Utopia Essay, Research Paper
The Life of Sir Phillip Sidney
Sir Phillip Sidney was born on November 30, 1554, at Penshurst, Kent. He was the eldest son of Sir Henry Sidney, thrice Lord Deputy (governor) of Ireland, and nephew of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. He was named after his godfather, Phillip II of Spain. He entered Shrewsbury school in 1564, at the age of ten, on the same day as Fulke Greville, who became his friend and later, his biographer. After attending Christ Church, Oxford, he left without taking a degree in order to complete his education by traveling the continent. Among the places he visited were Paris, Frankfurt, Venice, and Vienna.
When Sidney returned to England in 1575, he lived the life of a prominent courtier. In 1577, he was sent to the German Emperor and the Prince of Orange. Officially, he had been sent to console the princes on the death of their father. His real mission was to feel out the chances for the creation of a protestant league. Yet, the budding diplomatic career was cut short because the Queen found Sidney to be perhaps too ardent in his Protestantism. The queen preferred a more cautious approach. Upon his return, Sidney attended the court of Elizabeth I and actively encouraged such authors as his friend Fluke Greville, Edward Dyer, and most important, the young Edmund Spenser, who dedicated The Shepherds Calendar to him. ( Sir Phillip Sidney s Achievements )
In 1580, he incurred the queen s displeasure by opposing her projected marriage to the Duke of Anjou, Roman Catholic heir to the French Throne, and was dismissed from court for a time. He retired to Wilton, the estate of his beloved Mary Hebert, Countess of Pembroke, and there he wrote for her entertainment a long pastoral prose called Arcadia. At some uncertain date, he also composed a major piece of critical prose that was published after his death under two titles, The Defense of Poesy and An Apology for Poetry. Sidney s Astrophil and Stella is the first of the great Elizabethan sonnet cycles, which relied heavily on the conventions established by Petrarch. Sidney s collection has 108 sonnets and eleven songs. (The Writings of Sir Phillip Sidney)
Though he enjoyed writing Sidney was growing restless with lack of appointments, so in 1585 he made a covert attempt to join Drake s expedition to Cadiz. Elizabeth I summoned Sidney to court before he could leave and appointed him governor of Flushing in the Netherlands. In 1586 he took part in a skirmish against the Spanish at Zutphen, and was wounded by a bullet that shattered his thighbone. Some 22 days later Sidney died of the unhealed wound at the age of thirty-one. His death caused much mourning in England as the Queen and her subjects grieved for the man who had come to exemplify the ideal courtier . It is said that Londoners come out to see the funeral progression, cried out Farewell, the worthiest knight that ever lived.
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