The mid-seventeenth century provided a dubious spate of books that lambasted the early Stuarts, among them Arthur Wilson's The History of Great Britain. In a rare dispassionate moment Wilson rightly observes: 'The City of London, and the Court at White-hall, like two great Stars in Conjunction, had one and the same influence and operation.' These two great stars each had its own sphere of cultural, political, and economic influence; but they reflected the light of the other. A simple example: the King's Men performed William Shakespeare's 1 Henry IV during the extraordinary outpouring of drama at court in early 1613. Sylvester Jourdain's Discovery of the Bermudas, and the Council of Virginia's True Declaration of the state of the Colonie in Virginia, generated great excitement and probably influenced Shakespeare in writing The Tempest, performed recently at court in early 1613.
This chapter pinpoints 27 December 1601 as the date of the first performance
of Twelfth Night – and demonstrates that Shakespeare wrote his play for two
audiences, one at Elizabeth’s Court, the other at the Inns of Court.