How Much Do You Know About the Elizabethan Era?

Isadora Teich

Image: William Segar / Hatefield House / Wiki Commons

About This Quiz

Most historians consider the Elizabethan Era to be England's golden era, but what does that really mean? This period refers to the reign of the Tudor Queen Elizabeth I. Also known as The Virgin Queen, Elizabeth's reign lasted from 1558-1603. This period was relevant and exciting for many reasons,  including the massive Renaissance that swept England. While the Italian and Northern Renaissances are famous mostly for the art produced, like paintings and sculptures, the Elizabethan English Renaissance was a bit different. It primarily focused on literature, theater and poetry. Life during this time was different than many people think! 

Are you ready for a true blast from the past? The Elizabethan Era was different from other periods for many reasons. It was a rare moment of mostly peace in English history, during which many advancements were made. Queen Elizabeth herself was a fierce and interesting figure, often regarded as one of the most iconic monarchs of all time. She has been portrayed on screen and stage more than any other British ruler over the years. 

When it comes to Elizabethan England, do you know your stuff? See how much you really know about England's golden age with this very royal quiz! 

Which of these made Elizabethan England wealthy?

Elizabeth inherited a country that was almost bankrupt from previous monarchs. She managed to turn this around with frugal policies, and by bringing in money through the African Slave Trade and raiding Spanish treasure ships.

Who was Queen Elizabeth's famous father?

Elizabeth was the daughter of the famous English King Henry VIII, who is known for having had six wives. Her mother was Anne Boleyn, the King's second wife, who he had executed by beheading.

One of the earliest ____________ in the world opened up in Elizabethan England.

In 1565, the first stock exchange in England opened up. Called the Royal Exchange, it was one of the earliest stock exchanges in Europe. It was founded in London by the merchant Sir Thomas Gresham.

The Ridolfi plot was a famous international conspiracy to kill Queen Elizabeth I. Why did so many people want to kill her?

In the old days, England's protestant society did not sit well with the rest of Catholic Europe. This is why in the 1570 Ridolfi plot, agents in Spain, Italy and France wanted to kill the Protestant Elizabeth and replace her with the Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots.

The Elizabethan Age was full of plots and conspiracies. Which led to the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots?

The Babington Plot was a famous massive conspiracy. Like many in England at the time, it involved overthrowing Elizabeth in order to reinstate Catholicism in England. This plot involved intrigue, murder and a double agent.

Which colony was founded in North America by the English during the Elizabethan Era?

While the Spanish and French had been colonizing the New World since the 15th and 16th centuries, England was a little bit behind. Several of its first attempts to colonize the New World, such as the famously vanished Roanoke colony, were not successful.

A desire to hunt and kill witches swept most of Europe into a bloody frenzy. Was it like that in Elizabethan England?

In Europe, witch hunts were sweeping for centuries. It is estimated that as many as 100,000 people were accused of and executed for being suspected witches across Europe. However, only a few hundred suspected witches were murdered in England.

The Elizabethan Era lasted from 1558 to 1603. What came after it?

The Jacobean Era covers the reign of King James I. This word is often used to refer to architecture, literature and other types of art that are reminiscent of that particular period.

What did the English make a lot of progress in during the Elizabethan Era?

The English made many exploratory strides during the Elizabethan Era. Sea Captain and Privateer Sir Francis Drake became the first to lead a successful circumnavigation of the globe as Captain. English privateer and seaman Martin Frobisher also explored the Arctic.

What were conditions like in many Tudor cities and towns?

Back then, people had little knowledge of science or health, and there was no public sanitation. There were no sewers or drains, and people threw trash and anything else unwanted in the streets. This caused the spread of many diseases.

Which disease was common in Elizabethan England?

Most cities and towns in Elizabethan England had little in terms of public sanitation. This was an especially big problem in large cities like London, where poor public health practices led to rats, bugs and the spread of dozens of diseases.

What largely influenced diet in Elizabethan England?

While today eating a plant-based diet is associated with wealth and privilege in the West, back then it was associated with poverty. The rich did not eat many vegetables, as food that grew from the ground was considered lowly peasant food. They mostly ate meat and fish.

Did most Elizabethans eat healthy diets?

While the rich had more food options than the poor, who often starved, their meat and sweets focused diets were lacking a lot of nutrients. Scurvy, caused by a lack of vitamin C, was common.

What happened to the population of London during the reign of Queen Elizabeth?

At the beginning of Elizabeth's reign in 1558, about 100,000 people were living in London. By the end of her reign in 1603, historians estimate that the population had doubled to about 200,000 people.

What was life like for most people in Elizabethan cities?

There was a vast wealth gap in society, and the government spent mostly on wars and colonial projects rather than public welfare. Many men, women and children begged for money in the dirty and dangerous city streets.

Which of these things, which is common in most modern buildings, was a sign of wealth in Elizabethan England?

During the Tudor period, glass was commonly used in homes for the first time. Many wealthy Tudors began to use many and ornate windows in their mansion homes as a symbol of wealth. People who could not afford glass often used cloth or paper.

About how much of the population of Elizabethan England lived in poverty?

About a third of all Elizabethan English people lived in poverty. While the wealthy were supposed to give charity to the poor who could not work, those who were considered able-bodied and poor were treated harshly by the law.

Were girls educated in Elizabethan England?

Boys from wealthy families were often taught at home by private tutors, which was less common for girls. Boys from even the most impoverished families could receive rudimentary education if they were not needed to work for the family.

Which of these was newly introduced to the English during this era?

There were numerous new foods available to the rich as trade continued to pick up around the world. These included things like tea, chocolate, spices, potatoes, oranges and coffee.

Which of these things, which used to be considered medicinal, is not anymore?

Some Ancient Greek sources reveal that sugar was considered a medicine, and various misunderstandings of it lasted throughout the centuries. Due to her sweet tooth, and the fact that sugar was used to clean her teeth, Queen Elizabeth had severe issues with rotten teeth later in life.

What often surprised visitors from other European countries when they visited England?

There is not a lot of historical information specific to the lives of Elizabethan Englishwomen. However, multiple accounts exist from foreign men, who were unhappy with how free and educated upper-class Englishwoman seemed compared to those in their home countries.

True or false? Most English adults were married during the Elizabethan era.

It is estimated that over 90% of all English adults were married during this era. The upper classes tended to get married younger than those in the upper classes, and many English brides were already pregnant at their weddings.

Which famous English creative hit his stride in this era?

William Shakespeare was a famous playwright and poet whose work was popular in the Elizabethan Era and remains influential to this day. He invented many words we still use, such as "bedroom" and "control."

What currently illegal activity was popular entertainment for Elizabethans?

Today, in many countries, dog fighting, cock fighting and things like that are considered animal cruelty and are illegal. In Elizabethan England, bear baiting, dog fighting and cock fighting were all considered entertainment.

Who was allowed to hunt?

In this era, the wealthy enjoyed pastimes like jousting and hunting. They would often use trained packs of dogs or falcons to hunt different animals. These included foxes, boars and small game.

Why did usually only upper-class people take part in jousting tournaments?

Jousting was incredibly expensive, as it required a horse, full armor and a heavy lance. It was a bloody and dangerous sport and many people died taking part in it, including a French King.

Which of these things did people of all classes partake in regularly?

It's thought that card games arrived in Europe from the Arab World in Mediterranean port cities, before spreading and adapting. People of all classes in England enjoyed card games. One popular game was called Maw.

The English navy secured a famous victory against which country during this era?

In 1588, the English defeated the Spanish Armada at the Battle of Gravelines. Due partially to England's raiding of their commerce ships, Spain wanted to conquer England. However, stormy seas delayed them and gave England the edge it needed to defeat Spain and achieve naval dominance.

In Elizabethan England, there were laws that dictated what you could wear according to your what?

Elizabethan Sumptuary Statues dictated who could wear which colors and fabrics according to their class. For example, legally, clothing trimmed with ermine fur could only be worn by members of the royal family.

What was the government like in Elizabethan England?

The English government was a monarchy helmed by Queen Elizabeth. However, it also had three bodies, including Parliament, which was split into the House of Commons and House of Lords.

What religion did Queen Elizabeth belong to?

Despite being popular in England, Elizabeth was not well liked by Catholics. Numerous groups of Catholics conspired throughout her reign to assassinate her and replace her with a Catholic monarch in order to make England Catholic again.

How many children did Queen Elizabeth have?

Throughout her reign, Queen Elizabeth never married or had children. She claimed to be married to her country. This is why she is often referred to and remembered as The Virgin Queen.

Was there a strict class system in Elizabethan England?

In this era, there were six main classes: the monarchy, the nobility, the gentry, the merchants, the tradesmen and the laborers. There were also a vast number of people living in incredible poverty, and those deemed to be able-bodied who did not have a job or title could be legally punished.

What did people drink most during this era?

Especially in cities, water was often contaminated and unsafe to drink, as people would pour trash and waste into rivers. Most people, even kids, drank a lot of beer, cider, ale or wine.

Were Elizabethan people superstitious?

Elizabethan people were very superstitious. Belief in ghosts was especially common. This is probably why ghosts and the occult feature in many of Shakespeare's most famous plays, such as "Hamlet" and "Macbeth."

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