Highlights of the Jacobean Era
In literature, some of Shakespeare's most powerful plays were written in that period (for example,three plays written during James I's reign: The Tempest (1610), King Lear (1603), and Macbeth (1603)). Patronage came not just from James, but from James' wife Anne of Denmark. Also during this period were powerful works by John Webster, Thomas Middleton, John Ford and Ben Jonson. Ben Jonson also contributed to some of the era's best poetry, together with the Cavalier poets and John Donne. In prose, the most representative works are found in those of Francis Bacon and the King James Bible. Jonson was also an important innovator in the specialized literary sub-genre of the masque, which went through an intense development in the Jacobean era. His name is linked with that of Inigo Jones as co-developers of the literary and visual/technical aspects of this hybrid art. [For Jonson's masques, see: The Masque of Blackness, The Masque of Queens, etc.] The high costs of these spectacles, however, positioned the Stuarts far from the relative frugality of Elizabeth's reign, and alienated the middle classes and the Puritans with a prospect of waste and self-indulgent excess.
Francis Bacon had a strong influence in the evolution of modern science, which was entering a key phase in this era, as the work of Johannes Kepler in Germany and Galileo Galilei in Italy brought the Copernican revolution to a new level of development. Bacon laid a foundation, and was a powerful and persuasive advocate, for objective inquiry about the natural world in place of the Medieval scholastic authoritarianism that still influenced the culture of British society in his lifetime. On practical rather than general levels, much work was being done in the areas of navigation, cartography, and surveying—John Widdowes' A Description of the World (1621) being one significant volume in this area—as well as in continuing William Gilbert's work on magnetism from the previous reign. Scholarship and the sciences, or "natural philosophy", had important royal patrons in this era—not so much in the King but in his son, Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales, and even his wife, Anne of Denmark (the Danish Court, from which she derived, had a strong patronage tradition in intellectual matters).
The fine arts were dominated by foreign talent in the Jacobean era, as was true of the Tudor and Stuart periods in general. Daniel Mytens was the most prominent portrait painter during the reign of James, as Anthony van Dyck would be under the coming reign of his son. Yet the slow development of a native school of painting, which had made progress in the previous reign, continued under James, producing figures like Robert Peake the Elder (died 1619), William Larkin (fl. 1609–19), and Sir Nathaniel Bacon (1585–1627). Some would also claim, as part of this trend, Cornelius Johnson, or Cornelis Janssens van Ceulen, (1593–1661), born and trained in London and active through the first two Stuart reigns.
Emergence of Tobacco
In the domain of customs, manners, and everyday life, the Jacobean era saw a sweeping change with the growing prevalence of tobacco use. James I published his A Counterblaste to Tobacco in 1604, but the book had no discernible effect; by 1612, London had 7000 tobacconists and smoking houses. The Virginia colony survived because the English acquired the nicotine habit.