The Elizabethan Era By milan russell

Globe Theater
Elizabethan Art
Church of England
Elizabethan Era England Map


The Elizabethan Era was a period of great achievements in the fields of art, philosophy/religion, and literature.


Portraiture of Queen Elizabeth I
"Elizabethan artists drew from European Renaissance ideals, but they also brought a unique national sensibility to their work. Among the many influences on their style was Elizabeth herself. Her image was often invoked in painting and literature, and her appreciation of music, dancing, and pageantry raised them to a higher level of artistry." (The Arts in the Elizabethan World 141).

Artists from the Elizabethan Era had many similarities to European Renaissance art but with their own twist to it -- their perceptions of their nation. One of the main influences were Queen Elizabeth herself; she was depicted in several paintings and works of literature. Her love of the arts made the artists to work harder to be great.

Art was a great influence on the Elizabethan Era, it allowed the era to became England's golden age.

"In modern times we tend to think of art as the expression of the artist's deepest feelings and beliefs. This was not true in Elizabeth's day. All English artists were expected to fulfill their patriotic duty by glorifying the queen. Since it was impossible in the Elizabethan age to support oneself through art, most artists depended on patrons (wealthy sponsors who helped them financially), and they frequently flattered potential patrons in their art, hoping for financial reward." (The Arts in the Elizabethan World 141).

In the Elizabethan Era it was considered a artist's duty to praise the queen though their art. Art was not a supportable job so, artists had to have sponsors to finance their art; artists tried to 'sell' their art by trying to flatter potential sponsors.

What happened if one did not praise the queen?

"There was no right to free speech or freedom of the press in Elizabethan England, and it was very dangerous to write, paint, or even sing directly about the issues of the day. Artists and writers often found indirect ways to represent contemporary problems. Most used the ancient art of allegory, a story or painting that represents abstract ideas or principles as characters, figures, or events. Some writers wrote about historical events of the distant past that were similar enough to current events that audiences understood the author was presenting these events as commentary on current social problems." (The Arts in the Elizabethan World 141-143).

During the Elizabethan Era there were no right to freedom of speech/press in England so artist could not talk directly about conversational issues. Instead artists used to indirectly 'talk' about the issues by using allegory or by writing about past events that were similar to the events that the audience can infer what the author thinks about the issues.

What was the punishment if one talked about the issues?


Elizabethan Religion
"Elizabeth hoped to satisfy most of her subjects by establishing a church that was primarily Protestant in doctrine. Elizabeth therefore signed several laws called the Religious Settlement of 1559. The main law, the Act of Supremacy, reestablished the Church of England...This church was independent of the Roman Catholic Church, but had similarities to it. The Act of Uniformity approved a new prayer book and enforced its use." (Gibbs 6).

Queen Elizabeth, to satisfy her subjects, established a Protestant church. To do this Elizabeth created the Religious Settlement of 1559; its main law, the Act of Supremacy, renewed the Church of England, a church free of the Roman Catholic Church but with similar aspects. Another act, the Act of Uniformity, endorsed and endorsed a new prayer book.

How was the Church of England different from the Roman Catholic Church?

"By the early sixteenth century the mystery of what lay beyond the three known continents of Europe, Asia, and Africa had been solved. Thanks to the work of brave explorers, the unknown regions, which had previously been described in supernatural terms, were suddenly transformed into concrete world geography." (A Changing View of the Universe: Philosophy and Science in the Elizabethan Era 123).

Before the Elizabethan Era many parts of the world, excluding the known continents of Europe, Asia, and Africa were not explored and were not known. Because of Elizabethan explorers the unknown was now known.

Without the explorers of the Elizabethan Era maps today would look very different. What were maps like before?

"In the medieval model the universe was usually depicted as a system of spheres...a new theory about the shape of the universe arose around 1512, when Polish astronomer Nicholaus Copernicus (1473–1543) wrote De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium (Revolution of the Heavenly Spheres), explaining his heliocentric theory... Though he was convinced of his findings, he was reluctant to publicize his ideas, since they contradicted the teachings of the church...Copernicus waited more than thirty years to have his work published, but many European astronomers knew of his theories and some continued his work." (A Changing View of the Universe: Philosophy and Science in the Elizabethan Era 126-127).

In medieval times the universe was believed to be a system of spheres with Earth at its center because of religious reasons. However, during the Elizabethan Era, a Polish astronomer named Nicholaus Copernicus developed his heliocentric theory (The theory that the earth revolves around the sun). Copernicus waited more than thirty years to have his work 'officially' published, many astronomers knew his theories and actually continued his work.

This caused people in the Elizabethan Era to adopt a new worldview. As this article was being read, some questions that came to mind were: What did the medieval model of the universe actually look like and how did he know the Sun is the center of the universe?

"...Elizabeth established a moderately Protestant Church of England as the country's national church. At the same time, she long avoided war with Europe's leading Roman Catholic nations." (Gibbs 1).

During Queen Elizabeth's reign, she established the Protestant Church of England as England's national church while avoiding war with leading Roman Catholic nations.

What were Europe's leading Roman Catholic nations? Why did they want to go to war?


William Shakespeare - One of England's Greatest Writers
" 1592, Shakespeare had already become an actor and a playwright. By 1594, he was a charter member of the theatrical company called the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, which was later to become the King’s Men...Shakespeare worked with this company for the rest of his writing life. Year after year he provided it with plays, almost on demand." (Anderson 777).

William Shakespeare was a actor and a playwright.He worked for the King’s Men, then called the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, toward the end of his life until the end of his writing career.

Shakespeare was one of the many great playwrights that shaped the Elizabethan Era.

"Elizabethan literature is characterized by an intense national pride and a sense of optimism expressed in rich, at times ornate, language. It was a period of linguistic experimentation and discovery, reflected in the magisterial prose of Richard Hooker's The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity (1594) and the mannered experiments of John Lyly's euphuism" (Elizabethan period 2).

Literature from the Elizabethan Era is known for its national pride and its heartening elaborate language. Some examples of this is seen in Richard Hooker's The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity and John Lyly's euphemisms: Euphues: The Anatomy of Wit and Euphues and His England.

To follow up one can look at other period's literature such as, during the medieval times and compare.

"But the glory of the age lay in its popular drama. Among the early Elizabethans the outstanding playwrights are Christopher Marlowe and Thomas Kyd...Among the later Elizabethans, the works of Thomas Dekker (The Shoemaker's Holiday, 1599), George Chapman (Bussy D'Ambois, 1603), and Thomas Heywood (A Woman Killed with Kindness, 1603) are notable...Shakespeare displayed his genius in romantic comedies, histories and tragedies such as A Midsummer Night's Dream (1595), Henry V (1599), and Romeo and Juliet (1598)." (Quinn).

It is believed drama was one of the more notable achievements of the Elizabethan Era. Some of the most noteworthy dramatists include Christopher Marlowe, Thomas Kyd, Thomas Dekker, George Chapman, Thomas Heywood, and William Shakespeare.

When asked to think about the Elizabethan Era, the first thing that comes to mind is its drama.

"By 1612, Shakespeare had written thirty-seven plays, including such masterpieces as Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and Macbeth. Shakespeare’s plays are still produced all over the world." (Anderson 777).

By 1612, Shakespeare wrote thirty-seven plays. Even today Shakespeare's plays are still being produced.

Shakespeare's plays are still being enjoyed today, this shows the affect of the Elizabethan Era on the rest of the world. His plays influence many playwrights today.


The Elizabethan earned its name as the 'golden age' of England because of achievements in art, philology / religion, and literature.

For more on the topic, please watch the following videos:


Works Cited

Anderson, Robert. “William Shakespeare’s Life: A Genius from Stratford.” Holt Literature & Language Arts: Mastering the California Standards: Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking, by G. Kylene Beers et al., Austin, Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 2003, pp. 776-77.


“The Arts in the Elizabethan World.” Elizabethan World Reference Library, edited by Sonia G. Benson and Jennifer York Stock, vol. 1: Almanac, UXL, 2007, pp. 141-161. Gale Virtual Reference Library, Accessed 1 Dec. 2016.


“A Changing View of the Universe: Philosophy and Science in the Elizabethan Era.” Elizabethan World Reference Library, edited by Sonia G. Benson and Jennifer York Stock, vol. 1: Almanac, UXL, 2007, pp. 123-140. Gale Virtual Reference Library, Accessed 1 Dec. 2016.


Gibbs, Gary G. “Elizabeth I.” World Book Advanced, Accessed 8 Dec. 2016. Gibbs, Gary G. “Elizabeth I.” World Book Advanced. World Book, 2016. Web. 9 Dec. 2016.


Quinn, Edward. “Elizabethan period.” A Dictionary of Literary and Thematic Terms, Second Edition. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2006. Bloom’s Literature. Facts On File, Inc.



Created with images by marybettiniblank - "london globe theatre theater" • tonynetone - "William Shakespeare" • lisby1 - "Elizabeth I, Queen of England" • OwenXu - "Westminster Abbey" • WikiImages - "shakespeare poet writer"

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