Employment in Tudor EnglandYesterday, someone asked a question about what kind of job William Shakespeare's father had. It brought to mind a TV series that has been running on the History...

Employment in Tudor England

Yesterday, someone asked a question about what kind of job William Shakespeare's father had. It brought to mind a TV series that has been running on the History International Channel: "Worst Jobs in History." Each episode covers an era in English history, with host Tony Richardson demonstrating the worst jobs during each. Some of the worst jobs in the Tudor era were pin maker, whipping boy, and groom of the stool. I've used the videos in my English classes. Here is a link to its BBC homepage:


Expert Answers
amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There's a book by the same name The Whipping Boy which describes it in greater detail.

Linda, I am also very pleased that you posted this website.  I am beginning the English Renaissance now with Macbeth (I started from the Moderns and am working backward to Anglo-Saxons this year), but I have earmarked this site for my Favorites for next year.  Thanks a million for your insight and willingness to share.  That's what I love about teachers...they have cool stuff and most are willing to help others by passing the cool stuff along.  :)

alexb2 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I often find that learning things through a particular lens (in the case, jobs) is very effective in really drawing out the interesting details in history. Students love it because in order to wrap their heads around "why" there were such jobs as whipping boy or stool groom, they (without meaning to) learn some of the key lessons of that historical period, such as the divine right of kings or how the feudal system really worked.

malibrarian eNotes educator| Certified Educator

My husband and I watched the Christmas special of "Worst Jobs in History" - Good heavens, I was so grateful for my modern, luxurious lifestyle in comparison to what people experienced! Turkey pluckers and yule log cutters were two of them...I was just so happy with my Safeway boxed Christmas dinner after watching that! :)

I never thought about showing it in class, though - What a great idea!!!  Thanks, Linda! :)

linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You can still use the web site this year. It covers British history from Roman times up to the Victorians. There are some special episodes too, like "Worst Christmas Jobs," "Worst Country Jobs," and "Worst City Jobs." Check them out!

alexb2 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Wow, that's great stuff thanks for posting it. Whipping boy! I can't believe that was a real job. Now I know where that expression comes from.

alexb2 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Oh, and by the way where is the post about Shakespeare's father's job? Thanks.

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