Social milieu affecting the Elizabethan Literature (1558- 1603)

The only stumbling block, however, was the failed Spanish invasion of England which ate into the British economy during the Elizabethan rule. After the death of Queen Mary I of England and Ireland, her 25-year-old half-sister, Elizabeth succeeded her in 1558, signifying the dawn of a new epoch-making era.

English literature was patronised and flourished as never before during the Elizabethan era spanning over a period of forty-five years from 1558. The British national pride received a major boost during this period, sub-charged with international expansionism, enrichment of classical ideals, infliction of naval defeat on the heinous Spanish foes and the great British financial upsurge.

During this period of English Renaissance, the British theatre, its poetry, music and literature reached the pinnacle of its glory.

The Elizabethan era saw the decadence of the medieval feudal system as nobles were no longer relied upon to provide soldiers with uniforms.

A brief truce between the Catholics and the Protestants coupled with the British parliamentary freedom from the British feuds and clergies saw to it that the country found time to deploy its talents in more meaningful ways for national achievements.

A brief, but the certain period of English Reformation, carried the country forward in the direction of literary, cultural and financial achievements. Much of material and metaphysical achievements were possible during this period due to the peace and stability under-current in the country.

The century-old conflict between France and England was largely surpassed during the substantial part of the Elizabethan Age.

The only stumbling block, however, was the failed Spanish invasion of England which ate into the British economy during the Elizabethan rule. Though not a successful period at the military front, the Queen could avoid major defeats, largely due to the strengthening of its naval prowess.


There was no royal religious patronage; rather priests were often said to be traitors and were subjected to tortures and execution. People supporting Catholicism were subverted, stripped of their professions and got jailed.

Science and Technology:-

No great claims can be laid on this area, except a couple of excellent scientists in Thomas Digges and William Gilbert making their international presence felt.


Education was confined to the children of the nobles and rich people, while common people had their children work in farms and shops. Becoming a doctor, a clergy or a lawyer was restricted to these classes of male students only.

Latin was the most royal and scholastic language and students were taught to read, write and speak Latin.

Rules in schools were very strict, and teachers were given the liberty of imposing learning on their pupils in the manner as per their unquestionable sweet wills inflicting any punished on them as they deem fit. The idle or the mischievous was never shown any mercy and was strongly caned.

The British conservatism did not allow female children to pursue studies beyond a very minor level. As a consequence, the British girl students were forced to stay away from schools after five to seven years of age. The well-to-do people only let their children study at home. However, England had more well-educated upper-class women than anywhere in Europe. Also, English women enjoyed more freedom than their European counterparts.

Marriages and customs:

Marriages were legally valid at 14 for boys and 12 for girls. Social security for girls was ensured against their husband�s death by execution of an agreement at the time of marriage itself that the bride got reliefs in terms of cash and property belonging to her husband and his family.

Marriages were solemnised at churches in the presence of the friends and relatives of the couple duly approved and registered by priests.

Funeral Customs:-

The well-clad dead bodies of nobles were confined inside the coffins and were used to be carried to the graveyard inside the church-compound in a procession of the friends, relatives and well-wishers.

Astronomical misbelief:-

The Elizabethan society, by and large, was dogmatic. Superstitions, unscientific and unfounded faiths and beliefs filled the society with the premonition of evil at the appearance of comets and with all solar and lunar eclipses as the Elizabethan astrologers believed in the earth as the epicentre of the universe with all the seven planets- the moon, the sun, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn revolving around it, creating a sub-charged situation affecting the health and activity of the earth and the human civilisation in the process.

Bells and Mails as mediums of communication:-

In the absence of social postal service, official emails were carried on horseback.

On Sundays and Holy Days, church bells rang up to announce all breaking news of war and peace, of weddings and funerals and any other news of mass significance. However, a single bell was sounded on someone’s death only.

Recreation and Sports:

Team sports, simple games, spectator/blood sports, and individual amusement activities were the sports receiving royal patronage and popular support. Queen Elizabeth, herself, enjoyed hunting.

Among all sports, the most popular, yet the most inhumane and violent was blood sports where animals like bulls, bears, apes and bears received severe wounds before succumbing to injuries inflicted against them.

The popularity of Team sports was due to the roughness and violence it generated in the course of a curious game of football played without rules both on foot and on horseback.

Fencing was one of the most popular of sports where bloodshed was interestingly enjoyed by spectators.

Elizabethan fashions:-

It was a highly fashion-conscious age with men and women alike being concerned to be wearing the latest and most fashionable outfits.

Day to day living:-

Life was difficult during those times of no-postal service, lack of basic medicines for very common diseases (which grew into epidemics once broke out), reliance on obsolete and ill-proven medicines, crowded coverage of narrow and damp streets with garbage all around, and so on. Even the city of London, boasting to be a prestigious trade international centre, was no exception.[1]


[1] https[:][//][/]1-8319[.]html

[2] http[:][//]www[.]economicsdiscussion[.]net[/]indian-economy[/]problems-of-indian-economy-during-british-rule[/]19017

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