February 5th

Royal English bookkeeping practices dictacted that records be kept of all the expenditures and offices funded by the King. This notebook, from 1607, offers one such chronicle of King James’s official spending habits. Included in its tabulations are the small sums paid to the “Keeper of Parrys garden, of bears and mastiffs.” Among the names and items of this official list, two figures associated with Shakespeare’s professional circle make an appearance: Edward Alleyn and Philip Henslowe. Can you make them out in the lower right corner?

Alleyn was a major player within the Elizabethan theater world, bringing to his roles a charisma and charm that could rival the linguistic verve of a writer like Christopher Marlowe. Henslowe was by contrast a figure more behind the scenes, overseeing the construction of some of England’s earlier playhouses as well as other business ventures. The two knew each other well–so well, in fact, that Alleyn married Henslowe’s daughter.

Here are some more pages from the record-keeper’s book, which show the wide range of channels royal money could go into, from bear-baiting to the king’s barge to “players of interludes”:

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