William Shakespeare and His Times

Daily Life

Common Diseases
By: Nicole LaRosa

A nurse watching a patient in their own home.
            In the Elizabethan time diseases spread rapidly and caused millions of deaths. There where hundreds of different types, some where curable yet others where not. The majority of these diseases where due to the lack of adequate sanitation. The common diseases were: measles, a disease noticed by red spots and severe itching and a high fever. Malaria is a deadly disease carried by mosquitoes that attacks the red blood cells and then tiny malaria worm eggs are laid and later hatch into you blood stream, this disease is still a problem today. Typhus is a disease carried by head lice. Chickenpox is a disease caused by herpes and is still know very well today, the common signs are red bumps and a lot of itching. Similar to chickenpox is smallpox, a disease that causes sores and scaring formations on skin and a lot of itching as well. Smallpox was extremely painful and usually left people who survived from it with odd formations of scar tissue and deformed limbs. Many other diseases where problems as well, but the largest issue with curing and getting rid of them was keeping the sick person away from the unsanitary conditions to prevent infection. This was nearly impossible because there was not a clean place for sick people to go or stay while they were ill, so they either died because they where sick or they died because of a wound that got infected. The medical technologies we have today are very different and thank goodness for that because most of us would not have lived past our teens if conditions had stayed the same.


Tortures and Violence
By: Mack Mitchell

Weapons that were commonly used.
           The Elizabethan era was a violent age.  There were various torture devices and weapons used in this time period.  The weapons were mainly swords, bows, and axes with basic iron or steel suits for protection. The navy used big wooden ships and naval battles were more common than land battles.  The Elizabethan Era was a time of many wars for different reasons. England did not have a big army they relied on trained bands, which acted as a national guard for England.  The main thing that English soldiers did was participate in tournaments with the weapons used in combat but was slightly different to prevent killing in the tournaments.  The torture devices were used for either interrogating or executing. The torture devices used then are considered to be inhuman now. They were excruciatingly painful for the victims. Such devices included the iron maiden, which was a tomb with spikes on the inside and was shut on the victim. It was a slow and painful death for the victim.  Another was the rack, which stretched out the victim’s legs and arms sometimes causing dislocation or complete separation depending on the event.  Thumbscrews were used to smash a persons fingers or thumbs. It was also used for smashing toes. This was a common torture device used in that era.  The wheel was a highly feared device used for executions. It was mainly used on men who had killed someone.  The person was fastened and to the wheel and the executioner smashed the bones with hammer either from bottom to top or top to bottom, depending on the offense. If it started top to bottom the first blow was to the neck, instantly killing the victim. These are only a few of the deadly devices and weapons from this era.

By: Kenzie Hammond

Many games where very violent, like fencing.
          The Elizabethan Period had many forms of recreation and amusement activities. Typically the sports were categorized as team sports, blood sports, and individual sports. Team sports were very popular during the Elizabethan Era. They were extremely rough and violent. Most men played football, which originated from each player in bare feet. The game itself was intense for there were very few rules. Other team sports were hurling, a combination of polo and hockey, which were played on horseback mostly. There was cockfighting, where roosters were fitted with sharp blades on each foot and put into a pit to fight to the death. Hunting was a favorite pastime for the wealthy during this time. The hunt allowed the rich nobles to show off their fine horses, hawks, clothing, and weapons. Fencing was on of the most popular of sports. Betting was a commonplace as one of the contestants might bet that he could hit his opponent a certain number of times. In Conclusion, Many of the sports we still play today originated during Elizabethan Era. Blood sports, Team sports, and individual sports all were a representation of recreation at that time. As you can see many things have changed throughout time, but the love people have for sports was always alive and strong.

Superstitions and Witch Craft
By: Shannon Frizzell

A very superstitious cat!
           During the Elizabethan era many people believed in witches, witchcraft, and superstitions.  Most of these beliefs and superstitions actually came from earlier time periods.  These superstitions were based on the belief in magic or chance.  People living in the Elizabethan era believed in these superstitions because they were afraid of God and supernatural forces.  The superstitions that the people of the Elizabethan era believed in often had to do with good and bad luck.  For example, walking under a ladder, spilling salt, stirring a pot counter-clockwise, or putting shoes on a table would cause bad luck ,while knocking on wood or carrying a charm that was made of iron or silver would bring good luck.  Many superstitions also dealt with marriage and finding love. Such as, it was good luck for a bride to put on her right shoe before putting on her left and a couple should avoid getting married on Friday the thirteenth.  There were 270 witch trials during the Elizabethan era because many women were often accused of being witches.  Witchcraft and the devil terrified people of the Elizabethan era because they were very religious.  People of the Elizabethan era often blamed witches for bad luck.  Witches, the color “black”, and the numbers seven and thirteen were said to be evil.  Elizabethan also believed that the devil roamed free.  So whenever someone sneezed they would say “Bless You” to keep the devil from entering the person’s body.  Superstitions played a large role in daily life during the Elizabethan era.

***All pictures are from google images

Forman, Simon. Medicine and Magic in Elizabethan London. Oxford University Press Inc., 2005. Print.

Singman, Jeffery. Daily Life in Elizabethan England. Greenwood Press. 1995. Print