Title

The Date of Easter and Shakespeare’s ‘Progress of the Stars’: Creed and Chronometry in the Sixteenth Century

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2013

Abstract

William Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" opens with the question "Is this a holiday?" followed by another, "What, know you not?" The queries seem benign and, perhaps, humorless four centuries after the drama about the assassination of the ancient Roman emperor premiered at the Globe Theater in 1599, but – within a century of King Henry VIII's start of the Church of England (1534) – chronometry was a grave matter of church and state. Shakespeare's first Roman play coincided with the worst span of controversy between the Vatican and Canterbury, and Flavius's questions reveal social rubs between churches and calendars in late Elizabethan England. Chronometry pops up throughout the play, so here I highlight how post-Reformation, Catholic-vs.-Protestant aggressions were a likely source of Shakespeare's Caesarian punctuations regarding time.

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