Notes on the History of Elizabethan England and Shakespeare Himself King Henry VIII (Ruled England 1509-1547) Known for breaking with Church + Many Wives (6) Catharine Parr Catherine of Aragon 1509-1532 July 1543-1547 Catherine Howard Anne Boleyn 1532-May 19, 1536 King Henry and His Wives Jane Seymour May 29, 1536-1537 July 28, 1540-1542 Anne Cleves Jan. 6, 1540-July 12, 1540 Catherine of Aragon (1509-1532) • Marries Henry to keep alliance with Spain • Bears 7 children; only Mary lives through infancy • Henry starts new church, annuls marriage, banishes Catherine Anne Boleyn (1532-May 19, 1536) • Gives birth to daughter, Elizabeth, 1533 • Henry accuses her of unfaithfulness • Beheaded May 19, 1536 Jane Seymour (May 29, 1536-1537) • Gives birth to son, Edward, 1537 • Dies from complications in childbirth Anne of Cleves (Jan. 6, 1540-July 12, 1540) • Henry marries her for political reasons -alliance with Cleves (part of modern Germany) • Officially divorces her July 12, 1540 Catherine Howard (July 28, 1540-1542) • Anne Boleyn’s 2nd cousin • Anne of Cleves’ maid in waiting • She has affairs • Beheaded 1542 Catharine Parr (1543-1547) • Henry’s last wife • Acts as Henry’s nurse when he becomes sick England After Henry • When Henry dies, Edward comes to the throne (he was 9!) •Edward dies when he’s 16, and “Bloody Mary” takes the throne Queen Elizabeth I (Ruled England 1558-1603) • Mary (a Catholic) dies and Elizabeth (a Protestant) comes to the throne in 1558 • Under Elizabeth, the arts flourished and educational institutions were established. • England also became a military force -Defeat of the Spanish Armada 1588 • Never married, so known as the “Virgin Queen” • Followed by King James (16031625) Defeating the Spanish Armada Life in Elizabethan England Public Life •Gossip: Those who are “in the know” are popular. •Crowds and public squares were volatile --> anything could set them off! •No free discussion of rulers = High treason! Spies everywhere •Punishments: •Upper class = beheading •Lower class = drawing and quartering Life in Elizabethan England Family Life • Children and parents = very formal – Never disobey – Children raised by nurses • Women had no legal rights LOVE •Romantic Love was ALWAYS discouraged -- a good match was more important •HONOR = very important! Defend family – All their money and possessions went to the husband – Literacy Rate was Low • (W-10% M-30%) – Single wealthy women were fought over – Married at the age of 11 or 12 – Father had the right to choose husbands for daughters -negotiated for power • Marriage = crucial to a woman – No legal rights without it Heart of England = LONDON Tower Of London •Fort for protecting the city from invasions •Royal Palace •Prison London: Sanitation Horrible! • Streets were filthy – No sewers or drains – Gutters were in the middle of the street – Garbage & chamber pots emptied in the streets --piled up until a rain • Men walked in the middle of street to protect the ladies The Plague = incurable • Overcrowding led to slums, filth • Plague carried by fleas on rats -- not known then • Thought to be God’s wrath on wicked people • Two outbreaks killed 1/4 of the population in Shakespeare’s time • Life expectancy = 48 years • Time to travel to “New World” = 1-2 months Theater’s Place in the World: One Side The Court •Elizabeth and James totally supported theater •Shakespeare’s company, “The King’s Men,” were named for King James Theater’s Place in the World: The Other Side City Officials • Time of Puritanism = Very conservative • Thought theater was evil, satanic, and destroyed public morals Theater’s Place in the World Therefore: •Theater was not allowed in London proper, within the official city limits •Instead, all theaters were in Southwark, just across the Thames, and outside city lines Shakespeare’s Theater: The Globe • Variety of tickets, from the pit (groundlings) to the gallery • Loud, obnoxious, intelligent crowds • Performances lasted “at least two hours,” and started around 2 PM (the middle of the working day) • Trumpet blew to signal the start • Public - open to all, though could not be advertised • Showed type of play by color of the flag • White = Comedy • Red = History • Black = Tragedy A Tour of the Globe William Shakespeare: The Bard Himself England-A Spiritually Divided Country •When Henry starts his own church, that splits the country into Catholic and Protestant •Shakespeare’s family has Catholic roots, but he supports the Queen Shakespeare: Early Life Vital Stats: • Born April 23, 1564 • Dies April 23, 1616 • Early Life: Stratford on Avon, England • Marries Anne Hathaway (said she saved his life) • They have three kids: – Susanna, Hamnet and Judith • He moves to London in 1590s Stratford On Avon: Shakespeare’s Hometown Shakespeare’s Grammar School London: The Big City Shakespeare in London • Became a leading actor and playwright by 1592 • In 1594, Romeo and Juliet was first performed -- all male actors! • By 1595, he’s the hottest playwright in London • Writes 37 plays (2 per year) • Performed plays in theaters, palaces, inns, and homes of nobility • 1610 -- returned to Stratford How Shakespeare Changed Theatre Before -- After -- •Performed by roaming troupes for a meal or bed. • Professional • Adds sets, lighting, multiple stages, and the box office. • Theater is new, akin to the start of TV •Actors considered vagrants • Performed lewd plays to religious ones.