Year 3 History and Geography

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The Elizabethan Era

queen elizabeth i

Elizabeth I was queen for a very long time. During her 44-year reign, Elizabeth saw huge changes across the British Isles, and it was much more peaceful than in the years before.

In many ways, Elizabeth tried to continue the efforts started by her father, Henry VIII. Henry had organised and expanded the English Navy, building many new ships such as the famous Mary Rose. Unlike Elizabeth's half-brother Edward and half-sister Mary who ruled before her, Elizabeth spent a lot of money on the English Navy, which built more modern ships.

Not only did the Navy grow during Elizabeth's reign, but it was also a good time for private sailors and explorers. The seas around Europe were full of 'privateers'. Privateers were like pirates, but they were loyal to one country. Sailors like Sir Francis Drake would attack ships from other countries, especially countries England was at war with, and would get to keep whatever treasure they found on board - after giving some to the Queen! This was great for Elizabeth because it meant that they didn't have to be paid. Privateers from lots of different European countries made European waters and the Atlantic Ocean very dangerous places for merchant ships that were trading with different countries.

It was not just merchants, pirates, privateers and navies that were helped by the new, bigger and faster ships. This was a great time for explorers. Sir Francis Drake managed to circumnavigate the globe; this means he sailed all the way around the world. Walter Raleigh was another explorer and he sailed to America, known then as the New World. He started the first English settlement there, called Roanoke. Years later, European settlements in America would eventually lead to the creation of the United States of America, but Roanoke was a mysterious failure. The governor of the Roanoke colony, John White, went back to England for supplies, but when he returned to Roanoke all the people had gone and the small town was empty. No one who had lived there was ever found, and nobody knows what happened to them. The mystery of Roanoke has never been solved.

Elizabeth's reign was quite stable, so people were able to spend time doing things that they enjoyed, like going to the theatre. There were lots of successful playwrights and actors, but the most famous of them was William Shakespeare. Shakespeare's plays survive today and are still very popular, even though they were written more than 400 years ago.

Shakespeare wrote different types of plays: funny plays called comedies, sad plays called tragedies and plays about the past called histories. He also wrote poems called sonnets. Shakespeare's plays were performed by actors at the Globe Theatre in Southwark, London, where you can still see them being performed today in a replica of his theatre.

This activity is adapted from pages 176 - 179 of What Your Year 3 Child Needs to Know, which can be purchased here.

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history and geography owl
history and geography owl
history and geography owl
history and geography owl