chapter  6
20 Pages

Jonson At Court

At the Hampton Court conference of 1604 James aggressively told the representatives of Puritanism that if they did not conform he would 'harry them out of the land'. But non-conformist opposition merely hardened under the harassment that followed. The entry into court circles also meant for Ben Jonson the chance to deepen his acquaintance with those members of the nobility who had already had cause to mark out this emerging poet as an object of special interest. Jonson's first Christmas at court in the winter of 1604–5 was fortuitously a special one. The Yuletide revels on this occasion were unusually joyful and prolonged with the King's Men well to the fore in the ceremonial. For the production on 6 January 1605, the last official event of the court's Christmas season, Jonson had devised an arresting and powerful piece which could not fail to stir interest.