January 17, 2018
As The Globe BurnsOn this day in 1613, The Globe playhouse, of which Shakespeare was part-owner, burned down. The fire started during a performance of Shakespeare's Henry the Eighth (also called All This is True) when sparks from a cannon set off to announce the King's entrance in Act I ignited the thatched roof, destroying the building in an hour. There are a number of contemporary descriptions of the event, including the cheeky "Sonnett upon the pittiful burneinge of the Globe playhowse in London." This was published anonymously, but as competition for the entertainment pence was fierce in Elizabethan England, such verses as the following might suggest that the poem was written by an owner at one of the rival open-air playhouses:
In all that Sunn-shine weather,
To save that great renowned howse;
Nor thou, O ale-howse, neither.
Had itt begunne belowe, sans doubte,
Their wives [i.e. of the owners] for feare had pissed itt out.
Oh sorrow, pittifull sorrow, and yett all this is true.
Bee warned, yow stage strutters all,
Least yow againe be catched,
And such a burneing doe befall,
As to them whose howse was thatched;
Forbeare your whoreing, breeding biles,
And laye up that expence for tiles.
Oh sorrow, pittifull sorrow, and yett all this is true. . . .
When ended is the play, the daunce, and song,
A thousand townsmen, gentlemen, and whores,
Porters and serving-men together throng.
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