Segments in this Video

Age of Equivocation (02:20)


The Gunpowder Plot, soon after the beginning of the Jacobean regime of King James I, ushered in an anxious era of conspiracy and a new word, equivocation, given voice in Shakespeare's' plays, Macbeth and Coriolanus.

Execution of the Gunpowder Plot Conspirators (03:59)

Effigies of Guy Fawkes are burned on November 5. The plotters opposed the union of England and Scotland. Shakespeare's earlier plays depicted a greedy England and unstable king.

"A Treatise of Equivocation" (03:13)

Protestant King James I used the the Jesuit father Henry Garnet's 'A Treatise of Equivocation' to condemn him. The document offered Catholics a sinless way to lie when interrogated.

Show Trial of Father Henry Garnet (03:52)

Father Garnet's trial was staged at London's Guild Hall; he was executed as the mastermind of all conspiracies. We hear the term equivocator repeated in Shakespeare's 'Macbeth' and the concept of regicide.

The Porter's Scene in "Macbeth" (04:51)

In a modern staging of Macbeth, the Porter's scene alludes to suicide bombers. The theme of equivocation dominates 'Macbeth.'

Line of Succession (02:08)

The order of succession, as Banquo's heirs become successive kings in the witches' revelation to Macbeth, was utmost in the mind of Jacobean England.

Thomas Lyte's Geneaology (04:43)

Thomas Lyte's geneaology depicted the various lineages of monarchy that led to King James I, and he was rewarded with the Lyte Jewel in the British Museum.

Ben Jonson's Masque "Hymenaei" (04:16)

Ben Jonson's masque Hymenaei, staged by Ynygo Jones in the grand Banqueting House for King James I and his court, was an extravagant spectacle that celebrated the new regime.

Elizabethan Nostalgia (04:36)

In 1606 King James's brother-in-law, Danish King Christian, visited England, provoking criticism of James' decadent extravagance and Elizabethan nostalgia, as in Thomas Dekker's play, The Whore of Babylon.

Shakespeare's "Antony and Cleopatra" (04:03)

Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra has echoes of the bacchanalia of King Christian's visit and the emergence of Octavius as Emperor, King James' ambition.

Reburial of Elizabeth I (05:31)

Queen Elizabeth's remains were reburied with her sister, Queen Mary, in a side chapel, while James' mother, Mary Stuart, was reburied in Westminster Abbey, aligned with the Tudors.

Starvation and Protests (05:33)

Economic protests in Jacobean England grew into the Midlands Uprising that were violently suppressed by landowners who enclosed land formerly used by all. We see an enclosure map of the time.

Shakespeare's "Coriolanus" (05:59)

Shakespeare also confronted the dilemma of enclosure in Stratford. His tragedy Coriolanus captures the the intransigence of a leader who cannot compromise and disdains the populace.

Ambiguity of Jacobean England (03:22)

The political turmoil of Jacobean England produced an upsurge of new forms, like Francis Bacon's essay that analyzed the motives for the uprising. King James, like Coriolanus, could not foster the love of the people.

Credits: Equivocation: Shakespeare, the King's Man (00:40)

Credits: Equivocation: Shakespeare, the King's Man

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Equivocation: Shakespeare, the King's Man

Part of the Series : Shakespeare, the King's Man
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
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It’s 1606 and in the aftermath of the Gunpowder Plot, the authorities are cracking down on Catholics. Shakespeare’s Macbeth captures the anxiety and obsessions of the time. King James continues to be focused on succession and legitimacy, while food riots in the Midlands create the climate for the gripping tragedy of Coriolanus.

Length: 60 minutes

Item#: BVL55266

ISBN: 978-0-81609-788-3

Copyright date: ©2012

Closed Captioned

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