Relating to the reign of Elizabeth I (1558-1603). Queen Elizabeth’s’ reign, the last Tudor monarch, is considered to have been a British Golden Era. In 45 years she created the Royal Navy, turning England from a small island under threat from France and Spain into a 16thC force to be reckoned with.
Indeed, she pioneered an era of great seafaring and exploration while leading a united, stable, expanding country ready and willing for colonial expansion, creating the East India Company charter in 1600,whose trading brought us Indian cottons and designs, that were to change forever the way homes, and people, were dressed and furnished.
In terms of artistic developments, this period saw the high point of the so-called English Renaissance, inspired by the European Renaissance developments in literature, the arts, architecture, furniture and furnishings, and in a general move away from the Gothic style took inspiration from the French, in particular the Louis styles of architecture, furniture and furnishings.
Literature and music flourished as did the importance of design and giving us, in particular, the likes of William Shakespeare, his world famous canon and the Globe Theatre, and William Byrd. .
As the virgin queen, Elizabeth was very aware of her position as figurehead and the role of visual symbolism, dressing luxuriously, and choosing lace as a symbol of power and wealth, but also for its reference to 14thC Madonnas. It’s intricate and delicate workmanship was extravagantly costly and showed support for the growing lace and textile industries
This era also gave us the Tudor Rose, knot gardens, motifs and interlacings, strapwork, embroideries, acanthus, vines, cabochons, arcades, the potager and the physic garden. All of these representing the contemporary interest in health, welfare, materials and clothing, and an awareness of production on large scale.