Why is the Elizabethan age called the Golden Age of England?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Since the Elizabethan era was a time of peace and prosperity, it was a time of progress, which is a central reason why the era is called the Golden Age of England. After Queen Elizabeth I successfully led England in triumph during the war between England and Spain in 1585 and 1604, and the Nine Years' War between 1594 and 1603 came to an end, England became the most dominant Western maritime power. Dominance at sea made commerce the most successful trade and the merchant class one of the wealthiest classes. The success of the merchants brought immigrants, especially war refugees, which increased England's population while the merchant class improved England's economy.

Since, during this time period, England became such a wealthy nation, more money could be invested in the arts and exploration. Playwrights such as Shakespeare, Marlowe, and Greene helped shape London theater, whereas poets like Christopher Marlowe, John Dunne and Edmund Spenser helped shape literature.

Queen Elizabeth also promoted exploration to find new trade routes to further increase wealth. Finding new trade routes to the Far East was especially desirable due to the profitability of spices and other exotic goods. Under Queen Elizabeth I, the East India Company was formed to try and break Spain's and Portugal's hold on trade in the Far East, Sir Francis Drake circumnavigated the globe, and there were attempts to establish colonies in the Americas.

wordprof eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The years of Elizabeth I’s reign (1558-1603) were, first of all, uncluttered by inter-family struggles, since Elizabeth had no brothers or sisters.  Secondly, the almost perpetual struggles with France were in abeyance during this time.  Thirdly, the Spanish Armada, the only challenge to her sovereignty, was destroyed by storm and good luck.  Socially, the other European countries (Italy, Germany, etc.) were contributing cultural richness to the relatively peaceful United Kingdom.  With a steady increase in economic power, due to favorable trade agreements elsewhere, England could afford the Arts, especially literature and drama, and well-educated university “wits” took advantage of the wide range of social classes available as audience (the queen’s court itself, as well as the common “groundlings” enjoyed and patronized the theatre, including Shakespeare' company).  It was a time of temporary peace and posterity, and thus was often called “the Gold Age” of England, before America’s growth and revolt, and before the next onslaught of the Plague.  The Catholic Church had found itself relatively powerless against the fairly new Church of England.

laurto | Student

It is called the golden age of England because it is a period in which great tasks were accomplished. England was economically healthier and more expansive. It was a time of great national pride, expansion, and naval triumph. It was the time of the English Renaissance in which there was a flowering of poetry, music, and literature. This time period was also very successful militarily.