. (Representatives of the renaissance and thair contribution to the literature)

(Representatives of the renaissance and thair contribution to the literature)



The Renaissance.4

Thomas More.5

The works of Thomas More...6


Second period of the Renaissance..8

Edmund Spenser.9

The Fairy Queen.11

The development of the drama. The theatres and actors12


Used literature.16


I have heard about the Renaissance not so long ago: last year when I

was in 10`th form, but do not think that I never knew about this period

earlier. Of course I knew but I just did not know how is it called.

Actually I always had a great interest to unusual and pleasantly sounding

words. So when I have heard the word renaissance my attention was

immediately attracted by it. My firs association to this word was something

magnificent, brilliant and rustling like a woman`s dress of 18`th century.

Soon I have known that the Renaissance is the period of English literature

and art. From that time my wish to know about its place in art was becoming

stronger and more strongly. I wanted to know more about this period in

English art: when did it start, who were the representatives of this period

and what did they write, what did they think about. It is not all what I

wanted to know about but I can not tell you all questions because I had

plenty of them.

Now I know more about this period of English literature but

nevertheless I still have not calmed down. I have many questions till today

and I want to clear up this business. So let`s investigate this period

together and find out some new facts

The Renaissance

The dark Middle Ages were followed by a time known in art and

literature as the Renaissance. The word renaissance means rebirth in

French and was used to denote a phase in the cultural development of

Europe between the 14th and 17th centuries.

The wave of progress reached the shores of England only in the 16th

century. The ideas of the Renaissance came to England together with the

ideas of the Reformation (the establishment of the national Church) and

were called the New Learning. Every year numbers of new books were

brought out, and these books were sold openly, but few people could read

and enjoy them. The universities were lacking in teachers to spread the

ideas of modern thought. So, many English scholars began to go to Italy,

where they learned to understand the ancient classics, and when they came

home they adapted their classical learning to the needs of the country.

Grammar schools (primary schools) increased in number. The new point of

view passed from the schools to the home and to the market place.

Many of the learned men in Italy came from the great city of

Constantinople. It was besieged and taken by Turks in 1453. All the great

libraries and schools in Constantinople had been broken up and destroyed.

The Latin and Greek scholars were driven out of the city, glad to escape

with their lives and with such books as they could carry away with them.

Being learned men, many of them found a welcome in the cities and towns in

which they stopped. They began to teach the people how to read the Latin

and Greek books which they had brought with them and also taught them to

read the Latin and Greek books which were kept in many towns of Europe, but

which few people at that time were able to read.

Foreign scholars and artists began to teach in England during the

reign of Henry VIII. In painting and music the first period of the

Renaissance was one of imitation. Painting was represented by German

artist Holbein, and music by Italians and Frenchmen. With literature the

case was different. The English poets and dramatists popularized much of

the new learning. The freedom of thought of English humanists revealed

itself in antifeudal and even antibourgeois ideas, showing the life of

their own people as it really was. Such a writer was the humanist Thomas


Thomas More


Thomas More, the first English humanist of the Renaissance, was born

in Milk Street, London on February 7, 1478, son Sir John More, a prominent

judge. Educated at Oxford, he could write a most beautiful Latin. It was

not the Latin of the Church but the original classical Latin. At Oxford

More met a foreign humanist, and made friends with him. Erasmus believed

in the common sense of a man and taught that men ought to think for

themselves, and not merely to believe things to be true because their

fathers, or the priest had said they were true. Later, Thomas More wrote

many letters to Erasmus and received many letters from him.

Thomas More began life as a lawyer. During the reign of Henry VII he

became a member of Parliament. He was an active-minded man and kept a keen

eye on the events of his time. The rich landowners at the time were

concentrating on sheep-raising because it was very profitable. Small

holders were not allowed to till the soil and were driven off their lands.

The commons (public ground) were enclosed and fields converted into

pastures. The mass of the agricultural population were doomed to poverty.

Thomas More set to work to find the reason of this evil. He was the first

great writer on social and political subjects in England.

Fourteen years after Henry VIII came to the throne, More was made

Speaker of the House of Commons. The Tudor monarchy was an absolute

monarchy, and Parliament had very little power to resist the king. There

was, however, one matter on which Parliament was very determined. That was

the right to vote or to refuse to vote for the money. Once when the King

wanted money and asked Parliament to vote him 800.000, the members sat

silent. Twice the Kings messengers called, and twice they had to leave

without an answer. When Parliament was called together again, Thomas More

spoke up and urged that the request be refused. After a long discussion a

sum less then half the amount requested by the King was voted, and that sum

was to be spread over a period of four years.

Thomas More was an earnest Catholic, but he was not liked by the

priests and the Pope on account of his writings and the ideas he taught.

After Henry VIII quarrelled with the Pope he gathered around himself all

the enemies of the Pope, and so in 1529 More was made Lord Chancellor

(highest judge to the House of Lords). He had not wanted the post because

he was as much against the kings absolute power in England as he was

against the Pope. More soon fell a victim to the Kings anger. He refused

to swear that he would obey Henry as the head of the English Church, and

was thrown into the Tower on April 17. Parliament, to please the King,

declared More guilty of treason, and he was beheaded in the Tower on July

6, 1535.

The Works of Thomas More

Thomas More wrote in English and in Latin. The humanists of al1

European countries communicated in the Latin language, and their best works

were written in Latin. The English writings of Thomas More include:

. Discussions and political subjects.

. Biographies.

. Poetry.

His style is simple, colloquial end has an unaffected ease. The work

by which he is best remembered today is Utopia which was written in Latin

in the year 1516. It has now been translated into all European languages.

Utopia (which in Greek means nowhere) is the name of a non-existent

island. This work is divided into two books.

In the first, the author gives a profound and truthful picture of the

peoples sufferings and points out the socia1 evils existing, in England at

the time.

In the second book More presents his ideal of what the future society

should be like.

The word utopia has become a byword and is used in Modern English to

denote an unattainable ideal, usually in social and political matters. But

the writer H.G. Wells, who wrote an introduction to the latest edition,

said that the use of the word utopia was far from Mores essentia1

quality, whose mind abounded in sound, practical ideas. The book is in

reality a very unimaginative work.

Utopia describes a perfect social system built on communist



First book

While on business in Flanders, the author makes the acquaintance

of a certain Raphael Hythloday, a sailor who has travelled with the famous

explorer Amerigo Vespucci. He has much to tell about his voyages, Thomas

More, Raphael Hythloday and a cardinal meet together in a garden and

discuss many problems. Raphael has been to England too and expresses his

surprise at the cruelty of English laws and at the poverty of the

population. Then they talk about crime in general, and Raphael says:

There is another cause of stealing which I suppose is proper and

peculiar to you Englishmen alone.

What is that? asked the Cardinal.

Oh, my lord, said Raphael, your sheep that used to be so meek and

tame and so small eaters, have now become so great devourers and so wild

that they eat up and swallow down the very men themselves. The peasants are

driven out of their land. Away they go finding no place to rest in. And

when all is spent, what can they do but steal and then be hanged?

Second Book

The disastrous state of things in England puts Raphael Hythloday in

mind of a commonwealth (a republic) he has seen on an unknown island in an

unknown sea. A description of Utopia follows, and Raphael speaks of all

the good laws and orders of this same island.

There is no private property in Utopia. The people own everything in

common and enjoy complete economic equality. Everyone cares for his

neighbours good, and each has a clean and healthy house to live in. Labour

is the most essential feature of life in Utopia, but no one is overworked.

Everybody is engaged in usefu1 work nine hours a day. After work, they

indulge in sport and games and spend much time in improving their minds

(learning)-All teaching is free, and the parents do not have to pay any

schoo1 fees. (More wrote about things unknown in any country at that time,

though they are natural with us in our days.)

For magistrates the Utopians choose men whom they think to be most fit

to protect the welfare of the population. When electing their government,

the people give their voices secretly. There are few laws and no lawyers at

all, but these few laws must be strictly obeyed.

Virtue, says Thomas More, lives according to Nature. The greatest

of all pleasures is perfect health. Man must be healthy and wise.

Thomas Mores Utopia was the first literary work in which the ideas of

Communism appeared. It was highly esteemed by all the humanists of Europe

in Mores time and again grew very popular with the socialists of the 19th

century. After More, a tendency began in literature to write fantastic

novels on social reforms, and many such works appeared in various




The most significant period of the Renaissance in England falls to the

reign of Queen Elizabeth. Englands success in commerce brought prosperity

to the nation and gave a chance to many persons of talent to develop their

abilities. Explorers, men of letters, philosophers, poets and famous actors

and dramatists appeared in rapid succession. The great men of the so-called

Elizabethan Era distinguished themselves by their activities in many

fields and displayed an insatiable thirst for knowledge. They were often

called the Elizabethans, but of course the Queen had no hand in assisting

them when they began literary work; the poets and dramatists had to push on

through great difficulties before they became well known.

Towards the middle of the 16th century common people were already

striving for knowledge and the sons of many common citizens managed to get

an education. The universities began to breed many learned men who refused

to become churchmen and wrote for the stage. These were called the

University Wits, because under the influence of their classical education

they wrote after Greek and Latin models. Among the University Wits were

Christopher Marlowe, Thomas Sackville, John Lyly, George Peele, Robert

Greene, Thomas Kyd and Thomas Nash; Christopher Marlowe being the most

distinguished of them. The new method of teaching classical literature at

the universities was to perform Roman plays in Latin, Later the graduates

translated these plays into English and then they wrote plays of their own.

Some wrote plays for the court, others for the public theatres. But

the plays were not mere imitations. Ancient literature had taught the

playwrights to seek new forms and to bring in new progressive ideas. The

new drama represented real characters and real human problems which

satisfied the demands of the common people and they expected ever new

plays. Under such favourable circumstances there was a sudden rise of the

drama. The great plays were written in verse.

The second period of the Renaissance was characterised by the

splendour of its poetry.

Lyrical poetry also became wide-spread in England. The country was

called a nest of singing birds. Lyrical poetry was very emotional. The

poets introduced blank verse and the Italian sonnet. The sonnet is a poem

consisting of fourteen lines. The lines are divided into two groups: the

first group of eight lines (the octave), and the second group of six lines

(the sestet). The foremost poet of the time was Edmund Spenser. He wrote in

a new, English, form: the nine-line stanza.



Edmund Spenser was born in London in 1552. Though his parents

descended from a noble House, the family was poor. His father was a free

journeyman for a merchants company. When Edmund came of age he entered

the University of Cambridge as a sizar (a student who paid less for his

education than others and had to wait on (to serve) the wealthier students

at mealtimes).

Spenser was learned in Hebrew, Greek, Latin and French. His generation

was one of the first to study also their mother tongue seriously. While at

college, he acted in the tragedies of the ancient masters and this inspired

him to write poetry.

Spenser began his literary work at the age of seventeen. Once a fellow-

student introduced him to the famous Sir Philip Sidney, who encouraged him

to write (Sidney was the author of an allegorical romance in prose called

Arcadia that had become very popular as light reading among the court-

ladies of Queen Elizabeth). At the age of twenty-three, Spenser took his

M.A. (Master of Arts) degree.

Before returning to London he lived for a while in the wilderness of

Lancashire where he fell in love with a fair widows daughter. His love

was not returned but he clung to this early passion; she became the

Rosalind of his poem the Shepherd s Calendar. Spensers disappointment in

love drove him southward - he accepted the invitation of Sir Philip Sidney

to visit him at his estate. There he finished writing his Shepherds

Calendar. The poem was written in 12 eclogues. Eclogue is a Greek word

meaning a poem about ideal shepherd life. Each eclogue is dedicated to one

of the months of the year, the whole making up a sort of calendar.

The publication of this work made Spenser the first poet of his day.

His poetry was so musical and colorful that he was called the poet-painter.

Philip Sidney introduced the poet to the illustrious courtier, the

Earl of Leicester, who, in his turn, brought him to the notice of the

Queen. Spenser was given royal favour and appointed as secretary to the new

Lord-lieutenant of Ireland. Thus he had to leave England for good.

The suppression of Ireland provoked many rebellions against the

English. English military governors were sent confiscate the lands of the

rebels and to put English people on them. Spenser was sent to such a place

near Cork. He felt an exile in the, lonely castle of Kilcolman, yet he

could not help admiring the, changeful beauty of the place.

The castle stood by a deep lake into which flowed a river (the Mulla).

Soft woodlands stretched towards mountain ranges in the distance. The

beauty of his surroundings inspired Spenser to write his great epic poem

the Faerie Queen (Fairy Queen), in which Queen Elizabeth is idealized.

Sir Walter Raleigh who was captain of the Queens guard, came to visit

Spenser at Kilcolman. He was greatly delighted with the poem, and Spenser

decided to publish the first three parts. Raleigh and Spenser returned to

England together. At court Spenser presented his simple song to the

Queen. It was published in 1591. The success of the poem was great. The

Queen rewarded him with a pension of 50 pounds, but his position remained

unchanged. Poetry was regarded as a noble pastime but not a profession; and

Edmund Spenser had to go back to Ireland.

The end of his life was sorrowful. When the next rebellion broke out,

the insurgents attacked the castle so suddenly and so furiously that

Spenser and his wife and children had to flee for their lives. Their

youngest child was burnt to death in the blazing ruins of the castle.

Ruined and heart-broken Spenser went to England and there he died in a

London tavern three months later, in 1599.


The poem is an allegory representing each court of Queen Elizabeth.

The whole is an interweaving of Greek myths and English legends.

Spenser planned to divide his epic poem into twelve books. The 12

books were to tell of the warfare of 12 knights. But only six books of the

Fairy Queen were finished. The first two books are the best and the most

interesting. The allegory is not so clear in the rest.

Prince Arthur is the hero of the poem. In a vision he sees

Gloriana, the Fairy Queen. She is so beautiful that he falls in love with

her. Armed by Merlin he sets out to seek her in Fairy Land. She is supposed

to hold her annual 12-day feast during which 12 adventures are to be

achieved by 12 knights. Each knight represents a certain virtue: Holiness,

Temperance, Friendship, Justice, Courtesy, Constancy, etc., which are

opposed to Falsehood, Hypocrisy and others in the form of witches, wizards

and monsters.

Spenser imitated antique verse. One of the features of those verses

was the use of Y before the past participle, as Yclad instead of clad

(dressed). He was the first to use the nine-line stanza. In this verse

each line but the last has 10 syllables, the last line has 12 syllables.

The rhymed lines are arranged in the following way: a b a b b c b c c.

A gentle knight was pricking on the plain,


Yclad in mighty arms and silver shield, b

Wherein old dints of deep wounds did remain, a

The cruel marks of many a bloody field; b

Yet arms till that time did he never wield; b

His angry steed did chide his foamy bit, c

As much disdaining to the curb to yield; b

Full jolly knight he seemed, and fair did sit, c

As one for knightly jousts and fierce encounters fit. c



First Period

The development of the drama in England was in close connection with

the appearance and development of the theatre. Since ancient times there

existed in Europe two stages upon which dramatic art developed. The chief

place of performance was the church, and second to it was the market place

where clowns played their tricks.

The church exhibited Bible-stories, called Mysteries; they also had

Miracles which were about supernatural events in the lives of saints.

Both, the miracles and mysteries were directed by the clergy and acted by

boys of the choir on great holidays. It has become a tradition since then

to have men-actors for heroines on the English stage.

Second Period

Early in the 15th century characters represented human qualities, such

as Mercy, Sin, Justice and Truth, began to be introduced into the miracle

plays. The plays were called Moral plays or Moralities. They were

concerned with mans behaviour in this life. The devil figured in every ply

and he was the character always able to make the audience laugh. Moralities

were acted in town halls too.

Third Period

It was about the time of King Henry VIII, when the Protestants drove

theatricals out of the church, that acting became a distinct profession in

England. Now the actors performed in inncourt yards, which were admirably

suited to dramatic performances consisting as they did of a large open

court surrounded by two galleries. A platform projected into the middle of

the yard with dressing rooms at the back, There was planty of standing room

around the stage, and people came running in crowds as soon as they heard

the trumpets announcing the beginning of a play. To make the audience pay

for its entertainment, the actors took advantage of the most thrilling

moment of the plot: this was the proper time to send the hat round for a


The plays gradually changed; moralities now gave way to plays where

historical and actual characters appeared. The popular clowns from the

market-place never disappeared from the stage. They would shove in between

the parts of a play and talk the crowds into anything.

The regular drama from its very beginning was divided into comedy and

tragedy. Many companies of players had their own dramatists who were actors


As plays became more complicated, special playhouses came into

existence. The first regular playhouse in London was built in what had been

the Black friars Monastery where miracle plays had been performed before

the Reformation. It was built by James Burbage and was called The Theatre

(a Greek word never used in England before). Later, The Rose, The

Curtain, The Swan and many other playhouses appeared. These playhouses

did not belong to any company of players. Actors travelled from one place

to another and hired a building for their performances.

The actors and their station in life

During the reign of Queen Elizabeth the laws against the poor were

very cruel. Peasants who had lost their lands and went from town to town in

search of work were put into prison as tramps. Actors were often accused of

being tramps, so trave1ling became impossible. The companies of players

had to find themselves a patron among the nobility and with the aid of

obtain rights to travel and to perform. Thus some players called

themselves The Earl of Leicesters Servants, others-The Lord

Chamberlains Men, and in 1583 the Queen appointed certain actors Grooms

of the Chamber All their plays were censored lest there be anything

against the Church or the government.

But the worst enemies of the actors were the Puritans. They formed a

religious sect in England which wanted to purity the English Church from

some forms that the Church retained of roman Catholicism. The ideology of

the Puritans was the ideology of the smaller bourgeoisie who wished for a

cheaper church and who hoped they would become rich one day by careful

living. They led a modest and sober life. These principles, though moral at

first sight, resulted in a furious attack upon the stage. The companies of

players were actually locked out of the City because they thought acting a

menace to public morality.

The big merchants attacked the drama because players and playgoers

caused them a lot of trouble: the profits on beer went to proprietors of

the inns and not to the merchants; all sorts of people came to town, such

as gamblers and thieves, during the hot months of the year the plague was

also spread strolling actors. Often apprentices who were very much

exploited by the merchants used to gather at plays for the purpose of

picking fights with their masters.

Towards the end of the 16th century we find most of the playhouses far

from the city proper.


So this is the end of my investigation of the Renaissance. Of course

this is not full information about this period of art and I do not deny it

it is too sated with different kind of events and detailes that we will

never remember. Do not forget that the word renaissance means rebirth

the appearance of something new and unordinary.

The period of the Renaissance has marked by itself the birth of new

directions of art and thoughts. For the first time we can see here the

birth of the real ideas of communism that were declared by Thomas More. For

the first time we can watch the appearance of fantastic novels on social


Great changes were in theatre too. The most important fact is that

theatres became not only city sightings but and the sightings of provinces

that made art accessible almost for everyone.

So I think that we have known many new and interesting facts from this

period, all important things were said. I hope that you, my reader, have

read this work with pleasure and without boredom.

Used literature

The World literature encyclopedia

The collection of Spenser`s works

Oxford ecyclopedia


Gymnasium 2




Student: Stepanov Michael Leonidovich

Teacher: Zolotukhina Lyudmila Alexevna

Voronezh 2002