The Genius of Palermo and Edward de Vere’s Challenge

This statue is known as Il Genio di Palermo (The Genius of Palermo) and stands in the Piazza Rivoluzione in Palermo, Sicily, the very spot where the European revolutions of 1848 began. It was suggested to me by the foremost historian of Sicily, Louis Mendola, that this is the most likely site of Edward de Vere’s famous challenge in 1575 when he threw down the gauntlet to all comers for the honour of his queen and country, ‘for which he was very highly commended, and yet no man durst be so hardy to encounter with him, so that all Italy over he is acknowledged the only chevalier and nobleman of England.’ Given that Cervantes was in Palermo at the time, might not he have witnessed Oxford’s quixotic challenge and so caught a glimpse of his most famous hero in the making?

Genio di Palermo

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