Name two monarchs that ruled during Shakespeare's lifetime.  

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William Shakespeare (1564-1616) lived and wrote most of his plays during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603)—the Elizabethan era--and ended his career during the early years of the reign of James I (1603-1625)—the Jacobean era ( not to be confused with the reign of King James VI of Scotland).  Shakespeare wrote his most famous tragedies at the time when the monarchies were changing, roughly 1600-1610 (Hamlet, Troilus and Cressida, Othello, King Lear).  He then retired to Stratford-upon-Avon, where he died.  The Elizabethan era was an exciting time for all the arts (to a great degree because Elizabeth was a theatre-lover), and a relatively stable time politically, making theatre expansion safe and fruitful for Shakespeare and his contemporaries.  The Jacobean theatre changed somewhat, becoming bloodier and coarser as London audiences became more and more demanding of stage violence.