Hamlet Courtier In Elizabethan Age

Hamlet Courtier is an interesting topic because Many of the young men in Hamlet, such as Laertes, Horatio, and Roscncrantz and Guildenstern were courtiers.Many people believe that Hamlet is Shakespeare’s greatestplay.Hamlet is a play about kingship, loyalty and revenge. Most of the play takes place in the Danish court at Elsinore.

A nobleman’s privilege

In Shakespeare’s time, all the rulers of Europe had a court and a number of courtiers who served and attended upon the ruler at court but not anyone could become a courtier. Only noble folk, who had a title, could attend court. Even the very wealthy were excluded, unless they were fortunate enough to be able to buy a title or were given one because of services to the country or the ruler.In Queen Elizabeth’s time, for example, many rich people were ennobled because they had given money to help fight the wars abroad  against, for instance, the Spanish Armada- or for the continuing troubles in Ireland.
The expenses of court life
Although a gentleman had to be well-born to be a courtier, he also had to be fairly rich since life at court was expensive. Not only was he expected to dress in fine clothes, he also had to take part in all kinds of exclusive sports and entertainments, and he had to keep horses, carriages and his own retinue of servants. Some nobles simply could not afford these expenses, so they only visited court from time to time; others were fortunate enough to be members of the king’s or queen’s household and received a salary, as well as having many of their day-to-day expenses paid.

The court on tour:
Unlike many rulers in her time, Queen Elizabeth believed in keeping in touch with her subjects. Every summer she toured the country, staying at the large estates or palaces of noble people. On these occasions, she took her entire household with her, so her host was obliged to house and entertain a great number of people – always, of course, in lavish style, as befitted the Queen. This was a very expensive business and a few days’ visit could cost the country gentleman several thousand pounds.

The education of a courtier:

In Elizabethan times, young noblemen were often sent abroad to be educated at a foreign university or to visit a foreign court. Hamlet, for example, returned from his studies in Germany on the death of his father and, at the beginning of the play, Laertes goes off to Paris to study. While abroad, the young men were expected to acquire several foreign languages. French and Spanish were the languages spoken at almost all the courts of Europe.

They also learned about music, art and literature. Many young men visited Italy where the Italian Renaissance was flourishing. They admired the architecture in Florence and the paintings of Titian in Venice, and when they returned to England, they often commissioned paintings of themselves and built houses in the grand Italian style.

The courtier’s behavior:
One of the most popular books in circulation at that time was a work by an Italian nobleman, Count Castiglioni, called The Book of the Courtin’. It contained detailed advice about how a courtier should behave and what sort of man he should aim to be. This book had been reprinted many times and was popular throughout the whole of Europe.

All Young gentlemen followed the instructions laid down in this book. Castiglione insisted that a gentleman be courageous and skilled in the use of weapons. ‘This meant that the young nobleman learned fencing, so that if his or his family’s honor were insulted, he could challenge his opponent to a duel – as Laertes does to Hamlet.

A sporting gentleman:

The courtier had to be a skilled rider and especially good at hunting. Both Elizabeth I and James I were very keen hunters, so it was necessary for their courtiers to be good at this sport. Falconry was another popular out-of-doors sport, and so was swimming. Swimming was a favorite pastime with some of Elizabeth’s courtiers; on one occasion, she was forced to ban a swimming race from Westminster to London Bridge organized by one of her noblemen.

Facts you Must Know About Hamlet courtier in Hamlet Drama.

The ritual of courtship and love:
Above all, the courtier knew how to treat a lady politely and courteously. He was able to dance and make pleasant conversation. If he admired a lady, he wrote poems or stories, praising her beauty or her honor. Hamlet, for example, wrote ‘words sweet breath’ to Ophelia. To become betrothed to a lady, it was necessary to ask her father’s permission to court her. Sometimes this was refused if the young man was not rich enough or not well connected. Not everyone married for love, and young girls were often forced into marriage with old but rich or powerful men.

One of the dangers of court life was that there were always intrigues, as well as entertainments. People fell in and out of favor very quickly if they did not know how to flatter the right people. Many a courtier was banished from court not because he was dishonorable or bad-mannered but because he had committed some slight offence which earned the disapproval of the Queen or one of her ministers.

by Abdullah Sam
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