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William Shakespeare actually had several patrons over his career. The obvious patrons are the rulers during his career--Queen Elizabeth I and King James I. Generally, the ruling bodies of a society will be the major patrons of the art. His most famous patron was the Earl of Southampton, Henry Wriothesley. Many believe that the Earl of Southampton is the “Dark Lady” that Shakespeare wrote certain sonnets for. Finally, William Herbert, the Earl of Pembroke, was his last patron. If you want to know who Shakespeare's patron was at a certain time you will need to do a little research.
Very simple friend, it was Henry Wriothesley.
No artist or playwright could have survived the Middle Ages or the Early Modern period without a patron and William Shakespeare was the same. Without the patronage of a number of wealthy and art-loving patrons, we would never have known who Shakespeare was. The most notable among the various patrons of Shakespeare were Queen Elizabeth and King James I. The queen, especially, was known to be a great lover of drama, and positively influenced the development of English drama and fostered the genius of Shakespeare.
William Shakespeare had the following patrons:
1) Queen Elizabeth
2) King James I
3) Edward Manners, Third Earl of Rutland
4) Henry Wriothesley, The Third Earl of Southampton
5) William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke
6) Henry Carey Baron Hunsdon
7) Sir Francis Walsingham
8) Thomas Radcliff, Third Earl of Sussex
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