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The 15 Most Important People in European History

The List:
1 Adolf Hitler
2 Isaac Newton
3 Albert Einstein
4 Queen Elizabeth I
5 Charles Darwin
6 King Henry VIII
7 Leonardo Da Vinci
8 Mahatma Gandhi
9 Otto Von Bismarck
10 Galileo Galilei
11 Winston Churchill
12 Michelangelo
13 William Shakespeare
14 Francis Bacon
15 Pablo Picasso
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No. 13 William Shakespeare

This list would not be complete without the inclusion of arguably the world's greatest author, William Shakespeare. Shakespeare is the defining author in British Literature, and by extension the literature of many other cultures. He also defined dramatic techniques that are used today.

The details of Shakespeare's life are sketchy at best, but what we do know is that he was born in 1564, and was the third out of eight children, and the first born male. He probably was apprenticed, although there is doubt about whether it is to a butcher or to an educator. Regardless in 1582, at the age of 18, he married Anne Hathaway, and had three children, one of which (the male) did not survive.

Shortly after he moved to London, and by 1592 had achieved a name for himself as a quite an author, although at that time it was mostly sonnets and poetry that gave him recognition. However, he soon became know for his plays, the comedies, tragedies and histories that Shakespeare is generally recognized for. His plays were put on by his companies, Lord Chamberlain's men and the King's men. In fact, his plays were the most popular at the Royal Courts of both Elizabeth I and James I, and Shakespeare quite frequently received patronage from both of them. Shakespeare eventually slowed down, and by 1616 he had become a leading town citizen, and he eventually died a wealthy man.

But it is not because of the life of Shakespeare that he is remembered, but for his works. Shakespeare has produced some of the finest lines of the English language ever written. "To be, or not to be?", perhaps the most recognizable piece of literature, comes from his pen. Moreover, Shakespeare produced works that have been studied ever since. Works such as Hamlet, Macbeth, and Romeo and Juliet, works that define the English language are his. Also, we know what we know about many old English rulers from Shakespeare and his histories. The impact his plays have had cannot be understated.

The impact on the English language is also important. Shakespeare is best known for his rhyming couplets, or two phrases that rhyme, to end an act. He also used Iambic pantamenor, or 5 beats per line, in all of his plays. Lastly, Shakespeare developed the system of five acts per show, and his way of clarifying characters with various monologues and soliloquies has been used ever since.

Now it comes time to examine reasons for inclusion on this list. The first reason is that of impact on people's lives. Shakespeare is read by ever person at some time. His plots and lines of dialogue are so ingrained in our culture that it is impossible to catch all of the references. Almost everyone knows the name of Shakespeare and every book or movie that we read has some derivation, however minor, from something that he has done. Shakespeare has influenced our lives, as seen in the many ways his works touch us every day.

The next reason for inclusion is impact on countries. Here it is rather difficult to judge, however the one thing that can be examined is English Culture. Shakespeare helped to clarify English culture, and that culture spread across the world like a rocket. Because of the efforts of Shakespeare, and the authors that he touched, English culture and literature became the dominant form, and so by extension, so did the country of England.

The third and final reason for inclusion is the impact on long-term movements. Here the answer is obvious. Shakespeare defined modern theater, creating something that is both deep and has popular appeal. Look around at the movies and plays you see all come from techniques that Shakespeare helped to develop. Also the control of the English language that Shakespeare demonstrated have been taught ever since, so it can be said that he influenced the movement towards the teaching of literature. However it is defined, the fact that Shakespeare influenced European history cannot be denied.

Birth: April 23, 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon, England
Nickname: Shakespeare
Education: Never proceeded to university schooling.
Occupation: Playwright
Religious Affiliation: Anglican
Marriage: Anne Hathaway on November 28, 1582.
Children: Susanna, was born on May 26, 1583.
Twins, Hamnet and Judith, born February 2, 1585 and christened at Holy Trinity.
Political Affiliation: None.
Writings: Numerous writings. Among his best-known plays are Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and MacBeth. He is also known for his poetry, especially his sonnets.
Died: April 23, 1616
Buried: Holy Trinity in Stratford

Links for William Shakespeare
Shakespeare and the Internet -
Shakespeare's Complete Works -
The Shakespeare Web -
Shakespeare Oxford Society -