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Shakespeare's World: The Tragedies: A Historical Exploration of Literature
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xvii Introduction: The Renaissance in England William Shakespeare lived in England from 1564 to 1616, during a vibrant period historians label in various ways. Perhaps the most convenient and specifi c way of referring to any age comes from its rulers. Thus, we have the term “Elizabethan Age” (Queen Elizabeth I reigned from 1558 to 1603), but given that she died in 1603—when Shakespeare stood at the height of his career—typically we recognize King James, who succeeded Elizabeth to the throne and reigned from 1603 to 1625 thus the period is often called the Elizabethan/Jacobean ( Jacobus is the Latin form for James) or—using the two rulers’ family names rather than fi rst names— the Tudor/Stuart period (Elizabeth Tudor and James Stuart). In recent scholarship, the most popular term for Shakespeare’s era is the early modern period. This historical and linguistic designation implies a longer span than do the terms “Elizabethan/Jacobean” or “Tudor/Stuart.” Though there are no exact years to designate the early modern era, histori- ans often set it as approximately 1485–1789 (more easily but less precisely remembered as spanning approximately the 16th through 18th centuries). Under this timeline, the early modern period began with the end of the