The Elizabethan Era
Often considered to be the golden age in English history, the Elizabethan Era took place during the Renaissance between 1558 and 1603. England experienced peace and prosperity, and in addition, the arts thrived. The period is named after the ruler of England during the time-period, Queen Elizabeth I. She never married and had no children, but often stated that she was married to the country.
The era is most famous for its theatre and the works of the famous playwright and poet, William Shakespeare and another playwright, Christopher Marlowe. Shakespeare is thought to be the greatest writer of the English language. English poetry was important too, including the sonnet. The first theatre that opened in 1567 was called The Red Lion, and then many others opened over the next thirty years including the Curtain Theatre in 1577 and the Globe Theatre in 1599. The popular genres of the theatre included history, comedy, and tragedy.
Music and painting were also popular during the Elizabethan Era producing composers William Boyd and John Dowland, and talented painters such as Nicholas Hilliard and George Gower, who was Queen Elizabeth's personal artist.
During the era, the English navy rose and defeated the Spanish Armada in 1588. There were also many improvements in navigation including the successful trip around the globe by Sir Francis Drake. Another English explorer, Sir Walter Raleigh traveled to the New World (now America) and established the Virginia Colony, plus Sir Humphrey Gilbert discovered Newfoundland, an eastern province of Canada.
Among the nobles during the Elizabethan Era, clothing and fashion played an important role in society, especially for those who were wealthy. There were laws created to control the types of clothing a person was permitted to wear. Only members of royalty could wear clothing trimmed with ermine fur, and nobles were permitted to wear fancy clothes made from silk and velvet. Bright colors were prevalent and people would wear large ruffles on their wrists and collars.
Three different bodies made up the complicated government in England during the era: the monarch, Privy Council, and the Parliament.
Queen Elizabeth made up the monarch, and was very powerful, but she also had to get permission from parliament to implement taxes. However, she made most of the other laws of the land on her own. She was a Protestant and was often in danger of being assassinated by Catholics. They wanted to replace her with Mary, Queen of Scots.
The Privy Council included the queen's closest advisors making suggestions and advising the queen on a variety of matters. When she first became queen in 1558 there were 50 members of the council, but the number was reduced to just 11 members by 1597.
Finally, there were two groups that made up Parliament: The House of Lords were the nobles and high-ranking church officials called bishops. The second group was the House of Commons made up of commoners, or 'regular' people.
In summary, the Elizabethan Era took place during the Renaissance, which was a period from the 14th to the 17th century in Europe. It was a time of peace and prosperity led by Queen Elizabeth I.
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