At Folger, England Emerges From the Myths of Time





In 1588, the Spanish Armada that threatened Elizabethan England was undone by a storm. Seventeen years later, the infamous Gunpowder Plot, an effort by angry Catholics to blow up Parliament, failed when the conspirators panicked and were captured. These close calls with fate were rapidly put to good propaganda use by the rulers of England, and there emerged a persistent new theme in early 17th-century politics: Providence was looking out for Britain.

A new exhibition at the Folger Shakespeare Library called "History in the Making" is an episodic survey of how history and current events were managed, manipulated and mythologized in the years before and after the career of William Shakespeare. It also surveys the politicized and even tendentious historical works that Shakespeare drew upon in his plays, works that were often convenient, dynastic fictions in favor of the Tudor ruling family. And it continues well past the death of Shakespeare, through the middle of the 17th century, ending with the Great Plague of 1665 and the Great Fire of 1666.


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