|Above: Queen Elizabeth I|
the last Tudor Monarch.
The following post is a guest article by Alex Taylor. Alex is a British student about to embark on his history degree. He is particularly fascinated by medieval and early modern English history. In this post, Alex explores the culture of the Elizabethan period, a mesmerising and enigmatic time which saw the flourishing of theatre, the growth of outlandish fashion, and the introduction of new foods into England. Over to Alex!
The English Renaissance theatre flourished during the reign of Elizabeth I and the culture of theatre grew incredibly popular with both the higher classes and the working people. It offered Elizabethans from a variety of different classes entertainment and became a definitive part of Elizabethan culture. Theatrical life was largely centred in London, being the capital of England and the most cosmopolitan city in the country. The first permanent theatre, 'The Red Lion' was open to the public in 1567, however, it soon closed down. More successful theatres, such as 'The Theatre' opened in 1576 and became popular with the citizens of London. The Theatre includes a number of importance acting troupes including 'The Lord Chamberlain Men' who employed Shakespeare as actor and playwright. Costumes were often coloured vividly so they would be attractive for the audience; they were also reused and recycled numerous times as they could be expensive to buy and re-dye. Queen Elizabeth herself did not visit any public theatres, as that would not befit her queenly status and dignity, however, Shakespeare was ardently attracted to his royal mistress and her court and proved a faithful servant, performing numerous times for her at court events within his career. It is known from the state papers that the company to which Shakespeare belonged to, in the Christmas holidays of 1598-99, played before Her Majesty at Whitehall and Richmond Palace. They also played again before Her Majesty at the latter palace on two occasions in 1600. The English Renaissance theatre continued to be popular and a large part of cultural society even after the Elizabethan period, into the reign of King James I of England and King Charles I. Its popularity began to decline during the English Civil War when it was associated with royalism and with the rise of Puritanism that saw it as highly sinful and offensive to God.