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SHAKESPEARE'S FAMOUS 'PRO-REFUGEE' SPEECH - THE 500th MAY DAY ANNIVERSARY

We hope you enjoy this audio recording about an actual historical event - the 'Evil May Day Riots' - that Shakespeare helped to dramatise. The main riot took place 500 years ago on 1st May 1517 just a few hundred yards north of St Paul's Cathedral.

It brought Sheriff More to the attention of Henry Vlll who subsequently made him 'Sir' Thomas More and later Lord High Chancellor of England.

Catholics venerate him as Saint Thomas More. Henry had him executed in 1532 for refusing to take the Oath of Supremacy.

The video format is primarily designed for beginners to illustrate the importance of following the iambic rhythm in verse. If you wish, you can skip the verse-nursing intro and go straight to the speech that starts at 1 min: 18 sec.

The speech is long - 69 lines - and can hardly be said to a bag of laughs. Still, intellectually it is interesting, while yet easy to grasp. 500th anniversaries of gravitas don't come along too often in our lives, so here we offer it without cuts (though with some modest editorial amendment since it only survives in rough copy and, significantly, in Shakespeare's own hand - the only Shakespeare in the entire canon to do so).

Make a cup of tea and set aside six minutes of your life. If nothing else it's a good opening gambit for a cerebral conservation your friends and colleagues. They will be impressed by the sweeping arc of your erudition!

PS
You will notice some contractions of words like 'mutinies' (mut'nies), 'appropriate' (appropr'ate), 'mountanish' (mount'nish). This is deliberate and in accordance with the proper principles of verse-speaking where verse lines have extra syllables. 

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