Entertainment in the 16th century  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Renaissance culture

The Renaissance is complicated as research discovered that society in a post dark age period of plague was ready to embrace life as evidenced in the proliferation in all forms of art. Acknowledging there was a great breath of cultural advancements in the arts, the economic conditions of the times affected the types of entertainment available based on class. There were basically three classes in society: High society which encompassed nobility and the wealthy, tradesman or merchant class, and the peasantry or common laborers.

The high class would commission the artisans to entertain them with works of art, music and theater (Kareti). They would also enjoy or participate in the sports of fencing, falconry, horse riding and the hunt for pheasant, deer, or fox. They also would enjoy extravagant parties and dances, and attend the first run performances of opera and had the best seats at the theater. Cricket was also played by the nobility.

The middleclass of merchants, wrights, inn keepers and the like would occasionally enjoy the fine arts, theater, or attend bear baiting (From Wikipedia, 2010) or other bloodthirsty sports like bull baiting, dog or cock fights (so did Shakespeare; these also inspired plays). Traveling troupes of actors entertained the masses. Enterprising bards would settle and build theaters such as William Shakespeare’s Globe Theater (The Old GlobeTheater History) in London, England.

The poor could rarely afford the theater and when they could they would get the standing room space in the theater. They did sing, dance and attend church. The other entertainment commonly available to the poor or common laborer was to attend executions (Castles) or to torment those placed in stocks. Public beheadings, hangings, and drawing and quartering were intended to humiliate the condemned, and to demonstrate the consequence of disobedience to the masses. Another public punishment that was a spectator event was the public trying of witches by throwing the suspected witch into water. The theory was that if the individual was a witch, then the water would reject them and they would float, and if they sank, they were innocent. If the individual floated in the water, they were hanged publicly (primarily in England). In addition the individuals were also burned post strangulation in other parts of Europe (Lambert, 2007).

So the entertainment in the Renaissance was a diverse period of prolific innovation and growth, further defined by class and economic status.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Entertainment in the 16th century" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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