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Word Count: 258
The age of Shakespeare was a great time in English history The reign of Elizabeth 1558 - 1603 saw England emerge as the leading naval and commercial power of the Western world Elizabeth Is England consolidated its position with the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 and firmly established the Church of England begun by her father Henry VIII after a dispute with the Pope Sir Humphrey Gilbert and Sir Walter Raleigh sent colonists eastward in search of profit In trade might and art England established an envious preeminence At this time London was the heart of England reflecting all the vibrant qualities of the Elizabethan Age It was in this atmosphere that London became a leading center of culture as well as commerce Its dramatists and poets were among the leading literary artists of the daythis is the environment in which Shakespeare lived and wrote London in the 16th century underwent a transformation Its population grew 400 from 1500 to 1600 swelling to nearly two hundred thousand people in the city proper and outlying region by the time an immigrant from Stratford came to town A rising merchant middle class was carving out a productive livelihood and the economy was booming In the 1580s the writings of the University Wits Marlowe Greene Lyly Kyd and Peele defined the London theatre Though grounded in medievalJacobean roots these men produced new dramas and comedies using Marlowes styling of blank verse Shakespeare outdid them all he combined the best traits of Elizabethan drama with classical sources enriching the admixture with his imagination and wit
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