The past is a foreign country - this is your guide, from the bestselling author of The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England
We think of Queen Elizabeth I's reign (1558-1603) as a golden age. But what was it actually like to live in Elizabethan England? If you could travel to the past and walk the streets of London in the 1590s, where would you stay? What would you eat? What would you wear? Would you really have a sense of it being a glorious age? And if so, how would that glory sit alongside the vagrants, diseases, violence, sexism and famine of the time?
In this book Ian Mortimer reveals a country in which life expectancy is in the early thirties, people still starve to death and Catholics are persecuted for their faith. Yet it produces some of the finest writing in the English language, some of the most magnificent architecture, and sees Elizabeth's subjects settle in America and circumnavigate the globe. Welcome to a country that is, in all its contradictions, the very crucible of the modern world.
'Vivid trip back to the 16th century...highly entertaining book' Guardian
Rarely does a travel guide stand the test of time quite like this colorful and hypothetically practical portrait of Elizabethan England. Historian Ian Mortimer, a former fellow of the Royal Historical Society, escorts the Anglophile on a tour of his native country five centuries ago, where 3s could buy you a personal tour of the Tower of London's dungeons. Disguised as a trip-planner, this lively historical account stays true to form offering readers travel advice such as fashion trends (ruffs and ruffles rule), diet tips (avoid tomatoes), and much-needed safety notes such as why bathing is unhealthy and how many arrows to keep on hand. On the topic of good manners, it is customary to remove your hat when in the presence of public urination and true gentlemen greet women with a full-on kiss on the lips, a custom that possibly explains why in 1563, over 17 thousand people succumbed to the plague. Motimer explores many facets of England's "Golden Age" with intricate detail yet a lightness in tone. He riffs off fellow scholars to fill the gaps in this upbeat and in depth account. Wildly entertaining, Mortimer fresh approach to history will draw in many types of readers.