DAILY LIFE IN TUDOR TIMESTim Lambert The Tudors were a Welsh-English family who ruled England and Wales from 1485 to 1603 (118 years). The Tudor monarchs were: Henry VII, Henry VIII, Edward VI, Jane Grey, Mary I, and Elizabeth II. Poor Jane Grey only ruled for 9 days before Mary I had her arrested and later executed. The symbol of the Tudors was the Tudor Rose.
In Tudor England most of the population lived in small villages and made their living from farming. However, towns grew larger and more important. During the 16th century trade and industry grew rapidly and England became a more and more commercial country. Mining of coal, tin and lead flourished. So did the iron industry. During this period England became richer and richer. (1)
In the 15th century the population of England may have been around 2 1/2 million. It rose steadily during the 16th century. By 1525 it had risen to around 3 million and by 1600 it was about 4 million. (2)
Tudor society was divided into four broad groups. At the top were the nobility who owned huge amounts of land. Below them were the gentry and rich merchants. Gentlemen owned large amounts of land and they were usually educated and had a family coat of arms. Most important gentlemen never did any manual work - that was beneath their dignity! Below the gentry were yeomen and craftsmen. Yeomen owned their own land. They could be as wealthy as gentlemen but they worked alongside their men. Yeomen and craftsmen were often able to read and write. Below the yeomen were the tenant farmers who rented their land from the rich. There were also wage labourers. They were often illiterate and very poor. (3)
In the 16th century about 50% of the population lived at subsistence level. In other words they had just enough food, clothes and shelter to survive. For them life was very hard. However it was possible to move from one class to another. A yeoman could buy a coat of arms and become a gentleman, if he could afford it. In this way, it was possible for an ambitious young man to rise in the world. (4)
In the 16th century the power of the monarchy increased. During the Middle Ages the barons held castles, which were very difficult to capture so it was easy for them to rebel. Cannons changed all that. (Guns were invented in the 14th century and they gradually became more efficient). (5)