New PDF release: Background to Shakespeare

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By M. M. Badawi (auth.)

ISBN-10: 0333305353

ISBN-13: 9780333305355

ISBN-10: 1349166367

ISBN-13: 9781349166367

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Bishops now were elected from those nominated by the king instead of the Pope. In 1536 he dissolved monasteries and their rich estates passed to the Crown though ultimately they were sold to the gentry. Of course, it would be entirely wrong to attribute the Reformation of the Church solely to the king's desire to obtain Papal permission to rid himself of his wife; in reality this was only the occasion which precipitated the breach with Rome and without the presence of other and more significant factors the king would have met with much greater opposition.

Contemporary authors remarked, often with disapproval, on the speed at which clothes went out of fashion; the multiplicity of fashions derived not only from Italy and France, but even from Turkey and Morocco. In 1593 Thomas Nashe described England as 'the players' stage of 34 BACKGROUND TO SHAKESPEARE gorgeous attire, the ape of all nations' superfluities, the continual masquers in outlandish habilements'. Because men, no less than women, wore chains, rings (and ear rings), jewels, pearls and precious stones, they often spent vast sums of money on these jewels and their costly appearance became the theme of satir cal attacks not only by Shakespeare, but by most of his contemporaries.

Towns were small and, beside their business, burgesses had their free holdings and were partly engaged in agriculture. Farmsteads and shops were found side by side. It was, therefore, natural that, although born in a town, Shakespeare was familiar with life in the country (and even with wildlife in the forest, since Stratford-upon-Avon was not far from the romantic forest of Arden, which became the setting of one of his delightful comedies, As You Like It). Burgesses who held civic positions were men of some substance, and to this class of burgesses belonged Shakespeare's father, who became an alderman and for some time bailiff of Stratford-upon-Avon.

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Background to Shakespeare by M. M. Badawi (auth.)


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