What Was Life Like in Shakespeare’s Time?

There were many elements that made life difficult in Shakespeare’s time, which often meant that life expectancy was very short, with most children (as many as half) not living past 15 years of age. Women in particular had very limited rights at the time, making life much harder for women than men in general.

Rioting and protests were especially common during the time, and while they were contained by the authorities, they were not taken too seriously. Most riots tended to occur as a result of land ownership, and often had a somewhat jovial atmosphere with songs and drinking, despite the destruction of property that often ensued. Smaller riots were much more common, as the punishment was not severe.

Theatrical works were censored by an official appointed by the monarchy, which led to many playwrights and writers spending time and effort to gain the censor’s approval. Such approval often helped a play’s renown. Additionally, censorship was only enforced in cases where dramatic works were thought likely to incite public disorder.

Disease and plague were common problems during Shakespeare’s lifetime, and theaters were often closed as a result of plague warnings. Going to the theater itself was highly regulated, and many often felt a distrust towards theatrical works due to the deceptive nature of acting.