Horizontal Decoration


Marriage ProposalMarriage customs of the Elizabethan Era are not much different from the traditional marriages of today. Like some religions, after the formal betrothal the banns were published (the announcement of the couple's intent to marry.) The minister publicly announced in church asking the gatherers if they might have any objection, and if so, to state so before the formal ceremony. If the couple wanted to hurry up the process, a special license from the bishop would be required.

Boys were legal to marry at 14, girls at 12, but this was not usually the case. The marriage contract included a provision both for the bride's dowry and for a settlement in cash and property by the husband's family. This would guarantee the wife's welfare should her husband die first.

Early on the morning of the wedding, bridesmaids, the groom with his attendants, musicians and friends would gather at the bride's home. The entire party would then set off for the church. After the ceremony there was much dancing, drinking, feasting and game-playing. Guests would continue to celebrate even after the bride and groom had departed.


Funeral Procession Funerals were very elaborate if one was a member of nobility. The covered coffin was carried to the grave by black clad pallbears. The long procession of mourners followed wearing hooded cloaks. The coat of arms was painted on flags, arranged by one of the family heralds. The body was buried inside the church. After the funeral, mourners feasted, and money was collected and given to the poor.


Model of the UniverseElizabethans believed that there were seven planets--the moon, Mercury, Venus, Sol(the sun), Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn--and that they rotated around the earth in concentric circles. They believed that the earth was the center of the universe, fixed firmly in place. The "planets" affected the affairs of the earth, and astrologers felt that they could predict future events by knowing the conjunction of the stars. The movements of the stars and the appearance of comets and eclipses were believed to be the origin of disaster. At left is a 16th century engraving showing Ptolemy's(2nd century AD) system of the universe with its concentric spheres.


Church Clip ArtBells were a major source of communication for Elizabethans. The church bells called the faithful to services on Sundays and Holy Days, announced good news, gave an alarm for fire or war and celebrated various occasions, including weddings and funerals. The bells rang continuously during fearful times - such as an epidemic or the plague. When someone died, only an ominous single bell sounded.


Mail CarrierAlthough there was no postal service for the general public, there was a regular system of messengers on horseback used for official business. If an emergency existed, a postmaster at any of the stations along the route could conscript(take at will) a horse belonging to anyone in order to get the message through.





Home Page

World Events


Everyday Living

The Plague

Recreation & Sports

Crime and Punishment


Customs & Beliefs