AQA GCSE Elizabethan England Overview

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10 Questions

Which act declared Elizabeth as the supreme head of the Church of England?

The Act of Supremacy

Who led a significant circumnavigation of the globe during the Elizabethan age?

Sir Francis Drake

Which social class faced many hardships due to living conditions in Elizabethan society?

The poor

What year was the East India Company established to facilitate new trade routes?


Which legislation established a common prayer book and Articles of Religion in Elizabethan England?

The Act of Uniformity

What was Queen Elizabeth I known for during her reign?

Her charisma, intelligence, and political acumen

Which famous playwright is associated with the Elizabethan era?

William Shakespeare

During Queen Elizabeth I's reign, what major religious shift occurred in England?

A move towards Protestantism away from Catholicism

Which explorer became famous for their exploits during the Elizabethan era?

Sir Walter Raleigh

What contributed to the epithet 'Golden Age' being associated with the Elizabethan era?

The flourishing of arts, literature, and education

Study Notes

AQA GCSE Elizabethan England

This AQA GCSE course delves into the enigmatic and impactful era of Elizabethan England, a period of remarkable transformation and cultural flourishing. We'll explore the life and reign of Queen Elizabeth I, the emergence of the Golden Age, religious alterations, expansionist endeavors, and the society that thrived during this epoch.

Queen Elizabeth I

Elizabeth, born in 1533, was the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. She ascended to the throne at the tender age of 25 after the death of her half-sister, Mary I. Elizabeth was a shrewd and charismatic monarch, famous for her charisma, intelligence, and political acumen, which helped her to secure her reign and lay the groundwork for England's future prosperity.

The Golden Age

The Elizabethan era is often referred to as the Golden Age because of the flourishing of arts, literature, and education. England's economy also prospered, helped in part by Elizabeth's wise governance and the fierce determination of her subjects. The period witnessed a remarkable array of literary works, including plays by William Shakespeare and sonnets by Sir Francis Bacon, while explorers such as Sir Walter Raleigh and Sir Francis Drake achieved fame for their exploits.

Religious Changes

Elizabeth's reign saw a shift towards Protestantism, away from the Catholicism of her mother and sister. Elizabeth, a Protestant, endeavored to establish a religion that united her subjects behind a common faith, while also respecting the right for individual belief. The Act of Supremacy, passed in 1559, declared Elizabeth the supreme head of the Church of England, and the Act of Uniformity established a common prayer book and the Articles of Religion. However, this did not resolve all religious disputes, and Elizabeth had to navigate tense relationships with both Catholic and Protestant factions within her realm.

Exploration and Trade

The Elizabethan age saw an expansion of England's trade and exploration endeavors. The East India Company was established in 1599, which opened up new trade routes and inspired a vigorous exploration of the globe. Sir Francis Drake's circumnavigation of the world (1577-1580) was a remarkable feat of exploration, which helped to establish England as a global power.

Elizabethan Society

Elizabethan society was a complex and diverse mixture of social classes. At the top were the aristocracy, who lived lavishly and in grand estates. The middle class, comprising merchants, artisans, and professionals, was growing in influence and wealth. The poor, living in cramped and unsanitary conditions, faced many hardships. Despite these disparities, Elizabethan society was infused with a spirit of exploration, discovery, and cultural achievement, which continues to inspire students of history to this day.

In conclusion, the AQA GCSE course on Elizabethan England provides a fascinating and detailed exploration of a period of remarkable transformation and achievement. The reign of Elizabeth I, the Golden Age, religious changes, exploration and trade, and Elizabethan society all combine to create a complex and dynamic era that continues to captivate students and scholars alike.

Explore the enigmatic era of Elizabethan England with this AQA GCSE course. Learn about Queen Elizabeth I, the Golden Age of arts and literature, religious changes, exploration and trade, and the diverse society of this transformative period.

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