EUROPE Wars & Plays 1588-1648 has been published as a book .
For ordering information, please click here.
In 1593 the Turks invaded the west from Bosnia and Belgrade, and Catholic Emperor Rudolf II (r. 1576-1612) appointed his brother Matthias to rule Austria. Catholics and Protestants met at Regensburg and raised twenty million florins from taxes. In October 1596 about 100,000 Turks and Tatars led by Sultan Mehmed III invaded Hungary, seized Eger, and defeated about 45,000 men led by Archduke Maximilian III and Sigismund of Transylvania as each side suffered 25,000 casualties. Conflicts between Catholics and Protestants continued while animosity between Lutherans and Calvinists increased. Jesuits started many colleges in Germany, and Duke Maximilian I (r. 1597-1651) enforced the Catholic religion in Bavaria. In 1598 Spanish troops from the Netherlands invaded the Rhineland. In the next seven years 11,000 Lutherans were driven out of Inner Austria. In 1603 Protestants formed an alliance at Heidelberg. The Habsburg empire ended the war against the Turks in November 1606.
In 1608 Matthias was governing Hungary, Moravia, and Austria, and the next year he agreed to restore Protestant privileges. Protestants in Bohemia demanded their rights. German Protestants formed a union while Maximilian I of Bavaria led a new Catholic League. In 1610 the Protestant Union army invaded Strasbourg, but Maximilian’s army forced them to withdraw. Bohemian estates elected Matthias their king in 1611. Rudolf died in 1612, and Matthias was elected Emperor and moved the court from Prague back to Vienna. The Protestant Union allied with England and the Netherlands. Matthias sent imperial troops to stop the persecution of Jews in Frankfurt in 1614 and Worms in 1616. Neuberg and Brandenburg seceded from the Protestant Union by 1617, and Matthias dissolved the Catholic League to reduce conflict. Ferdinand II of Austria was elected King of Bohemia in 1617 and became King of Hungary and Croatia in 1618. Between 1612 and 1630 more than 1,000 people were executed for witchcraft.
In the spring of 1618 Bohemian Protestants threw out the Catholics, provoking a religious war. Emperor Matthias died in March 1619. A Protestant army led by Thurn attacked Vienna in June. Protestants elected Friedrich V King of Bohemia in August while the Austrian Catholic Ferdinand II was elected Emperor and appointed Wallenstein to govern Bohemia. The Catholic League organized an army, but the Habsburg imperial army was driven out of Hungary. Friedrich V accepted an alliance with Ottoman Turks, and Ferdinand II expelled him from the empire. Ferdinand II had six armies, and military spending put the Habsburg Empire 4.3 million florins in debt. Protestant soldiers were owed 5.5 million florins. In 1620 the Protestant Union and the Catholic League agreed not to fight in Germany, but that year about 13,000 Catholic troops died of Hungarian fever.
In 1621 the Catholic League reduced its army to 15,000, and the Protestant Union dissolved. Ferdinand II had Bohemian rebels executed but later moderated punishment. Crop failures and devalued imperial currency depressed the economy until 1626. Opposing armies increased and battled, and thousands of soldiers died of disease. Hundreds of thousands of people migrated because of religious persecution while Jesuits burned as many books. In 1625 Denmark’s King Kristian IV sent troops to help the Protestants. Ferdinand II owed Wallenstein 1.6 million florins and appointed him commander of imperial forces. Plague killed more than a third of the people in Magdeburg and Halberstadt. The imperial army was increased to 100,000 men. Wallenstein’s forces drove the Danes off the mainland as Kristian fled. A Calvinist banker helped Wallenstein increase his loan to the Emperor to 6.95 million florins. In January 1629 the Emperor made Denmark an ally to deter the Swedes. In March the Edict of Restitution demanded the return of all Catholic land taken since 1552. Ferdinand dismissed Wallenstein in 1630.
In July 1630 Sweden’s King Gustavus Adolphus invaded from the north to support German Protestants, but he promised to guarantee religious freedom in his alliance with France in 1631. Imperial troops attacked Magdeburg and killed 20,000 defenders and civilians. The Swedish army captured Berlin. At Breitenfeld the imperialists lost 21,000 soldiers. By the end of 1631 the Swedes had lost 50,000 men to war and disease. Yet in 1632 each side had about 100,000 soldiers in Germany. Wallenstein’s army of 55,000 surrounded Nuremberg, and Gustavus attacked in early September with 45,000 and lost 29,000 men. Gustavus was killed at Lützen, and he was replaced by Chancellor Oxenstierna who organized the League of Heilbronn in 1633. The unpaid Protestant army of 42,700 men mutinied, and the Swedish alliance worked on raising money. Wallenstein tried to use diplomacy, and Ferdinand II put Maximilian of Bavaria in command and convicted Wallenstein of treason and had him killed. The Emperor put his son Archduke Ferdinand in command, and he besieged Nördlingen in 1634. The League of Heilbronn fell apart in 1635.
At the end of 1635 Emperor Ferdinand II allied with Spain, and in 1636 France agreed to a treaty with Sweden. Ferdinand II died on February 15, 1637, and his son was elected Emperor Ferdinand III. Fighting continued, and in 1638 Bernhard’s Protestant army captured Rheinfelden, Freiburg, and Breisach in Germany, but he died in July 1639. That month Archduke Leopold Wilhelm’s imperial army of 30,000 men occupied Prague. In 1640 the Swedish alliance took over western Brandenburg and Frankfurt, and in 1641 they gained access to Pomerania and Silesia. Imperial representatives met at Regensburg, and peace talks began at Goslar on October 7. In a second battle at Breitenfeld 7,000 men were killed on November 2, 1642. Brandenburg made peace with the Swedes in May 1643.
Catholic delegates negotiated at Münster while Protestants met at Osnabrück in Westphalia. Eventually 235 official envoys attended. In September 1644 a French army captured Philippsburg and held it until 1650. In March 1645 the imperialists lost about 9,500 men in a battle near Jankau. A French army plundered Württemberg, a city that lost about 350,000 people during the war. In July 1646 an imperial army of 40,000 men drove the French forces of Turenne across the Rhine at Wesel. In March 1647 the French made an agreement with Bavaria. In 1648 peace treaties were agreed upon at Osnabrück on August 6 and at Münster on September 15. The Dutch Republic gained independence, but the war between France and Spain continued. In the Thirty Years' War about 5 million Europeans including 1.8 million soldiers died from combat and disease. The largest losses in population from deaths and migration were in Moravia 31%, Bohemia 29%, Lower Austria 25%, Silesia 22%, and Upper Austria 17%.
Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) in his study of the solar system was the first to explain the relationships between the sun and the planets in precise mathematical terms. He also learned astrology and found that it correlated with human experience.
Jakob Boehme (1575-1624) was a shoemaker who studied the Bible and Paracelsus and had mystical experiences. He wrote Aurora and The Way to Christ. He believed in the oneness of life and that God is love, and he warned against selfish desires, pride, covetousness, envy, and anger.
Jan Komensky (Comenius) was a Moravian minister. In The Labyrinth of the World and the Paradise of the Heart (1623) a pilgrim explores society and its corruption until he discovers a voice in his heart. In 1624 Comenius fled from the persecution of Protestants. He taught school in Poland and explained the art of teaching in The Great Didactic. He visited England and wrote The Way of Light.
The Swiss had five Catholic cantons (Schwyz, Uri, Unterwalden, Zug, and Lucerne) and eight Protestant cantons (Zurich, Bern, Glarus, Basel, Fribourg, Solothurn, Schaffhausen, and Appenzell). Geneva was independent. Swiss mercenaries fought for France’s Henri IV against the Catholic League in 1590. The Swiss executed hundreds of people for witchcraft. Switzerland was the only country in Europe that trained all men for the military. They remained neutral during the Thirty Years’ War; but they occasionally fought both sides over Valtellina and defended their territory.
In June 1593 the Ottoman Turks invaded Hungary. Transylvania’s Prince Zsigmund Bathory allied with the Austrian Emperor Rudolf II who was also King of Hungary. The Turks defeated Transylvania and the Habsburgs at Keresztes in October 1596 as each side lost about 20,000 men. In the next decade the war cost Hungary and Transylvania half their people. Austrians took over Transylvania in 1599, and Catholic religion was imposed on Protestant Hungarians. Istvan Bocskai led a revolt against Habsburg rule. The Ottoman war ended in 1606 with the Turks controlling half of Hungary. Bocskai was poisoned by his Chancellor Kathay. Archduke Matthias became King of Hungary and Croatia in 1608, granted religious liberty, and drove the Turks from Moldavia and Wallachia. Gabriel Bethlen opposed the Habsburgs and began ruling Transylvania in 1613 and Hungary in 1620, making truces and encouraging education until he died in 1629. Pazmany promoted Catholic religion and in 1635 founded a university in Budapest. Prince György Rákóczi ruled Transylvania 1630-48.
Catholic Zygmunt III Vasa ruled Poland-Lithuania 1587-1632. He married a Habsburg in 1592 and renewed Jewish privileges that increased the Jewish population to 450,000 by 1648. Zygmunt was also King of Sweden 1592-99 while his uncle Karl ruled there as regent. Zygmunt III invaded Sweden in 1598 but was defeated, and the Polish Diet refused to support the war in 1600. By then Poland-Lithuania had ten million people. Zygmunt tolerated the Eastern Orthodox Church but allowed persecution of Protestants, Jews, and Muslims.
Poland fought the Swedes in Livonia until the armistice of 1608. By then Poland-Lithuania had 25 Jesuit colleges. Lithuania’s Chancellor Lew Sapieha urged a siege of Smolensk, and at Klushino in 1610 a Polish army of 6,000 men defeated 30,000 Muscovites and 5,000 mercenaries. Russians tried to make Zygmunt’s son Wladyslaw tsar; but Zygmunt claimed it himself, and his army took over Smolensk in 1611. Polish-Lithuanian armies left Moscow in December 1613. In 1617 an army led by Prince Wladyslaw and Hetman Chodkiewicz invaded Russia, but a 14-year truce was reached in January 1619. That year Hetman Żółkiewski tried to take Moldavia, but the Turks defeated the Polish army in the fall of 1620. About 40,000 Cossacks joined the Poles, but they were surrounded by 200,000 Ottomans and agreed to a treaty in 1621. Cossacks rebelled, and about half the Ukrainians supported Moscow instead of Poland.
Władysław IV Vasa ruled Poland-Lithuania 1632-48. He led the relief of Smolensk and made a treaty with the Russians in 1634, and he regained Ducal Prussia from Sweden in 1635. During peace the navy was disbanded, and in 1646 the Parliament reduced the army to 600 royal guards. Cossacks led by Chmielnicki allied with Crimean Tatars and defeated the Poles in 1648.
Boris Godunov governed Russia for Tsar Feodor and lowered taxes in the early 1590s. He went to war against Sweden in 1590 and made peace in 1595. Russians built walls around Smolensk. About nine-tenths of Russians were serfs, and many were slaves who could no longer earn their freedom. The Assembly made Boris tsar in 1598. He made commercial treaties with England and the Hanseatic League. The famine of 1601-03 took 100,000 lives. Godunov permitted evicted bondsmen to claim emancipation. The pretender “Dmitry” was betrothed to the Polish Marina Mniszech and with Cossacks and Poles invaded Russia in 1604. Unpaid Poles mutinied, and Russia’s army defeated them. Boris Godunov became ill and died on April 23, 1605.
In the troubled times “Dmitry” and Vasily Shuisky claimed the throne, and the latter was banished. Catholic Poles came to Moscow as “Dmitry” married Marina in May 1606, but the next week Shuisky overthrew him, killing 2,500 to become Tsar Vasily IV. Many revolted against him, but in May 1607 Vasily’s army of 100,000 men defeated 50,000 southerners. A second “Dmitry” arose, and his army defeated the army led by the Tsar’s brother in 1608. “Dmitry” governed Muscovy, mostly in the south. Moscow was blockaded; but Vasily allied with Sweden, and “Dmitry” fled. In 1610 the Polish army took Smolensk and occupied part of Moscow. An assembly deposed Vasily IV, and boyars chose Wladyslaw; but conflicting forces created chaos. Cossacks drove the Poles out of the Kremlin in 1612.
In 1613 an assembly elected 16-year-old Mikhail Romanov Tsar, but rebellions lasted three more years. Sweden and Russia made a treaty in 1617, and a Polish invasion failed to take Moscow in 1618. Mikhail’s father Filaret was released by Poland in 1619, became Patriarch of Moscow, and helped his son govern. Filaret reorganized the army, and Russia traded grain to Sweden for arms. Peace was made with Poland in 1634. In 1637 Cossacks captured the Turkish fortress of Azov, and in 1641 they withstood a siege by 200,000 Turks. In 1644 Tatars invaded southern Muscovy. Mikhail died in 1645 and was succeeded by his 16-year-old son Aleksei. Peasants were permanently attached to their landlords in 1646. Aleksei’s indulgence increased taxes and caused a riot in 1648 that burned 20,000 houses.
Kristian IV (r. 1588-1648) came of age in 1594 and ruled over Denmark and Norway. In 1611 he insisted on attacking Sweden, and taxes were raised. A Norwegian army invaded West Götland, and three armies captured Kalmar Castle. Sweden’s new King Gustav II Adolf made peace with the Danes in January 1613. Kristian increased the fleet, and the Danish East India Company was organized in 1616 and the Danish West India Company in 1625. Kristian allied with England and the Netherlands and increased his army to 30,000 men. He led them in Germany in 1625, but they were defeated in 1626. Kristian made a peace treaty with Wallenstein at Lübeck in May 1629. Peasants paid three-fourths of the taxes, and Kristian increased the Sound dues. He took control of Hamburg in 1642. His customs fees and a commercial treaty with Spain alienated the Dutch. By 1644 Swedes had taken over Holstein, and in October a Swedish-Dutch fleet defeated the Danes. The three nations signed a treaty in August 1645.
Although Poland’s Zygmunt III was Sweden’s King Sigismund 1592-99, his uncle Karl and the Council governed. Duke Karl convened a synod that established the Lutheran religion in Sweden in 1593. The Riksdag elected Karl regent in 1595. Finland’s Governor Fleming disobeyed Karl, but the Council blocked military action. In 1596 peasants rose up and killed 11,000 people. Sigismund promoted the Catholic religion and invaded Sweden with a Polish army in May 1598 and took Kalmar Castle in July, but he made a humiliating treaty and left Sweden in the fall. Sigismund failed to return, and the Riksdag at Linköping deposed him in February 1600 and recognized Karl IX as King of Sweden. He went to war in Livonia and raised taxes for an army in 1604 but was defeated the next year by the Polish army. The Swedish army entered Moscow in 1609 and captured Novgorod but was defeated at Klushino in 1610. Karl suffered a stroke, and Axel Oxenstierna administered the government. Danes invaded and captured Kalmar in 1611.
Karl IX died and was succeeded by his son Gustav II Adolf (1611-32). He knew twelve languages and had been governing Vastmanland since he was 15. Chancellor Oxenstierna aided his reforms that improved the economy. More foreigners were allowed in the House of Nobles. In 1620 King Gustav formed the Swedish Trading Company. Sweden began secondary schools in 1623 and a school for girls in 1632. Messenius wrote historical dramas, was imprisoned for conspiring with Jesuits, and wrote a history of Sweden. Swedes invaded Russia in 1613 and signed a treaty in 1617 that gave Sweden control of the Gulf of Finland. Gustav led the invasion of Livonia in 1621, and the next year his proposed Swedish-Lithuanian union was accepted. In 1625 Gustav led the army in Livonia, and in 1626 he invaded Latvia and Polish Prussia. In 1628 Sweden and Denmark agreed to an alliance for three years, and in 1629 Sweden and Poland-Lithuania signed a truce for six years. In 1630 King Gustav led the Swedish army to fight for the Protestant allies in the Long War. They allied with the French and had 5,550 killed at Breitenfeld in September 1631. Mecklenburg became an ally in 1632, and Catholic cities were forced to pay. Gustav was killed on November 16 at Lützen. He and Oxenstierna had improved the legal system, postal service, hospitals, relief for the poor, and provided free schools.
Gustav’s daughter Kristina was born in 1626, and Oxenstierna led the regency council and the war effort. He wrote the Instrument of Government that was adopted in 1634. Swedes continued to fight in Germany and Denmark. Queen Kristina loved to learn and founded the first university in Finland in 1640. She began to rule Sweden in 1644.
Axel Gyldenstjerne was governor-general of Norway from 1588 to 1601 and encouraged translation of the sagas, though Norway did not get a printing press until 1643. Kristian IV visited Norway 26 times, and he ordered a new law code in 1604. Norway’s largest landowner Jens Ågessøn Bjelke was Chancellor 1614-48. He had the first Norwegian dictionary published in 1634. Norway lost two provinces in the war between Sweden and Denmark 1643-45. Norwegians sent Iceland a new church code in 1607 that allowed priests to marry.
Spain ruled over the southern Low Countries while the Dutch in the north fought for their independence. Archduke Albrecht VII began governing the Spanish territory in 1596 and promoted the Catholic religion, increasing Jesuits in Belgium. Unpaid soldiers led to losses and mutinies, but Felipe III continued his father’s war by sending 15,000 more troops. A truce from 1609 to 1621 helped the economy in Antwerp, Ghent, and Bruges. Then Spain increased its army in Flanders to 60,000 men. Albrecht died in 1621 and was succeeded by his widow Isabella Clara Eugenia until 1633. Protestants resisted Catholic indoctrination, and newspapers began at Antwerp in 1620 for propaganda. Thousands were tortured to confess to witchcraft or heresy, and in Luxembourg 20,000 were sentenced to death. Liège rebelled in 1637. Protestants fled north to the Dutch Republic. Flemish Simon Stevin developed notation for the metric system.
In 1588 the Dutch Republic included Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Gelderland, Friesland, and Overijssel. Willem of Orange’s son Maurits became Stadtholder over five provinces in 1590 and led the army, improving discipline. Jews leaving Spain and Portugal began arriving in 1593. The humanist Justus Lipsius was controversial for advocating a state religion. In 1596 the Dutch allied with France and England. The Dutch army gained territory, but they had to retreat from Flanders in 1600. The Dutch governments helped the poor. A Spanish army besieged Ostend in 1603 for three years, and the Dutch and English had 15,000 soldiers and 30,000 civilians taken prisoners. Holland’s commerce increased, and in 1602 the Dutch East India Company (VOC) began sending ships to the East Indies. Oldenbarnevelt warned Holland that they could no longer afford the war.
In 1609 Spain and the Dutch agreed to a 12-year truce and reduced their armies. The Dutch allied with Sweden and Hansa towns by 1614 and made a treaty with Denmark in 1616. Arminius preached against Calvinist predestination and taught free will at Leiden until his death in 1609. Remonstrants supported his views and were protected in Holland. Calvinists revolted in Utrecht but were suppressed. Debates were held, and pamphlets proliferated. A riot occurred in Delft. Grotius advised moderation and warned against fighting factions. Strict Calvinists (called Contra-Remonstrants) met outside of towns and escalated conflicts in 1617. Maurits mobilized the army against Holland and Utrecht, which was changed from a Remonstrant city by purging Arminian regents. In 1619 a synod at Amsterdam condemned Arminian ideas. Maurits used troops to restore order. Oldenbarneveldt, Grotius, and Hogerbeets were convicted of treason and sentenced to prison for life. Oldenbarneveldt was executed, but Grotius escaped to Paris. Remonstrants were forbidden to preach, and those disobeying were banished. Catholics increased their numbers.
When the Truce expired in 1621, Spain reimposed its embargo on the Dutch Republic which chartered the Dutch West India Company (WIC) and gave it a monopoly for 24 years. Armies and taxes increased, and the Dutch supported Protestants in Germany fighting imperialists. In August 1623 a Dutch army was defeated at Stadtlohn, and thousands fled into Gelderland and Overijssel. In 1624 a butter tax caused riots in Holland, and thousands died in a plague. Maurits died in 1625, and his half-brother Frederik Hendrik was elected stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland, Overijssel, Gelderland, and Utrecht. In 1628 Catholic imperialists invaded East Friesland. Arminians opposed the war and favored the sovereignty of Holland, but Calvinists broke up prayer meetings of Remonstrants who wanted religious freedom for all. WIC captured 11,000,000 guilders of silver from Mexico.
In 1629 Habsburg forces invaded Holland and then offered a truce. In 1631 Stadtholder Frederik led an invasion of Flanders and then retreated, but in September a Dutch fleet defeated a larger Spanish force. Frederik invaded the Spanish Netherlands again in 1632 and captured Maastricht. Peace talks began, but Frederik led the war party. In 1634 the Dutch Republic allied with France to get a subsidy. In 1635 both nations went to war against Spain, but Flanders’ army of 70,000 men defeated the Dutch. Holland reduced military spending in 1637. Dutch ships defeated the Portuguese and took control of the Guinea coast to sell slaves from West Africa. The Dutch navy won victories over Spaniards in 1639, but the next year Frederik suffered military defeats. Holland reduced its army. The Dutch fought naval battles against Denmark in 1644 and 1645. Holland demanded peace in 1646 and negotiations with Spain succeeded by the end of the year. The Münster treaty in 1648 included a peace agreement between the Dutch and Spain, ending the Eighty Years’ War.
Hugo Grotius was well educated, worked on trade issues, and began developing international law in his Commentary on the Law of Prize, emphasizing freedom of the seas. He justified the Dutch revolt against Spain in his history of Holland. He believed in free will and opposed Calvinist predestination, but he pleaded for religious tolerance and peace. His Introduction to Dutch Jurisprudence became a standard textbook, and his poem On the Truth of the Christian Religion was translated into many languages; but his greatest contribution is The Law of War and Peace which greatly developed the principles of international law governing conflicts. He held that no war over religion could be justified because religion is a question of conscience and inner conviction which cannot be forced on anyone.
The Spanish attempt to invade England in 1588 was destroyed at sea by the English navy and storms. Wealthy Spaniards had debts, and many moved to the court at Madrid. Spain had more than 4,000 grammar schools and 20,000 students getting higher education. Farmers in Castile paid about half their income in taxes, tithes, and duties. King Felipe II received a fifth of revenues and spent 12,000,000 ducats a year but had to borrow at 14% interest. Riots broke out in 1591. War in the Netherlands had cost 115 million ducats, and the Cortes refused to spend more for wars. Felipe II withdrew the Castilian army from Aragon in 1593. He had the remaining Jews expelled from Lombardy by 1597. France’s Henri IV expelled the Spanish garrison from Paris in 1594, and on January 17, 1595 he declared war on Spain and was supported by the English and the Dutch. Spanish armada attacks on Ireland in 1596 and England in 1597 failed again. Bubonic plague spread in the northern provinces. Felipe II made a treaty with France in 1598 and died in September, leaving a debt of 85 million ducats.
Bubonic plague spread in Castile, killing 500,000 people by 1602. Felipe III (1598-1621) and his favored Duke of Lerma ruled Spain, but nearly half of revenues paid the interest on the debt. Unpaid soldiers often mutinied. Sicily, Naples, and Milan paid 5,500,000 ducats a year in taxes, and the crown got four million from America in 1600. Felipe III spent more than 40 million in the Low Countries in twelve years. In 1604 a treaty ended Spain’s long war with England.
A few corrupt officials were convicted of enriching themselves. In 1609 a truce stopped the war in the Netherlands for twelve years, but Spanish military expenses in its empire were still 9 million ducats a year. Felipe III had 275,000 Moriscos deported by 1614, leaving only 10,000 in Spain. Lerma’s family gained 500,000 ducats from confiscated property. In 1615 Felipe III’s daughter Anne married France’sLouis XIIII, and his sister Elisabeth was promised to Prince Felipe. Copper coins devalued the money again in 1617. The Church provided soup kitchens for the poor. After acquiring 44 million ducats Lerma was expelled from court in 1618. Felipe III ignored reforms recommended in 1619 as he spent 200,000 cruzados visiting Portugal. In 1618 Spain sent an army of 6,000 men to Bohemia, and in 1620 General Ambrogio Spinola led an army of 30,000 into Germany. During Felipe III’s reign the number of clergy and religious students doubled.
Young Felipe IV reigned 1621-65 and was advised by his favorite Gaspar de Guzman, Count of Olivares. War in the Netherlands resumed, and the Atlantic fleet expanded to 46 ships. Olivares replaced his uncle Zuñiga in 1622 and reformed finances. In November 1624 an English attack on Cadiz was defeated. In 1626 the Cortes doubled taxes. Valencia’s Cortes complained that expelling Moriscos hurt their economy, and Catalonia’s Cortes also had grievances. Olivares announced the Union of Arms, but the Portuguese refused to join. In 1627 Olivares declared bankruptcy. Publication of books was restricted. In 1628 a reduced tariff on debased copper coins caused deflation but helped the government. Then bad harvests led to higher prices in 1629-31. Felipe IV patronized 223 writers. American treasure was taken by the Dutch in 1628 and was lost by a hurricane in 1631. Nobles and grandees were forced to contribute. Spain allied with Emperor Ferdinand II in 1634. France declared war in 1635 and invaded Catalonia in 1637. That year a stamp tax on documents was imposed. The Inquisition sold offices. In 1639 the Dutch destroyed the Spanish fleet at Downs, but Spaniards defeated the French on the Catalan border.
A drought in Catalonia provoked a rebellion against Castile in 1640. Catalans took over Barcelona, and the revolt spread. Olivares ordered a Portuguese army led by the Duke of Braganza to pacify Catalonia, but instead they attacked the royal palace in Lisbon and proclaimed Braganza Portugal’s King Joao IV. In 1641 Pablo Claris proclaimed Catalonia a republic, and French troops supported them. Claris died of illness, and Catalans were divided; but in 1642 they defeated the Spaniards at Monzon and at Lérida. In 1643 Felipe IV removed Olivares. That year Castilians drove the French out of Aragon, and they regained Lérida in 1644. Felipe IV promised to respect Catalan laws. The mystical nun Maria de Agreda advised Felipe to rule without a favorite. He raised the sales tax, and more offices were sold. In 1646 heavy taxes were imposed in Sicily, but priests and nobles were exempt. A rebellion in Palermo freed 800 prisoners, and the revolt spread. A larger uprising in Naples was eventually suppressed by a Spanish force. In 1648 Spain finally signed a treaty that ended its war against the Dutch in the Netherlands.
Spain’s domination of Portugal began in 1580, though the Portuguese primarily governed themselves and their empire in Brazil, Africa, India, and southeast Asia. The Inquisition prosecuted suspected heretics and by 1600 had executed 221 people. In 1602 Castilians were added to the Council of Portugal, and Felipe III imposed a new law code. New Christians had to pay to leave Portugal, and in 1610 they lost their privileges. The Inquisition persecuted more people in the 1620s, though Felipe IV replaced the Spanish Viceroy with three Portuguese regents. New taxes led to riots in 1629. Portugal had 450 monasteries in 1630. Starting in 1636 more taxes increased resistance, and in 1638 military conscription sent men off to fight. Duke Joao of Bragança was the richest landowner and claimed the throne of Portugal because Felipe II had displaced his grandmother in 1580. During the Catalonian rebellion in 1640 he was proclaimed Joao IV in Lisbon. The Cortes of Portugal met in January 1641 and took control of taxes. Joao made commercial agreements with the Dutch and allied with France.
Francisco Suarez studied canon law and taught philosophy. He completed a book on laws in 1612 and wrote Defense of the Faith on Catholic theology for Pope Paul V. He considered aggression evil, defense just, and recognized the right to overthrow an unjust ruler. He explained natural law and believed conscience was not bound by unjust laws. He argued that the Pope could authorize a just war.
In 1626, Mateo Aleman wrote the popular Guzman de Alfarache which is considered one of the greatest picaresque novels and is about Guzman’s adventures as a thief, a soldier, a beggar, a gambler, a usurer, and a swindler. Quevedo (1580-1645) learned seven languages and earned degrees in philosophy. He defended Spanish culture, went to jail during a feud, and wrote satires. He served Viceroy Osuna in Sicily and Naples; he worked for Duke Olivares for twelve years; and Felipe IV named him his honorary secretary. Quevedo’s satires made enemies, and he was imprisoned for four years before Felipe IV released him. His picaresque novel The Swindler is about a life of deceit, cheating, and stealing, and eventually the need to change those ways. He also wrote Dreams about Jupiter ruling with a judicial system, The Discourse of All Devils or Hell Reformed, The Hour of All Men about religious and national stereotypes, The Politics of God, and The Babblers’ Stopper on economic policies.
Baltazar Gracian (1601-58) was a priest and wrote The Hero as a guide to excellence. In The Discreet (1646) he advised how to develop character and intellect with wisdom and practice. Gracian’s greatest work The Manual Oracle and Art of Prudence (1647) has been translated into ten languages and includes 300 aphorisms. The practical wisdom in these sayings is astonishing. Gracian also wrote the novel The Critic with three parts on youth, maturity, and old age.
Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616) published the first part of The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha in 1605 and the second part in 1615. The long novel satirizes books of chivalry by showing how Don Quixote is so influenced by having read them that he becomes a ridiculous knight errant. His adventures portray the difficulties of old age that can lead to madness. He has an extraordinary imagination but appears to have difficulty distinguishing illusions from reality. His intentions are to right wrongs and win fame. He assumes a peasant girl is his lady Dulcinea and shows great courage and often gets into fights in trying to please her, though he hardly ever sees her. His idealism is contrasted to the earthy and humorous Sancho Panza who becomes his squire, and they both like proverbs. They get in troubles and flee to the mountains. Friends of Don Quixote try to bring him to his senses, and they return home. In the second part Sancho tries to keep the knight from fighting, and Quixote explains his ideals. A duchess and a duke invite them for a visit and make fun of them. The duke lets Sancho govern an island, but he soon leaves and is rescued by Quixote who loses in a tournament, goes home, realizes he is not a knight, and dies. This great novel shows how faulty ideals can lead to violent conflict and how imperial Spain at this time was suffering from these illusions.
Cervantes published twelve Exemplary Novels in 1613. These stories are intended to provide useful examples for learning. Those portrayed include thieving gypsies, schoolboys, disappointed lovers, altered consciousness, a virtuous woman, a jealous old man, young rogues, noble women who dress as men, a lady made pregnant by a duke, and finally a dog’s perspective on his different masters.
Lope de Vega (1562-1635) loved many women and made more money writing love letters than from the 1,500 plays he claimed he wrote. He developed the modern three-act structure of plays, abandoned Aristotelian unities of time and place, and mixed comedy and tragedy, noble and base characters, and a variety of verse forms. In 1611 he became a Franciscan and changed his life. His plays made him very popular, and 150 orations were made at his 9-day funeral. During his career Spanish theater expanded to productions on more days of the week, but women were banned from acting.
Lope de Vega’s play The New World Discovered by Christopher Columbus shows the difficulties Columbus faced on his first voyage to America. The Capulets and the Montagues in 1604 gave Shakespeare’s tragic lovers a happy ending, and The Duchess of Malfi’s Steward written eight years before Webster’ tragedy emphasizes the love between the Duchess and Antonio. Lope’s tragicomedy Peribañez and the Commander of Ocaña portrays a loving peasant couple overcoming a noble commander. Lope de Vega was an officer of the Inquisition, but The Innocent Child of La Guardia shows persecuted Jews fighting back and exposes how Christians framed Jews to punish them. In Acting Is Believing the rise of Emperor Diocletian is depicted, and he requests a play about a Christian in which reality and theater are mixed as actors change the play. The Best Boy in Spain portrays the courtship of Isabel and Fernando and the expulsion of Muslims and Jews.
In Lope’s Fuente Ovejuna the people ofFuente Ovejuna resist and overthrow a criminal commander and are pardoned by King Fernando. The King’s Peace Treaties and the Jewess of Toledo shows Alfonso VIII (1155-1214) having an affair with Rachel and being reconciled with Queen Leonor. Lope’s comedy Lady Nitwit is about two sisters with large dowries being courted by four men. In another romantic comedy, The Dog in the Manger, Lope shows that love transcends social class. The Knight of Olmedo is a tragicomedy that explores the danger of jealousy, and the heroine joins a convent. In The Greatest Alcalde the King Alfonso VII (r. 1126-57) intervenes to prevent a noble from taking a peasant girl away from her intended husband. In Lope’s comedy A Certainty for a Doubt King Pedro (r. 1350-66) overcomes his jealousy for his brother Enrique. Lope’s tragedy Punishment Without Revenge had only one performance in 1632 because it embarrassed King Felipe IV. Lope de Vega also wrote dozens of biographical plays about saints that include miracles, visions, angels, and the devil.
Tirso de Molina is the pen name of a priest who also wrote 300 plays. His comedy The Bashful Man at Court involves cross dressing by social class and by sex, and his farcical Dom Gil of the Breeches Green also uses many disguises. Tirso’s The Trickster of Seville was the first play to dramatize the ruthless lover Don Juan. His tragedy Tamar’s Revenge depicts the story of King David’s daughter Tamar and his sons Amnon, Absalom, Adonijah, and Solomon. After being threatened with excommunication in 1625 Tirso wrote plays with religious themes and moral lessons. The Doubter Damned contrasts the hermit Paulo with the wicked Enrico who eventually repents and is saved by his faith while Paulo continues to doubt.
Juan Ruiz Alarcon published twenty plays. His comedy The Walls Have Ears shows that spiritual love is better than romance based on physical attraction, and the comedy The Truth Suspected makes fun of a compulsive liar.
Calderon de la Barca studied law, was in the army, and turned from poetry to plays. His comedy The Fake Astrologer shows people being fooled by what they do not understand. Calderon’s Devotion to the Cross depicts how honor can lead to violence, but religion can save. Calderon wrote The Purgatory of Saint Patrick in 1628. His comedy The Phantom Lady adds mystery and intrigue to romance. Calderon’s most famous play is Life Is a Dream. Poland’s King Basil brings his son Segismund out of prison to see if he will rule well; but he kills people and is put back in prison. Soldiers free him, and Segismund shows he learned from a dream. Calderon’s Love After Death (1633) portrays a Moriscos’ revolt.
In 1635, Calderon replaced Lope de Vega as theater director at court, though he fought in the army against the rebellion in Catalonia. In his tragicomedy Secret Vengeance for Secret Insult the Portuguese army commander Don Lope seeks revenge. Calderon’s The Surgeon of His Honor is a tragedy of misguided honor and jealousy. His Three Judgments in One depicts the harshness of Spanish justice. In The Mighty Magician Cyprian trades his soul to the devil for one year of power but later turns to God.Calderon’s The Mayor of Zalamea shows a mayor skillfully handling human problems. The Painter of His Dishonor explores the dilemma when the painter’s wife discovers that her previous lover she thought was dead is alive.
The Republic of Venice was independent of Spain. The Jesuit College of Padua had 450 students; but they rioted in 1591 as free thinkers challenged Spanish imperialism, the Papacy, and Jesuits. In 1599 Cremonino and Galileo founded the Academy of the Recovered at the University of Padua. The Ottoman Empire and the Atlantic trade reduced Venetian commerce. Pope Paul V threatened Venice with an interdict in 1606. Paolo Sarpi argued that the Pope had spiritual authority but not temporal power over the state. Doge Dona agreed and banished Jesuits from Venice. Pope Paul V excommunicated the Senate, the Doge, and Sarpi, and Venice rejected the interdict. Assassins stabbed Sarpi, but he lived. He wrote books challenging the powers of the Church. Venice had spies and used agents to disrupt governments. In 1623 Venice allied with France and Savoy to protect the Valtelline Valley. In 1627 the reformer Renier Zen challenged Doge Corner. Assassins stabbed Zen, but he was re-elected Capi in 1628. The Ten had Zen arrested, fined, and banished, but a reform party persuaded the Great Council to nullify his exile. An assassin killed Corner in Ferrara. Venetians fought in Mantua, and its epidemic spread to Venice, killing 46,490. In 1631 Italy made a peace treaty that lasted twelve years. Knights of Malta captured a Turkish squadron, and Turks attacked Venice’s colony at Candia on Crete in 1645. Ferrante Pallavicino criticized the Habsburg Empire and the Roman Church but was executed in 1644.
Spain dominated northwest Italy through its governors of Milan which expelled Jews in 1597. Monteverdi began producing operas at Mantua in 1607. Northern and central Italy suffered a financial crisis 1619-22. Spain, France, Venice, Savoy, Italian Protestants, and Austrian imperialists fought over Mantua, and in 1630 a plague killed 25,000.
Grand Duke Ferdinando governed Tuscany well 1587-1609 and allied with France. He was succeeded by Cosimo II who aided Spain militarily. In 1621 young Ferdinando II became Grand Duke, but his grandmother Christina governed until 1636. She was devoted to Pope Urban VIII as corruption drained the treasury.
Pope Sixtus V (1585-90) reclaimed the Pontine marshes to reduce malaria and add farms but was unpopular for raising taxes. Pope Clement VIII (1592-1605) contributed to Felipe II’s Holy League and persecuted Jews. In 1596 he added many books to the Index. In 1598 he annexed Ferrara to the Papal States and mediated a treaty between Spain and France. In 1600 he had Giordano Bruno burned as a heretic. Pope Paul V (1605-21) improved the Vatican library and helped the poor. Pope Gregory XV financed the Catholic League for Ferdinand II’s imperial war against Protestants and Poland’s Zygmunt III against the Ottoman Empire. Pope Urban VII (1623-44) favored his Barberini family. He promoted the education of missionaries and in 1633 sent them to China and Japan. He befriended Galileo but later refused to pardon him. Urban supported the Catholic war against Protestants, though sometimes backed France. The Papal States annexed Urbino. Urban patronized Bernini and the arts and more than doubled the papal debt by 1640. He and Pope Innocent X refused to recognize bishops nominated by Portugal’s Joao IV. The Papal army fought in the unpopular Castro War 1641-44. Pope Innocent X (1644-55) prosecuted for corruption Urban’s three nephews who fled to Paris. During the English Civil War he aided the Irish Catholics in 1645.
Spanish viceroys ruled Naples which had 250,000 people in 1600 and doubled by 1650. The cold winter of 1611-12 killed more than half of Apulia’s 2.4 million sheep. Naples spent a third of its revenues on the military. In 1613 the mercantilist economist Antonio Serra was imprisoned. Viceroy Osuna instigated a war against Venice, and Felipe III imprisoned him in 1620. A famine in 1621 led to riots. The debt of Naples increased five-fold from 1612 to 1646. Naples had 10,000 Muslim slaves. A new tax on fruit provoked a rebellion in July 1647 led by Masaniello who was soon killed. Naples was declared a republic and allied with France in 1648, but a Spanish army aided by the barons suppressed the revolt. Lorenzo Scupoli published The Spiritual Combat in 1589 advising charity and sacrifice.
Spanish viceroys also ruled Sicily which had a feudal aristocracy and suffered from rising prices and monopolies by wealthy merchants. Cardinal Caesar Baronius wrote a 12-volume history of the Church, but in 1610 Spain ordered copies confiscated. Sicily was forced to contribute to Spain’s efforts in the Thirty Years’ War. Palermo suffered from bubonic plague in 1624. Towns borrowed from rich barons to pay taxes. Bad harvests starting in 1644 led to famine and disease. In May 1647 the bread ration ended, and people revolted. Viceroy Velez fled, and guilds imposed taxes on luxuries. Spanish troops returned to Palermo in September and ended the revolution.
Tommaso Campanella (1568-1639) was a Dominican and was often punished for his controversial writing. In 1599 he was arrested with 150 others for plotting a revolution in Calabria. He wanted to establish a community of goods in 1600. The Inquisition sentenced him to prison for life. To avoid execution he pretended to be insane, and he was tortured. After being shackled for four years in a dungeon, he had six years when he could write and receive visitors. Then he continued writing in a dungeon. During his last ten years he was in the custody of the Dominicans. He advised Pope Urban VIII on astrology and defended his friend Galileo. Campanella wrote a hundred books but is most famous for The City of the Sun: The Idea of a Philosophic Republic which he wrote in 1602. In a dialog a Genoese sailor describes in the southern hemisphere the City of the Sun where a metaphysician reconciles power, wisdom, and love. All things are held in common, and people are taught to love. No one is allowed to harm another. Education and healthy living are emphasized, and work is limited to four hours a day. All are considered fathers and mothers to all the children.
Galileo (1564-1642) taught mathematics, discovered physical laws, and invented a machine to raise water, a geometrical compass, an air thermometer, and the telescope which enhanced his astronomical research. He defended the sun-centered system of Copernicus with additional proof. In 1616 the Catholic Church condemned two of his propositions, and they put the book by Copernicus on the Index. Galileo published his Dialog on the Two Chief World Systems at Florence in 1632. The Catholic Church banned the book and charged him for teaching the Copernican theory. In 1633 Inquisitors examined Galileo. Threatened with torture, he recanted and was sentenced to prison for life, but Pope Urban allowed house arrest. In 1638 his innovative Discourses and Mathematical Demonstrations Relating to Two New Sciences was published at Leyden and advanced scientific methods.
After the murder of the Guise brothers in 1588 and King Henri III in August 1589, Henri of Navarre became King Henri IV of France. The Catholic League wanted imprisoned Cardinal de Bourbon to be Charles X, but he died in May 1590. The civil war was fought in northern France 1589-96. Henri IV’s army defeated the Duke of Mayenne’s forces at Ivre in March 1590. Henri IV besieged Paris in May. Spanish soldiers from the Netherlands invaded and in August supported Mayenne who claimed the throne. In November 1591 English soldiers helped Henri IV besiege Rouen; but they left in April 1592 before the Spanish army arrived. In May 1593 Henri IV became Catholic. He was crowned in February 1594 and took over Paris in March. League towns were gradually pacified, and Jesuits were expelled. In 1595 Henri IV went to war against Spain, and he restored Catholics and tolerated Jews in Metz. He borrowed money from Italian bankers, imposed taxes, and used money and diplomacy to win over dukes.
In 1598 Henri IV issued the Edict of Nantes and made peace with Spain. Huguenots kept their towns, and all people were granted civil rights. He married Marie de Medici in 1600. Jesuits could return in 1603. Maximilien de Béthune helped French governments acquire treasure and reduce debts, and Henri made him Duke of Sully in 1606. France made a commercial treaty with the Ottoman Sultan and organized a company to trade with the East Indies and another company for the colony in America. Royal offices were sold and taxed. Bridges and canals were built, and prosperity lowered the price of grain. The Assembly of Commerce allowed monopolies and promoted mercantilism. French diplomats mediated between the Pope and Venice in 1607 and in the truce between Spain and the Dutch in 1609. In May 1610 Marie de Medici was crowned queen and named regent, and the next day Henri IV was assassinated.
Queen Marie was regent for her 8-year-old son Louis, and the edict of Nantes was confirmed. The Duke of Sully was replaced, and the treasury was depleted by 1614. In 1638 Sully proposed a “Grand Design” to unite Europe in peace. Louis XIII began to rule at age 13 in 1614. Representatives of the Three Estates of clergy, nobles, and commoners met in October, could not agree, and were replaced by parlements and the pays d’état after a royal session in February 1615. That year Felipe III’s daughter Ana of Austria married Louis XIII, and his sister Elisabeth married Prince Felipe to become Queen Isabella of Spain. Bishop Richelieu was appointed chaplain to Queen Anne, and she put him on the Royal Council and made him secretary for foreign affairs.
In 1617 King Louis XIII ordered Marshal of France Concini arrested, and he was killed for resisting. Louis took control of the government, and Marie de Medici fled to Blois with Richelieu, who in 1618 was sent to Avignon. Richelieu justified the authority of parents, husbands, the elderly, clergy, magistrates, teachers, masters, the Church, and the King. In 1618 Marie became governor of Anjou, and after a battle in 1619 she was reconciled with Louis. With his army Louis subdued Huguenot towns in 1621 and 1622, but conflicts continued.
In 1624 Cardinal Richelieu became the King’s chief minister. In 1625 the King’s sister Henriette Marie married England’s King Charles, and his chief minister, the Duke of Buckingham, visited Paris and was infatuated with Queen Anne; but he mediated peace with the Huguenots in February 1626. France made a treaty with Spain in May. A conspiracy to put the King’s brother Gaston, Duke of Anjou, on the throne was squelched. The ban on dueling was enforced with executions. Richelieu gained control over shipping and was given armed guards. An alliance with Spain pleased the Devouts. In 1627 England declared war on France. They blockaded French ports as 30,000 French soldiers besieged La Rochelle. After 12,000 died of starvation, the Huguenots surrendered and were granted amnesty. The civil war ended as the Huguenots lost power but retained their churches. The Code Michau made French laws more restrictive on publishing, politics, and private arms, but people still rebelled against higher taxes and prices. In 1630 Richelieu directed the invasion of Piedmont. Marie de Medici asked her son Louis to dismiss Richelieu, but instead the King had high officials arrested and his mother watched. In 1631 she fled to the Spanish Netherlands. War, plague, and bad harvests reduced France’s population by ten percent. In the Thirty Years’ War the French allied with Protestant Sweden and Catholic Bavaria. Gaston was concerned about the poor and opposed Richelieu, joining his mother, and people rose up in major cities. The King’s army defeated the rebels, and Gaston accepted a pardon. France occupied Lorraine. In 1635 the taille tax greatly increased France’s revenues, but the government still had annual deficits.
In May 1635 Louis XIII declared war against Spain. Richelieu had increased the army to 100,000 men, and it would double in five years. A Spanish army invaded, and provinces were plundered by both armies. Richelieu sent money to the Swedish army fighting in Germany against the Habsburg Empire. Taxes were raised, and those not paying were imprisoned. In 1639 a revolt in Rouen spread and was suppressed, but others rebelled. The French supported the revolution in Portugal in 1640 and the rebellion in Catalonia against Spain in 1641. Richelieu died in 1642 and was succeeded by Cardinal Mazarin.
Louis XIII died in May 1643. Queen Anne ruled as regent assisted by Prince Gaston d’Orléans as lieutenant-general and the Regency Council that included Cardinal Mazarin. That week a French army led by Duke Louis of Enghien defeated the Spaniards at Rocroi, and Queen Anne made Mazarin her prime minister. Tax revolts continued in most of France. In 1644 France began borrowing from future revenues. Gaston led a French army that invaded Flanders and captured Gravelines. In 1645 French forces defeated Bavarians and imperial allies at Nördlingen. Mazarin mediated a peace treaty between Sweden and Denmark. French forces won victories in Germany in 1648, and the Peace of Westphalia signed at Münster and at Osnabrück in October gave France the Rhineland, Metz, Toul, and Verdun as well as Upper and Lower Alsace.
François de Sales (1567-1622) was a pious priest who wrote the popular Introduction to the Devout Life which taught how to transform desire into divine love, bring it to perfection, exercise virtues, overcome distractions and temptations, and renew one’s fervor. He met the widow Jeanne de Chantal, and in 1610 they founded the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary. He wrote his Treatise on the Love of God for the nuns.
Vincent de Paul (1581-1660) grew up on a peasant farm but attended college, became a priest, and earned his bachelor in theology in 1604. The next year he was wounded and captured by Turks and sold into slavery for nearly two years. He became chaplain to Queen Marguerite of Valois in Paris and was influenced by Henri IV’s former chaplain Pierre de Bérulle. When given money in 1611, he turned it over to a Charity Hospital. In 1617 the Archbishop of Lyon assigned two churches to him, and he wrote a rule for servants of charity. The next year he organized women to work for charity. He studied the works of François de Sales and succeeded him as spiritual director. Vincent earned his licentiate in canon law at the University of Paris in 1624, and the next year the Archbishop of Paris sanctioned his mission to help the poor. He raised much money for charitable work and managed it frugally. In 1626 he gave all his worldly goods to his family, and in 1627 Louis XIII authorized his Congregation of the Mission. Pope Urban VIII approved his growing missions to help the poor in 1633. Vincent taught priests, and 22 became bishops. He and Louise de Marillac founded the Daughters of Charity to aid provinces devastated by war, and he organized relief for Lorraine. He helped prisoners and established seminaries to educate priests. In 1643 he was selected to be on Queen Anne’s Council of Conscience, and by 1647 the Mission had houses and seminaries in many cities.
René Descartes (1596-1650) learned Latin and Greek and studied philosophy. He was a sickly child and made a habit of meditating in bed every morning. He read Montaigne, Lull, Kepler, Campanella, and Rosicrucians, but he was inwardly guided to develop a new philosophy. He wrote Rules for the Direction of the Mind and considered intuition more certain than deduction. Yet he valued mathematics, geometry, and algebra. He agreed with ancients who intuited that virtue is better than pleasure. He found that only spiritual understanding perceives the truth. He lived in the Dutch Republic for twenty years and wrote on science. In his Discourse on Method he explained his own ways of philosophical analysis and rules of morality. He made the thinking soul his first principle and believed that God who created humans is the most perfect being. He recognized that experiments advance knowledge. In the Meditations on First Philosophy Descartes suggested that God and the soul are best demonstrated by philosophical discussion. If the understanding does not restrain the will, it can fall into errors. In his Principles of Philosophy Descartes argued that free will is self-evident, but God comprehends all possibilities and all reality. In 1649 The Passions of the Soul by Descartes was published in Amsterdam and Paris. He differentiated spiritual and physical desires. The will can restrain anger, and humans can master passions by guiding them. Descartes described 36 different emotions but focused on wonder, love, hatred, desire, joy, and sadness. After tutoring Queen Kristina of Sweden early in the morning in the winter, Descartes died of pneumonia.
Pierre Corneille (1606-84) worked for the government while writing plays. His first play Mélite, or False Letters was a romantic comedy about young love, and his second play Clitandre or Innocence Preserved is also romantic but has enough violence to be a tragicomedy. After two more comedies Corneille wrote the innovative comedy The Theatrical Illusion in 1636 implying that theater magically enables people to learn from life by seeing and hearing actors on the stage. Corneille’s The Liar (1644) is based on Alarcon’s Spanish comedy The Truth Suspected, and his sequel was adapted from a play by Lope de Vega.Corneille’s first tragedy Medea (1635) was based on plays by Euripides and Seneca. His best play Le Cid is based on a Spanish epic about Rodrigo Diaz de Bivar who led Spaniards against the Moors in the 11th-century and shows how devotion to honor can cause violence and tragedy. Corneille’s tragedy Horace depicts the ancient conflict between the Roman Horatii and the Alban Curiatii. Cinna or the Clemency of Augustus portrays the successful Emperor of Rome and implies that powerful monarchy can be beneficial. Corneille’s Polyeuctus is about a Christian martyr who has destroyed idols and reflects the conflict between the icon-destroying Protestants and the devout Catholics. Corneille’s Death of Pompey portrays an earlier stage in Rome’s transition from a republic to a monarchical empire.
The English defeated the Spanish armada in 1588, and the English fought Spaniards in the Netherlands too. In 1589 Queen Elizabeth helped finance Francis Drake’s expedition against Spanish rule in Portugal. The English tried to capture Spanish treasure-ships and succeeded in 1592. Elizabeth sent troops and loaned money to Henri IV in France, but he became a Catholic in 1593. That year the English Parliament made refusal to attend the Anglican Church a crime, and in 1594 Richard Hooker defended the English Church by publishing Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity. English soldiers were withdrawn from France in 1595. Catholic priests were banned in England, and John Gerard wrote an account of his preaching and imprisonment. Bad harvests led to food riots as the death rate increased. In 1596 an English and Dutch fleet sacked and burned Cadiz and its merchant fleet. England, France, and the Dutch renewed their alliance, but France made peace with Spain in 1598. Elizabeth quarreled with the Earl of Essex who led an expedition to Ireland in 1599 that disappointed her. He was convicted of desertion and contempt. Essex led a rebellion that quickly failed, and he and four others were executed. Francis Bacon and Walter Raleigh wanted taxes on the poor reduced. Since 1588 England had sent 105,800 soldiers overseas and by 1602 had spent nearly £5,000,000 on war, mostly in Ireland and the Low Countries. Elizabeth expelled all Jesuits and secular priests.
English soldiers and settlers dominated parts of Ireland, and some Catholics rebelled. The Earl of Tyrone’s Ulster army defeated an English force in August 1598, and Red Hugh O’Donnell’s men raided English homesteads in Connacht. One year later Hugh’s force defeated English invaders in Roscommon, and Essex accepted a truce. However, in 1601 an English army suppressed the rebellion in Munster, and in March 1603 Tyrone surrendered in Ulster.
King James VI ruled Scotland since 1583 and hoped to succeed Elizabeth in England. He married Anne of Denmark in 1589. He believed in the divine right of kings and witchcraft. In 1591 the Assembly of the Kirk (Church) made the laws against Catholics stricter, and Scottish Catholics rebelled but were defeated by 1595. Scotland’s Parliament added seats for prelates and ministers. James wrote a book on free monarchies and another to instruct his son.
Queen Elizabeth died in March 1603, and Scotland’s James VI became King James I of England, arriving in May. The two realms were united into one British kingdom that also included Ireland, and Robert Cecil continued as Secretary of State. James stopped the war against Spain and canceled monopolies. Puritans petitioned for Church reforms. Catholics pledged loyalty while claiming conversions, but James collected fines from recusants. A conspiracy was detected. Two Catholics were executed, and Walter Raleigh and two others were sentenced to life in prison. James expelled Jesuits and Catholic priests in 1604. Conformity to the Book of Common Prayer was proclaimed, and a new English translation of the Bible was to be completed in 1611. A plague killed 25,000 in London. Parliament asked for elections and free speech. Tobacco had been defended in 1602, but James warned that smoking is dangerous. England and Spain made a trade treaty in August 1604. James required ministers to subscribe to religious canons, and a few refused and were banished. Prior to opening of Parliament on November 5, 1605 Guy Fawkes was arrested for the gunpowder plot, and he and seven others were convicted and executed. Parliament approved £453,000 in taxes. Catholics were required to take an oath. The Virginia Company started a settlement by Chesapeake Bay. Parliament banned enclosures, and “levelers” pulled them down. Robert Cecil became Treasurer in 1608 and reduced the debt by imposing new tariffs.
Edward Coke developed common law as Chief Justice. James called an election in 1614, but he dissolved Parliament in June and had his writings published in 1617. George Villiers became the favorite of James and was made Earl and then Duke of Buckingham. Raleigh while in the Tower wrote his History of the World, showing how unjust leaders were punished while the just prospered. After a failed expedition to South America, Raleigh was beheaded in 1618. That year Francis Bacon became Chancellor and made some reforms but criticized Buckingham and resigned in 1621. As war broke out in Europe, decreasing exports reduced employment, causing England’s worst depression of the century. James canceled 18 monopolies, and they were banned in 1624. He maintained peace but wanted war to restore his daughter Elizabeth and her husband Friedrich V in the Palatine. England allied with the Dutch and Denmark. King James died in March 1625, leaving a debt of £1,000,000.
In 1605 King James proclaimed all subjects in Ireland equal before the law, but the last Catholic judge was dismissed in 1607. The new English colonized northern Ireland as native Catholics were removed. In 1616 many Catholic recusants were elected, deposed, and fined. The plantation scheme was extended to the midland counties.
James governed Scotland by writing and did not allow ministers to meet. Parliament restored the bishops, and they controlled the Kirk. James annexed Orkney in 1612. William Welwood wrote a book on maritime law. The MacDonalds rebelled in 1614 and were suppressed. In 1617 James visited Scotland to enforce new religious laws; but the General Assembly at St. Andrews made concessions, and Parliament ratified them in 1621. Border thieves were hanged, and by 1621 border police were no longer needed.
Francis Bacon (1561-1626) was the son of the powerful Lord Keeper Nicholas Bacon and was well educated. He became a lawyer and served in Parliament, opposing higher taxes in 1593. He warned against wars that violated the law of nations. Elizabeth forced him to investigate and write an account of Essex’s treason in 1601. He became Attorney General in 1613 and was Chancellor 1618-21. He was convicted of the common practice of accepting bribes, and James pardoned him. Bacon published Essays with pithy and self-evident truths on studies, truth, revenge, adversity, love, goodness, nobility, sedition, atheism, wisdom, friendship, expense, usury, negotiating, judicature, anger, etc. In hisAdvancement of Learning(1605) before Descartes he advised starting with doubt in order to move toward certainty. He believed one should learn to benefit all people. Humans are created to contemplate and experiment. Bacon organized and defined various kinds of learning such as history (memory), arts (imagination), and sciences (reason). His goals of morality are the good, virtue, duty, and happiness, and the greatest value is love.
Bacon’s Novum Organum (New Instrument) recommended scientific experiments and inductive logic to advance knowledge. He warned against the idols of the tribe (human nature), the den (individual peculiarities), the marketplace (human association), and the theater (dogma). Bacon left behind his incomplete utopian novel New Atlantis that describes how science can improve human civilization.
Robert Burton (1577-1640) suffered from melancholy and spent years writing The Anatomy of Melancholy that quotes more than 1,250 authors. This psychology is based on the theory of four humors described by Hippocrates as sanguine, phlegmatic, choleric, and melancholic as well as the ideas of Aristotle and others. Burton believed melancholy is primarily caused by fear and sorrow, and it has many other causes such as old age, heredity, bad diet, bad air, idleness, solitude, sleep disorders, negative emotions, too much study, social losses, diseases, poverty, jealousy, guilt, despair, etc. Burton’s cures include God, doctors, medicine, good diet, pure water, washing, fresh air, exercise, study, sleep, music, emotional release, counseling, merry company, courage, hope, love, virtue, charity, friendship, work, and repentance. Burton also wrote the comedy Philosophaster (The False Philosopher) satirizing Jesuit education.
John Donne (1572-1631) was from a Catholic family and studied law; but in 1601 his secret marriage violated canon and civil law, and he changed his religion. After he wrote Essays in Divinity, King James made him royal chaplain. In 1621 he became dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral. His poems were not published until after his death, but his love poetry from his younger days is excellent especially “The Good-Morrow,” “A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning,” and “The Ecstasy.” Later Donne wrote Holy Sonnets. His Devotions upon Emergent Occasions was published in 1624 and included the passage, “Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”
Prince Charles Stuart became friends with the King’s favorite Buckingham and worked with Parliament. He became King Charles I of England, Scotland and Ireland in March 1625, and he married the Catholic Princess Henriette Marie on June 13. His father’s funeral and the wedding cost £70,000. War against Spain resumed, and Charles made the Calvinist Montagu his chaplain. Parliament met during a plague and criticized Buckingham. Charles dissolved them, banished Jesuits and priests, and ordered recusants disarmed. England aided Denmark, was still allied with the Dutch, and lost 7,000 men attacking Cadiz in October. In 1626 Parliament met again, and Charles acquitted Buckingham in his Star Chamber court. Parliament drafted a Petition of Right and was prorogued. Charles expelled his wife’s French attendants and sent Buckingham with 6,000 soldiers to aid the Huguenots at La Rochelle. Charles demanded loans and had a hundred gentry detained for refusing. William Harvey published his book on blood circulation and became the King’s physician in 1632. In 1628 Parliament insisted on its rights. Charles accepted the Petition of Right as law but only old privileges, and Parliament passed subsidies. The King levied customs duties, and merchants not paying were imprisoned. Buckingham was murdered, and England made peace with France in 1629. Bishop Laud criticized Puritans, and nine members of Parliament were imprisoned. Charles refused to summon Parliament for a decade, collected heavy taxes, but avoided wars, making peace with Spain in 1630. High grain prices and a textile downturn led to plague and food riots. Ecclesiastical courts decided many issues, and the Star Chamber punished political dissent, Puritan critics, and Levellers.
English Protestants dominated the Irish parliament and continued to oppress Catholics in Ireland. Yet under the Lord Deputy Thomas Wentworth (1633-40) the Irish prospered and multiplied. King Charles I and Bishop Laud visited Scotland in 1633 and imposed religious changes, taxes, and the Act of Revocation. Resistance grew gradually, and in 1638 the National Covenant was signed at Edinburgh and then in most shires, demanding a free Assembly and a free Parliament in Scotland. The General Assembly met at Glasgow in November and affirmed their rights. Charles mobilized 21,000 soldiers at Berwick and led an army to the border, but both sides accepted the Pacification of Berwick in June 1639.
The Irish Parliament met in March 1640 and granted subsidies. Charles convened the English Parliament in April, asked for £840,000, was refused, and dissolved them in May. Scots organized a Parliament in June, and a Scottish army crossed the Tweed in August. An English force fled from Newburn, and Scots took over the coal at Newcastle. Charles in October agreed to pay their army £850 a day not to advance. England’s Long Parliament began in November. The Commons charged Wentworth with plotting to bring an Irish army to England, and he was executed in May 1641. Charles agreed to end the Star Chamber and other courts and councils, and a treaty with Scotland disbanded the armies in the north. Charles went to Scotland in August and approved the Covenanters. The English Commons passed a Grand Remonstrance in November, and in December elections London favored Parliament which sent ten bishops to the Tower. In January 1642 Parliament took military control over London and in March issued a Militia Ordinance while the King fled to Kent and Henriette Marie to The Hague. Parliament took control of the government in June and called for volunteers in July, declaring Charles had started the war. The King raised a small army. The Irish rose up against the Protestant government, and about 12,000 Protestants died, mostly from disease.
The Civil War began in October 1642 when opposing armies battled in Warwickshire. Royalists used Oxford as their capital. In 1643 Queen Henriette Marie returned with arms and money. In August women demanding peace surrounded the Parliament which ordered 20,000 men impressed in the east. Royalists took control of southwest England, and by the end of the year they held most of England. Parliament made religious concessions and allied with Scotland, and rebellion continued in Ireland. Peace talks in early 1645 failed, and Parliament established the New Model Army. In June they decisively defeated the King’s army at Naseby.
King Charles fled and surrendered to Scots in May 1646. Parliament took over Oxford in June and abolished the episcopacy in September. Unpaid soldiers mutinied. The English made peace in Dublin, but the Irish rejected it. In January 1647 the Scots turned over Charles for £400,000, and Parliament tried to negotiate with him. The army took control of Charles and issued their Humble Remonstrance. In August the army occupied London, and the Commons repealed votes that had been compelled by rioters. Levellers demanded wider voting and freeborn rights, and An Agreement of the People called for a written constitution to prohibit military conscription, legislation on religion, and any violation of equality before the law, though they still excluded women. Charles escaped in November and made a treaty with three Scottish commissioners in December. Parliament outlawed negotiation, and in April 1648 Scots mobilized 30,000 troops. Fairfax’s army besieged royalists at Colchester, and they surrendered in August. Cromwell’s army subdued Wales and fought the Scots, who retreated. Cromwell entered Scotland, and in January 1649 the Scottish estates renewed the Covenant. In London after most members were arrested, turned away, or withdrew, about a hundred men remaining in the Commons put King Charles on trial for being a “tyrant, traitor, murderer,” and an enemy of England. Charles did not recognize their jurisdiction, and he was beheaded on January 30, 1649.
Thomas Browne (1605-82) wrote Religio Medici and published it in 1643. He accepted Reformed Christianity but refused to follow rules made in Rome or Geneva. He complained that people argue too much over religion. He noted that reason rebels against faith, and passion rebels against reason. He emphasized the virtue of charity through compassion, and he declined to condemn others for errors or different opinions, though he criticized people who condemn whole nations.
John Milton was well educated and became a Puritan. In 1641 he criticized bishops and church government in Of Reformation Touching Church-Discipline in England. He favored the election of pastors and democratic control of churches by the laity. In 1642 he published The Reason of Church-Government arguing that the state should provide justice and be separate from the Church. In 1643 he published a book on divorce without a license and put his name on the second printing. He suggested that incompatibility is a good reason for divorce. Milton taught his nephews and other students, and he wrote “Of Education” in 1644. He emphasized knowing and loving God, learning languages, ethics, and the importance of exercise and diet as well as studies. After Parliament enacted registration and licenses for printing in 1643, Milton wrote Areopagitica in 1644 to advocate the liberty of unlicenced printing. He believed that requiring prior approval discourages learning, stops the truth, and limits new discoveries. All opinions should be allowed because even errors that are known help us understand what is true. Censorship is complicated and creates “a muddy pool of conformity.”
The authorship of the plays published by William Shakespeare (1564-1616) has been questioned and is still controversial. Claims made by Francis Bacon in biliteral cipher writings deciphered by Elizabeth Wells Gallup are extraordinary and difficult to believe without more proof. All but one of the 37 plays generally recognized by Shakespeare were published in the First Folio of 1623, and 19 were published earlier as quarto editions. All of Shakespeare’s English history plays are based on The Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland by Raphael Holinshed.
Shakespeare’s earliest plays are the three parts of Henry VI andRichard III, and they portray the English monarchy from 1422 to the end of the Hundred Years War against France in 1453 and through the War of the Roses to the death of Richard III in 1485. Even these early plays are extremely well written mostly in iambic pentameter and are very dramatic. Henry VI Part 1 (1590) includes the story of Joan of Arc and her capture, the death of Talbot, and the capture of Margaret of Anjou, who marries Henry VI at the beginning of Henry VI Part 2 (1590). This play shows the outbreak of the civil war between the houses of Lancaster and York in which Humphrey of Gloucester is dishonored and murdered. Richard of York wants to be king, but Henry VI sends him to Ireland. Jack Cade leads a rebellion and is killed. Richard returns and claims the throne, beginning the civil war. King Henry seeks peace and reconciliation but is perceived as weak. In Henry VI Part 3 (1591) Richard of York is killed. His son rules as Edward IV as Henry VI is captured. Warwick feels betrayed by Edward’s marriage and captures him, but Edward is freed and kills Warwick. Edward’s disabled brother Richard kills Henry VI in the Tower. Richard III (1592) depicts his ruthless rise to power by marrying Lady Anne after having killed her father-in-law and husband. Then he has his own brother George and two princes killed. Yet his evils are contrasted by the virtues of his successor who defeats him to become Henry VII. Shakespeare’s The Life and Death of King John (1596) is not very accurate historically and portrays John as a rather inept king.
Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors (1592) is based on two plays by Plautus, and a second pair of twins doubles the humorous confusion. The Taming of the Shrew (c. 1593) comically uses male domination to handle the strong Katharina and obtains the beneficial result of a loving and kind relationship while less masterful men find themselves ignored by their wives. The Two Gentlemen of Verona (1592) is a romantic comedy but is also about friendship. To get around boys having to play women, Julia disguises herself as a young man. Proteus learns that he should not have let sexual desire betray his friendship with Valentine. Love's Labour's Lost (1595) is about the trials of unmarried students when they fall in love with clever women who control the situation. A Midsummer Night's Dream (1595) is an imaginative fantasy that uses magic of nature spirits to put young lovers in humorous predicaments, and these are contrasted with the bumbling attempts of uneducated craftsmen trying to put on a play. Theater for society is compared to the dreams that help individuals work out their hopes, wishes, and fears. The Merry Wives of Windsor (1597) focuses on the comedy of John Falstaff and clever women who make fun of him, but youths also ignore their parents in choosing who they will marry by love.
Shakespeare also portrayed earlier conflicts in English history in a tetralogy that begins with the difficult end of the reign of Richard II who falters in trying to dispense justice. Henry Bolingbroke fights back and becomes king. This civil war continues in Henry IV, Part 1 (1596) with conflicts in Scotland and Wales. Comedy is added as his son Hal likes to spend time with the buffoon Falstaff. Hal is not like the angry Hotspur. Henry IV, Part 2 (1597) depicts more of Henry’s difficult reign while Prince Hal continues to dally with Falstaff; but when he becomes Henry V, he sobers up and puts Falstaff behind him. The series concludes with Henry V (1599) as the young King resumes the Hundred Years War by conquering part of France and marrying Princess Katharine.Shakespeare’s last play Henry VIII (1613) depicts his reign from 1521 to the birth of Elizabeth in 1533. Cardinal Wolsey’s corruption is exposed, and sonless Henry falls in love with Anne Boleyn. Queen Katherine withdraws with dignity, and Henry secretly weds Anne. Henry protects the Protestant Cranmer.
Shakespeare’s mature comedies explore difficult problems. The Merchant of Venice (1596) reflects the anti-Semitism in England which banned Jews. Men’s conflicts over money are resolved as intelligent Portia teaches them about mercy. As You Like It (1598) is a romantic comedy set in a forest. Rosalind dresses as a man and teaches Orlando how to woo while the shepherdess Phebe falls in love with Rosalind. Four couples end up marrying. Much Ado About Nothing (1599) is a battle of wit between Beatrice and Benedict, but others help bring them together. The plots of villains are discovered, and happy couples are united in marriage. Twelfth Night, or What You Will (1601) has Viola pretending to be a man after a shipwreck. Duke Orsino loves Countess Olivia who is attracted to the intermediary Viola, but she falls in love with Orsino. Others make fun of the narcissistic Puritan Malvolio. Olivia ends up with Viola’s brother Sebastian. In All's Well That Ends Well (1603) the orphan Helena finds a way to win the love of the playboy soldier Bertram. In Measure for Measure (1604) Duke Vincentio balances justice with mercy by testing his deputy Angelo who condemns Claudio to death. The Duke disguised as a friar helps the virgin Isabella save her brother Claudio without giving in to the lustful Angelo.
The romantic tragedy Romeo and Juliet (1595) is most famous and contrasts young love with the violent feud between two prominent families. Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (1601) is a revenge tragedy based on legend in which the spirit of Hamlet’s murdered father urges the prince to remove the late king’s brother Claudius from the throne and the bed of Hamlet’s mother. A play is used to reveal the guilt of Claudius. All the main characters are killed except the philosopher Horatio, and Fortinbras claims the crown.Othello (1604) explores jealousy when there is ironically no cause for it but the deception of the ambitious Iago. King Lear (1605) is about an old king who foolishly gives away his kingdom to dishonest daughters while rejecting the one who is truthful, and as a result the selfish and ambitious cause the innocent to suffer. The guilty also kill each other.Macbeth (1606) is another dark tragedy about evil ambition and murder; but after the criminals are dead, better people remain.
Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus (c. 1592) is a gruesome revenge tragedy portraying Goths as barbarians and an African as a villain who cause a Roman family to suffer before getting revenge. Julius Caesar (1599) depicts the famous assassination in the Senate and the civil war between the senators led by Brutus and Cassius against Mark Antony and Octavius Caesar. Troilus and Cressida depicts two young lovers during the Trojan War while the Homeric heroes are weary of war. Antony and Cleopatra (1607) portrays the famous lovers in the final phase of Roman civil war as Octavius Caesar consolidates his power to become Emperor Augustus. The influence of Cleopatra leads to Antony’s military defeat. In Coriolanus (1608) the Roman general is victorious in 493 BC, but he lacks political skill and makes enemies. Timon of Athens (1608) portrays a generous man who goes broke and rejects ungrateful society.
Shakespeare’s Pericles, Prince of Tyre (1608) is an adventure story in which Pericles is separated from his wife Thais and daughter Marina who survives adverse circumstances. Pericles believes both are dead, but they are miraculously reunited. Cymbeline (1609) depicts the adventures of an ancient British king’s family during the Roman rule. The Winter's Tale (1610) dramatizes the jealous Leontes who becomes tyrannical but repents and finds his daughter and his virtuous wife. The Tempest (1611) is set in the New World and shows the reclusive Prospero in exile using magic to manipulate those on an island and the shipwrecked politicians who banished him.
Christopher Marlowe was involved in violent quarrels and was killed at the age of 29 in 1593. In his play The Jew of Malta (1592) the Jewish merchant Barabas has property confiscated and commits several crimes to get it back, sides with the Turks, and is killed. Marlowe’s The Massacre at Paris (1594) dramatizes the Bartholomew’s Day massacre and the murders that led to the Huguenot King of Navarre becoming King Henri IV. Edward II (1592) depicts events from 1307 to 1330. King Edward’s favorite is Pierce de Gaveston. Roger Mortimer leads a revolt, and Gaveston is killed. Edward II loses the civil war and is forced to abdicate. Marlowe also wrote The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus about a physician who sells his soul for 24 years of magical power, showing man’s increasing desire to control material things.
Robert Greene’s Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay (1590) is also about magic and the conscientious skill of Roger Bacon who helps Henry III’s son Edward before renouncing his magic.
George Peele in David and Bethsabe (1588) dramatized the Biblical story of King David taking another man’s wife and then his troubles with his sons. Peele’s Edward I (1590) portrays events during his reign (1272-1307) including his war against the Welsh and part of the Scottish rebellion. In The Battle of Alcazar about 1591 Peele showed England’s hostility against Spain and Portugal by depicting Morocco and the Ottoman Empire defeating them at Alcazar in 1578.
Thomas Heywood (1573-1641) claimed he contributed to the writing of 220 plays. He depicted some different events than Shakespeare did during the War of the Roses. In Edward IV Part 1 (1600) Edward has taken over the throne from imprisoned Henry VI and tries to woo Jane Shore who is married. Edward IV Part 2 (1600) continues the history past the death of Edward and into the reign of Richard III but focuses on Edward’s former mistress Jane Shore and her husband. Heywood’s most popular play was the tragedy A Woman Killed with Kindness (1603). After the wedding of John and Anne Frankford during a quarrel on a hunt Charles Mountford kills two servants of Francis Acton who pays the fine to free Charles. John catches Wendoll having an affair with his wife Anne, and she stops eating and dies. Her husband’s “kindness” was not true forgiveness.
George Chapman (1559-1634) translated Homer and wrote poetry and plays that introduced the theory of humors as moods and popularized the cross-dressing developed by Shakespeare. Chapman’s most popular comedy All Fools (1604) is based on two plays by Terence. Chapman wrote Eastward Ho! with Ben Jonson and John Marston, and in 1605 he and Jonson were arrested for criticizing Scotland. This satirical city comedy contrasts the characters of the virtuous with others who learn from their mistakes. Chapman’s historical tragedy Bussy D'Ambois (1607) exposed the French court of Henri III as corrupted with lust and intrigues. The daring Bussy kills several people and is killed himself. In the sequel The Revenge of Bussy D'Ambois (1610) the ghost of Bussy gets his brother Clermont D’Ambois to kill the Earl of Montsurry who had murdered Bussy. Chapman wrote The Conspiracy of Byron and The Tragedy of Byron about Charles de Gontaut, duc de Biron (1562-1602), but James I banned them in 1608 and closed the theaters for a while. Another historical play was his Tragedy of Chabot, Admiral of France. Chapman’s Caesar and Pompey about 1613 depicted the conflict between these two powerful generals that began the long civil war which changed Rome from a republic to rule by an emperor.
Thomas Dekker wrote dozens of plays. The Shoemakers’ Holiday (1599) portrays cobblers in a romantic comedy set during Henry V’s war against France, and London elects a shoemaker mayor. The farcical fantasy and moral allegory Old Fortunatus (1599) is based on a German play by Hans Sachs (1553). Fortunatus chooses wealth and is given a magical purse and hat, but he and his sons have difficulty with them. In Dekker’s The Honest Whore Part 1 (1604) Count Hippolito persuades the harlot Bellafront to reform, and she marries Matheo. In The Honest Whore Part 2 (1605) Matheo loses money gambling. Bellafront’s disguised father Pacheco helps her while Hippolito tries to seduce her.
Dekker and John Marston wrote Satiromastix in 1601 beginning a battle against Ben Jonson in a “war of the theaters” over poetry as they wrote plays satirizing each other. After reconciliation Marston dedicated his dark comedy The Malcontent to Jonson in 1604. A former duke disguises himself as the jester Malevole and criticizes immoral courtiers. Marston wrote the complicated city comedy The Dutch Courtesan in 1605 to illustrate his theme that love in marriage is better than lust with courtesans. Marston escaped jail after contributing to Eastward Ho! but was arrested in 1608. He gave up the theater and became a priest in 1609.
Benjamin Jonson (1572-1637) killed a young actor in a duel in 1598 and became a Catholic in prison but was released after proving he could read the Latin Bible. That year his comedy Every Man in His Humour appeared. Jonson’s historical tragedy Sejanus His Fall (1603) portrays an ambitious man who rose from a servant to power in Rome as the favorite of Emperor Tiberius. Sejanus has senators killed and is eventually executed. In the comedy Volpone, or the Fox (1605) an old man and his parasite Mosca use fraud to get money, but they and other greedy men are punished in the end. Jonson created the similar comedy The Alchemist in 1610, and the false promises of alchemy are exposed. That year Jonson returned to the safer Anglican Church. His historical tragedy Catiline His Conspiracy was performed in 1611. Catiline loses an election and plots a revolt, but elected Consul Cicero reveals the conspiracy in the Senate. Bartholomew Fair (1614) satirizes Puritans and human follies. In 1616 Jonson was the first to have his collected plays printed in a folio. Newspapers developed during the 1620s, and Jonson wrote his satire The Staple of News in 1626.
Thomas Middleton (1580-1627) wrote many plays. In his city comedy A Trick to Catch the Old One about 1605 Witgood tricks his creditors into believing the poor whore Jane is rich. The Revenger's Tragedy (1606) was attributed to Cyril Tourneur, but now most scholars believe it was written by Middleton. The play dramatizes how Duke Alessandro di’ Medici murdered his nephew Lorenzino in January 1537. Middleton and Dekker wrote the realistic comedy The Roaring Girl (1611) which portrays Mary Frith (Moll Cutpurse), and the language is filled with sexual innuendo. Middleton and William Rowley wrote the tragedy The Changeling (1622), and it reflects the fraud and neglect of patients at the Bethlehem Hospital in London. Middleton’s last play A Game at Chess was performed in August 1624, but King James ordered it closed for portraying living Christian kings on stage. Middleton was acquitted, but the play was banned. Most of the characters are chess pieces and represented powerful people including James I, Felipe IV, Prince Charles, the Duke of Buckingham, Princess Maria Anna of Spain, and Elizabeth of Bohemia.
Cyril Tourneur wrote The Atheist's Tragedy (1611) to show that God will punish a selfish and immoral atheist, making revenge unnecessary.
John Webster wrote the revenge tragedy The White Devil (1612) based on events in Italy leading up to the murder of Vittoria Accoramboni on December 22, 1585. Webster’s tragedy The Duchess of Malfi (1613) depicts incidents that occurred in Italy 1505-13 and was preceded by Lope de Vega’s The Duchess of Malfi’s Steward about 1605. Webster’s tragicomedy The Devil's Law Case is based on events in 1610 and was produced about 1618. The altruistic lawyer Ariosto becomes the judge and settles a complicated case, showing that disputes can be settled by judicial processes.
Francis Beaumont (1584-1616) wrote The Knight of the Burning Pestle about 1607, and it satirizes errant knights like Don Quixote and London playgoers. John Fletcher (1579-1625) succeeded Shakespeare as the chief playwright for the King’s Men and collaborated with Beaumont on many plays. Their tragicomedy Philaster, or Love Lies a-Bleeding (1609) is set in Sicily. Prince Philaster manages to replace the usurper without a revolt. Fletcher wrote the comedy The Woman's Prize, or The Tamer Tamed about 1610, and it reverses the patriarchal shrew-taming by Shakespeare. Petruchio is a widower and is tamed by his new wife Maria who is supported by other women.
Philip Massinger (1583-1640) collaborated with Fletcher in 1619 on Sir John van Olden Barnavelt, which dramatizes the Dutch politician’s trial for treason, though the play was censored. They also worked together the same year on The False One, a sad historical tragedy in which Septimus murders Pompey and takes his head to the child Ptolemy XIII and then appeals to Julius Caesar who scorns him.
Massinger’s The Bondman: An Ancient Story (1623) is a historical drama in which Corinth’s general Timoleon helps Syracuse defeat invading Carthaginians in 344 BC, and it includes a romance between the noble Pisander disguised as a slave and Cleora. Massinger’s most popular play was the city comedy A New Way to Pay Old Debts (1625) which is similar to Middleton’s A Trick to Catch the Old One. Massinger became the primary playwright for the King’s Men after Fletcher’s death in 1625. Massinger’s most interesting play is the historical tragedy The Roman Actor (1626). Paris leads a troupe of actors accused of satirizing Emperor Domitian, and he defends them eloquently. The Emperor’s new wife Domitia requests a play and falls in love with Paris. Domitian kills Paris during the play but is overthrown.
John Ford wrote The Witch of Edmonton (1621) with Dekker and Rowley. The play is based on the case of Elizabeth Sawyer who was executed on April 10, 1621. Ford’s tragedy 'Tis Pity She's a Whore was printed in 1633 and sympathetically depicts the passionate love between Giovanni and his sister Annabella. She becomes pregnant, and a friar persuades her to marry Soranzo. A violent tragedy ensues. Ford’s history play Perkin Warbeck was printed in 1634 and shows Perkin Warbeck’s attempt to take the throne of England as Richard IV before his execution in 1499.
James Shirley (1596-1666) wrote 31 plays that have survived. His tragedy The Traitor (1631) also portrays the murder of Florence’s Duke Alessandro de’ Medici in 1537. Shirley’s best comedy The Lady of Pleasure (1635) satirizes London society. Thomas and Aretina Bornwell have moved to London, but their experiences persuade them to return to the country. Shirley’s tragedy The Cardinal (1641) is the last of the violent revenge plays before London’s theaters were closed in 1642. The manipulative Cardinal reflected the careers of such men as Cardinal Richelieu and Archbishop Laud of Canterbury.
Wars in this era were primarily motivated by religious differences. Turkish Muslims invaded eastern Europe in 1593 and defeated a smaller Christian army in 1596, but the war between the Habsburg empire and the Turks ended in 1606. Catholic Emperor Rudolf II (r. 1576-1612) was succeeded by his brother Matthias (1612-19) who tried to reduce religious conflict and stopped the persecution of Jews in Frankfurt and Worms. Religious beliefs tried to justify the execution of thousands of people (mostly women) for witchcraft. Jesuits spread Catholic doctrine in schools and universities. Successful reforms by Lutherans and Calvinists extended Protestant religion in Germany and northern nations, and their conflicts with the Catholics of Spain and the Austrian empire led to the “Long War” that lasted thirty years. Bohemia had a Protestant tradition, and the oppression of their independence by the Austrian empire led by Ferdinand II (1619-37) began the war. The Protestant Union and the Catholic League organized armies. Denmark’s King Kristian IV and Sweden’s King Gustav II Adolf led invasions from the north to support German Protestants. The results of this war were devastating with five million Europeans losing their lives. In my view the mass slaughter of people because of different religious beliefs is a very peculiar form of insanity and the greatest crime against humanity. Although the Swiss were a militarized society and had served as mercenaries, they wisely maintained neutrality. Comenius made great contributions to education and also wrote about the causes of the war.
Hungary and Transylvania were the victims of the Ottoman war from 1593 to 1606. Austrians extended their Habsburg empire and imposed their Catholic beliefs, though Matthias tried to tolerate Protestants and fought Turks. Bocskai led a revolt against the Austrians that was continued by Bethlen during the Thirty Years’ War.
Zygmunt III ruled Poland-Lithuania for 45 years and made it Catholic while allowing Jews to flourish. His adventure in Sweden failed. The Polish-Lithuanian kingdom invaded Russia and took over Smolensk but failed in Moscow, adding to the disorder. Władysław IV Vasa (1632-48) eventually made peace with Russians in 1634 and with Sweden in 1635.
Boris Godunov governed Russia and managed to lower taxes; but serfs were kept in bondage unless they were evicted. From 1605 to 1613 the Russians experienced the chaos of various rulers, and they lost Smolensk to Poland. The Romanov dynasty began with young Mikhail and his father Filaret, and peace was made with Sweden and Poland.
Denmark’s Kristian IV used his power over Norway in his attack on Sweden which raised taxes, and he intervened in the Thirty Years' War for the Protestants but withdrew after defeats. Peasants bore the greatest burden of the taxes, though Denmark also used its control of the Sound to collect fees from shipping. Denmark did make peace with Sweden and the Netherlands in 1645.
Sweden’s Karl IX opposed the Catholics and made Lutheranism the national religion. Sweden gained its independence from a Polish king, though they fought over Livonia. King Gustav and Chancellor Oxenstierna implemented reforms in education and to improve the economy. Gustav invaded Russia and Livonia but made peace later. He led a significant military effort for the Protestants in Germany against the Catholic Habsburg Empire. Oxenstierna and Queen Kristina continued his reforms in Sweden. Norway was mostly on its own but suffered somewhat from Danish imperialism. Protestant reforms there and in Iceland allowed priests to marry.
Spanish imperialism oppressed the southern Low Countries and fought the Dutch in the United Provinces of the Netherlands. The Dutch Republic gave refuge to persecuted Jews and allied with England and France. The truce from 1609 to 1621 fostered economic prosperity, but making Reformed Calvinism the state religion caused conflict over its dogmatic predestination. In 1621 Spain reimposed its embargo, and the war resumed. The Dutch also fought for the Protestants in Germany against the Catholic imperialists. The Dutch excelled in commerce in both the East and West Indies, but in the 1640s they took over from the Portuguese the slave trade in West Africa. Holland especially wanted peace, and the 80-year war between Spain and the Dutch Republic was ended in 1648. Grotius pioneered the development of international law especially in regard to the seas and war and peace.
Spain had an educated class to run its empire and to promote the Catholic religion; but its imperial wars especially in the Netherlands were costly and harmful. The aristocrats put the burden of taxes on the workers and farmers. The Inquisition persecuted dissidents of all kinds, and Jews and Muslims were exploited and expelled. Felipe II took Spain deeply into debt. Felipe III relied on his favorite, the Duke of Lerma, who was corrupt and greedy. Spain got involved in the Thirty Years’ War against the Protestants and had conflicts with Catholic France. Felipe IV used Duke Olivares who tried to get the nobles to contribute. The wars and taxes provoked rebellions, but eventually both the Dutch and the Portuguese managed to win their independence from the Spanish Empire in 1648. Suarez justified some wars but tried to place reasonable limits on the violence. Quevedo provided critical satire of Spanish culture, and Gracian gave excellent advice on how to become a better and more successful person.
During a golden age of Spanish literature the novels of Cervantes and the plays of Lope de Vega, Tirso de Molina, and Calderon entertained but also helped Spaniards understand the challenges they faced in their culture resulting from imperialism, war and other violence often related to honor as well as jealousy and the temptations of romance.
The Republic of Venice kept itself independent of Spain and the Popes, but the Ottoman Empire and Atlantic shipping reduced their commerce. Italy maintained a peace treaty from 1631 to 1643. Spain used Milan to control northwest Italy. Popes governed the Papal States and supported the Catholics in their wars. Spain ruled Naples and Sicily with viceroys, and both rebelled in 1647 and were suppressed. The Dominican Tommaso Campanella spent most of his life in prison for his controversial ideas and wrote a hundred books including the utopian The City of the Sun based on wisdom and love. Galileo discovered physical laws, and by inventing the telescope he accelerated the study of astronomy and helped navigation. His advancement of scientific methods exposed the blind dogmatism of the Church which punished him and Campanella for their visionary ideas.
Henri IV became a Catholic to rule France and end its civil war and the Inquisition with tolerance for Protestant Huguenots and Jews. He went to war against Spain in 1595 but made peace in 1598. His policies with the help of the Duke of Sully brought peace and prosperity to France. After Henry IV’s assassination in 1610 France gradually declined under a regency and young Louis XIII. After Cardinal Richelieu became the King’s chief minister in 1624, he suppressed the Protestants and restricted dissent with new laws. His wars accompanied by plagues and bad harvests reduced France’s population. Louis XIII’s war against Spain began in 1635 and would go on to 1659. Richelieu allied with Protestant Sweden against the imperial Catholics, and higher taxes provoked continual rebellions in France. Cardinal Mazarin continued these policies as France went deeper in debt.
François de Sales practiced and wrote about the devout life and was succeeded by Vincent de Paul who during the difficult war years was perhaps the greatest innovator in expanding charitable work to help more people. René Descartes meditated each morning. Even though he valued science and reasoning, he based his new philosophy on intuition and his careful rules for thinking. His first principles were the thinking soul and infinite God. In The Passions of the Soul he analyzed emotions and how they can be mastered. Pierre Corneille wrote romantic comedies and historical tragedies that portrayed conflicts relevant to France’s current politics.
Queen Elizabeth sent English soldiers to fight Spaniards in the Low Countries, Portugal, France, on the high seas, and to subdue the Irish Catholics, costing £5,000,000. King James of Scotland succeeded her and ended England’s war against Spain in 1604, but Catholics were still persecuted. England had little involvement in the Thirty Years' Warr, but damaged trade impacted a depression in the early 1620s. Scotland and Ireland were becoming part of Great Britain while English soldiers and settlers dominated the Irish. Francis Bacon tried to reform government without much success, but his writings pioneered the development of scientific methods and fostered clear thinking. Robert Burton attempted to diagnose and cure melancholy, and John Donne inspired people with love poetry and spiritual sermons.
King Charles I had trouble dealing with Parliament and often imprisoned those who disobeyed. He refused to summon Parliament during the 1630s while he stayed out of foreign wars. English Protestants oppressed Catholics in Ireland. Charles tried to make Scotland conform in religion, but their National Covenant asserted independence in 1638. After a short Parliament in 1640 the Long Parliament began and challenged his tyranny. Elections increased their power, and the Civil War broke out in 1642. The Irish rebelled against English rule, and Parliament allied with them and the Scots. Many were killed in battles and from disease. Parliament reformed their army which then defeated the Royalists. Levellers demanded the extensions of rights to all men and no military conscription or religious legislation. A minority took control of the House of Commons and put Charles on trial and executed him. Thomas Browne inReligio Medici urged tolerance, and John Milton wrote on divorce, education, and the value of publishing without restrictions.
The Renaissance was brought about by the re-discovery of classical literature, translating and printing of books, and humanistic education. In this era extraordinary plays by Lope de Vega, Calderon, Corneille, Shakespeare, and others provided exciting entertainment and the dramatization of history and other stories. The difficulties played out on the stage enabled people to understand their own lives better. Shakespeare’s history plays helped people understand events that shaped their culture, and tragedy provided lessons by experiencing the suffering vicariously. Romantic comedies portrayed friendship and love which leads to marriage, and these were certainly important to people. Shakespeare often showed that parents should not decide who their children are to marry because young people naturally want to marry someone they love.
In addition to the deep and brilliant plays by Shakespeare, the period from 1588 to 1642, when the theaters in England closed for 18 years, includes numerous excellent plays by Marlowe, Greene, Peele, Thomas Heywood, Chapman, Dekker, Marston, Ben Jonson, Middleton, Webster, Beaumont, Fletcher, Massinger, Ford, and Shirley, making this the greatest era of theater in the history of the world. At the same time the Spanish theater of the golden age rivaled the ancient Athenian and Roman theaters. This late Renaissance era remains unsurpassed at least until the late 19th century modern theater. Surely the dramatization of human experiences on stage aided the development of civilization and prepared the way for the new media of the cinema and television in the 20th century.