What did Elizabeth I do to improve England's economy?

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saintfester eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Elizabeth I was well-known for the foreign policy accomplishments, but lesser known were her domestic policy accomplishments involving the English Economy.

There were more immediate problems with the economy she had to deal with. The steady rise of inflation was a problem she inherited upon ascending to the throne, but a recoining act in the 1560’s helped slow this problem.

More serious was the mixed blessing of population growth. The steady rise in population, an increase of almost 40%, resulted in the stiff climb of food prices. Elizabeth tried to lessen this problem by opening more royal land to hunters and farmers, but this didn’t solve the problem and the poverty rate increased.

The Statue of Artificers was an important, but misguided piece of Elizabethan legislation that sough to stop the movement of laborers and artisans in order to promote social stability. The decree would have made it illegal for workers to move from where they were born and also sought to fix their wages, but the results were a rise in both poverty and vagrancy.

Another government act, the Poor Law of 1601, tried to categorize the poor into those who could work and didn’t want to and those who couldn’t work and should receive aide. This too fell short, but thanks to her strong central government there were few rebellions, even after poor harvests.

A forward-thinking monarch, Elizabeth continued to finance voyages to the New World by her explorers because she understood the inherent riches in colonization.

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