The Elizabethan Era Facts for Kids
Table of Contents
- The Elizabethan Age was the period when Queen Elizabeth I was in power.
- This time saw a lot of new things, including the full flowering of English literature and poetry.
- There were many more theaters, including one with William Shakespeare, who wrote plays.
- There were religious changes, with some people becoming Protestants after the Church split apart.
The Elizabethan Era Facts: Queen Elizabeth I
Queen Elizabeth I was a Protestant. She wanted the Church of England, which people went to in England, to be the only church. But she didn’t ask about people’s beliefs even though there were laws about how they could pray and what kind of services they could have. Keep reading to learn more about the Elizabethan Era facts.
Elizabeth I succeeded in finding a balance between Catholics and Protestants. She did this to avoid any serious religious conflict within England.
People liked Elizabeth, especially after she defeated the Spanish Armada, which Spain sent to conquer England and restore Catholicism.
Elizabeth never married, so she could keep England safe. She was the Queen of England.
It is different from now because she had more power than any other leader in today’s government. Her government worked on a system arranged by rank, with her at the top of the list.
Elizabeth had all the power in the land, and she could give out important jobs to anyone. She used a system called patronage to keep her people happy and loyal to her.
The people who helped Elizabeth rule came together at the Privy Council. Elizabeth chose these men from nobles, gentry, and members of the church.
Sir Francis Walsingham was a good spymaster. He helped Queen Elizabeth I to keep her crown safe. He used trickery and deceit to make sure that she was safe.
Walsingham was the head of the Secret Service and put agents in France, Spain, and Italy. His information gathering helped lead Francis Drake to success. It helped convict Mary, Queen of Scots and gave a warning for the Spanish Armada. He is considered to be one of the fathers of modern intelligence.
Daily Lives in the Elizabethan Era
The Elizabethans believed that there was a system of order for everything. This also included the order of society, animals and plants, and even the place minerals had in daily life.
The queen was at the top, and she controlled how much money you had and what your life would be like. People who were lower on this system accepted their place in society because they did not have other options.
Some people might find it shocking, but Queen Elizabeth did this in 1559. It was a special show for the French ambassador.
There you could watch animals trying to kill each other. For example, dogs and horses fought each other. Sometimes monkeys rode on the dogs and bit them.
Bears and English mastiffs also fought with each other, as did mastiffs and bulls. The bears that were in London were known by their nicknames, just like modern football players.
There were many bows and arrows. Some people used them to shoot instead of guns. But all males had to be able to shoot arrows, even if they did not want to use them in battle anymore.
Wrestling and football were two sports that appealed to young men. They often cooled off by taking a bath in the Thames.
Nobility in Elizabethan times would play a musical instrument, such as a violin or a viol. They came in different sizes. The smaller ones are like a modern violin, and the bigger ones are like double basses.
Queen Elizabeth was good at playing the virginals. She liked to play and do surprises. For example, she played for the French ambassador when he came to visit her.
England was a male-run society even though it had a queen. Historians have looked at old pictures of family life and say that women had some freedoms too.
Poverty in Elizabethan times was mainly thought to be the fault of the person living in poverty. However, with more and more people living in poverty and fear of social unrest growing, Elizabeth introduced the Poor Laws.
These laws helped support poor people and unemployed people. They were also one of the first forms of welfare that we know about today.
Spanish and French styles influenced Elizabethan Court fashion. For women, the farthingale is notable. Men wore military styles like the mandilion. Both sexes wore ruffs.
The Elizabethan era also saw a great flowering of embroidery for clothing and furnishings. The most popular style was done in tent stitch on canvas, but blackwork in silk on linen was also common.
At the end of the reign, people gradually started to use more colors instead of just black. They embroidered in silk instead of just in wool.
At this time, people ate a lot of different food. They had things like oatmeal that was cooked with beans or peas. People also ate meat from all types of animals and lots of fruit and vegetables. They sometimes had a dessert called a banquet.
The biggest and perhaps most loved festival of all was 12 days long. The Christmas season, the 12 days of Christmas, started on the 24th of December and lasted until Epiphany on January 6th.
A Lord of Misrule was chosen. He chose his council to help him. Together, communities planned parties and managed merrymaking. Sometimes a King of the Bean was selected by cooking a bean into a cake, and the person who found the bean became king/queen for that day. A pea might be cooked in, and the Queen of the Peas chosen too. The Queen of the Peas could be a boy or girl.
Carolers would sing for money, and mummers would perform. Carolers might ask for money or food. It is bad luck if you do not give them something.
Kings and lords were expected to have a lot of food in their houses. Marchpane, or marzipan, was one of the most popular things.
The yule log was brought in. The greenery, such as holly and ivy, was used.
On New Year, instead of Christmas Day, people give gifts. The Lord of Misrule had the biggest party on Epiphany, and this ended the Christmas season.
Pirates and Exploration
In the Elizabethan period, England was a time of growing patriotism. Many English seamen traveled the globe and established new trade routes after the cloth trade in Europe collapsed. The English explorers tried to find new trade routes and expand their trade in the Spanish colonies in the Americas.
Sir Francis Drake was a pirate appointed by Elizabeth I to help beat the Spanish Armada. He also sailed around the world.
Sir Walter Raleigh was famous as a writer and poet. He also explored, fought, worked at the court, wrote books, and didn’t believe in religion.
Raleigh was a man who wrote about new worlds as well as exploring them. He fought in wars and wrote poems. Raleigh liked to study different things like geography, theology, and poetry. He also studied how to govern people.
When Elizabeth I was queen, English people first began to colonize the eastern coast of America. This happened because people disagreed with how she and the next two kings ruled.
In the latter part of Elizabeth’s reign, people tried to set up colonies in North America. These early attempts were unsuccessful.
Sir Walter Raleigh made an idea to explore and colonize the New World. His plan was for Virginia, which includes North Carolina and Virginia. He had a problem on Roanoke Island, but it paved the way for other colonies.
They might have been more successful if they had tried to establish trading links with India. James Lancaster’s voyages to India led to the East India Company. This company traded with India.
The Elizabethan Era Facts: Mary, Queen of Scots
In 1560, the Scottish Parliament mainly became Protestant. The Pope was not allowed to have power. People could not go to Catholic services.
Mary Stuart was the queen in Scotland. She became queen when she was 1 week old because her father died.
When she was a kid, she spent a lot of time in France. When she came back to Scotland, it caused many arguments between people. When her husband died, people thought that Mary had something to do with it, and so she left for England.
Mary gave her throne to her son James VI. Mary was Elizabeth’s cousin and hoped she would help her. But Elizabeth thought that Mary wanted to take over the English throne, so she kept her prisoner for 20 years. In the end, Mary was executed because she could have plotted against Elizabeth I.
Read more about Mary, Queen of Scots
William Shakespeare was born in England. He wrote many poems and plays. His most famous play is A Midsummer’s Night Dream, one of his earliest works.
He was an influential writer who wrote about ordinary English people. He also wrote about kings and queens. Shakespeare made up some words that are still in use today.
Many people think Shakespeare is the best playwright ever. His plays and poems are still performed today, even though he died long ago. The Globe Theatre in London is a copy of the theatre where his plays were first performed.
War against Spain
England had a big fight with Spain. It happened both in Europe and in the Americas.
King Philip II of Spain made plans to invade England in 1588. The Spanish Armada defeated him. But in 1589, England attacked Spain and was unsuccessful.
Spain helped the Irish Catholics in their fight against England. Spain’s forces were good at beating England’s forces. They did this many times, which hurt the English.
Until 1604, the English had carefully restored their economics. They would not be able to do more colonization and trade until they signed a treaty in 1604.
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Elizabethan Era | Government, Religion, Way of Life
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The Elizabethan Era is named after one of the greatest Queen’s of England – Queen Elizabeth I’s reign from 1558 – 1603.
See the fact file below for more information on the Elizabethan Era or alternatively, you can download our 24-page Elizabethan Era worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
Queen Elizabeth I
- Elizabeth I was born on September 7, 1533, the daughter of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.
- When she was three years old, her mother was accused of adultery and incest (with her brother George Boleyn) and was beheaded at the Tower of London.
- When the king died, her older brother became King Edward VI who was soon replaced by their sister, Catholic Queen Mary I.
- Elizabeth became the queen at the age of 25 governing England with relative stability and prosperity for 44 years, from 1558 until her death in 1603.
- During her reign, Elizabeth I established Protestantism in England; leading to the persecution of the Roman Catholics and the Pope excommunicated the queen.
- However, this united her previously divided nation that helped create a new era called England’s Golden Age or Elizabethan England.
- She was able to avoid clashing with the superpower of the age, Spain, but eventually won against the Spanish during the infamous Spanish Armada in 1588.
- In the latter years of her reign, England’s hardship began from failed crops, unemployment, and inflation. Rebellions and riots also threatened the nation.
- They also never married so her death also marked the end of the house of Tudor — a royal family that had ruled England since the late 1400s.
- The Elizabethan government was not without constant plots and conspiracies. She was targeted for assassination due to her religious affiliation. However, she survived all the plots.
- It was in her government that the English Navy was strengthened. Not only did it defeat the Spanish Navy, but also enabled the English fleet to prey on the Spanish merchant ships carrying gold and silver from the New World.
- Soon, the English monarchy looked into colonizing the New World. John Hawkins and Francis Drake were sent by the queen to pioneer large-scale colonisation.
- When Elizabeth ruled England, she immediately pronounced the immediate removal of the Catholic religion. Protestantism was reintroduced under her.
- The queen’s religious policies, such as the Act of Supremacy and the Act of Uniformity, consolidated the power of the church under her and regularized the practice of the faith.
Elizabethan Culture and the Arts
- Music in the Elizabethan Era also shifted in popularity from sacred to secular music and the rise of instrumental music. The queen herself loved dancing, music, and playing the lute. Well-known composers of this time were William Byrd, John Bull, John Dowland, Robert Johnson, John Taverner, etc.
- The painting was dominated by portraiture; in the form of miniatures, while elaborate textiles and embroidery dominated the decorative arts, and sculptures were usually found within the confines of tombs and architectural decoration.
- In the Elizabethan Era, clothing was a sign of status. It dictated wealth and social status in the Elizabethan Class system.
- Elizabethan Sumptuary Statutes prohibit ‘excess of apparel’ to citizens who do not belong to a certain social hierarchy.
- For example, only earls could wear cloth of gold, or the eldest children have clothing privileges.
- Sports and leisure: The rich people in the Elizabethan era enjoyed tennis, fencing, jousting, and hunting through falconry and small games. Others preferred bear and bull-baiting, dog fighting, and cockfighting.
- Festivals and holidays:
- Plough Monday – marks the beginning of the English agricultural year.
- Candlemas – Christmas decorations were burned in candlelight and torchlight processions.
- Shrove Tuesday – The day before Ash Wednesday where protestants participate in confession and absolution.
- Others such as May Day, Midsummer, Lammastide, Michaelmas, St. Crispin’s Day, The Lord Mayor’s Show, Halloween, All Saints’ Day, All Souls’ Day, and Accession Day.
Elizabethan Health and Diet
- The Elizabethan population had poor public sanitation. There were no sewers or drains and trash was thrown anywhere. Rodents and other pests thrived causing diseases such as smallpox, measles, malaria, typhus, diphtheria, scarlet fever, and chickenpox.
- Main cities suffered overpopulation as well so poverty and homelessness were quite common. The wealth gap was wide so only the richer families could send children to school, have better homes to live in, and have proper jobs.
- The availability of food was plentiful throughout the queen’s reign. However, diet still depended on social class. What was common in all households is that Elizabethan foods were usually cooked in an open flame. Pots, pans, cauldrons, and skillets were the common utensils used.
- The era’s prosperity saw the rise of beautiful architecture that remains to this day.
Elizabethan Era Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle that includes everything you need to know about Elizabethan Era across 24 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use worksheets that are perfect for teaching about the Elizabethan Era which is named after one of the greatest Queens of England – Queen Elizabeth I’s reign from 1558 – 1603.
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- Elizabethan Era Facts
- English Hierarchy
- The Golden Age
- Palace for a Queen
- Elizabethan Fashion
- Elizabethan Music
- Elizabethan Masques
- Elizabethan Recipes
- Shakespeare in the Era
- Becoming a Queen
- The Elizabeths
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Rebirth for Children: The Elizabethan Era
Your Horoscope for Tomorrow
The Elizabethan era ran from 1558 to 1603 and is considered by many historians to be the golden age of the world. English History. During this era, England experienced peace and prosperity, and the arts flourished. The time period is named after Queen Elizabeth I who ruled England at the time.
Elizabethan Costumes Albert Kretschmer
English Renaissance Theater
The Elizabethan era is perhaps best known for its theater and the works of William Shakespeare. English Renaissance theater began with the opening of the Red Lion Theater in 1567. Many more permanent theaters opened in London over the next few years, including the Curtain Theater in 1577 and the famous Globe Theater in 1599.
This period produced some of the world’s great playwrights, including Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare. Today Shakespeare is considered the greatest writer of the English language. Popular theater genres are historical play, tragedy, comedy.
Theater was not the only art form that flourished in the Elizabethan era. Other art forms such as music and painting were popular at the time. Important composers such as William Byrd and John Dowland were born in that era. England also began producing some of its own talented artists such as Nicholas Hilliard and Queen Elizabeth’s personal artist George Gower.
Navigation and intelligence
The Elizabethan era was marked by the rise of the English navy after the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588. She also saw the many improvements in navigation that were noted when Sir Francis Drake successfully circumnavigated the world. Other notable English explorers included Sir Walter Raleigh, who founded the colony of Virginia, and Sir Humphrey Gilbert, who discovered Newfoundland.
Clothing and fashion
Clothing and fashion played an important role among the nobility and the wealthy during this period. In fact, there were laws that said who could wear what clothes. For example, only members of the royal family could wear clothes trimmed with ermine fur. The nobles wore very fancy clothes made of silk and velvet. They used bright colors and had large frills at the wrists and collars.
Government in England at that time was complex and consisted of three different bodies: the monarch, the Privy Council and Parliament.
Queen Elizabeth was the monarch. She was very influential and determined most of the laws of the country, but she had to get the approval of Parliament to impose taxes. The Privy Council consisted of the Queen’s closest advisers. They made recommendations and gave her advice. When Elizabeth first became queen, the Privy Council consisted of 50 members. Over time, she reduced this number until to 159In the year 7, only 11 members remained.
There were two groups in Parliament. One group was called the House of Lords and consisted of nobles and high-ranking church officials such as bishops. The other group was the Commons, made up of the common people.
Interesting facts about the Elizabethan era
- The Royal Exchange, the first stock exchange in England, was founded by Thomas Gresham in 1565.
- Queen Elizabeth was a Protestant and in constant danger of being assassinated by Catholics who wanted to replace her with Mary, Queen of Scots.
- At that time buses became a very popular means of transportation in England among the rich and noble people.
- Queen Elizabeth never married and had no children. She said she was married to her country.
- English poetry flourished, including the sonnet. Famous poets included Edmund Spenser and William Shakespeare.
10 facts about Queen Elizabeth I of England
Queen Elizabeth I of England and Ireland ruled for over 44 years and has been called one of the greatest monarchs in history. The future queen had a difficult childhood. Her mother was executed by her own husband when the baby was less than three years old. The girls had to face abuse from their stepmother’s husband after their father’s death. After her half-sister Mary I became queen, Elizabeth was imprisoned and narrowly escaped execution. However, Mary later recognized her as her heir, and after her death in 1558, Elizabeth became queen. The reign of Elizabeth I is known as the Elizabethan era and is considered one of the golden ages in English history. It was a period of stability and prosperity, in which the arts and literature flourished. Elizabeth was very well educated and knew many languages. She wrote poetry and was an excellent orator. She died in 1603 aged 69years. Elizabeth I never married and is known as the Virgin Queen.
Here is our list of interesting facts about the family, education, life, rise to power, reign and death of Queen Elizabeth I.
Her mother was executed
Elizabeth I was the daughter of Anne Boleyn, the second of the six wives of King Henry VIII of England. Anna was the maid of honor of Henry’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon. Since Catherine could not give him a male heir and because of his feelings for Anna, Henry sought an annulment of his marriage to Catherine, but the pope refused. Nevertheless, Henry secretly married Anne in January 1533 and crowned her Queen of England in June. By the time of her marriage she was pregnant and on 7 September 1533 she gave birth to Elizabeth. In 1534, Anna suffered a miscarriage, and in the meantime, Henry became desperate for a male heir. On May 2, 1536, Anna was arrested on charges of treason, incest and adultery and imprisoned in the Tower. Modern historians believe that the charges against her were fabricated or inconclusive. 19May 1536 Anne Boleyn became the first English queen to be publicly executed. Elizabeth was then two years and nine months old.
Read also: Top 12 most unfairly slandered women in history
She was abused
At first, governesses looked after Elizabeth. Catherine Parr, the last wife of Henry VIII, reunited the family. She treated Elizabeth well and ensured her return to court. Henry VIII died in 1547 and Parr soon married Thomas Seymour, 1st Baron Seymour of Sewdley. Elizabeth lived with her stepmother and her husband in their home. Thomas Seymour reportedly paid Elizabeth a morning visit to her bedroom before she had time to dress. Among other things, he tickled her and slapped her buttocks. On June 11, 1548, Parr found her husband and stepdaughter embracing in a room alone, and the next day Elizabeth was sent away. Parr died after childbirth in September 1548. In January 1549Thomas was arrested for attempting to kidnap King Edward and marry Elizabeth. Elizabeth was summoned for interrogation, but she did not confess to anything and managed to exonerate herself. Thomas Seymour was beheaded on March 20, 1549.
She survived the threat of execution
At birth, Elizabeth was heir presumptive to the English throne. Mary, daughter of Henry and Catherine of Aragon, lost her position due to the dissolution of her parents’ marriage. After Anne Boleyn lost the favor of the king, Elizabeth was also declared illegitimate. 11 days after Anne’s execution, Henry married Jane Seymour, who died shortly after the birth of their son, Prince Edward, in 1537. However, in 1544, Henry VIII returned Mary and Elizabeth to the throne after Edward. Henry VIII died in 1547 and was succeeded by his nine-year-old son Edward VI, who died in 1553. Edward was succeeded by Mary I. In 1554, Wyatt’s rebellion broke out to overthrow Queen Mary I. After it was put down, Elizabeth was accused of involvement and interrogated. On March 18, she was imprisoned in the Tower. It was only thanks to Elizabethan supporters in the government that Mary I was convinced not to execute her sister in the absence of hard evidence. Elizabeth was removed from the Tower on May 22, but she remained under house arrest for almost a year.
In 1555, Elizabeth was recalled to court, and in 1558 Mary recognized her as her heiress. Mary I died on November 17, 1558, and Elizabeth succeeded to the throne. She was crowned Queen of England and Ireland on 15 January 1559. Elizabeth I reigned for 44 years and 127 days from November 17, 1558 until her death on March 24, 1603. She is the ninth longest-reigning British monarch. During the reign of Elizabeth’s predecessors, there were many religious divisions in England. Her father, Henry VIII, broke away from the Church in Rome and appointed himself Supreme Head of the Church of England. Her brother Edward VI founded Protestantism in England, and her sister Mary I restored Catholicism. Elizabeth I addressed this issue immediately after she became queen, through the famous Elizabethan religious settlement, which found a middle path between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. The doctrinal character of the Anglican Church today is largely based on this. Many consider Elizabeth I the heroine of the Protestant movement.
She ordered the execution of her cousin
Mary, Queen of Scots, ruled Scotland from 1542 to 1567. Her grandmother was the sister of Henry VIII and therefore a cousin of Queen Elizabeth. Since Mary was a Catholic, English Catholics considered her the rightful heir to the English crown. In Scotland, in 1567, there was an uprising against Mary, and she was forced to abdicate in favor of her one-year-old son, James VI. After an unsuccessful attempt to regain the throne, Mary fled to England to seek the patronage of Elizabeth. However, Elizabeth was aware of Mary’s popularity among English Catholics and considered her a threat to her throne. Mary was held in custody for eighteen and a half years, after which she was found guilty of conspiring to kill Elizabeth. Mary, Queen of Scots was beheaded at Fotheringhay Castle on 8 February 1587. Since Elizabeth never named a successor, her trusted adviser Robert Cecil entered into encrypted negotiations with James VI of Scotland in the early 17th century. James VI, son of Mary, finally became king of England after the death of Elizabeth I.
Golden age in English history
The reign of Elizabeth I is called the Elizabethan era. This was a period in which England enjoyed stability and domestic peace; in sharp contrast to the previous and subsequent periods. It was also a time when national pride was instilled in the people through classical ideals, international expansion, naval victory over the Spanish in the famous defeat of the Spanish Armada, and tremendous cultural development. Many of the great works of English literature were created during the reign of Elizabeth I. Her deeds and the atmosphere of the court that she brought up played a key role in the flowering of literature. The most famous writers of that time were the playwright William Shakespeare and the poet Edmund Spenser. It was also an age of great exploration for England. Among other things, Sir Francis Drake became the first Englishman to circumnavigate the world. The Elizabethan era is considered the golden age in English history.
Last years of government
Elizabeth I’s most famous achievement was the defeat in 1588 of the Spanish Armada, a huge fleet of some 130 ships sent by the Roman Catholic King Philip II to help invade England. It is considered one of the greatest military victories in English history. However, after the defeat of the Armada in the reign of Elizabeth, there was a decline. The country faced a number of problems, including protracted conflicts with Spain and Ireland, an increase in the tax burden on the population, and an economic recession due to poor harvests and military spending. In addition, the government was divided into two groups, headed by Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, and Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury. It was also a time when her personal authority declined. The death of several of her friends plunged Elizabeth into a severe depression in 1602. She fell ill the following March and died in her sleep on March 24, 1603 at Richmond Palace. She was 69years. Elizabeth was succeeded by James VI, who was King of Scotland.
Relationship with Robert Dudley
Elizabeth I never married and had no children. During her life, she turned down a number of offers, including from King Philip II of Spain, King Eric XIV of Sweden, Archduke Charles of Austria, Henry, Duke of Anjou, and later from his brother Francis, Duke of Anjou. However, there is strong evidence to suggest that Elizabeth was in love and had a romantic relationship with her childhood friend, Robert Dudley. Dudley studied with her when she was Princess Elizabeth; he studied mathematics, rode horseback and danced with her. He also shared with her the experience of being imprisoned in the Tower as suspected traitors during the reign of her sister Mary I. When Dudley’s wife died in September 1560, Elizabeth seriously considered marrying him. In 1564 she made him Earl of Leicester. After much deliberation, Dudley remarried in 1578. Elizabeth is said to have hated his wife Lettice Knollis all her life.
Elizabeth’s unmarried position instilled in her the label of virginity. In poetry and portraits, she was portrayed not as an ordinary woman, but as a virgin, or a goddess, or both. Her virginity was seen as a virtue that lifted her to a higher level. In addition to being known as the Virgin Queen, Queen Elizabeth I is also referred to as Gloriana, based on the character representing her in Edmund Spenser’s poem The Fairy Queen; and the good Queen Bess, Bess being the nickname of Elizabeth. Even in her old age, Elizabeth was portrayed as the Greek virgin goddess Astrea or the eternally young Gloriana. Her portraits became less realistic and she was shown to be much younger than her age. In reality, Elizabeth contracted smallpox in 1562, which left scars on her skin and left her half-bald even though she wore wigs.