Fulke Greville, 1st Baron Brooke

Fulke Greville, 1st Baron Brooke

Fulke Greville, 1st Baron Brooke, "de jure" 13th Baron Latimer and 5th Baron Willoughby de Broke (3 October 1554 – 30 September 1628), known before 1621 as Sir Fulke Greville, was an Elizabethan poet, dramatist, and statesman.


Fulke Greville, 1st Baron Lord Brooke (1554-1628) was a capable administrator who served the English Crown under Elizabeth I and James I as, successively, treasurer of the navy, chancellor of the exchequer, and commissioner of the Treasury, and who for his services was in 1621 made Baron Brooke, peer of the realm and granted Warwick Castle, which he substantially improved. Greville is however best known today as the biographer of Sir Philip Sidney, and for his remarkably sober poetry, which presents dark, thoughtful, and distinctly Calvinist views on art, literature, beauty, and other philosophical matters.

Named for his father, Sir Fulke Greville, Greville was born at Beauchamp Court, near Alcester, Warwickshire. He was sent in 1564, on the same day as his life-long friend, Philip Sidney, to Shrewsbury School. He enrolled at Jesus College, Cambridge, in 1568. Sir Henry Sidney, Philip's father, and president of the Council of Wales and the Marches, gave him in 1576 a post connected with the court of the Welsh Marches, but Greville resigned it in 1577 to go to attend court of Queen Elizabeth along with Philip Sidney. There, young Greville became a great favourite with the Queen, who valued his sober character and administrative skills, making him secretary to the principality of Wales in 1583; however he was more than once disgraced for leaving the country against her wishes.

Philip Sidney, Sir Edward Dyer and Greville were members of the "Areopagus," the literary clique which, under the leadership of Gabriel Harvey, supported the introduction of classical metres into English verse. Sidney and Greville arranged to sail with Sir Francis Drake in 1585 in his expedition against the Spanish West Indies, but Elizabeth forbade Drake to take them with him, and also refused Greville's request to be allowed to join Robert Dudley's army in the Netherlands. Philip Sidney, who took part in the campaign, was killed on October 17, 1586. Greville memorialized his beloved friend in his "Life of the Renowned Sir Philip Sidney."

About 1591 Greville served for a short time in Normandy under Henry of Navarre. This was his last experience of war. Greville represented Warwickshire in parliament in 1592-1593, 1597, 1601 and 1620. In 1598 he was made treasurer of the navy, and he retained the office through the early years of the reign of James I. In 1614 he became chancellor and under-treasurer of the exchequer, and throughout the reign he was a valued supporter of James I, although in 1615 he advocated the summoning of a parliament. In 1618 he became commissioner of the treasury, and in 1621 he was raised to the peerage with the title of Baron Brooke, a title which had belonged to the family of his paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Willoughby. He received from James I the grant of Warwick Castle, in the restoration of which he is said to have spent £20,000.

Brooke left no natural heirs, and his barony passed to his cousin and adopted son, Robert Greville (c. 1608-1643), who took the side of Parliament part in the English Civil War, and defeated the Royalists in a skirmish at Kineton in August 1642. Robert was however killed during the siege of Lichfield on the of March 2, 1643, having survived the elder Greville by only twelve years.

Fulke Greville himself died on September 30, 1628 in consequence of a wound inflicted by a servant who felt he had been cheated in his master's will. Brooke was buried in St Mary's church, Warwick, and on his tomb was inscribed the epitaph he had composed for himself: "Folk Grevill Servant to Queene Elizabeth Conceller to King James Frend to Sir Philip Sidney. Trophaeum Peccati."


It is by his biography of Sidney that Fulke Greville is best known. The full title expresses the scope of the work. It runs: "The Life of the Renowned Sr. Philip Sidney. With the true Interest of England as it then stood in relation to all Forrain Princes: And particularly for suppressing the power of Spain Stated by Him: His principall Actions, Counsels, Designes, and Death. Together with a short account of the Maximes and Policies used by Queen Elizabeth in her Government." He includes some autobiographical matter in what amounts to a treatise on government.

His poetry consist of closet tragedies, sonnets, and poems on political and moral subjects. His style is grave and sententious. A rhyming elegy on Brooke, published in Huth's "Inedited Poetical Miscellanies", brings charges of miserliness against him, but of his generous treatment of contemporary writers there is abundant testimony. Of Brooke Lamb says, "He is nine parts Machiavel and Tacitus, for one of Sophocles and Seneca.... Whether we look into his plays or his most passionate love-poems, we shall find all frozen and made rigid with intellect." He goes on to speak of the obscurity of expression that runs through all Brooke's poetry, an obscurity which is, however, due more to the intensity and subtlety of the thought than to any lack of mere verbal lucidity.

Greville's works include:

"The Life of the Renowned Sir Philip Sidney" (1625)

Closet drama:"Alaham", "Mustapha"

Verse Poems:"Caelica" in CX Sonnets,"Of Monarchy","A Treatise of Religion", "A Treatie of Humane Learning", "An Inquisition upon Fame and Honour","A Treatie of Warres"

Miscellaneous Prose:a letter to an "Honourable Lady," a letter to Grevill Varney in France,a short speech delivered on behalf of Francis Bacon

Later, his works were collected and reprinted by Dr Grosart, in 1870, in four volumes. "Poetry and Drama of Fulke Greville," edited by Geoffery Bullough, was published in 1938. "The Prose Works of Fulke Greville", edited by John Gouwn, were published in 1986.


* The above article refers to Fulke Greville III (1554-1628), son of Fulke Greville II (d. 1606), and grandson of Fulke Greville I (d. 1554), whose tomb is in St Nicholas Church, Alcester. "This information was taken from the Alcester & District Local History Society website". [http://dspace.dial.pipex.com/town/square/fk26/localpast/85sp/worth1.htm]


The story of Fulke Greville's murder is now used in the show Warwick Ghosts Alive which is performed in the 'ghost tower' at Warwick Castle.

ee also

*Canons of Elizabethan poetry


* [http://www.masterofshakespeare.com Fulke Greville, "Master of Shakespeare"]
* [http://www.luminarium.org/renlit/gfulke.htm Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke at the “Luminarium”]

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  • Greville, Fulke, 1st Baron Brooke — ▪ English writer born October 3, 1554, Beauchamp Court, Warwickshire, England died September 30, 1628, Warwick       English writer who, on his tomb, styled himself “Servant to Q. Eliz., councellor to King James, and friend to Sir Philip Sidney,” …   Universalium

  • Robert Greville, 2nd Baron Brooke — (1608 ndash; 2 March 1643) English Civil War Roundhead General.Robert Greville (c. 1608 1643) was the cousin and adopted son of Fulke Greville, 1st Baron Brooke, and thus became 2nd Lord Brooke. He was born in 1608, and entered parliament for… …   Wikipedia

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