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The Time Traveller's Guide to Elizabethan England

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What was it actually like to live in Elizabethan England? If you could travel to the past and walk the streets of London in the 1590s, where would you stay? What would you eat? What would you wear? Would you really have a sense of it being a glorious age? And if so, how would that glory sit alongside the vagrants, diseases, violence, sexism and famine of the time? In this What was it actually like to live in Elizabethan England? If you could travel to the past and walk the streets of London in the 1590s, where would you stay? What would you eat? What would you wear? Would you really have a sense of it being a glorious age? And if so, how would that glory sit alongside the vagrants, diseases, violence, sexism and famine of the time? In this book Ian Mortimer answers the key questions that visitor to late sixteenth-century England would ask, applying the groundbreaking approach he pioneered in his bestselling Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England.


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What was it actually like to live in Elizabethan England? If you could travel to the past and walk the streets of London in the 1590s, where would you stay? What would you eat? What would you wear? Would you really have a sense of it being a glorious age? And if so, how would that glory sit alongside the vagrants, diseases, violence, sexism and famine of the time? In this What was it actually like to live in Elizabethan England? If you could travel to the past and walk the streets of London in the 1590s, where would you stay? What would you eat? What would you wear? Would you really have a sense of it being a glorious age? And if so, how would that glory sit alongside the vagrants, diseases, violence, sexism and famine of the time? In this book Ian Mortimer answers the key questions that visitor to late sixteenth-century England would ask, applying the groundbreaking approach he pioneered in his bestselling Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England.

30 review for The Time Traveller's Guide to Elizabethan England

  1. 5 out of 5

    Petra kissed a frog and he turned into a toad

    Fantastic book. It is everything-but-the-politics guide to Elizabethen England which was a paradise for the wealthy and a dreadful place for the urban poor. Just as in any other time. Food and feasting and fabulous hand-embroidered clothes for some, near-starvation and rags and an early death for others. Nothing really changes. The rich think they run things (they usually do). The middle classes have enough to do as they like, but not enough to not actually do something, and the poor are beholde Fantastic book. It is everything-but-the-politics guide to Elizabethen England which was a paradise for the wealthy and a dreadful place for the urban poor. Just as in any other time. Food and feasting and fabulous hand-embroidered clothes for some, near-starvation and rags and an early death for others. Nothing really changes. The rich think they run things (they usually do). The middle classes have enough to do as they like, but not enough to not actually do something, and the poor are beholden to both for work, food and lodging. Socialist governments have provided a thin sheet instead of a security blanket for those who cannot help themselves. But, as someone deep in antiquity once said (and everyone else repeated over the millenia) the poor are always with us. Proper review to come. Next: The Time Traveller's Guide to Restoration Britain: Life in the Age of Samuel Pepys, Isaac Newton and The Great Fire of London

  2. 5 out of 5

    Trish

    We all know why Elizabethan England fascinates us and Ian Mortimer is a wonderful guide. His sense of humor and level of detail bridges any gaps in understanding why Elizabethan England may not be a place we would want to live. Mortimer expects us to have pre-conceived notions and to develop questions as we read. We may, for instance, subscribe to the notion that Elizabethan England was a period of the flowering of art and language, and it was…to a point. By carefully going through all the conti We all know why Elizabethan England fascinates us and Ian Mortimer is a wonderful guide. His sense of humor and level of detail bridges any gaps in understanding why Elizabethan England may not be a place we would want to live. Mortimer expects us to have pre-conceived notions and to develop questions as we read. We may, for instance, subscribe to the notion that Elizabethan England was a period of the flowering of art and language, and it was…to a point. By carefully going through all the contingencies of leadership, life, and labor, he shows us that life was difficult at best—the early, and not quite thought-out beginning of city living. Cleanliness and sanitation were two of the most off-putting descriptions Mortimer shares, but we also shrink at “medical care” and the somewhat arbitrary nature of punishment and death. On the pro side, world-wide exploration was in its infancy, and it must have been thrilling to discover new products coming in from overseas, changing the way people thought about their own culture. People were reading—even women—and while much of what was available to them were religious tracts, there began to be something more as the period (1550-1600) wore on. Mortimer gives us statistics on how many books were being published and the results are startling. My greatest interest in the period had been language: there are so many words no longer in use which seem to capture something unique in the lives of people: Mortimer spends some time explaining words, even words we use now for their meanings might well have changed since the sixteenth century. Just the list of tradesmen and merchants brings on a long period of daydreaming: tucker, tailor, baker, victualer, cutler, draper, cooper, currier, glover, hatter, hosier, cordwainer, costermonger, needlemaker, ostler, scrivener…the list goes on. Mortimer tells us “you won’t find the answers to [how to behave at table or how to tell the time] in traditional history books” so he attempts to address those gaps in our knowledge about everyday life. One of things I liked most about this non-traditional history was Mortimer directly addressing his readers: in the section on religion, he explains how Queen Elizabeth established a Protestant state and outlawed Catholicism. There was a long period of debate and discussion in the parliament before each infringement on the rights of Catholics to practice is enacted. The punishments for those found violating the strictures is profound and ugly, and Mortimer does not allow us to turn away. At the end of the chapter he exclaims in a one-sentence paragraph, “For the love of God.” Nearing the end of the book, Mortimer indulges us with a discussion of the theatre—who was writing, who was acting, who was watching. In other books (Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer), it is suggested that Shakespeare reached the height of skill and brilliance that he did because he had competitors for the affections of theatre-goers. Mortimer tells of the other great playwrights of the time and their successes, pushing Shakespeare to craft the most daring and innovative scripts for the greatest stage actors. He suggests that part of the thrill of watching a Shakespearean drama was the mirror-like action that reflected the lives of watchers…something that was new and innovative. Passion plays, or morality plays common at the time had morphed into theatre that showed human endeavor and failings and did not just teach but explained. No, perhaps I do not want to live there, but I am better prepared now for a visit. This is a great read for high school or college students because Mortimer does not neglect details and reminds us to think in a wholistic way about the life Shakespeare must have led. Mortimer anticipates questions we generate as we read and answers them thoroughly. It is a wonderful, absorbing history and if you don’t come out with a few new deliciously barbed and pointed swear words, I’ll be surprised.

  3. 5 out of 5

    NAT.orious reads ☾

    3.75 medieval ★★★✬✩ This book is for you if… you are a fan of historical fiction and do not possess too much advanced knowledge. (You might get bored quickly otherwise.) This book could be suited for very determined beginners. ⇝Overall. I've already read The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century and enjoyed it very much. Admittedly, these books seem to be for you only if you're not possessing a lot of advanced knowledge of the history 3.75 medieval ★★★✬✩ This book is for you if… you are a fan of historical fiction and do not possess too much advanced knowledge. (You might get bored quickly otherwise.) This book could be suited for very determined beginners. ⇝Overall. I've already read The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century and enjoyed it very much. Admittedly, these books seem to be for you only if you're not possessing a lot of advanced knowledge of the history topics at hand. Perfect for me, then. They give a clear impression of what life in medieval or Elizabethan times must have been like actually. Ian smartly splits his vast knowledge up into the following chapters. 1. The Landscape 2. The People 3. Religion 4. Character 5. Basic Essentials 6. What to Wear 7. Travelling 8. Where to Stay 9. What to Eat and Drink 10. Hygiene, Illness and Medicine 11. Law and Disorder 12. Entertainment These categories and their order make it feel like you're zooming in on the topic and England in the 16th Century until you feel like you've got a good grasp of everything that matters. Still, if I were to enter the Tardis to go on an Elizabethan adventure with The Doctor I would still very much want to carry this book with me, because there is a fucking lot to now about Elizabethan England. Maybe this was also the reason I felt pretty exhausted with the book around 75%. Through some points, Ian seemed to rush through and other topics practically dragged them out. I pushed through it though and felt very happy I did. ________________ Writing Quality + ease of reading = 3.5* pace = 3* enjoyability = 3.5* insightfulness = 5*

  4. 5 out of 5

    First Second Books

    We hereby conclude that people from the past were very strange.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kat

    This non-fiction work, much like it’s medieval counterpart, was super-informative and a great look back at the late 1500’s during Elizabeth I’s rule in England. There are so many details of life back then that were absolutely fascinating to read about. I loved the details the author presented on the people, religion, what a typical town looked like, what sort of social rules you should expect to follow for the times, what period dress was like, etc. Everything was so incredibly well-researched a This non-fiction work, much like it’s medieval counterpart, was super-informative and a great look back at the late 1500’s during Elizabeth I’s rule in England. There are so many details of life back then that were absolutely fascinating to read about. I loved the details the author presented on the people, religion, what a typical town looked like, what sort of social rules you should expect to follow for the times, what period dress was like, etc. Everything was so incredibly well-researched and a truly fascinating read. Please excuse typos/name misspellings. Entered on screen reader.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Pete daPixie

    If there is one modern historian whose works I am immediately drawn to, then it is Ian Mortimer. I can strongly recommend his earlier publications 'The Greatest Traitor-The life of Sir Roger Mortimer, 1st Earl of March, Ruler of England 1327-1330', 'The Perfect King:The Life of Edward III, Father of the English Nation', 'The Fears of Henry IV: the Life of England's Self-Made King' and '1415: Henry V's Year of Glory'. There appears to be a plethora of historical time travelling books appearing, su If there is one modern historian whose works I am immediately drawn to, then it is Ian Mortimer. I can strongly recommend his earlier publications 'The Greatest Traitor-The life of Sir Roger Mortimer, 1st Earl of March, Ruler of England 1327-1330', 'The Perfect King:The Life of Edward III, Father of the English Nation', 'The Fears of Henry IV: the Life of England's Self-Made King' and '1415: Henry V's Year of Glory'. There appears to be a plethora of historical time travelling books appearing, such as Matyszak's 'Ancient Rome on 5 denarii a day' and 'Ancient Athens on Five Drachmas a Day'. Mortimer's 'The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England: a Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century' was published in 2008 and is a book that has received great reviews, but I have yet to read. 'The Time Traveller's Guide to Elizabethan England', published 2012, is better than the Doctor's tardis. I feel after reading this excellent book that I have been back in time over four hundred years. The exquisite detail is typical of Mortimer's work. When explaining how cloth is dyed we get... "A brighter red, used to dye the broadcloth called scarlet, comes from kermes:a parasitic insect that lives on evergreen oaks in the Mediterranean and which, when pregnant, is killed with vinegar, dried in the sun and opened to extract its wormlike larvae. When rolled into little balls called 'grains' and soaked in water, these produce a bright red dye called 'grain'- hence the words 'ingrained' and, in connection with the worms, 'vermilion'." Ian Mortimer's writing is best summed up in his own words when he says "history is not really about the past, it is about understanding mankind over time. Indeed, it is only through history that we can see ourselves as we really are. It is not enough to study the past for its own sake, to work out the facts; it is necessary to see the past in relation to ourselves. Otherwise studying the past is merely an academic exercise. Don't get me wrong: such exercises are important-without them we would be lost in a haze of uncertainty, vulnerable to the vagaries of well meaning amateurs and prejudicial readings of historical evidence- but sorting out the facts is just a first step towards understanding humanity over time. If we wish to follow the old Delphic command, 'Mankind, know thyself', then we need to look at ourselves over the course of history."

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sud666

    Having already read, and enjoyed, Ian Mortimer's "Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England" I snatched up this follow up covering the Elizabethan Era. In much the same format as the previous book, this one takes us through a journey in time to the England that was, during the reign of Elizabeth. It is full of fascinating information and statistics. It is a vast survey of the times. Covering a myriad of topics from the landscape of England, to the people themselves and branching off into topics li Having already read, and enjoyed, Ian Mortimer's "Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England" I snatched up this follow up covering the Elizabethan Era. In much the same format as the previous book, this one takes us through a journey in time to the England that was, during the reign of Elizabeth. It is full of fascinating information and statistics. It is a vast survey of the times. Covering a myriad of topics from the landscape of England, to the people themselves and branching off into topics like: religion; character; Basic Essentials; What to Wear; Travelling; Where to Stay; What to Eat and Drink; Hygiene, Ilnness and Medicine; Law and Disorder, and finally, Entertainment. This Era was one of amazing change. It is often called a "Golden Age" and in terms of poetry, architecture, aristocratic fashion and sea-faring. But there are also many horrible things as well- religious tensions flaring into outright violence and hatred; political terror as Elizabeth tightens her grip and roots out opposition; superstition (not just Christian in nature) and many other ills. Some of the things will impress you and some will shock you. Many of the medical practices are downright bizarre. If you've ever wanted to know about the inner workings of England during the time of Elizabeth, then you will also appreciate this wonderful book that is full of information, yet is very easy and fun to read. Highly recommended.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Orsolya

    History lovers always debate which authors truly allow readers to “live” history (as much as one can from a modern soda). Most will agree that Ian Mortimer is a force to be reckoned with in this genre. Riding on the successful format of “The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England”; Mortimer presents, “The Time Traveler’s Guide to Elizabethan England”. “The Time Traveler’s Guide to Elizabethan England” follows the form of “The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England” of addressing the reader History lovers always debate which authors truly allow readers to “live” history (as much as one can from a modern soda). Most will agree that Ian Mortimer is a force to be reckoned with in this genre. Riding on the successful format of “The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England”; Mortimer presents, “The Time Traveler’s Guide to Elizabethan England”. “The Time Traveler’s Guide to Elizabethan England” follows the form of “The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England” of addressing the reader as an actual traveler through Elizabethan England and visualizing everything one would see, eat, wear, play, work as, etc; during the reign of Elizabeth I. The charm of Mortimer is the ability to bring all of these factors to life in a “fun” yet scholarly way. In fact, Mortimer’s knowledge, research, and details on the subject is impressive (and slightly overwhelming, at times). This detail can lead to some slower, bland spots. The structure of the topics covered makes sense and is cohesive while Mortimer has the uncanny writing strength of combining history with sociology, allowing one to understand the era more clearly and from different angles than previously considered. Mortimer reveals some new information concerning the era and also makes comparisons to both Medieval England and modern sensibilities in order to truly grasp and comprehend the relevance and impact of the information. On the other hand, Mortimer is also able to leave modern hindsight out of the equation when needed, in order to view Elizabethan England from the view of one actually living during the era. “The Time Traveler’s Guide to Elizabethan England” does, unfortunately, display some choppiness as the narrative often switches from living history to the re-telling of events. These points are noticeably slower with a more macro view and traditional history style than that of the other sections of “The Time Traveler’s Guide to Elizabethan England” or of “The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England”. At the same time, Mortimer does include the wit and humor he is known for which helps to break up the tedium. Also intriguing, is Mortimer’s use of unknown “everyday people” to describe the way of life; making the teachings relatable. The pace of “The Time Traveler’s Guide to Elizabethan England picks up speed on page 110 when Mortimer follows the style of “The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England” and focuses more on interesting facts (how “ye” was added to vocabulary, the origin of a penknife, what parchment to write on), what to wear, eat, who to talk to, etc; versus covering historical facts/events. The unique style of Mortimer is revealed at this point. A quip with “The Time Traveler’s Guide to Elizabethan England” is Mortimer’s constant references to Shakespeare which is comparable to his many references of Chaucer in “The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England”. Neither are authorities in history and the quotes are overused. Also, although Mortimer includes some diagrams; more of them plus some photos would supplement the work well. The ending of “The Time Traveler’s Guide to Elizabethan England” is a suitable-enough summary (although, once again, focusing on Shakespeare). For academics, Mortimer offers ample notes and sources. Although “The Time Traveler’s Guide to Elizabethan England” has a slow and shaky start, it eventually finds its groove and picks up pace. Offering insightful information for both those new and old to the topic; Mortimer entertains and educates. Sadly though, “The Time Traveler’s Guide to Elizabethan England” is not comparable to the strength of “The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England”. However, don’t be discouraged: it is still creative and a great book for history, Elizabeth, Tudor, or England-lovers.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Gabrielle

    “History is not about the past; it is about understanding mankind over time.” In the same spirit as “The Time Traveller’s guide to Medieval England” (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...), this book is a wonderful little exploration of what daily life was like under the reign of Regina Gloriana, Queen Elizabeth I. And just like the first book of this highly readable and entertaining story, the bottom line is that life was wonderful if you were rich and powerful, and miserable, violent and sho “History is not about the past; it is about understanding mankind over time.” In the same spirit as “The Time Traveller’s guide to Medieval England” (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...), this book is a wonderful little exploration of what daily life was like under the reign of Regina Gloriana, Queen Elizabeth I. And just like the first book of this highly readable and entertaining story, the bottom line is that life was wonderful if you were rich and powerful, and miserable, violent and short if you were poor… Sigh… Plus ça change… Mortimer often emphasises that the Elizabethan Age was and age of extremes: some absolutely amazing discoveries and changes were made in society, that we still benefit from today, but a lot of people had to live in conditions that were sometimes even worst than the conditions their ancestors lived in a couple of hundred years before! Il is always fun to read about the ridiculously complicated clothing and bizarre (to us, at least) food people ate, and shudder-inducing to read about what they thought of as medical care and law and order – but this book felt much more like a collection of lists and enumerations than “Medieval England” did. It did make me want to re-read all my Shakespeare and do a bit more research about Elizabeth herself (who is not really discussed in any depth here, but that’s not what the book is about), but I found myself skimming over certain passages. It was still fun and very informative, but somehow, a tad less so than the first book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Margaret

    Written in a manner similar to a travel guide (think an historical Lonely Planet), this book is a very interesting read. If you are interested in the minutiae of the period, rather than the sweeping acts of history we are all familiar with, such as the Spanish Armada and the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, then this is an incredibly fascinating book. I highly recommend it to anyone even remotely interested in the Elizabethan period. It will challenge what you think you know about the time perio Written in a manner similar to a travel guide (think an historical Lonely Planet), this book is a very interesting read. If you are interested in the minutiae of the period, rather than the sweeping acts of history we are all familiar with, such as the Spanish Armada and the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, then this is an incredibly fascinating book. I highly recommend it to anyone even remotely interested in the Elizabethan period. It will challenge what you think you know about the time period and the people.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    To borrow the phrase from the famous advert, this does what is says on the cover. Mortimer whisks you back in time to Elizabethan England and takes you on a journey throughout that period, from the highest court in the lands to the grime and filth of the London metropolis. He starts with the landscape of the time, different in many ways to today, but also familiar as landmarks that we see now are recent additions to the places that he visits. Then onto the people. The class system rules; the aris To borrow the phrase from the famous advert, this does what is says on the cover. Mortimer whisks you back in time to Elizabethan England and takes you on a journey throughout that period, from the highest court in the lands to the grime and filth of the London metropolis. He starts with the landscape of the time, different in many ways to today, but also familiar as landmarks that we see now are recent additions to the places that he visits. Then onto the people. The class system rules; the aristocracy and nobility are in charge and there are different layers from gentlemen, yeoman, and artificers and all the way down to the poor. He all carefully walks round the religions of the day, from the now official Protestant faith the the suppressed catholic faith. Now equipped with the fundamentals he takes you thought the basic elements that you need to survive in that society, from writing to the language, shopping to measurements, the travel arrangements that you need to make and the clothes that you need to be seen wearing. When travelling you are advised how to avoid criminals and highwaymen, and details on the diseases of the time. Having reached your destination , then some entertainment will be on the cards, before knowing where to stay. You need to keep your wits about you, life is harsh for anyone in the age. Sealing anything with a value greater than 12d means that you could endue being hung! Most of the time it is written as if you are accompanying the guide, but occasionally he takes a wider view. There is a wealth of information in this book. Almost too much to take in in one go. It is a book to be dipped into and savoured because every time you go back to it you will find something new.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Nadine Brandes

    FAWKES would be totally lame and boring without the help of this book. FAWKES would be totally lame and boring without the help of this book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Simmonds

    Not everyone can be interested in all aspects of Elizabethan life (not the casual reader anyway). Mortimer obviously is, and covers all topics, from chopping off hands to Shakespeare's sonnets, in detail. Detail is often a very good thing, and some little fascinating nuggets of information are what make this book enjoyable. However, there are some instances where we find out (in seemingly endless lists) exactly what Mr. and Mrs Elizabethan had in their house at the time of their deaths, or exact Not everyone can be interested in all aspects of Elizabethan life (not the casual reader anyway). Mortimer obviously is, and covers all topics, from chopping off hands to Shakespeare's sonnets, in detail. Detail is often a very good thing, and some little fascinating nuggets of information are what make this book enjoyable. However, there are some instances where we find out (in seemingly endless lists) exactly what Mr. and Mrs Elizabethan had in their house at the time of their deaths, or exactly how many eggs, quails, eels etc were stored in a kitchen. I am interested in social history, and enjoy learning about day to day life for the 'normal' people of the time, but I found myself skimming the long, long lists of how many pewter jugs they had, how many sheets etc. There are just too many of these - lines and lines of every single household object, which we've already learnt about as the person mentioned in the paragraph before had exactly the same things. So I knocked a star off my rating for that, sorry if that's a bit harsh. I didn't enjoy this book as much as Mortimers previous 'Medieval' offering, maybe because I knew more about the Elizabethan period initially. It was repetitive, and not as descriptive - because of the religious turmoil at the time, almost every chapter included some mention of faith, which I'd already read about in the chapter 'Religion'. I'm sounding a lot more disgruntled about this book than I actually am. I think because I enjoyed the medieval guide so much more that I was expecting a great deal from this one. It is actually a very good, enjoyable, informative read. It just dragged sometimes - but everyones view is going to be entirely personal to them as no-one is interested in the same things. Unfortunately for me all the topics I wasn't so excited about were all put next to each other in order of chapters - I enjoyed the latter half of the book much more. I loved the chapter on poetry and the theatre (being an actress) - some lovely choices of quotations and examples. Finally, a note for Kindle users. The pictures included with the book are all shoved at the end, are all black and white and teeny tiny. I've said this before about other Kindle books, and I hope one day they'll update their software so that Kindle users can view any illustrations or visual material how it was supposed to be shown, on a full page!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Maricarmen Estrada M

    Really fun and interesting book. I read the Sensory Guide that Ian Mortimer wrote -and produced- which is an interactive ebook. With this book you may learn about the Elizabethan time and really enhance your reading experience through the audios and videos that are part of this amazing work. Books and movies do give us an idea of how life was like in different times of history, but Mortimer gives you a real trip through the senses, so you travel through time and have a close feeling of what you w Really fun and interesting book. I read the Sensory Guide that Ian Mortimer wrote -and produced- which is an interactive ebook. With this book you may learn about the Elizabethan time and really enhance your reading experience through the audios and videos that are part of this amazing work. Books and movies do give us an idea of how life was like in different times of history, but Mortimer gives you a real trip through the senses, so you travel through time and have a close feeling of what you would see, what you would listen. For instance, how life would be with all that silence and the actual sounds of just people and a few animals. Also, I almost experienced what people would likely eat and the flavors and a few recipes from that time. The section that probably struck me the most was the fear people had to live with. These were such violent times. Safety was out of the question. Health conditions and the treatment of illness and disease were so different from ours that people used to live in fear when facing them, not to mention how they intertwined these with religion and superstitions. I truly appreciate living in this time of so much access to information, health, safety, and more equality despite all the convulsions of our own time which allow us to have a quality of life and appreciation far bigger than those generations of a few centuries ago. Thank you for the great perspective of this book to Ian Mortimer.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Bettie

    (view spoiler)[ Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)] (view spoiler)[ Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)]

  16. 4 out of 5

    Marta

    This my second time travel into England’s past, and just as enjoyable as the first one, if not more. The advantage of reading this after The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century that I get to enjoy comparing the two: what has changed in two hundred years, and what stayed the same; and what changes did the author make to his approach to the two time periods. Things that did not change much: Mortimer makes a detailed survey of life and travel This my second time travel into England’s past, and just as enjoyable as the first one, if not more. The advantage of reading this after The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century that I get to enjoy comparing the two: what has changed in two hundred years, and what stayed the same; and what changes did the author make to his approach to the two time periods. Things that did not change much: Mortimer makes a detailed survey of life and travel in the Elizabethan era, including food, dress, religion, medicine (or lack thereof), justice, crime, art, social classes, work, etc. This follows the previous book and is very detailed, with many anecdotes to illustrate its points. He really immerses us into what it was like to be an Elizabethan. Elizabeth ruled for 45 years from 1558 to 1603. Her rule was called a golden age: a rare period where no war has taken place on English soil; evonomic boom; a huge increase in literacy and education due to printing; an expansion of knowledge about the globe, colonial ambitions, the rise of the British Navy; the establishment of the Church of England, and England’s rise to a prominent status and respect on the world stage. But mostly, the period has seen huge social and economic changes, which brought about a completely different worldview. 14th century people saw the world as unchanging: people were born into the same social status for generations, the same social rules applied. The world was static, everyone had their place; they weren’t even aware of history, nor could imagine a different future. By contrast, during the Tudor era, many lords have enclosed lands to raise sheep as wool exports grew very profitable; this made many peasants landless, who ended up as day laborers, or thaught their fortunes in cities. Poverty and rootlessness was a huge problem. Henry VIII has abolished monastery’s, so nowadays grain was stored in the cellars; religion was in question. It was obvious to everyone that things were changing - this, coupled with the spread of printed books, lead to an interest in history, and a thinking of the future. Instead of relying on the ancients, scientific study became experiment-driven, and actual advancement started happening in astronomy (Copernicus, Galileo, etc.), navigation, engineering, and warfare (guns). Thus, the outlook of Elizabethans is much more worldly, inquisitive, which enables the greatest writers of the day to explore the human condition, of whom Shakespeare is the greatest and still widely read. The other big difference between the two eras is the importance of the monarch. While Mortimer only mentions rulers as bylines in Medieval, here he devotes much of the book to Elizabeth herself, as the impact of her personality and decisions enormously shapes her reign. She is an absolute ruler: by her time, the magnate class has almost disappeared, and after sahe executes the last Duke (for rebellion), there are no royal Dukes left. However, her reign is far from secure: she survives innumerable plots, rebellions and treason - much of it from the Catholic opposition. Elizabeth’s biggest impact on people’s lives is her decision to turn England into a protestsnt kingdom after her sister Mary has reintroduced Catholicism. She does this by calling parliament, where details of the religious settlement are hashed out, debated and compromised over. Because of the involvement of parliament, the religious compromise quickly finds acceptance in most of England, Catholic resistance notwithstanding. She achieves what many European powers fail to do: avoid a religious war. Religion permeates much of daily life. While in the 14th century it was a simple matter; now everyone who can afford it (middle class and up) can read the Bible in English, and hear sermon in English. I was struck by how much impact the translation of the Bible and its relative affordability made: all of a sudden, people could read God’s word for themselves, and draw their own conclusions. No wonder they started to question the Church’s teachings, and wanted to get closer to God, without intervention, in their own language. Thus the reformation was born: from literacy, printing, and using one’s own language. Elizabeth had huge impact on other areas of life as well. Obviously, on fashion - we all know those samptuous gowns she wears in her portraits. Her patronage catapulted English theater to unknown heights; and spurred English settlers to try to colonize America. She patronized English pirates. But mostly, she won the love of her subjects by being visible and accessible. She traveled every year large distances in the countryside. She was married to her country, and have filled the void left by the Virgin Mary with the cult of the Virgin Queen. Tremendous amount of research and detail went into this book, yet it is eminently readable and entertaining. For this reason, multiple readings are rewarding. I listened twice in a row and was engaged both times. Great background if you are reading Shakespeare.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Melcat

    I am a bit disappointed with this one... it was quite tedious and overwhelming at times, and I found myself skipping many parts (mostly the ones describing the landscape at length for pages and pages). I much more preferred The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century because I feel like it contained a much bigger variety of amusing and miscellaneous details on Medieval everyday life, whereas this one was lacking a bit on the fun side. There I am a bit disappointed with this one... it was quite tedious and overwhelming at times, and I found myself skipping many parts (mostly the ones describing the landscape at length for pages and pages). I much more preferred The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century because I feel like it contained a much bigger variety of amusing and miscellaneous details on Medieval everyday life, whereas this one was lacking a bit on the fun side. There were some intriguing facts (on food, fashion, treatment of women, punishment, everyday life...) and I really enjoyed learning about Queen Elizabeth and the shift from Catholicism to Protestantism (my favorite parts overall) but I do agree that the structure and editing of the book could have been better, as it goes into a lot of details into some pretty bland topics. Overall, I would recommend this book for someone looking for an academic take on Elizabethan life or for lovers of this era, and not for someone looking for an amusing historical light read.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Melki

    Not that I'd actually want to go back to Elizabethan England, 'cause on the whole, it sounds pretty freakin' awful, BUT if I did, I would be able to walk the walk and talk the talk thanks to this book. Not that I'd actually want to go back to Elizabethan England, 'cause on the whole, it sounds pretty freakin' awful, BUT if I did, I would be able to walk the walk and talk the talk thanks to this book.

  19. 5 out of 5

    happy

    I found this book to be an excellent companion to the authors “The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century.” Dr. Mortimer uses the same style, a traveler’s guide book, to tell the reader what life was like in Queen Elizabeth’s England of the mid-16th century. The Author divides the book into twelve sections and tells the story of how life was lived from the lowest of the low to Elizabeth herself. Having said that, much of the book is focused I found this book to be an excellent companion to the authors “The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century.” Dr. Mortimer uses the same style, a traveler’s guide book, to tell the reader what life was like in Queen Elizabeth’s England of the mid-16th century. The Author divides the book into twelve sections and tells the story of how life was lived from the lowest of the low to Elizabeth herself. Having said that, much of the book is focused on how the upper classes lived there lives. Some of the areas that are explored include food and drink, housing, fashion and clothing, medical theory and how heath care was delivered, working lives, travel, the importance of religion and last but not least entertainment. This narrative is well researched and full of historical tidbits that I found fascinating. In addition to telling of the lives of the inhabitants, Dr. Mortimer also includes interesting, to me at least, facts about England of the 16th century. For example when he is discussing London, he states that at the beginning of Elizabeth’s reign, its population was 70,000 and it was the 6th largest city in Europe. By the time she died London had grown to 200,000 people and was Europe’s 3rd largest city. Another example is that the average sheep weighed only 45 lbs. Some other topics that I found interesting were the development of the iconic Elizabethan ruff collar, a step by step tour of Shakespeare’s Stratford and the changing English language. The author cites several words that are still in common use, but whose meanings have completed changed over the centuries. I found this a thoroughly enjoyable read and would recommend to anyone interested in English History 4+ stars

  20. 5 out of 5

    Susanna - Censored by GoodReads

    Perhaps not quite as good as Mortimer's guide to 14th-century England, but still an interesting and enjoyable read. Perhaps not quite as good as Mortimer's guide to 14th-century England, but still an interesting and enjoyable read.

  21. 4 out of 5

    L.K. Jay

    I really enjoyed Ian Mortimer's previous book The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century and this was a welcome sequel. We all know who Queen Elizabeth was, Shakespeare and Sir Walter Raleigh but this goes much deeper into ordinary life. Such as, what would someone have had for dinner, what underwear would they have worn and how much would they have earned? It's these little details that make history so interesting and there are lots of them I really enjoyed Ian Mortimer's previous book The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century and this was a welcome sequel. We all know who Queen Elizabeth was, Shakespeare and Sir Walter Raleigh but this goes much deeper into ordinary life. Such as, what would someone have had for dinner, what underwear would they have worn and how much would they have earned? It's these little details that make history so interesting and there are lots of them here. There are some really entertaining bits here, such as the chapter on how to dress and the fact that Elizabethans thought mushrooms for for elves to sit under. It is also very dramatic and human as well, there is great pity for the poor people and the section on justice is quite gruesome in places. Ian Mortimer paints a really vivid picture of life in Elizabethan times and this is essential reading for anyone interested in history and especially for those needing to do some research for that time. I hope there will be another, the eighteenth century or Victorian perhaps?

  22. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    A Goodreads Giveaway Book Ian Mortimer's book is perfect for students and adults alike being introduced to Elizabethan England for the first time. As he takes us through the daily ins and outs of peasants, journeymen, and courtiers,we get a taste of what it might have been like to walk on the streets of England under Elizabeth's reign. Great non-fiction for those interested in Early Modern England! A Goodreads Giveaway Book Ian Mortimer's book is perfect for students and adults alike being introduced to Elizabethan England for the first time. As he takes us through the daily ins and outs of peasants, journeymen, and courtiers,we get a taste of what it might have been like to walk on the streets of England under Elizabeth's reign. Great non-fiction for those interested in Early Modern England!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

    When the Doctor shows up and wants to whisk me away to Elizabethan England, everything I read in this entertaining and well-researched little book will surely come in handy. So much fun to read, especially in measured doses: it is wonderful for putting oneself more accurately into the frame of reference of a fictional or historical character of this era!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    I really liked this book. I thought that it would come in handy just in case time travel becomes a reality. The recipes were really interesting but I will tell you that no matter what you do to eel, I will never eat it! No, no, no! Very informative book about the everyday life of the Elizabethan.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kathrin

    I always know that it will take me forever to finish these books, but I enjoy the time and that's what counts. I keep reading historical novels that are set in this period and that's why I collect background information in order to better understand the stories. I found the chapters on clothing, medicine and health, and art and culture particularly interesting. I wasn‘t too invested in other chapters, for example, seafare and ship building. I really like the series and look forward to the next b I always know that it will take me forever to finish these books, but I enjoy the time and that's what counts. I keep reading historical novels that are set in this period and that's why I collect background information in order to better understand the stories. I found the chapters on clothing, medicine and health, and art and culture particularly interesting. I wasn‘t too invested in other chapters, for example, seafare and ship building. I really like the series and look forward to the next book.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Katie/Doing Dewey

    Have you ever wondered what people in Elizabethan England ate, what they built their houses out of, how they spoke, or what they did for entertainment? This book answers all of those questions and more, giving you a picture of daily life that many other history books leave out. Every aspect of Elizabethan life is covered in detail, with sections covering topics from religion to entertainment. Particularly unique is the inclusion of information on the lives of the middle and lower class. I found t Have you ever wondered what people in Elizabethan England ate, what they built their houses out of, how they spoke, or what they did for entertainment? This book answers all of those questions and more, giving you a picture of daily life that many other history books leave out. Every aspect of Elizabethan life is covered in detail, with sections covering topics from religion to entertainment. Particularly unique is the inclusion of information on the lives of the middle and lower class. I found the first chapter of The Time Traveler’s Guide a little hard to get through. The description of the landscape made me hold details about what was in all directions in my head at once and it made it hard to see the big picture. If you experience the same thing, don’t let that deter you! The rest of the book flew by. Topics described were easier to picture and I found the glimpse I got of every day life in Elizabethan England fascinating. I particularly liked that the author would say things like “if you went up and spoke to one of those peasants…” or “as you’re walking down the street, you’ll most likely see…”. It made me picture being there very vividly. Another really nice touch was the inclusion of specific information known about real people. The statement “farmers kept most of their money invested in live stock” is far less interesting than hearing that “John Smith kept cows, sheep, and pigs that were worth most of his monetary value”. These examples made the information feel much more real, personal, and immediate. The direct quotes provided the finishing touch on the immersive experience this book provides. Some quotes were explained so well that humor transcended time, an impressive feat given how hard it is to translate humor across cultures. Overall, the many details, the quotes, the inclusion of the reader in the scenes described, and the personal touches made this the perfect book for getting a feel for the Elizabethan Era. This review first published on Doing Dewey.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Shirley Revill

    Listened to the audiobook and the narration was absolutely superb. I am so glad I was not born in this era. Elizabethan England did not sound such a good place to be. Knowing my luck I would have ended up being dunked in the river as I don't think I would have been one of the privileged few. I was really impressed with the audiobook as it gave such a fascinating glimpse into times past. Very well written. Highly recommended. Listened to the audiobook and the narration was absolutely superb. I am so glad I was not born in this era. Elizabethan England did not sound such a good place to be. Knowing my luck I would have ended up being dunked in the river as I don't think I would have been one of the privileged few. I was really impressed with the audiobook as it gave such a fascinating glimpse into times past. Very well written. Highly recommended.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Flapper72

    I really enjoy history and finding out how we, in the twenty first century, have made it to living the life that we do now. Far too many history books are HIS- story. Tends to be all about power - monarchs, politics and war. Obviously, that is important but I want to know how the real people lived. Not how the queen (necessarily) lived her life (although that is interesting too) but the normal working person. What was life like for them? What did they wear? What did they do in their free time? D I really enjoy history and finding out how we, in the twenty first century, have made it to living the life that we do now. Far too many history books are HIS- story. Tends to be all about power - monarchs, politics and war. Obviously, that is important but I want to know how the real people lived. Not how the queen (necessarily) lived her life (although that is interesting too) but the normal working person. What was life like for them? What did they wear? What did they do in their free time? Did they read? How did people in society view one another? I hoped that this book would help me with this and it most definitely did but the way the book was put together made it rather hard going - almost as a list of facts rather than a more light hearted, interesting look at meals, clothes, health, religion etc. I suppose that it is the most logical way of ordering things - a topic (such as law or religion) and then looking at each SE class and how they might be affected. The information was shared but in a rather laborious way. I had hoped it would feel a bit more personal, maybe looking at an individual and how they lived their life in Elizabethan times (I have read a book like this - I think it was a day in Ancient Rome) and loved it and had hoped this would be similar. Yes, I know more than I did before but it felt rather like a list of facts (albeit interesting ones) rather than a look in at Elizabethan England by a person who has just dropped in from another planet/world. Interesting, nicely written but basically a historical text so not a relaxing bedtime read!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Megan McBeath Hay

    I love Mortimer's conceit of looking at history in a way that doesn't focus on famous people and events - that takes an anthropological look at how everyday people lived their lives. It's also entertaining because it doesn't pull any punches about the bad every day things (racism, sexism, misogyny, religious persecution, corruption, bear and bull baiting, oh I could go on in this vein for quite a while), and because it also acknowledges that these are just people living in their small little wor I love Mortimer's conceit of looking at history in a way that doesn't focus on famous people and events - that takes an anthropological look at how everyday people lived their lives. It's also entertaining because it doesn't pull any punches about the bad every day things (racism, sexism, misogyny, religious persecution, corruption, bear and bull baiting, oh I could go on in this vein for quite a while), and because it also acknowledges that these are just people living in their small little worlds and in a lot of cases just trying not to starve or be murdered travelling on roads or be arrested for disagreeing with the wrong person. While medieval has always been my wheelhouse - I preferred reading this book to the Medieval installment. I don't know if there is more optimism in reading this book because it's Elizabethan England as opposed to the plague ridden 14th century. There are more recognizable "characters" than medieval England since people started writing diaries and there are more voices (primary sources and their writers) to hear from than just Chaucer.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Abby O'Reilly

    decided that since I’m doing a history masters I should probably expand my knowledge past a very specific group of Irish women in the 1910s lmao, happy to announce that this book fixed that!!! I learned that shakespeare hoarded grain during a famine!!?? some of the elizabethan plague advice was triggeringly similar to covid advice!!!?? women used to bleach and dye their hair w lye (can relate)!!!?? a fun change to the stuff I normally read, would recommend this time traveller series ian mortimer decided that since I’m doing a history masters I should probably expand my knowledge past a very specific group of Irish women in the 1910s lmao, happy to announce that this book fixed that!!! I learned that shakespeare hoarded grain during a famine!!?? some of the elizabethan plague advice was triggeringly similar to covid advice!!!?? women used to bleach and dye their hair w lye (can relate)!!!?? a fun change to the stuff I normally read, would recommend this time traveller series ian mortimer’s written if you’re interested in this kinda stuff

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