Social and Economic Time Druing Shakespeare's Era

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William Shakespeare lived in England during to great periods in history, the Renaissance and the Elizabethan era. The Renaissance was an influential cultural movement which brought about a period of scientific revolution and artistic transformation that spread all through out Europe, it marked the transitional period between the end of the Middle Ages and the start of the Modern Age (“Renaissance”). The Elizabethan Era was the period associated with the reign of Queen Elizabeth I and is often considered to be a golden age in English history. It was during the end of the English Renaissance. During the end of the Middle Ages the old feudal system had crumbled due to the devastating effects of the black plague, society changed dramatically afterwards because of the loss of life. A new order of social classes rose: the food people ate changed, the cloths people wore changed, the entertainment changed. Economically guilds were being formed and many new trade routes were being established with the new technology in navigation.

There were four man social classes in the Renaissance and Elizabethan era Nobility, Gentry, Yeoman, and the Poor. The noble class was kept small as possible by Queen Elizabeth because she felt threatened by them. The Gentry consisted of people that were not noble but held the deeds to large amounts of land. The Yeoman also held deed to certain amount of land, but had a much smaller amount then the Gentry. At the bottom of the era were the Poor.

The Nobility class was considered the richest most powerful class under the king and queen. It was smaller because many men had died in battle during the War of the Roses. This lifestyle was brought about by one or two reasons: inheritance or by grant of a monarch. Nobles had the best dresses, food, homes and habits. They were expected to have an important job for their own expense. They had large amounts of input- many served as a council to Elizabeth. Many were also lieutenants and sheriffs (“Social classes in Shakespeare’s England”).

The next society level was the Gentry. This was one of the most important classes in the Elizabethan era. Many in this class were not born into it, but came about large amounts of property. Some women even were married into families in the gentry’s class. The upper level gentry tried to live like nobles, with big homes and servants. The Gentry were considered the backbone of this era. This is because they combined the wealth of the nobility with the energy of the peasants. Some of the Gentry served in parliament, and as peace justices. The upper level Gentry would boast of their families’ accomplishments and the lower gentry would brag of the way their families overcame the social classes. (“Social classes in Shakespeare’s England”).

The Yeomen were the third social class. This class consisted of small farmers that looked up to the Gentry and Nobles. The Yeomen were prosperous, but they decided to spend their money in different ways than the upper classes. Instead of attempting to buy the grand dresses and material things, they would buy or rent more land from the nobles. (“Social classes in Shakespeare’s England”).

Just like any other society the Poor was the lowest social class in the Renaissance and also the largest. It held the sick, disabled, the old and the soldiers unable to work because of wounds. Many of the poor were employed as farmers or other menial jobs. Many resorted to thievery to survive. (“Social classes in Shakespeare’s England”).

Besides social status the classes of people also differed in many other things like how and what they ate. Elizabethan royalty, the Upper Classes and Nobles would eat their food from silverware. Lower classes would eat their food from wooden or horn dishes. Every Elizabethan had their own knife. Spoons were rarely used as any liquid food, such as soups, was drunk from a cup. The kitchens in large houses or castles were usually situated some distance from the Great Hall and...
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