Fire and phoenix
in Shakespeare’s London 1613
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William Shakespeare and his collaborator John Fletcher's play Henry VIII represents the serious business of the disgrace and execution of the Duke of Buckingham, Katherine of Aragon's fall and eventual divorce. The play also represents Henry's marriage to Anne Boleyn, the fall of Cardinal Wolsey, and at the end the birth of Elizabeth, complete with Archbishop Cranmer's prophecy about her and her successor, the current King James I. Ludovic Stuart, Duke of Lennox, and cousin of King James learned of the Globe Theatre disaster and about the performance of Henry VIII. The King's Men, assessing the loss of the Globe Theatre to that summer fire, decided to rebuild. From the ashes of 1613, a new theatre arose, like a phoenix, in 1614. Out of tragedy, the court and London had to seek renewal. The year 1613 offers abundant evidence of a trajectory that moves away from tragedy towards life-affirming restoration.

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