Internet Shakespeare Editions


A spectacular opening

Reduced from the image on the Globe site at the University of Reading.

An early performance of Henry VIII, on 29 June 1613, was unintentionally the most spectacular of Shakespeare's career; when an artillery salute was fired in the first act to announce the entrance of King Henry, a piece of burning material landed on the thatched roof of the Globe, burning the entire theater to the ground in less than an hour.

Although the theater was apparently filled to its 3,000 person capacity, no one was killed or seriously injured -- the whole spectacular event was recorded in a contemporary ballad. That the theater was filled to capacity is an interesting piece of evidence to suggest that Shakespeare's plays were very popular in the period.