Aristocratic occultist may have been model for Shakespeare’s Prospero
Stewart was implicated in plots to kill the King and was rumoured to be heavily involved in witchcraft and sorcery. In 1590 he was said to have dressed as the devil during a witches’ sabbath, and cast a spell, summoning up a storm - just as Prospero did - in an attempt to wreck the king’s ship. He failed, and James survived to ascend the English throne as well 13 years later.
Exiled earl may have been the model for Prospero
Prospero, the exiled Duke of Milan, has always been one of Shakespeare’s most mysterious creations. Part mystic, part wizard, he weaves spells and conjures up storms. At the end of The Tempest he utters one of the great speeches in all the Shakespearian canon - “Now my charms are all o’erthrown; and what strength I have’s mine own.”
No one has ever been able to say with certainty what, or who, inspired the creation of Prospero, though many of Shakespeare’s characters were based on real people and events. Now, however, an amateur historian, rifling through the papers of an eccentric 16th-century Scottish Earl, has uncovered the life of a man he says may have given Shakespeare the idea for the character.