History- Elizabethan England

  • Created by: Josie
  • Created on: 15-03-13 20:13

Part 1: Queen and Government

Elizabeth's portraits:

Seen as POWERFUL- Coronation; orb and sceptre= symbols of monarch's power & authority

Seen as SUCCESSFUL- 'The Armada Portrait' shows her controlling the victory (exaggeration)

Seen as RICH- Magnificent dresses studded with expensive pearls and jewels, however we know of her financial difficulties

Seen as POPULAR- Elizabeth shown to be carried around, surrounded by a lot of people, therfore giving impression that she's admired and supported

Portraits= seen as having an impressive physical appearance

Could have been used as propaganda to create an image which she wanted her people to believe= powerful propaganda

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Part 1: Queen and Government

What problems did Elizabeth face in 1558?

Government- Mary increased crown's income, however left country in debt, £250,000

Economy- Prices were rising very fast in 1550s= higher rents, lower wages, unemployment, collapse of cloth thrade

Cultural development- People were becoming more interested in other parts of the world, start of voyages= widens trade, spreads religion etc.

Relations with other countries- England was weak compared to others (France and Spain= most powerful and were both Roman Catholic)

Society- Women were thought to be inferior, poverty & unemployment were incresing

Religion- In 1558, country was divided by religion (R.C until Henry VIII's reign), many thought country's differences would lead to civil war

Reactions to new Queen- Was popular, young, single, of completely British blood, however it was thought that female rulers were much weaker than men= people were worried

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Part 1: Queen and Government

Elizabeth's Privy Councillors:

  • Sir William Cecil, Lord Burghley (1520-1598), appointed in 1558
  • Moderate Protestant
  • Previously a Privy Councillor for Edward VI
  • Secretary of State, 1558, Lord Treasurer, 1572, (in charge of gov. finances)
  • Had Elizabeth's complete trust and was a loyal advisor for 40 years
  • Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester (1533-1588), appointed in 1562
  • Puritan
  • Elizabeth called him her 'Sweet Robin' and showered him with gifts= rumours of love
  • Earl of Leicester, 1564, commander of army, 1585, sent to the Netherlands but quarreled with the generals and soon returned to England
  • Sir Christopher Hatton (1540-1591), appointed in 1577
  • Moderate Protestant, hated Puritans, sympathised with Catholics
  • Given several government jobs and land, elected to Parliament, made a knight, 1577, organised Queen's progresses, helped to pass laws and control MPs, made Lord Chancellor, 1587, (in charge of judges and law courts)
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Part 1: Queen and Government

Elizabeth's Privy Councilllors:

Sir Francis Walsingham (1532-1590), appointed in 1573

  • Strong Puritan
  • Elected to Parliament, 1562, began working for government, 1568, helped discover a catholic plot to murder Elizabeth, 1571, knighted in 1577, was in charge of Elizabeth's secret service and controlled a network of spies and informers all over Europe
  • Also found evidence Mary, Queen of Scots, was involved in a plot to murder Elizabeth, 1586

Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex (1567-1601), appointed in 1593

  • Given several government jobs, fought in the Netherlands, France and Spain- very knowledgable about foreign affairs
  • Hated the Cecil family
  • Commanded attacks on Spain and Ireland
  • Executed for treason for leading rebellion in 1601
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Part 1: Queen and Government

Parliament: Met only 13 times during her 45 year reign

Called parliament for 3 main reasons;

  • to help pass acts of parliament- laws approved by both HPs and the monarch
  • to approve taxes
  • to provde her with support and advice

Elizabeth's private 'Matters of State', that MPs were unable to discuss:

  • Personal affairs
  • Religion
  • Foreign Policy

MPs felt that they had the;

  • Freedom of speech
  • Freedom of arrest
  • Freedom to discuss their own ideas for new laws
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Part 1: Queen and Government

Local government:

Justices of the Peace, JPs, local officials most people came into contact with;

  • about 40 per county
  • usually gentry landowners who knew their area well
  • work was voluntary
  • great honour to be a JP= meant you were most important in area
  • Elizabeth relied greatly on them
  • often given instructions by Privy Council or Parliament told them new laws to enforce
  • lesser officials, such as constables and night-watchmen helped


Authority to put people in prison, such as robbers, thieves and vagabonds

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Part 2: Poverty and Crime

Why did poverty get worse?

More silver in Europe:

  • Early 16th century, Spain conquered large areas of Central and South America ('New World') where many gold and silver mines were discovered
  • From 1540s onwards, huge quantities of silver were shipped to Spain
  • Mines in central Europe were also producing more silver, most of which was melted down to make coins. Trade helped to spread it throughout Europe

Henry VIII's debasement of the coinage:

  • Henry short of money in 1540s to pay for wars with France and Scotland and so decided to melt down the old coins & issue new ones which contained less silver and gold
  • Henry made a profit of nearly £1 million but he'd debased all the coins
  • Merchants and traders could easily tell that the new coins were of less value, and so when selling their goods, asked for more coins than before
  • 1560-1561- Elizabeth called in the debased coins and issued new ones, containing a higher proportion of precious metal
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Part 2: Poverty and Crime

Bad Harvests:

  • Several bad harvests during the 16th century
  • Resulted in food shortages and the prices of food rocketed= threat of starvation for poor people
  • 1500-1600; Worst harvests before reign; 1520, 1527, 1556 during reign; 1596, 1597

A rising population:

  • Population of England and Wales had fallen, especially after the Black Death (1348-49)
  • Rose in 16th century; more food, clothes, houses and jobs needed but not enough= poor


  • Most people's wages didn't keep up with the rising prices- poor people who were paid low wages to start with were worse off
  • Buying food cost more and more of their money, leaving nothing for other necessities
  • Shortages of goods= bigger demand for them
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Part 2: Poverty and Crime

Changes in farming:

  • Many landowners looked for more profitable ways of using their land, i.e. some decided to keep sheep instead of growing crops, and enclosed their fields with hedges
  • Many farm labourers lost their jobs and went to the towns in search of work


  • Many people in the 16th century blamed the increase in poverty on greedy 'Rack-renting' landlords
  • Landlords rented out most of their land to farmers, but as prices rose they found that their rents were losing their value, so they increased them
  • Poor farmers- couldn't afford to pay the higher rents= evicted, so many went to towns to find work


  • Tudor monarchs fought several expensive wars, which resulted in higher taxes, a high government spending, and soldiers and sailors were left jobless when the fighting ended
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Part 2: Poverty and Crime

Changes in the Cloth Trade:

  • Cloth industry= most important in 16th century England
  • Main export= woollen cloth, and large quantities were sold in Europe
  • Many cloth merchants became very wealthy + plenty of work for spinners & weavers
  • Suddenly the cloth trade collapsed, throwing tens of thousands of people out of work

The Dissolution of the Monasteries:

  • Monasteries helped many poor people by giving them food, clothing and money, but between 1536-1540, Henry VIII closed all of the monasteries= monks and nuns got pensions & some found new jobs, but their servants lost their jobs, imp. charity lost


  • In the 1590s, Elizabeth made money by selling monopolies which gave individual nobles and merchants the sole right to manufacture or sell particular goods
  • They were very unpopular and many said they caused prices to rise
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Part 2: Poverty and Crime

Why were the Elizabethans worried about poverty?

Beggars- often turned to crime, some robbed people in the streets and broke into their houses

What did the poor think?

Poor people- some may have felt sorry for beggars, and may have blamed the rich people for being too greedy and cruel, others would've been frightened of them

Idleness- Puritans: felt very strongly about the importance of hard work and believed that idleness was a sin as it displeased God 

Crime- JPs: responsible for enforcing law and order in local areas, thought beggars= serious threat to authority

Scaremongering, disease, rebellions, charity, social order

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Part 3: Overseas Voyages

Why did Elizabethans go on overseas voyages?

Valuable silks and spices were brought overland to Europe from India and China, but sailors didn't dare sail into dangerous & unknown seas THEN between 1430 and 1530, European sailors began making long voyages across the oceans, hoping to find a sea route to the riches of the East

Voyages helped by:

  • Invention of the compass
  • Development of fast, light ships called caravels and carracks
  • Invention of guns
  • Money and encouragement from Kings and wealthy merchants

Spain and Portugal led the way in making these voyages.

By 1550, Spain controlled a large empire in Central and Southern America.  Every year ships full of silver and gold sailed for Spain from the 'New World'.  Portugal also gained great wealth by establishing trading based in India and around the coast of Africa.

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Part 3: Overseas Voyages

Why were Elizabethan sailors encouraged to go on overseas voyages?

  • Before 1550, few English people were interested in making long voyages of exploration. Most of the country's trade was with Europe, but then there was the cloth trade collapse in the 1550s
  • Merchants needed to find new markets in which to sell their goods
  • To spread religious ideas
  • To establish colonies


Sir Francis Drake- First Englishman to circumnavigate the globe, famous as an explorer and pirate~ raided the Spanish and helped to defeat the Spanish Armada

  • 1566- First voyage to 'New World', travelled with Hawkins
  • Officer on West African slave ships
  • Sailed to the Caribbean with his cousin John Hawkins
  • First to pass from the Atlantic to the Pacific coast of South America
  • Sailed round the world in the ship called the Golden Hind
  • Appointed Vice Admiral of the navy that destroyed the Spanish Armada
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Part 3: Overseas Voyages

John Hawkins:

  • Started slave trade
  • Had support of Elizabeth
  • Started trade with Africa and Carribean
  • Brought back potatoes and tobacco to England
  • Spent rest of life building ships for navy & helping other voyages to succeed
  • 1561- made first voyage to West Indies

Walter Raleigh:

  • Established English colony- first colony in North AMerica
  • 1580- helped to put down Irish rebellion
  • Didn't fine El Dorado
  • Virginia= first colony that installed British Empire
  • Explorations paved way for further colonisation in America
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Part 4: The Spanish Armada

Why did England and Spain go to war?

Religious Differences-

  • Philip II of Spain= Roman Catholic, but Elizabeth created a Protestant church in 1559


  • Philip had previously been married to Mary Tudor, offered to marry Eizabeth in 1559

Civil War in France-

  • France= enemy of both England and Spain, 1562- Civil war broke out between Catholics & Protestants, lasted on and off until 1598: France= no longer a threat

Dutch Revolt-

  • Protestants in the Netherlands began revolt against Spanish rule in 1572, Philip sent army, Dutch asked Elizabeth for help; Spain too busy to threaten England
  • DIdn't help too openly; allowed Dutch reugees to settle & let ships use English ports and sent money and weapons to the Dutch rebels
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Part 4: The Spanish Armada

English sailors-

  • 1568- Hawkins' fleet attacked at San Juan de Ulua, 1570s-80s, Drake and other sailors attacked his empire= encouraged by Elizabeth
  • Knighted Drake and shared in the profits of his voyages

Spanish help for Catholic plots-

  • Mary, Queen of Scots, arrived in England in 1568 & Catholics began plotting to overthrow Elizabeth~ Philip didn't want Mary to become Queen, just wanted to stir up trouble
  • Spanish Ambassador= involved in most of the Catholic plots in 1570s-80s, Philip offered money to the plotters and promised to send Spanish troops to help them

Elizabeth sent an army to the Netherlands-

  • 1578- Philip sent Duke of Parma to defeat Dutch rebels
  • 1584- Assassination of William Orange= Dutch faced defeat= England under threat
  • Elizabeth refused offer to become Queen of the Dutch, but sent army led by Earl of Leicester in 1585= ENGLAND AND SPAIN NOW AT WAR
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Bonita Nkaa



Aleena Antony


thanks so much!



Brilliant. Thank you.




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