Jacobean era

Jacobean era

Overview
The Jacobean era refers to the period in English and Scottish
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 history that coincides with the reign of King James VI
James I of England
James VI and I was King of Scots as James VI from 24 July 1567 and King of England and Ireland as James I from the union of the English and Scottish crowns on 24 March 1603...

 (1567–1625) of Scotland, who also inherited the crown of England in 1603 as James I. The Jacobean era succeeds the Elizabethan era
Elizabethan era
The Elizabethan era was the epoch in English history of Queen Elizabeth I's reign . Historians often depict it as the golden age in English history...

 and precedes the Caroline era
Caroline era
The Caroline era refers to the era in English and Scottish history during the Stuart period that coincided with the reign of Charles I , Carolus being Latin for Charles...

, and specifically denotes a style of architecture
Jacobean architecture
The Jacobean style is the second phase of Renaissance architecture in England, following the Elizabethan style. It is named after King James I of England, with whose reign it is associated.-Characteristics:...

, visual arts
Visual arts
The visual arts are art forms that create works which are primarily visual in nature, such as ceramics, drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, design, crafts, and often modern visual arts and architecture...

, decorative arts, and literature that is predominant of that period.

The word "Jacobean" is derived from Jacobus, the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 form of the English name James
James (name)
The name James is derived from the same Hebrew name as Jacob, meaning "Supplanter" ....

.

The practical if not formal unification of England and Scotland under one ruler was a development of the first order of importance for both nations, and would shape their existence to the present day.
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Encyclopedia
The Jacobean era refers to the period in English and Scottish
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 history that coincides with the reign of King James VI
James I of England
James VI and I was King of Scots as James VI from 24 July 1567 and King of England and Ireland as James I from the union of the English and Scottish crowns on 24 March 1603...

 (1567–1625) of Scotland, who also inherited the crown of England in 1603 as James I. The Jacobean era succeeds the Elizabethan era
Elizabethan era
The Elizabethan era was the epoch in English history of Queen Elizabeth I's reign . Historians often depict it as the golden age in English history...

 and precedes the Caroline era
Caroline era
The Caroline era refers to the era in English and Scottish history during the Stuart period that coincided with the reign of Charles I , Carolus being Latin for Charles...

, and specifically denotes a style of architecture
Jacobean architecture
The Jacobean style is the second phase of Renaissance architecture in England, following the Elizabethan style. It is named after King James I of England, with whose reign it is associated.-Characteristics:...

, visual arts
Visual arts
The visual arts are art forms that create works which are primarily visual in nature, such as ceramics, drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, design, crafts, and often modern visual arts and architecture...

, decorative arts, and literature that is predominant of that period.

The word "Jacobean" is derived from Jacobus, the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 form of the English name James
James (name)
The name James is derived from the same Hebrew name as Jacob, meaning "Supplanter" ....

.

The practical if not formal unification of England and Scotland under one ruler was a development of the first order of importance for both nations, and would shape their existence to the present day. Another development of crucial significance was the foundation of the first British colonies on the North American continent, at Jamestown, Virginia
Jamestown, Virginia
Jamestown was a settlement in the Colony of Virginia. Established by the Virginia Company of London as "James Fort" on May 14, 1607 , it was the first permanent English settlement in what is now the United States, following several earlier failed attempts, including the Lost Colony of Roanoke...

 in 1607, in Newfoundland in 1610, and at Plymouth Colony
Plymouth Colony
Plymouth Colony was an English colonial venture in North America from 1620 to 1691. The first settlement of the Plymouth Colony was at New Plymouth, a location previously surveyed and named by Captain John Smith. The settlement, which served as the capital of the colony, is today the modern town...

 in Massachusetts in 1620, which laid the foundation for future British settlement and the eventual formation of both Canada and the United States of America.

The most notorious event of James's reign occurred on 5 November 1605. On that date, a group of English Catholics (the most famous, in later generations, being Guy Fawkes
Guy Fawkes
Guy Fawkes , also known as Guido Fawkes, the name he adopted while fighting for the Spanish in the Low Countries, belonged to a group of provincial English Catholics who planned the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605.Fawkes was born and educated in York...

) attempted to blow up the King and Parliament in the Palace of Westminster
Palace of Westminster
The Palace of Westminster, also known as the Houses of Parliament or Westminster Palace, is the meeting place of the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom—the House of Lords and the House of Commons...

. However, the Gunpowder Plot
Gunpowder Plot
The Gunpowder Plot of 1605, in earlier centuries often called the Gunpowder Treason Plot or the Jesuit Treason, was a failed assassination attempt against King James I of England and VI of Scotland by a group of provincial English Catholics led by Robert Catesby.The plan was to blow up the House of...

 was exposed and prevented, and the convicted plotters were hanged, drawn, and quartered.

The marriage of James' daughter Princess Elizabeth
Elizabeth of Bohemia
Elizabeth of Bohemia was the eldest daughter of King James VI and I, King of Scotland, England, Ireland, and Anne of Denmark. As the wife of Frederick V, Elector Palatine, she was Electress Palatine and briefly Queen of Bohemia...

 to Frederick V, Elector Palatine
Frederick V, Elector Palatine
Frederick V was Elector Palatine , and, as Frederick I , King of Bohemia ....

 on 14 February 1613 was more than the social event (or celebrity wedding) of the era; the couple's union had important political and military implications. Frederick and Elizabeth's election as King and Queen of Bohemia
Bohemia
Bohemia is a historical region in central Europe, occupying the western two-thirds of the traditional Czech Lands. It is located in the contemporary Czech Republic with its capital in Prague...

 in 1619, and the conflict that resulted, marked the beginning of the disastrous Thirty Years' War
Thirty Years' War
The Thirty Years' War was fought primarily in what is now Germany, and at various points involved most countries in Europe. It was one of the most destructive conflicts in European history....

. King James' determination to avoid involvement in the continental conflict, even during the "war fever" of 1623, appears in retrospect as one of the most significant, and most positive, aspects of his reign.

Before their Bohemian adventure, Elizabeth and Frederick were the focus of an outburst of romantic idealism. Even after the negative turn in their fortunes, the couple were the centre of an intellectual circle that involved significant figures like Comenius
Comenius
John Amos Comenius ; ; Latinized: Iohannes Amos Comenius) was a Czech teacher, educator, and writer. He served as the last bishop of Unity of the Brethren, and became a religious refugee and one of the earliest champions of universal education, a concept eventually set forth in his book Didactica...

 and Samuel Hartlib
Samuel Hartlib
Samuel Hartlib was a German-British polymath. An active promoter and expert writer in many fields, he was interested in science, medicine, agriculture, politics, and education. He settled in England, where he married and died...

, who would in time have positive impacts on English society. Elizabeth and Frederick are also the ancesters of all British monarchs since 1714, through their daughter, Sophia of Hanover
Sophia of Hanover
Sophia of the Palatinate was an heiress to the crowns of England and Ireland and later the crown of Great Britain. She was declared heiress presumptive by the Act of Settlement 1701...

, due to the protestant descendants of Elizabeth's brother, Charles I, becoming extinct with the death of Queen Anne. (The catholic descendents were barred from the throne by the Act of Settlement, which remains in force to this day, and the would-have-been monarchs are known as the Jacobite Pretenders).

Royal finances


Political events and developments of the Jacobean era cannot be understood apart from the economic and financial situation. James had inherited a debt of £350,000 from Queen Elizabeth
Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty...

; by 1608 the debt had risen to £1,400,000 and was increasing by £140,000 annually. Through a crash program of selling off Royal demesnes, Lord Treasurer Robert Cecil
Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury
Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury, KG, PC was an English administrator and politician.-Life:He was the son of William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley and Mildred Cooke...

 reduced the debt to £300,000 and the annual deficit to £46,000 by 1610—but could not follow the same method of relief much farther. The result was a series of tense and often failed negotiations with Parliament for financial supports, a situation that deteriorated over the reigns of James and his son and heir Charles I
Charles I of England
Charles I was King of England, King of Scotland, and King of Ireland from 27 March 1625 until his execution in 1649. Charles engaged in a struggle for power with the Parliament of England, attempting to obtain royal revenue whilst Parliament sought to curb his Royal prerogative which Charles...

 until the crisis of the English Civil War
English Civil War
The English Civil War was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists...

.

The Jacobean era ended with a severe economic depression in 1620–1626, complicated by a serious outbreak of bubonic plague
Bubonic plague
Plague is a deadly infectious disease that is caused by the enterobacteria Yersinia pestis, named after the French-Swiss bacteriologist Alexandre Yersin. Primarily carried by rodents and spread to humans via fleas, the disease is notorious throughout history, due to the unrivaled scale of death...

 in London in 1625.

Literature


In literature, some of Shakespeare's most prominent plays were written in that period (for example,three plays written during James I's reign: The Tempest (1610), King Lear
King Lear
King Lear is a tragedy by William Shakespeare. The title character descends into madness after foolishly disposing of his estate between two of his three daughters based on their flattery, bringing tragic consequences for all. The play is based on the legend of Leir of Britain, a mythological...

(1603), and Macbeth
Macbeth
The Tragedy of Macbeth is a play by William Shakespeare about a regicide and its aftermath. It is Shakespeare's shortest tragedy and is believed to have been written sometime between 1603 and 1607...

(1603)). Patronage came not just from James, but from James' wife Anne of Denmark
Anne of Denmark
Anne of Denmark was queen consort of Scotland, England, and Ireland as the wife of King James VI and I.The second daughter of King Frederick II of Denmark, Anne married James in 1589 at the age of fourteen and bore him three children who survived infancy, including the future Charles I...

. Also during this period were powerful works by John Webster
John Webster
John Webster was an English Jacobean dramatist best known for his tragedies The White Devil and The Duchess of Malfi, which are often regarded as masterpieces of the early 17th-century English stage. He was a contemporary of William Shakespeare.- Biography :Webster's life is obscure, and the dates...

, Thomas Middleton
Thomas Middleton
Thomas Middleton was an English Jacobean playwright and poet. Middleton stands with John Fletcher and Ben Jonson as among the most successful and prolific of playwrights who wrote their best plays during the Jacobean period. He was one of the few Renaissance dramatists to achieve equal success in...

, John Ford
John Ford
John Ford was an American film director. He was famous for both his westerns such as Stagecoach, The Searchers, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and adaptations of such classic 20th-century American novels as The Grapes of Wrath...

 and Ben Jonson
Ben Jonson
Benjamin Jonson was an English Renaissance dramatist, poet and actor. A contemporary of William Shakespeare, he is best known for his satirical plays, particularly Volpone, The Alchemist, and Bartholomew Fair, which are considered his best, and his lyric poems...

. Ben Jonson also contributed to some of the era's best poetry, together with the Cavalier poets and John Donne
John Donne
John Donne 31 March 1631), English poet, satirist, lawyer, and priest, is now considered the preeminent representative of the metaphysical poets. His works are notable for their strong and sensual style and include sonnets, love poetry, religious poems, Latin translations, epigrams, elegies, songs,...

. In prose
Prose
Prose is the most typical form of written language, applying ordinary grammatical structure and natural flow of speech rather than rhythmic structure...

, the most representative works are found in those of Francis Bacon and the King James Bible.

In 1616 George Chapman
George Chapman
George Chapman was an English dramatist, translator, and poet. He was a classical scholar, and his work shows the influence of Stoicism. Chapman has been identified as the Rival Poet of Shakespeare's Sonnets by William Minto, and as an anticipator of the Metaphysical Poets...

 completed his monumental translation of Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

's Iliad
Iliad
The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles...

 and Odyssey
Odyssey
The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the modern Western canon, and is the second—the Iliad being the first—extant work of Western literature...

 into English verse, which were the first ever complete translations of either poem, both central to the Western Canon
Western canon
The term Western canon denotes a canon of books and, more broadly, music and art that have been the most important and influential in shaping Western culture. As such, it includes the "greatest works of artistic merit." Such a canon is important to the theory of educational perennialism and the...

, into the English language. The wildly popular tale of the Trojan War had until then been available to English readers only in Medieval epic retellings such as Caxton's Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye
Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye
Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye or Recueil des Histoires de Troye, is a French courtly romance written by Raoul Lefevre, chaplain to Philip III, Duke of Burgundy. Translated by William Caxton, and printed by him probably with Colard Mansion in 1473 or 1474 at Bruges. The work is now known...

.

Jonson was also an important innovator in the specialised literary sub-genre of the masque
Masque
The masque was a form of festive courtly entertainment which flourished in 16th and early 17th century Europe, though it was developed earlier in Italy, in forms including the intermedio...

, which went through an intense development in the Jacobean era. His name is linked with that of Inigo Jones
Inigo Jones
Inigo Jones is the first significant British architect of the modern period, and the first to bring Italianate Renaissance architecture to England...

 as co-developers of the literary and visual/technical aspects of this hybrid art. [For Jonson's masques, see: The Masque of Blackness
The Masque of Blackness
The Masque of Blackness was an early Jacobean era masque, first performed at the Stuart Court in the Banqueting Hall of Whitehall Palace on Twelfth Night, January 6, 1605. The masque was written by Ben Jonson at the request of Anne of Denmark, the queen consort of King James I, who wished the...

,
The Masque of Queens
The Masque of Queens
The Masque of Queens, Celebrated From the House of Fame is one of the earlier works in the series of masques that Ben Jonson composed for the House of Stuart in the early 17th century...

,
etc.] The high costs of these spectacles, however, positioned the Stuarts far from the relative frugality of Elizabeth's reign, and alienated the middle classes and the Puritan
Puritan
The Puritans were a significant grouping of English Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries. Puritanism in this sense was founded by some Marian exiles from the clergy shortly after the accession of Elizabeth I of England in 1558, as an activist movement within the Church of England...

s with a prospect of waste and self-indulgent excess.

Science


Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St Albans, KC was an English philosopher, statesman, scientist, lawyer, jurist, author and pioneer of the scientific method. He served both as Attorney General and Lord Chancellor of England...

 had a strong influence in the evolution of modern science, which was entering a key phase in this era, as the work of Johannes Kepler
Johannes Kepler
Johannes Kepler was a German mathematician, astronomer and astrologer. A key figure in the 17th century scientific revolution, he is best known for his eponymous laws of planetary motion, codified by later astronomers, based on his works Astronomia nova, Harmonices Mundi, and Epitome of Copernican...

 in Germany and Galileo Galilei
Galileo Galilei
Galileo Galilei , was an Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher who played a major role in the Scientific Revolution. His achievements include improvements to the telescope and consequent astronomical observations and support for Copernicanism...

 in Italy brought the Copernican revolution
Nicolaus Copernicus
Nicolaus Copernicus was a Renaissance astronomer and the first person to formulate a comprehensive heliocentric cosmology which displaced the Earth from the center of the universe....

 to a new level of development. Bacon laid a foundation, and was a powerful and persuasive advocate, for objective inquiry about the natural world in place of the Medieval
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 scholastic
Scholasticism
Scholasticism is a method of critical thought which dominated teaching by the academics of medieval universities in Europe from about 1100–1500, and a program of employing that method in articulating and defending orthodoxy in an increasingly pluralistic context...

 authoritarianism that still influenced the culture of British society in his lifetime. On practical rather than general levels, much work was being done in the areas of navigation, cartography, and surveying—John Widdowes' A Description of the World (1621) being one significant volume in this area—as well as in continuing William Gilbert's work on magnetism from the previous reign. Scholarship and the sciences, or "natural philosophy", had important royal patrons in this era—not so much in the King but in his son, Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales
Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales
Henry Frederick Stuart, Prince of Wales was the elder son of King James I & VI and Anne of Denmark. His name derives from his grandfathers: Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley and Frederick II of Denmark. Prince Henry was widely seen as a bright and promising heir to his father's throne...

, and even his wife, Anne of Denmark
Anne of Denmark
Anne of Denmark was queen consort of Scotland, England, and Ireland as the wife of King James VI and I.The second daughter of King Frederick II of Denmark, Anne married James in 1589 at the age of fourteen and bore him three children who survived infancy, including the future Charles I...

 (the Danish Court, from which she derived, had a strong patronage tradition in intellectual matters).

Arts


The fine arts were dominated by foreign talent in the Jacobean era, as was true of the Tudor and Stuart periods in general. Daniel Mytens was the most prominent portrait painter during the reign of James, as Anthony van Dyck
Anthony van Dyck
Sir Anthony van Dyck was a Flemish Baroque artist who became the leading court painter in England. He is most famous for his portraits of Charles I of England and his family and court, painted with a relaxed elegance that was to be the dominant influence on English portrait-painting for the next...

 would be under the coming reign of his son. Yet the slow development of a native school of painting, which had made progress in the previous reign, continued under James, producing figures like Robert Peake the Elder
Robert Peake the Elder
Robert Peake the Elder was an English painter active in the later part of Elizabeth I's reign and for most of the reign of James I. In 1604, he was appointed picture maker to the heir to the throne, Prince Henry; and in 1607, serjeant-painter to King James I – a post he shared with John De Critz...

 (died 1619), William Larkin
William Larkin
William Larkin was an English painter active from 1609 until his death in 1619, known for his iconic portraits of members of the court of James I of England which capture in brilliant detail the opulent layering of textiles, embroidery, lace, and jewellery characteristic of fashion in the Jacobean...

 (fl.
Floruit
Floruit , abbreviated fl. , is a Latin verb meaning "flourished", denoting the period of time during which something was active...

 1609–19), and Sir Nathaniel Bacon
Sir Nathaniel Bacon
Sir Nathaniel Bacon was a wealthy landowner from Culford, Suffolk, England.Bacon was an exceptionally skillful amateur painter and gardener. Only a small group of 9 of his paintings survive...

 (1585–1627). Some would also claim, as part of this trend, Cornelius Johnson, or Cornelis Janssens van Ceulen, (1593–1661), born and trained in London and active through the first two Stuart reigns.

Emergence of tobacco


In the domain of customs, manners, and everyday life, the Jacobean era saw a sweeping change with the growing prevalence of tobacco use. James I published his A Counterblaste to Tobacco
A Counterblaste to Tobacco
A Counterblaste to Tobacco is a treatise written by King James VI of Scotland and I of England in 1604, in which he expresses his distaste for tobacco, particularly tobacco smoking. As such, it is one of the earliest anti-tobacco publications....

in 1604, but the book had no discernible effect; by 1612, London had 7000 tobacconists and smoking houses. The Virginia colony survived because the English acquired the nicotine habit.

External links