Calvert’s death in the spirit of John Florio’s interpretation.

Thomas Howard, 14th Earl of Arundel, 4th Earl of Surrey and 1st Earl of Norfolk, by Daniel Mytens, circa 1618 - NPG 5292 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

Thomas Howard, 14th Earl of Arundel, 4th Earl of Surrey and 1st Earl of Norfolk

by Daniel Mytens, oil on canvas, circa 1618

81 1/2 in. x 50 in. (2070 mm x 1270 mm)

Accepted in lieu of tax by H.M. Government and allocated to the Gallery, 1980

Primary Collection

National Portrait Gallery, 5292

When his diplomatic career ran into great difficulties and his beloved wife Anne died on August 8, 1622, George Calvert sought refuge in the Roman Catholic household of Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel, that had learned the gender neutral meaning of Fatti Maschii Parole Femine from John Florio. In December of that year, George Calvert incorporated the Tuscan motto into his coat of arms, while at the same time he sought to found a colony that would provide religious freedom. Indeed by 1625 he no longer needed to use coded language, openly declaring himself to be of the faith of his parents and his wife.[20]

This is not to suggest that the gender neutral translation that is offered here once again as a substitute for “manly deeds womanly words” in the Maryland Code was meant exclusively for a Roman Catholic audience. It was meant as a tribute to both virtues of strength and gentleness, characteristics of Anne Mynne who, as George Calvert had inscribed on her tomb, was “a woman born to all excellent things, incomparable for honesty, cleanliness of life, wisdom, wit, and knowledge.”[21]

It is only fitting that in reflecting what George Calvert intended as a tribute to his wife, and the followers of John Florio’s Worlde of Wordes, as well as to his own public career of putting words into action on behalf of his sovereign, that the Calvert family motto at last be officially interpreted in English as “Strong Deeds, Gentle Words.”

Edward C. Papenfuse

Maryland State Archivist, Retired


The words on Anne Mynne Calvert’s tomb: Pietate, Pudicitia Prudentia Incomparabilis Feminae as found in Florio’s Italian/English dictionary, 1611 edition:

Lord Baltimore’s Map of Maryland, 1635:

Source: Huntingfield Corporation Map Collection, Maryland State Archives, MSA SC 1399-1-526

[1] John D. Krugler, English & Catholic. The Lords Baltimore in the Seventeenth Century, Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004, p. 70.

[3]the annotation could be in George Calvert’s own hand, although no one has studied his surviving letters to identify his actual handwriting. King Charles and the Duke of Buckingham permitted him to dictate or have his letters copied into legible script by a secretary. From Newfoundland in 1628 he explained to the Duke of Buckingham: I remember that his Majestie once told me that I write a fairer hand to look upon a farre as any man in England, but that when any man came neare it they were not able to read a word! Whereupon I got a dispensation both from His Majestie and your Grace to use another man's pen when I write to either of you, and I humbly thank you for it, for writing is a great pain to mee nowe. August 25, 1628, Ferryland, to the Duke of Buckingham from George Calvert, transcribed in Michael Francis Howley, Ecclesiastical History of Newfoundland, London: Burns and Oates, 1888, p. 112. By December 9, 1622, Calvert was back at work at the King’s chief diplomat attempting to resolve a problem with the late Polish Ambassador.. See the privately owned letter reproduced at,_First_Lord_Baltimore_%28c._1580-1632%29, which is probably not in Calvert’s hand. By May of the following year he appears to have been using a secretary for the letters he wrote from his home in St. Martin’s lane, See his letter to the Earl of Huntington, 29 May 1623, in the collections of the Huntington Library where the closing in his own hand is virtually illegible, provided for reference only at:,_First_Lord_Baltimore_%28c._1580-1632%29.

[4] Thomas M. Coakley, “George Calvert, First Lord Baltimore: Family Status, Arms”, Maryland Historical Magazine, 79, no. 3, Fall 1984, pp. 255-269.

[5] communication from Henry Miller, 2016/01/18. See 1936 Register of St. Martin-in-the Fields. Translated and edited by J. V. Kitto. Harleian Society Publication, vo. 66, p. 173.

[6] London, June 26, 1619 John Chamberlain, Esq. to Sir Dudley Carlton, in The Court and Times of James the First (1848), edited by Thomas Birch, vol. ii: 175.

[7] Samuel Rawson Gardiner, Prince Charles and The Spanish Marriage, 1617-1623, London: Hurst and Blackett, 1869, Volume II.

[8] 1622, Dec. 31. Grant to Sir Geo. Calvert and his heirs of the whole country of Newfoundland. [Grant Bk., p. 351.],

[9] Great Britain, PRO, Colonial Office, CO 1/5 (27), 75. “...For here, your Majesty may please to understand, that I have found by too dear bought experience, which other men for their private interests always concealed from me, that from the middest of October to the middest of May there is a sad face of winter upon all this land, both sea and land so frozen for the greatest part of the time as they are not penetrable, no plant or vegetable thing appearing out of the earth until it be about the beginning of May, nor fish in the sea, besides the air so intolerable cold as it is hardly to be endured.” See Baltimore, George Calvert, Francis Cottington Cottington, and Lawrence C. Wroth. Tobacco or Codfish, Lord Baltimore Makes His Choice. New York: New York Public Library, 1954.

[10] Maryland Fund-Publication, No. 23. The Great Seal of Maryland, by Clayton C. Hall, (Baltimore: Maryland Historical Society, 1886).

[11] William Safire, Watching My Language, Adventures in the Word Trade, (New York: Random House, 1997, pp. 37-38.

[12] Thomas Bodley, Thomas James, and George William Wheeler. 1926. Letters of Sir Thomas Bodley to Thomas James first keeper of the Bodleian library. Oxford: Clarendon press., letter 129, p. 136, “Sir Io. Parker hath promised more then yow have signified: but wordes are women, and deeds are men.”

[13] Brahms, Johannes, Heinrich von Herzogenberg, Elisabet Stockhausen Herzogenberg, Max Kalbeck, and Hannah Bryant. 1909. Johannes Brahms the Herzogenberg correspondents. New York: J. Murray., p 166.

[14]Henry Miller is the authority on George Calvert’s Oxford education. His blog entries from his research trip to England in 2012 are a well written and scholarly journey through the surviving records. He finds George Calvert enrolled in Trinity College in 1593 at the age of 14 and graduating in 1598, the year John Florio’s Worlde of Words was first published. See: and

[15] Thomas Coakley, “George Calvert and Newfoundland: “the Sad Face of Winter,” Maryland Historical Magazine, Volume 100, No. 1, (Spring, 2005), pp. 7-28. “A more probable explanation of Calvert's financial means in undertaking this venture is that he used his personal and family resources and such loans, secured by his real and personal property, as he could make. The sole piece of evidence as yet available to support this hypothesis dates from 1629, when the Avalon venture was in serious trouble. In that year Calvert's brother-in-law, George Mynne, transferred £4,000 of East India Company stock entered in his own name and £2,000 of the same stock in Calvert's name to Philip Burlamachi, the merchant-financier.” Ibid., p.13.

[16] According to John Florio’s biographer, Frances Yates, Florio left Oxford for London in 1583, ten years before George Calvert arrived, Yates does not mention Calvert, but Florio’s patron was Anne of Denmark (d. 1619) in whose household he spent considerable time. Where George Calvert learned Italian is not known for certain, but he would have known Florio in Queen Anne’s household and as the tutor to the Earl of Arundel, a good friend. As John Krugler points out, Anne of Denmark, James the First’s Queen, was committed to Roman Catholicism which the king “considered “as madness” but could only caution “her to be discreet in worship.”” Frances Amelia Yates, and John Florio. 1934. John Florio. Cambridge: Univ. Pr.. John D. Krugler, English & Catholic. The Lords Baltimore in the Seventeenth Century, Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004, p. 42.

[17] Michael Wyatt in The Italian Encounter with Tudor England, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005, p. 244 ff, discusses Florio’s ‘proto-feminist’ assertion in his preface to the first edition of Worlde of Wordes (1598) that Fatti Maschii Parole Femine is and should be considered gender neutral. “Florio fashions himself quite a different type of “grammarian,” one dedicated to the potential of language for opening up entirely new horizons,” in which women are the equal of men in words and deeds. Wyatt points to the final dialogue in Florio’s Second Frutes (1591) in which Silvesto, who aims to defend the dignity of women, successfully engages in a debate over gender with the misogynist Pandolpho, refuting the sexist interpretation of the proverb fatti maschii parole femine.,

[18] Stephen Greenblatt, Will in the World, New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2004, and Clare Asquith, Shadowplay The Hidden Beliefs and coded Politics of William Shakespeare, New York: Public Affairs, 2005. Richard Fawkes raises the possibility that music carried coded messages in “Protest songs: were there coded messages in Byrd’s sacred works?”, Classical music (23 March 1991), p. 33.

[19] For the most recent scholarly work on Anna of Denmark and her devotion to both the arts and Roman Catholicism see Anna of Denmark and the Arts in Jacobean England by Jemma Aeronny Jane Field, University of Auckland, 2015 at:

[20] Krugler, op. cit., p. 70.

[21] see below for the definitions of the words on Anne Mynne Calvert’s tomb taken from the Worlde of Wordes..