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Cultural and Family Feuds in the Elizabethan Era

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Abhishek Sadhu

on 17 February 2015

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Transcript of Cultural and Family Feuds in the Elizabethan Era

Cultural And Family Feuds
Class System
During Queen Elizabeth’s rein of England in 1558,she kept peace by accepting different arts and literature into the nation such as Shakespeare's famous play "Romeo and Juliet".The social system in which the Elizabethan Era was carried out in still exists in modern Britain, although slightly altered to accommodate modern society.
The most powerful man in the British class system. Means Leader in Latin. A female duke would be called a Duchess.
The Marquess is the second-highest rank in the British class system meaning march in French.
A female Marquess is called a Marchioness.
The Earl was the old English term that correlated with the European term “Count”.
The class system was often used to make the audience understand the importance of certain characters in Shakespeare's writings.
Evidence in the Play
Family Feuds in the Elizabethan era

With the different classes that families were split into (Nobility, upper class and everyone else), the punishments for various crimes would differ in accordance to class. The most common and serious crimes were:

Classes & Crimes
Religion in Elizabethan Times
The Religion practiced was considered a very important thing in Elizabethan time as it often resulted in many feuds. These happened with the common people as well as the rulers of Elizabethan England, for example the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth Feud Catholicism and Protestantism were the two main religions practiced, however Protestantism was the national religion established in Elizabethan England. People at the time strongly believed in their religions, so much that they would lead to violence and executions.

The previous Queen (Mary I) was far more intolerant to Protestants and imposed harsh penalties on them, whereas Elizabeth I established protestantism and allowed Catholicism to be practiced. One big difference at the time was that Elizabethan Catholics believed the Bible and Church services should be in Latin, but Protestant believed it should be in the language of the people so ordinary people could understand.
In the play there are several references to religion and certain religious words used such as "baptize", "heaven and various other phrases

Feuds in in Elizabethan England was not as dramatic as Shakespeare made them out to be. Back then Duels would be considered illegal and would only be allowed to take place outside the city. Often these duels would not be fair and result in an ambush by other people. This inevitably lead to a feuding vendetta between the two families that would that members to fight on behalf of their fallen brethren. Feuds, however, were not seen as something terrible. They were relatively normal and was common in England. Even murder was nothing out of the extraordinary in the 1590’s. Upper classes of aristocracies were notorious for constant; cause being the need for an increase in wealth as well as in a firm influence on social and economic contrivances


Wealthy families were predominantly led by the man of the house, who would typically be responsible for carrying major decisions that would often be for the welfare of the family. They were also responsible for bolstering the position and status of the members in the family. Women however, had virtually no say in matters (unless the husbands were willing to consider their opinions) and were considered inferior to men. Women were expected to get married young and bear children, preferably male heirs as there were not much carreer options for women (due to this, the majority of women were illiterate). However in Romeo and Juliet, Juliet gets married and loses her virginity at age 13, which is not true to Elizabethan society as women typically got married at their mid-to late 20’s. Although male heirs were preferred, all children were cherished and had gifts showered upon them. This was because children back then had a high mortality rate, and noble families had a higher chance of having their child live on as opposed to the lower classes.

Family Honor and Obligations
In Elizabethan times, having a respected family name like Capulet or Montague would make a person feel very proud and famous. So maintain a good reputation for the name was an obligation.

Like today, the reputation and personal pride of a person very important to a person in those times, but as shown in the book, this was for more important to a person back then. Some would think of the family feud as a mafia dispute or something along those lines and that would be fairly accurate. In the book the "love" between Romeo and Juliet would surely be an act of absolute betrayal. It would be like a "mole" in a criminal syndicate.
Family Hierarchy
A famous feud was between Queen Elizabeth and her sister Queen Mary. Queen Mary was Elizabeth's half sister and heir to throne before her. When she took over, she had queen Elizabeth imprisoned for the supporting protestant rebellions (Mary was Catholic). Mary, a Catholic, was determined to crush the Protestant faith which Elizabeth practiced, and she ordered that everyone attend Catholic Mass; including Elizabeth. Mary's initial popularity declined when when she announced plans to marry Prince Philip of Spain, the son of Emperor Charles V and an active Catholic.King Philip decided to acknowledge the reality that Mary was no longer popular and decided to help his sister-in-law. .When his wife fell ill in 1558, King Philip sent the Count of Feria to consult with Elizabeth. This interview was conducted at Hatfield House, where she had returned to live in October 1555. On November 6th, queen Elizabeth, with the help of her cousin, ordered the execution of Queen Mary

Queen Elizabeth vs Queen Mary Scots
By Abhishek. S, Darrell. C and Jonathan. P
Family feuds being a major theme in Romeo and Juliet, is evidently portrayed in the play with the two families, the Montagues and the Capulets. To a certain extent this could be considered the most important theme as it is mentioned in the first few words of the play. "Two households, both alike in dignity". However this particular feud was in fact far more dramatic than most feuds at the time would have been.

As shown in the play, the Monatgue and the Capulet families would surely be considered to be a wealthy families in which the men(Lord Montague and Capulet) would lead the family and had the responsibility of making important decisions such as deciding the fate or the punishment for something done by a member of the family. And the young marrying age was obviously represented in the play through Juliet as she was asked at such a young age by her parents about whether she would want to get married

Equality rights have dramatically improved since the 1500s. Brides no longer have to bring a dowry (goods) to their husbands during marriage. The wife’s purpose in marriage allows them to work instead of raising children and no longer have to be relied upon for daily household tasks. Women in modern times now have rights such as:
During the 1500s, women were expected to give birth every two years, as this was a sign of honour even though childbearing was dangerous due to poor health systems. However, children of royalty are often closer to their nurses due to the belief that raising a child was below royalty.
During the 1500s, women had to obey their husbands along with other male members of the family. If wives disobeyed their husbands, they would be beaten until submissive. For example, in Romeo and Juliet written by William Shakespeare, Juliet disobeys her father by not wanting to marry Paris, therefore Capulet calls Juliet a “disobedient wretch”.

King Arthur
As a symbol of culture, King Arthur was a mythological character who was King of the Camelot and was commonly know for the Knights of the Round Table. During the expansion of the European culture, the imagination of writers developed the story into one of a legend. This played a major role in the culture of England due to his nobility and respectable nature.

Works Cited
Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2015. <http://www.biography.com/people/king-arthur-9190042#becomes-heroic-figure>.

"The Elizabethan Age." The Elizabethan Age. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Feb. 2015. <http://www.shakespeareinamericancommunities.org/education/elizabethan-age>.

"Equality of the Sexes Elizabethan Era and Now as Conveyed in Romeo and Juliet by." StudyMode. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Feb. 2015. <http://www.studymode.com/essays/Equality-Of-The-Sexes-Elizabethan-Era-1166680.html>.

"Elizabethan Crime and Punishment." William-shakespeare.info. Siteseen, n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2015.

"Elizabethan Family Life." Elizabethan Family Life. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2015. <http://www.elizabethan-era.org.uk/elizabethan-family-life.htm>.

"Feuds." Elizabethan Era vs. Modern Day. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2015. <http://elizabethanvsmodern.weebly.com/feuds.html>.

Gibson, Rex. "Family." Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet Cambridge Sutdent Study Guide. N.p.: Cambridge UP, 2005. 258-70. Print.
"Religion in Elizabethan England." Religion in Elizabethan England. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Feb. 2015.
Shakespeare, William, and Rex Gibson. "Romeo and Juliet (the Play)." Romeo and Juliet. Second Edition ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge UP, 2005. 3-201. Print.

Shakespeare, William. "Family." Romeo and Juliet. Harlow: Longman, 2005. 258-70. Print.
Steinmetz, Katy. "Top 10 Family Feuds." Time. Time Inc., 23 Aug. 2011. Web. 17 Feb. 2015. <http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2089859_2089888_2089887,00.html>.

"The Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, 1587." The Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, 1587. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2015. <http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/maryqueenofscots.htm>.

The obvious crime committed in the play is the "love" between Rome and Juliet, which would be considered rebellion and was quite serious at the time. Atrocious methods of torture (that will not be explained or describes) were used when someone was just accused of a crime as it would often lead to a confession. Suprinsingly, actors during this time were not at all people of status. They would be seen as slightly higher than a thief or beggar. Acting without a license was also seen as a crime and was punished by hot iron branding .
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