what were the laws in the times of william shakepear?

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tinicraw | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Some of the laws that people lived under during Shakespeare's time can be seen in the plays. The easiest ones to identify are the ones that limit women's rights.  For example, Katherine in "The Taming of the Shrew" must remain with her father until she is married. Her father owned her until he made a financial deal with a man who would marry her and take care of her.

Another law dealing with inheritance can be seen in "King Lear" when he divides his kingdom between his daughters.  Each daughter was married.  If one of those daughters had been single, she wouldn't have had claim to any of the inheritance. In fact, the money and land all went to the husband. 

Many other laws were also closely associated with the social class system that was established in the middle ages under feudal law; that is to say, everyone had a station in life that they were to stick to. Peasants mingled with peasants, Lords with Lords, and kings with kings. Money followed family along with their social status; hence, Shakespeare's players were considered part of the lower class because no nobleman would spend his time participating in a play.

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