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1 Elizabethan England
Describe the coronation of Queen Elizabeth I.
Elizabeth made a well-supported progress through the City of London, on her way to Whitehall for her coronation. She
was crowned as Queen Elizabeth I of England at Westminster Abbey in 1558. The coronation was an elaborate affair,
costing at least £16,000. There were pageants, celebrations and a great banquet at Westminster Hall for the Court and
How important was the royal court?
Many rich Elizabethans came to the Royal Court to be noticed by Queen Elizabeth, hoping to be given an appointment
which would give them an income and greater status. Such people saw the Queen as their patron and it paid to be
loyal to her in the hope of being given further positions or for fear of being dismissed. The Royal Court was important,
therefore, because it included important people who were loyal to the Queen. The Court was also important because it
was the centre of affairs of the state. As well as people appointed through the system of patronage, the Court included
leading courtiers like Sir. William Cecil and the Earl of Leicester. Another thing is that it was a part of Elizabethan
system of government.
What was the Privy Council?
The Privy Council was a small group chosen by the Queen who lived in her household. They were her advisers and
included Elizabeth's most important ministers. It usually numbered between 12 and 20 members.
Explain the role of the Privy Council.
The Privy Council usually numbered between 12 and 20 members. Its members represented all shades of opinion
and the Council was deliberately small so that they could all work together, to travel with Elizabeth, and to advise her on
important questions concerning the government of the country. It was led by Sir. William Cecil as First Secretary of
What was the role of William Cecil?
As Elizabeth was unmarried, she needed a reliable adviser. Sir. William Cecil was appointed as first secretary of state
on the day she became Queen. He had already served Henry VIII as adviser so Elizabeth welcomed his experience.
Cecil's role was important because he had similar religious ideas to Elizabeth and wanted to make England
prosperous, united and respected. He was to keep the balance between the varying opinions in the government. He
served Elizabeth for 40 years (1558-1598).
Explain why parliament began to challenge Elizabeth.
Parliament challenged Elizabeth because they wanted to do more than raise taxation and pass laws. Parliament
wanted to discuss `matters of state' religion, the succession and foreign policy. The issue of the succession very
important and so Parliament fought for the right, `freedom of speech', so that they could discuss Elizabeth's successor.
Elizabeth wanted to keep `matters of state' as her own prerogative and this led to Parliament challenging Elizabeth.
Describe the roles of JP's (Justices of the Peace).
Elizabethan JP's kept law and order throughout England and Wales. They met four times a year in courts of law called
Quarter Sessions to deal with criminal business. In addition to peace-keeping, their role was to see what official
proclamations were carried out, and to take responsibility for a wide range of activities, like the repair of bridges and
the licensing of ale-houses. They were important at a local government level.
Did Elizabeth govern the country successfully?
Elizabeth successfully ruled the country at local level, though the work of lord lieutenants, JPs and, through the work of
the Royal Court, the Privy Council and the work of leading ministers like Cecil, Leicester and Walsingham. During her
long reign, Elizabeth managed to lead her country peacefully and successfully against foreign threats. However, even
though Parliament developed during her reign, it increasing challenged her. The money that Parliament voted to
fight the Armada, for example, was barely adequate for her to deal successfully with the problems of governing the
country. Elizabeth was less successful at the end of her reign, like dealing with the Puritans. Despite this, she passed a
Poor Law Act which served the country until 1834.
Describe the lifestyle of a rich Elizabethan.
A rich Elizabethan would usually be working for the Queen, therefore quite well off in terms of money. Clothing varied
quite dramatically from Henry VIII's reign to Elizabeth I's. Putting on an Elizabethan gown was a long process and
involved lots of clothing. The Sumptuary Law meant that there were rules regarding clothing, and could control what
you wear depending on how wealthy or poor you are. Rich people usually wore a `ruff' around their neck, and usually
had either a triangular shape (women) or a square shape (men) to their outfits. Elizabethan homes was a bit like this
too; rich people would express their wealth by having big, glass windows on a mansion, (which the poor couldn't afford
as glass was very expensive), and would even build their houses long and low, so they were designed to look like an E or
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H from the air (standing for Henry, Elizabeth or Edward). They would also have tall chimneys made of brick, sometimes
stacked in two's or more.
Describe a mansion house lived in by a rich Elizabethan.
An Elizabethan mansion may have been more like Longleat House in Wiltshire, or Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire
`more glass than wall'. Tudor houses are famous for their black and white effect. This effect is made by having a black
timber frame which is filled with wattle-and-daub.…read more
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the needs of the poor, but an Act of 1572 introduced a compulsory poor rate and an Act of 1576 stated that work
schemes were to be created for unemployed. The government's policy towards the poor was inconsistent.
How important was the Poor Law Act of 1601?
A period of famine in the 1950s made the government realise that that organised system of relief was needed to
address the problem of the poor.…read more
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less bad for the poor and unemployed. For the rich landowners, life was good: they lived in grand mansions and
enjoyed hired entertainment and pleasant pastimes. Even though times were generally hard for the poor in
Elizabethan times, they were still able to enjoy popular `sports' and Londoners were able to enjoy the pleasures of the
theatre. Life was not always good for these people, but it could be made manageable.
Describe the religious settlement of 1559.…read more
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Explain why Elizabeth was excommunicated by the Pope in 1570.
After 12 years of indecision, when the Pope was unsure whether Elizabeth would return to England to the Catholic faith
or not, he felt that it was now time to take decisive action. The Rising of the Northern Earls in 1569 reflected Catholic
opinion in a part of England; the Pope took advantage of his to excommunicate Elizabeth and to turn the Catholics
against her.…read more
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period of time. Drake made several voyages to the Caribbean raiding and trading with the Spanish colonists between
1570 and 1572. He returned to England with captured Spanish treasure and a high reputation as a privateer.
How important was Francis Drake's voyage around the world?
Sir. Francis Drake was sent by the Queen on a voyage to gain revenge for Spanish attacks on English sailors (like San
Juan in 1567).…read more