The Rigid Etiquette Rules of Elizabethan England

Weird History looked at the odd and rigid etiquette rules that governed the people of England during the Elizabethan era of the 16th and 17th centuries. Most of these rules pertained to the upper class and governed how to behave in court, particularly with the Queen.

In the latter half of the 16th century, under the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, England emerged as the world’s first real superpower. Elizabethan England also saw the birth of an aristocratic etiquette so bizarre it makes even the most stringent and alien rituals of historical decorum seem totally reasonable by comparison.

A failure to follow these rules could invite calamity upon one’s character and income.

In Elizabethan society, receiving praise for good manners was the highest compliment that could be paid. And if word got around that you had bad manners, it meant being ostracized from proper society… It was a fate that brought not only shame, but real social and economic consequences.

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