What about Shakespeare's Times?

Shakespeare lived during the early modern period, a time in Western history that is set between the Middle Ages and the Industrial Revolution and has created modern society.
The time is, among other events, characterized by religious changes. The Church of England broke from Rome during the reign of Henry VIII. He established himself as the supreme head of the Church in England. A new English identity was not just promoted by religious independence but also by the reigning Tudory dynasty (1485-1603). After the victory over the Spanish armada in 1588 Shakespeare's history plays were deeply influenced by the new sense of English national identity.

The early modern period also saw the rise of capitalist economies. Henry VIII founded the modern English navy and during the reign of Elizabteh I Atlantic explorations and maritime trade paved England's way towards becoming an imperial power. At the beginning of the 16th century England had been rather unimportant in Europe but by the turn of the century the country had gained a lot of influence in the European power game.

London was rapidly rising in importance, its many small industries were growing and the city itself became on of the first European metropolis. Around 1500 the city had approximately 70,000 inhabitants, in 1600 one could already count 200,000. It was in this time that the first maps of London were drawn. The city was characterized by public entertainments such as theatres but the playhouses were built outside of the city boundaries since authorities feared the crowds produced by public entertainment. The first theatrical district was located north of the City wall, in Shoreditch, beyond the city's jurisdiction.

Shakespeare began his career during the reign of Elizabeth I. She was the child of Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn. During her reign (1558-1603) England flourished. This is the reason why her reign is also referred to not only as the Elizabethan era but also as the Golden Age of Elizabeth. The virgin queen was one of the most popular monarchs in English history and loved the theatre. Shakespeare is oftend referred to as an Elizabethan playwright and poet but one needs to remembenr that he still produced plays and poetry during the reign of James I, who was the first monarch of England from the House of Stuart.

James I. was a successful monarch but had a strong taste for political absolutism. Due to his initiative the "King James Bible" (also referred to as "Authorized Version") was published in 1611. The King James Version had a profound influence on religious and political issues as well as on the literature of that time, especially on Shakespeare. During the reign of James I Shakespeare produced some of his major plays such as Othello, King Lear, Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra and The Tempest. The plays are in many ways the darkest of Shakespeare's work and deal with issues such as murder, betrayal, power and lust.