Tudor England


Last of the Tudor Dynasty, Queen Elizabeth ascended to the throne upon the deaths of her brother Edward VI, who was a pale and sickly youth and her sister Mary. Although she took power amidst a storm of controversy, including that fact that her father, Henry VIII, had declared her a bastard, Queen Elizabeth's reign was extremely successful. In fact, she was an icon for her age, depicted in both word and image. Under her rule, Protestant England successfully deflected the invasion of the Spanish Armada, began its colonization of North America, and prospered in trade. Various scientific advances were made by men such as Francis Bacon and Doctor Dee, while Sir Francis Drake successfully circumnavigated the globe. Literature produced during this period includes the verse of Sir Philip Sidney, Edmund Spenser's allegorical "The Faerie Queene," as well as much prose.

This too, of course, was the age of Shakespeare. Although he was certainly not the only dramatist of this period (Christopher Marlowe was also very prominent), he is the one best remembered by later ages, both for his plays and sonnets. Shortly before 1600, he and several other players formed "The Chamberlain's Men," a company based at the Globe Theatre. Members received a share of the profits dependent on the money which they had originally invested into the corporation. Originally located north of the London city walls, the Globe was moved across the river when the lease on its original site ran out. Along with the rest of Southwarke, it prospered until the Roundheads shut down all of the English theatres after the Civil War some thirty years hence.