Part 6 out of 7
The age of entry to university was between 13 and 16. It took
four years' study of grammar, logic, and rhetoric to achieve the
Bachelor of Arts degree and another five before a master could
begin a specialized study of the civil law, canon law, theology,
or medicine. Arabic numbers replaced Roman numerals, making
multiplication and division possible. Humanist studies were
espoused by individual scholars at the three centers of higher
learning: Oxford University, Cambridge University, and the Inns
of Court in London. The Inns of Court attracted the sons of
gentry and merchants pursuing practical and social
accomplishments. The text of 'readings' to members of the inns
survive from this time. In the legalistic climate of these
times, attorneys were prosperous.
The enclosure of land by hedges for sheep farming continued,
especially by rich merchants who bought country land for this
purpose. Often this was land under the plough. The tenants at
will were thrown off it immediately. That land held by
copyholders of land who had only a life estate, was withheld from
their sons. Only freeholders and copyholders with the custom of
the manor in their favor were secure against eviction. The real
line of distinction between rural people was one of material
means instead of legal status: free or unfree. On one extreme
was the well-to-do yeoman farmer farming his own land. On the
other extreme was the agricultural laborer working for wages.
Other land put to use for sheep breeding was waste land. There
were three sheep to every person. The nearby woodlands no longer
had wolves or lynx who could kill the sheep. Bears and elk are
There were still deer, wild boar, wildcats and wild cattle in
vast forests for the lords to hunt. Wood was used for houses,
arms, carts, bridges, and ships.
The villages were still isolated from each other, so that a
visitor from miles away was treated as warily as a foreigner.
Most people lived and died where they had been born. A person's
dialect indicated his place of origin. The largest town, London,
had a population of about 70,000. Other towns had a population
less than 20,000. The population was increasing, but did not
reach the level of the period just before the black death.
In most large towns, there were groups of tailors and hatmakers,
glovers, and other leatherworkers. Some towns had a
specialization due to their proximity to the sources of raw
materials, such as nails, cutlery, and effigies and altars.
Despite the spread of wool manufacturing to the countryside,
there was a marked increase of industry and prosperity in the
towns. The principal streets of the larger towns were paved with
gravel. Gild halls became important and imposing
London had some houses of stone and timber and some mansions of
brick and timber clustered around palaces. In these, bedrooms
increased in number, with rich bed hangings, linen sheets, and
bolsters. Bedspreads and nightgowns were introduced. Fireplaces
became usual in all the rooms. Tapestries covered the walls.
Carpets were used in the private rooms. Some of the great halls
had tiled floors. The old trestle tables were replaced by tables
with legs. Benches and stools had backs to lean on. Women and
men wore elaborate headdresses. There are guilds of ironmongers,
salters, and haberdashers [hats and caps]. On the outer periphery
are mud and straw taverns and brothels.
The Tailors' and Linen Armorers' Guild received a charter in 1503
from the King as the "Merchant Tailors" to use all wares and
merchandise, especially wool cloth, as well wholesale as retail,
throughout the nation. Some schooling was now being made
compulsory in certain trades; the goldsmiths' company made a rule
that all apprentices had to be able to read and write.
A yeoman was the second-rank person of some importance, below a
knight, below a gentleman, below a full member of a guild. In
London, it meant the journeyman or second adult in a small
workshop. These yeomen had their own fraternities and were often
on strike. Some yeomen in the large London industries, e.g.
goldsmiths, tailors, clothworkers, who had served an
apprenticeship started their own businesses in London suburbs
outside the jurisdiction of their craft to search them.
The Merchant Adventurers created a London fellowship confederacy
to make membership of their society and compliance with its
regulations binding on all cloth traders. Membership could be
bought for a large fee or gained by apprenticeship or by being
the son of a member.
Foreign trade was revived because it was a period of comparative
peace. The nation sought to sell as much as possible to foreign
nations and to buy at little as possible and thereby increase
its wealth in gold and silver, which could be used for currency.
Ships weighed 200 tons and had twice the cargo space they had
previously. Their bows were more pointed and their high prows
made them better able to withstand gales. The mariners' compass
with a pivoted needle and compass card was introduced. Ships had
three masts. On the first was a square sail. On the second was a
square sail with a small rectangular sail above it. On the third
was a three cornered lateen sail. These sails make possible the
use of almost any direction of wind to go in the direction
sought. This opened the seas of the world to navigation.
Adventurous seamen went on voyages of discovery, such as John
Cabot to North America in 1497, following Italian Christopher
Columbus' discovery of the new world in 1492. There are more
navy ships, and they have some cannon.
There were morality plays in which the seven deadly sins: pride,
covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth, fought the
seven cardinal virtues: faith, hope, charity, prudence,
temperance, justice, and strength, respectively, for the human
soul. The play "Everyman" demonstrates that every man can get to
heaven only by being virtuous and doing good deeds in his
lifetime. It emphasized that death may come anytime to every
man, when his deeds will be judged as to their goodness or
sinfulness. Card games were introduced.
Royal proclamations clarifying, refining or amplifying the law
had the force of parliamentary statutes. One of the first things
Henry did as King was make this proclamation against false
rumors in 1486: "Forasmuch as many of the King our sovereign
lord's subjects [have] been disposed daily to hear feigned,
contrived, and forged tidings and tales, and the same tidings
and tales, neither dreading God nor his Highness, utter and tell
again as though they were true, to the great hurt of divers of
his subjects and to his grievous displeasure: Therefore, in
eschewing of such untrue and forged tidings and tales, the King
our said sovereign lord straitly chargeth and commandeth that no
manner person, whatsoever he be, utter nor tell any such
tidings or tales but he bring forth the same person the which was
author and teller of the said tidings or tales, upon pain to be
set on the pillory, there to stand as long as it shall be
thought convenient to the mayor, bailiff, or other official of
any city, borough, or town where it shall happen any such person
to be taken and accused for any such telling or reporting of any
such tidings or tales. Furthermore the same our sovereign lord
straitly chargeth and commandeth that all mayors, bailiffs, and
other officers diligently search and inquire of all such persons
tellers of such tidings and tales not bringing forth the author
of the same, and them set on the pillory as it above said."
Lords holding castles, manors, lands and tenements by knight's
service of the King shall have a writ of right for wardship of
the body as well as of the land of any minor heir of a deceased
person who had the use [beneficial enjoyment] of the land for
himself and his heirs as if the land had been in the possession
of the deceased person. And if such an heir is of age, he shall
pay relief to the lord as if he had inherited possession of the
land. An heir in ward shall have an action of waste against his
lord as if his ancestor had died seised of the land. That is,
lands of "those who use" shall be liable for execution of his
debt and to the chief lord for his relief and heriot, and if he
is a bondsman, they may be seized by the lord.
Any woman who has an estate in dower, or for a term of life, or
in tail, jointly with her husband, or only to herself, or to her
use, in any manors, lands, tenements, or other hereditaments of
the inheritance or purchase of her husband, or given to the said
husband and wife in tail, or for term of life, by any of the
ancestors of the said husband, or by any other person seised to
the use of the said husband, or of his ancestors, who, by
herself or with any after taken husband; discontinue, alienate,
release, confirm with warranty or, by collusion, allow any
recovery of the same against them or any other seised to their
use, such action shall be void. Then, the person to whom the
interest, title, or inheritance would go after the death of such
woman may enter and possess such premises. This does not affect
the common law that a woman who is single or remarried may give,
sell, or make discontinuance of any lands for the term of her
All deeds of gift of goods and chattels made of trust, to the use
of the giver [grantor and beneficiary of trust], to defraud
creditors are void.
It is a felony to carry off against her will, a woman with lands
and tenements or movable goods, or who is heir-apparent to an
ancestor. This includes taking, procuring, abetting, or
knowingly receiving a woman taken against her will.
A vagabond, idle, or suspected person shall be put in the stocks
for three days with only bread and water, and then be put out of
the town. If he returns, he shall spend six days in the stocks.
(A few years later this was changed to one and three days,
respectively.) Every beggar who is not able to work, shall
return to the hundred where he last dwelled, is best known, or
was born and stay there.
No one may take pheasants or partridges by net snares or other
devices from his own warren [breeding ground], upon the freehold
of any other person, or forfeit 200s., one half to the owner of
the land and the other half to the suer. No one may take eggs of
any falcon, hawk, or swan out of their nest, whether it is on
his land or any other man's land, on pain of imprisonment for one
year and fine at the King's will, one half to the King, and the
other half to the holder of the land, or owner of the swan. No
man shall bear any English hawk, but shall have a certificate
for any hawk imported, on pain for forfeiture of such. No one
shall drive falcons or hawks from their customary breeding place
to another place to breed or slay any for hurting him, or pay
200s. after examination by a Justice of the Peace, one half
going to the King and one half to the suer.
Any person without a forest of his own who has a net device with
which to catch deer shall pay 200s. for each month of
possession. Anyone stalking a deer with beasts anywhere not in
his own forest shall forfeit 200s. Anyone taking any heron by
device other than a hawk or long bow shall forfeit 6s.8d. No one
shall take a young heron from its nest or pay 10s. for each such
heron. Two justices may decide such an issue, and one tenth of
the fine shall go to them.
No man shall shoot a cross-bow except in defense of his house,
other than a lord or one having 2,667s. of land because their
use had resulted in too many deer being killed. (The long-bow
was not forbidden.)
No beasts may be slaughtered or cut up by butchers within the
walls of a town, or pay 12d. for every ox and 8d. for every cow
or other beast, so that people will not be annoyed and
distempered by foul air, which may cause them sickness.
No tanner may be a currier [dressed, dyed, and finished tanned
leather] and no currier may be a tanner. No shoemaker
[cordwainer] may be a currier and no currier may be a shoemaker.
No currier shall curry hides which have not been tanned. No
tanner shall sell other than red leather. No tanner may sell a
hide before it is dried. No tanner may tan sheepskins.
No long bow shall be sold over the price of 3s.4d.
Good wood for making bows may be imported without paying customs.
No grained cloth of the finest making shall be sold for more than
16s., nor any other colored cloth for more than 11s. per yard,
or forfeit 40s. for every yard so sold. No hat shall be sold for
more than 20d. and no cap shall be sold for more than 2s.8d., or
forfeit 40s. for each so sold.
Silver may not be sold or used for any use but goldsmithery or
amending of plate to make it good as sterling, so that there
will be enough silver with which to make coinage.
Each feather bed, bolster, or pillow for sale shall be stuffed
with one type of stuffing, that is, dry pulled feathers or with
clean down alone, and with no sealed feathers nor marsh grass,
nor any other corrupt stuffings. Each quilt, mattress, or
cushion for sale shall be stuffed with one type of stuffing, that
is, clean wool, or clean flocks alone, and with no horsehair,
marsh grass, neatshair, deershair, or goatshair, which is
wrought in lime-fats and gives off an abominable and contagious
odor when heated by a man's body, on pain of forfeiture of such.
Salmon shall be sold by standard volume butts and barrels, or
forfeit 6s.8d. Large salmon shall be sold without any small fish
or broken-bellied salmon and the small fish shall be packed by
themselves only, or forfeit 6s.8d. Herring shall be sold at
standard volumes, or forfeit 3s.4d. The herring shall be as good
in the middle and in every part of the package as at the ends of
the package, or forfeit 3s.4d. Eels shall be sold at standard
volumes, and good eels shall not be mixed with lesser quality
eels, or forfeit 10s. The fish shall be packed in the manner
prescribed or forfeit for each vessel 3s.4d.
Fustians shall always be shorn with the long shear, so that it
can be worn for at least two years. If an iron or anything else
used to dress such injures the cloth so that it wears out after
four months, 20s. shall be forfeited for each default, one half
to the King and the other half to the suer.
Pewter and brass ware for sale shall be of the quality of that of
London and marked by its maker, on pain of forfeiture of such,
and may be sold only at open fairs and markets or in the
seller's home, or forfeit 200s. If such false ware is sold, its
maker shall forfeit its value, one half to the King and one half
to the searchers. Anyone using false weights of such wares shall
forfeit 20s., one half to the King and one half to the suer, or
if he cannot pay this fine, to be put in the stocks until market
day and then be put in the pillory all the market time.
No alien nor denizen [foreigner allowed to reside in the nation
with certain rights and privileges] may carry out of the nation
any raw wool or any woolen cloth which has not been barbed,
rowed, and shorn.
Silk ribbons, laces, and girdles of silk may not be imported,
since they can be made in the nation.
No one shall import wine into the nation, but on English ships,
or forfeit the wine, one half to the King and one half to the
seizer of the wine.
No one may take out of the nation any [male] horse or any mare
worth more than 6s.8s. or under the age of three years, upon
pain of forfeiture of such. However, a denizen may take a horse
for his own use and not to sell. This is to stop losing horses
needed for defense of the nation and to stop the price of a
horse from going up.
Freemen of London may go to fairs and markets with wares to sell,
despite the London ordinance to the contrary.
Merchants residing in the nation but outside London shall have
free access to foreign markets without exaction taken of more
than 133s. sterling by the confederacy of London merchants,
which have increased their fee so much, 400s., that merchants
not in the confederacy have been driven to sell their goods in
London for less than they would get at a foreign market. Exacting
more is punishable by a fine of 400s. and damages to the grieved
party of ten times the excess amount taken.
For the privilege of selling merchandise, a duty of scavage shall
be taken of merchant aliens, but not of denizens. Any town
official who allows disturbing of a person trying to sell his
merchandise because he has not paid scavage, shall pay a fine of
Coin clipped or diminished shall not be current in payment, but
may be converted at the King's mint into plate or bullion.
Anyone refusing to take coins with only normal wear may be
imprisoned by the mayor, sheriff, bailiff, constable or other
chief officer. New coins, which have a circle or inscription
around the outer edge, will be deemed clipped if this circle or
inscription is interfered with.
The penalty for usury is placement in the pillory, imprisonment
for half a year, and a fine of 400s. (The penalty was later
changed to one half thereof.)
Lawbooks in use at the Inns of Court included "The Books of Magna
Carta with diverse Old Statutes", Doctor and Student" by St.
Germain, "Grand Abridgment" by Fitzherbert, and "New Natura
Brevium" by Lombard.
These changes in the judicial process were made by statute:
The Chancellor, Treasurer, keeper of the King's privy seal, or
two of them, with a bishop selected by them, and a temporal lord
of the King's council selected by them, and the two Chief
Justices of the King's Bench shall constitute the court of the
Star Chamber. It shall have the authority to call before it by
writ or by privy seal anyone accused of "unlawful maintenances,
giving of liveries, signs and tokens, and retainers by
indentures, promises, oaths, writings, or otherwise embraceries
of his subjects" and witnesses, and impose punishment as if
convicted under due process of law. These laws shall now be
enforced: If a town does not punish the murderer of a man
murdered in the town, the town shall be punished. A town shall
hold any man who wounds another in peril of death, until there
is perfect knowledge whether the man hurt should live or die.
Upon viewing a dead body, the coroner should inquire of the
killers, their abettors, and anyone present at the killing and
certify these names. In addition, the murderer and accessories
indicted shall be tried at the King's suit within a year of the
murder, which trial will not be delayed until a private suit is
taken. If acquitted at the King's suit, he shall go back to
prison or let out with bail for the remainder of the year, in
which time the slain man's wife or next of kin may sue. For
every inquiry made upon viewing a slain body coroners shall be
paid 13s.4d. out of the goods of the slayer or from a town not
taking a murderer, but letting him escape. If the coroner does
not make inquiry upon viewing a dead body, he shall be fined
100s. to the King. If a party fails to appear for trial after a
justice has taken bail from him, a record of such shall be sent
to the King.
If a Justice of the Peace does not act on any person's complaint,
that person may take that complaint to another Justice of the
Peace, and if there is no remedy then, he may take his
complaint to a Justice of Assize, and if there is not remedy
then, he may take his complaint to the King or the Chancellor.
There shall then be inquiry into why the other justices did not
remedy the situation. If it is found that they were in default
in executing the laws, they shall forfeit their commissions and
be punished according to their demerits.
Justices of the Peace shall make inquiry of all offenses in
unlawful retaining, examine all suspects, and certify them to
the King's Bench for trial there or in the King's council, and
the latter might also proceed against suspects on its own
initiative on information given.
Perjury committed by unlawful maintenance, embracing, or
corruption of officers, or in the Chancery, or before the King's
council, shall be punished in the discretion of the Chancellor,
Treasurer, both the Chief Justices, and the clerk of the rolls.
The Star Chamber, Chancellor, King's Bench and King and council
have the power to examine all defendants, by oath or otherwise,
to adjudge them convicted or attainted. They can also be found
guilty by confession, examination, or otherwise. If a defendant
has denied doing the acts of which he is convicted, he is
subject to an additional fine to the King and imprisonment.
Violations of statutes may be heard by the Justices of Assize or
the Justices of the Peace, except treason, murder, and felony.
Actions on the case shall be treated as expeditiously in the
courts of the King's Bench and his common bench as actions of
trespass or debt.
Proclamation at four court terms of a levy of a fine shall be a
final end to an issue of land, tenements, or other hereditaments
and the decision shall bind persons and their heirs, whether
they have knowledge or not of the decision, except for women in
covert [under the protection of a husband] who were not parties,
persons under the age of twenty-one, in prison, out of the
nation, or not of whole mind, who are not parties. These may sue
within five years of losing such condition. Also, anyone not a
party may claim a right, title, claim, or interest in the said
lands, tenements, or other hereditaments at the time of such
fine recorded, within five years after proclamations of the fine.
A defendant who appeals a decision for the purpose of delaying
execution of such shall pay costs and damages to the plaintiff
for the delay.
No sheriff, undersheriff, or shire clerk shall enter any
complaints in their books unless the complaining party is
present. And no more complaints than the complaining party knows
about shall be entered. The penalty is 40s. for each such false
complaint, one half to the King and the other half to the suer
after examination by a Justice of the Peace. This is to prevent
extortion of defendants by false complaints. The justice shall
certify this examination to the King, on pain of a fine of 40s.
A bailiff of a hundred who does not do his duty to summon
defendants shall pay a fine of 40s. for each such default, after
examination by a Justice of the Peace. Sheriffs' records of fines
imposed and bailiffs' records of fines collected may be reviewed
by a Justice of the Peace to examine for deceit.
Any sheriff allowing a prisoner to escape, whether from
negligence or for a bribe, shall be fined, if the prisoner was
indicted of high treason, at least 1,333s. for each escape.
However, if the prisoner was in their keeping because of a
suspicion of high treason, the fine shall be at least 800s.; and
if indicted of murder or petite treason, at least 400s.; and if
suspected of murder or petite treason, 200s.; and if suspected
of other felonies, 100s.
Any person not responding to a summons for jury service shall be
fined 12d. for the first default, and 2s. for the second, and
double for each subsequent default.
A pauper may sue in any court and be assigned an attorney at no
cost to him.
A Justice of the Peace to whom has been reported hunting by
persons disguised with painted faces or visors or otherwise, may
make a warrant for the sheriff or other county officer to arrest
such persons and bring them before the justice. Such hunting in
disguise or hunting at night or disobeying such warrant is a
felony. This is to stop large mobs of disguised people from
hunting together and then causing riots, robberies, and murders.
Benefit of clergy may be used only once, since this privilege has
made clerics more bold in committing murder, rape, robbery, and
theft. However, there will be no benefit of clergy in the case
of murder of one's immediate lord, master, or sovereign. (This
begins the gradual restriction of benefit of clergy until it
For an issue of riot or unlawful assembly, the sheriff shall call
24 jurors, each of lands and tenements at least 20s. of charter
land or freehold or 26s.8d. of copyhold or of both. For each
default of the sheriff, he shall pay 400s. And if the jury
acquits, then the justice, sheriff, and under-sheriff shall
certify the names of any jurors maintained or embraced and their
misdemeanors, or forfeit 400s. Any person proved to be a
maintainer or embracer shall forfeit 400s. to the King and be
committed to ward.
The principal leaders of any riot or unlawful assembly shall be
imprisoned and fined and be bound to the peace with sureties at
a sum determined by the Justices of the Peace. If the riot is by
forty people or heinous, the Justices of Peace shall certify
such and send the record of conviction to the King.
The penalty for giving or taking livery is 100s. per month. The
penalty for causing oneself to be retained is 40s. per day.
The King's steward, Treasurer, and comptroller have authority to
question by twelve discreet persons any servant of the King
about making any confederacies, compassings, conspiracies, or
imaginations with any other person to destroy or murder the King
or one of his council or a lord. Trial shall be by twelve men of
the King's household and punishment as by felony in the common
When a land holder enfeoffs his land and tenements to people
unknown to the remainderman in tail, so that he does not know
who to sue, he may sue the receiver of the profits of the land
and tenements for a remedy. And the receivers shall have the
same advantages and defenses as the feoffees or as if they were
tenants. And if any deceased person had the use for himself and
his heirs, then any of his heirs shall have the same advantages
and defenses as if his ancestor had died seised of the land and
tenements. And all recoveries shall be good against all
receivers and their heirs, and the feofees and their heirs, and
the co-feoffees of the receivers and their heirs, as though the
receivers were tenants indeed, or feofees to their use, or their
heirs of the freehold of the land and tenements.
If a person feoffs his land to other persons while retaining the
use thereof for himself, it shall be treated as if he were still
seised of the land. Thus, relief and heriot will still be paid
for land in socage. And debts and executions of judgments may be
had upon the land and tenements.
The penalty for not paying customs is double the value of the
The town of London shall have jurisdiction over flooding and
unlawful fishing nets in that part of the Thames River that
flows next to it.
The city of London shall have jurisdiction to enforce free
passage of boats on the Severn River in the city, interruption
of which carries a fine of 400s., two-thirds to the King and one
third to the suer.
Jurors impaneled in London shall be of lands, tenements, or goods
and chattels, to the value of 133s. And if the case concerns
debt or damages at least 133s, the jurors shall have lands,
tenements, goods, or chattels, to the value of 333s. This is to
curtail the perjury that has gone on with jurors of little
substance, discretion, and reputation.
A party grieved by a false verdict of any court in London may
appeal to the Hustings Court of London, which hears common pleas
before the mayor and aldermen. Each of the twelve alderman shall
pick from his ward four jurors of the substance of at least
2,000s. to be impaneled. If twenty-four of them find that the
jurors of the petty jury has given an untrue verdict, each such
juror shall pay a fine of at least 400s. and imprisonment not
more than six months without release on bail or surety. However,
if it is found that the verdict was true, then the grand jury
may inquire if any juror was bribed. If so, such juror bribed
and the defendant who bribed him shall each pay ten times the
amount of the bribe to the plaintiff and be imprisoned not more
than six months without release on bail or surety.
The church may punish priests and clerics for any adultery,
fornication, incest, or any other incontinence of the flesh, by
Other changes in the judicial process were made by court
decision. For instance, the royal judges decided that only the
King could grant sanctuary for treason and not the church. After
this, the church withdrew the right of sanctuary from second
The King's council has practically limited itself to cases in
which the state has an interest, especially the maintenance of
public order. Chancery became an independent court rather than
the arm of the King and his council. In Chancery and the King's
Bench, the intellectual revival brought by humanism inspires
novel procedures to be devised to meet current problems in
disputed titles to land, inheritance, debt, breach of contract,
promises to perform acts or services, deceit, nuisance,
defamation, and the sale of goods.
A new remedy is specific performance, that is, performance of an
act rather than money damages.
Evidence is now taken from witnesses.
Various courts had overlapping jurisdiction. For instance,
trespass could be brought in the Court of Common Pleas because
it was a civil action between two private persons. It could also
be brought in the Court of the King's Bench because it broke the
King's peace. It was advantageous for a party to sue for
trespass in the King's court because there a defendant could be
made to pay a fine to the King or imprisoned, or declared outlaw
if he did not appear at court. In a couple of centuries,
trespass on the case will extend all over the previous common
law including assumpsit, ejectment, trover, deceit, libel,
slander, battery, and assault. And the rigid writs with specific
forms of action for common law cases will fall into disuse.
Parliament's supremacy over all regular courts of law was firmly
established and it was called "the high court of Parliament",
paradoxically, since it came to rarely function as a law court.
The humanist intellectual revival also caused the church courts
to try to eliminate contradictions with state law, for instance
in debt, restitution, illegitimacy, and the age of legal
The Times: 1509-1547
Renaissance humanism came into being in the nation. In this
development, scholars in London, Oxford, and Cambridge
emphasized the value of classical learning, especially Platonism
and the study of Greek literature as the means of better
understanding and writing. They studied the original Greek texts
and became disillusioned with the filtered interpretations of
the church, for example of the Bible and Aristotle. There had
long been displeasure with the priests of the church. They were
supposed to preach four times yearly, visit the sick, say the
daily liturgies, and hear confessions at least yearly. But there
were many lapses. Many were not celibate, and some openly lived
with a woman and had children. Complaints about them included
not residing within their parish community, doing other work
such as raising crops, and taking too much in probate,
mortuary, and marriage fees. Probate fees had risen from at most
5s. to 60s. in the last hundred years. Mortuary fees ranged from
1/3 to 1/9 of a deceased person's goods. Sanctuary was abused.
People objected to the right of arrest by ecclesiastical
Also, most parish priests did not have a theology degree or even
a Bachelor's degree, as did many laymen. In fact, many laymen
were better educated than the parish priests. No one other than
a laborer was illiterate in the towns.
Humanist grammar [secondary] schools were established in London
by merchants and guilds. Classical Latin and Greek were taught
and the literature of the best classical authors was read.
Education was opened up to women. Secondary education teachers
were expected to know Latin and Greek and have studied the
ancient philosophers, history, and geography. The method of
teaching was for the teacher to read text-books to the class
from a prepared curriculum. The students learned how to read and
to write, to develop and amplify a theme by logical analysis,
and to essay on the same subject in the narrative, persuasive,
argumentative, commending, consoling, and inciting styles. They
had horn-books with the alphabet and perhaps a Biblical verse on
them. This was a piece of wood with a paper on it held down by a
sheet of transparent horn. Disobedience incurred flogging by
teacher as well as by parents. Spare the rod and spoil the child
was the philosophy. There were two week vacations at Christmas
and at Easter.
Oxford University was granted a charter which put the greater
part of the town under control of the Chancellor and scholars.
The mayor of Oxford was required to take an oath at his election
to maintain the privileges and customs of the university. Roman
law Regius professorships were founded by the King at Oxford and
The physicians of London were incorporated to oversee and govern
the practice of medicine. A faculty of physicians was
established at Oxford and Cambridge. Only graduates of the new
College of Physicians or of Oxford or Cambridge may practice
medicine or surgery. Food that was digested was thought to turn
into a vapor which passed along the veins and was concreted as
blood, flesh, and fat.
Geoffrey Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales" was a popular book. Through
Chaucer, London English became a national standard and the
notion of "correct pronunciation" came into being.
The discoveries and adventures of Amerigo Vespucci, a Portuguese
explorer, were widely read. The North and South American
continents were named for him.
London merchant guilds started to cease to be trading
organizations and began to be identified mainly with hospitality
and benevolence. Twelve Great Companies dominated city politics:
Mercers, Grocers, Drapers, Fishmongers, Haberdashers,
Ironmongers, Vintners, Goldsmiths, Skinners, Salters, Company of
Merchant Tailors, and the Clothworkers (composed from leading
fullers and shearmen). The leading men of these guilds were
generally aldermen and the guilds acted like municipal
committees of trade and manufactures. Then they acted like a
state department for the superintendence of the trade and
manufactures of London. They were called Livery Companies and
categorized their memberships in three grades: mere membership,
livery membership, and placement on the governing body. Livery
membership was distinguished by having the clothing of the
brotherhood and were usually those who bought membership and
paid higher fees because they were richer. Most of these
companies had almshouses attached to their halls for the
impoverished, disabled, and elderly members and their widows and
children. For instance, many members of the goldsmiths had been
blinded by the fire and smoke of quick silver and some members
had been rendered crazed and infirm by working in that trade.
The pensions of the liverymen were larger than those of mere
members and they generally had a right to a place at those
banquets which are chartered franchises, and they are invited by
the governing body, as a matter of favor, to other
entertainments. The freedom and rights of citizenship of the
city could only be obtained through membership in a livery
A lesser guild, the Leathersellers, absorbed the Glovers,
Pursers, and Pouchmakers. These craftsmen then became wage
earners of the Leathersellers, but others of these craftsmen
remained independent. Before, the Whittawyers, who treated
horse, deer, and sheep hides with alum and oil, had become
wage-earners for the Skinners.
There are 26 wards of London as of 1550. This is the number for
the next four centuries. Each has an alderman, a clerk, and a
Though there was much agreement on the faults of the church and
the need to reform it, there were many disagreements on what
philosophy of life should take the place of church teachings.
The humanist Thomas More was a university trained intellectual.
His book "Utopia", idealized an imaginary society of pagans
living according to the principles of natural virtue. In it,
everything is owned in common and there is no need for money.
There is agreement that there is a God who created the world and
all good things and who guides men. But otherwise people choose
their religious beliefs and their priests. From this perspective,
the practices of current Christians, scholastic theologicians,
priests and monks, superstition, and ritual look absurd. He
encouraged a religious revival. Aristotle's position that
virtuous men would rule best is successfully debated against
Plato's position that intellectuals and philosophers would be the
More plead for proportion between punishment and crime. He urged
that theft no longer be punished by death because this only
encouraged the thief to murder his victim to eliminate evidence
of the theft. He opined that the purpose of punishment was to
reform offenders. He advocated justice for the poor to the
standard of justice received by the rich.
Erasmus, a former monk, visited the nation for a couple of years
and argued that reason should prevail over religious belief. He
wrote the book "In Praise of Folly", which noted man's elaborate
pains in misdirected efforts to gain the wrong thing. For
instance, it questioned what man would stick his head into the
halter of marriage if he first weighed the inconveniences of that
life? Or what woman would ever embrace her husband if she
foresaw or considered the dangers of childbirth and the drudgery
of motherhood? Childhood and senility are the most pleasant
stages of life because ignorance is bliss. Old age forgetfulness
washes away the cares of the mind. A foolish and doting old man
is freed from the miseries that torment the wise and has the
chief joy of life: garrulousness. The seekers of wisdom are the
farthest from happiness; they forget the human station to which
they were born and use their arts as engines with which to attack
nature. The least unhappy are those who approximate the naiveness
of the beasts and who never attempt what is beyond men. As an
example, is anyone happier than a moron or fool? Their cheerful
confusion of the mind frees the spirit from care and gives it
many-sided delights. Fools are free from the fear of death and
from the pangs of conscience. They are not filled with vain
worries and hopes. They are not troubled by the thousand cares
to which this life is subject. They experience no shame, fear,
ambition, envy, or love. In a world where man are mostly at
odds, all agree in their attitude towards these innocents. They
are sought after and sheltered; everyone permits them to do and
say what they wish with impunity. However, the usual opinion is
that nothing is more lamentable than madness. The Christian
religion has some kinship with folly, while it has none at all
with wisdom. For proof of this, notice that children, old people,
women, and fools take more delight than anyone else in holy and
religious things, led no doubt solely by instinct. Next, notice
that the founders of religion have prized simplicity and have
been the bitterest foes of learning. Finally, no people act more
foolishly than those who have been truly possessed with
Christian piety. They give away whatever is theirs; they overlook
injuries, allow themselves to be cheated, make no distinction
between friends and enemies, shun pleasure, and feast on hunger,
vigils, tears, labors, and scorn. They disdain life, and utterly
prefer death. In short, they have become altogether indifferent
to ordinary interests, as if their souls lived elsewhere and not
in their bodies. What is this, if not to be mad? The life of
Christians is run over with nonsense. They make elaborate
funeral arrangements, with candles, mourners, singers, and
pallbearers. They must think that their sight will be returned to
them after they are dead, or that their corpses will fall ashamed
at not being buried grandly. Christian theologians, in order to
prove a point, will pluck out four or five words from different
places, even falsifying the sense of them if necessary, and
disregard the fact that the context is irrelevant or even
contradicts the point, They do this with such brazen skill that
our lawyers are often jealous of them.
Lawyer Christopher St. German wrote the legal treatise "Doctor
and Student", in which he deems the law of natural reason to be
supreme and eternal. The law of God and the law of man, as
enunciated by the church and royalty, merely supplement the law
of natural reason and may change from time to time. Examples of
the law of reason are: It is good to be loved. Evil is to be
avoided. Do onto others as you would have them do unto you. Do
nothing against the truth. Live peacefully with others. Justice
is to be done to every man. No one is to wrong another. A
trespasser should be punished. From these is deduced that a man
should love his benefactor. It is lawful to put away force with
force. It is lawful for every man to defend himself and his
goods against an unlawful power.
Like his father, Henry VIII dominated Parliament. He used this
power to reform the church of England in the 1530's. The
Protestant reformation cause had become identified with his
efforts to have his marriage of eighteen years to the virtuous
Catherine annulled so he could marry a much younger woman: Anne.
His purported reason was to have a son. The end of his six
successive wives was: divorced, beheaded, died; divorced,
beheaded, survived. Henry VIII was egotistical, arrogant, and
self-indulgent. This nature allowed him to declare himself the
head of the church of England instead of the pope.
Henry used and then discarded officers of state e.g. by executing
them for supposed treason. One such was Thomas Wolsey, the son
of a town butcher, was another supporter of classical learning.
He rose through the church, the gateway to advancement in a
diversity of occupations of clergy such as secretary, librarian,
teacher, lawyer, doctor, author, civil servant, diplomat, and
statesman. He was a court priest when he aligned himself with
Henry, both of whom wanted power and glory and dressed
extravagantly. But he was brilliant and more of a strategist
than Henry. Wolsey was a reformer by name and started a purge of
criminals, vagrants and prostitutes within. London, bringing many
before the council. But most of his reforming plans were not
brought to fruition, but ended after his campaign resulted in
more power for himself. Wolsey rose to be Chancellor to the King
and Archbishop of York. As the representative of the Pope for
England, he exercised almost full papal authority there. But he
controlled the church in England in the King's interest. He was
second only to the King. He also came to control the many courts.
Wolsey centralized the church in England and dissolved the
smaller monasteries, the proceeds of which he used to build
colleges at Oxford and his home town. He was an impartial and
When Wolsey was not able to convince the pope to give Henry a
divorce, Henry dismissed him and took his property, shortly
after which Wolsey died.
The King replaced Wolsey as Chancellor with Thomas More, after
whom he made Thomas Cromwell Chancellor. Cromwell was the son of
a clothworker and a self- taught lawyer, arbitrator, merchant,
and accountant. Like Wolsey, he was a natural orator. He drafted
and had passed legislation that created a new church of England.
He had all men swear an oath to the terms of the succession act.
Thomas More was known for his honesty and was a highly respected
man. More did not yield to Henry's bullying for support for his
statute declaring the succession to be vested in the children of
his second marriage, and his statute declaring himself the
supreme head of the church of England, instead of the pope. He
did not expressly deny the supremacy act, so was not guilty of
treason under its terms. But silence did not save him. He was
attainted for treason on specious grounds and beheaded. He
conviction rested on the testimony of one perjured witness, who
misquoted More as saying that Parliament did not have the power
to require assent to the supremacy act because it was repugnant
to the common law of Christendom.
Through his host of spies, Cromwell heard what men said to their
closest friends. Words idly spoken were tortured into treason.
Henry had many bills of attainder passed by Parliament. Silence
was a person's only possibility of safety. Fear spread through
Cromwell developed a technique for the management of the House of
Commons which lasted for generations. He promulgated books in
defense of royal spiritual authority, which argued that canon
law was not divine but merely human and that clerical authority
had no foundation in the Bible. A reformed English Bible was put
in all parish churches. Reformers were licensed to preach.
Cromwell ordered sermons to be said which proclaimed the
supremacy of the King. He instituted registers to record
baptisms, marriages, and burials in every county, for the
purpose of reducing disputes over descent and inheritance. He
dissolved all the lesser monasteries.
When Cromwell procured a foreign wife for Henry whom Henry found
unattractive, he was attainted and executed.
Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, wrote the first English
Common Book of Prayer. With its use beginning in 1549, Church
services were to be held in English instead of Latin. The mass,
thought to be a miracle performed by priests, was to be replaced
by communion shared by all. The mass, prayers for souls in
purgatory, miracles, the worship of saints, and pilgrimages to
shrines such as that of Thomas Becket, were all to be
discontinued. Imprisonment or exile rather than death was made
the penalty for heresy and blasphemy, and also for adultery.
After the King dissolved the greater monasteries, he took and
sold their ornaments, silver plate and jewelry, lead from roofs
of their buildings, and finally much of the land itself. Three
monasteries were converted into the first three treating
hospitals in London, one for the diseased, one for the poor, and
one, Bethlehem (or "Bedlam" for short), for the mentally ill.
Henry used the proceeds from the sale of the monasteries for
building many new palaces and wood ships for his navy. In war,
these navy ships had heavy guns which could sink other ships. In
peace time, these ships were hired out to traders. Large ships
were constructed in docks, made partly by digging and partly by
The former land of the monasteries, about 30% of the country's
land, was sold and resold or leased. Some went to
entrepreneurial cloth manufacturers, who converted the buildings
for the manufacture of cloth. They bought the raw wool and hired
craftsmen for every step of the manufacturing process to be done
in one continuous process. This was faster than buying and
selling the wool material between craftsmen who lived in
different areas. Also, it was more efficient because the amount
of raw wool bought could be adjusted to the demand for cloth.
Many landowners now could live in towns exclusively off the rents
of their rural land. Rents were increased so much that tenants
could not pay and were evicted. They usually became beggars or
thieves. Much of their former land was converted from crop
raising to pasture for large herds of sheep. Arable farming
required many workers, whereas sheep farming required only one
shepherd and herdsman. There were exceptional profits made from
the export of wool cloth. But much raw wool was still exported.
It's price went up from 6s.8d. per tod in 1840 to 20s.8d. in
Villeinage was now virtually extinct. A lord could usually claim
a small money- rent from the freeholder, sometimes a relief when
his land was sold or passed at death, and occasionally a heriot
from his heir.
There was steady inflation. Landlords made their leases short
term so that they could raise rents as prices rose.
At least 85% of the population still lived in the country. Rich
traders built town or country houses in which the emphasis was
on comfort and privacy. There was more furniture, bigger windows
filled with glass, wallpaper, and formal gardens. Some floors
were tiled instead of stone or wood. They were still strewn with
straw. The owners ate in a private dining room and slept in their
own rooms with down quilts. Their soap was white. They had
clothing of white linen and white wool, leather slippers, and
felt hats. Men wore long tunics open at the neck and filled in
with pleated linen and enormous puffed sleeves.
Most people dressed according to the apparel laws, which were
updated from time to time. The used tin or pewter dishes,
platters, goblets, saucers, spoons, saltcellars, pots, and
basins. They used soap to wash themselves, their clothes, and
their dishes. They had bedcovers on their beds. Cloth bore the
mark of its weaver and came in many colors. Cloth could be held
together with pins that had a shank with a hook by which they
were closed. People went to barbers to cut their hair and to
extract teeth. They went to people experienced with herbs,
roots, and waters for treatment of skin conditions such as sores,
cuts, burns, swellings, irritated eyes or scaly faces. For more
complicated ailments, they went to physicians, who prescribed
drugs and medicines. They bought drugs and medicines from
apothecaries and pharmacists. They burned wood logs in the
fireplaces in their houses. So much wood was used that young
trees were required by statute to be given enough lateral space
to spread their limbs and were not cut down until mature.
The King, earls, who ruled counties, and barons, who had land and
a place in the House of Lords, still lived in the most comfort.
The King's house had courtyards, gardens, orchards, wood-yards,
tennis courts, and bowling alleys.
Lawyers had more work with the new laws passed to replace the
canons of the church. They played an important role in town
government and many became wealthy. They acquired town houses in
addition to their rural estates.
The walls of the towns were manned by the citizens themselves,
with police and watchmen at their disposal. In inns, travelers
slept ten to a bed and there were many fleas and an occasional
rat or mouse running through the rushes strewn on the floor. The
inn provided a bed and ale, but travelers brought their own food.
Each slept with his purse under his pillow.
In markets, sellers set up booths for their wares. They sold
grain for making oatmeal or for sowing one's own ground. Wine,
butter, cheese, fish, chicken, and candles could also be bought.
Butchers bought killed sheep, lambs, calves, and pigs to cut up
for selling. Tanned leather was sold to girdle-makers and
shoemakers. Goods bought in markets were presumed not to be
stolen, so that a purchaser could not be dispossessed of goods
bought unless he had knowledge that they were stolen.
The ruling group of the towns came to be composed mostly of
merchants, manufacturers, lawyers, and physicians. Some
townswomen were independent traders. The governed class
contained small master craftsmen and journeyman artisans, small
traders, and dependent servants. The major streets of London
were paved with stone, with a channel in the middle. More water
conduits from hills, heaths, and springs were built to provide
the citizens of London with more water.
The idea of competition appeared. Each man sought to be richer
than his neighbors.
The cloth, mining, iron, and woodcraft industries employed
full-time workers on wages.
Land held in common was partitioned. There were leases of mansion
houses, smaller dwelling houses, houses with a wharf having a
crane, houses with a timber yard, houses with a garden, houses
with a shed, shops, warehouses, cellars, and stables. Land with
a dye-house or a brew-house were devised by will along with
their dying or brewing implements. There were dairies making
butter and cheese.
The knights had 70% of the land, the nobles 10%, the church 10%,
and the King 5%.
Citizens paid taxes to the King amounting to one tenth of their
annual income from land or wages. The national government was
much centralized and had full- time workers on wages. A national
commission of sewers continually surveyed walls, ditches, banks,
gutters, sewers, ponds, bridges, rivers, streams, mills, locks,
trenches, fish-breeding ponds, and flood-gates. When low places
were threatened with flooding, it hired laborers, bought timber,
and hired carts with horses or oxen for necessary work. Mayors
of cities repaired water conduits and pipes under the ground in
The organ and harp, precursor to the piano, were played.
All people generally had enough food because of the
commercialization of agriculture. Also, roads were good enough
for the transport of foodstuffs thereon. Four-wheeled waggons
were in general use as well as two-wheeled carts. They were used
for carrying people as well as goods. Goods were also
transported by the pulling of barges on the rivers from paths
along the river. A plough with wheels was used as well as those
The matchlock musket came into use, but did not replace the bow
because rainy weather made it unusable.
Church reforms included abolishing church sanctuaries. Benefit of
clergy was restricted. Archbishops were selected by the King.
Decisions by archbishops in testamentary, matrimonial, and
divorce matters were appealable to the Court of Chancery instead
of to the pope. The clergy's canons were subject to the King's
A person having land in socage or fee simple may will and devise
his land by will or testament in writing.
A person holding land by knight's service may will and devise by
his last will and testament in writing part of his land to his
wife and other parts of his land to his children, as long as 1/3
of entailed land is left to the King.
Anyone serving the King in war may alienate his lands for the
performance of his will, and if he dies, his feoffees or
executors shall have the wardship of his heir and land.
A person who leases land for a term of years, even if by
indenture or without a writing, may have a court remedy as do
tenants of freehold for any expulsion by the lessor which is
contrary to the lease, covenant, or agreement. These termers,
their executors and assigns, shall hold and enjoy their terms
against the lessors, their heirs and assigns. The lessor shall
have a remedy for rents due or waste by a termer after
recovering the land as well as if he had not recovered the land.
A lord may distrain land within his fee for rents, customs, or
services due without naming the tenant, because of the existence
of secret feoffments and leases made by their tenants to unknown
Anyone seised of land to the use or trust of other persons by
reason of a will or conveyance shall be held to have lawful
seisin and possession of the land, because by common law, land
is not devisable by will or testament, yet land has been so
conveyed, which has deprived married men of their courtesy, women
of their dower, the King of the lands of persons attainted, the
King of a year's profits of the of felons, and lords their
A woman may not have both a jointure and dower of her husband's
land. (Persons had purchased land to hold jointly with their
A sale of land must be in writing, sealed, and registered in its
county with the clerk of that county. If the land is worth less
than 40s. per year, the clerk is paid 12d. If the land exceeds
40s. yearly, the clerk is paid 2s.6d.
An adult may lease his lands or tenements only by a writing under
his seal for a term of years or a term of life, because many
people who had taken leases of lands and tenements for a term of
years or a term of lives had to spend a lot for repair and were
then evicted by heirs of their lessors.
A husband may not lease out his wife's land.
No woman covert, child, idiot, or person of insane memory may
devise land by will or testament.
The land of tenants-in-common may be partitioned by them so that
each holds a certain part.
No bishop or other official having authority to take probate of
testaments may take a fee for probating a testament where the
goods of the testator are under 100s., except that the scribe
writing the probate of the testament may take 6d., and for the
commission of administration of the goods of any man dying
intestate, being up to 100s, may be charged 6d. Where the goods
are over 100s. but up to 800s. sterling, probate fees may be
3s.6d. at most, whereof the official may take 2s.6d. at most,
with 12d. residue to the scribe for registering the testament.
Where the goods are over 800s. sterling, probate fees may be 5s.
at most, whereof the official may take 2s.6d. at most, with
2s.6d. residue to the scribe, or the scribe may choose to take
1d. per 10 lines of writing of the testament. If the deceased
had willed by his testament any land to be sold, the money
thereof coming nor the profits of the land shall not be counted
as the goods or chattel of the deceased. Where probate fees have
customarily been less, they shall remain the same. The official
shall approve and seal the testament without delay and deliver
it to the executors named in such testaments for the said sum.
If a person dies intestate or executors refuse to prove the
testament, then the official shall grant the administration of
the goods to the widow of the deceased person, or to the next of
kin, or to both, in the discretion of the official, taking
surety of them for the true administration of the goods,
chattels, and debts. Where kin of unequal degree request the
administration, it shall be given to the wife and, at his
discretion, other requestors. The executors or administrators,
along with at least two persons to whom the deceased was
indebted, or to whom legacies were made, or, upon their refusal
or absence, two honest kinsmen, shall make an inventory of the
deceased's goods, chattels, ware, merchandise, as well moveable
as not moveable, and take it upon their oaths to the official.
No parish priest or other spiritual person shall take a mortuary
or money from a deceased person with moveable goods under the
value of 133s., a deceased woman covert baron, a child, a person
keeping no house, or a traveler. Only one mortuary may be taken
of each deceased and that in the place where he most dwelled and
lived. Where the deceased's moveable goods are to the value of
133s. or more, above his debts paid, and under 600s., a mortuary
up to 3s. 4d. may be taken. Where such goods are 600s. or more
and under 800s., mortuary up to 6s.8d. may be taken. Where such
goods are 800s. or above, mortuary up to 10s. may be taken. But
where mortuaries have customarily been less, they shall remain
Executors of a will declaring land to be sold for the payment of
debts, performance of legacies to wife and children, and
charitable deeds for the health of souls, may sell the land
despite the refusal of other executors to agree to such sale.
A man may not marry his mother, step-mother, sister, niece, aunt,
Only marriages which have not been consummated may be dissolved
The entry of an apprentice into a craft shall not cost more than
2s.6d. After his term, his entry shall not be more than 3s.4d.
This replaced the various fees ranging from this to 40s.
No master of a craft may require his apprentice to make an oath
not to compete with him by setting up a shop after the term of
No alien may take up a craft or occupation in the nation.
No brewer of ale or beer to sell shall make wood vessels or
barrels, and coopers shall use only good and seasonable wood to
make barrels and shall put their mark thereon. Every ale or beer
barrel shall contain 32 of the King's standard gallons. The
price of beer barrels sold to ale or beer brewers or others shall
An ale-brewer may employ in his service one cooper only to bind,
hoop and pin, but not to make, his master's ale vessels.
No butcher may keep a tanning-house.
Tanned leather shall be sold only in open fairs and markets and
after it is inspected and sealed.
Only people living in designated towns may make cloth, to prevent
the ruin of these towns by people taking up both agriculture and
cloth-making outside these towns.
No one shall shoot in or keep in his house any hand-gun or
cross-bow unless he has 2,000s. yearly.
No one may hunt or kill rabbits in the snow since their killing
in great numbers by men other than the King and noblemen has
No one shall take an egg or bird of any falcon or hawk out of its
nest on the King's land. No one may disguise himself with hidden
or painted face to enter a forest or park enclosed with a wall
for keeping deer to steal any deer or rabbit.
Ducks and geese shall not be taken with any net or device during
the summer, when they haven't enough feathers to fly. But a
freeholder of 40s. yearly may hunt and take such with long bow
No one may sell or buy any pheasant except the King's officers
may buy such for the King.
No butcher may kill any calf born in the spring.
No grain, beef, mutton, veal, or pork may be sold outside the
Every person with 36 acres of agricultural land, shall sow one
quarter acre with flax or hemp-feed.
All persons shall kill crows on their land to prevent them from
eating so much grain at sowing and ripening time and destroying
hay-stacks and the thatched roofs of houses and barns. They
shall assemble yearly to survey all the land to decide how best
to destroy all the young breed of crows for that year. Every
village and town with at least ten households shall put up and
maintain crow nets for the destruction of crows.
No land used for crop-raising may be converted to pasture.
No woods may be converted to agriculture or pasture.
No one shall cut down or break up dikes holding salt water and
fresh water from flooding houses and pastures.
No one shall dump tin-mining debris, dung, or rubbish into rivers
flowing into ports or take any wood from the walls of the port,
so that ships may always enter at low tide.
A person may lay out a new highway on his land where the old one
has been so damaged by waterways that horses with carriages
cannot pass, with the consent of local officials.
Only poor, aged, and disabled persons may beg. Begging without a
license is punishable by whipping or setting in the stocks 3
days with only bread and water.
Alien palm readers shall no longer be allowed into the nation,
because they have been committing felonies and robberies.
Butchers may not sell beef, pork, mutton, or veal from carcasses
for more than 1/2 penny and 1/2 farthing [1/4 penny] per pound.
French wines may not sell at retail for more than 8d. per gallon.
A barrel maker or cooper may sell a beer barrel for 10d.
No longer may aliens bring books into the nation to sell because
now there are sufficient printers and book-binders in the
No one may buy fresh fish other than sturgeon, porpoise, or seal
from an alien to put to sale in the nation.
Every person with an enclosed park where there are deer, shall
keep two tall and strong mares in such park and shall not allow
them to be mounted by any short horse, because the breeding of
good, swift, and strong horses has diminished.
A man may have only as many trotting horses for the saddle as are
appropriate to his degree.
No one may maintain for a living a house for unlawful games such
as bowling, tennis, dice, or cards. No artificer, craftsman,
husbandman, apprentice, laborer, journeyman, mariner, fisherman
may play these games except at Christmas under his master's
supervision. Noblemen and others with a yearly income of at
least 2,000s. may allow his servants to play these games at his
Hemp of flax may not be watered in any river or stream where
animals are watered.
No one shall sell merchandise to another and then buy back the
same merchandise within three months at a lower price. No one
shall sell merchandise to be paid for in a year above the sum of
200s. per 2000s. worth of merchandise. No one shall sell or
mortgage any land upon condition of payment of a sum of money
before a certain date above the sum of 200s. per 2000s. per year.
No one shall commit forgery by counterfeiting a letter made in
another person's name to steal any money, goods, or jewels.
No one shall libel by accusing another of treason in writing and
leaving it in an open place without subscribing his own name to
If any servant converts to his own use more than 40s. worth of
jewels, money, or goods from caskets entrusted to him for
safekeeping by a nobleman or other master or mistress, it shall
be a felony.
If a person breaks into a dwelling house by night to commit
burglary or murder, is killed by anyone in that house, or a
person is killed in self-defense, the killer shall not forfeit
any lands or goods for the killing.
Killing by poisoning shall be deemed murder and is punishable by
A person who has committed a murder, robbery, or other felony he
has committed shall be imprisoned for his natural life and be
burned on the hand, because those who have been exiled have
disclosed their knowledge of the commodities and secrets of this
nation and gathered together to practice archery for the benefit
of the foreign realm. If he escapes such imprisonment, he shall
forfeit his life.
A person convicted or outlawed shall be penalized by loss of
life, but not loss of lands or goods, which shall go to his wife
as dower and his heirs.
Buggery may not be committed on any person or beast.
No one shall slander or libel the King by speeches or writing or
printing or painting.
No one shall steal fish from a pond on another's land by using
nets or hooks with bait or by drying up the pond.
The mayor of London shall appoint householders to supervise
watermen rowing people across the Thames River because so many
people have been robbed and drowned by these rowers. All such
boats must be at least 23 feet long and 5 feet wide.
No man shall take away or marry any maiden under 16 years of age
with an inheritance against the will of her father.
Any marriage solemnized in church and consummated shall be valid
regardless of any prior contract for marriage.
Sheriffs shall not lose their office because they have not
collected enough money for the Exchequer, but shall have
allowances sufficient to perform their duties.
Butchers, brewers, and bakers shall not conspire together to sell
their victuals only at certain prices. Artificers, workmen and
laborers shall not conspire to work only at a certain rate or
only at certain hours of the day.
No one shall sell any woolen cloth that shrinks when it is wet.
Only artificers using the cutting of leather, may buy and sell
tanned leather and only for the purpose of converting it into
A beggar's child above five years may be taken into service by
anyone that will.
Cattle may be bought only in the open fair or market and only by
a butcher or for a household, team, or dairy, but not for resale
Butter and cheese shall not be bought to be sold again except at
retail in open shop, fair, or market.
No man may enter a craft of cloth-making until he has been an
apprentice for seven years or has married a clothiers' wife and
practicing the trade for years with her and her servants sorting
No country person shall sell wares such as linen drapery, wool
drapery, hats, or groceries by retail in any incorporated town,
but only in open fairs.
For every 60 sheep there shall be kept one milk cow because of
the scarcity of cattle.
No clothier may keep more than one wool loom in his house,
because many weavers do not have enough work to support their
families. No weaver may have more than two wool looms.
No cloth-maker, fuller, shearman, weaver, tailor, or shoemaker
shall retain a journeyman to work by the piece for less than a
three month period. Every craftsman who has three apprentices
shall have one journeyman. Servants in agriculture and bargemen
shall serve by the whole year and not by day wages.
There shall be a sales tax of 12d. per pound of wool cloth goods
for the Crown.
All people shall attend church on Sundays to remember God's
benefits and goodness to all and to give thanks for these with
prayers and to pray to be given daily necessities.
Anyone fighting in church shall be excluded from the fellowship
of the parish community.
No one shall use a rope or device to stretch cloth for sale so to
make it appear as more in quantity than it is.
No one may sell cloth at retail unless the town where it was
dressed, dyed, and pressed has placed its seal on the cloth.
Cloth may not be pressed with a hot press, but only with a cold
Offices may not be bought and sold, but only granted by justices
of the royal courts.
No one going from house to house to repair metal goods or sell
small goods he is carrying may do this trade outside the town
where he lives.
No one may sell ale or beer without a license, because there have
been too many disorders in common alehouses. Offenders may be
put in the town or county jail for three days.
French wine may not be sold for more than 8d. per gallon.
Only persons with yearly incomes of 1,333s. or owning goods worth
13,333s. may store wine in his house and only for the use of his
No one may sell forged iron, calling it steel, because the edged
tools and weapons made from it are useless.
Parish communities shall repair the highways for four days each
year using oxen, cart, plough, shovels, and spades.
The children of priests are declared legitimate so they may
inherit their ancestor's lands. The priests may be tenants by
courtesy after the death of their wives of such land and
tenements that their wives happened to be seized of in fee
simple or in fee tail, during the spousals.
Doctors of the civil law may practice in the church or Chancery
Justices shall tax inhabitants of the county for building jails
throughout the nation, for imprisonment of felons, to be kept by
the sheriffs and repaired out of the Exchequer.
Piracy at sea or in river or creek or port are adjudicated in
shires because of the difficulty of obtaining witnesses from the
ship, who might be murdered or who are on other voyages on the
sea, for adjudication by the admiral.
Piracy and murder on ships is punishable by death only after
confession or proof by disinterested witnesses.
Land held by tenants in common may be partitioned by court order,
because some of these tenants have cut down all the trees to
take the wood and pulled down the houses to convert the material
to their own use.
Persons worth 800s. a year in goods shall be admitted in trials
of felons in corporate towns although they have no freehold of
Each justice of the high courts may employ one chaplain.
The Privy Council took the authority of the star court, which
organized itself as a specialty court. Also, a specific group of
full-time councilors heard pleas of private suitors.
The bishops, nobility, and Justices of the Peace were commanded
to imprison clergy who taught papal authority. Justices of the
Peace and sheriffs were to watch over the bishops. The Justices
of Assize were to assess the effectiveness of the Justices of
the Peace as well as enforce the treason act on circuit.
The criminal court had no jury and went outside the common law to
prosecute political enemies.
Since the nation was now peaceful, expediency was no longer
needed, so judicial procedures again became lengthy and formal
All pleadings and usually testimony was put into writing in
Witnesses could be sworn in to state pertinent facts necessary
for full understanding and adjudication of cases, because they
are reliable now that there is no livery and maintenance and
because jurors no longer necessarily know all the relevant
The Times: 1558-1604
Queen Elizabeth I was intelligent, educated, and wise about human
nature. When young, she was a brilliant student. Then, she
studied much history, philosophy, and oratory. She wrote in
English, Latin, French, and Italian. She read Greek, including
the Greek Testament, Greek orators, and Greek dramatists at age
seven, when the first professorship of Greek was founded at
Cambridge University. Book- learning was one of her highest
values throughout her life. She had good judgment in selecting
her ministers and advisors for her Privy Council. Like her
father and grandfather, she dominated Parliament.
She was so influenced by her reading of Cicero that she acquired
his style of writing. Her Chief Secretary William Cecil was so
guided by Cicero's "Offices" that he carried a copy in his
pocket. Cicero opined that government officials' duty was to
make the safety and interest of citizens its greatest aim and to
design all their thoughts and endeavors without ever considering
personal advantage. Government was not to serve the interest of
any one group to the prejudice or neglect of the rest, for then
discord and sedition would occur. Furthermore, a governor should
try to become loved and not feared, because men hated those whom
they feared, and wished dead those whom they hated. Therefore
obedience proceeding from fear could not last, whereas that which
was the effect of love would last forever. An oppressor ruling
by terror will be resented by the citizens, who in secret will
choose a worthier person. Then liberty, having been chained up,
would be unleashed more fiercely than otherwise. To obtain the
peoples' love, a governor should be kind and bountiful. To
obtain the peoples' trust, a governor should be just, wise, and
faithful. To demonstrate this, a governor should be eloquent in
showing the people an understanding better than theirs, the
wisdom to anticipate events, and the ability to deal with adverse
events. And this demonstration should be done with modesty. One
cannot get the peoples' trust by vain shows, hypocritical
pretenses, composed countenances, and studied forms of words.
The first goal of a governor is to take care that each
individual is secured in the quiet enjoyment of his own property.
The second goal is to impose taxes that are not burdensome. The
third goal is to furnish the people with necessaries. The law
should be enforced keeping in mind that its fundamental purpose
is to keep up agreement and union among citizens.
Elizabeth cared deeply for the welfare of all citizens of
whatever class. She was sensitive to public opinion and wanted
to be loved by her people, which she was. She was frugal and
diplomatically avoided unnecessary wars, saying that her purse
was the pockets of her people. England was a small Protestant
nation threatened by the larger Catholic nations of France and
Spain. Elizabeth flirted with foreign princes to make them waste
their time trying to get England by marrying her instead of by
war. Her promotion of commercial speculations diffused a vast
increase of wealth among her people. Her good spirits and
gayness created a happy mood in the nation. She loved dancing and
madrigal music was popular. The Elizabethan era was one of
Elizabeth came to dress elaborately and fancifully. Her dresses
were fitted at the waist with a long and pointed bodice
stiffened with wood, steel, or whalebone. Her skirt was held out
with a petticoat with progressively larger hoops. There were two
layers of skirt with the top one parted to show the bottom one.
The materials used were silks, satins, velvets, and brocades. On
her dress were quiltings, slashings, and embroidery. They were
covered with gold ornaments, pearls, and gems from America. She
wore decorated gloves. So ladies copied her and discarded their
simple over-tunics for elaborate dresses. The under-tunic was
now becoming a petticoat and the over-tunic a dress. Their
under-tunics became petticoats. Often they also wore a fan with a
mirror, a ball of scent, a miniature portrait of someone dear to
them, and sometimes a watch. Single ladies did not wear hats,
but had long, flowing hair and low cut dresses showing their
bosoms. Married ladies curled their hair and wore it in high
masses on their heads with jewels interwoven into it. Both
gentlemen and ladies wore hats both indoors and outside and
large, pleated collars around their necks (with the newly
discovered starch), perfume, and high-heeled shoes. Gentlemen's'
tight sleeves, stiffened and fitted doublet with short skirt, and
short cloak were ornamented and their silk or velvet hats
flamboyant, with feathers. At their leather belts they hung
pouches and perhaps a watch. They wore both rapiers [swords with
cutting edges] and daggers daily as there were many quarrels.
There were various artistic beard cuts and various lengths of
hair, which was often curled and worn in ringlets. They now wore
breeches and stockings instead of long hosen. Both gentlemen and
ladies wore silk stockings and socks over them and then boots.
Coats dipped in boiled linseed oil with resin served as
raincoats. They wore nightgowns to bed. Fashions changed every
year. When Elizabeth became old, she had a wig made to match her
youthful long red hair. Other ladies began wearing wigs.
Poor men wore skirted fustian tunics, loose breeches, and coarse
stockings or canvas leggings. Agricultural laborers kept sword
and bow in a corner of their fields in the first part of
Women spent much of their time doing needlework and embroidery.
Since so many of the women who spent their days spinning were
single, unmarried women became known as "spinsters".
Children wore the same apparel as their elders. They were given
milk at meals for good growth. It was recognized that sickness
could be influenced by diet and herbs. Sickness was still viewed
as an imperfect balance of the four elements of blood (hot and
moist like air), phlegm (cold and moist like water), choler or
yellow bile (hot and dry like fire), and melancholy or black bile
(cold and dry like earth) in a person.
There were many lifestyle possibilities in the nation:
independently wealthy with 40s. yearly or goods worth 200s.;
gentleman, that is one who owned land or was in a profession
such as an attorney, physician, priest or who was a university
graduate, government official, or a military officer; employment
in agriculture, arts, sciences; employment in households and
offices of noblemen and gentlemen; independent farmers with
their own farm; fisherman or mariner on the sea or apprentice of
such; employment by carriers of grain into cities, by market
towns, for digging, seeking, finding, getting, melting, fining,
working, trying, making of any silver, tin, lead, iron, copper,
stone, coal; glassmaker.
Typical wages in the country were: fieldworkers 2-3d. a day,
ploughmen 1s. a week with board, shepherd 6d. a week and board,
his boy 2 1/2 d., hedgers 6d. a day, threshers 3-7d. depending
on the grain, thatching for five days 2d., master mason or
carpenter or joiner 4d. a day and food or 8d. without food, a
smith 2d. a day with food, a bricklayer 2 1/2 d. a day with
food, a shoemaker 2d. a day with food. These people lived
primarily on food from his own ground.
There was typical work for each month of the year in the country:
January - ditching and hedging after the frost broke, February -
catch moles in the meadows, March - protect the sheep from
prowling dogs, April - put up hop poles, sell bark to the tanner
before the timber is felled, fell elm and ash for carts and
ploughs, fell hazel for forks, fell sallow for rakes, fell horn
for flails, May - weed and hire children to pick up stones from
the fallow land, June - wash and shear the sheep, July - hay
harvest, August - wheat harvest, September and October - gather
the fruit, sell the wool from the summer shearing, stack logs
for winter, buy salt fish for Lent in the town and lay it up to
dry, November - have the chimneys swept before winter, thresh
grain in the barn, December - grind tools, repair yokes, forks,
and farm implements, cover strawberry and flower beds with straw
to protect them from the cold, split kindling wood with beetle
and wedge, tan their leather, make leather jugs, make baskets for
catching fish, and carve wood spoons, plates, and bowls.
There was a wave of building and renovation activity in town and
country. Housing is now, for the first time, purely for dwelling
and not for defense. They were designed symmetrically with
decorative features instead of a haphazard addition of rooms.
Windows were large and put on the outer walls instead of just
inside the courtyard. A scarcity of timber caused proportionally
more stone to be used for dwelling houses and proportionately
more brick to be used for royal palaces and mansions. The rest
of the house was plaster painted white interspersed with
vertical, horizontal, and sloping timber, usually oak, painted
black. They had locks and bolts for protection from intruders.
The floors were stone or wood, and sometimes tile. They were
often covered with rushes or plaited rush mats. Some private
rooms may have carpets on the floor. Walls were smoothly
plastered or had carved wood paneling to control drafts. Painted
cloths replaced tapestries on walls. Candles were hung from the
ceiling and used on tables. Plastered ceilings and a lavish use
of glass made rooms lighter and cozy. Broad and gracious
stairways with carved wood banisters replaced the narrow winding
stone steps of a stairwell. Most houses had several brick
chimneys and clear, but uneven, glass in the windows. There were
fireplaces in living rooms, dining rooms, kitchen, and bedrooms.
Sometimes there was a library, study room, or breakfast room as
well. Rooms were more spacious than before and contained
furniture such as chests of drawers, enclosed cupboards,
cabinets, buffets, tables, chairs and benches with backs and
cushions, sometimes with arms, and occasionally wardrobes,
either hanging or with shelves, for clothes. Carpeting covered
tables, chests, and beds. Family portraits decorated some walls,
usually in the dining room. Bedrooms all led out of each other.
But curtains on the four poster beds with tops provided
privacy. Beds had elaborately carved bedsteads, sheets, and a
feather coverlid as well as a feather mattress. Often family
members, servants, and friends shared the same bed for warmth or
convenience. Each bedroom typically had a cabinet with a mirror,
e.g. of burnished metal or crystal, and comb on top. One brushed
his teeth with tooth soap and a linen cloth, as physicians
advised. Each bedroom had a pitcher and water bowl, usually
silver or pewter, for washing in the morning, and a bed-pan for
nighttime use, and also fragrant flowers. Elizabeth had a room
just for her bath. Smoking tobacco and snuff-taking became
On the table was a fancy salt cellar and pepper. Some gentry used
two-pronged forks for eating. Glass drinking vessels replaced
even gold and silver goblets. Breakfast was substantial, with
meat, and usually eaten in one's bedroom. There was great plenty
and variety of meats to all but the poorer classes: beef,
mutton, veal, lamb, kid, pork, rabbit, capon, red deer, fish and
wild fowl as well as the traditional venison and brawn [boar].
From English orchards and gardens came apricots, almonds,
gooseberries, raspberries, melons, currants, oranges, and lemons
as well as the traditional apples, pears, plums, mulberries,
quinces, pomegranates, figs, cherries, walnuts, chestnuts, hazel
nuts, filberts, strawberries, blackberries, dewberries,
blueberries, and peaches. Also grown were sweet potatoes,
artichokes, cabbages, turnips, broad beans, peas, pumpkins,
cucumbers, radishes, carrots, celery, parsnips, onions, garlic,
leeks, endive, spinach, sorrel, lettuce, parsley, mustard,
cress, sage, tarragon, fennel, thyme, mint, savory, rhubarb, and
medicinal herbs. Sugar was used to make sweet dishes. Grace was
said before meals. Toothpicks were used.
Most dwellings were of brick and stone. Only a few were of wood
or mud and straw. The average house was now four rooms instead
of three. Yeomen might have six rooms. A weaver's house had a
hall, two bedrooms, and a kitchen besides the shop. Farmers
might have two instead of one room. A joiner had a one-room house
with a feather bed and bolster. Even craftsmen, artificers and
farmers had feather beds on bed frames with pillows and hung
loom tapestry and painted cloth to keep out the cold in their
single story homes. They also had pewter spoons and plates,
instead of just wood or earthenware ones. Even the poorer class
had glass drinking vessels, though of a coarse grade. The poor
still used wooden plates and spoons. Laborers had canvas sheets.
Richer farmers would build a chamber above the hall, replacing
the open hearth with a fireplace and chimney. Poorer people
favored ground floor extensions, adding a kitchen or second
bedchamber to their cottages. Kitchens were often separate
buildings to reduce the risk of fire. Roasting was done on a
spit and baking in irons boxes placed in the fire or in a brick
oven at the side of the fireplace.
Mixed farming began. In this, some of the arable land produced
food for man and the rest produced food for sheep, cattle, pigs,
and poultry. This was made possible by the introduction of
clover, artificial grasses, and turnip and other root crops for
the animals. Since the sheep ate these crops in the field, they
provided manure to maintain the fertility of the soil. This meant
that many animals could be maintained throughout the winter
instead of being slaughtered and salted.
More than medieval castles and manor houses, mansions were
designed with privacy in mind. The great hall, often hung around
with bows, pikes, swords, and guns, was not abandoned, but the
family used it as an eating place only on rare occasions.
Instead they withdrew to the parlor and great chamber, while
their servants lived in turrets or attics and continued to eat
in the hall. The distinction between parlor and great chamber
was that the former was for domestic use and the latter for
entertaining. Parlors were situated on the ground floor: the
family lived and relaxed there, and had informal meals in a
dining parlor. The formal or "state" rooms were on the first
floor, usually comprising a great chamber, a withdrawing
chamber, one or more bedchambers, and a long gallery. The idea
of a long gallery was copied from Henry VII and was used for
exercise, recreation such as music and dancing, and private
conversations. Each room had carved chairs and cabinets. A noble
or gentleman's house had not only a garden for the kitchen and
orchards, but formal gardens of flowers and scrubs. Grown were
apples, plums, pears, apricots, peaches, walnuts, filberts,
almonds, figs, capers, oranges, and lemons. Trees were planted
A noble lord made written rules with penalties for his country
household, which numbered about a hundred, including family,
retainers, and servants. He enforced them by fines, flogging,
and threats of dismissal. The lady of the house saw that the
household, held together as an economic and social unit. The
noble's family, retainers, guests, and the head servants, such
as chaplain and children's tutor, and possibly a musician, dined
together at one table. The family included step children and
married sons and daughters with their spouses. They drank from
drinking of fine clear glass from Italy. They ate from silver
dishes with silver spoons. Chandeliers of candles lit rooms. A
silver salt cellar was on the table, which was covered with a
linen cloth. The lady of the house sat in a chair at the end of
the table and was served first. After the upper table was
served, the food was sent to the servants: serving men and
women, bakers, brewers, cooks, pot cleaners, laudresses,
shepherds, hogherds, dairy maids, falconers, huntsmen, and
stable men. What was left was given to the poor at the gates of
the house. The biggest meal of the day was dinner, served at
noon. There were sandglass clocks. For amusement, the house was
occasionally handed over to a lord of misrule for twelve days.
Clothes were washed in rivers and wells.
Farmers' wives used looms as well as spinning wheels with foot
treadles. Due to new grass and root crops, animals could be kept
through the winter. Therefore, salted meat and salted fish were
no longer the staple food of the poorer people during the
winter. Farm laborers ate soup, porridge, milk, cheese, bacon,
and beer or mead (depending on the district), and dark barley or
rye bread, which often served as his plate. Gentlemen ate wheat
By 1600 basement services were frequently found in town houses
built on restricted sites. Lastly, provision of water supplies
and improved sanitary arrangements reflected concern with
private and public health. There was virtually no drainage. In
the case of town houses, some owners would go to considerable
effort to solve drainage problems, often paying a cash
composition to the civic authorities, but sometimes performing
some service for the town at Court or at Westminster in return
for unlimited water or some drainage. Most affluent households,
including the Queen's moved from house to house, so their
cesspits could be cleaned out and the vacated buildings aired
after use. A few cesspits were made air-tight. Otherwise, there
was extensive burning of perfumes. Refuse was emptied out of
front doors and shoveled into heaps on street corners. It was
then dumped into the river or along the highways leading out of
town. People put on perfume to avoid the stench. By 1600, the
first water-closet was built, which provided a clean latrine all
The value of grain and meat rose compared to wool. Grain became
six times its value in the previous reign. Wool fell from
20s.8d. per tod in 1546 to 16s. in 15s. So sheep-farming, which
had taken about 5% of the arable land, was supplanted somewhat
by crop-raising and the rural population could be employed for
agriculture. In some places, the threefold system of rotation was
replaced by alternating land used for crops with that used for
pasture. The necessity of manuring and the rotation of crops and
grasses such as clover for enrichment of the soil were
recognized. Wheat, rye, barley, peas, and beans were raised.
There was much appropriation of common land by individual
owners by sale or force. Many farms were enclosed by fences or
hedges so that each holder could be independent of his
neighbors. Red and black currants, rhubarb, apricots, and
oranges were now grown. These independent farmers could sell wool
to clothiers, and butter, cheese, and meat to the towns. They
also often did smithwork and ironwork, making nails, horseshoes,
keys, locks, and agricultural implements to sell. A laborer
could earn 6d. a day in winter and 7d. a day in summer. Unfree
villeinage ceased on the royal estates. But most land was still
farmed in common and worked in strips without enclosure.
Windmills now had vanes to change the position of the sails when
the wind direction changed. Formerly, the position of the sails
was changed by manual labor. Prosperous traders and farmers who
owned their own land assumed local offices as established
members of the community.
The population of the nation was about five million. Population
expansion had allowed landlords to insist on shorter leases and
higher rents, instead of having to choose between accepting a
long lease and good rent or allowing their estates to pass out
of cultivation. 90% of the population lived in the countryside
and 5% in the London and 5% in the other towns. Over half the
people of the nation were on the margin of subsistence. Life
expectancy was about 40 years of age.
Most of London was confined within the city wall. There were
orchards and gardens both inside and outside the walls, and
fields outside. Flower gardens and nurseries came into
existence. No part of the city was more than a ten minute walk
to the fields. Some wealthy merchants had four story mansions or
country houses outside the city walls. Goldsmiths' Row was
replete with four story houses. A few wealthy merchants became
money-lenders for interest, despite the law to the contrary. The
mayor of London was typically a rich merchant prince. Each trade
occupied its own section of the town and every shop had its own
signboard, for instance, hat and cap sellers, cloth sellers,
grocers, butchers, cooks, taverns, and book-sellers. Many of the
London wards were associated with a craft, such as Candlewick
Ward, Bread St. Ward, Vintry Ward, and Cordwainer Ward. Some
wards were associated with their location in the city, such as
Bridge Ward, Tower Ward, Aldgate Ward, Queenhithe Ward, and
Billingsgate Ward. People dwelled at the back or on the second
floor of their shops. In the back yard, they grew vegetables
such as melons, carrots, turnips, cabbages, pumpkins, parsnips,
and cucumbers; herbs; and kept a pig. Hyde Park was the Queen's
hunting ground. London had a small zoo of ten animals, including
a lion, tiger, lynx, and wolf.
Life in London was lived in the open air in the streets. The
merchant transacted business agreements and the lawyer saw his
clients in the street or at certain pillars at St. Paul's
Church, where there was a market for all kinds of goods and
services. Some gentlemen had offices distant from their dwelling
houses such as attorneys, who had a good income from trade
disputes and claims to land, which often changed hands. Plays
and recreation also occurred in the streets, such as
performances by dancers, musicians, jugglers, clowns, tumblers,
magicians, and men who swallowed fire. The churches were
continuously open and used by trades and peddlers, including
tailors and letter-writers. Water carriers carried water in wood
vessels on a shoulder from the Thames River or its conduits to
the inhabitants three gallons at a time. Soldiers, adventurers,
physicians, apprentices, prostitutes, and cooks were all
distinguishable by their appearances. An ordinance required
apprentices to wear long blue gowns and white breeches with
stockings, with no ornamentation of silk, lace, gold or silver
and no jewelry. They could wear a meat knife, but not a sword or
dagger. Apprentices lived with their masters and worked from 6
or 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Some people knitted wool caps as they walked
to sell when finished. There were sections of town for
booksellers, butchers, brewers, hosiers, shoemakers, curriers,
cooks, poulters, bow makers, textwriters, pattenmakers, and horse
and oxen sellers. Large merchant companies had great halls for
trade, such as the mercers, grocers, drapers, fishmongers, and
goldsmiths. The other great guilds were the skinners, merchant
tailers, haberdashers, salters, ironmongers, vintners, and
clothworkers. Smaller guilds were those of the bakers, weavers,
fruiterers, dyers, Thames watermen and lightermen, carpenters,
joiners, turners, and parish clerks. The guilds insured quality
by inspecting goods for a fee. >From 1571, merchants could meet
at the Royal Exchange building for business purposes. It's great
bell rang at midday and at 6 p.m. Crime was rampant in the
streets and criminals were executed near to the crime scene.
Taverns served meals as well as ale. They were popular meeting
places for both men and women of all backgrounds to met their
friends. Two taverns in particular were popular with the
intelligentsia. Music was usually played in the background and
games were sometimes played. Beer made with hops and malt was
introduced and soon there were beer drinking contests.
Drunkenness became a problem.
The main thoroughfare in London was still the Thames River.
Nobles living on the river had their own boats and landings.
Also at the banks, merchants of all nations had landing places
where ships unloaded, warehouses, and cellars for goods and
merchandise. Swans swam in the clear bright water. Watermen rowed
people across the river for a fee. On the south bank of the river
were theaters, outlaws, cutpurses, prostitutes, and prisons. In
the summer, people ate supper outside in public. Refuse is still
thrown into the streets. At night, the gates of the city were
closed and citizens were expected to hang out lanterns. The
constable and his watchmen carried lanterns and patrolled the
streets asking anyone they saw why they were out so late at
night. There were a few horse-drawn coaches with unglazed
windows with curtains to keep out the weather.
As of old times, brokers approved by the Mayor and aldermen made
contracts with merchants concerning their wares. Some contracts
included holding wares as security. Some craftsmen and manual
workers extended this idea to used garments and household
articles, which they took as pawns, or security for money loaned.
This began pawn brokerage, which was lucrative. The problem was
that many of the items pawned had been stolen.
The Queen's Privy Council fixed wages and prices in London,
advised Justices of the Peace on wages elsewhere, and controlled
exports of grain to keep prices down and supplies ample. There
were labor strikes in some towns for higher wages after periods
of inflation. In 1591, London authorities rounded up the sturdy
vagabonds and set them to work cleaning out the city ditches for
4d. per day.
Most of the men in Elizabeth's court had attended a university,
such as the lawyer and writer Francis Bacon and the sea-fighter
and writer Walter Raleigh, who had a humble origin. Many wives
and daughters of Privy Councilors attended the Queen in her
privy chamber. Most of the knights or gentlemen of the royal
household were also members of Parliament or Justices of the
Peace for certain districts in the counties. The court did not
travel as much as in the past, but became associated with
London. Elizabeth took her entire court on summer visits to the
country houses of leading nobility and gentry.
Secular education and especially the profession of law was the
route for an able but poor person to rise to power, rather than
as formerly through military service or through the church.
The first stage of education was primary education, which was
devoted to learning to read and write in English. This was
carried out at endowed schools or at home by one's mother or a
tutor. The children of the gentry were usually taught in their
homes by private teachers of small classes. Many of the poor
became literate enough to read the Bible and to write letters.
However, most agricultural workers and laborers remained
The next stage of education was grammar [secondary] school. There
a student was taught rhetoric (e.g. poetry, history, precepts of
rhetoric, and classical oratory), some logic, and Latin and
Greek grammar. English grammar was learned through Latin grammar
and English style through translation from Latin. Literary
criticism was learned through rhetoric. There were disputations
on philosophical questions such as how many angels could sit on
a pin's point. The students sat in groups around the hall for
their lessons. The boys and girls were also taught hawking,
hunting and archery. The secondary student and the undergraduate
were tested for proficiency by written themes and oral
disputations, both in Latin. Grammar schools were headed by
schoolmasters. There were so many secondary schools financed by
merchants and guilds such as the Mercers and Fishmongers that
every incorporated town had at least one. The middle classes from
the squire to the petty tradesman were brought into contact with
the best Greek and Roman writers. A typical schoolday lasted
from 7:00 am to 5:00 PM. Flogging with a birch rod was used for
discipline. Some students learned this material from a tutor
rather than school.
The government of Oxford University, which had been Catholic, was
taken from the resident teachers and put into the hands of the