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History in the News

Giving you a fresh perspective on the events and findings from history
The allegations caused trouble for Shakespeare’s father until 1583, when the Bard would have been at least 19
BBC PHOTO LIBRARY X1, BBC STUDIOS/JOHNNY CROCKETT X1, BRIDGEMAN IMAGES X1, GETTY X2, THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES X2

LEGAL TROUBLES SHAPED SHAKESPEARE’S EARLY YEARS

The Bard’s political beliefs and writings may have been influenced by criminal accusations against his father

Events that may have inspired a young William Shakespeare have been uncovered in documents relating to the playwright’s father. Hidden in the National Archives for years, the 21 records – discovered by Prof Glyn Parry from the University of Roehampton – highlight the legal and financial trouble suffered by the Bard’s father, John Shakespeare. John, a glover and wool dealer, was a prominent member of society in 16th-century Stratfordupon-Avon who held several municipal roles, including that of mayor. We know he was accused of illegal wool dealing and moneylending, but it was assumed that these allegations were settled out of court while his famous son was still young. That appears not to be the case.

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About BBC History Revealed

When faced with an obstacle as imposing as the Great Wall of China, most attackers would be forced to admit defeat. Not Genghis Khan. He simply went around it and invaded China by the back door. And that's not the end of his tale - we explore how the nomadic pauper created the largest contiguous land empire in the whole of human history. Plus: The spectacular falling out between Henry II and Saint Thomas Becket, how World War I birthed the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, five key moments in the American Revolutionary War, and more.