Social Hierarchy

The Elizabethan Era was during the Renaissance time period. It started in 1550 and ended in 1650. A lot of things have changed since then but some have remained, such as the social classes. During the Elizabethan Era there were three social classes under the King and Queen in England. There were many social classes including the First Estate, Second Estate, the Third Estate, and also people who existed outside of these classes called the Outsiders.

First Estate
The First Estate or upper class of Elizabethan England were people who had high status in Renaissance society. It also included people who worked and lived with the King and Queen and also those who lived outside of the castle. The Queen had natural allies all over especially in the House of Lords (Virginia 23). There were also women of the castle some of them called the Maids of Honor. The Maids of Honor were chosen for their family background, attractiveness, inteligence, skills, education, and they had to be good conversationalists (Lace 43). Women of the castle were with the Queen day and night (Lace 43). They were subject to her moods and also her passions. Servants, barons, and nobles also accompanied the queen at meals and political meetings (Blackwood 46). Gentlemen that were most important after the King of England, include the Prince, dukes, marquesses, earls, viscounts, barons, and even a few knights specially chosen by the King (McCann). Most of these men, except the knights, helped the King make political decisions. This would make the men of the castle part of Parliament. Below them but still in the upper class were bishops, nuns, monks, popes, and cardinals if there were any (Grendler 96).

Second Estate
The Second Estate of lower class was also known as aristocracy or the gentry (Andrews 86). This consisted of most everyone with a hereditary title such as duke, earl, marquess, viscount, or baron that could be passes from generation to generation (86). This class of people could advance to live and serve the King and Queen but it was not likely. They could only enter the castle if the King or Queen chose them to. Three factors affected this group of people: birth, political power, and wealth (Grendler 97). People valued land above other forms of wealth and looked down on money gained through trade or manufacturing (97). The highest ranking members of nobility such as dukes and barons ofted associated themselves with royal courts (97). Lesser nobles and gentry worked to increase their prestige by gaining land, and some eventually created their own Coat of Arms as a symbol of their rank (97).

Second Estate
Another section of the Second Estate consist of yeomans and citizens (Andrews 87). They are below the nobles and gentry but are not peasants etiher. Citizens are tradespeople such as merchants, traders, clothiers, and printers who made and sold goods (87). Citizens could become town councils or could join the House of Commons (lower house of Parliament.) They were distinct from the gentry because they had to work for a living and if successful, they could enter the gentry only if they gave up trade (87). Daughters of a citizen could marry into the gentry and a son was usually considered a gentlemen if their parents were retired (87). Yeomen were roughly equivalent to citizens in wealth and status, but lived and worked in the country (87). Lower in status compared to gentlemen or citizens, yeomen did not own their own land but leased it from members of the gentry (87). They were not considered laborers because they did not perform manual tasks such as plowing, planting, and harvesting, but hired others to work (87). Even though they were lower than the citizens they were very prosperous (87.)

Third Estate
The last class of Elizabethan England was the Third Estate. This class is the most complex and changeable part of society (Grendler 97). Most people that existed in this class were laborers and servants. This was the vast majority of the population in Elizabethan England (88). Artificers were also a type of laborer and they were manual workers employed by citizens and included some crafts people such as carpenters. Agricultural laborers had few possibilities for economic and social advancement. The lower class also included servants who depended on their position and those they served (88). One extreme of the Peasant class were wretched serfs who owned nothing another extreme were were free yeoman farmers (Blackwood 34). Now the yeoman farmers were also part of the Second Estate but it all depended on their wealth. The highest classes of commoners were landlords and below them were small farmers and peasants (Grendler 97). Next, were landless laborers who moved about in search of jobs (97).

Many things in the Elizabethan Era have remained in the modern world such as the social classes. Therer were many social classes including the First Estate, Second Estate, Third Estate, and also people who existed outside of these classes called Outsiders. The First Estate included people who stayed with the King and Queed day and night. It also consisted of people in Parliament such as dukes, viscounts, barons, and marquesses that the King and Queen chose personally. The Second Estate had people with hereditary names like duke, earl, viscount, and more that was passed from generation to generation. Gentlemen were also included which were citizens and yeomans who worked for a living and were very prosperous. The Third Estate was the most complex part of society. Most people that existed in this class were laborers who did manual work for a living and servants who depended on their position and those they served.