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The English Renaissance: Celebrating Humanity. 1485-1625. Life in Elizabethan and Jacobean England. London expanded greatly as a city. People moved in from rural areas and from other European countries. Busy and crowded; lots of commerce, craftsmen. Strict class system.

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Life in Elizabethan and Jacobean England

London expanded greatly as a city

People moved in from rural areas and from other European countries

Busy and crowded; lots of commerce, craftsmen

Strict class system

Not a clean or safe city—“The Thames was a beautiful sewer” (224) and disease and criminals ran rampant

Grew into substantial port and admired European city

Southwark: suburb known for its “vice” – theaters, gaming, prostitution, etc.

Renaissance= rebirth
  • Rebirth of:
  • interest in learning, especially that of ancient Greece and Rome
  • civilization in general
  • arts and sciences

Reaction to “Dark Ages” of medieval Europe

Historically speaking…

UK represent!

Exploration by sea: John Cabot, 1497

Religious rifts:

New sense of nationalism prompted many to question ethics in and teachings of Church

Questioning of Papal authority and Scripture

Erasmus (Dutch) – version of New Testament

Thomas More – Utopia

Protestant Reformation sparked by Martin Luther’s 95 theses

The Monarchy:

strengthening themselves and the nation

Henry VII:

  • Catholic
  • Restorer of national economy and prestige of
  • monarchy

Henry VIII:

  • Catholic, at first…
  • Supports Pope against religious dissenters (“Defender of
  • the Faith”)
  • But…
  • Church’s refusal to annul his marriage leads him to break from Catholic faith
  • Dissolves Church ownership of property, monasteries
  • Has Thomas More executed for refusing to renounce Catholic faith
  • Marries 6 times
  • Fathers Elizabeth and Mary; has a son, Edward, with his 3rd wife, Jane Seymour
More bangin’ Tudor action…

Edward, Henry VIII’s son, rules from the ages of 9-15 (whatever; that’s like a 7th grader ruling your country)

  • Parliament drastically changes religious practices
  • English replaces Latin
  • Book of Common Prayer required in public worship

England is on its way to becoming a Protestant nation until…

We’re back, baby!

Mary I takes throne

  • Restores Roman practices to Church of England
  • Restores authority of Pope over English Church
  • Known as “Bloody Mary” for ordering execution of about 300 Protestants

And I could use a drink. Make it a…hmm…

Mary rules for 5 years, and then…

Cate BlanchettElizabeth I takes the throne!
  • Classically educated; patron of the arts
  • Reinstated monarch’s rule over Church of England, ending religious turmoil
  • Established climate of religious compromise
  • Known as one of the best rulers in English history
  • Spoiler alert! Dies in 1603

Hey, I wonder if that’s where they got the name for the Elizabethan period…

Elizabeth… arrgh…

The Mary Stuart problem:

  • Catholics considered Mary Stuart, Queen of Scotland, rightful heir to throne of England (marriage annulment issues)
  • Imprisoned by cousin, Elizabeth, for 18 years
  • Hatched numerous Catholic plots against her
  • Elizabeth let her live, punished Catholics
  • Parliament insisted on beheading Mary in 1587

I rule!

(literally and figuratively)

Life after Elizabeth…the Stuarts

James I (well, James VI of Scotland, but James I of England)

  • Son of Mary Stuart
  • Named by Elizabeth as her successor
  • Protestant
  • “Jacobean” era (from Latin for James)
  • Expanded England’s position as world power (colony in VA)
          • Believed in “divine right” of monarchs
          • Power struggles with Parliament
          • Persecuted Puritans (who migrated to Plymouth Colony)

Hey, I wonder if that’s where they got the name for Jamestown…

Smell you later, Jimmy!

I may have divine right, but this outfit is just wrong…

Finally, the good stuff…

Renaissance Poetry

Lyric over narrative poetry

  • Sonnet cycle: A series of sonnets, usually fit loosely together to form a story
  • Heavy hitters: Philip Sidney, Edmund Spenser, Shakespeare
  • Two major rhyme schemes: Petrarchan/Italian and Shakespearean
  • Shakespearean rhyme scheme: abab, cdcd, efef, gg

Psst! Lyric poem: a short poem with one speaker (not necessarily the poet) who expresses thought and feeling.

Sonnets! Yeah!

Psst! Sonnet: 14 lines, iambic pentameter, various rhyme schemes. Word!

Many sonnets consist of 8 lines setting up one idea, 4 lines responding to that idea, and a concluding couplet at the end. Rock and roll!

Pastoral poetry
  • Idealized rustic simplicity of rural life
  • Heavy hitters: Christopher Marlowe and Sir Walter Raleigh

I’m a poet, soldier, explorer, historian and member of the Royal Court. Phew! It’s tiring being a true Renaissance man!

Hey, I wonder if that’s where they got the name for Raleigh, NC…

Renaissance Drama

Turned away from religious focus and toward classical Greek and Roman tragedies and dramas

Christopher Marlowe: First major dramatist


Shakespeare (1564-1616)

  • Started as actor
  • Famous playwright by 1592
    • 37 Plays: most can be categorized as tragedy, comedy, or history
      • Deep understanding of what it means to be human helps maintain popularity

People say that if I’d lived past 30 I might have eclipsed Shakespeare as England’s greatest playwright! Dang!

And I might have gotten credit for stuff you wrote! Too bad, suckah!

Renaissance Prose

Which is the more satisfying bacon: pioneering English author or tasty breakfast meat?

Not as popular as poetry

Heavy hitters:

Sidney, Raleigh and Thomas Nashe

Sir Francis Bacon: essays, science, philosophy

King James Bible

  • Translated Latin Bible into English
  • Huge achievement—probably most important in English Renaissance
  • 54 scholars worked 7 years!
  • Influential, used to this day
important dates
1485: Thomas More publishes Utopia

1534: Church of England established

1535: Thomas More executed

1549: The Book of Common Prayer issued

1558: Elizabeth I becomes Queen

1563: 20,000 Londoners die in Plague

1564: Shakespeare is born!

Important Dates
important dates cont
1594: Shakespeare writes Romeo and Juliet

1599: The Globe Theater opens

1603: Queen Elizabeth I dies; James I becomes King of England.

1606: Guy Fawkes executed for Gunpowder Plot

1607: Royal Colony of Jamestown established

1611: King James Bible published

1620: Pilgrims land on Plymouth Rock

1625: King James I dies.

Important Dates (Cont.)