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Elizabethan Era Education

Education in Elizabethan Era was highly influenced by the ruling monarch of the time and as such the education style would also reflect the religious belief of the ruling King or Queen.

This constant changing might have considerable amount of confusion mainly due to the fanaticism of the devout followers of the 2 dominant religions of that time, the Catholics and The Protestants.

Education in Elizabethan England

Petty School


In the Elizabethan era, boy who were aged five to seven were sent to what was then referred to as a “petty school” or a “dame school”. These schools were in fact not actual schools but the house of a well-schooled housewife who teaches children in exchange for a small fee. The word “petty” is said to have been derived from the French word “petit” which means small. I say it applies very well.

In these petty schools children were taught how to read and write using English, they are also to learn catechism as well as lessons on proper behavior. These things were considered to be the most important foundations in education and it should be taught during childhood. Education in Elizabethan England also focused on educating the children about the Christian Faith.

Education in Elizabethan England

Children are to learn certain passages from the catechism book which relate to what being a good Christian is. It is widely believed that people then actually adhered to the theory that children, students, must have their education such as manners and deportment beaten into them. Many parents were said to have supported this theory. How lucky many of us weren’t born during that time!

The Horn Book

Elizabethan education also made use of what is referred to as a horn book. A horn book was a piece of parchment which was usually pasted on a small board made of wood which had a handle and was then covered with a thin plate of transparent horn. The horn book displayed the alphabet in small and capital letters. The horn book was considered to be an important tool for every school boy during the Elizabethan era.

But of course, classic Education can only be provided at universities. Many different universities offered education on various subjects. These universities included, the University Faculty of the arts which taught Philosophy, Poetics, Rhetoric as well as Natural History among others.

The University Faculty

The University Faculty of Liberal Arts might have included Grammar, Music, Logic, Arithmetic and Geometry as well as Astronomy education. There also was The University Faculty of Theology which taught religious education,

The University Faculty of Medicine which included the study of Hippocrates, Galen, as well as Jewish and Arabic medical texts. Last but not the least there also was the University Faculty of Law.

Education in Elizabethan England

In addition to the education that could be learned in the universities, many of the privileged class also traveled around Europe to learn even more. But during the age of Elizabethan England, travelling was difficult.

Education in The Elizabethan Era

There were laws that prevented people from travelling this is due to the fact that every village had the responsibility of looking after their own poor and did not want the additional task of having to pick up vagrants on the road.

Travelling also meant getting the permission from the monarch and as such only the nobility had the opportunity to travel abroad. For a lower class person to travel, they could do it only by taking up a military career or becoming a sailor. For the privileged, it was easier to continue their formal education in Elizabethan times through travelling.

More Info On- Education in Elizabethan Times, Education of Queen Elizabeth I, books on the Elizabethan Era

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