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

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It was a good time to be English during the Elizabethan era. During this era, Shakespeare created many of his famous plays, thus making England a cultural center recognized by all of Europe and eventually the world. The English economy improved during Elizabeth's reign. with the Royal Stock Exchange being established by Sir Thomas Gresham. The nation also enjoyed at time of relative religious peace at home, as Elizabeth was a Protestant with no ties to the Roman Catholic Church.

Perhaps the greatest accomplishment of Elizabethan England was the nation's rise as a maritime power. England survived a potential attack by the Spanish Armada in 1588. The queen even threatened to personally fight for the nation's defense. English pirates had been taking Spanish gold shipments from the New World for years; now Francis Drake and his Seadogs led the way in England becoming an imperial nation in its own right. Drake circumnavigated the globe, thus earning international acclaim. English shipbuilding increased during this period, and this would set the stage for the next three hundred years of English imperialism. Elizabeth would charter the East India Company, and settlers would attempt to colonize the New World with the failed colony at Roanoke.

While conditions for the poor and religious dissenters were quite bad in England during this time, one must consider that religious dissenters were treated poorly everywhere. English maritime power dates back to the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588. Shakespeare made English literature internationally famous with his plays and sonnets. These things made the Elizabethan era one of the best times, for those living within the nation, in English history.

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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.

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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.

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