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The Political, Social and Economic History of London/England

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The Political, Social and
Economic History of
• England was still, in many ways, a feudal
• Elizabeth Tudor was Elizabeth I of England.
She was known by three names the Virgin
Queen (she never married), Gloriana or
Good Queen Bess.
• Elizabeth was the daughter of King Henry
VIII. Henry had six wives (not all at the same
time!) and three children.
• After Henry died his son Edward reigned for
6 years. He died at age 15.
Politics cont.
• He was succeeded by Mary who tried to convert the
whole country back to Catholicism. She married the
King of Spain who was also Catholic. They failed to
produce any children.
• After Mary died Elizabeth became Queen, even
though she had previously been declared
• She consolidated England’s position as a world
power with the defeat of the Spanish Armada in
• She reigned for 45 years, re-established the
Protestant Religion and brought stability to England.
• Population growth
– Concentration of urban population. People were
moving to urban areas in search of work.
– London’s population grew 400% during the 1500s,
swelling to nearly 200,000 people in the city proper.
• Education
– Re-discovery of the “classics”
– Increased literacy rates
– Growing middle class meant that people who would
have not previously been educated had more
– Expansion of the known world; explorers such as Christopher
Columbus and Marc Polo set out to discover the new world.
– They sailed the world and returned with stories of strange and
wonderful places, food, inventions and ideas that fed the already
growing passion for new and interesting things.
Arts and Culture
– Revolution in thinking. Art began to focus on the human
experience, the internal conflicts in humanity and the way we see
ourselves in the universe.
– The wealthy men of England became the patrons of writers and
architects, which enabled art and literature to thrive.
– The invention of the printing press allowed mass publication.
– Money was spent of theatre and museums, which enabled the
appreciation of these works by a much larger audience.
Ideas and Inventions
During the Renaissance people developed different views
of the world and found new ways to express themselves.
The Renaissance thinkers changed the world.
They invented/made developments in:
Human Operations; The Microscope; The Submarine;
The Theory of Matter; Spectacles; The Flush Toilet;
The Printing Press; Hand grenades; Wallpaper;
Theory of Flight; Observation of Red Blood Cells;
The Lead Pencil; Clocks; The Calculator; The Theory
that Diseases come from Outside the Body into the
– Rising Middle class
– Shift toward mercantilism
– Increased social mobility
– The economy was
– Extravagant upper class
– However, the majority of
the population were
peasants and eked out
a day to day existence
The Geography of London at the Time
• The city of London was said to stretch from �Tower to
Temple’ – from the Tower of London in the east, to the
Temple Bar about a mile away in the west. It was
bordered to the north about two miles long, and to the
south by the River Thames. Beyond these boundaries
were London’s suburbs, areas outside the strict
control of the City authorities.
• Most of the theatres were therefore built of the South
Bank of the Thames (among the prisons, brothels and
bear pits) so they could be free from the restrictions of
the city regulations.
• Theatre was also not considered to be very respectful
so they often in the rougher parts of town.
The Geography of London at the Time
• Claybourne, A & Treays, R; �The World of
• Ryan, Jo; �Introduction to Shakespeare’
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