All about the Tudors

TUDOR AND ELIZABETHAN LONDON

Under the Tudors, London grew a lot bigger and wealthier. It was the Renaissance Era: times of happiness and joy, when even poor people could enjoy theatre plays, music and games. By 1600, London’s population was 200,000.

Rich men had built houses along the Strand joining London to Westminster. Along the walls of Tudor London were several gates (e.g. Aldgate, Bishopsgate, Moorgate, Cripplegate, Aldersgate, Newgate and Ludgate). Two of the gates were used as prisons, Ludgate and Newgate. Furthermore, the body parts of traitors who were hung drawn and quartered were displayed over the gates as a warning.

Over the River Thames was London Bridge, which had buildings along its length. (Many of them had shops on the ground floor). South of the Thames was the large suburb of Southwark. The River Thames was a major transport route as Tudor London was the largest port in England. Sailing ships sailed to quays just before London Bridge and there were also smaller boats owned by watermen for transporting people along the Thames. There were also many fishermen in London and The Thames teemed with fish like salmon, trout, perch, flounder and bream. However The Thames sometimes froze over fairs were held on it.

At night the streets of London were dark and dangerous. At 9 pm in summer and at dusk in winter church bells rang the curfew and the city gates were locked.

galleonNAVY AND EXPLORATION

The Tudors built a lot of galleons (huge ships with sails used for fighting and carrying goods). Tudor ships explored several new parts of the world (America, India etc.) Several new food was brought to England from the Americas like turkey or potato.

PUNISHMENTS

pillory.JPGIn Tudor Times people weren’t often put in prison. After their trial, a physical punishment was usually given which were often harsh; e.g. flogging; the pillory or the stocks. (The pillory was a wooden frame on a pole with holes through which a person’s head and hands were placed. The frame was then locked. The stocks was a wooden frame with holes through which a person’s feet.)

More serious crimes were punished by death. Beheading was reserved for the rich, ordinary people were usually hanged.

SOCIETY

  • most of the population lived in villages and made their living from farming;
  • towns and cities were growing because of industry (mining of coal, tin and lead)
  • the Royalty
  • the Nobility (they owned the land)
  • the Gentry and rich merchants (they had a family coat-of-arms, land; never did manual work)
  • the Middle class – yeomen and craftsmen (owned their own land but worked on the land, too; able to read and write)
  • the Poor: farmers, wage labourers (often illiterate and very poor)

SCHOOL

Boys usually went to a ‘petty school’ (like nursery) first then moved onto grammar school when they were about seven. The school day began at 6 am in summer and 7 am in winter (people went to bed early and got up early in those days). Lunch was from 11 am to 1 pm. School finished at about 5 pm. Boys went to school 6 days a week and there were few holidays.

Many Tudor children learned to read and write. Discipline in Tudor schools was harsh. The teacher often had a stick with twigs attached to it for hitting boys. When they were about 15 or 16 the brightest boys might go to one of England’s two universities, Oxford and Cambridge. Of course many boys did not go to school at all. If they were lucky they might get a 7-year apprenticeship and learn a trade.
As for girls, in a rich family a tutor usually taught them at home. In a middle class family their mother might teach them. Upper class and middle class women were educated. However lower class girls were not. Tudor children who did not go to school were expected to work.

GAMES and FREETIME

For the rich: jousting; hunting and falconry; billiards; chess and backgammon; cards; the theatre; music and dancing; reading; children played with dolls

For the poor: playing dice instead of cards; Nine men‘s morris; shove ha’penny; the theatre; dancing; rough / mob football (no rules); children played cup and ball.