Women in The Elizabethan Times
A description of how women were treated during Queen Elizabeth’s reign.
Women During the Elizabethan Era
The Elizabethan Era was affiliated with Queen Elizabeths reign (1558-1603). It is often considered to be the height of the English Renaissance, which brought us poetry, music, literature, and theater that broke free of England’s past styles. Even though Queen Elizabeth was an unmarried woman, the roles of women in society during this time period were very limited. There were clear expectations of men and women. Men were expected to be the one’s with more power and all the money. Women were expected to be housewives and mothers, nothing more.
Upper Class Elizabethan women had it just as bad as any other woman in the Elizabethan era. They were supposed to be completely obedient to men and dependent on their male relatives to support them. They were used to form alliances with other powerful families through arranged marriages. Women were raised to believe the misconception that they were inferior to men, and men knew better. The upper class women had the fortunate opportunity for an education. They had to be tutored at home because there was no school for girls.
Along with this limited education, they were not allowed to continue their studies in universities. They were also not allowed to be heirs to their fathers titles, not allowed to be involved in politics, and not allowed to act in theaters. Disobedience was not just
looked down upon, it was a crime against religion. This was clearly supported by the Church and quoted in the bible as “Women in her greatest perfection was made to obey and serve man.”
The lucky girls who had the opportunity to be tutored at home, usually began from the age of five or even younger. They were taught many languages including Latin, Italian, Greek, and French. Music and dancing skills were absolutely essential. They were taught a range of subjects and skills, the most important skills being manners and etiquette, including how to curtsey. Other skills include music, dancing, riding, and archery.
The lower class Elizabethan women were also expected to obey males. They did not go to any type of school, and were not tutored whatsoever. As girls, they had to learn how to govern a household and become skilled in all housewifely duties. Single Elizabethan women were looked upon with suspicion. They were often thought to be witches by there neighbors. All Elizabethan women were expected to be married and dependent on male relatives throughout her entire life.