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date: 19 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter considers the interplay among the meanings of forests in Shakespeare’s plays and poems, the broader cultural meanings of forests in early modern England, and the significance of forests as an important domain of the English dynastic state during Shakespeare’s lifetime. Although Shakespeare’s forests did not directly reflect changing economic and social conditions, they did express his interest in the nature of political societies and allowed him to engage ideas about the traditional politics of social estates in late Tudor and early Stuart forests. Shakespeare’s forests thus came to reflect a particular historical moment in the political dynamics of these territories, defined by the interplay and negotiation of diverse interests in forest commonwealths that possessed a high degree of political consciousness.

Keywords: custom, commonwealth, forest law, forest regime, forest culture, forest politics, hunting preserve, negotiation, political consciousness

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