22nd June 1606. Allegiance to a King.
Today in 1606 The Oath of Allegiance to James I(VI) was proclaimed largely in response to the dangers posed by Catholics and their involvement in the Gunpowder Plot of the previous year.
Also all non-noble Catholics had to disown in effect, the papal edict that any state leader excommunicated could be removed from the throne or murdered without fear of God’s punishment.
After the Gunpowder Plot most Catholics, for their own safety, tended to keep out of the limelight and this no doubt included the Arden and Shakespeare family.
Regarding Shakespeare himself nothing is known as to his affiliations and though the Sacrament relating to the Mass is mentioned eight times in his works these would be in dramatic context.
This was important as he was now part of the King’s Men acting group and thus part of the Calvinistic King James’ inner circle and ex-officio Extraordinary Grooms of the Chamber.
Shakespeare thrived because he served his master well and the two plays in the year of the Oath of Allegiance of 1606, both Macbeth and King Lear were produced and both would have been music to the King’s ear.
Macbeth about treason and overthrow of a King and downfall of his murderers, also shows that James I(VI) is descended from the historical Thane Banquho, the counterpart of Banquo, the friend of Macbeth who he betrays and has murdered.
This was comforting to a King obsessed with regicide and along with the Witches’ prophesy that Banquo’s descendants will be kings, feeds also into the King’s obsession with all to do with Witchcraft.
Then again James’ wish to unite Scotland and England, now he is king of both is nicely reinforced when Macbeth is destroyed by a joint English and Scottish army.(1)
Finally King Lear is a British king and here again Shakespeare cues into the King’s fear and anxiety on questions of authority where in the ‘blind beggar and the dog’, it is the dog who commands obedience and authority as it has the power.
Finally, after all the dire conflict and death, unity and continuation is finally achieved despite the death of Lear.
Whatever religious leanings Shakespeare had it would appear that he wouldn’t need to take an Oath of Allegiance to a king, that’s if he was the author. Whatever it was a highly skilled exercise in sycophancy and opportunism.
(1) ‘Britain’ in Shakespeare’s plays is mentioned 29 times in the reign of James: twice under Elizabeth. The same bias is shown regarding the words England/English: 39 under James and 356 under Elizabeth.
Ref: wikipedia.org/Pic Ref.