SIDNEY, Sir Philip

(1554-1586)
Sir Philip Sidney was widely eulogized by his contemporaries for his prowess as author, courtier, diplomat, political theorist, religious reformer, and soldier. Well connected from his birth in Kent, England, Sidney was the son of Sir Henry Sidney, advisor to Edward VI and lord deputy governor of Ireland during Elizabeth I's* reign, and Mary Dudley Sidney, whose relations included Lady Jane Grey*; Robert Dudley, earl of Leicester; Ambrose Dudley, earl of War­wick; and Henry Hastings, earl of Huntingdon. King Philip* of Spain, husband of Mary I,* was Sidney's godfather and namesake. Among Sidney's six siblings were Mary Sidney* Herbert, countess of Pembroke, and Robert Sidney, Vis­count L'Isle and earl of Leicester. Upon his marriage to Frances Walsingham in 1583, Sidney became son-in-law to Sir Francis Walsingham. The union pro­duced one daughter, Elizabeth (1585-1612).
Sidney was educated at Shrewsbury School and at Christ Church, Oxford, before beginning his apprenticeship as courtier and diplomat with sojourns on the Continent and at Elizabeth I's court. In 1572 Sidney traveled first to France, where King Charles IX made him "gentleman of the bedchamber" and Baron de Sidenay; soon after, he witnessed and escaped the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre of thousands of Huguenots in Paris. He remained in Europe until 1575, when he returned to Elizabeth's court. In 1577 Elizabeth named Sidney her ambassador to Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II*; Sidney was also tasked with visiting the Protestant princes of northern Europe to investigate the possibility of a Protestant alliance against Spain and Rome. Sidney then returned to Eliz­abeth's court, although he withdrew in 1579 to the Wilton estate of the countess of Pembroke after voicing his opposition to the queen's proposed marriage to the duke of Alencon.
Sidney is thought to have produced the bulk of his literary work during this period and in the next few years. His compositions include the various versions of the Arcadia: The Old Arcadia (1579-80?), a prose pastoral narrative of five books interspersed with poetic interludes, circulated in manuscript and then for­gotten until the early twentieth century, when it was recovered and printed; The New Arcadia (1582-84?), the first three books revised into heroic epic; and The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia (1593), a hybrid version created by Mary Sid­ney Herbert and published after Sidney's death. Sidney also wrote a defense of English prose and poetry, various poems and entertainments, and three political treatises. Over a hundred of his letters survive. He began translations of the Psalms, completed by Mary Sidney Herbert, and of a discourse against atheism by Philippe Du Plessis-Mornay,* completed by Arthur Golding; he also created English versions of Aristotle's Rhetoric and Guillaume Du Bartas's* epic cre­ation poem. The publication in 1591 of one of his sonnet sequences, Astrophel and Stella, started a trend that inspired Samuel Daniel,* John Donne,* William Shakespeare,* Edmund Spenser,* Mary Wroth,* and many others to write son­net sequences in English.
As courtier, Sidney served as a member of Parliament for Ludlow in 1581. Warwick asked to have Sidney join him as master of the ordnance in 1583; Elizabeth granted this petition in 1585 and asked Sidney to entertain various visiting foreign dignitaries throughout the early 1580s. During these years Sid­ney also followed England's exploration of newfound territories with interest and attempted to join Sir Francis Drake's expedition to the West Indies and America in 1585, but Elizabeth thwarted Sidney's efforts.
Sidney supported efforts to reform religion along Calvinist lines both in En­gland and on the Continent. In 1583 he was knighted so that he could serve as proxy for the installation as knight of the Garter of John Casmir, count palatine; Elizabeth proffered titles for both rather than offering financial or military sup­port for the Protestant cause in the Netherlands. In 1585 Elizabeth sent Leicester as general over English forces in the Netherlands; she also named Sidney gov­ernor of Flushing. Leicester appointed Sidney colonel of a Zeeland regiment in 1586. At the Battle of Zutphen in 1586, Sidney was wounded by musket fire and died shortly thereafter.
Bibliography
K. Duncan-Jones, Sir Philip Sidney: Courtier Poet, 1991.
B. Worden, The Sound of Virtue: Philip Sidney's "Arcadia" and Elizabethan Politics, 1996.
Karen Nelson

Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary. . 2001.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Sidney, Sir Philip — born Nov. 30, 1554, Penshurst, Kent, Eng. died Oct. 17, 1586, Arnhem, Neth. English courtier, statesman, soldier, and poet. Born into an aristocratic family and educated to be a statesman and soldier, Sidney served in minor official posts and… …   Universalium

  • Sidney, Sir Philip — (1554 1586)    Born at Penshurst, Kent, the godson of Philip II of Spain, Queen Mary s husband, he was educated at Christ Church College, Oxford, but did not graduate. A favorite of Queen Elizabeth, he was sent on several diplomatic missions, was …   British and Irish poets

  • Sidney,Sir Philip — Sid·ney (sĭdʹnē), Sir Philip. 1554 1586. English poet, politician, and soldier. His works include the sonnet sequence Astrophel and Stella and the collection of pastoral idylls Arcadia, both published posthumously. * * * …   Universalium

  • Sidney, Sir Philip — (1554 1586)    Poet and romancist, s. of Sir Henry S., Deputy of Ireland, and Pres. of Wales, b. at the family seat of Penshurst, and ed. at Shrewsbury School and Oxf. He was at the French Court on the fateful August 24, 1572 the massacre of St.… …   Short biographical dictionary of English literature

  • SIDNEY, SIR PHILIP —    poet, and one of the most attractive figures at Elizabeth s court, born at Penshurst, Kent, the son of Sir Henry Sidney, lord deputy of Ireland; quitted Oxford in 1572, and in the manner of the time finished his education by a period of… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Sidney, Sir Philip — (30 nov. 1554, Penshurst, Kent, Inglaterra–17 oct. 1586, Arnhem, Holanda). Cortesano, estadista, soldado y poeta inglés. Nació en el seno de una familia aristocrática y fue educado para ser un estadista y soldado; Sidney sirvió en puestos… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Sidney, Sir Philip —  (1554–1586) English poet …   Bryson’s dictionary for writers and editors

  • Sir Philip Sidney — Philip Sidney Sir Philip Sidney (* 30. November 1554 in Penshurst, Kent; † 17. Oktober 1586 in Arnheim[1]) war ein englischer Staatsmann, Soldat und Schriftsteller. Er war einer der ersten bedeutenden Autoren von englischer Prosa …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • Sir Philip Sidney game — In biology and game theory, the Sir Philip Sidney game is used as a model for the evolution and maintenance of informative communication between relatives. Developed by John Maynard Smith as a model for chick begging behavior, it has been studied …   Wikipedia


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