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THE SHAKESPEARE PAGE

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

BIOGRAPHY OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

THE WORKS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

CHRONOLOGY OF THE LIFE AND TIMES OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

SHAKESPEARE'S CONTEMPORARIES

FAMOUS QUOTATIONS

SHAKESPEAREAN INSULTS

 

Bonus Page:

The Medieval Feudal System

 


WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

(1564-1616)

 

Shakespeare's Life

The events of Shakespeare's life has been a subject of debate, but what is known is that England’s greatest poet was born the year 1564 to John Shakespeare and Mary Arden in Stratford-upon-Avon, a market town 91 miles northwest of London. John Shakespeare was a prominent and prosperous glove maker, trader in wool, and alderman, who owned at least five houses in Stratford. Also, he became mayor of Stratford when William was four years old. Mary Arden was the daughter of a landowner who lived near Stratford. William Shakespeare was the third child of John and Mary out of eight children. He was born during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. There is no record of his birth, but the parish church, the registers of Holy Trinity in which Shakespeare was buried 52 years later, recorded his baptism as April 26, 1564. Thus his birthday is assumed to be the 23 of April since babies were sometimes baptized on the third day. But there is no proof of the actual date of his birth. Little is known about his early life, but he did attend grammar school due to his father’s high ranking. Boys studied mainly Latin, so Shakespeare probably read the works of Cicero, Virgil, Terence, Seneca, Plautus and Ovid. It is believed that Ovid was Shakespeare’s favorite poet. In that time, school began at six in the morning and lasted until six at night. When not at school, young Shakespeare must have become familiar with the Stratford country side, as is proved by his many references to rural sights and sounds in his plays. Also, he had knowledge of field sports and woodcrafts, for his plays show a fuller range of these activities than the other dramatists of the time. William Shakespeare did not proceed to Cambridge or Oxford. John Shakespeare may have had some heavy debts and fines attributed to illegally dealing in wool and this could be the reason why William Shakespeare didn't continue with his education. It is believed he was apprenticed to a Stratford tradesman.        

The Half-Timbered Buildings, above, were owned by John Shakespeare, the playwright's father. They are joined together, and stand on Henley Street in Startford-upon-Avon. William Shakespeare was born in the family home at the left. The House to the right probably served as his father's shop. Thousands visit these buildings every year.

 
           

Shakespeare's Schoolhouse, The Stratford Grammar School, where Shakespeare is believed to have received his only formal educccation, is still standing. The stone tower belongs to the Guild Chapel. Troupes of traveling actors performed in the chapel during the poet's youth, and helped turn his attention to the theatre.

        The events of Shakespeare's life has been a subject of debate, but what is known is that England’s greatest poet was born the year 1564 to John Shakespeare and Mary Arden in Stratford-upon-Avon, a market town 91 miles northwest of London. John Shakespeare was a prominent and prosperous glove maker, trader in wool, and alderman, who owned at least five houses in Stratford. Also, he became mayor of Stratford when William was four years old. Mary Arden was the daughter of a landowner who lived near Stratford. William Shakespeare was the third child of John and Mary out of eight children. He was born during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. There is no record of his birth, but the parish church, the registers of Holy Trinity in which Shakespeare was buried 52 years later, recorded his baptism as April 26, 1564. Thus his birthday is assumed to be the 23 of April since babies were sometimes baptized on the third day. But there is no proof of the actual date of his birth. Little is known about his early life, but he did attend grammar school due to his father’s high ranking. Boys studied mainly Latin, so Shakespeare probably read the works of Cicero, Virgil, Terence, Seneca, Plautus and Ovid. It is believed that Ovid was Shakespeare’s favorite poet. In that time, school began at six in the morning and lasted until six at night. When not at school, young Shakespeare must have become familiar with the Stratford country side, as is proved by his many references to rural sights and sounds in his plays. Also, he had knowledge of field sports and woodcrafts, for his plays show a fuller range of these activities than the other dramatists of the time. William Shakespeare did not proceed to Cambridge or Oxford. John Shakespeare may have had some heavy debts and fines attributed to illegally dealing in wool and this could be the reason why William Shakespeare didn't continue with his education. It is believed he was apprenticed to a Stratford tradesman.
           
Shakespeare was earning his own living by the time he was 18. He was not yet 19 when he married Anne Hathaway in 1582. They had three children: Susanna, born on May 26, 1583, and twins, Hamnet and Judith, born Feb. 2, 1585. Not much is known about what Shakespeare did in the years just after his marriage. Some accounts say that he taught school in the country for a while. Some say that he worked for his father, who was a glove maker. Another story that was told was that he was caught stealing deer, in the deer park of Sir Thomas Lucy, a Judge and Member of Parliament, and was prosecuted so he left Stratford. There is no evidence of what happened to him between 1585 and 1592. These are none as “the lost years.” A few years later, Shakespeare moved to London around 1588, and by 1590, he was an actor and he had begun to write for the stage. In 1592 bubonic plague, a terrible disease swept over London. For about two years all London theaters were closed. During that time Shakespeare began to write poems. Besides writing some long poems he wrote more than 100 sonnets. A sonnet is a 14-line poem which has certain regular pattern and rhyme. When the plague was over, the play houses were opened again.        

Anne Hathaway's Cottege, is the birthplace of Anne, who became Shakespeare's wife. It is located at the village of Shottery, about a mile from Stratford-upon-Avon.

   

The Swan Theatre, stood near the Globe, and was built on the same general plan.

New companies of actors were formed and in 1595, he was a shareholder in the Chamberlain's Men, who later became the King's Men under James the I. This company often put on plays to entertain the royal household. The Troup, in 1599, lost the lease of the theatre where they performed, appropriately called "The Theatre", but they were wealthy enough to build their own theatre across the Thames, south of London, which they called "The Globe." The new theatre opened in July of 1599, built from the timbers of "The Theatre", with the motto "Totus mundus agit histrionem" A whole world of players. Shakespeare wrote some of his plays about kings of England. Henry V and Richard III are two examples. They helped the English people to understand the history of their own country. Besides his historical plays Shakespeare wrote both comedies and tragedies. Romeo and Juliet is one of the most famous of his tragedies. Other tragedies include Hamlet, Macbeth, and Othello. Among his comedies are A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Taming of the Shrew, and The Merchant of Venice. Shakespeare borrowed from other writers for some of the stories for his plays, but his way of telling the stories was his own.
Various records show that Shakespeare made a small fortune. In 1596, he owned enough property in the London parish of St. Helen's, Bishops gate, to have to pay five pounds in taxes, a relatively large sum in those days. The next year, he bought one of the finest houses in Stratford and improved it and the grounds until it became one of the show places of the town. In 1598 he owned 10 per cent of the stock in the Globe Theatre and, ten years later, 14 per cent of the stock in the Black friars Theatre. In 1602, he bought one hundred acres of land near Stratford, and leased a cottage and another plot of ground in the town. Three years later, he purchased valuable property in the town of Stratford, and in 1613 another house in a fashionable section of London. These real estate dealings, are not significant in themselves, but, taken together. They show the prosperity, which Shakespeare achieved through his theatrical, activates. In 1596, a man named William Wayte claimed that Shakespeare and certain other men had put him in fear of death. Little is known of this particular dispute except that it was part of a long quarrel in which Shakespeare was not personally involved.      

The Globe was built in 1599. It was originally located on the north bank of the Thames river, but was later dismantled and reconstructed on the south bank of the river and called The Globe. The Globe burned down in 1613, but was rebuilt and reopened the following year. The Puritans closed down all the theatres in 1642, and the Globe was destroyed in 1644 for the construction of tenements. The original foundations were discovered in 1989 beneath Anchor Terrace on Southwark Bridge Road, but the site cannot be excavated by archaeologists because Anchor Terrace was built in the eighteenth century, and is a historical land mark, or as the British say it is listed.

  In 1598 and 1603, Shakespeare acted in two of Ben Jonson's plays, which were produced by his company. With his fellow actors, he marched in King James' royal entrance parade into London in 1604. Between 1602 and 1612, he was a fairly close friend of a family of French refugees named Mountjoy, and during some part of this period he lived in their house. When Mary Mountjoy's husband sued her father about Mary's dowry in 1612, Shakespeare, then living at Stratford, was called as a witness and told what he remembered of the arrangements for the marriage. The years from 1694 to about 1608 were the most productive years of Shakespeare's career. He must have been a familiar figure about London, but only a few records of his specific activities have survived. In 1596, probably upon Shakespeare's application, the College of Heralds granted his father a coat of arms. This was made up of gold shield bearing a silver falcon shaking a golden spear.
     
These few fragmentary records give no real picture of Shakespeare's activities in London. They are merely incidental facts, which happen to have been preserved for more than three centuries. Shakespeare's days were occupied with affairs of the theatre. In addition to the great labor of writing his own plays, he was regularly acting in the company's performances and rewriting and revising old plays. He must have been extremely busy, rehearsing in the mornings, acting in the afternoons, writing and revising plays at night and in odd hours, and attending to his various business affairs whenever he could. It has been suggested that this sever strain led to some kind of break down in 1608, and there is evidence that Shakespeare's activities changed in that year. Before then, he seems to have furnished his company with about two plays a year, but after that date not more than five plays can be credited to him in the seven years before his death, and he wrote two or three of them with other dramatists.  

He finally retired to Stratford in 1610 at the height of his success, and died in 1616 on the day of his 52nd birthday. It is also possible that a lifetime of drinking, wine and ale was drunk instead of water, took its toll. A persistent tale has William falling ill after a heavy drinking session with a party that included his old friend/rival Ben Jonson. The first collection of Shakespeare's plays was published in 1623 after his death. It is known as the First Folio. Shakespeare is buried in Stratford and was recorded, "Will Shakspeare gent", in the Stratford parish register on the 25th of April, 1616. Shakespeare's grave was given pride of place, in front of the altar of Holy Trinity Church.


THE WORK'S OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

There were four major periods of development in Shakespeare's writing career. Plays in bold we have performed.

 

The First Period

Began with his arrival in London and continued until about 1595. This was largely a period of experimentation. Some of these early plays may be revisions of other men's work. All containing experiments in verse forms, in types of situations, and inkinds of dramatic appeal. All are various forms of plays including Tragedy, Histories, Farces, and Comedies.

 

Probable Date of First Performance Title Date of Publication Chief Source
1590 - 1592 The Second Part of Henry The Sixth 1594 Holinshed, Chronicles
1590 - 1592 TheThirdPart of Henry The Sixth 1595 Holinshed, Chronicles
1590 - 1592 TheFirst Part of Henry The Sixth 1623 Holinshed, Chronicles
1591 - 1593 The Comedy of Errors 1623 Plautus, Menaechmi and Amphitruo
1593 - 1594 The Tragedy Of Titus Andronicus 1594 Unknown
1592 - 1593 The Tragedy of Richard The Third 1597 Holinshed, Chronicles
1594 - 1595 Love's Labor Lost 1598 Unknown
1593 - 1594 The Taming of the Shrew 1623 Anon., The Taming of a Shrew; Ariosto, I Suppositi
1594 - 1595 The Two Gentlemen Of Verona 1623 Montemayor, Diana

 

The Second Period

During this period, which lasted until about 1601, Shakespeare used the tools of the playwright and poet much more. He seldom fialed to get the effect he wanted., and he confined himself to mostly comidies and histories.

 

Probable Date of First Performance Title Date of Publication Chief Source
1594 - 1595 The Tragedy Of Romeo And Juliet 1597 Brooke, The Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet
1595 - 1596 The Tragedy Of King Richard The Second 1597 Holinshed, Chronicles
1595 - 1596 A Midsummer Night's Dream 1600 No single comprehensive sourse
1596 - 1597 The Life And Death Of King John 1623 Anon,., The Troublesome Raigne of John, King of England
1596 - 1597 The Merchant Of Venice 1600 Fiorentino, IL Pecorone
1597 - 1598 The History Of Henry The Fourth, Part One 1598 Holinshed, Chronicles: an old play, The Famous Victories of Henry V
1597 - 1598 The Second Part Of Henry The Fourth 1600 Holinshed, Chronicles: an old play, The Famous Victories of Henry V
1598 - 1599 Much Ado About Nothing 1600 Belleforest, Histoires Tragiques; Ariosto, Orlando Furioso, Canto V
1598 - 1599 The Life Of Henry the Fifth 1600 Holinshed, Chronicles
1599 - 1600 The Tragedy Of Julius Caesar 1623 Plutarch, Lives
1599 - 1600 As You Like It 1623 Lodge, Rosalynde
1599 - 1600 Twelfth Night, Or, What You Will 1623 Riche, Apolonius and Silla
1600 - 1601 The Merry Wives Of Windsor 1602 Unknown

 

The Third Period

The third lasted until about 1608 and this period contained all of his greatest tragedies. Also he wrote what are now called the "problem comedies". These plays are his most mature and deeply serious. This period contains all of the plays that are considered masterpieces.

 

Probable Date of First Performance Title Date of Publication Chief Source
1600 - 1601 The Tragical History Of Hamlet, Prince Of Denmark 1603 The early play of Hamlet; Belleforest, Histories Tragiques
1601 - 1602 The History Of Troilus And Cressida 1609 Various popular medieval accounts of the story of Troy
1602 - 1603 All's Well That Ends Well 1623 Painter, Palace of Pleasure
1604 - 1605 Measure For Measure 1623 Whetstone, Promos and Cassandra
1604 The Tragedy Of Othello, The Moor Of Venice 1622 Cinthio, Hecatommithi
1605 - 1606 The Tragedy Of King Lear 1608 Anon., Chronicle History of King Lear; various popular accounts, and Sidney's Arcadia
1605 - 1606 The Tragedy Of Macbeth 1623 Holinshed, Chronicles
1606 - 1608 The Tragedy Of Antony And Cleopatra 1623 Plutarch, Lives
1607 - 1608 The Tragedy Of Coriolanus 1623 Plutarch, Lives
1607 - 1608 The Life Of Timon Of Athens 1623 Plutarch, Lives; Lucian, Timon

 

The Fourth Period

Until he gave up writing for the stage, lasted three or four years before his death. This period shows a falling off of intensity from the previous period. Most of his lines are packed with more meaning, but lacks some of his earlier liveliness.

 

Probable Date of First Performance Title Date of Publication Chief Source
1607 - 1609 Pericleas, Prince Of Tyre 1609 Gower, Confessio Amantis
1609 - 1610 Cymbeline 1623 Boccaccio, Decameron; Holinshed, Chronicles
1610 - 1611 The Winter's Tale 1623 Grenne, Pandosto
1611 - 1612 The Tempest 1623 No comprehensive sourse
1613 The Life of King Henry The Eighth 1623 Holinshed, Chronicles; Foxe, Book of Martyrs
1612 - 1613 The Two Noble Kinsmen 1634 Chaucer, The Knight's Tale

Poems

Venus And Adonis (1593)
The Rape Of Lucrece (1594)
The Phoenix And The Turtle (?)
A Lover's Complaint*
The Passionate Pilgram*
 
The Sonnets (1609)

CHRONOLOGY OF THE LIFE AND TIMES OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

1564 April 26 - Baptism of William Shakespeare, the third child of John Shakespeare of Snitterfield and Mary of Arden of Wilmcote. Probably born on the 23rd.
   
1568 John Shakespeare becomes bailiff of Stratford. The Queen's Men puts on plays in the town.
   
1582 November 28 - William Shakespeare marries Anne Hathaway. She was born in 1556.
   
1583 May 26 - Baptism of first daughter, Susanna.
   
1585 The twins Judith and Hamnet Shakespeare are born.
   
1587 The Queen's Men performs in Stratford. Shakespeare may have returned to London with the company.
   
1588 The destruction of the Spanish Armada.
   
1590 The first performances of the historical trilogy Henry VI.
   
1592 Philip Henslowe mentions a performance of Henry VI in his diary. The plague ravages London. Theatres are closed until 1594.

Robert Greene's Groatsworth of Wit Brough with a Million of Repentance is the first public mention of Shakespeare as a playwright. In this article, he warns Christopher Marlowe "against an ingnorant newcomer, not educated at a university, who is shouldering his way into the profession." Also, he called Shakepeare, "an upstart Crow."

   
1593 Christopher Marlow is murdered in a tavern brawl.
   
1596 August 11 - Shakespeare's only son, Hamnet, dies at the age of eleven. Shakespeare becomes a "gentleman" when the College of Heralds grants his father a coat of arms.
   
1597 Shakespeare buys a large home called "The Great House Of New Place", his Stratford home.
   
1598 The first publication of a play under Shakespeare's name - the quarto of Love's Labour's Lost.
   
1598-99 The Theatre in Shoreditch is dismantled by James Burbage and rebuilt as The Globe at Southwark.
   
1601 Performances of Richard II at the Globe.
   
1603 Queen ElizabethI dies. The Chamberlain's Men become the King's Men. In London thirty thousand die of the plague. King James I's arrival in the city is postponed by a year.
   
1604-05 The Gunpowder Plot to blow up the Houses of Parliment led by Guy Fawkes is discovered.
   
1607 June 5 - Shakespeare's daughter Susanna marries John Hall, a well known doctor in Stratford.
   
1608 Shakespeare is one of the founders of Blackfriar's Theatre.
   
1610 The presumed year of Shakespeare's return to Stratford.
   
1612 Shakespeare testifies in the Belott-Mountjoy suit. The earliest surviving example of his signature is at the end of his deposition.
   
1613 June 29 - The Globe Theatre burns down during a performance of Henry VII when a canon fired on the roof sets fire to the straw thatch. The theatre is rebuilt, but Shakespeare retires.
   
1616 February 10 - Shakespeare's daughter Judith marries Thomas Quiney.

March 25 - Shakespeare signs his will.

April 23 - Shakespeare dies on his 52nd birthday and is buried two days later.

   
1623 The death of Shakespeare's widow, Anne. The First Folio published by Robert Heminge and Henry Condell.

SHAKESPEARE'S CONTEMPORARIES

 

Christopher Marlow

(1564 - 1593)

 

He was born in Canterbury, the son of a shoe maker, and educated at Cambridge. It is believed he may have been a government spy. Marlowe was murdered on May 30, 1593. It is unknown what really happened although the corner's report states he was stabbed above the right eye in a tavern brawl. At the time of his death, he was considered the greatest playwright in England. His works include: Tamburlaine The Great (1587 - 1588), Doctor Faustus (1588), The Jew of Malta (1590), and Edward II (1592). Edward II was possibly inspired by Shakespeare and described the dethronment of Edward II by his barons and French Queen.

 

Thomas Kyd

(1558-1594)

 

None of his early work survives, but he is best known for The Spanish Tragedy (1587). Also, he may have written the first version of Hamlet before Shakespeare, and he may have contributed to Titus Andronicus and to Arden of Faversham, which at one time was incorrectly attributed to Shakespeare.

 

Ben Jonson

(1572-1637)

An unsuccessful actor, Jonson estblished himself as a playwright with Everyman in his Humour (1598). He was trained as a bricklayer and fought in a war in Flanders in which he distinguished himself. Shortly after he joined Henslow's company in 1597, he was almost executed for killing a fellow actor in a duel. Some of his works include: Volpone (1612), The Alchemist (1610), and The Devil is an Ass (1616).

FAMOUS QUOTATIONS

Now is the winter of our discontent     King Richard III     I have no other but a woman's reason:     Two Gentleman of Verona
Made glourious summer by this sun of York     Act I, Sc. 1, 1-2     I think him so because I think him so.     Act I, Sc 2
                   
He jests at scars, that never felt a wound     Romeo and Juliet     What's in a name? That which we call a rose     Romeo and Juliet
      Act II, Sc. 2, 1     By any other name would smell as sweet.     Act II, Sc 2, 43-44
                   
Romeo. Courage, man. The hurt annot be much     Romeo and Juliet     A plague o' both your houses!     Romeo and Juliet
Mercutio. No, 'tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide     Act III, Sc 1, 98-100           Act III, Sc. 1, 103
as a church door; but 'tis enough, 'twill serve.                  
                   
This royal throne of kings, this scept'red isle,     King Richard II     I see thy glory, like a shooting star,     King Richard II
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,     Act II, Sc 1, 40-50     Fall to the base earth from the firmament     Act II, Sc 4, 19-20
This other Eden, demi-paradise,                  
This fortress built by Nature for herself                  
Against infection and the hand of war,                  
This happy breed of men, this little world,                  
This precious stone set in the silver sea,                  
Which serves it in the office of a wall,                  
Or as a moat defensive to a house,                  
Against the envy of less happier lands;                  
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England                  
                   
Ay me! for aught that I could ever read,     A Midsummer Night's Dream     Life is as tedious as a twice-told tale.     King John
Could ever hear by tale or history,     Act I, Sc 1, 132-134     Vexing the dull ear of a drowsy man.     Act III, Sc 4, 108-109
The course of true love never did run smooth.                  
                   
Come the three corners of the world in arms     King John     I hold the world but as the world, Gratiano-     The Merchant of Venice
And we shall shock them. Naught shall make us rue     Act V, Sc 7, 116-118     A stage, where every man must play a part,     Act I, Sc 1, 77-79
If England to itself do rest but true.           And mine is a sad one.      

Work in progress. More quotes coming when ever I have time.


SHAKESPEAREAN INSULTS

You are a dull and muddy-mettled rascal. - Hamlet (II,ii,562)
His brain is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage. - As You Like It (II, vii, 38-40)
She does abuse to our ears. - All's Well That Ends Well (V,iii,317)
You small grey-coated gnat. - Romeo and Juliet (I,iv,67)
Sweep on you fat and greasy citizens! - As You Like It (II,i,55)
You Motley-Minded Gentleman! - As You Like It (V,iv,40-41)
Your Face Is Not Worth Sunburning. - Henry V (V,ii,144)
You are ill met by moonlight. - A Midsummer Night's Dream (II, vi, 60)
You corrupter of words! - Twelfth Night (III, i, 37)
Thy brains are useless boiled within thy skull. - The Tempest (V,i,59)
Thy lips shall sweep the ground. - Henry VI, part 2 (IV,i, 74)
You mad mustachio purple-hued maltworm. - Hamlet (II,i,73)
Blister'd be thy tongue for such a wish. - Romeo & Juliet (III,ii,90)
Out, dunghill! - King Lear (IV,vi,24)
You worthless post! - Two Gentlemen Of Verona (I,i,147)
Will you not eat your words? - Much Ado About Nothing (IV,i,227)
Some strange commotion is in your brain. - Henry VI (III,ii,112)
You thorny hedgehogs, newts and blind worms! - A Midsummer Night'sDream (II,ii,10)
Thou art a very ragged wart. - Henry IV (III,ii,140)
You are duller than a great thaw. - Much Ado About Nothing (II,i,228)
There's many a man hath more hair than wit. - The Comedy of Errors (II,ii,81082)
He shall die a flea's death. - Merry Wives of Windsor (IIV,ii,138)
Why are you a fool? - Troilus and Cressida (II,iii,68)
Your horrid image doth infix my hair. - Macbeth (I,iii,125)
What wind blew you hither. - Henry IV, part two (V,ii,83)
I have seen small reflections of her wit. - Cymbeline (I,iii,29-30)
Toads, beetles, bats, light on you! - The Tempest (I,ii,342)
You long tongu'd babbling gossip! - Titus Andronicus (IV,ii,151)
Thy lips rot off. - Timon of Athens (IV,iii,64)
You candle-waster! - Much Ado About Nothing (V,i,18)
Such a dish of skim milk. - Henry IV, part one (II,iii,33)
You soft and dull-ey'd fool. - Merchant of Venice (III,iii,14)
Thou crusty botch of nature! - Troilus & Cressida (V,v,5)
You are a fishmonger. - Hamlet (II,ii,174)
You considerate stone! - Antony and Cleopatra (II,ii,110)
He has not so much brain as ear wax. - Troilus & Cressida (IV,i,51)
By this hand. I will supplement some of your teeth. - The Tempest (III,ii,47)
You are merely a dumb-show. - Much Ado About Nothing (II,iii,210)
Thou art a very ragged wart. - Henry IV, part 2 (III,ii,140)
Are his wits safe? Is he not light of brain? - Othello (VI,i,265)
Well said brazen-face! - Merry Wives of Windsor (IV,ii,124)
O, there has been much throwing about of brains. - Hamlet (V,ii, 85-86)
Your chin is but enrich'd with one appearing hair. - Henry V (III, Chorus, 22-23)

The Medieval Feudal System

This was based on the belief that the land belonged to God, but that the Kings, who ruled by divine right, managed the land, and used it as they wished. The Kings needed the good will and support of the Nobles and Knights so they granted them lands in return for their military services. The Nobles and Knights would in turn grant some of their lands to Freemen. Life lived under the Medieval Feudal System demanded that everyone owed allegiance to the King and their immediate superior. Everyone was expected to pay for the land by providing services such as chores, providing soldiers for the King, and providing clothes and weapons for the soldiers. The order, which the Medieval Feudal System was as follows:
 
The Pope: The head of the Roman Catholic Church and the Western World.
 
The King: The one who rules the land and is a monarch.
 
Archbishop (Bishop & Clerics could move up the ranks): A bishop ranking above other bishops in an ecclesiastical province.
 
Nobles: A class of persons set apart by high birth or rank. (Lords and Ladies)
 
Knights (Squires & Pages could move up the ranks): Knights were highborn medieval gentleman-soldiers raised by a sovereign to privileged military status after training as a Squire.
 
Bishops & Clerics: A Bishop is a high-ranking Christian cleric and a cleric is a man who is ordained for religious service.
 
Squires & Pages: Young feudal nobleman, attendant on a Knight, and ranked next below a Knight.
 
Maidens: Unmarried women of noble birth, and were pursued by Knights and Lords.
 
Freemen: Free people who were not bound to the land, but did pay a fixed rent to a Lord. Usually, these men belonged to a guild.
 
Yeomen: A man who owns and works a small farm.
 
Servants: Those that served Nobles and Kings in their residences and castles. A Nurse is an attendant for a Maiden.
 
Villeins: A class of feudal serfs holding the legal status of freemen in their dealings with all persons except their lord.
 
Serfs: Compromising of tenant peasant farmers and labors owned by a Lord and bound to the land.
 
Bondsmen or Slaves: Those that are forced to work or perform hard labor with out wages.

Medieval Guilds

The word “guild” is from the Saxon “gilden” meaning, "to pay" and refers to the subscription paid by the members. Freemen could achieve a higher social status, through guild membership, and Guild members were supported by the Guild if they became sick. There were two main kinds of guilds - merchant guilds and craft guilds. A man would have to work through three phases to become an elite member of a Medieval Guild.
 
Apprentice - A Medieval Guild Apprentice was sent to work for a 'Master' during his early teens. The Apprenticeship lasted between 5 and 9 years depending on the trade. During this time the apprentice received no wages - just his board, lodging and training. An Apprentice was not allowed to marry until he reached the status of a Journeyman.
 
Journeyman - A Medieval Guild Journeyman was paid for his labor. During this time the Journeyman would create his 'Masterpiece', in his own time, which he would present to the Guild as evidence of his craftsmanship in the hope of being accepted as a 'Master'. It was difficult to reach the status of 'Master' and much depended on the Journeyman's standing and acceptance by the top members of the Guild.
 
Master - A Medieval Guild Master craftsman could set up his own workshop and train his own apprentices.

Old Mission Statement:

Like a roving gypsy troupe of Elizabethan actors, The Stolen Shakespeare Guild is a producing theatre company without a home. The Guild's productions are on the move performing in various venues.