Hamlet Timeline

Year Historical Literary Author

Henry VIII ascends English throne.

Desiderius Erasmus In Praise of Folly
1513 Portuguese explorers begin contact with China Niccolo Machiavelli The Prince
1516 Erasmus's Latin translation of the New Testament published in Basle
Sir Thomas More writes Utopia (in Latin)
1517 Luther's Wittenberg Theses
1518 Cardinal Wolsey appointed Papal Legate
1519 Invasion of Mexico by Cortes and defeat of Aztec Empire (-1521)
Magellan begins his voyage around the world (-1522)
Charles V becomes Holy Roman Emperor
1521 Luther excommunicated
1524 The Peasants' Revolt (-1525)
1525 Tyndale's New Testament
1527 Sack of Rome
1529 Thomas More becomes Chancellor
1532 Henry VIII divorces Katherine of Aragon
Pizarro conquers the Inca Empire (-1536)
Thynne's edition The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer Newly printed
1533 The English Church separates from Rome and Henry VIII is excommunicated
Henry VIII marries Anne Boleyn
1534 Henry VIII declares himself head of the Church of England.
Ignatius Loyola founds the Society of Jesus (Jesuits)
Rabelais Gargantua
1535 The first entire translation of the Bible in English published by Miles Coverdale, building on earlier work of William Tyndale
1536 The dissolution of the monasteries begins
Pilgrimage of Grace, Northern rebellions (-1537)
Union of England and Wales
Calvin's The Institutes of the Christian Religion (trans. into English 1561)
1539 The Great Bible
1541 Henry VIII now named King of Ireland and Head of the Church in Ireland
1542 Death of James V of Scotland and birth of daughter Mary, the next Scottish monarch
Inquisition established in Rome
1543 Copernicus publishes On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres
1547 Death of Henry VIII. Edward VI ascends throne
Execution of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey
England declared a Protestant Country
1548 Council of Trent
1549 First version of Book of Common Prayer, revised 1552 and 1559
1552 Birth of Edmund Spenser
1553 Edward VI dies. Mary Tudor ascends throne
England officially reverts to Catholicism
1554 Marriage of Mary I and Philip of Spain in Winchester
English Church returns to Rome with Mary retaining title of Supreme Head
1555 Burning of Latimer and Ridley
1556 Thomas Cranmer burned at the stake
1558 Death of Mary. Elizabeth I ascends throne.
England officially reverts to Protestantism
Calais surrendered to French
1559 Acts of Uniformity
Wars which had been going on in Italy for over a hundred years came to an end.
Large parts of Italy now dominated by Spain go into decline
First edition in Latin of Foxe, Acts and Monuments of the Christian Church
1561 Birth of Francis Bacon
1562 Slaving operations to Africa begun by John Hawkins
1563 Thirty-Nine Articles of Anglican Church First edition in English of Foxe, Acts and Monuments
1564 Italian scientist Galileo born.
Death of Calvin and Michelangelo
William Shakespeare born in Stratford-upon-Avon
1565 Golding's translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses I-IV
1568 Flight of the Scottish queen Mary into England
1570 Excommunication of Elizabeth I
1572 St Bartholomew's Day massacre of Huguenots in France
1576 The Theatre - first purpose-built playhouse in London James Burbage builds first permanent English playhouse, The Theatre in London.
1577 Sir Francis Drake sails around the world. Holinshed publishes his Chronicles, the main source of Shakespeare's historical material.
1579 North's translation of Plutarch's Lives
Spenser's The Shepherd's Calendar
1582 Shakespeare marries Anne Hathaway
Birth of daughter Susanna
1583 Queen's Men acting company formed
1584 First English colony in America established by Sir Walter Raleigh at Roanoke Island, Virginia
1585 Birth of twins Hamnet and Judith
1586 (Catholic) Mary Queen of Scots tried for treason against (Protestant) Queen Elizabeth of England. Sir Philip Sidney dies The 'lost years'. About this time, Shakespeare leaves Stratford.
1587 Mary Queen of Scots executed in England.
Pope proclaims crusade against England
Performances of Kyd's The Spanish Tradgedy
Rose Theatre built in London
1588 Spanish Armada sent in retaliation of Mary Queen of Scots, defeated in battle. Lyly's Endymion
1589 Hakluyt's Voyages published
1590 Spenser's Faerie Queene (I-III) published
Sidney's Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia
1591 Increasing persecution of Catholics Kyd writes The Spanish Tragedy, thought to have a strong influence on Shakespeare's Hamlet.
Sidney's Astrophil and Stella
Shakespeare in London. Has begun writing plays: Titus Andronicus, The Comedy of Errors, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, King John, Henry VI parts 1-3, Richard III written about this time
Shakespeare's Henry VI pts II and III
1592 Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors
1593 Theatres closed because of plague Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis, The Taming of the Shrew probably written.
Probably begins writing his sonnets
Performances of Shakespeare's Richard III The Two Gentlemen of Verona
Shakespeare publishes his poem Venus and Adonis.

Acting group The Lord Chamberlain's Men re-established, of which Shakespeare is a leading member. They use the Theatre as their playhouse.

Sir Philip Sidney's Apology for Poetry published
Hooker's Of the Laws of the Ecclesiastical Polity I-IV
Nashe's The Unfortunate Traveller
Shakespeare publishes poem The Rape of Lucrece.
Writes Love's Labour's Lost and Romeo and Juliet.
Leading member of Lord Chamberlain's Men
1595 Sidney's An Apology for Poetry (or The Defence of Poesy)
Spenser's Amoretti
Around this time Shakespeare writes A Midsummer Night's Dream, Richard II
1596 Essex attacks Cadiz Spenser's Faerie Queene (IV-VI) published
Second Blackfriars Theatre opened by Burbage
Son Hamnet dies. Shakespeare's father granted a coat of arms (giving him status of gentleman)
1597 New Poor Law Bacon's Essays published

The lease on The Theatre expires. James and Richard Burbage dismantle the building and move the materials to another site in order to rebuild it.

Buys a new place, a large house in Stratford. Writes Henry IV parts 1 & 2, Merry Wives of Windsor and Merchant of Venice
1598 Death of Philip II Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing
1599 Earl of Essex, former favourite of Queen Elizabeth, arrested for failure to carry out her policies in Ireland
Oliver Cromwell born
The Globe Theatre built on south bank of the Thames
Edmund Spenser dies
Shakespeare's As You Like It, Hamlet, Julius Caesar, Henry V
1600 East India Company founded Shakespeare's first tragedies performed
1601 Following an attempted uprising, Earl of Essex beheaded for treason 'War of the Theatres' - Jonson, Thomas Dekker, John Marston Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Death of Shakespeare's father
1602 Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida, All's Well That Ends Well
1603 Elizabeth dies; succeeded by James VI of Scotland, who becomes James I of England

Plague in London and theatres are closed again

Lord Chamberlain's Men become The King's Men, and frequently perform at court
1604 Hampton Court conference Shakespeare's Measure for Measure
Performance of Shakespeare's Othello

Shakespeare lodges with a family of French Huguenots in Silver Street

1605 Gunpowder plot. Arrest and execution of Guy Fawkes Cervantes' Don Quixote pt 1

 Shakespeare's King Lear

Shakespeare's King Lear


Cyril Tourneur The Revenger's Tragedy

Shakespeare's Anthony and Cleopatra
Shakespeare's Macbeth
1607 Appearance of Halley's comet
Founding of Jamestown, Virginia
Tourneur's The Revenger's Tragedy published
Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher's The Knight of the Burning Pestle
Susanna Shakespeare marries Dr John Hall. Timon of Athens written
1608 Shakespeare's Coriolanus, Pericles. Death of Shakespeare's mother
1609 Shakespeare's Cymbeline, The Winter's Tale. The Sonnets published
1610 Galileo reports on his findings with the telescope
Galileo The Starry Messenger
Beaumont's and Fletcher's The Maid's Tragedy Shakespeare's The Tempest
1611 Authorised (or King James') Version of the Bible
Chapman, translation of Homer's lliad
Performance of Shakespeare's The Tempest
1612 Death of Henry, Prince of Wales.
Prince Charles becomes heir to the throne
1613 Globe theatre fire

The Globe Theatre burns down after catching fire during a performance of Henry VIII. The fire was started by a spark from a cannon which was used for sound effects.

Shakespeare and Fletcher's Two Noble Kinsmen
Shakespeare's Henry VIII performed in the Globe Theatre
1614 Globe theatre rebuilt after fire in previous year Chapman, translation of Homer's Odyssey (-1615)
1615 Cervantes's Don Quixote pt 2
1616 Lectures on the circulation of the blood by William Harvey in London Jonson's Works
Death of Cervantes
Judith Shakespeare marries Thomas Quiney
April 23rd, Shakespeare dies and is buried in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon.
1618 Sir Walter Raleigh executed
Beginning of the Thirty Years' War (to 1648)
1620 Pilgrim Fathers to Massachussetts in the Mayflower
1621 Bacon dismissed from office
Performances of Philip Massinger's A New Way to Pay Old Debts
Thomas Middleton's Women Beware Women
1622 Performance of Middleton's The Changeling
1623 Publication of First Folio collection of Shakespeare's plays.
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