1. How did the Stratford man gain his expertise in foreign languages?
The writer of the plays was fluent in not only Latin and Greek, but also French, Spanish and Italian.
This is undisputed and for me, whilst this question remains unanswered, the authorship question will remain open.
2. How did the writer acquire so much knowledge of continental Europe, especially Italy?
The first question is often explained away with some invented scenario which has the Bard roaming the continent as a sailor, or traveling actor or as a military man. There is no evidence to support any of those claims.
Stratfordians are usually backed into two straw-man arguments when it comes to explaining away the writers supposed expertise in foreign lands. The favorite of the poorly informed, is to dismiss the entire question with something to the effect of "well, we don't know much about the era" or "so much from the time has been lost". These tired statements ignore the amazing work done by countless historians, researchers and archivists. I don't want to assume that people are being disingenuous but one does not have to look deep to see that scores of records, documents, manuscripts, letters.....etc, have survived from the reigns of Queen Elizebeth and James I. If the Stratford man had travelled, there should be some record of it.
Stratfordian scholars are inclined to down-play the writers expertise on foreign matters (as they are increasingly forced to do, with his knowledge on matters concerning the law, medicine, botany, statecraft, falconry, warfare........etc). For me this seems like a monumental disservice to the writer if certain historians are to be believed. It has been shown by many in the past, that the writer's actual knowledge of these locations was very good and in some cases excellent and uncanny. I'm yet to read The Shakespeare Guide to Italy by Richard Paul Roe and I must admit, I have not yet delved deep into this avenue of research, more than taking numerous authors at their word.
Does anyone have knowledge of specifics?
3. How did the Stratford man gain access to extremely rare books?
It has been well established that the writer borrowed from and drew on many rare books as sources. Not only were many of these works only available in foreign languages (Plautus, Virgil, Ovid.....etc), many of the Bards sources were only available in a small number of private libraries.
I am yet to read a satisfactory explanation for this anomaly that does not require some serious loop jumping.
This is not a question of ability, intellect or literary technique. Genius does not recognize class structure. It is essentially a question of means and access.
The typical debate related to this matter, focuses on the fact that William Skakspere left no books in his will. Whilst noteworthy, this is not conclusive to any argument in my opinion, whereas, his knowledge of rare texts, raises serious questions for me.
4. Why was the writer never suspected of being a spy or a Catholic sympathizer?
This is no small mystery. The reign of Queen Elizebeth I is most notable for the religious wars, paranoia of Catholic plots and the constant threat of the Spanish Armada. The late decades of the 16th century are teeming with conspiracies, conflict and spy-craft (Mary Queen of Scots, the assassination plots by Babbington, Throckmorton and Ridolfi, the Essex revolt, the St. Bartholomew's day massacre......etc).
Countless playwrights and noblemen were censored, imprisoned, exiled and/or expunged in this dangerous era. Here is a small list of contemporary notables who suffered under the strict hand of Elizebeth, through her close advisors Lord Burghley and the spy master Sir Francis Walsingham; Christopher Marlowe, Thomas Kyd, Ben Jonson, Sir WalterRaleigh, and the Earls of Essex, Southampton, and Oxford all spent time in the tower for one reason of another. Staying in the authorities good graces was no mean feat.
And yet, one man was able to write, stage and publish provocative plays without consequence. Aristocratic comedies, historical dramas and political tragedies where monarchies are overthrown, Kings are murdered and Queens meet their maker. And this man often wrote in the languages of the most bitter rivals of the state (Spanish and Italian).
Elizabeth was excommunicated by Pope Pius V is 1570, essentially putting a crucifix shaped crosshairs on her. Associations with anything Italian would carry risk and raise questions. Yet, a third of the plays are set in Italy. How is it that the Stratford man was never suspected of being a spy? Is there an explanation that I'm missing here?
I'm looking forward to reading your responses and please inform me of any errors.
P.s. I mean no disrespect by the terms Statfordian and Stratford man. And I apologize for painting all Stratfodians with the same brush. There are many that openly admit and discus these discrepancies (I recently enjoyed James Shapiro's book on the subject, Contested Will), and I respect them for it.
In general terms my frustrations are aimed towards those who state that "SHAKESPEARE WROTE SHAKESPEARE"