Apes are apes, though clothed in scarlet… Ben Jonson

1603 : the death of Queen Elizabeth, the return of the Black Plague, the rise of Shakespeare, piracy, witchcraft, & the birth of the Stuart era Christopher Lee New York : St. Martin’s Press, 2004 Hardcover. Originally published: London : Review, 2003. 1st U.S. ed. and printing. xi, 368 p., [8] leaves of plates, : ill. ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

1603 was the year that Queen Elizabeth I, the last of the Tudors, died. Her cousin, Robert Carey, immediately rode like a demon to Scotland to take the news to James VI. The cataclysmic time of the Stuarts had come and the son of Mary Queen of Scots left Edinburgh for London to claim his throne as James I of England.

Diaries and notes written in 1603 describe how a resurgence of the plague killed nearly 40,000 people. Priests blamed the sins of the people for the pestilence, witches were strangled and burned and plotters strung up on gate tops. But not all was gloom and violence. From a ship’s log we learn of the first precious cargoes of pepper arriving from the East Indies after the establishment of a new spice route Sharkespeare was finishing Othello and Ben Jonson wrote furiously to please a nation thirsting for entertainment.


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