home contact

Shakespeare: General Q & A

Who were The King's Men?

In 1603, Queen Elizabeth I died and James the VI of Scotland became the new monarch, King James I of England. James loved the arts and was very generous to actors, playwrights, and other performers of the day. In particular, James I loved the theatre, and was captivated by Shakespeare's acting troupe, the Chamberlain's Men.

Within ten days of arriving in London, James insisted that Shakespeare's troupe come under his own patronage. They were granted a Royal Patent and changed their name to the King's Men, in honour of James. It was indeed lucky for the King's Men that James held them in such high regard, for in 1603 England saw its worst outbreak of the plague in decades, and all the theatres had to be closed. Shakespeare and his troupe were not out of work, however, because James provided them with many engagements, performing for royalty outside of the infected London area.

By 1608 the King's Men had a permanent winter home at the Blackfriar's Theatre and they played to a mostly rich and well-educated audience (they spent the summer months at the Globe). Their creativity began to flourish and they are credited with starting the new style of Jacobean drama. Many of Shakespeare's greatest plays were performed at court by special request, including The Tempest (1611-12) - likely Shakespeare's last drama - for the celebration of the union of James's daughter Elizabeth to Prince Palatine.

For more on James and his relationship with Shakespeare, please see
 King James I of England: Shakespeare's Patron
 References and Compliments to King James in Macbeth

How to cite this article:
Mabillard, Amanda. Shakespeare Q & A: The King's Men. Shakespeare Online. 20 Aug. 2000. (date when you accessed the information) < >.

Related Articles

 King James and the Gunpowder Plot
 Shakespeare, James, and the Witches
 Witchcraft in Shakespeare's England

 Entertaining Queen Elizabeth (bear-baiting)
 Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
 Shakespeare's Audience in his Day
 Going to a Play in Shakespeare's London
 London's First Public Playhouse
 Shakespeare's Boss

 Shakespeare Hits the Big Time
 Theatre Closures Due to Disease
 Entertainment in Elizabethan England
 Shocking Elizabethan Drama
 The Greatest Actor of Shakespeare's Day
 Edward Alleyn: Master of the Elizabethan Stage
 William Kempe: Shakespeare's Clown

 Daily Life in Shakespeare's London
 What did Shakespeare drink?
 What did Shakespeare look like?

 Shakespeare's Language
 Words Shakespeare Invented
 Reasons Behind Shakespeare's Influence
 Shakespeare's Blank Verse

 Play Chronology
 Shakespeare Characters A to Z
 Pronouncing Shakespearean Names
 Shakespeare's Metaphors and Similes
 How many plays did Shakespeare write?
 Shakespeare Quotations (by Play and Theme)
 The First Folio
 Most Common Questions About Shakespeare