Another excerpt from Hardin’s book about life during the time of Elizabeth the First. I find the details so intriguing and very useful to those of us who are writing about the period. Hardin’s research is compelling and his wording takes you in as if you are reading a historical novel rather than a history lesson.
My postings from this book are intended to enlighten readers and to help historical fiction authors in their research. I hope my continued postings will be of use to encourage an in-depth perusal into Tudor history and Shakespeare, or perhaps perk the curiosity of someone who might otherwise pass on by. Here is the excerpt:
“The reign of Queen Elizabeth (1558-1603) saw the end of the ancient English ambition for a continental empire or even for a port on the French coast. The continental possessions of the English crown were all gone, and the statement in the royal title that Elizabeth was queen of France as well as of England and Ireland had become a mere reminiscence. Elizabeth gained and held Havre for a little time but had to abandon it; the English were then confined to their island home.
But England was gaining strength. In 1588, in the defeat of the Spanish Armada, the English achieved an easy victory over the greatest power the modern world had seen, and found in it a becoming source of pride. Besides this, the English were enjoying the prospect of added power in the anticipated annexation of Scotland. Although this country was an independent kingdom, both peoples were looking forward with more or less expectancy to a union of the crowns under Elizabeth’s second cousin, James VI of Scotland. The kingdoms were drawing closer together, and the Scotch were beginning, as schoolmasters and traders, their peaceful invasion of England. The common people of Scotland were now being educated, and were adapting themselves, for the profit of both countries, to the ways of English life. On the other hand, Ireland, loosely held and turbulent, was subjected at the end of the Queen’s long reign to the most terrible of its conquests. But the main issue in foreign politics and the main source of political unrest during the Queen’s reign rose from the fact that England stood as the champion of Protestantism against the power of Catholic Spain.”
Such a transition during this time period in English history, and such a Queen. While the loss of the possessions in France seem to show a weakening kingdom on the surface, the meaty power underneath the surface is truly incredible when you stop to examine what Elizabeth truly did for the kingdom. A champion of Protestantism and a final breaking away from the Catholic church which set a cornerstone for the foundation of the new colonies in America. Catholicism and her adherents were banned from emigrating to the new world initially, thus the establishment and championing the Protestant cause in the kingdom led to the flow of Puritan, Quaker and Methodism into the New World. Kind of interesting, if you think about it, what if this never had happened? What kind of backbone would the founding fathers of the United States brought with them if still attached to the strong hand of the Pope and Rome of the time?
Elizabeth (and starting with her father, Henry VIII) truly heralded in a new age for politics, religion and the arts, thus giving playwrights like Shakespeare quite a bit of rein in their choices of what to write about and present on the stages. And even though she kept a close eye by using the Master of the Revels as a sort of regulating hand within the verge of London, it is very interesting how the actors and playwrights found a way to speak their mind outside the city walls and “move” the minds of the masses. I am sure if we were to delve deeper, there was as much “fake news” and “propaganda” back then, for the stages and pages published and performed were the Tudor-era tweets, blog posts, movies and TV shows for the people. I don’t know about you, but I find the similarities between today and then very compelling.
The next post will be about England as a kingdom…. stay tuned!!
Thanks for reading!
D. K. Marley