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Several historical developments, along with literature advances, encouraged the growth of theatre during Elizabeth’s long reign. First, the Roman Catholic dislike of theatre was no longer a strong political force, since Henry VIII had established the Church of England. Second, the city of London, which had certain restrictions on theatres in the city of London (mostly the courtyards of inns), began to allow certain sites, especially on the south bank of the Thames, to build dedicated theatre buildings (the South Bank was not the most socially desirable part of the city). Third, the Age of Exploration, and with it the financial affluence of an emerging business class, brought interest in other countries and cultures. Poetry, and with it dramatic texts, became circulated outside London and thereby brought travelers and visitors into the audience. The main reason for theatre’s popularity at this time was Elizabeth’s own interest and support. Companies could count not only on her licensing approval, but also on a sizable sponsorship when they performed at court.
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