Shakespeare Solved ®

Shakespeare Solved ® is a forthcoming series of novels that covers the Bard's entire life and work.

These novels solve the mysteries surrounding Shakespeare by transporting us back in time, to walk in his shoes, and see his world through his eyes.

Only when we see Shakespeare in his original historical context can we understand what his plays and poems really mean.

This blog explains some of my ideas and discoveries, to prepare for this series of novels.

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Friday, April 5, 2013

Shakespeare and the Beginning of the End

On 3 April 1603 King James gave a speech at the High Kirk in St. Giles' in Edinburgh before he traveled off to London to claim the throne of England.

St. Giles

His first order of business as the new King of England, Scotland was to unite the entire country into a Great Britain. 

He wanted to “establish peace, and religion, and wealth, betwixt both the countries.”

Born of Scottish and English blood, he believed that he was the physical embodiment of the Union of the Crowns he was seeking for Scotland and England: “And as God has joined the right of both kingdoms in my person, so ye may joined in wealth, in religion, in hearts, and affections.”

He didn’t want Scotland to think it was losing anything in the deal: “Think not of me, as a king going from one part to another; but as a king lawfully called, going from one part of the isle to the other, that so your comfort may be the greater.”

He also promised to visit Scotland every three years at the least, if not more often.

Well, King James was never quite “precise in his promise-keeping.”

He didn’t return to Scotland until 1617, and that was his one and only visit.

And despite his best efforts, he never did unite the country into a Great Britain. That would take a very long time, well after he was dead.

It could be said that he did not help the matter of union with his management style, and his belief in the divine right of kings. He had several confrontations with his Parliament and never worked effectively with them on just about any issue.

But at the moment of his accession to the throne of England, he had very high hopes.

On 5 April, as he began his journey to London,  James must have thought that his future was very bright.

William Shakespeare was probably hopeful, as were many Englishmen. They had been ruled by Elizabeth for a very long time, and there was a great deal of optimism that James would be a different, more enlightened monarch.

Elizabeth had just died, on 24 March, and Shakespeare would have probably returned to London, in order to greet King James as early as possible.

Many courtiers were rushing north to greet James, in order to gain political advantage.

I doubt Shakespeare would have followed them, but it is likely that he would have wanted to be in London and perform for the crowds at The Globe, who were reportedly ecstatic over the new king.

They couldn’t wait to see him, and Shakespeare would have wanted to capitalize on that excitement.

What would he have put on, during this period?
Probably some comedies, to reflect the joyous atmosphere in London, like Comedy of Errors and Two Gentlemen of Verona.

But I can’t help but think that Taming of the Shrew would have been the most frequently played. The idea that a man has to woo a difficult bride seems to resemble the real life story of a new king, who has is coming to woo England-- a country which is more than a little headstrong and stubborn.

Samantha Spiro as Kate and Simon Paisley Day as Petruchio, at The Globe

I like to think that Shakespeare and his actors would find new gags and moments to exploit in order to reflect the present political situation.

Would Richard Burbage, as Petruchio, speak with a Scottish accent?

I don’t know, but it is funny to think so.

I think Shakespeare took full advantage of the moment, and profited from it. He was probably wise enough to know that this new king could be good, or he could be bad.

Little did Shakespeare know that he would soon be a celebrated and wealthy King’s Man, nor did he know that it would be the beginning of the end of his career.


David B. Schajer

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