The Time Traveller's Guide to Elizabethan EnglandBook - 2013
The past is a foreign country - this is your guide.
We think of Queen Elizabeth I's reign (1558-1603) as a golden age. But what was it actually like to live in Elizabethan England? If you could travel to the past and walk the streets of London in the 1590s, where would you stay? What would you eat? What would you wear? Would you really have a sense of it being a glorious age? And if so, how would that glory sit alongside the vagrants, diseases, violence, sexism and famine of the time?
In this book Ian Mortimer reveals a country in which life expectancy is in the early thirties, people still starve to death and Catholics are persecuted for their faith. Yet it produces some of the finest writing in the English language, some of the most magnificent architecture, and sees Elizabeth's subjects settle in America and circumnavigate the globe. Welcome to a country that is, in all its contradictions, the very crucible of the modern world.
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It is difficult to give a full summary of this book however I shall list all of the topics/chapters.
The Landscape (towns, the countryside, London)
The People (population, age, social order[Queen Elizabeth, nobility, gentry, professions, merchants, traders, and townsmen, yeomen, husbandmen, and countrymen, poor], women)
Religion (Atheism, Elizabethan Settlement of 1559, establishment of Protestant England 1559-1569, confrontation with Catholicism 1570-1603, confrontation with Puritanism 1570-1603, how to survive in a religious world)
Character (violence and cruelty, bribery and corruption, wit, literacy and printing, education, knowledge of the wider world, attitudes to foreigners, racism, scientific knowledge, superstition and witchcraft, a sense of history)
Basic Essentials (languages, writing, identity and forms of address, time, units of measurement, shopping, money, work, and wages, manners and politeness)
What to Wear (women's clothing, women's hair and headwear, women's accessories, makeup and perfume, men's clothing, men's hair and beards, men's accessories, nightwear, cleaning clothes)
Travelling (road transport [coaches, the state of the roads, bridges, horses, finding your way ], river transport, seafaring [types of ships, seamanship, life at sea])
Where to Stay (inns, stately homes, rural houses [the yeoman's house, worker's houses], town houses)
What to Eat and Drink (mealtimes, food in a wealth household, food in a middling household, food in a poor household, what to drink [wine, beer and ale])
Hygiene, Illness, and Medicine (sanitation [household cleanliness, bodily cleanliness, oral hygiene], illness [plague, other diseases], medical care in the home, medical practitioners)
Law and Disorder (the heart of justice, the criminal underworld, secular courts, punishments, getting away with it or the process of crime detection, ecclesiastical law [moral offences ])
Entertainment (sightseeing, alehouses and taverns, games, outdoor sports [popular sports, baiting games], music and dancing, literature [poetry, the theatre])
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