The Second Best Bed

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Joyce Rogers sheds new light upon Shakespeare's last public words through her study of medieval and Renaissance ecclesiastical and testamentary laws and custom. Professor Rogers provides extensive background material on English legal history and shows that the legal documents of the time do give legal answer to the doubts and speculations that have grown up around Shakespeare's will. She shows how the will is replete with elements of civil and common as well as ecclesiastical law and custom, making more understandable the disputed points of Shakespeare's will, and establishing that the will was as correct, incontestable, and conventional as possible.

The main thrust of the book, however, is not on the law as such. It is on how the law was used by Shakespeare to serve the best interests and needs of the women and children in his family as well as the friends named therein. As such, the book will be invaluable to students and scholars of Elizabethan society and to all Shakespearean scholars.

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Product Details

Meet the Author

JOYCE ROGERS is Associate Professor, Religious Studies Program, University of New Mexico, and the author of Louis Martin: Father of a Saint and co-author of Thought to Essay.

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Table of Contents

Ch. 1 The Will, Its Contents & the Controversies 1
Ch. 2 The Will as Solemn Testament 21
Ch. 3 The Will and the Times 43
Ch. 4 The Will as Religious Testament 71
Ch. 5 The Will as Family Testament 99
Notes 109
Works Cited 125
Index 135
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