The publication of this pamphlet is contemporary with Shakespeare's . Both documents pinpoint the historical moment when the English calendar controversy reached its zenith, a moment of perplexing uncertainty when "the most basic category by which men order their experience [time] seemed subject to arbitrary political manipulation" (Burckhardt 6). Stubbornly celebrating Easter on the wrong day--when everyone it was the wrong day--had turned the English Protestant Easter services of 1598 into a theater of the absurd. Imagine yourself a devout Christian in an English church on 16 April 1598, reciting the anthem "Christ is risen," hearing the Gospelist's tale of Christ's haunting whisper to Magdalene, "Marie," all the while knowing that the true Easter had passed, ignored, on 12 March. Gregory's newfangled calendar may have been Catholic, but it was correct. To an English Christian, being compelled to worship by Caesar's calendar--a calendar repudiated by the whole world--was not merely absurd; it was degrading, humiliating, scandalous, mortifying. It was tyranny. Those who wonder why Shakespeare chose 1599 to write his play about the man who imposed the Julian calendar perhaps need seek no further.
The Holy Day Discordances of 1599
Essex had been dispatched to the Irish wars on 27 March 1599. He returned in disarray on 28 September and was placed under house arrest. If "the general" referred to in these verses is indeed Essex, Shakespeare's encomium would have been most appropriate at the time of Essex's departure and shortly thereafter. Within weeks of Essex's arrival in Ireland reports of his lack of progress against the Irish rebels began filtering back to London. "As early as June it had become evident that Essex could not possibly win a decisive victory . . ." (Kay 244). This tends to suggest was played between the reopening of the theaters after Easter (8 April) and the end of May, which places the play at the Curtain. Other matters concerning censorship and the Earl of Essex arose in the Spring of 1599 which tend to suggest that Chorus' verses were composed early in 1599, and push the playing-dates of to the early weeks of the April-May window. In February, Dr. John Hayward published an account of the reign of Henry IV. The dedication to Essex implied that this history might provide a pattern "both for private direction and for affairs of state" (Dutton 120). The Queen and her advisers saw in Hayward's description of the deposition of Richard II, and his dedication to Essex, a thinly-veiled threat to the crown. In March 1599 the Order of the Bishops included the injunction that "noe English historyes be printed excepte they bee allowed by some of her maiesties privie Counsell" (Patterson 129). When Hayward tried to publish a second edition of his book in early April, all 1500 copies were seized and burnt. On 11 July Hayward was interrogated before the Privy Council. The vitriolic Queen "argued that Hayward was pretending to be the author in order to shield 'some more mischievous' person, and that he should be racked so that he might disclose the truth" ( on CD-ROM). Hayward avoided execution only through the intercession of Bacon (Dutton 121) and was imprisoned until after Essex's execution in 1601. Given the Hayward incident in the Spring, and the dismal news arriving from Ireland by June, it seems inconceivable that the Chamberlain's Men would have opened the Globe with a play containing (dangerous) verses comparing Essex to Henry V.
After the theater was shut down, the owners stole it from the spiteful landlord and hauled it across the frozen river. They built a new theater out of the old materials, and had a permanent place to perform their plays. They decided to call it “The Globe”. This theater wasn’t very high class, in fact it was mostly a simple circle that was about 100 feet in diameter. However, it became famous for the plays that were performed there.
The foundations of the Globe were rediscovered in 1989, rekindling interest in a fitful attempt to erect a modern version of the amphitheater. Led by the vision of the late Sam Wanamaker, workers began construction in 1993 on the new theatre near the site of the original. The latest Globe Theatre was completed in 1996; Queen Elizabeth II officially opened the theatre on June 12, 1997 with a production of . The Globe is as faithful a reproduction as possible to the Elizabethan model, seating 1,500 people between the galleries and the "groundlings." In its initial 1997 season, the theatre attracted 210,000 patrons.
Today, the original Globe Theatre is no longer standing. However, a modern reconstruction has been built in the same area. When people first got the idea to build a new Globe Theatre, they didn’t know what the dimensions of the old one were. Through archeological evidence and a picture of London showing the old Globe, architects were able to construct a new theater. Although the construction of this new theater was modern, they used the same materials as in the Renaissance period to give it more authenticity.
The story of the original Globe's construction might be worthy of a Shakespearean play of its own. The Lord Chamberlain's Men had been performing in the Theatre, built by James Burbage (the father of Richard Burbage) in 1576. In 1597, although the company technically owned the Theatre, their lease on the land on which it stood expired. Their landlord, Giles Allen, desired to tear the Theatre down. This led the company to purchase property at Blackfriars in Upper Frater Hall, which they bought for £600 and set about converting for theatrical use.
There is a lot of talk about the great Shakespearean plays, but not many people know of where they were actually performed in his time. Where were they performed? Most of his plays were shown at the Globe Theatre. However, the construction of this theater was not without great toil. In fact, the original theater is no longer standing.
If Platter is describing a performance at the Globe of Shakespeare's , this evidence marks 21 September 1599 as the latest date on which the theater could have opened.
In 1613, the original Globe Theatre burned to the ground when a cannon shot during a performance of ignited the thatched roof of the gallery. The company completed a new Globe on the foundations of its predecessor before Shakespeare's death. It continued operating until 1642, when the Puritans closed it down (and all the other theatres, as well as any place, for that matter, where people might be entertained). Puritans razed the building two years later in 1644 to build tenements upon the premises. The Globe would remain a ghost for the next 352 years.
In late December of 1598, Allen left London for the countryside. The Burbage brothers, their chief carpenter, and a party of workmen assembled at the Theatre on the night of December 28. The men stripped the Theatre down to its foundation, moved the materials across the Thames to Bankside, and proceeded to use them in constructing the Globe.
Shakespearean plays are some of the greatest plays ever. The Globe Theatre wasn’t the grandest theater ever; but it is perhaps not the theater that makes it great, but the plays that were performed inside of it. Whichever it may be, it’s still exciting to experience Will’s plays like they did in the Renaissance days.
Shakespeare's company erected the storied Globe Theatre circa 1599 in London's Bankside district. It was one of four major theatres in the area, along with the Swan, the Rose, and the Hope. The open-air, polygonal amphitheater rose three stories high with a diameter of approximately 100 feet, holding a seating capacity of up to 3,000 spectators. The rectangular stage platform on which the plays were performed was nearly 43 feet wide and 28 feet deep. This staging area probably housed trap doors in its flooring and primitive rigging overhead for various stage effects.
Early twentieth-century commentators, including the great T.W. Baldwin, accepted this assertion (451). But his contemporary Joseph Quincy Adams was more circumspect, and believed "the words used [in the testament] seem hardly to warrant the conclusion" (249). Cooper's , the standard Latin-English glossary in Shakespeare's time, defines broadly as "holdyng or possessyng a place," which does not necessarily imply the conduct of commerce. There is also a practical difficulty with the 16 May date. If the prudent Globe sharers commenced construction after their ground lease was signed on 21 February, the interval to 16 May was only twelve weeks. In 1923, E.K. Chambers speculated that construction of the Globe had required 28 weeks (Chambers 2:415-34). He based this estimate on the contract for the Fortune theater erected in 1600 by Peter Street for Philip Henslowe and Edward Alleyn (J.C. Adams 404-7). The Fortune contract calls for the new theater to mimic the Globe in many respects. Since Street bound himself to erect the Fortune in 28 weeks, Chambers inferred the builder required a comparable period (196 days) to erect the Globe. If construction of the new Globe began on 21 February and required 196 days, the theater would have been completed by 5 September. This is compatible with Platter's memoir.