English Renaissance

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The First Appearance of William Shakespeare on the Stage of the Globe Theatre by George Cruikshank George Cruikshank - The First Appearance of William Shakespeare on the Stage of the Globe Theatre - Google Art Project.jpg
The First Appearance of William Shakespeare on the Stage of the Globe Theatre by George Cruikshank

The English Renaissance was a cultural and artistic movement in England during the late 15th, 16th and early 17th centuries. [1] It is associated with the pan-European Renaissance that is usually regarded as beginning in Italy in the late 14th century. As in most of the rest of Northern Europe, England saw little of these developments until more than a century later within the Northern Renaissance. Renaissance style and ideas were slow to penetrate England, and the Elizabethan era in the second half of the 16th century is usually regarded as the height of the English Renaissance. Many scholars see its beginnings in the early 16th century during the reign of Henry VIII. [2] Others argue the Renaissance was already present in England in the late 15th century.


The English Renaissance is different from the Italian Renaissance in several ways. The dominant art forms of the English Renaissance were literature and music. Visual arts in the English Renaissance were much less significant than in the Italian Renaissance. The English period began far later than the Italian, which was moving into Mannerism and the Baroque by the 1550s or earlier.


England had a strong tradition of literature in the English vernacular, which gradually increased as English use of the printing press became common by the mid-16th century. [1] This tradition of literature written in English vernacular largely began with the Protestant Reformation's call to let people interpret the Bible for themselves instead of accepting the Catholic Church's interpretation. Discussions on how to translate the Bible so that it could be understood by laymen but still do justice to God's word became contentious, with people arguing how much license could be taken to impart the correct meaning without sacrificing its eloquence. The desire to let people read the Bible for themselves led William Tyndale to publish his own translation in 1526, giving way to Sir Rowland Hill's publication of the Geneva Bible in 1560, marking the re-establishment of the Church of England at the accession of Elizabeth I. These would be predecessors to the King James Version of the Bible.

Another early proponent of literature in the vernacular was Roger Ascham, who was tutor to Princess Elizabeth during her teenage years, and is now often called the "father of English prose." He proposed that speech was the greatest gift to man from God and to speak or write poorly was an affront. [3] The peak of English drama and theatre is said to be the Elizabethan age; a golden age in English history where the arts, drama and creative work flourished. Morality plays emerged as a distinct dramatic form around 1400 and flourished in the early Elizabethan era in England. By the time of Elizabethan literature, a vigorous literary culture in both drama and poetry included poets such as Edmund Spenser, whose verse epic The Faerie Queene had a strong influence on English literature but was eventually overshadowed by the lyrics of William Shakespeare, Thomas Wyatt and others. Typically, the works of these playwrights and poets circulated in manuscript form for some time before they were published, and above all the plays of English Renaissance theatre were the outstanding legacy of the period. The works of this period are also affected by Henry VIII's declaration of independence from the Catholic Church and technological advances in sailing and cartography, which are reflected in the generally nonreligious themes and various shipwreck adventures of Shakespeare. [4]

The growing population of England, the growing wealth of its people, and their fondness for spectacle produced a dramatic literature of remarkable variety, quality, and extent. Genres of the period included the history play, which depicted English or European history. Shakespeare's plays about the lives of kings, such as Richard III and Henry V , belong to this category, as do Christopher Marlowe's Edward II and George Peele's Famous Chronicle of King Edward the First . History plays dealt with more recent events, like A Larum for London which dramatizes the sack of Antwerp in 1576. Tragedy was a very popular genre. Marlowe's tragedies were exceptionally successful, such as Dr. Faustus and The Jew of Malta . The audiences particularly liked revenge dramas, such as Thomas Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy . The four tragedies considered to be Shakespeare's greatest ( Hamlet , Othello , King Lear , and Macbeth ) were composed during this period. The English theatre scene, which performed both for the court and nobility in private performances and a very wide public in the theatres, was the most crowded in Europe, with a host of other playwrights as well as the giant figures of Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare and Ben Jonson. Elizabeth herself was a product of Renaissance humanism trained by Roger Ascham, and wrote occasional poems such as "On Monsieur's Departure" at critical moments of her life. [5] William Shakespeare, whose works include Hamlet , Romeo and Juliet , Macbeth , and A Midsummer Night's Dream , remains one of the most championed authors in English literature. The playwright and poet is widely regarded as the greatest dramatist of all time. [6] [7] [8]

Philosophers and intellectuals included Thomas More and Sir Francis Bacon. Sir Francis Bacon and Thomas Hobbes wrote on empiricism and materialism, including scientific method and social contract. [9] Robert Filmer wrote on the Divine Right of Kings. All the 16th century Tudor monarchs were highly educated, as was much of the nobility, and Italian literature had a considerable following, providing the sources for many of Shakespeare's plays. The language of the Book of Common Prayer , first published in 1549, and at the end of the period the Bible had enduring and profound impacts on the English consciousness.

Science and exploration

The English Renaissance saw significant scientific progress. The astronomers Thomas Digges and Thomas Harriot made important contributions; William Gilbert published his seminal study of magnetism, De Magnete, in 1600. He was the first to discover that the Earth was itself a dipole magnet as well as the first to correctly explain why a nautical compass worked as it did. [10]

Substantial advancements were made in the fields of cartography and surveying. John Dee was the court astronomer for Elizabeth I and an influential mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, teacher, occultist, and alchemist. Sir Francis Bacon was the pioneer of modern scientific thought, and is commonly regarded as one of the founders of the Scientific Revolution. His works are seen as developing the scientific method that party invented modern science. [11] Historian William Hepworth Dixon stated: "Bacon's influence in the modern world is so great that every man who rides in a train, sends a telegram, follows a steam plough, sits in an easy chair, crosses the channel or the Atlantic, eats a good dinner, enjoys a beautiful garden, or undergoes a painless surgical operation, owes him something''. [12] English thought advanced towards modern science with the Baconian method. [13]

The Tudor navy carrack Henry Grace a Dieu. In her day she was the largest warship in the world. AnthonyRoll-1 Great Harry.jpg
The Tudor navy carrack Henry Grace à Dieu . In her day she was the largest warship in the world.

English achievements in exploration were noteworthy. Sir Francis Drake circumnavigated the globe between 1577 and 1581. This was the first English circumnavigation, and third circumnavigation overall in history. Martin Frobisher explored the Arctic. The first attempt at English settlement of the eastern seaboard of North America occurred in this era. In 1583, Humphrey Gilbert sailed to Newfoundland, taking possession of the harbour of St. John's together with all land within two hundred leagues to the north and south of it. In 1584, the queen granted Sir Walter Raleigh a charter for the colonisation of Virginia; it was named in her honour. Raleigh and Elizabeth sought both immediate riches and a base for privateers to raid the Spanish treasure fleets. In 1600, the queen chartered the East India Company in an attempt to break the Spanish and Portuguese monopoly of far Eastern trade. [15] [16] It established trading posts, which in later centuries evolved into British India, on the coasts of what is now India and Bangladesh. Larger scale colonisation to North America began shortly after Elizabeth's death. Originally chartered as the "Governor and Company of Merchants of London Trading into the East-Indies", [17] [18] the East India Company rose to account for half of the world's trade during the mid-1700s and early 1800s, [19] particularly in basic commodities including cotton, silk, indigo dye, sugar, salt, spices, saltpetre, tea, and opium. [19] The East India Company was the most powerful corporation in history. [20] [21]

Visual arts

England was slow to produce visual arts in Renaissance styles like the rest of Northern European, and the artists of the Tudor court were mainly imported foreigners until after the end of the Renaissance; Hans Holbein was the outstanding figure. The English Reformation produced a huge programme of iconoclasm that destroyed almost all medieval religious art, and all but ended the skill of painting in England. However, England under the Tudor dynasty was a thriving home for arts. An international community of artists and merchants, many of them religious refugees, navigated to England for royal patrons. English art was to be dominated by portrait painting and landscape art, for centuries to come. [22]

Portrait of Edward Herbert, 1st Baron Herbert of Cherbury by Isaac Oliver Edward Herbert 1st Baron Herbert of Cherbury by Isaac Oliver.jpg
Portrait of Edward Herbert, 1st Baron Herbert of Cherbury by Isaac Oliver

The significant English invention was the portrait miniature, which essentially took the techniques of the dying art of the illuminated manuscript and transferred them to small portraits worn in lockets. Though the form was developed in England by foreign artists, mostly Flemish like Lucas Horenbout, the somewhat undistinguished founder of the tradition, by the late 16th century natives such as Nicolas Hilliard and Isaac Oliver produced the finest work. [23] The portrait miniature had spread all over Europe by the 18th century. [24]

The portraiture of Elizabeth I was carefully controlled and developed into an elaborate and wholly un-realist iconic style, that has succeeded in creating enduring images. The many portraits drove the evolution of English royal portraits in the Early Modern period. Even the earliest portraits of Elizabeth I contain symbolic objects such as roses and prayer books that would have carried meaning to viewers of her day. Later portraits of Elizabeth layer the iconography of empireglobes, crowns, swords and columns—and representations of virginity and purity—such as moons and pearls—with classical allusions to present a complex "story" that conveyed to Elizabethan era viewers the majesty and significance of their Virgin Queen. The Armada Portrait is an allegorical panel painting depicting the queen surrounded by symbols of empire against a backdrop representing the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588. The Jacobean era produced figures like Robert Peake the Elder, William Larkin, and Sir Nathaniel Bacon.


Thomas Tallis was a Renaissance composer who occupies a primary place in anthologies of English choral music. He is considered one of England's greatest composers, and he is honoured for his original voice in English musicianship. Thomas Tallis 001 (cropped).jpg
Thomas Tallis was a Renaissance composer who occupies a primary place in anthologies of English choral music. He is considered one of England's greatest composers, and he is honoured for his original voice in English musicianship.

English Renaissance music kept in touch with continental developments. Elizabethan music experienced a shift in popularity from sacred to secular music and the rise of instrumental music. Professional musicians were employed by the Church of England, the nobility, and the rising middle-class. Elizabeth was fond of music and played the lute and virginal, sang, and even claimed to have composed dance music. [26] She felt that dancing was a great form of physical exercise and employed musicians to play for her while she danced. The interests of the queen were expected to be adopted by her subjects. All noblemen were expected to be proficient in playing the lute and "any young woman unable to take her proper place in a vocal or instrumental ensemble became the laughing-stock of society". Music printing led to a market of amateur musicians purchasing works published by those who received special permission from the queen. [27]

The Elizabethan madrigal was distinct from, but related to, the Italian tradition. The most famous composers for the Anglican Church were Thomas Tallis and his student William Byrd. Considered among the greatest composers of the Renaissance, he had a profound influence on composers both from his native country and in Europe. [28] Both composers were Catholics and produced vocal works in both Latin and English. Secular vocal works became extremely popular with the importation of Italian musicians and compositions. The music of the late Italian madrigal composers inspired native composers who are now labelled as the English Madrigal School. These composers adapted the text painting and polyphonic writing of the Italians into a uniquely English genre of madrigal. Thomas Morley published collections of madrigals which included his own compositions as well as those of his contemporaries. The most famous of these collections was The Triumphs of Oriana , which was made in honour of Queen Elizabeth and featured the compositions of Morley, Thomas Weelkes, and John Wilbye among other representatives of the English madrigalists.

Instrumental music was also very popular. The most popular solo instruments of the time were the virginal and the lute. The virginal was a popular variant of the harpsichord among the English and one of Elizabeth's favourite instruments to play. Numerous works were produced for the instrument including several collections by William Byrd, namely the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book and Parthenia . The lute strung with sheepgut was the most popular instrument of the age. Lutes could be played as solo instruments or as accompaniment for singers. Compositions of the latter variety were known as lute song. The most popular Elizabethan composer for the lute and of lute songs was John Dowland. Several families of instruments were popular among the English people and were employed for the group music making. If all of the instruments in an ensemble were of the same family they were considered to be in "consort". Mixed ensembles were said to be in "broken consort". Both forms of ensembles were equally popular.

Portrait of Elizabeth I of England playing the lute, portrait miniature by Nicholas Hilliard. Nicholas Hilliard Elizabeth I Playing the Lute c. 1580.jpg
Portrait of Elizabeth I of England playing the lute, portrait miniature by Nicholas Hilliard.

The key composers from the early Renaissance era also wrote in a late Medieval style, and as such, they are transitional figures. Leonel Power was an English composer of the late medieval and early Renaissance music eras. Along with John Dunstaple and Walter Frye, he was one of the major figures in English music in the early 15th century. [29] [30] Power is the composer best represented in the Old Hall Manuscript. He was one of the first composers to set separate movements of the ordinary of the mass which were thematically unified and intended for contiguous performance. The Old Hall Manuscript contains his mass based on the Marian antiphon, Alma Redemptoris Mater, in which the antiphon is stated literally in the tenor voice in each movement, without melodic ornaments. This is the only cyclic setting of the mass ordinary which can be attributed to him. [31] He wrote mass cycles, fragments, and single movements and a variety of other sacred works.

John Dunstaple (or Dunstable) was an English composer of polyphonic music of the late medieval era and early Renaissance periods. He was one of the most famous composers active in the early 15th century, a near-contemporary of Power, and was widely influential, not only in England but on the continent, especially in the developing style of the Burgundian School. Dunstaple's influence on the continent's musical vocabulary was enormous, particularly considering the relative paucity of his (attributable) works. He was recognized for possessing something never heard before in music of the Burgundian School: la contenance angloise ("the English countenance"), a term used by the poet Martin le Franc in his Le Champion des Dames. Other leading composers include Robert Johnson, John Taverner, Thomas Morley, Orlando Gibbons, and John Blitheman.

The colossal polychoral productions of the Venetian School had been anticipated in the works of Thomas Tallis, and the Palestrina style from the Roman School had already been absorbed prior to the publication of Musica transalpina, in the music of masters such as William Byrd. The Italian and English Renaissances were similar in sharing a specific musical aesthetic. In the late 16th century Italy was the musical center of Europe, and one of the principal forms which emerged from that singular explosion of musical creativity was the madrigal. In 1588, Nicholas Yonge published in England the Musica transalpina—a collection of Italian madrigals that had been Anglicized—an event which began a vogue of madrigal in England which was almost unmatched in the Renaissance in being an instantaneous adoption of an idea, from another country, adapted to local aesthetics. English poetry was exactly at the right stage of development for this transplantation to occur, since forms such as the sonnet were uniquely adapted to setting as madrigals. Composers such as Thomas Morley, the only contemporary composer to set Shakespeare, and whose work survives, published collections of their own, roughly in the Italian manner but yet with a unique Englishness; interest in the compositions of the English Madrigal School has enjoyed a considerable revival in recent decades in Europe. [32] [33]


Tudor Wine Fountain at Hampton Court Palace (geograph 4434287).jpg
Audley End House - geograph.org.uk - 1309480.jpg
Wollaton Hall Nov2010.jpg
East front of Soulton Hall.jpg
Examples of Elizabethan architecture: clockwise from top left—Hampton Court Palace, Audley End House, Wollaton Hall, and Soulton Hall.

Despite some buildings in a partly Renaissance style from the reign of Henry VIII, notably Hampton Court Palace The vanished Nonsuch Palace, Sutton Place and Layer Marney Tower, and the building of Soulton Hall under Queen Mary I, it was not until dawning of Elizabethan architecture that a true Renaissance style became widespread.

The wool trade, which had carried the economic life of England in the late medieval period, was no longer as prosperous as it had been and there was less disposable wealth for architectural projects. Under Elizabeth, farming was encouraged resulting in a recovery that put a vast amount of wealth into the hands of a large number of people. Elizabeth built no new palaces, instead encouraging her courtiers to build extravagantly and house her on her summer progresses. A large number of small houses were built, and at the same time many country mansions were constructed. Many of the earlier medieval or Tudor manors were remodelled and modernised during Elizabeth's reign. Civic and institutional buildings were also becoming increasingly common. [34]

Nonsuch Palace in Surrey. A former grand Tudor royal palace. Nonsuch Palace by Joris Hoefnagel.jpg
Nonsuch Palace in Surrey. A former grand Tudor royal palace.

The most famous buildings, of a type called the prodigy house, are large show houses constructed for courtiers, and characterised by lavish use of glass, as at "Hardwick Hall, more glass than wall", Wollaton Hall, Montacute House, Hatfield House and Burghley House, the style continuing into the early 17th century before developing into Jacobean architecture. Lesser, but still large, houses like Little Moreton Hall continued to be constructed and expanded in essentially medieval half-timbered styles until the late 16th century. Church architecture essentially continued in the late medieval Perpendicular Gothic style until the Reformation, and then stopped almost completely, although church monuments, screens and other fittings often had classical styles from about the mid-century. The few new church buildings post-Reformation were usually still Gothic in style, as in Langley Chapel of 1601. [36]

Elizabethan garden at Kenilworth Castle. Kenilworth Castle Gardens (9791).jpg
Elizabethan garden at Kenilworth Castle.

It was also at this time that the long gallery became popular in English manor houses, often displaying painting collections and decorated ceilings. This was apparently mainly used for walking in, and a growing range of parlours and withdrawing rooms supplemented the main living room for the family, the great chamber. The great hall was now mostly used by the servants, and as an impressive point of entry to the house. [34]

The decorative arts became increasingly rich in color, detail, and design by the Jacobean era. Materials from other parts of the world, like mother-of-pearl, were now available by worldwide trade and were used as decoration. [38] Familiar materials, such as wood and silver, were worked more deeply in intricate and intensely three-dimensional designs. [38] Architecture in the Jacobean era was a continuation of the Elizabethan style with increasing emphasis on classical elements like columns and obelisks. Inigo Jones may be the most famous English architect of this period, with lasting contributions to classical public building style; his works include the Banqueting House in the Palace of Whitehall and the portico of Old St Paul's Cathedral (destroyed in the Great Fire of London). Significant Jacobean buildings include Hatfield House, Bolsover Castle, Aston Hall, and Charlton House. Many churches contain fine monuments in Jacobean style, with characteristic motifs including strapwork, and polychromy. The mason and sculptor Nicholas Stone produced many effigies for tombs as well as architectural stonework.


There was a wide range of leisure activities entertaining both the nobility and the common classes. Among these leisure activities were team sports, individual sports, games, dramatics, music, and the arts. The annual summer fair and other seasonal fairs such as May Day were often bawdy affairs. Watching plays and performing arts became increasingly popular. All English towns sponsored plays enacted in town squares followed by the actors using the courtyards of taverns or inns (referred to as inn-yards) followed by great open-air amphitheatres and then the introduction of indoor theatres called playhouses. This popularity was helped by the rise of great playwrights such as William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe using theatres such as the Globe Theatre. Before theatres were built, actors travelled from town to town and performed in the streets or outside inns. [39] Miracle plays were local re-enactments of stories from the Bible. They derived from the old custom of mystery plays, in which stories and fables were enacted to teach lessons or educate about life in general. [40]

Music was greatly enjoyed throughout this era, as seen through quite a few family evenings including musical performances. English children were taught to sing and dance at a very early age and became used to performing in public during such evenings. Keyboard instruments such as harpsichords, clavichords, dulcimers and virginals were played. Woodwind instruments like crumhorns, and flutes and stringed instruments such as lutes and rebecs were also widely used. Royal court dances included the pavane and galliard, the almain and the volta. [41]

There was an expansion of education and apprenticships in 14th-16th century England. [42] Boys were allowed to go to school and began at the age of 4, they then moved to grammar school when they were 7 years old. Apprenticships were the main route for youths to enter skilled trades and crafts. [43] In 1562 the Statute of Artificers and Apprentices was passed to regulate and protect the apprenticeship system, forbidding anyone from practising a trade or craft without first serving a 7-year period as an apprentice to a master. [44] Guilds controlled many trades and used apprenticeships to control entry. [45] Many towns and villages had a parish school where the local vicar taught boys to read and write. Brothers could teach their sisters these skills. At school, pupils were taught English, Latin, Greek, catechism and arithmetic. [46]


The notion of calling this period a ''renaissance" is a modern invention, having been popularized by the historian Jacob Burckhardt in the 19th century. England had already experienced a flourishing of literature over 200 years before the time of Shakespeare. Geoffrey Chaucer's popularizing of English as a medium of literary composition rather than Latin occurred only 50 years after Dante had started using Italian for serious poetry, and Chaucer translated works by both Boccaccio and Petrarch into Middle English. At the same time William Langland, author of Piers Plowman , and John Gower were also writing in English. In the fifteenth century, Thomas Malory (author of Le Morte D'Arthur ), John Lydgate, and Thomas Hoccleve were notable figures. [47]

Other cultural historians have countered that, regardless of whether the name "renaissance" is apt, there was undeniably an artistic flowering in England under the Tudor monarchs. [48]

Major English Renaissance authors

Major literary figures in the English Renaissance include:

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Elizabethan era</span> Epoch in English history (1558–1603)

The Elizabethan era is the epoch in the Tudor period of the history of England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1558–1603). Historians often depict it as the golden age in English history. The symbol of Britannia was first used in 1572, and often thereafter, to mark the Elizabethan age as a renaissance that inspired national pride through classical ideals, international expansion, and naval triumph over Spain.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jacobethan</span> 19th-century Renaissance revival style of English architecture

The Jacobethan architectural style, also known as Jacobean Revival, is the mixed national Renaissance revival style that was made popular in England from the late 1820s, which derived most of its inspiration and its repertory from the English Renaissance (1550–1625), with elements of Elizabethan and Jacobean.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Madrigal</span> Secular vocal music composition of the Renaissance and early Baroque eras

A madrigal is a form of secular vocal music most typical of the Renaissance and early Baroque (1600–1750) periods, although revisited by some later European composers. The polyphonic madrigal is unaccompanied, and the number of voices varies from two to eight, but usually features three to six voices, whilst the metre of the madrigal varies between two or three tercets, followed by one or two couplets. Unlike the verse-repeating strophic forms sung to the same music, most madrigals are through-composed, featuring different music for each stanza of lyrics, whereby the composer expresses the emotions contained in each line and in single words of the poem being sung.

The English Madrigal School was the intense flowering of the musical madrigal in England, mostly from 1588 to 1627, along with the composers who produced them. The English madrigals were a cappella, predominantly light in style, and generally began as either copies or direct translations of Italian models. Most were for three to six voices.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thomas Morley</span> English composer, organist and editor (1557–1602)

Thomas Morley was an English composer, theorist, singer and organist of the Renaissance. He was one of the foremost members of the English Madrigal School. Referring to the strong Italian influence on the English madrigal, The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians states that Morley was "chiefly responsible for grafting the Italian shoot on to the native stock and initiating the curiously brief but brilliant flowering of the madrigal that constitutes one of the most colourful episodes in the history of English music."

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jacobean era</span> Period in English and Scottish culture corresponding to the reign of James VI and I

The Jacobean era was the period in English and Scottish history that coincides with the reign of James VI of Scotland who also inherited the crown of England in 1603 as James I. The Jacobean era succeeds the Elizabethan era and precedes the Caroline era. The term "Jacobean" is often used for the distinctive styles of Jacobean architecture, visual arts, decorative arts, and literature which characterized that period.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Consort of instruments</span>

A consort of instruments was a phrase used in England during the 16th and 17th centuries to indicate an instrumental ensemble. These could consist of the same or a variety of instruments. Consort music enjoyed considerable popularity at court and in the households of the wealthy in the Elizabethan era, and many pieces were written for consorts by the major composers of the period. In the Baroque era, consort music was absorbed into chamber music.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jacobean architecture</span> English architecture around the reign of James I

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Elizabethan architecture</span> Term given to early Renaissance architecture in England

Elizabethan architecture refers to buildings of a certain style constructed during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England and Ireland from 1558–1603. Historically, the era sits between the long era of the dominant architectural style of religious buildings by the Catholic Church, which ended abruptly at the Dissolution of the Monasteries from c.1536, and the advent of a court culture of pan-European artistic ambition under James I (1603–25). Stylistically, Elizabethan architecture is notably pluralistic. It came at the end of insular traditions in design and construction called the Perpendicular style in the church building, the fenestration, vaulting techniques, and open truss designs of which often affected the detail of larger domestic buildings. However, English design had become open to the influence of early printed architectural texts imported to England by members of the church as early as the 1480s. Into the 16th century, illustrated continental pattern-books introduced a wide range of architectural exemplars, fueled by the archaeology of classical Rome which inspired myriad printed designs of increasing elaboration and abstraction.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Elizabethan literature</span>

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Music in the Elizabethan era</span> Period in the musical history of the Kingdom of England

During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1558–1603), English art and high culture reached a pinnacle known as the height of the English Renaissance. Elizabethan music experienced a shift in popularity from sacred to secular music and the rise of instrumental music. Professional musicians were employed by the Church of England, the nobility, and the rising middle-class.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Richard Dering</span> English composer

Richard Dering — also Deering, Dearing, Diringus, etc. — was an English Renaissance composer during the era of late Tudor music. He is noted for his pioneering use of compositional techniques which anticipated the advent of Baroque music in England. Some of his surviving choral works are part of the repertoire of Anglican church music today.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Early music of the British Isles</span>

Early music of Britain and Ireland, from the earliest recorded times until the beginnings of the Baroque in the 17th century, was a diverse and rich culture, including sacred and secular music and ranging from the popular to the elite. Each of the major nations of England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales retained unique forms of music and of instrumentation, but British music was highly influenced by continental developments, while British composers made an important contribution to many of the major movements in early music in Europe, including the polyphony of the Ars Nova and laid some of the foundations of later national and international classical music. Musicians from the British Isles also developed some distinctive forms of music, including Celtic chant, the Contenance Angloise, the rota, polyphonic votive antiphons, and the carol in the medieval era and English madrigals, lute ayres, and masques in the Renaissance era, which would lead to the development of English language opera at the height of the Baroque in the 18th century.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History (theatrical genre)</span> Theatrical genre

History is one of the three main genres in Western theatre alongside tragedy and comedy, although it originated, in its modern form, thousands of years later than the other primary genres. For this reason, it is often treated as a subset of tragedy. A play in this genre is known as a history play and is based on a historical narrative, often set in the medieval or early modern past. History emerged as a distinct genre from tragedy in Renaissance England. The best known examples of the genre are the history plays written by William Shakespeare, whose plays still serve to define the genre. History plays also appear elsewhere in British and Western literature, such as Thomas Heywood's Edward IV, Schiller's Mary Stuart or the Dutch play Gijsbrecht van Aemstel.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Renaissance in Scotland</span> Cultural and artistic movement in Scotland dating from the 15th century to the early 17th century

The Renaissance in Scotland was a cultural, intellectual and artistic movement in Scotland, from the late fifteenth century to the beginning of the seventeenth century. It is associated with the pan-European Renaissance that is usually regarded as beginning in Italy in the late fourteenth century and reaching northern Europe as a Northern Renaissance in the fifteenth century. It involved an attempt to revive the principles of the classical era, including humanism, a spirit of scholarly enquiry, scepticism, and concepts of balance and proportion. Since the twentieth century, the uniqueness and unity of the Renaissance has been challenged by historians, but significant changes in Scotland can be seen to have taken place in education, intellectual life, literature, art, architecture, music, science and politics.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Can She Excuse My Wrongs</span>

"Can She Excuse My Wrongs" is a late 16th-century song by the English Renaissance composer John Dowland, the fifth song in his First Booke of Songes or Ayres. The words are set to a dance-tune, a galliard.

This is an alphabetical index of articles related to the Renaissance.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Edward Paston</span> English music collector (1550–1630)

Sir Edward Paston (1550–1630), second son of Sir Thomas Paston, was a Catholic gentleman of Norfolk, a poet, and amateur musician living in the reign of Elizabeth I. He is an important figure in the musical history of England, his love of music driving him to acquire and copy musical manuscripts from some of the most important composers of the Renaissance, resulting in a unique performing collection of 16th-century house music that included works by William Byrd, Thomas Tallis, John Taverner, and Orlando di Lasso. He was especially interested in Byrd, and one of his books is the largest source of consort songs by that composer. Paston played the lute, creating a wide range of vocal settings and accompanying tablatures in partbooks that are still obtainable. As a young man he travelled extensively in Spain, being influenced by the Spanish form of tablature, as seen in his partbooks, rather than the generally used French form.


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Works cited

Further reading