Who’d be a time traveller in Elizabethan England?
The Time Traveller’s Guide to Elizabethan England is a fascinating BBC TV series (on YouTube).
Its premise is that if you were to visit this era, you’d need a visitor’s handbook because the 16th century is no place for 21st century softies like us.
Presenter Ian Mortimer spends much of his life shuffling through musty manuscripts, diaries, letters and drawings of the 16th century to describe what life was like for the poor and wealthy alike.
And it wasn’t nice.
In fact, if the Elizabethan era were a corporation it would be Union Carbide or Halliburton because it looks like the only people who thrived in Elizabethan England were sociopaths.
Sociopaths are arrogant, hierarchical, vindictive, pathological liars who lack empathy — which describes the average citizen of Elizabethan England (and the rest of Europe for that matter) rather well.
By modern standards, the Elizabethans were incredibly cruel.
They were cruel to animals, children, the poor and the sick and they were especially cruel to Catholics and Protestants (depending on which religion was illegal at any given moment) by torturing or burning them at the stake.
In addition, Elizabethans contended with plagues, death in childbirth, starvation and the whims of a randy lord who could rape his servants at will.
It’s no wonder you’d need a handbook to get through the day or even why you’d visit at all. Except, of course, this is also the era where Elizabeth the 1st, William Shakespeare and Sir Francis Drake resided and they would indeed be fascinating company.
So, if you’re looking for a hard-core time travelling experience then consider Elizabethan England.
If you want to relax, however, a gulag’s a better option.
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About the author
Sue Bell is an entertainment writer and author of Backpacked: A mostly true story, Beat Street and When Dreamworks came to Stanley.