How old was Queen Elizabeth when The Merchant of Venice was written and what foods were there?  I also need to know what music there was.

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Elizabethan England by the time that Shakespeare wrote The Merchant of Venice in either 1596 or 1597 and Queen Elizabeth was 63 or 64 years old (birth 1533), having ruled for 38 or 39 years (Coronation 1558), foods available in England had been expanded because of foods brought back from the New World. However, the diets of the nobles and peasants were wildly different and not in the favor of the nobles.

Peasants ate foods from the ground such as vegetables and fruits. Nobles and the wealthy didn't eat these during Elizabeth's time because fruits and vegetables were viewed with suspicion (don't mess with status quo...) and because foods from the ground were thought to be inferior and therefore fit only for peasants. The same was true about dairy products. Nobles and the wealthy did however embrace onions, garlic and leeks. Sugar was becoming more widely used but restricted to the noble and wealthy classes as it was very expensive. A strange fad resulted among the wealthy from sugar use. It was noted that sugar blacked teeth (decays teeth, we would say), so having blackened teeth became a social status symbol of elegance and wealth. Coke-a-Cola, anyone (irrationality abounds in any era...!)?

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The Merchant of Venice

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