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The Life and Times of Shakespeare
Sanitation • A cess-pit was a chamber in which sewage from each individual house was 'stored' until it was emptied. This task was for the so called 'night-soil men' to do. As disgusting as this job was, it could also be dangerous, as when in 1326 a certain Richard the Raker fell into his cess-pit and drowned "monstrously in his own excrement" while he was attempting to empty it. By the 16th century a new cess-pit related job was invented, that of the 'saltpetre man'. These men extracted nitrates from excrement, so it could be used to make gunpowder. Saltpetre men had a licence from the king to enter into anyone's house at any time and remove the sewage-ridden earth of the cess-pit.
In October 1660, Samuel Pepys records in his diary: "Going down to my cellar...I put my feet into a great heap of turds, by which I find that Mr. Turner's house of office is full and comes into my cellar". Unfortunately this sort of thing did happen often as cesspits were not built very well and therefore leaked. Incidently, it took five days after Pepys's disgusting cellar experience until his neighbour sent the night-soil men to empty it and when they did come they added insult to injury by having the contents of the cess-pit carried through his house. However, as Lisa Picard puts it, Samuel got his own back three years later, when he had his cesspit emptied via that same neighbour's house! There were many houses however which did not have cess-pits and so their inhabitants resorted to the use of chamber-pots, the contents of which were regularly emptied out of windows, much to the chagrin of unsuspecting passers-by. "The Great Stink of London", by Stephen Halliday, published by Sutton Publishing "The Worst Jobs in History", by Tony Robinson & David Willcock, published by Boxtree "Restoration London: Everyday Life in London 1660-1670", by Liza Picard, published by Phoenix
“In 16th-century England, the habit of emptying chamber pots out of upper-story windows into the gutter made a city stroll so hazardous that gentlemen gallantly took the side nearest the curb when walking with their ladies--a position they have assumed ever since, without quite knowing why." (trivia-library.com) Can you imagine the conversation at that point in the date? "I'm really looking forward to this drawing and quartering, Young Gawain." "As am I, but, oh my, you seem to have some excrement on your petticoat."
Romantic! Later, the danger was getting one's trussings splashed by a runaway horse and buggy, but the idea remained the same.(lemondrop.com)
Disease The bubonic plague or sometimes referred to as the “black death” is a disease that has caused several epidemics in history (as early as 1346) People with the bubonic plague have swollen lymph nodes called bubo that usually occur in the arm pits, neck, groin, and site of initial infection. They may also have muscle pain, fevers, headache, and tiredness similar to flu symptoms. Some people would develop round, black areas around the swollen nodes. Seizures are also a symptom. In addition, there is blood-vomiting, heavy breathing, and pain associated with the decaying of skin while the person is still alive. Bubonic plague is an infection of the lymphatic system caused by a flea. The fleas bite an infected rat and then spread the virus to humans by biting them and regurgitating ingested bacteria. Due to its bite-based form of infection, the bubonic plague is often the first step of a progressive series of illnesses. Two other types are pneumonic and septicemic.
2 out of every 3 patients died within 2-6 days A popular folk etymology holds that the children's game of "Ring Around the Rosy" derived from the appearance of the bubonic plague. Proponents claim that "Ring around the rosy" refers to the rosy-red, rash-like ring that appeared as a symptom of the plague. "Pocket full of posy" referred to carrying flower petals as at the time it was believed the disease was spread through the ether of unhygene, and scent stopped the spread. "Ashes, ashes" referred to the burning of infected corpses (in the UK the words of the rhyme are "atishoo, atishoo" mimicking sneezing), and "we all fall down" referred to the virulent deaths attributed to the plague. Bubonic plague is believed to have claimed nearly 200 million lives, although there is some debate as to whether all of the plagues attributed to it are in fact the same disease. It is generally held that the most infamous and devastating outbreak of bubonic plague was the black death, which killed a quarter to half of the population of Europe in the 14th century
William Shakespeare lived in the Elizabethan era when the bubonic plague, sometimes referred to as the Black Death, was virulent. He was known to have a terrible fear of the deadly disease In the Elizabethan era there was pestilence and repeated outbreaks of the Bubonic plague (Black Death) and these were not just confined to highly populated towns such as London. The country area and villages were not exempt from the disease either - there was no hiding place.
In the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries victims of the Bubonic plague (Black Death) would be sealed in their houses. The houses would be locked and bolted from the outside. The victims were not allowed to leave and neither was anyone else allowed to enter. This action was tantamount to signing a death warrant for the whole family and one of the terrible consequences of the disease. Any victim of the Bubonic Plague or Black Death would have to obtain a ' Certificate of Health ' to resume normal life - if they recovered...
Watchmen were allocated to watch the ' plague houses ' and the only means of sustenance was for the victims to lower baskets from an upper window for the watchman to put food into it. Plague Pits were rapidly dug. These pits were approximately 20 feet deep - the width of the pit would continue to be extended as the outbreak of the Bubonic plague spread. A consequence of continued outbreaks was that even old Plague Pits were re-opened. The death cart laborers generally undertook their gruesome work at night and the bodies were hurried out of the house wrapped in any kind of improvised shroud. The Elizabethan City of London was filthy. It's population was growing continuously with poor people moving from the country to London in search of work. There was a total lack of a structured sewage system in Elizabethan London. All of the waste was just dumped into the River Thames. The River Thames is a tidal river and, as such, it would have acted like a natural sewer. There was nowhere to hide from the disease and no one was safe, not even the monarch. Queen Elizabeth was terrified of the disease and implemented quarantine measures to try to ensure the safety of herself and her courtiers. When the Black Death ( Bubonic Plague ) broke out in London in 1563, Queen Elizabeth I moved her court to Windsor Castle where she erected gallows and ordered that anyone coming from London was to be hanged - so great was the fear of the plague and avoiding any spread of it to her court. Queen Elizabeth I also prohibited the import of foreign goods as a measure to prevent the spread of the disease to the Elizabethan court.
There were three very serious outbreaks of the disease which led to the closure of all places of Elizabethan entertainment, including the Globe Theater. These occurred in 1593 , 1603 and 1608. The impact of closure must have been extremely frightening, not to mention the threat of the Black Death ( Bubonic Plague ) itself. There would have been no money coming into the theater companies and therefore no money for the Elizabethan actors. It would not have been certain when it would be safe for the theaters to re-open. And there would have been the constant fear of contacting the Black Death ( Bubonic Plague ) or seeing friends and family dying from the deadly disease. The Elizabethan era was truly a dangerous time. The spread of the disease continued.
Anecdote Passing wind or farting, was to be done when alone. If it was not possible for the flatulenceriddled pesron to hold it in, they would have to "cough over the sound". There is an amusing story of the Earl of Oxford, who apparently farted as he bowed to Queen Elizabeth on one occasion. he was so embarassed that he did not appear at Court for seven years. When he eventually met the Queen at Court again, she told him: "My Lord, I have forgotten the fart", which obviously proved she hadn't...
Shakespeare’s Language • Shakespeare did NOT write in “Old English.” • Old English is the language of Beowulf: Hwaet! We Gardena in geardagum Þeodcyninga Þrym gefrunon Hu ða æÞelingas ellen fremedon! (Hey! We have heard of the glory of the SpearDanes in the old days, the kings of tribes, how noble princes showed great courage!)
• Shakespeare did not write in “Middle English.” • Middle English is the language of Chaucer, the Gawain-poet, and Malory: We redeth oft and findeth y-write— And this clerkes wele it wite— Layes that ben in harping Ben y-founde of ferli thing… (Sir Orfeo)
• Shakespeare wrote in “Early Modern English.” • EME was not very different from “Modern English,”
THEATRE • 6 days a week (NO Sundays) • In the afternoon,(2-5)No lights • Changed plays often to keep the people coming • They announced what kind of play was showing with flags: Black-Tragedy,White-comedy, Red-History
THE GLOBE THEATRE • One of the most famous Elizabethan theatres • Surrounded on three sides by seating “galleries” • Shakespeare’s troupe performed here.He was part owner in the theatre • The acting company had about 25 actors, all male • Half of the actors were share holders in the theatre. • Young boys played the roles of females because their voices had not changed yet. They would wear makeup. The makeup was made of lead.
Lead makeup poisoned/killed many. Queen Elizabeth I was a well known user of white lead which she used to create a look called “the mask of youth”
Globe cont. • The Globe held about 3000 people • 1c admission for standing room • Higher price for gallery seating • Private boxes for the nobility • Sold refreshments • No restroom, no intermission • “Box Office”
TO BE OR NOT TO BE….. • The Globe theatre was burned to the ground in 1613 • Fire started when a prop cannon explode during the first night performance of Henry VIII. • Rebuilt on the same site. • Was Demolished in 1644 when theatres were closed.
PLAYWRIGHTS • Paid by the play • Shakespeare averaged two a year • Often plays of specific playwright written exclusively for one theatre. • No copyright laws; use of sides • William Shakespeare, Sir Walter Raleigh, Christopher Marlowe, Edmund Spencer were all Elizabethan playwrights
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE • Born April 1564 at Stratford–upon-Avon • Father John Shakespeare was a glove maker and trader • Married Anne Hathaway 1582.She was 26.He was 18 • Three children:Susanna,Twins:Judith & Hamnet • Wrote 37 plays,poems and sonnets.(154) • Plays are divided into Histories,Tragedies,Comedies & Tragicomedy • Died 1616 Left his wife his “second best” bed
Copyrights and Publishing
During Shakespeare's lifetime Elizabethan playwrights cared little about seeing their work in print. Only the rare drama was actually intended to be read as well as performed. Writers would usually sell their plays to the theatrical company which staged the performances, and if the company committed a particular play to paper, it would create only one copy - the official copy - in the form of a prompt-book. A prompt-book was a transcript of the play used during performances, cluttered with stage directions, instructions for sound effects, and the names of the actors. If a play was printed for a reading audience, it was often without the author's consent. Unprincipled publishers would steal the prompt-book, and sell copies for about fivepence apiece.
They believed that most of the quartos in circulation had been either stolen outright by unscrupulous printers who plagiarized the official prompt-books belonging to Shakespeare and his company or they had been horribly reconstructed from the memory of people who had seen the plays performed. Heminge and Condell were right to be concerned about the integrity of Shakespeare's great works. The flaws in some of the quartos are wretched. Take for example the opening of Hamlet's famous soliloquy: "To be, or not to be: that is the question" (3.1.56-65). In the quarto version of 1603 we have, "To be or not to be. Aye, there's the point/To die to sleep, is that all? Aye all."
the modern belief is that, far from being the ruling practice in the Elizabethan book-mart, piracy was exceptional, and that Elizabethan printers, taken as a whole, were neither exceptionally stupid nor exceptionally dishonest" (Holzknecht 355). It is now believed that only ten of the quartos are corrupt or unauthorized: Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet are unique in that they were published twice each in quarto format and the earlier quartos of the two are considered "bad" while the latter two are now considered "good" quartos.
Quarto - A quarto is a book in which eight pages are printed on a single sheet which is folded twice to form four leaves. The average quarto contains about one hundred pages, and is about 6 3/4 x 8 1/2 inches in size. Folio - A folio is a book in which each sheet is folded over only once through the middle, forming two leaves (or four pages). The First Folio has 454 leaves, approximately 8 1/2 x 13 3/8 inches in size.
Mabillard, Amanda. Shakespeare in Print. Shakespeare Online. 20 Aug. 2000. (date when you accessed the information) < http://www.shakespeareonline.com/biography/shakespeareinprint.htm l >.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
The Taming of the Shrew