Like all periods, the Early Modern English Period is linked to several epoch-making historical events, alterations, and inventions. Needless to mention, defining changes from one period to another vary, therefore precise dating is tricky. In general, the Early Modern English Period is roughly dated from 1500 to 1700, following the Middle English Period. Important historical events,like the end of the War of the Roses, manifesting the Tudor dynasty with King Henry VIII thereby giving way for a more stable centralized English government, and the invention of the printing press in 1476 by William Caxton, mark the beginning of this new era. Other defining events are the reformation of the Catholic Church in England through Henry VIII, as well as the start of English overseas adventures and colonization.Initiated by John Cabotís exploration of Newfoundland (1496-7) the English began to settle the mainland of America with their first permanent English settlement, Jamestown, in 1607. The end of the Early Modern English Period is often dated at around 1700, with the end of the Interregnum (1649-1660)and the Restoration Period of Charles II in 1660.

The evolution of the English language from Middle to Modern English also marks a transition from one period to another. From 1500 to 1700 English underwent significant changes. One very prominent difference between Middle English and Modern English is the distinct pronunciation of English vowels. In a nutshell, in the early 15th century, people started to pronounce vowels differently and over the course of two centuries, all long vowels were affected and consequently altered. This phenomenon is called the Great Vowel Shift and shall be dealt with in an extra chapter.

The reasons for these changes may lie in the historical invention in the early 15th century which changed the distribution of literature and increased literacy: the aforementioned invention of the printing press in 1476, and also in various other circumstances that made an impact on the language and society in these centuries, e.g.the Shakespearean influence on the English language.

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Shakespeare's writings are universally associated with Early Modern English