Elizabethan England

Exploration and trade, crime and punishment, clothing and social structure: explore key aspects of Elizabethan life, culture and society.

Crime and punishment in Elizabethan England

Crime and punishment in Elizabethan England

Article by:
Liza Picard

Liza Picard takes a look at crime in Elizabethan England and describes the brutal punishments offenders received, from whipping and public humiliation to hanging and burning at the stake.

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Exploration and trade in Elizabethan England

Exploration and trade in Elizabethan England

Article by:
Liza Picard

Elizabethan explorers undertook lengthy expeditions to discover new worlds. Liza Picard considers some of the consequences of these expeditions: overseas colonies, imported goods and the slave trade.

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The social structure in Elizabethan England

The social structure in Elizabethan England

Article by:
Liza Picard

Liza Picard describes how, between the Queen at the top and the beggars at the bottom, there was jockeying for position in the different levels of Elizabethan society.

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Cities in Elizabethan England

Cities in Elizabethan England

Article by:
Liza Picard

Liza Picard explores the bustling and rapidly-expanding Elizabethan city, shaped by trade, politics and religious upheaval.

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Amuseuments and pastimes in Elizabethan England

Amusements and pastimes in Elizabethan England

Article by:
Liza Picard

Some Elizabethan entertainments, such as theatre and football, are still popular today. Others, such as animal-baiting, now seem shocking. Liza Picard takes a look at common 16th-century pastimes.

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Clothing in Elizabethan England

Clothing in Elizabethan England

Article by:
Liza Picard

Liza Picard describes the laws, trends and standards of hygiene that determined who wore what in Elizabethan England.

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Food in Elizabethan England

Food in Elizabethan England

Article by:
Liza Picard

The wealthiest Elizabethans ate lavish meals of many courses, while many poorer people didn’t even have their own ovens, and some of the poorest survived on leftover scraps from the rich. Liza Picard describes how class, religion and politics all influenced how Elizabethans shopped for food, cooked and ate.

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Witchcraft, magic and religion

Article by:
Liza Picard

Liza Picard takes a look at witchcraft, magic and religion in Elizabethan England.

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Key features of Renaissance culture

Key features of Renaissance culture

Article by:
Andrew Dickson

Andrew Dickson follows the progress of the Renaissance through Europe, and examines the educational, religious, artistic and geographical developments that shaped culture during the period.

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Further themes

Comedies

From cross dressing in Twelfth Night to magical storms in The Tempest; from deception in Much Ado to biting satire in The Alchemist, discover the beauty and complexity of Shakespearean and Renaissance comedies.

Tragedies

From Hamlet’s melancholy to Juliet’s eloquence; and from Othello’s misunderstanding to Doctor Faustus's damnation, discover the richness of Shakespearean and Renaissance tragedies.

Histories

From the staging of disability to the influence of Machiavelli, explore the history plays of Shakespeare and other Renaissance writers.

Shakespeare’s life and world

From the open air Globe to the candlelit Blackfriars; from countryside to city; and from noblemen to strangers, discover the world that shaped Shakespeare’s work and that influenced his legacy.

Gender, sexuality, courtship and marriage

From courtship rituals to cross-dressing to love poetry, examine the ways in which Shakespeare and Renaissance writers explored identity, sexuality and gender roles.

Elizabethan England

Exploration and trade, crime and punishment, clothing and social structure: explore key aspects of Elizabethan life, culture and society.

Poetry

Discover close readings, critical interpretations and personal responses to Shakespeare’s sonnets, the poetry of John Donne and more.

Renaissance writers

Uncover the fascinating, colourful lives of Renaissance writers including John Donne, Ben Jonson and Christopher Marlowe, and explore key features and themes in their groundbreaking plays and poetry.

Ethnicity and identity

From Othello and Shylock to depictions of the ‘New World’ and anti-immigration riots, explore Shakespeare’s fascination with ethnic identity.

Power, politics and religion

A murdered king, a homeless ruler, a man who sells his soul to the Devil: discover how Shakespeare and other Renaissance writers represented power and powerlessness.

Global Shakespeare

Discover how Shakespeare’s work was influenced by other cultures, and how it’s been interpreted in nations across the world for 400 years.

Interpretations of ‘madness’

From Lear’s breakdown to Ophelia’s malady, examine the ways in which Shakespeare depicts ideas of ‘madness’.

Deception, drama and misunderstanding

Investigate the ways in which Shakespeare and Renaissance writers explore miscommunication, dishonesty, trickery and the nature of theatre.

Language, word play and text

Prose and verse, word play, neologisms and rhetoric: discover how Shakespeare and Renaissance writers developed innovative and experimental uses of language.

Magic, illusion and the supernatural

Mischievous fairies, monstrous apparitions and scheming witches: examine the ways in which Shakespeare and Renaissance writers played with the magical and supernatural.