By M. M. Badawi (auth.)
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Additional resources for Background to Shakespeare
Fire, therefore, is the noblest element and is found next to the sphere of the moon. The earth is in the form of a sphere and around it revolve a number of concentric spheres, which form the second and infinitely larger part of the universe. The moon is the dividing line between the world of time and change and the timeless and eternal world of the planets and stars. Shakespeare's phrase 'beneath the visiting moon', for example, loses much of its effect if divorced from this cosmic setting. Above the moon are Mercury, Venus and the sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, the fixed stars, and then the sphere of Primum Mobile which is regulated by the highest order of angels called Seraphs, and which set all the spheres in motion, thereby producing a heavenly music, the music of the spheres.
A notable example is to be found in Shakespeare's Henry V. THE SOCIAL BACKGROUND 41 CITIZENS AND BURGESSES With the vast increase of the English export cloth trade and the rise of the importance of towns, the Tudor town or borough became relatively more distinct from the village, although the difference between them was not so great as it is now. By the end of Queen Elizabeth's reign more than four-fifths of the population of England and Wales (which reached about four millions) lived in the country.
There the Queen was attended most of the year by the nobility, who beside their various manor houses had their mansions in. London. The royal household was a most elaborate organisation, but as Shakespeare's plays do not on the whole show the author's familiarity with it we need not bother to explain it here. Suffice it to say, however, that the Tudor monarch was personally attended by the Gentlemen (or Ladies or Gentlewomen) of the Privy Chamber. Every night two of the Gentlemen (or Gentlewomen) were required to sleep in the Privy Chamber.
Background to Shakespeare by M. M. Badawi (auth.)