Write an essay on political, religious, socio-cultural, scientific, and artistic movements of England during Renaissance period.

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Before looking at these elements as they interacted with each other, let's outline them in separate categories:

Politics: After its defeat by France in the Hundred Years' War, England finally resolved the internal problem of the Wars of the Roses in 1485 with the victory of Henry Tudor over Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field. Over the next 100+ years England became an international power, culminating in its defeat of the Spanish in 1588. Elizabeth I's reign was a golden age for England after a long period of conflict and disorder.

Religion: Henry VIII seceded from the Roman Catholic church, established himself and the monarchy as the head of a new church, while simultaneously the Protestant Reformation threw the Continent into its own period of religious conflict. Far from keeping England unified in religion however, Henry's action led to a new phase of internal unrest between the newly Established Church and those who wished to purify it further from the influence of the Roman Church.

Socio-Cultural Issues: As in Europe overall, the period was marked by the ending of the old feudal system and the rise of the middle class. The general educational level rose steadily and the English Constitutional system continued to develop and move the country forward in its ongoing process that would eventually, in the distant future, turn it into a full-fledged democracy.

Science: Developments primarily on the Continent led to a new phase of European thought articulated late in the Renaissance by Francis Bacon and others. Bacon expressed what in retrospect seems an astonishing confidence in mankind's ability to use what we call the scientific method to improve itself and create a better world.

The Arts: England emerged from a secondary position relative to the Romance-language countries to become a powerhouse in literature through the work of (among others) Philip Sidney, Edmund Spenser, Christopher Marlowe, and William Shakespeare. It is almost an understatement to say that the late Renaissance period is the era in which some of the greatest literary achievements in the history of England and of the world were created.

Though the interactions among these historical developments in different realms of human activity were enormously complex, and a full discussion of them is beyond the scope of our answer, we can briefly summarize them as follows (at the risk of being simplistic): Despite ongoing internal conflicts in both politics and religion, England achieved a greater level of stability and international prestige during the period from 1450 to 1600, especially during Elizabeth's reign. A sense of national confidence and optimism permeated English society and made possible accomplishments as diverse as military victory and literary greatness. The English consciousness became one dominated by a sense of this greatness and a belief that the destiny of England was to be a leader among nations. England began the period succeeding the Renaissance with the establishment of the North American colonies. Though Civil War and continued conflict were still to come, paradoxically these disorders contained within them the seeds of greater stability and achievement, and the fulfillment of the potential of England (and eventually all of Great Britain and by extension the English-speaking peoples as a whole) to be a true democracy, despite ongoing flaws and problems.

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An essay on the topic of the political, religious, socio-cultural, scientific and artistic trends of Renaissance England should begin with an introduction that gives an overview of the period and names the major leaders. Such an essay could be divided into the following sections:

  • Introduction: The English Renaissance is generally described as the period from the late 15th century to the early 17th century. It was a transformative period in English history, in which England became a major world power and economic powerhouse.
  • Politics: The major monarchs of this period included Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, and James I. The defeat of the Spanish Armada defined England as a major maritime power. This was a great age of exploration and colonization, which both resulted from and fueled international trade.
  • Religion: Henry VIII was instrumental in founding the Protestant Church of England, with a vernacular liturgy. This made England independent of the papacy and gave the Crown greater control over church temporalities.
  • Science: In this period, scientists broke with the medieval Aristotelian tradition and became increasingly interested in empirical research. The experiment method was advocated by Francis Bacon. Harvey discovered the circulation of the blood.
  • Culture: Vernacular literature flourished as English replaced Latin as a literary language. A combination of revival of classical drama and new innovations led to a great era in English drama, led by playwrights such as Shakespeare, Marlowe, Beaumont, and Fletcher. Major poets of the period include Spenser and Sydney. Accentual-syllabic verse replaced earlier strong stress meters. England's wealth meant increased funding for secular projects such as stately homes and paintings.
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