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1556-1603


The 'Elizabethan Era' refers to Queen Elizabeth I's reign, often considered the 'Golden Age' of English history. For all the information you'll ever need to know, Netflix Cate Blanchett's Elizabeth and Elizabeth: The Golden Age - and this site. Sorry to say, though, I'm not a expert in the Elizabethan Era, so I'm not riddling off facts I know off the top of my well-shaped head, so most of this information comes courtesy of Elizabethan Era UK.


  

Life

Life wasn't all happy and cherry, as there was still the over-looming threat of that pesky bubonic plague, still making it's rounds and claiming lives throughout the era. Transmitted by fleas that lived on rodents and animals, the disease not only hit farmers and countryman and the like, but also made its way into highly populated towns and went to work. For some knowledge of Shakespeare and the Black Death, check out the William Shakespeare Site Map, as it features a wealth of information detailing Shakespeare's fear of the Plague and its many casualties.  

 

Food

'Dinner' at noon, 'supper' at 6 PM. Elizabethan England Life notes that foods were spiced up with garlic, cinnamon, cloves, pepper, galingale and ginger; folks also fested on eggs a lot, since it was used to prepare pancackes and omeletes. Typically feasts, invited guests (sitting on benches; chairs reserved only for the most honored of guests - like me). According to Eras of Elegance, everyday folk used wooden bowls and spoons, and every once and a while with their bare fingers rather than forks. The lower/middle class mostly ate grains and vegetables; the noble type consuming meats (a rare commodity; cooked with fruits for flavoring) and sweets. Deserts were dipped in almond, since vanilla and chocolate flavoring were also on the rare list.  


Politics


Politics in general were rather brutal. In relation to crime and punishment, especially: if charged with a severe crime, the results could easily range from a slap on the hand to some quite un-fun torture (e.g., women were placed on a rack, which stretched one out and basically broke and dislocated joints). Aside from those big hiccups, the times were actually quite prosperous. Queen Elizabeth I was continuing a good thing with trade policies, which helped the economy. Life was basically a monarchy, with Queen Elizabeth I having final say in any and everything; laws and other miscellaneous things were a direct result of Queen Elizabeth I’s ideals and customs (such as a state-wide requirement to attend church, as she was deeply religious). So in summation, as long as Queen Elizabeth I’s orders were adhered by strictly, everything was dandy and no ouch torture would occur.  


 

 

Clothing

I'm pretty sure everybody has a idea what Elizabethan clothing is; I doubt a soul's gone through their life without seeing SOMETHING that features said clothing style. But if not, you've come to the right place! (sorta; why'd you go to a Marlowe page to find some Elizabethan era info, mate?)

Women had a vast assortment of accessories to wear. Their underclothes alone included: a smock/shift, stockings/hose, corset/bodice, roll/rowie, and a Farthingale (hoped skirt). Their exterior clothing consisted of a gown, ruff, cloak, shoes, and more often than not, a hat.

Men had it a tad easier; their simple underclothing was a shirt, codpiece, corset (?), and the finishing touches - a stocking or hose. On the outside, men were dressed in a doublet, with a belt, ruff, cloak, shoes, and a hat complimenting his outside machoness.

Cloaks were dictation of status, position, and rank in society. Any clothes violation would be dealt with via severe punishments ordered by the Queen. Such punishments included fines, loss of property, title, and maybe even some death. Queen Elizabeth 1 enforced the Sumptuary Laws on 15 June 1574 under the title 'Statutes of Apparel', a way to mandate who wore what, statuses', and all that jazz.  


 

Sports 

Team sports included hunting (wild boar; mainly for young active men), tournaments (knights fighting on horseback & on foot), Battledore (basically badminton), bowls, gameball (rough & violent football game), hurling/shinty (hockey), Rounders (baseball), Skittles (bowling), Stoolball (cricket).

 

Other more self-oriented sports included archery (with prizes for the most skilled!), Billiards (original pool), Colf (original Golf), fencing, Hammer-throwing (gain some strength), Horseshoes (throw some horseshoes), tennis, wrestling (way more violent and ouch-inducing), and Quarter-staff contests (popular with more with lower classes).


Exploration

The Elizabethan Era is also noteworthy for its mark in exploration. English merchants were the instigators, wishing to purchase Oriental spices (cinnamon, peppers, cloves) necessary to preserve and flavor meat (without refrigerators, it’s kinda difficult). Salt and cigarette smoke was a method used to preserve food, but they ended up messing up the taste more than anything. Spices were obtained via Middle Eastern agents, but they charged a massive-load making said spices rather expensive. So the Europeans sought out to establish their own sea route so they could deal directly with China, India, etc. Spanish and Portuguese mates sailed west to America, or south across the Indian Ocean.

 

Rather lucky results of these skirmishes were the discovery of Newfoundland by John Cabot (1497), Martin Frobisher landed in Greenland & Canada (1576-78), John Davis sailed further north than any before him (1585-87), Hugh Willoughby wet to Moscow and met Ivan the Terrible (1553). Great times, mate, great times.  


 

Before We Leave Off...

What better way to say buh-bye than to show you the last minutes of one of the best episodes of Doctor Who, 'The Shakespeare Code'? For those wondering, Doctor Who is a BBC program that features a alien called The Doctor (played by David Tennant, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) who travels through time and space correcting and making mistakes. It's a awesome show, and is gargantuan in that it's been around for about 40/50 years and has survived 29 seasons, I believe. Highly recommended. Anywho, here's the final, hilarious moments...