Life in 16th Century Britain

Just some contextual knowledge I made notes on in class that should hopefully help with the course!

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The Roles of the Tudor Monarch

  • Rule
  • Reign
  • Have absoloute authority in war (and peace)
  • Keep the peace
  • Take advice from the Privy Council (members of which were chosen by the Monarch)
  • Define and Implement the law
  • Tax and keep the treasury
  • Bear responsibility for the souls of their people.

The Monarch could excercise their prerogative (powers that allowed them to excercise personal laws - Religion, law changes, succession, etc.)

There was an issue as to whether the Monarch was superior to common law

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What mattered to people in 16th century England

  • The Monarch
  • Religion
  • Social Class
  • Leisure time
  • Nationalism
  • Education (this was the renaissance era)
  • Business
  • France/Spain (defending the realm)

London was the only important settlement in England at this time (Population = 40,000):

  • It was where the Monarch was based
  • It ended the century as the largest city in Europe
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The Great Chain of Being





Yeomen farmers/Burgesses


Rocks/Plants                     Organic

Elizabethan society was very hierarchical, but change was starting to happendue to increased entrepreneurship

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Tudor Government

- Management of the people (keep everyone happy)

- Taxation (Carried out by civil service; employed by Government)

 - Religion: Erastian Church

- Defense of the Realm:    Trade     <------- These are cheaper and more peaceful. Govt. 1st option


The Goverment at this time does not see social welfare as it's responsibility UNLESS there is potential for it to become cause for rebellion.

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Tudor Parilament

Consisted of Lords and Commons

Temporal Lords: Land owners (Earls, Dukes etc)
Spiritual Lords: Bishops

Parliament was NOT permanent: The Monarch could call/dismiss it whenever they pleased.
It became powerful between 1529-1536 (the Reformation period)
 - Parliamne passes several acts at this time, including:

1534 ACT OF SUPREMACY (The law that made Henry VIII head of the Church in England)

Parliament & Elizabeth have an understanding to maintain the status quo.

Sometimes the Privy council & Parliament would 'Gang up' on the Queen (in order to manipulate her into doing what they wanted) Particularly in the case of executing Mary Queen of Scots.
 - This was achieved by the Privy Council 'sponsoring' (basically bribing) MP's.

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