The Chamberlain's Men & the King's Men

Picture of William Shakespeare
and some contempories

The Biography of William Shakespeare
  • Who were the Chamberlain's men and the King's men?
  • Who were the Patrons?
  • When did William Shakespeare act with the Troupes?
  • Where did they perform plays?
  • Who were their rivals
  • Interesting information about the life and times of William Shakespeare

Shakespeare and the Chamberlain's men and the King's men


  • Travelling actors were perceived as a threat - many of the actors were considered to be rogues and vagabonds! They were free to put on any play and some of these might contain content which spoke against the state or expressed seditious or heretical ideas
  • They needed to be controlled! In 1572 the Queen imposed regulations on acting troupes and as a result licenses were granted to the aristocracy for the maintenance of troupes of players!
  • The Earl of Leicester's Men were established in 1572 and were the earliest organized Elizabethan acting company
  • James Burbage was a member of the Earl of Leicester's Men and in 1576 he built the very first theatre in England which he called 'The Theatre'
  • The Earl of Leicester died in 1588 and the troupe merged with Lord Strange's Men. Lord Strange died in 1594 and many of his acting troupe later joined the Chamberlain's men


  • Their patron was Henry Carey, Lord Hunsdon, the Lord Chamberlain and with his death followed by George Carey, the 2nd Lord Hunsdon, who was made the Lord Chamberlain in 1597 - hence the name!
  • Shakespeare joined the Chamberlain's men
  • The Chamberlain's Men performed at the 'Theatre' in Shoreditch and became the most important company of players in England
  • The accession of King James I in March 1603 led to a change of name for the acting troupe. By letters patent, it was taken under royal patronage and henceforth known as the King's Men
  • The acting company also performed at the Middle Temple Hall, Gray's Inn Hall, the Globe Theatre and Blackfriars Theatre
  • Shakespeare is often referred to as a member of the Chamberlain's men and a member of the King's men
  • Their rivals were the Admiral's Men under the patronage of Lord Howard, England's Lord High Admiral who played at Philip Henslowe's Rose Theatre - their principal actor was Edward Alleyn

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