Lecture 4: The Renaissance – Shakespeare

Lecture 4: The Renaissance – Shakespeare

The Renaissance (1485-1649)

– In the late 16th century, England became the most powerful nation in the world.
– New worlds have been ‘discovered’.
– News ways of seeing and thinking developed.
– Columbus ‘discovered’ America in 1492.
– Galileo and Copernicus made important discoveries about the universe.
– In England, religion and politics were changing dramatically.
– King Henry the 8th made himself the head of the Church of England.
– He cut all contacts with the Catholic Church and the Pope in Rome.
– Protestantism became a more important religion.
– It gave a whole new vision of man’s relations with God.
– The monarch became God’s representative on earth, at the head of the Great Chain of Being.
– Dutch Thinker Erasmus wrote that man is the central figure in the world.
– The humanist concern was the basis of most Renaissance thought.
– Queen Elizabeth, who ruled from 1558 to 1603, became the symbol of the Golden age.
– The English controlled the seas of the world.
– Exploring brought valuable goods and riches from the ‘New World.’
– Always remember: the expansion of the British Empire meant the destruction of nations in Africa, Asia etc.
– When Elizabeth grew older, with on child to succeed her, a new concern grew with the passing of time and the shortness of human life.
– This concern is closely related to the Renaissance search for new ways of seeing, of believing, and understanding the universe.
– The Renaissance was the beginning of the modern world in geography, science, politics, society, art, and literature.
– London because the main city of the known world.
– English, thanks to writers like Shakespeare, became the language we know today.
– The invention of the printing press meant all kinds of writings were open to people who could read.
– Many new forms of writing developed.
– Drama was the most expressive form of writing during the Renaissance.
– This is the Age of Shakespeare and the Golden Age of Drama.
In brief,
1. Colonialism & Imperialism
2. Religion and the Chain of Being.
3. Humanism and Thought
4. Literature: Rise of Drama and Theatre

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