The four Stuart kings who reigned in Britain for most of the seventeenth century were perhaps the most enthusiastic theatre buffs who have ever occupied the throne. It seemed that only a royal death or a severe outbreak of plague (and there were very severe outbreaks from February to November 1625, and from May 1636 to October 1637) could stop the tide of continual playmaking, until the Civil War and the Interregnum of Cromwellian rule dammed its flow. But despite this notable interruption, the spate gathered new force with the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660 and only diminished twenty-five or thirty years later. During the seventeenth century, it may be that the theatre evolved more rapidly than over any equivalent period since.