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Elizabethan England

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All About Shakespeare's time

The Elizabethan era corresponded to the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, from 1558 to 1603. The population of England at this time was 3 million people. By modern standards, life was very hard for these people, and the average life expectancy was just 42 years. Most people worked as farmers, farming livestock, or grains.

           

Religion- Queen Mary I was on the throne before Elizabeth. Mary I was a Roman Catholic, and steered her people to be the same. When Mary died and Elizabeth was crowned queen, things were going to change. Elizabeth I was a Protestant, but the majority of her people were Catholic, only a fraction were Protestant. Because of this, Elizabeth established the Church of England. This was a new religion that was a mixture of both Catholic and Protestant. 

           

Education- Education was only available to boys or men, no girls were allowed. Most of the schools were grammar schools. These were divided into two types of schools, public grammar schools and private schools. Public schools got their money from wealthy or noble men who would donate money so that the children could have an education. Private schools got their money by charging the boy’s parent’s fees. Schools were more widely available by the end of Elizabeth I reign than before. Even after this being said, only 20% of men were able to sign their name, and even less for women. Instead of a signature, people would use a sign or symbol.

           

Education would normally depend on a person’s class, for example, labourers were usually illiterate, and gentlemen were literate, therefore giving them the opportunity to attend one of the two of England’s universities, Oxford or Cambridge.

           

Daily Life- People of the Elizabethan time strongly believed in their social order. They believed that the queen was god’s representative on earth. The government even made laws on what people could wear, e.g. it was wrong for a labourer to dress up as a wealthy gentleman.

           

Children were well behaved and they were expected to follow their roles. If children misbehave in anyway, it was not wrong for their parents to physically punish them. Men were also allowed to physically “correct” their wives if any wrongdoing took place.

           

Crime & Punishment- For serious crimes, people were hung. For less serious crimes people were put in stocks in the town. Large crowds would gather to watch the offenders get whipped. The crowd were allowed to throw objects, and spit on the criminals.

           

Entertainment- The Theatre was very popular when it came to entertainment. It allowed the rich and poor to watch, as it had cheaper seats. Gambling was also a very big means of entertainment. Many people gambled on games using cards and dice. People of the Elizabethan period also enjoyed cockfighting, which today is illegal.

 

 

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