Aside from what you may already know about the Tudors, there are a few other bits of information that might be worth being aware of, just in case they pop up in an exam unexpectedly.
Firstly, let’s talk money. The currency in England back in those days was the shilling and there would have been 20 shillings in a pound. Under the reign of Henry VIII, money given to help the poor was all voluntary, not compulsory. This was unlike when Edward VI and Elizabeth I reigned, and taxes were introduced. Taxes predominantly went to hospitals as well as raising money for the poor.
At the end of Edward’s reign, five hospitals were established in London for different causes; Christ’s for Orphans, Bedlam for the mentally ill, Bridewell for the idle poor and St Bartholomew’s and St Thomas’s for the impotent poor.
Back in the days of the Tudors, people were also expected to pay an entry fine (also known as gressoms). This was money that was paid to the government when someone inherited land. These were often paid when tenant farmers died and their family wanted to take over the estate. It’s also worth knowing that many people partook in forestalling. This is when people would buy goods to sell them later at a higher price!
The population in England also grew from 2.7 million in 1536 to 3.2 million in 1571. Despite diseases like the English Sweat and Black Death reducing the population, an increase in fertility rates led to population growth.
There are also a few key facts about religion that it could be good to know. You ready for them? Great!
The Bishop’s book was created in 1535, with its official title being “The Institution of a Christian Man”. It was written by Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The Tudor period also saw the first “humanists”. These were people who questioned the belief system of the church and encouraged education and culture. At the time, they weren’t the most popular of people! Humanists became particularly prominent during the 16th century. Occasionally known as the “New Learning” humanists, they emphasised critical thinking and rational thought above traditional doctrines and customs. Erasmus, John Colet and Thomas More were all leading humanist thinkers.
Within Tudor society, there was also a concept often used to illustrate the order of people.This was known as the Great Chain of Being. It was mostly used by the most powerful in society to justify the monarchs and their own superiority.
The idea was that each link in the chain connected humans up towards God, and down towards plant and animal life. It was believed that everyone had their place in society, and trying to change it would result in complete chaos.
Last but not least, best to be aware that it would be the gentry – a fancy word for people of nobility – who were held in Fleet Prison.
Okay that’s it, you’re all caught up!