1485 To 1625
Rediscovering Ancient Greece and Rome The term renaissance is a French word meaning “rebirth.” The English Renaissance marked changes in people’s values, beliefs and behavior.
The Renaissance began in fourteenth-century Italy where the Catholic church financed many intellectual and artistic endeavors.
Humanism An intellectual movement known as humanism began to use Latin and Greek classics combined with traditional Christian thought to teach people how to live.
Desiderius Erasmus and Thomas More, humanists and close friends, helped shape European thought and history.
The New Technology: A Flood of Print Gutenberg’s printing press helped spread the new knowledge which made books available to more people than ever before.
The Reformation: Breaking with the Church These new ideas encouraged people to question the authority of the Catholic Church and to object to financial burdens imposed by the Pope. St. Paul’s Cathedral
King vs. Pope: All for an Heir In addition to these new ideas, in 1533 after the Pope refused to allow King Henry VIII an annulment from Catherine of Aragon, Henry broke with the Catholic church and declared himself the head of the Church of England.
Henry VIII: Renaissance Man and Executioner The five Tudor kings are Henry VII, who became king after the War of the Roses, Henry VIII, his son Edward, Mary and Elizabeth. Henry VIII increased England’s strength by building up its Navy but those close to him paid a high price.
The Boy King and Bloody Mary After the death of Henry VIII’s young son Edward, his daughter Mary became queen. She killed the Protestants and restored the Pope’s power in England. When Mary died of a fever, her younger sister Elizabeth became queen.
Elizabeth: The Virgin Queen Like her father, Elizabeth rejected the Pope and reestablished the Church of England. Her intelligence and independence made her reign one of the most successful in England’s history.
England Defeats the Spanish Armada One of Elizabeth’s great successes was the defeat of King Philip’s Spanish Armada. This stunning victory assured England’s independence from powerful Catholic countries in the Mediterranean.
A Flood of Literature So what’s the connection between these political events and literature? Elizabeth encouraged and inspired many writers. With the defeat of the Spanish Armada, an era of peace and prosperity began and the English started writing as never before.