Elizabethan Beliefs The Great Chain of Being Divine Right of Kings Primogeniture Ghosts Machiavelli Elizabeth I 1558 - 1603 God The Great Chain Concept One chain without branches links the universe A chain link determines your distance from God English society is based on the idea that everyone and everything has a place If you leave your place, you disrupt the chain (rebellion and discord happen) If passion controls your reason or if you take another’s spot, you get knocked down the chain Nature will reflect any disorders in the chain The Elizabethan View There were three levels of attachment within the great chain 1. Macrocosm 2. Mesocosm 3. Microcosm The Great Chain of Being Macrocosm •God •Angels •People •Animals •Lion •Dog •Plants •Inanimate •Gold •Dirt Mesocosm (Earthly) (3 groups in red) •Church Family The State Pope Husband King Archbishops Dukes | Bishops Wife Earls, etc. Priests | Knights Son Laity or those Middle Class | not of the Servants clergy Microcosm = the Individual •Spirit (reason)| • Passion The English Class System The Nobility The Gentry Baronets The King Knights Dukes Esquires Marquises Gentlemen Earls Viscounts Barons Commonalty (1) Middle People Citizens Burgesses Yeomen Professionals Merchants Lawyers Administrators Clergy Commonalty (2) Small merchants or retailers Day-laborers, husbandmen, artisans The poor, infirm, and unemployed Everyone has a place and harmony is everyone in his place Nature will reflect any disharmony in this chain King James “Shakespeare was a great entertainer who knew his audience, and the primary audience member for Macbeth was King James I. This young and energetic King of Scotland took the English throne in 1603, and Shakespeare’s company was renamed the King’s Men that year in honor of James” (Caraway, Amanda. “What’s A Thane to Do? The Story of A Thane to Placate a King.”). Macbeth is set in Scotland during the reigns of Duncan and Macbeth, who were kings of Scotland between 1037 and 57 C.E. Shakespeare alters the historical accounts in order to write a story that will flatter King James. The Chronicles of Holinshed, Shakespeare’s primary source for Macbeth, links Banquo to the Stuart line of Kings, from which James I is descended (Evans, G. Blakemore, The Riverside Shakespeare, 2nd edition [Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997], 1356). King James James thought of himself as a fighter of evil and a true man of God with the Divine Right to Rule. He is remembered for ordering a new translation of the Bible, known as the King James Version of the Bible. He considered himself to be a “scholar of witches and witchcraft” (Garber, Marjorie B, Shakespeare After All, 1st ed. [New York: Pantheon Books, 2004], 697). Divine Right of Kings "…the figure of God's majesty, His captain, steward, deputy-elect, Anointed, crowned,…" (Richard II, 4.1) The theory of the Divine Right of Kings aimed at instilling obedience by explaining why all social ranks were religiously and morally obliged to obey their government. Monarchs ruled because they were chosen by God to do so and these kings were accountable to no person except God. They were considered to be divinely chosen. Primogeniture Families transferred their right to rule by this practice of inheritance The eldest son of the ruling family inherits all power, titles and lands of the family Ghosts! Hamlet seeing his murdered father’s ghost Elizabethans, like people today, had mixed beliefs in their existence. However, everyone then knew that a murdered person’s ghost would have no rest until the murderer was brought to justice! This idea resulted from the chain of being in that nature reflected the disorder created by murder. Hamlet and Julius Caesar play upon this belief. Machiavelli (1469 – 1527) He writes The Prince in 1513 He concludes that some “virtues” will lead to a prince’s destruction whereas some “vices” will allow him to survive. His ultimate conclusion for keeping power is that the end justifies the means. Shakespeare’s Plays Question Machiavelli His histories and tragedies ask who is the rightful ruler and why Does the end truly justify the means?