Contexts

Historical Contexts: 3LL and Elizabeth I

Queen Elizabeth I’s Reign in the 1580s and 1590s

Carole Levin

Abstract: While there was great anxiety in the 1580s as relations between England and Spain continued to become more and more unstable, the decade ended with a rousing speech by the queen, a great naval victory over Philip II’s ‘invisible Armada’, and a celebration for the queen at St Paul's. Had Elizabeth’s reign ended then it would have finished in triumph. But that triumph of the end of the 1580s led to a more difficult decade in the 1590s, with more threats from Spain, bad harvests and hunger, inflation, and growing problems with Ireland. The deaths or illnesses of Queen Elizabeth’s closest advisors such as Robert Dudley, the earl of Leicester; Sir Francis Walsingham; and William Cecil, Lord Burghley led to a far more polarized court and a tragic queen.

Citation: Levin, Carole, ‘Queen Elizabeth I’s Reign in the 1580s and 1590s’, Performance as Research in Early English Theatre Studies: The Three Ladies of London in Context, http://threeladiesoflondon.mcmaster.ca/contexts/CaroleLevin.htm.

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Wilson, Tarlton, and the Scourge of Simony in Elizabethan Drama

Paul Whitfield White

Abstract: I argue 1) that Wilson’s London plays, like The Return from Parnassus, Part 2, focuses on simony as a problem of lay rather than ecclesiastical patronage of church benefices; 2) that the significant parallels between Three Ladies and the court jest ‘How a parsonage fell into Tarlton’s hands’ suggests that Queen Elizabeth is implicated in simoniacal abuses, that Tarlton himself performed the role of Simplicity in Three Ladies, and the lead role in another Queen’s Men play on 'Don John’s Cellar' satirizing simony; 3) that the satire in these entertainments represents the universal outcry in Elizabethan England against governing-class lay patrons who buy and sell multiple clerical livings, nominate extremist or unqualified candidates, or siphon off tithes for personal profit; 4) that this financial racket, parallel in the sacred sphere to usury in the secular world, is illustrated via the court ‘gallant’ Simony (‘dainty diamond knaue’) who, in Three Ladies, takes a financial cut from the corrupt Peter Pleaseman’s benefice but denies one to Sincerity, the godly minister.

Citation: White, Paul Whitfield, ‘Wilson, Tarlton, and the Scourge of Simony in Elizabethan Drama’, Performance as Research in Early English Theatre Studies: The Three Ladies of London in Context, http://threeladiesoflondon.mcmaster.ca/contexts/PaulWhite.htm.

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