Living History Lectures ~ Tames Alan

Historical, educational, hysterical. One costumed woman tells you like it WAS.

Random Historical Facts: Elizabethan

During the Elizabethan era the lower classes shifted their drinking habits from beer to ale.

Posted 10/01/2010

In England the Elizabethan nobility drank over forty million gallons of wine per year.

Posted 04/01/2011

During the Renaissance, most people slept on the rushes strewn on the floor of the great hall. You knew you were the guest of honor if they left the table set up, so you could sleep above the rest of the people and the vermin infesting the rushes.

Posted 08/01/2012

When the nobility of the Renaissance sat down to eat there was one plate and one cup for every two people, and even though they were provide with a two-pronged fork, spoon, and knife, most elected to eat with their fingers.

Posted 10/01/2012

For much of history a bed was, for most homeowners, the most valuable thing they owned. During Shakespeare’s day, a decent canopied bed cost £5, half the annual salary of a typical schoolmaster.

Posted 04/01/2014

In Elizabethan England eating meat during Lent carried a three-month prison sentence.

Posted 02/01/2015

During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, when one entered the eating hall, someone would be standing there with a bowl of bread and a bowl of salt. Each diner ripped off a piece of bread, dipped it in the salt and ate it to turn away any bad spirits that might have followed them from the church graveyard.

Posted 10/15/2014

In Elizabethan theaters they rolled cannonballs around the gallery roof to make stage thunder.

Posted 07/01/2015

Turkeys were first introduced to England in the 1520s and were rare specimens until the reign of Elizabeth I, when their value as a roasting bird was widely recognized and their popularity suddenly increased.

Posted 11/15/2015

During the Elizabethan era, those clocks that do have faces normally have only one hand, which pointed to the hour; if one needed to count minutes, one would use an hourglass, not a clock.

Posted 03/01/2016

In Elizabethan England they did not burn people for witchcraft; that sort of thing went on only in Scotland and continental Europe. In England witchcraft was not regarded as a religion or a heresy: in theory you could be a good Christian and a witch. Witches at this time did not congregate as a body, nor did they celebrate the Sabbath together. That all came later, in the next century. Nor were witches yet presumed to make a contract with the devil; that, too, was a later development. There was even a time in Elizabeth’s reign when, technically speaking, witchcraft was not against the law. In 1542, Henry VIII made witchcraft a hanging offense, but that was repealed on the King’s death in 1547; thereafter there was no anti-witchcraft law until the Witchcraft Act of 1563. This was far more lenient than Henry VIII’s legislation. It did not sanction the execution of all practitioners of the dark arts, nor did it condemn witches to death for the lesser magical arts of finding lost things, destroying cattle and goods, or causing a man to fall in love. The 1563 act made it a felony only to invoke evil spirits for any purpose whatsoever; and to cause the death of someone by witchcraft.

Posted 10/15/2016

During the Renaissance, handkerchiefs measured 12 to 15 in. A smaller variety of 4 to 5 inches were usually given as presents by women to men as love tokens.

Posted 02/15/2017

In 1588, sailors in England's Royal Navy got one pound of biscuits and one gallon of beer per day as their rations.

Posted 05/15/2018

 In 1587, the first treatise on swimming, by Edward Digby, a fellow at Saint John's College, Cambridge, was published. It provided simple instructions for swimming safely, cheaply, and healthily. In 1595, it was translated into English by Christopher Middleton.

Posted 08/15/2020

In England, tennis, played in indoor courts, was so popular that £1,699 pounds worth of tennis balls were imported in the year 1559 to 1560.

Posted 02/1/2020

 Malaria, which the Elizabethan referred to as ague or fever, killed thousands in the marshy areas in 16th century England. No one suspected that it had anything to do with mosquitoes; rather people believed it was the corruption of air rising from the low-lying dank marshes, hence the term mal (bad)-aria (air).

Posted 04/15/2021