INTRODUCTION: The Elizabethan period was the period of glory and triumph in the life and literature of the English people. It is known as the Renaissance or the Shakespearean age. It is called the golden age in the history of England. This age is the first great age of drama and the second great age of poetry. The peace and the prosperity, the Renaissance and the reformation, the liberty and stability, the discoveries and exploration etc. are the chief characteristics of the age

THE RENAISSANCE AND THE REFORMATION: In the Elizabethan age there were two potent forces– the Renaissance and the reformation. Both the forces blended and co-operated each other. These two movements produced a great uplifting of the spirit. The renaissance aroused the intellect and aesthetic faculties and the Reformation awakened the spiritual nature.

THE NEW LEARNING: In the Elizabethan age England felt the full effect of the revival of learning. The general atmosphere was changed with the spirit of new learning. The new learning opened a world of infinite hope and activities to the questing gaze of men. The printing press played vital role in this context. It was an age of overflowing energy and spirit. Man sought to break away from the fetters of human body and social and political bondages. They wanted to face the sun, to touch the sky, to reach the moon and to talk to the stars.

THE SPRIT OF ADVENTURE: The keynote of the age was adventure. The spirit of adventure was so dominating that the sailors welcomed the risks. Travelling became a part of education. A visit to Italy was an essential part of it. People were crazy for travelling.

AN ATMOSPHERE OF PEACE, ORDER AND PROSPERITY: In the Elizabethan period art and literature flourished much. It is because there was an atmosphere of peace, order and prosperity. The controversy between Roman Catholicism and Anglicanism was settled. Therefore, perfect peace and clam prevailed in the country. It was also an age of great and glorious national victories. England defeated France and Armada of Spain. The internal reactionary forces were also crushed. Thus England enjoyed internal peace and order also. The tidal waves of nationalism flowed through the country.

DISCOVERIES AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF TRADE AND COMMERCE: New Islands and continents like America were discovered. England established dominance on it. Astrology also developed. It revealed new mysteries of heaven and earth. Stars were really conquered in this age. Due to the development of trade and commerce there was a huge increase in the national wealth. Thus in this period England enjoyed all round development.

> EDUCATION: In those days knowledge was not regarded as an end in itself but a means to an end. The man of action was given a better regard. Thus games and sports, dance and music were important parts of their education. Drama suited the temper of the age. Thus it also flourished much.

POMP AND SHOW AND OTHER EVILS: The Elizabethans lived in the full tide of life. Love of pomp and pageantry was an important feature of the age. People were very extravagant in dress. They lavishly spent money on rich jewels and clothes. If it was an age of learning, it was also an age of credulity and foolishness. The Elizabethans believed in witchcraft and approved torture and burning. The penal code of this age was most brutal. The rich got richer and the poor got poorer. There was unemployment in the countryside. They had but a poor idea of sanitation. Medicine was also in its infancy. London was frequently in the grip of epidemics.

CONCLUSION: On the whole, the Elizabethan age is really the golden age of English history. It was an age in which England enjoyed all round development.


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