Imagine this: an average seven year old boy living in
England under the reign of Queen Elizabeth I learn that his family belongs to
the Laborers class. He will soon grow up and realize that it’s the lowest class
and it’s nothing he can do to change it .Queen Elizabeth categorized her
society into social classes. It took place in the Elizabethan Era under her
reign from 1558 until 1603. There were six classes: Monarch, Nobility, Gentry,
Merchant, Yeomanry, and Laborers. There were many contributions that aided
Queen Elizabeth I in categorizing her society into social classes such as fame,
wealth, skills, and birth.
Fame was one main contribution in the categorizing process.
Fame belonged mostly to the Nobility class. This class is how families that
looked at others were judged. By the Nobility class being the model/example to
judge other off of meant they had to have a certain level of popularity in the
society. The Nobles were second to the Monarch there’s a plus and the family’s
father was usually a duke, earl, or baron. (“Levels of Social Classes in the
Elizabethan Era”). In addition to gaining all this fame a member of another
class could be appointed to the Nobility class by the Queen as a result of
their fame level (“Social Classes Elizabethan Era 5981”).
The contribution wealth belonged to
many classes: Gentry, Merchants, and Yeomanry. In the Gentry class the major
key in becoming a part of the class was wealth. The Gentry members did not have
to work and did not do manual labor. They supported themselves off the rent
paid by their tenants (“Social Classes Elizabethan Era 5981”). In addition to
them not having to do manual labor they acquiring large amounts of property and
became wealthy landowners (“Social Classes During the Elizabethan Era”) . In the
Merchant class wealth came along within the class. They would accommodate
wealth by trading goods, making cloth, and weaving with one another (“Elizabethan
Societal Classes”). In the Yeomanry class sometimes a person’s wealth could
exceed one of the Gentry’s members, but the determining factor was how they
spent their wealth (“Levels of Social Classes in the Elizabethan Era”). The
Nobility class usually spent their wealth to maintain their huge households
while on the other hand the Yeomen used theirs to improve their land and expand
it (“Elizabethan Societal Classes”). Wealth was a good contribution to keep in mind
when categorizing because it showed that those people knew how to live
Being categorized by skills mainly
dealt with the Merchants, Yeomanry, and Laborers. The Merchants knew how to
make cloth and weave. The Merchants were the real helpers that produced good
for everyone (“Levels of Social Classes in the Elizabethan Era”). If Merchants
produced for everyone they had to posses a variety of skills. The Yeomanry
class included farmers, tradesmen, and craft workers. Although most of their
skills required them to use their hands, the Yeomen were also literate and that
contrasts them from the other classes. The Laborers were mainly people who
worked only with their hands. They had jobs such as shoemakers, brick masons,
and carpenters (“Elizabethan Societal Classes”). They were usually frowned upon
because of the position they were stuck in which was working hard but having
nothing to show for it.
In addition to all of these contributions, the contribution
of birth played a huge role in the Monarch class and the Nobility class but in
a lesser version. You had to born into the Monarch class and it’s passed down from
generation to generation. As you can tell we are on Queen Elizabeth II who has
been serving for quite some time and it shows that the birth contribution is still
into play. The Nobility class status was heredity usually passed from father to
oldest son. Birth was a contribution that ensured immediate family members
would be in the same class.
To summarize, Queen Elizabeth I categorized her society into
six classes: Monarch, Nobility, Gentry, Merchants, Yeomanry, and Laborers.
There were many contributions that led to what classes a society person fell in;
there was fame, wealth, skills, and birth. Fame belonged mostly to the Nobility
class because they were the model/example group of how others were judged.
Wealth belonged to Gentry, Merchants, and Yeomen, it was either how they got in
or an accommodations that came along in the process. Skills belonged to the
Merchants, Yeomanry, and the Laborers because it was either how they made a
living or an educational skill such as being literate. The contribution birth
belonged to the Monarch and Nobility classes; it was a method that ensured
immediate family members were in the same social class.