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Romeo and Juliet takes place in Verona, Italy, in the 1500s. Although the setting was already named in other Romeo and Juliet stories, Shakespeare draws lots of parallels between Verona and the London of his time. Both cities were walled, which made them seem hot and crowded during the summer months. Violence could spread quickly in this atmosphere, and so civil disturbances were treated harshly. Elizabethan Londoners would have thought that the Prince was too merciful to the brawlers.
In cities like London and Verona, the plague spread quickly, so quarantines were commonplace. Also, in Shakespeare's London, Queen Elizabeth's word was law; Londoners would expect no less of Prince Escalus.