Prospero on the Coast of Bohemia. "Nihil sed rara et miranda amabat". Diary of Melchior Goldast upon the late Emperor Rudolph II
Is an attempt to propose possible models for Shakespearian characters or at least sources of inspiration in events or character traits legitimate? Frances Yates has rendered familiar the association of Prospero with the Elizabethan scholar John Dee, and Peter French concludes his biography by saying that Dee himself was Prospero. Dee is, though, no prince whereas Prospero combines the absolute power of the monarch with the spiritual power of the philosopher and priest. Therefore it is tempting to draw a parallel between Prospero and James I. There is, however, one contemporary European prince who fulfils all the prerequisites as a possible source of inspiration: the Holy Roman Emperor himself, Rudolph II. There is plenty of evidence that testifies the existence of close contacts between the England of Elizabeth I and Austria and Bohemia. An answer to our initial question was moreover given by the Queen herself, who, being shown a copy of a manuscript referring to Richard II, said: “I am Richard II, know ye not that”.
Prospero. Rivista di Letterature Straniere, Comparatistica e Studi Culturali
EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
David Snelling, “ Prospero on the Coast of Bohemia. 'Nihil sed rara et miranda amabat'. Diary of Melchior Goldast upon the late Emperor Rudolph II", in: Prospero. Rivista di Letterature Straniere, Comparatistica e Studi Culturali, I (1994), pp. 4-16