Entertainment in Shakespeares Time

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Last updated 7 years ago

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Entertainment in Shakespeares Time

Entertainment in Shakespeare's Time

Bear Baiting:In the late 1500's and early 1600's Bear baiting was a popular form of entertainment. This consisted of a bear being chained to a post and a pack of ''wild'' dogs being set off on the bear. During the fight people would bet on which animal would survive. If the bear survived, the rest of its life consisted of more and more bloody fights, making it a not so victorius victory.

CockfightingThis form of entertainment is when two owners place their gamecock in the cockpit, setting them against each other. This game is similar to Bear Baiting where the audience bet on which animal will win.Fun Facts:William Shakespeare used the term cockpit to describe the area surrounding the stage.

Theatre and PlaysThe Elizabethan Theatre was a booming business. People loved the Theatre. The Elizabethan plays and theatres were as popular as the movies and cinemas of the early 20th century. Vast amounts of money could be made. The inn-keepers increased their profits by allowing plays to be shown on temporary stages erected in the yards of their inns (inn-yards). Soon purpose-built playhouses and great open theatres were being constructed.


Hunting was one of the most popular sports enjoyed by the Elizabethan Upper Classes and the Nobility. Hunting had always been enjoyed by the English Nobility as it provided training for war because of the tracking skills, weapon usage, horsemanship, and courage that were all required. During the Elizabethan era it was viewed more as a sport. Both men and women engaged in hunting. A variety of animals found living wild in England were hunted. There were different types of hunts which were therefore more suited to either men or women.

Cards appeared in Spain and Italy about 1370, but they probably came from Egypt. They began to spread throughout Europe and came into England around 1460. By the time of Elizabeth’s reign, gambling was a common sport. Cards were not played only by the upper class. Many of the lower classes had access to playing cards. The card suits tended to change over time. The first Italian and Spanish decks had the same suits: Swords, Batons/ Clubs, Cups, and Coins. The suits often changed from country to country. England probably followed the Latin version, initially using cards imported from Spain but later relying on more convenient supplies from France.[64] Most of the decks that have survived use the French Suit: Spades, Hearts, Clubs, and Diamonds. Yet even before Elizabeth had begun to reign, the number of cards had been standardized to 52 cards per deck. Interestingly, the lowest court subject in England was called the “knave.” The lowest court card was therefore called the knave until later when the term “Jack” became more common. Popular card games during the Elizabethan Rule: Maw, One and Thirty, Bone-ace. (These are all games for small group players.) Ruff and Honors (This one is a team game.)

Card Games

The Globe Theatre. (modern day)

MusicMusic was an important form of entertainment to the people who lived during the Elizabethan era. Music and Elizabethan instruments could be performed by Elizabethan musicians, or simple songs and ballads could be sung in the villages and fields to ease the monotonous tasks undertaken by the Lower Classes. All Elizabethans attended church on a Sunday which led to the popularity of hymns and secular songs. The earliest Church organ dated back to to the 8th Century.Music had been used to accompany poems during the medieval era. The Elizabethans taste for the Theatre was soon enhanced by the accompaniment of music. It was only a short step to combine the accustomed music with its accompanying verse with the exciting pageantry of the Elizabethan theatre. Fun FactWilliam Shakespeare who makes more than five hundred references to music in his plays and poems!


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