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Elizabethan Beliefs and Superstitions

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Grace Ge

on 8 September 2014

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Transcript of Elizabethan Beliefs and Superstitions

The Universe
Elizabethans believed that the Earth was situated at the middle of the universe
They thought that the surrounding planets affected the events of the Earth.
The shape of the constellations of stars can be used by astrologers to predict the future.
Elizabethan astrologers believed that the stars, comets and eclipses resulted as accidents in space.
In the solar system, Elizabethans had a theory that there were seven planets. The Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sol (the sun), Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.
They thought that Saturn orbited around the earth in concentric spheres
The picture below is Ptolemy's theory of how the universe looked like with concentric circles during the 16th century.
Astrology and Supernatural Forces
The saying of 'God bless you' or 'bless you' originates from Elizabethans. They believe that when you sneeze and open your mouth the devil is able to get into your body. By saying 'bless you' after you sneeze, people believe that the Devil cannot stay in an area where a Christian blessing was taking place.
Omens For Luck
Luck was very important during the Elizabethan Era because Elizabethans were very aware of things that would bring them bad luck. For example, when you're cooking something in a pot, don't stir anti-clockwise. Otherwise, it will bring bad luck for those who ate the food. Be careful that you don't spill salt because it was very expensive at that time. They believed that in your afterlife, you would be poor because you weren't careful enough with your money. Don't leave the door open behind you and if you see a cat of any colour especially black, it is considered bad luck. Touching a man who was about to be executed and having a cow breath on you is considered to be a good luck omen.
Definition of Belief and Superstition
A lot of people get mixed up between the words ‘belief' and ‘superstition’. During the Elizabethan era, beliefs mainly related to religious aspects. It also included astrology, supernatural forces, humours (medical beliefs), the universe and witchcraft. On the other hand, superstitions are a widely held, but irrational belief. An example of a superstition during the Elizabethan era is that the seventh son of the seventh son is believed to have supernatural powers.
Elizabethan Beliefs and Superstitions
Witchcraft and Witches
The Elizabethans followed two main religions. Protestant and Catholic.
Protestants thought that forgiving sins could only be accepted by God.
Catholics thought that forgiving sins could only be done by popes or priests.
Children were forced to obey these "popular" religions. You would be hanged, executed and tortured if you didn't believe in them.
Elizabethans believed that if an adult obeyed a "wrong" religion, they would be poor, have no freedom and have a low income in their afterlife.
When people were affected by diseases and the Black Death, everyone accused the witches.
People also blamed witches when houses burnt down from fires and when food became stale.
Queen Elizabeth made a law in 1562 for witch hunting to be legal.
During the Elizabethan era, people believed that the fair skin witches were "good" because they cured sickness and looked after people.
They also believed that the darker skin witches were "bad" because they thought that they used their abilities to hurt other people.
Medical uses for diseases were based on astrology and supernatural forces
Demons, Gods and spirits were believed to have cursed people with diseases
Elizabethans believed the cure of these diseases were prayers, charms and magic
Elizabethans thought that the surrounding planets of Earth affected people's health in both a positive and negative way
They believed that Saturn affected people's lifespans and the bubonic plague in England.
Mars influenced the plague as well and also caused life-threatening fevers.
During the Elizabethan Era, children played a well-known game called 'Ring Around the Rosy'. One of the sentences in the rhyme was, 'pockets full of posies'. This is in the rhyme because Elizabethans believe that having flowers or sweet smelling herbs would prevent them from getting the bubonic plague. Burning scented wood can also stop people getting the plague.
Interesting and Fun Superstitions
3) If you spit into a fire, it's considered good luck.

4) If a person cuts off the executed person's right hand, it is said considered to be good luck for him/her because the right hand had the ability to heal and give endurance and stealth.

5) People touched trees to get good luck because they thought that they had supernatural powers.

Interesting and Fun Superstitions

1) During the Elizabethan Era, sailors wore gold loop earrings because they thought that if they were to sink while at sea, they could pay gold for the entrance in their afterlife.

2) Hair loss wasn't seen as old age during the Elizabethan Era but it was unlucky. Loosing hair was a sign that you were unwell or you were having money difficulties. Losing hair can also indicate people's personalities. For example, Queen Elizabeth I had red hair and a short temper, so people made an assumption that all people with red hair are short tempered.
1) http://digilander.libero.it/mgtund/elizabethan_beliefs.htm
2) http://www.tomecek.com/jay/BeliefandCustoms.html
3) http://schoolworkhelper.net/elizabethan-beliefs/

1) https://sites.google.com/site/elizabethansuperstitions/list-of-superstitions
2) http://classroom.synonym.com/elizabethan-era-superstitions-beliefs-spitting-fire-5517.html
3) http://www.elizabethanenglandlife.com/elizabethan-england-superstitions.html
4) http://graziatripodi.wordpress.com/superstitions-of-the-elizabethan-era/
5) http://www.elizabethan-era.org.uk/elizabethan-superstitions.htm

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Presentation, Editing and Beliefs by Grace
Superstitions by Rebecca
Full transcript