What was England like when William Shakespeare was alive:
Streets were old selling thyme, spices or groceries and were cobbled. He live in Stratford-Upon-Avon. The houses were of a very old style but would have been popular then. Elizabeth the first was queen and the Catholic Church faced serious challenges.
Taken from: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_was_it_like_while_shakespeare_was_alive
It was dirty, plague infested, smelly sewers, diseases, dangerous, murderous. Poor peasants couldn’t afford clean clothes, no music, food or even a bed! While rich people (there were very few of them) came home to all they could eat in their big palace home. A lot of rich people got diabetes then from eating an overload of meat which dropped the numbers. London was also just a poor city with hundreds of poor people.
Taken from: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_was_it_like_in_England_when_Shakespeare_was_alive
The reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603) saw England emerge as the leading naval and commercial power of the Western world. England consolidated its position with the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, and Elizabeth firmly established the Church of England begun by her father, King Henry VIII (following Henry's dispute with the Pope over having his first marriage annulled).
Sir Francis Drake circumnavigated the world and became the most celebrated English sea captain of his generation. Sir Humphrey Gilbert and Sir Walter Raleigh sent colonists eastward in search of profit. European wars brought an influx of continental refugees into England, exposing the Englishman to new cultures. In trade, might, and art, England established an envious preeminence.
The people in power did not affected Shakespeare’s work, as I could not find anything online.
The social system during his time:
In Shakespeare's time, the English had a strong sense of social class -- of belonging to a particular group because of occupation, wealth, and ancestry. Some families moved from one class to another, but most people were born into a particular class and stayed there. Social class could determine all sorts of things, from what a person could wear to where he could live to what jobs his children could get.
They were spilt into the nobility, the gentry, the yeomanry and the poor.
Taken from: http://www.brandonsd.mb.ca/crocus09/library/social_classes_in_shakespeare.htm
Archaeological excavations on the foundations of the Rose and the Globe in the late twentieth century showed that all London English Renaissance theatres were built around similar general plans. Despite individual differences, the public theatres were three stories high, and built around an open space at the centre. Usually polygonal in plan to give an overall rounded effect, three levels of inward-facing galleries overlooked the open centre into which jutted the stage—essentially a platform surrounded on three sides by the audience, only the rear being restricted for the entrances and exits of the actors and seating for the musicians. The upper level behind the stage could be used as a balcony, as in Romeo and Juliet, or as a position for an actor to harangue a crowd, as in Julius Caesar. Usually built of timber, lath and plaster and with thatched roofs, the early theatres were vulnerable to fire, and gradually were replaced (when necessary) with stronger structures. When the Globe burned down in June 1613, it was rebuilt with a tile roof. A different model was developed with the Blackfriars Theatre, which came into regular use on a long term basis in 1599. The Blackfriars was small in comparison to the earlier theatres, and roofed rather than open to the sky; it resembled a modern theatre in ways that its predecessors did not.
Taken from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shakespeare's_plays#Theatre_and_stage_setup
William shakespeare The effect of the set up on the play: - No props - No actresses - Narrator thus had to say or narrate out the places and scenes
The Renaissance Meaning Renaissance: - the forms and treatments in art used during this period. - the activity, spirit, or time of the great revival of art, literature, and learning in Europe beginning in the 14th century and extending to the 17th century, marking the transition from the medieval to the modern world.
The Renaissance How did the renaissance affect/ influence Shakespeare’s work? - Shakespeare updated the simplistic, two-dimensional writing style of pre-renaissance drama. He focused on creating “human” characters with psychologically complexity. Hamlet is perhaps the most famous example of this. The upheaval in the accepted social hierarchy allowed Shakespeare to explore the humanity of every character regardless of their social position. Even monarchs are given human emotions and are capable of making mistakes. Shakespeare utilized his knowledge of Greek and Roman classics when writing his plays. Before the renaissance, these texts had been suppressed by the Catholic Church.