3 of Staffs - Orlando
Dramatis Personae: Orlando de Boys; Rosalind; Adam.
Text & Context: de Boys is French for wood; as well as woodland & woodwind. Correspondingly, the lind in Rosalind cognates to Old English for wood. Duke Senior "finds tongues in trees", which Orlando makes manifest, and "books in the running brooks", which makes Shakespeare's title Bolbec manifest - if tongue in cheek - bec, an old form of beck, meaning brook, seen also in The Merry Wives of Windsor with Master Ford's alias, Mr. Brook. Variously then, including bawdily, Orlando turns wood into word.
The main characters in As You Like It are young, and Shakespeare was the patron to at least two children's acting troupes: Paul's Boys and Oxford's Boys. Bois is Portugese for ox, turning de Boys into a multi-layered pun on de Vere's boys. Tradition sees Shaksper not only playing the part of old Hamlet but also old Adam, possibly on account of his male-pattern baldness.
Edward de Vere rented rooms at the Blackfriars where the Children of Pauls, under the management of de Vere's secretary John Lyly, often performed. In 1590, the Children of Paul's were barred from performing publicly, ostensibly for Lyly's involvement in the Marprelate Controversy but possibly's de Vere's, and referenced in the character Oliver Martext. Another writer along with Lyly in de Vere's orbit was the Euphuist and fellow Inns of Court alumni Thomas Lodge, author of Rosalynde, Euphues Golden Legacie , the source story for As You Like It.
Orlando suggests the French hero Roland; his encounter with Charles may allude to Roland's master, Charlemagne; his brother Oliver to Roland's close friend and ally, Oliver. In Duke Frederick may be glimpsed Charlemagne's successor as Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick II; the Duke's late retirement to a monastery echoing Charlemagne's compulsion of the Lombard king. In Duke Senior's daughter, Rosalind, can be seen the burgeoning Dominus Mundi, the Rose of England, Elizabeth I.
Another secretary and fellow playwright of de Vere, Anthony Munday, called de Vere "the Paladin of England" - a paladin being one of the 12 knights of Charlemagne's court, of which Roland/Orlando was the foremost. The Italian humanist Ludovico Ariosto wrote Orlando Furioso, a chivalric treatise championing the worldly Empire of Christ, lifting from The Gospel of John: "And there shall be one flock and one shepherd." Ariosto's Orlando also supplied a subplot in Much Ado about Nothing, while his I Suppositi was utilized in The Taming of the Shrew .A propos the historic Tarot, Ariosto's tutor became tutor to the founder of the Sforza dynasty, Francesco I Sforza; his patron was the "First Lady of the Renaissance", Isabella d’Este. Where Dante saw Henry VII as destined to bring back the rule of Justice and Ariosto saw Charles V, Shakespeare and the Elizabethan Renaissance had Astraea as their Queen.
Love struck, Orlando devises sonnets of dubious quality and hangs them from trees. When Celia finds him, "dropped like an acorn... stretched along like a wounded knight", Rosalind suggests Orlando has fallen from Jove's tree - Donar's Oak, the Yggdrasil; Oxford fashioned himself The Knight of the Tree of the Sun.