The Elizabethan Era

A sketch of Queen Elizabeth I
The Elizabethan era was a time period marked by the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.
Image Credits: National Portrait Gallery, London / Wikimedia Commons ({{PD-US}})

The Elizabethan era is the period of Queen Elizabeth I’s reign in English history—from 1558 to 1603. This period lasted for 45 years. The Elizabethan era is also called the Golden Age of English history because it aided poetry, music, and literature. William Shakespeare and many other playwrights composed famous plays and poems during this time. Art flourished in England, and theaters gained popularity. The government was centralized, well-organized, and effective. It was also the age of exploration and expansion for English rule across the globe.

Clothing and fashion played an important role among nobles and the wealthy during this period. Society was class-based and so were sports and diet. Animal sports, including dog fighting and bull baiting, were popular, but hunting was strictly for the upper class. This was also an age of plots and conspiracies. The following essays further depict how life was during the Elizabethan era.

Elizabethan Era Essay Examples

The Elizabethan Era- The Rebirth of England

It all began with the travesty that is it bubonic plague. Transported by fleas on rodents, thousands of people’s lives were lost before it was all over. After the plague, Western Europe went through a period of “rebirth”- called the Renaissance.

Elizabethan Era: The Golden Age

Elaborate gowns, lavish parties, palaces full of gold and silver- these are just a few thoughts that come to mind when one hears the term “Elizabethan Era”; however, there is more to this period than what meets the eye. The Elizabethan Era was a significant epoch in the United Kingdom’s history. 

The Elizabethan Age

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live during the Elizabethan Era? To see the works of great playwrights such as William Shakespeare and Ben Jonson firsthand? The theater was one of the cornerstones of Elizabethan life, and many people knew the works of Shakespeare and Jonson.

Sports, Games, and Pastimes of the Elizabethan Era

The sports, games, and pastimes of the time of Shakespeare have not just been set aside and paid no attention to, but they have been effectively abandoned and omitted. The Elizabethan hobbies have been thoroughly overshadowed by many modern sports such as baseball, football, soccer, hockey, and an abundant amount of other games.

Medicine During the Elizabethan Era

The medicinal practices and problems of the Elizabethan Era were very important to the people, although they are very different from those of today. There were many different beliefs and diseases, like the Plague. Medicine was not an exact science and was related to Alchemy (Chemistry).

Clothing in the Elizabethan Era

A sketch of a group of people dressed as per the style during the Elizabethan Era
Clothing was as per social classes during the Elizabethan Era.

Fashion became more colorful, flamboyant, and elaborate in this era. The most preferred fabrics were linen and cotton. Court fashion was highly influenced by Spanish and French styles. Men wore military-style clothes and women wore Farthingale (a hooped petticoat); large round collars called ruffs were for both sexes. Predominant stitching styles included canvas stitching and blackwork in silk on linen.

Clothing was also an important indicator of a person’s societal status. Hence, people chose colors and clothing materials very carefully. The Queen wore polished silhouettes with a nipped-in waist and hats; the court and nobles followed suit. The commoners too adopted new designs, but their outfits were made from cheaper materials. In case a commoner dressed in contrast to their class, authorities would often fine them and confiscate their clothing.

Clothing In The Elizabethan Era

“Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.” This quote by Rachel Zoe speaks volumes about fashion in the time period in which Shakespeare lived. Many people believe royal women from the Elizabethan era only wore fancy dresses for looks

Fashion During the Elizabethan Era

Have you ever wondered what people in the Elizabethan Era wore? Fashion was just as important in those days as it is to some people today. What people were wearing mattered to others, and even the government. During the Elizabethan Era clothing, accessories, and cosmetics were all a part of daily life.

Crime and Punishment in the Elizabethan Era

Roman military beating criminals with sticks
Punishments during the Elizabethan era were given as per the six societal classes.

Society was divided into classes during the Elizabethan era, and punishment for crimes was decided accordingly. These classes also determined people’s choices of jobs, human rights, clothes, and even furniture. The categorization was very strict and didn’t allow people to switch easily. There were six social classes: monarch, nobility, gentry, merchant, yeomanry, and laborers (commoners). The monarch was the highest social class; it had members of the royal family. A person obtained this status usually by birth. People belonging to the nobility class were members of the court and parliament. Gentry (aristocrats) included people who held local offices. The fourth order was the merchants, and these men were shopkeepers, traders, innkeepers, and so on. They produced goods for others to use. The yeomanry (middle class) lived a comfortable lifestyle. They had large amounts of property but lacked long-term financial and economic stability. The peasantry class was the lowest order of society and included poor people.

The nobility, because of their societal status, were involved in crimes different from those of commoners. These included high treason, blasphemy, spying, alchemy, murder, and witchcraft. These crimes were punished by execution (beheading or hanging). Except for commoners, most other classes of people were punished in a similar fashion. Commoners committed crimes out of poverty, and these included theft, poaching, and adultery. Some of the punishments designed for this class were burning, hanging, whipping, branding, pressing, and so on. Death by execution was held in public and witnessed by many people. Crimes were not treated casually for any of the classes.

Crime and Punishment in the Elizabethan Age

In order to determine what the law was in the Elizabethan Age for crime and punishment, you must research crime and punishment in that age, the laws and the acts. In the Elizabethan Age there were many different crimes. Each of those crimes had their own punishment or punishments. 

Crime And Punishment In Elizabethan England

The renaissance was a violent era where royalty ruled and crimes were rampant and their punishments harsh, even an insult could result in death. The masses lived in fear of being accused of false crimes, while paranoid royals chopped off people’s heads.

Literature and Theater in the Elizabethan Era

A stage performance of Romeo and Juliet, a popular play during the Elizabethan Era
The Elizabethan era was a time when arts, music, and literature flourished.
Image Credits: H. Parker Rolfe, Philadelphia / Wikimedia Commons ({{PD-US}})

The Elizabethan era witnessed a great boom in literature and diverse plays, particularly in the genre of tragedy. Theater and poetry were the dominant art forms. Drama was at its peak as English people developed an interest in plays. Theaters such as the Globe (1599) and the Rose (1587) were built. This era witnessed the translation of several foreign books into English. The most important playwrights and poets during the time were William Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, Christopher Marlowe, and Edmund Spenser. 

William Shakespeare emerged as a great poet and playwright. He wrote many popular plays such as Othello, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and Macbeth. They involved themes of love, power, jealousy, and ambition.  Sonnet, a 14-line lyric poem, also gained popularity during this period. Shakespeare composed 145 sonnets and was considered one of the best-known sonneteers. Sir Philip Sidney was another prominent figure who penned the first Elizabethan sonnet cycle: Astrophel and Stella. Christopher Marlowe was a contemporary of Shakespeare and also a prolific poet and playwright. His famous works included his translation of Goethe’s tale of Dr. Faust (The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus).

Overall, ideas of nationalism, freedom, and humanism ruled the era’s literary space. This age was adorned with the notions of metaphors, grand romances, and innovations.

Arts and Crafts of Elizabethan Era

Queen Elizabeth’s reign had a very large impact on the blossom of arts and crafts in late 1500’s and early 1600’s of England. She had a great passion for arts, crafts, and literature. This inspired several artists, play writes, author, and architects to move their practice to the England. 

Literature During The Elizabethan Era Essay

Many periods of time throughout history have developed their own forms of literature. From 1558 to 1603, Queen Elizabeth I reigned during the golden age in English history. The Elizabethan Era had a large growth of literature

Theater During the Elizabethan Era

The term Elizabethan refers to the period when Queen Elizabeth the First ruled England. Historians also called it the Golden Age, a time in history where England was at its best economically, and more expansive than it’s been for about a thousand years.

How Did Shakespeare Influence The Elizabethan Era

William Shakespeare was an English writer who was regarded as one of the best writer during the Elizabethan era. Shakespeare is known for many of his poems and plays that he wrote. Historically women weren’t regarded equally as men were. The education level that was offered during that time was different for men and woman.

Education and Religion in the Elizabethan Era

A dame school run by housewives during the Elizabethan era.
During the Elizabethan era, education was mostly restricted to males, and religion was divided into Catholicism and Protestantism.
Image Credits: Unknown Author / Wikimedia Commons({{PD-US}})

Education during this era was gender based and class dependent. Boys were expected to pursue education, whereas girls were meant to live a domestic life. The upper-class girls were, however, an exception. University education was open to both genders but only to those who could fund their studies. Despite these rules, literacy rates did increase during this period.

In general, schooling for children began at home and was continued through petty schools, grammar schools, and universities. The primary form of schooling was the petty school (“dame school”), often run by locally educated housewives. Such schools provided education to children from the age of five. When they were six years old, they were taught by their parents and were expected to help at home. At petty and grammar schools, lessons were focused on studying the Bible and history and learning Latin. At the age of 14, children could attain a specialization in any subject at a university, only if it was economically feasible.

It was believed that before Queen Elizabeth’s reign began, most people were Catholics. But during Edward V’s reign, England and Wales became more Protestant; this, however, ended upon his death. When Queen Elizabeth ascended to the throne, she created the Religious Settlement, in which she hoped to satisfy the demands of both Catholics and Protestants. The parliament further helped by passing the acts of Supremacy and Uniformity. Though people supported her decisions, she did face threats from both Catholics and Puritans.

Overall, this era saw remarkable changes in the fields of theater, art, literature, and exploration in England. The country witnessed social, cultural, and religious changes. Cities—London, in particular—showed dynamic growth as the population flourished. It really was the Golden Age of English history.

Education in Elizabethan England

The Elizabethan Era was a turning point in England’s history. It marked an advanced new age of poetry and literature. Often referred to as the golden age in English history, the Renaissance brought new light to the citizens (“Elizabethan Era”). 

Public Education In Elizabethan Times

In Elizabethan times, education was not available to the public like it is now today. The rate of literacy back then increased, and one fifth of the population could write their name. The meaning of “public” back then meant that children were not taught at home.

Protestant and Catholic Conflict in the Elizabethan Era

Throughout history, religious conflicts have led to war, turmoil, and devastation. From the very beginning of humanity, religion has played an active role alongside man. As religion began to establish various denominations, people started to question the superiority of one religion over another.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Which time period was the Elizabethan era?

    Often depicted as the Golden Age of English history, the Elizabethan era was a period during which Queen Elizabeth I reigned. It was between 1558 and 1603.

  • Why is the Elizabethan era called the Golden Age of English history?

    England rose as a major European power in politics, arts, and economy during the Elizabethan era. Poetry, literature, music, and theater flourished. The era also witnessed the rise of the Renaissance and great works by writers and poets such as William Shakespeare and Edmund Spencer.

  • How many classes existed during the Elizabethan era?

    Society during the Elizabethan era had six classes: monarch, nobility, gentry, merchant, yeomanry, and commoners. Queen Elizabeth I belonged to the highest social class (monarchy), whereas the lower class (the peasantry) consisted of poor people.

  • What plays did Shakespeare write in the Elizabethan era?

    Shakespeare wrote at least 37 plays during the Golden Age of English history. These include popular historical plays such as Henry V and Richard III. His most famous tragedies were Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and Macbeth.

  • What was the name of the most famous Elizabethan theater?

    Elizabethan theaters (English Renaissance theater) were first founded by James Burbage in 1576 CE, in London. The most famous one was called the Globe Theatre, also in London. This theater showcased many of William Shakespeare's plays such as Romeo and Juliet, Henry V, and King Lear.