Elizabeth's England

At a time when Europe was racked by religious struggles and rebellious discord, Queen Elizabeth successfully established a national church and a secure monarchy in England. With political astuteness and womanly charm she managed to keep her subjects' attention directed toward her glittering court and the nations prosperity rather than on their own bitter differences. To bolster England's security, the spinster Queen hinted at marriage to many of Europe's empire-hungry princes--but cleverly kept them all at arm's length. At the same time she built a navy that defeated Spain's feared Armada, giving England command of the seas. Elizabeth's court attracted a galaxy of brilliant commoners who, with equal talent, managed the government, laid claims to much of the New World and advanced the arts. Seen through the works of its contemporary artists, Elizabeth's colorful and growing England still stands as a "golden age."

Ships filled the city with exotic cargoes from European and Middle Eastern ports, while swarms of livestock in the marketplace provided tables with hearty local fare. London had not only become a prosperous city but an international marketplace. During the highpoint of the Renaissance, England came alive with music and theatre also. These arts and prosperity of course spread to the rural towns and villages where life was mostly happy and simple.

Court life in London might be polished and decorous but on her excursions into the countryside, Elizabeth preferred a less inhibitied side of English life. Her royal presence invariably was the occasion for a round of country entertainments, including jousting, jugglers, tumblers, and animal acts. These special times allowed commoners, courtiers, and artisans to join together and keep in touch with the world around them.

This is the element of Elizabeth's glorious reign that the Maryland Renaissance Festival tries to recapture. So come and celebrate the Renaissance period with us in a day of feasting & merriment.

Special thanks to Winchell Chung for providing me with the 1984 program.