Historical Context for Hamlet

“I pray to God that I shall not live one hour after I have thought of using deception.”
~ Queen Elizabeth I

If I am to enjoy an old story like Hamlet then I must make friends with the author and his characters. Otherwise it’s just a bunch of dusty old pages held together with a couple of pieces of cardboard. Personally, I have to find ways to bring it to life. Every book is written by a living, breathing person who lived, worked, played and wrote in the context of his surroundings. Getting to know the landscape of his world brings life to his work. An old book only seems old when I forget the reality in which it is was created. Maybe Shakespeare had a cup of tea when he woke up in the morning. He might have walked his dog before he sat down to write the story. Nevertheless, he was like you and me but he lived in another time. Getting to know that time is helpful.

Shakespeare was born in 1564 and died in 1616. During his lifetime Queen Elizabeth I ruled England. She was excommunicated  by the Pope in 1570 and she executed Mary Queen of Scots in 1587. Cervantes wrote Don Quixote, America began her heritage, and the first King James Bible was published.

Now let’s dig a little into Hamlet’s culture. It’s difficult to nail down the exact time frame. Many speculate it is late Medieval times. It is set in Denmark. Let’s spend a few minutes looking into Medieval Denmark. Your reading experience just might be more fun if you do.

Lovely Danish Church Frescoes

 1550-1600 Fashions

I can’t find any food or recipes that are specifically from Medieval Denmark but this is my favorite site for Middle Ages recipes. It is organized by country and type of food.

This timeline of composers from Wikipedia is neat. They aren’t from Denmark but their music might have been played by Hamlet.

 What about you? Do you have any interesting sites to share with us?

 

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Want Help Starting Your Book Club? Read This Post.

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