A Chaste Maid in Cheapside Historical Context

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Cheapside in the Early Seventeenth Century

Contemporary audiences would have recognized the joke in the play's title. In the early seventeenth century, the chances of finding a chaste maid in Cheapside were slim. Technically, Cheapside—which was also known at various points as West Cheap or simply, Cheap—was the long, wide street that ran through one of the central sections of London. It served as one of London's marketplaces where merchants like Mr. Yellowhammer, the goldsmith from the play, peddled their wares. In this area, prostitutes also peddled their wares and the area itself had an unseemly reputation.

Catholicism versus Protestantism

The ambiguous morality in Cheapside and of England overall may have been the consequence of an ambiguous and constantly changing religious system. In the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, England underwent a Protestant Reformation and Catholic Counter-Reformation, huge theological battles between various Christian churches...

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This section contains 624 words
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Buy the A Chaste Maid in Cheapside Study Guide
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A Chaste Maid in Cheapside from Drama for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.