Southampton, Henry Wriothesley, 3rd earl of

Southampton, Henry Wriothesley, 3rd earl of

biographical name

(born Oct. 6, 1573, Cowdray, Sussex, Eng.—died Nov. 10, 1624, Bergen op Zoom, Neth.) English nobleman, patron of William Shakespeare. Grandson of the 1st earl of Southampton, he became a favourite of Elizabeth I. He was a liberal patron of writers, including Thomas Nashe. Shakespeare dedicated two long poems to him (1593, 1594), and he has often been identified as the noble youth addressed in most of Shakespeare's sonnets. He accompanied the 2nd earl of Essex on expeditions to Cádiz and the Azores (1596, 1597). For supporting the Essex rebellion (1601), he was imprisoned (1601–03); following James I's accession, he regained his place at court. He became a privy councillor in 1619, but he lost favour by opposing the 1st duke of Buckingham. He and his son volunteered to fight for the United Provinces against Spain, but, soon after landing in the Netherlands, they both died of fever.

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