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That Shakespeare Life

A weekly History, Society and Culture podcast
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Episodes of That Shakespeare Life

In Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost, he writes about a tumbler wearing colours in their hoop. This reference is to a specific act of theater performance called tumbling. If you’ve already studied the all-male stage we know Shakespeare had at
When I’m not recording That Shakespeare Life, I’m usually researching for DIY History, my YouTube channel where I look into games, recipes, and crafts for Shakespeare’s lifetime that you can do at home. In preparing a new episode, I was going t
When you visit Stratford Upon Avon, you can stop in and see a place called Hall’s Croft. It is right down the road from Shakespeare’s Birthplace and is the house where William Shakespeare’s oldest daughter, Susanna, lived with her husband, John
Armadillos are a fascinating animal, and for the 16th century they were an object of luxury. Many members of the nobility in 16th century England made a hobby out of collecting wild and exotic specimens of animals that were being discovered and
Forsooth and by the saints, we are exploring curse words today from Shakespeare’s lifetime. The changeover from Catholic to Protestant England may have changed the way people worshipped but it didn’t change the strongly religious influence of t
The technology of explosions to celebrate or mark an occasion of jubilation that we know today as fireworks was a new thing for Shakespeare’s lifetime. Shakespeare mentions the word “firework” only twice in his works, once in relation to a figh
When William Shakespeare talks about dragons in his plays, he mentions these creatures as fire-breathing, flying, cave dwelling, night stalking, fearsome fighters in over 20 references across his works. In today’s interview we are going to expl
When you hear the term “hobby horse” you may be tempted to recall images of toy wooden horses that children laugh and play on. For Shakespeare’s lifetime, however, this term refers to a particular kind of dance that featured in popular celebrat
Commercial baby formula wouldn’t hit the mass market until the 1800s, but Shakespeare’s lifetime still had to deal with babies who needed to eat but were unable, for a variety of reasons, to nurse and drink breastmilk. Here this week to help us
While King John isn’t one of the more popular Shakespeare plays performed by companies today, taking a look back at monarchs of the past was a favorite pastime for Elizabethan England. To better understand the real history behind Shakespeare’s
An anonymous dairy was written in 1608 cataloging the keeping of bears for the sport of bear baiting in England. Our guest today calls this diary the “Bearward Diary of 1608” and the term “bearward” is used to describe individuals whose job it
The true example of a Renaissance Man, or a person who is great with many talents or areas of knowledge, Conrad Gessner joins the ranks of herbalists like William Turner and John Gerard as not only influences on Shakespeare, but examples of the
Shakespeare mentions sleep in his plays over 380 times, and the word bed over 540 times! His works mentions Truckle beds, as well as the famous Great Bed of Ware, but when it comes to the bard himself, what did he sleep on? Here this week to he
One of the most accepted statements you’re liable to find about Elizabethan theater online today is that playing companies were all male companies. The idea of a woman on stage is considered forbidden, or not allowed. However, our guest today,
Married to Henry Valois, Catherine de Medici held considerable power and influence over the Valois Dynasty of France and was beloved of the Medici Dynasty in Italy. The year William Shakepseare was born, in 1564, Catherine de Medici offered her
Transoceanic travel was a staple of European endeavors for the 16-17th century, with both Elizabeth I and James I spending massive amounts of money and effort to work with trading companies and explorers who traveled to other continents for tra
William Shakespeare uses the word “lottery” in his plays 8 times, often referring to a reward that comes after taking a gamble. While we may be familiar with lotteries like the Powerball or Publishing Clearinghouse here in the United States, a
Five times in Shakespeare’s works he refers to a specific plant called a Medlar. In As You Like It, Rosalind talks about grafting a medlar, Lucio talks about a rotten medlar in Measure for Measure, Mercutio uses the medlar tree to describe Rome
In William Shakespeare’s play, Merry Wives of Windsor, Bardolph declares “You Banbury Cheese!” as an insult. The reason this line is an insult is because for the life of William Shakespeare, Banbury England was famous for making a particular ki
John Caius was a prominent medical professional in the 16th century. A staunch adherent to the teachings of Galen, who himself was the ultimate authority on medical knowledge for close to 15 centuries. John Caius owned a copy of Galen’s text an
From blood transfusions to replacement of legs, during Shakespeare’s lifetime was when medical science was trying to figure out the best way to replace broken or damaged body parts with transplants. Having only just discovered that the heart wa
In the year 1600, when William Shakespeare was just 36 years old, William Adams became the first Englishman to reach Japan. Adams sailed as part of a 5-ship fleet employed for the expedition by a private Dutch company. Adams would serve in Japa
On June 2, 1609, a ship named the Sea Venture set sail for Jamestown, Virginia. On the way, the ship was blown off course by a horrible hurricane. The storm badly damaged the ship and all hands onboard fought off the rising water until the ship
William Shakespeare uses the word “moon” over 160 times in his works, talking about the shape of the moon, the horns of the moon, and even traits of the moon like moonshine or moonbeam. For Shakespeare’s lifetime, the moon held almost as promin
John Taylor is a poet contemporary to Shakespeare, but with a decidedly unique approach to the writing profession. John Taylor trained professionally as a waterman, or a river worker who taxied passengers to and from city destinations on the ri
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