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Richard Fanshawe

Richard FanshaweBorn: 1608
Birthplace: Ware Park, Hertfordshire, England
Died: 16-Jun-1666
Location of death: Madrid, Spain
Cause of death: unspecified

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Poet, Diplomat, Translator

Nationality: England
Executive summary: Translator of Camões

English poet and ambassador, son of Sir Henry Fanshawe, remembrancer of the exchequer, of Ware Park, Hertfordshire, and of Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Smith or Smythe, was born early in June 1608, and was educated in Cripplegate by the famous schoolmaster, Thomas Farnaby. In November 1623 he was admitted fellow-commoner of Jesus College, Cambridge, and in January 1626 he entered the Inner Temple; but the study of the law being distasteful to him he travelled in France and Spain. On his return, an accomplished linguist, in 1635, he was appointed secretary to the English embassy at Madrid under Lord Aston. At the outbreak of the Civil War he joined the king, and while at Oxford in 1644 married Anne, daughter of Sir John Harrison of Balls, Hertfordshire. About the same time he was appointed secretary at war to the prince of Wales, with whom he set out in 1645 for the western counties, Scilly, and afterwards Jersey. He compounded in 1646 with the parliamentary authorities, and was allowed to live in London until October 1647, visiting Charles I at Hampton Court. In 1647 he published his translation of the Pastor Fido of Guarini, which he reissued in 1648 with the addition of several other poems, original and translated. In 1648 he was appointed treasurer to the navy under Prince Rupert. In November of this year he was in Ireland, where he actively engaged in the royalist cause until the spring of 1650, when he was despatched by Charles II on a mission to obtain help from Spain. This was refused, and he joined Charles in Scotland as secretary. On the 2nd of September 1650 he had been created a baronet. He accompanied Charles in the expedition into England, and was taken prisoner at the battle of Worcester on the 3rd of September 1651. After a confinement of some weeks at Whitehall, he was allowed, with restrictions, and under the supervision of the authorities, to choose his own place of residence. He published in 1652 his Selected Parts of Horace, a translation remarkable for its fidelity, felicity and elegance. In 1654 he completed translations of two of the comedies of the Spanish poet Antonio de Mendoza, which were published after his death, Querer per solo querer: To Love only for Love's Sake, in 1670, and Fiestas de Aranjuez in 1671. But the great labor of his retirement was the translation of the Lusiad, by Luís de Camões published in 1655. It is in ottava rima, with the translation prefixed to it of the Latin poem Furor Petroniensis. In 1658 he published a Latin version of the Faithful Shepherdess of Fletcher.

In April 1659 Fanshawe left England for Paris, re-entered Charles's service and accompanied him to England at the Restoration, but was not offered any place in the administration. In 1661 he was returned to parliament for the university of Cambridge, and the same year was sent to Portugal to negotiate the marriage between Charles II and the infanta. In January 1662 he was made a privy councillor of Ireland, and was appointed ambassador again to Portugal in August, where he remained until August 1663. He was sworn a privy councillor of England on the 1st of October. In January 1664 he was sent as ambassador to Spain, and arrived at Cadiz in February of that year. He signed the first draft of a treaty on the 17th of December, which offered advantageous concessions to English trade, but of which one condition was that it should be confirmed by his government before a certain date. In January 1666 Fanshawe went to Lisbon to procure the adherence of Portugal to this agreement. He returned to Madrid, having failed in his mission, and was almost immediately recalled by Clarendon on the plea that he had exceeded his instructions. He died very shortly afterwards before leaving Madrid, on the 26th of June 1666. He had a family of fourteen children, of whom five only survived him, Richard, the youngest, succeeding as second baronet and dying unmarried in 1694.

As a translator, whether from the Italian, Latin, Portuguese or Spanish, Fanshawe has a considerable reputation. His Pastor Fido and his Lusiad have not been superseded by later scholars, and his rendering of the latter is praised by Robert Southey and Sir Richard Burton. As an original poet also the few verses he has left are sufficient evidence of exceptional literary talent.

Father: Sir Henry Fanshawe
Mother: Elizabeth Smith
Wife: (fourteen children)
Son: Richard (Second Baronet, d. 1694)

    University: Jesus College, Cambridge University

    UK Ambassador Portugal
    UK Ambassador Spain
    UK Member of Parliament Cambridge University
    Knight of the British Empire


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