11-30-1554

Sir Philip Sidney

SIR PHILIP SIDNEY, English courtier, soldier, and writer was born (d. 1586); the English courtier and poet was one of the leading lights of Queen Elizabeth’s court and a model of Renaissance chivalry. His Apostrophel and Stella is one of the great sonnet sequences in English and was inspired by his love for Penelope Devereaux, even though he later married Frances Walsingham. (Lest one confuse Renaissance “love” and “marriage” with the modern versions, it should be pointed out that Penelope Devereaux was twelve years old when Sidney fell in love with her, and that Frances Walsingham was a fresh fourteen when she was married to the 29-year-old courtier.

Marriages were arranged then and not made in heaven. More a real estate transaction than love matches.) Sidney was in his teens when the Huguenot writer and diplomat Hubert Languet fell in love with him. Languet was 36 years his senior, lived with him for a time, and, when they parted, wrote passionate letters to him weekly. In his youth, Sidney was strongly attached to two young men, Fulke Greville and Edward Dyer, and wrote love verses to them both, a point not lost on Gay John Addington Symonds when he wrote Sidney’s biography. Sidney died in battle at the age of thirty-two.