By Peter Brimacombe
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Additional resources for Life in Tudor England
Queen Mary had cancer. Queen Elizabeth contracted small-pox, a virulent disease which first appeared in England during 1514. Malaria was rife amidst the marshes of Essex and the Fens and syphilis was as dangerous and as feared as Aids is today, but worst of all was bubonic plague, for which there was no known cure. It wiped out one sixth of the population of London in 1603. ’ ORIGINS OF MODERN HOSPITALS A beneficial by-product of the dissolution of the monasteries was the creation of new hospitals in London.
The reassuring ritual of incense, burning candles and monastic chant gave way to strident plainsong and tedious sermons. This was not to everyone’s liking and congregations began to decline. Crime and Punishment THE TUDORS WERE TOUGH ON CRIME, any offence resulting in a far more severe sentences than today – concepts of civil liberties or human rights were seldom part of the agenda, though mercy was not entirely lacking. Minor misdemeanours might result in punishment: public humiliation in the stocks, ducking stool or pillory.
Bristol, Southampton and Plymouth became major ports trading with the New World. In London the River Thames provided, ‘a sure and beautiful place for shipping’, with 2,000 boats plying for trade. London was the centre of the most powerful guilds and livery companies. The Muscovy Company of Merchant Adventurers began to trade with Russia in 1553, and, at the end of the century, the formation of the East India Company initiated the British Empire. WORKING WOMEN Job prospects for women were poor in the 16th century.