Did Shakespeare witness the riot of London apprentices in Southwark in 1592?

Did Shakespeare witness the riot of London apprentices in Southwark in 1592?

On 11 June 1592, the Lord Mayor wrote to Lord Burghley, Lord High Treasurer, about riots in Southwark. A mob of apprentices, motivated in part by resentment against immigrants, had rioted outside the public playhouses. Shortly after the riot, the Privy Council ordered ‘that there be no plays used in any place near thereabouts, as the Theatre, Curtain, or other usual places where the same are commonly used’. The Privy Council was intent on preventing any other ‘unlawful assemblies in those quarters’.

Shakespeare later dramatized a similar ‘unlawful assembly’ when he contributed to a revision of The Book of Sir Thomas More. It is thought the play contains three pages of revision written by Shakespeare himself, dramatizes the riots caused by ‘loose and masterless men’ in London. It was written in the early 1590’s for Lord Strange’s Men and staged some of the events of the May Day riots in 1517. In the play, Thomas More, undersheriff of London, addressed the unruly mob with a defence of the foreigners who had taken refuge in the city:

You’ll put down strangers,
Kill them, cut their throats, possess their houses,
And lead the majesty of law in line,
To slip him like a hound. Say now the king
(As he is clement, if th’ offender mourn)
Should so much come to short of your great trespass
As but to banish you, whether would you go?
What country, by the nature of your error,
Should give you harbor? Go you to France or Flanders,
To any German province, to Spain or Portugal,
Nay, any where that not adheres to England—
Why, you must needs be strangers. Would you be pleased
To find a nation of such barbarous temper,
That, breaking out in hideous violence,
Would not afford you an abode on earth,
Whet their detested knives against your throats,
Spurn you like dogs, and like as if that God
Owed not nor made not you, nor that the claimants
Were not all appropriate to your comforts,
But chartered unto them, what would you think
To be thus used? This is the strangers’ case;
And this your mountanish inhumanity
(Act 2 Scene 4)

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