Elizabethan Era

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The Elizabethan Age is the time period associated with the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1558–1603) and is often considered to be a golden age in English history. It was an age considered to be the height of the English Renaissance, and saw the full flowering of English literature and English poetry. In Elizabethan theater, William Shakespeare, among others, composed and staged plays in a variety of settings that broke away from England's past style of plays. It was an age of expansion and exploration abroad, while at home the Protestant Reformation was established and successfully defended against the Catholic powers of the Continent. The Elizabethan Age is viewed so highly because of the contrasts with the periods before and after. It was a brief period of largely internal peace between the English Reformation, with battles between Protestants and Catholics, and the battles between parliament and the monarchy that would engulf the seventeenth century. The Protestant Catholic divide was settled, for a time, by the Elizabethan Religious Settlement and parliament was still not strong enough to challenge royal absolutism. England was also well-off compared to the other nations of Europe. The Italian Renaissance had come to an end under the weight of foreign domination of the peninsula. France was embroiled in its own religious battles that would only be settled in 1598 with the Edict of Nantes. In part because of this, but also because the English had been expelled from their last outposts on the continent, the centuries long conflict between France and England was largely suspended for most of Elizabeth's reign. The one great rival was Spain, with which England clashed both in Europe and the Americas in skirmishes that exploded into the Anglo-Spanish War of 1585–1604. An attempt by Philip II of Spain to invade England with the Spanish Armada in 1588 was famously defeated, but the tide of war turned against England with an unsuccessful expedition to Portugal and the Azores, the Drake-Norris Expedition of 1589. Thereafter Spain provided some support for Irish Catholics in a debilitating rebellion against English rule, and Spanish naval and land forces inflicted a series of reversals against English offensives. This drained both the English Exchequer and economy that had been so carefully restored under Elizabeth's prudent guidance. English commercial and territorial expansion would be limited until the signing of the Treaty of London the year following Elizabeth's death. England during this period had a centralised, well-organised, and effective government, largely a result of the reforms of Henry VII and Henry VIII. Economically, the country began to benefit greatly from the new era of trans-Atlantic trade.

The Elizabethan Period was the age of the Renaissance, of new ideas and new thinking.  The introduction of the printing press during the Renaissance, one of the greatest tools in increasing knowledge and learning, was responsible for the interest in the different sciences and inventions - and the supernatural! The new ideas, information and increased knowledge about science, technology and astrology led to a renewed interest in the supernatural including witches, witchcraft and ghosts which led to belief in superstitions and the supernatural.

The earlier half of Elizabeth's reign, also, though not lacking in literary effort produced no work of permanent importance. After the religious convulsions of half a century time was required for the development of the internal quiet and confidence from which a great literature could spring. At length, however, the hour grew ripe and there came the greatest outburst of creative energy in the whole history of English literature. Under Elizabeth's wise guidance the prosperity and enthusiasm of the nation had raised to the highest pitch and London in particular was overflowing with vigorous life. A special stimulus of the most intense kind came from the...
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