May 19th – All the Kings Men


Today a royal patent was issued by James I of England naming his official licenced troupe of actors, The Kings Men.

The company included such popular actors as “Richard Burbage, William Shakespeare, Augustine Phillips, John Heminges, Henry Condell, William Sly, Robert Armin, Richard Cowley… and the rest of their associates”.

The nine honoured names became Grooms of the Chambers and were presented with four and a half yards of red cloth each to wear for the Coronation procession the following year.

globe-theatre-london-mapAll players had to be licenced following a proclamation from Elizabeth I in 1559 and the groups of informal travelling players were replaced by official touring companies.

Shakespeare belonged to one or other of these troupes through most of his career, acting and writing at the Globe and the Rose theatres.

The Kings Men were a big hit working gruelling schedules in their first two seasons after which they had to take on more actors.

In 1642 during the Civil War, all the play houses were closed and the Kings Men disbanded. An attempt was made to reform after the Restoration but times had changed. Women were on the stage, open air theatres were out of fashion and the old ways and old actors were no longer needed.