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By Leonard R. N. Ashley

Leonard R. N. Ashley delights readers with a suite of proof and folklore of the folk of Queen Elizabeth I’s period. He describes activities and hobbies, faith and superstition, cooking, existence on the town and nation, and the emerging bourgeois classification. In chapters titled as "Cakes and Ale," "The Playhouse and the Bearbaiting Pit," and "Hey nonny nonny," Ashley paints an enlightening portrait of a time made memorable through Shakespeare and his contemporaries.

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Sample text

What bad woman was there about London, whose champion I would not be for a few crowns, to fight, swear, and stare in her behalf, to the abuse of any that should do justice upon her! I still had one or two in store to crossbite withal, which I used as snares to trap simple men in. For if I took but one suspiciously in her company, straight I versed upon him, and crossbite him for all the money in his purse. By the way, with sorrow cannot help to save me, let me tell you a merry jest how once I crossbite a maltman, that would needs be so wanton as when he had shut his malt to have a wench, and thus the jest fell out.

The maltman, loath to go to prison, and yet unwilling to part from any pence, said he was willing to answer the matter before any man of worship, but he desired the constable to favour him that he might not go to ward, and he would send for a brewer a friend of his to be his bail. ' The maltman, taking this crafty knave to be some substantial citizen, thanked him for his friendship and gave him a seal-ring that he wore on his forefinger, promising the next morning to meet him at his house. As soon as my friend had the ring, away walks he, and while we stood brabbling together, he went to the brewer's house with whom this maltman traded and delivered the brewer the ring as a token from the maltman, saying he was in trouble, and that he desired him by that token to send him ten pound.

The sum that was in his purse was, in gold and silver, twenty nobles. , goodman of the house, and two other with him, and speaking somewhat loud. "Peace, husband," quoth she, "there's one in bed. " saith he. " "And so will I," said the other. "You shall not," saith his wife, and strove against him. The Underclasses 45 But up goes he and his cross-biters with him, and seeing the gentleman in bed, out with his dagger and asked what base villain it was that there sought to dishonest his house. Well, he sent one of them for a constable and made the gentleman rise, who, half drunk, yet had that remembrance to speak fair and to entreat him to keep his credit.

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