The night of Marlowe’s death, the poet was accompanied by three men: Ingram Frizer, Nicholas Skeres and Robert Poley. Many have argued that all were involved in one form of espionage or another. Marlowe’s close association with Thomas Walsingham, a relative of Queen Elizabeth’s recently deceased spymaster Francis Walsingham, combined with evidence that the Crown helped excuse suspicious absences at Cambridge University and persuaded his college to grant his degree, has led to the deduction that Marlowe was a government spy. Some have argued that Marlowe’s visits to Douay-Rheims put him in contact with Catholic contacts opposed to Elizabeth’s Protestant government, who recruited him to become a double-agent. Some scholars have suggested that he was caught by Elizabeth’s agents, including Poley, and perhaps Frizer, and was subsequently assassinated. Yet, there is not enough concrete evidence to incontrovertibly prove such a claim. Sometimes a tavern brawl is simply a tavern brawl.
The one aspect about Marlowe’s death one may be certain of is that it was not faked in any way. He was killed with his own dagger, stabbed through his eye socket. Considering the impact, the angle and the location of the knife, there is no possible way Marlowe had survived at most minutes after his stabbing. Most well-trusted sources state that Marlowe died that night when he was stabbed in the tavern, and although one source did say that the dagger itself may not have killed him, the source continues to justify the dagger being responsible for causing “cerebral compression caused by the resultant intracranial haematoma” (Rowling 46).