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Other than gambling, drinking at the pub, playing cards, tennis and lawn bowling, watching plays (the theatre) was the main source of entertainment. Occupations ...

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London in Shakespeare’s Time

When Shakespeare was writing Romeo and Juliet, most people believed that the sun went around the earth!

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The Tudor Family ruled England

Henry VIII


King Edward VI


(Protestant) ‘The boy king’

Mary Tudor

1553 -1558


‘Bloody Mary’

Elizabeth I

1558 – 1503


‘The Virgin Queen’

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The Elizabethan Era (1558 -1603)

  • A golden age in English history.

  • height of the English Renaissance, and saw the flowering of English literature and poetry.

  • Elizabethan theatre grew and William Shakespeare, among others, composed plays that broke away from England's past style of plays.

  • More people were educated during this time in London than ever before.

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The Elizabethan Era (1558 -1603)

  • London in the 16th century underwent a transformation.

  • Population grew 400% from 1500 to 1600, swelling to nearly two hundred thousand people in the city proper and outlying region

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An overpopulated city

Streets we narrow and crowded

The move from the city to the country

London’s economy

Trade Ships

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Poor Sanitation

  • Little or no drainage

  • Running water hard to come by

  • Bad smells

    • Rotting vegetables

    • Human excrement

  • Bathing not common practice

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Lots of People = lots of problems

  • Disease

  • Poor sanitation

  • Riots

  • Common Diseases/Heath Problems in Elizabethan England:

  • Typhoid –inflammation of the intestine.

  • Gout (rich) Meat diet

  • Scurvy (poor) lack of Vitamin C

  • Tooth ache (complications)

  • Complications in result of amputations

  • Measles

  • Diseases of the explorers

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The Black Plague

  • Bubonic plague – originated in Central Asia killing 25 million

  • Hit London several times

  • Rats hosted the disease carriers

"Doctor Schnabel von Rom" (English: "Doctor Beak of Rome") The beak is a primitive gas mask, stuffed with substances (such as spices and herbs) thought to ward off the plague.

Plague Symptoms:

Sneezing and swelling of the lymph nodes, bleeding in the lungs.

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The Gap Between Rich and Poor

  • poor live in homes that are little better than sheds.

  • one earthen-floored room downstairs for living and cooking

  • the upstairs loft is for sleeping in and storing hay.

  • Peasants keep animals in the house. Windows are shuttered and have no glass.

  • Thatched roofs are a fire hazard and a nesting place for rats and insects

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The Rich

  • Royalty

  • Servants and attendants

  • Family money

  • Loan sharks

  • Wealthy land owners

  • Business men

  • Trade merchants

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The Guild

  • The workers guild protected the crafts people of the time.

  • Insured quality of work

  • Worked much like a union

  • Membership was mandatory to be successful and sought after in London

The Old Market House

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Lower Class Clothes

  • Peasants-wool (which was often dyed)-browns, and pale yellow, black, pale green

  • Weapons—knives

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Middle Class Clothes

  • Middle class-cotton, and layered clothing. Collars

  • The look-new and clean, neatly fitted clothes, with a few ruffled edges

  • Weapons—daggers

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Upper Class Clothes

Layers of Fabric

  • The Upper Class wore velvet, cotton, lace, silk, gold embroidery. Fancy shoes and hats

  • Color- black, purple, maroon, gold, white shirts.

  • Weapons—Swords

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Food and Drink

  • Ale and Beer (water shortage)

  • Wine

  • Puddings, pies, cakes

  • Gingerbread

  • Almond

  • Bagels and bread

  • Nutmeg

  • Eggs

  • Meat

  • Fish

  • Egg Plant

  • Cabbage

  • Turnip

  • Fruit and sugary sauces

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  • Other than gambling, drinking at the pub, playing cards, tennis and lawn bowling, watching plays (the theatre) was the main source of entertainment.

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Cooper Barrels

Chandler Candles

Glover Gloves

Glazier Glass Windows

Tiler Tile for the roof

Saddler Saddles, bridles.

Cutler Knives

Joiner Furniture

Stationer Books

Mercer Cloth

Milliner or Hatter Hats



Draper Clothes

Fletcher Arrows

Bowyer Bows

Farrier Horseshoes

Blacksmith Armorer


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Why study Shakespeare?

  • William helped turn the theatrical profession into a gentlemanly profession loved by all people, from Kings and Queens to peasants and servants. Today, a writer, actor, director, or producer is well respected

Words and Phrases

created over 2,000 new words and phrases.

They include: schoolboy, shooting star, puppy-dog, football, bandit, partner, downstairs, upstairs, leapfrog, alligator, and mimic

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Sound familiar?

  • William's plots are present in movies, television shows, and books. They have become so common we may not realize they were first introduced by William.

an evil person who dies because of their own wrongdoing (Macbeth)

mistaking the identity of one person for another person (A Comedy of Errors)

giving a person a taste of their own medicine (The Taming of the Shrew)

  a person torn between loyalty and revenge (Hamlet)

two young people from rival families falling in love (Romeo and Juliet)

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Let’s Go to the Globe!!!

  • Across the Thames River, outside the city limits you will come to Southwark

  • Here you will find more than just the theatre.

  • Most of the really low company you may be looking for is probably hanging out in across the river.

  • Naturally the bear garden (for bear baiting) is here, as are the play houses