AQA GCSE History: Elizabethan England, c1568–1603

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BC Elizabethan England, c1568–1603

This option allows students to study in depth a specified period, the last 35 years of Elizabeth I's reign. The study will focus on major events of Elizabeth I’s reign considered from economic, religious, political, social and cultural standpoints, and arising contemporary and historical controversies.

Students will study a wide variety of topics compiled into four modules, namely:

Part one: Elizabethan Court and Parliament

Themes include:

  • Elizabeth I and her court: background and character of Elizabeth I; court life, including patronage; key ministers.
  • The difficulties of a female ruler: relations with Parliament; the problem of marriage and the succession; the strength of Elizabeth’s authority at the end of her reign, including Essex’s rebellion in 1601.

Part two: Life in Elizabethan England

Themes include:

  • A ‘Golden Age’: living standards and fashions; growing prosperity and the rise of the gentry; the Elizabethan theatre and its achievements; attitudes to the theatre.
  • The poor: reasons for the increase in poverty; attitudes and responses to poverty; the reasons for government action and the seriousness of the problem.
  • English sailors: Hawkins and Drake; circumnavigation 1577–1580, voyages and trade; the role of Raleigh.

Part three: Troubles at home and abroad

  • Religious matters: the question of religion, English Catholicism and Protestantism; the Northern Rebellion; Elizabeth's excommunication; the missionaries; Catholic plots and the threat to the Elizabethan settlement; the nature and ideas of the Puritans and Puritanism; Elizabeth and her government's responses and policies towards religious matters.
  • Mary Queen of Scots: background; Elizabeth and Parliament’s treatment of Mary; the challenge posed by Mary; plots; execution and its impact.
  • Conflict with Spain: reasons; events; naval warfare, including tactics and technology; the defeat of the Spanish Armada.

Part four: Historic environment: The Globe Theatre

Themes include:

  • Function, structure and location of the Globe theatre
  • How the site reflected the attitudes, beliefs and social structure of Elizabethan society
  • Notable people, organisations and events linked to the Globe Theatre.

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