Posts Tagged: MEMOs

“This is the English, not the Turkish court”: Ottomans in Shakespeare’s Henriad

In Shakespeare’s Henriad – Richard II (1595), Henry IV Part I (1596), Henry IV Part II (1597), and Henry V (1599) – English Christian characters frequently employ negative Turkish tropes when criticizing each other’s corrupt political agendas. However, these tropes differ from the more positive characterizations of the Ottomans found in English chronicles of Turkish history. By… Continue Reading »

Public performances of blackness: The ‘King of Moors’ pageant in the 1616 Lord Mayor’s Show

Elizabethan and Jacobean theatergoers encountered ‘Moor’ figures in plays such as Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, Othello, and The Merchant of Venice, to name a few. However, it was also possible to see blackness performed beyond the playhouse stage, publicly on the streets of London. Emblematic representations of Moors frequently featured in the annual Lord Mayor’s Day festivities, which celebrated the inauguration of the new mayor-elect of London every October,

‘In the spiced Indian air’: Trading coin and cloth in the empire of the Great Mughal

The spiced air of India was the stuff of legend in Shakespeare’s England, and is brought to vivid life in this famous passage from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” These were images which Shakespeare knew his audiences would understand, during a period in which England had begun its sea voyages to Asia in earnest, and the fabulous possibilities of directly accessing the merchandise of India were being realized for the first time.

A backpacker in the age of Shakespeare: Thomas Coryate at the court of the Mughal emperor

Thomas Coryate (c. 1577-1617) was one of the most widely traveled Englishmen of his day, motivated by curiosity, wanderlust, and fame. He served as a fascinating example of how early modern English travelers to the Islamic world might use their experiences overseas in an attempt to bolster their standing at home.