The City Of During The Elizabethan Era

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The Elizabethan Era took place from 1558 to 1603 and is considered by many historians to be the golden age in English History. During this era, Queen Elizabeth I ruled over England. With agricultural farming changing, this led to new ways of making more profit with fewer workers and people started leaving the countryside in search of employment in towns like London. This resulted in the city of London growing to over 200 000 people and becoming extremely crowded. During the Elizabethan Era, London, England was very different from the England we see today; although it had many distinctive architectural features, including grand castles and churches, it was actually a rather filthy place to live.


During this time, there was a distinctive social class division. The Social Classes were, in order from the highest class to the lowest class, Monarchy, Nobility, Gentry, Merchants, Yeomen, and Labourers. Marriage between classes was absolutely forbidden.

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The type of work performed was directly related to an individual’s social class. The lower classes were often tradesmen or craftsmen, the middle classes did more of the skilled jobs, and the highest classes, often born into wealth, spent most of their time managing their property or workers.


The architecture of Upper and Lower class houses were very different.

Upper-Class houses were made of stone and expensive brick, and referred to as Tudor style or Elizabethan. Lower class houses were made from less expensive materials and often used reeds and straw for ‘thatched’ roofs. Lower class homes were built close together leading to overcrowding.

A very important building during this time was a place called the “Globe Theater”, this was a place where the arts flourished and William Shakespeare performed many of his plays.

Sanitation and Hygiene

During the Elizabethan Era, London was not the most sanitary place to live. The streets were narrow, cobblestoned, rat-infested, and always slippery. There were no sewers or proper drainage for waste. Chamber pots, their form of toilets, were emptied out of windows right onto the street.


Running through the “heart” of London is the Thames River. The Thames was London’s only water source. The lack of drainage or sewers meant the river was always full of waste and often overflowed. Filtering and cleaning the river’s water was unheard of and therefore many drank alcohol, including children, instead of water.

The Bubonic Plague

Bubonic plague is a disease normally affecting rodents, especially black rats. It is passed between them by bites from fleas. The disease can spread to humans too, from fleas. There were several outbreaks in London and the most severe occurring in 1563, 1593, and 1603. During the outbreaks, 60-80% of those with the disease died.

In conclusion, the city of London, in the Elizabethan era, was an overcrowded, rat-infested, unsanitary place to live. Although living conditions were poor, people were able to escape the reality of their everyday lives and find pleasure.


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