Extraterrestrial Intervention: The Shakespeare Connection


It seems that in times gone past, Britain had a prophet of its own. In the late Middle Ages and until the emergence of Nostradamus, Merlin, the Welsh sage, was Europe's most widely-read prophet.

In Shakespeare's time, King Arthur and Merlin were believed to have been genuine historical personages. Today, everyone knows that Merlin was only a mythological wizard who served a legendary king. It is easy to see how the myth arose:

En l'an cinq cens octante plus & moins [1,VI-2].

In the year five hundred eighty more or less.

Why is a 16th-century seer referring to A.D. 580, a year in the midst of the Dark Ages and apparently a time when nothing significant was happening? Isn't a seer supposed to prophesy about future events, not past events?

Wikipedia cites the Annales Cambriae, which recorded for the year A.D. 573, that after "the battle of Arfderydd, between the sons of Eliffer and Gwenddolau son of Ceidio; in which battle Gwenddolau fell; Merlin went mad." Note that after A.D. 573 brings us to the A.D. 580 approximation seen in Nostradamus.

By association with Vortigern and King Arthur, Merlin dates to the 5th century but the 580 date forces his re-emergence a hundred years later. Though Merlin himself may not be real, there can be no doubt about writings in his name: In the early 12th century, Geoffrey of Monmouth translated (from British into Latin) and then published prophetic writings attributed to Merlin [8].

And now a question: Is there any connection between the prophecies of Merlin as published by Geoffrey of Monmouth and the thirty-nine stanzas of Nostradamus to which the plays of Marlowe and Shakespeare repeatedly allude?

Geoffrey's account of Merlin's prophecies includes the following words: Britanniae, draco, rubeus, ignis, expulsum, sanguine, Gallicanos, sceptrum, Africanna, flores, templis, fruticosos, fratres, aquila, civitatum, ruinae, gentis, fluviam, tremebunt, Arabes, saecula, pax, tempore, Boreas, mortem, terra, rex, flamma, naves, timore, noctorno, Orienti, ferro, nationis, regni, fulgor, Mercurii, and Aries. Do any of these words look familiar? And there are also words that we did not get a chance to cover, such as the adjective aquilonares found in Nostradamus [1,I-49] and the noun aquilo (Aquilon) that we find in Nostradamus [1,X-86], in Marlowe [5,f], and in Shakespeare [2,p].

Adrianne (poetic spelling of Ariadne) also appears. The city of Londonia (frequently used for correlation purposes) is mentioned eight times. The Venus eclipse is referred to as Venus deseret statutas lineas and there is also a chariot to the Moon, currus Lunae. And while Marlowe and Shakespeare associate Neptune with Venus to get a watery Venus, Geoffrey's source associates it with the blancheur, giving us Phoebus aequoreus, watery Sun!

In his biography of Merlin (Vita Merlini), Geoffrey of Monmouth adds more words including thiten (Thita) and tagus (el tago). Curiously, Geoffrey's books seem to function just like the Marlovian and Shakespearean plays, that is, as pointers to Merlin's prophecies. Evidently, the larger work (if it ever existed) that held and masked these prophecies in the 12th century has not survived. By the 13th century, Inquisitions had acquired a fondness for the burning of books.

In his Historia Regum Britanniae, Geoffrey recounts a classic tale about Merlin. It goes something like this: King Vortigern ordered an edifice to be built but every night the construction work for that day sank into the ground and disappeared. The king's magicians told him it was a curse that could only be fixed by killing someone who never had a father and by pouring his blood on the ground. They found the fatherless Merlin for this sacrifice. But Merlin told the king that there was a lake below the ground, and in the lake two dragons were fighting, causing the ground to tremble and the edifice to sink into the lake. The king ordered the ground dug up and they found the lake, and then he ordered the lake drained. Merlin told the king that at the bottom they will find two hallow stones and inside each stone they will find a sleeping dragon. And so it was.

Le tremblement de terre à Mortara,
Cassich sainct George à demy perfondrez:
Paix assoupie, la guerre esueillera,
Dans temple à Pasques abysmes enfondrez [1,IX-31].

The trembling of ground at Mortara, Encircled, Saint George to one half, demolished, Peace soporific, the war shall be awoken, Within the temple on Easter-day, abysses opened up.

Saint George the dragon-slayer gets us a dragon, and the "demy," half, makes it two dragons. They are fighting by virtue of the unveiled war in the third line, causing the ground of the first line to tremble. The temple in the last line is the king's edifice that falls into the abyss (abysmes), sunk into the ground (perfondrez). Mortara apparently alludes to Morgana, popular alternative name of Morgan le Fay, the evil rival of the Lady of the Lake and sometimes identified as the Lady of the Lake herself. This has to be the lake of the Merlin tale. The dragons are asleep when found because of the assoupie in the third line, which means sleeping.

There is absolutely no doubt about it: Our playwrights were in possession of the original prophecies of Merlin, the great wizard of King Arthur fame!

Wikipedia tells us that the name "Merlin" is derived from the Welsh sage Myrddin, but points out that Welsh scholar Rachel Bromwich has observed that this "change from medial dd > l is curious." Look at the following:

Plus Macelin que Roy en Angleterre,
Son temps s'approche si pres que ie souspire [4,VIII-76].

More Macelin than king in England, ... His time approaches so near that I sigh.

Shakespeare correlates on this:

This prophecy Merlin shall make, for I live before his time [2,ae].

And so, from Shakespeare we learn something new: the name Merlin results from a merger of the names Myrddin and Macelin.

We find more information on Merlin in the play entitled The Birth of Merlin, which was published in the name of Shakespeare and Rowley [9]. Wikipedia reports that stylometric research has confirmed Shakespearean authorship of this play, but it seems that the Stratfordians reject it because, as Wikipedia explains, "there is unambiguous evidence that the play was written in 1622, six years after Shakespeare's death." This is not, however, a problem for the anti-Stratfordians who propose a younger (or longer-living) candidate.

The play includes cryptic messages:

The Birth of Merlin:
Is answer of our message yet return'd from that religious man, the holy Hermit, sent by the Earl of Chester to confirm us in that miraculous act? [9]

A "holy hermit" is also found in the Bacon's New Atlantis and again in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice; connections among them cannot be ruled out. An Earl of Chester existed during Arthurian times but his role in the Merlin play appears to be exaggerated. William Stanley, a Shakespearean candidate, had strong ties to the city of Chester; moreover, he was bequeathed the sum of "thirteen pounds six shillings eight pence" (see Curiosity #5 above) by his brother Ferdinando.

Confirm us? Who else?

The Birth of Merlin:
The DRAGON is your Emblem, bear it bravely [9].

The word DRAGON (all caps) appears in the original 1662 publication of this play. And this "Emblem" appears elsewhere:

surgat Mephistophilis DRAGON, quod tumeraris [5,j].

A Project Gutenberg footnote reports that DRAGON (all caps) was inserted into later quarto publications of Marlowe's Dr. Faustus. They wanted to bring us here, but why? For one thing, it gives us a devil (Mephistophilis) and text written in Latin, perhaps suggesting that the Devil himself writes in Latin. Marlowe's play is based on a German-language chapbook, called Faustbuch, which was published anonymously in the city of Frankfurt, September 1587. Among all Shakespearean candidates, only John Florio, who grew up in Germany and was educated at the famed university of Tübingen (where in 1588 the Faustbuch was printed in rhyming verse), may have been capable of writing the original Faustbuch. In his Testament, Florio acknowledges the reality of "forged" Wills and asserts that his Will is genuine, but then he gives no last name on a bequest to Artur (King Arthur), refers to his daughter Elizabeth by the name of Aurelia (King Aurelius), and alludes to Merlin's prophecies in ways that put the plays to shame.

In the Merlin play, the Devil takes a fancy to an earthling called Joan, and he goes in hot pursuit of her:

The Birth of Merlin:
Joan. Hence thou black horror, is thy lustful fire kindled agen? not thy loud throated thunder, nor thy adulterate infernal Musick, shall e're bewitch me more, oh too too much is past already.
Devil. Why dost thou fly me? I come a Lover to thee, to imbrace, and gently twine thy body in mine arms.
Joan. Out thou Hell-hound.

The last line, combined with the black horror above, reminds us of Shakespeare's "Away, you Ethiope!" [2,a] and the "swarthy Ethiope" [2,aj] of Proteus who, like Merlin, was able to change forms. Anyway, to make a long story short, Joan wound up pregnant and gave birth to Merlin, the son of the Devil. The play ends as follows:

The Birth of Merlin:
All future times shall still record this Story,
Of Merlin's learned worth, and Arthur's glory [9].

This too reminds of us of Shakespeare:

For perjur'd Sinon, whose enchanting story
The credulous Old Priam after slew;
Whose words, like wildfire, burnt the shining glory [2,u].

The Birth of Merlin:
Wilde-fire and Brimstone eat thee. Hear me sir [9].

What book! why, the most intolerable book for conjuring
that e'er was invented by any brimstone devil [5,j].

Perhaps Merlin did not engrave his prophecies into glowing stardust after all, but rather into burning brimstone from hell!

Finally, let's note that there is a Shakespearean passage that simultaneously refers to a multiplicity of Merlin's prophecies.

Of the dreamer Merlin and his prophecies,
And of a dragon and a finless fish,
A clip-wing'd griffin and a moulten raven [2,n]

[a dragon]
Cassich sainct George à demy perfondrez [1,IX-31]

[a finless fish]
Es lieux & temps chair au poisson donra lieu [1,IV-32]

[a clip-wing griffin]
Comme vn gryphon viendra le Roy d'Europe [1,X-86]

[a moulten raven]
L'oiseau royal sur la cité solaire [1,V-81]

Some have claimed that "moulten" means molted, but one can find many examples from the 16th and 17th centuries where "moulten" means molten, quite sensible for a bird flying over the city of the Sun.


Major components of Shakespeare's account of Merlin were not taken from British sources but rather from the French poet Robert de Boron who is, according to Wikipedia, "credited with introducing Merlin as born of a devil and a virgin and destined to be a redeemed Antichrist." De Boron lived around the end of the 12th century, shortly before the Albigensian Crusade (the second crusade of Innocent III following his misguided Fourth Crusade that captured the city of Zara and then sacked the city of Constantinople) whose objective was to exterminate the Cathar heresy in southern France. Scholars are surprised by the brutality of the crusaders who were given a mandate to kill them all. (Surely, Merlin's accurate prediction of the fiasco of the Fourth Crusade did not make the Pope the laughingstock of southern France?) Estimates of the death toll range up to one million, men, women, and children; the Inquisition then finished off any survivors. And so the Cathars became extinct, but legend has it that they educated the orphaned Christian Rosenkreutz, and through him their legacy lived on.

On 14 March 1244, four Cathars reportedly made a daring escape from the fortress of Montségur (the last stronghold of the Cathars then under siege by the crusaders), carrying with them the great treasure of the Cathari. Speculations on the nature of this treasure range from the Holy Grail to ancient manuscripts found by the Knights Templar beneath the ruins of the Temple in Jerusalem. Classical treasures like gold and silver have also been mentioned but this seems unlikely as the Cathars placed little value on such things.

A distinct possibility is that the treasure was something the crusaders wanted to destroy rather than retain, such as something perceived to have been written by the devil. Perhaps thinking that this treasure remained hidden inside the fortress, the crusaders dismantled it stone by stone, and later the Inquisition tortured those who might know the whereabouts of the escapees. But they failed to recover the treasure and one can only wonder: Did this treasure eventually find its way to England and into the hands of our playwrights? We ponder on this because in the second prose introduction to his prophecies, in a sentence where he refers to prophetical stanzas (were they not all supposed to be prophetical?), Nostradamus tells us that the present date is 14 March (see above) "1547" [4], unquestionably an error for 14 March "1557" [1] as found in most editions. But the prose writings of Nostradamus are packed full of ciphers, that is, Nostradamus may have wished to emphasize the number "4" which is abundantly seen in the year 1244.

Is it purely coincidental that Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote his Prophetiae Merlini (A.D. 1130s) on the eve of a surge in Catharism, not long after the conquest of Jerusalem (A.D. 1099), and shortly after the Knights Templar established their headquarters on the Temple Mount (A.D. 1120)? Perhaps our playwrights were mistaken in believing that Merlin was half British: the expanded legends of King Arthur may have arisen only as an assumption because the prophecies themselves frequently referred to the British and their kings. Though it may seem like Shakespeare read every book ever written, he apparently never saw the older sections of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle or he would have known that Macelin does not refer to the prophet Merlin. The same applies to Geoffrey. In all probability, Merlin never existed, leaving us with yet another authorship mystery: Who wrote the prophecies attributed to him?


1. Geoffrey of Monmouth's Prophetiae Merlini was written, per Wikipedia, between 1130 and 1135, and was later incorporated into his larger work called Historia Regum Britanniae, published in the original Latin by The Medieavel Academy of America, 1951, from where our citations come. Note that Geoffrey comments on more than two hundred prophecies but apparently only thirty-nine of them survived to reach our playwrights. The Roffet, Roger, and Ménier editions of Nostradamus refer to trente neuf articles on their title page. Geoffrey provides additional coverage of Merlin's prophecies in his Vita Merlini (The Life of Merlin) written, per Wikipedia, around 1150. A book called Mirabilis Liber, dated 1524, may also contain commentary (originating in medieval times) on Merlin's prophecies.

2. THE BIRTH OF MERLIN: OR, The Childe hath found his Father. As it hath been several times Acted with great Applause. Written by William Shakespear , and William Rowley. Placere cupio. LONDON: Printed by Tho. Johnson for Francis Kirkman, and Henry Marsh, and are to be sold at the Princes Arms in Chancery Lane. 1662. Note that "Shakespear" ends with the modern spelling of spear (shaken by Minerva the goddess of poetry) on the title page, leaving a blank space for the "e" between the "r" and the comma. Wikipedia reports that this play was performed in 1622, and a prolonged delay in publishing it can hardly be surprising in view of the subject matter: Merlin was their great secret and the motive behind the Shakespearean plays. Beyond the title-page attribution and recent stylometric research, thematic considerations and cryptanalysis support a Shakespearean role in the redaction of this fantastical play about Merlin the Prophet who foresees the future on a blazing comet and then promises to build a monument (Stonehenge) to honor his earthling mom!

3. It is entirely possible if not likely that the comedies and tragedies of Shakespeare were the collaborative effort of two great scholars: Collaborator A, educated on the continent, devised the characters and the plot; Collaborator B, educated in England, wrote the plays closely following the outline provided by Collaborator A. Since one person did all or nearly all the writing, this type of collaboration cannot be detected; it can only be inferred from the large disparity between the foreign-language sources that provided the plots and the highly polished English seen in the output. This is not to say that they do not drop hints; for example, when the author of the Sonnets tells the Fair Youth "You had a father, let your son say so," we can imagine that the Shakespearean coauthor ("my friend and I are one") was an orphan. After publication of the First Folio (the secret key for the extraction of Merlin's prophecies from the Nostradamus mask), their mission was complete and they would have had no reason (and probably no desire) to write more plays.

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