ENGL 514

Quotations are taken from Robert M. Adams, The Land and Literature of England:  A Historical Account (New York:  Norton, 1983).

·        1330:  John Wycliffe is born (d. 1384):  The Morning Star of the Reformation.

·        1509:  Henry VIII takes the throne (d. 1547).

·        1517:  John Foxe is born (d. 1587).

·        1534:  Act of Supremacy:  Henry VIII severs the Church of England from Rome.

·        1535:  Calvin publishes The Institutes of the Christian Religion.

o       Against church hierarchy (bishops et al.).

o       Salvation through faith alone, not works.

o       “Strict austerity in church services” (Adams 145).

o       The roots of Puritanism.

·        1544:  Succession Act established Mary and Elizabeth as heirs to Edward.

·        1547:  Edward VI (Protestant) reigns (d. 1553).

·        1553:  "Bloody Mary" (d. 1558) restores Catholicism as the official religion.  The "Marian Persecution" ensues (she executes close to 300 Protestants; compare the St. Bartholomew massacre below).  Lady Jane Grey is executed.  Cranmer produces his Forty-two Articles.

·        1554:  Foxe publishes the first edition of Acts and Monuments in Latin.

·        1555:  Ridley and Latimer are martyred.

·        1556:  The Stationers’ Guild is given the responsibility of keeping track of English copyrights.

·        1558:  Elizabeth I takes the throne (d. 1603).  She is 25 years old.

·        1559:  Act of Uniformity "marked out the broad outlines of a practical compromise later formalized as a 'middle way.'  Her church would be the church of England, with herself as ruler, with an English liturgy based on Cranmer’s prayer book, and with the Protestant articles as its doctrinal foundation.  All that by way of pushing aside the pretensions of the church of Rome.  Her church would also be governed in the traditional authoritarian way, by archbishops, bishops, and deans; it would retain a modicum (undefined) of ritual and ceremony.  So much for the democratic synods and stripped spirituality of the Presbyterian style" (Adams 148).

·        1560:  Amy Robsart is found dead of a broken neck at the base of a staircase (wife of Robert Dudley, named Earl of Leicester in 1564, the queen’s favorite and arguably the only man she ever really loved; the dubious nature of Robsart’s death makes it impossible for Elizabeth to marry Dudley).

·        1560:  Knox and Calvin publish the Geneva Bible.

·        1563:  Church of England approves The Thirty-nine Articles of Religion (  The Roman Catholic Council of Trent establishes standards for dealing with Protestants (part of the so-called Counter-Reformation:  Foxe publishes an English translations of Acts and Monuments (, a.k.a. the Book of Martyrs).

·        1564:  William Shakespeare is born.

·        1570:  Pope Pius V issues Bull of Excommunication, excommunicates Elizabeth, and releases English Catholics from obligation to obey her.  Parliament approves Thirty-nine Articles.

·        1571:  Elizabeth names William Cecil Lord Burghley.  He is her chief advisor.

·        1572:  St. Bartholomew’s massacre in France:  Catholics murder over 100,000 unarmed Protestants ( 

·        1573:  Richard Hooker publishes the first four books of Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity (the book supports the Church of England’s middle way againsts the Calvinists); a fifth book is published in 1597.

·        1577:  "The Theater," the first public theater, opens.

·        1577-80:  Francis Drake sails around the world.

·        1579:  Spenser publishes The Sheapeardes Calendar.  Sidney publishes The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia.  Sir Thomas North publishes his translation of Plutarch’s Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans.

·        1580:  Pope Gregory XII endorses the assassination of Elizabeth; as a result, she represses Catholicism.

·        1580s:  Elizabeth attempts to deal with the Irish problem by colonizing the Catholic island with Protestant foreigners, often giving them Irish land.

·        1582:  Richard Stanyhurst publishes a translation of the Aeneid.

·        1586:  William Camden’s Britannia is published in Latin (English translation in 1610).  "What it provided was a view of the island in depth, with an account of its ancient ruins, charters, history of invasions and feudal wars.  Antiquarianism became a general vogue in the last years of Elizabeth; John Stow published a general chronicle of England from the legendary beginnings of Brut down to the present (1580), and also the work by which he is best known, the Survey of London (1598)" (Adams 167).

·        1587:  Mary Queen of Scots (a Catholic) is executed.  Foxe dies.

·        1588:  English navy commanded by Sir Francis Drake defeats the Spanish Armada.  "Overall, the Spanish lost in the Armada venture over 20,000 men and fifty vessels; the English lost no vessels, one junior officer, and about 100 seamen"; England and "Protestantism in northern Europe are now safe" (Adams 159). 

·        1589:  Richard Hakluyt publishes The principal Navigations, voyages, Traffics, and Discoveries of the English Nation, an epic account of English seafaring.

·        Late 1580s:  Marlowe writes Doctor Faustus.  "Superstitions about the stage ran very deep.  The legend goes that when Dr. Faustus was being played at Exeter, and various actors impersonating devils appeared on stage, they all faltered and fell silent because it appeared there was one more of them than anyone could account for.  They called off the play, fled the town, and spent the night praying in the open fields.  For decades after the event allegedly occurred, the story continued to be told" (Adams 187, n. 14).

·        1590:  Spenser publishes Books I-III of The Faerie Queene (Books IV-VII appear in 1595).  "For in this vast allegory Spenser challenged comparison, not only with Italy’s epic romancers Ariosto and Tasso, but with the giants whom they had challenged, Homer and Virgil.  Size was not unimportant:  till it had produced a heroic poem, English must be set down (by the critical tenets of the time) as a weak language, incapable of supporting the massive structure of epic.  To this challenge Spenser’s poem was an indirect response, combining two potent, semicompatible components, Protestant Christianity and medieval chivalry" (Adams 194).

·        1591:  "The last fight of the Revenge…, which under Sir Richard Grenville stood off fifteen Spanish warships in an all-day battle, was a great piece of heroic English saga, but it also marked the end of easy plunder on the high seas.  The fleet of which the Revenge was a part had done what every English naval force wanted to do, they had intercepted the main body of the Spanish treasureships.  But the bullion was too well guarded to be reached; the battle fought by the Revenge was an accident, the result of faulty communications; the Spanish treasure reached Spain safely" (Adams 176).

·        1592-94:  The theaters are closed because of plague.

·        1593:  John Penry (a Welshman) is hanged for the Martin Marprelate tracts; he may have been the wrong man.  Marlowe is murdered in a tavern.

·        1598:  Elizabeth spoon feeds the dying Burghley.

·        1599:  The Globe Theater opens.

·        1600:  London now has 200,000 residents.  Shakespeare finishes Hamlet.

·        1601:  Essex is executed for attempting to overthrow Elizabeth.

·        1603:  Elizabeth dies.  James I of Scotland (son of Mary Queen of Scots) becomes king.

·        1616:  William Shakespeare dies.

·        1623:  Mr. William Shakespeares comedies, histories, & tragedies is published (the so-called First Folio edition).