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  1. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Questions for Elizabethian Era Experts/Buffs

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Link the Writer, Feb 3, 2011.

    Hey. I have an idea for a series set during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I and my protagonist is the son of an earl/duke. (His name is Edwin Fortnum.)

    I just have a few questions about the time and Edwin himself.

    #1- What's the difference between earls and dukes? What were their duties? Is it possible for an earl to live in England (much less London where the queen herself lives?) If that's not a case, could Edwin's family be some other type of nobility if I still want him to live in London?

    #2- Edwin, being sixteen/seventeen years old...what would have been required of him? What would he be doing by now? Would it be feasible to have him wander London with a sword/dagger? Could he be riding a horse?

    #3- Edwin comes from a wealthy family. What kind of house would he and his family live in? What would be his duties at home? His mother's duties? His father's?

    #4- Clothing. What kind of clothing would he be wearing?

    #5- What was the food they ate during the Elizabethian era?

    #6- Anything else you want me to know.

    Thanks.
     
  2. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    A duke outranks an earl especially if it is a Royal Duke, earls are I think below a marquis.

    Sixteen-seventeen would be quite a big boy. Elizabethan children were highly educated not sure when they left school but as son of an Earl he could well have been away at public school.

    Elizabethan era was a time of new prosperity and the start of stately homes - he may have lived in one, or might still be in a drafty castle. He may have spent time at court.

    What number of son was he - I think second sons usually went into the military and third into church, or they had to find a sponsor and an employer work as a sort of high class manservant maybe.

    If he was away at school then his food would be basic, if he was at home would have been more elaborate - the potato was a new food. Cheesecakes were the standard desert but didn't involve cheese lol He may have eaten a variety of roasted birds, usually started with like a soup. Utensils he may well have had a skewer and a knife. etc

    Clothing is more complicated to describe wikkipedia isn't bad for things like that and the BBC website. Try typing Horrible Histories, Tudors into youtube see what comes up.
     
  3. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Since it was Queen Elizabeth, the role of all the Dukes and Earls was to stand around looking pretty and amusing her. :p I'm sure whatever age you make her in comparison to Edwin, she'll still have something flirty to say to him. Was reading a quote from her just a couple of hours ago where she was complaining one of her young courtiers got married "too young" in the sense that she wanted more of a chance to flirt with him... Not that it stopped her with some of her closer favourites whether they were married or not. :p

    The nobility would be, if they were in London, expected to spend a great deal of time with the Queen wherever she was, and if she was going on a procession (or progress, I think they called it?) then she'd basically invite herself around all their houses, so even if your young earl/duke has a country house, he's not likely to escape her. :p There was a great deal of ornamentation and pageantry, so if Edwin wants anything of her, it'd probably be best for him to go around calling her the Fairy Queen and flattering her that way, maybe putting on a little show for her...

    For food, I think they had sugar as a more common thing by then, but a lot of honey as a sweetener, so if he's having cake, call it a "honey cake" or something, which should give the impression of not being a sugar-y cake. Just a random thing I picked up. :p Oh, and any fancy bread he eats would be white and the poorer bread brown, in reverse to how we perceive breads these days now we understand nutrition.

    For clothing, really just go to Wikipedia, type in Elizabeth and start following links to all the numerous important men linked to her - this is the age when fancy, detailed portraits flourished, so anyone who was anyone has a portrait filled with symbolism.

    Thinking of symbolism, it was VERY common in those days, to the point where they picked it up without thinking. It'd do you some good to read up on Greek/Roman myths, to get a better idea of their mindset, as Christianity, especially now they were Anglican and had taken out all the fancy bits in Catholicism, was very barren of mythology, so they still relied on the Classics for all their stories and images. Referencing a Classical hero or god every few pages will do a lot of making things sound like you're in their mindset. Just look at Shakespeare - he wasn't being arty and mysterious by referencing the classics. 90% of everyone who saw his plays in those days would get the references.
     
  4. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Good point. Edwin would no doubt have to visit court and entertain Queen Elizabeth, even if he and his family did have a country home. (I imagine them owning two hounds, Edwin being taught how to hunt with a bow, etc. They're pretty well off.)

    And..um...how old was Queen Elizabeth during this time? I'm picturing the year to be around the early 1560s, just after she became a queen. Wouldn't it be improper for her to be flirting the son of a duke/earl?
     
  5. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Queen Lizzy never listened to what was proper/improper. :p She was the biggest flirt I think has ever sat on the throne, but she got away with it because she only had favourites who she flirted with a lot, but she never, as far as anyone knows, actually had relations with any of them.

    She was 25 when she came to the throne, so yeah. :p
     
  6. Link the Writer
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    By flirting...I'm getting an image of her looking at Edwin, rubbing her finger under his chin and saying what a handsome, strong boy he is, how noble and brave he is for stopping the scums prowling around London.

    I know I'm taking things literally. I'm literally minded. :p

    I wonder if she'd have the family (as well as other guests) dine with her in the dining room of the palace?

    Sorry I'm asking so many questions. I know next to nothing about this era except that Queen Elizabeth whooped the Spanish Armada in the behind and this is when Shakespeare did his thing.

    Another question: Did earls have servants? What kind of servants would earls normally have?

    And his dad has to be the earl of something! Could I make up a place for him to be earl of or should I use a real place?
     
  7. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    You can do anything you like in that respects. :p But there were a lot of famous earls of places so you'd be best served looking up a list of her privy council or whatever it was called (can't remember if she still called it that - I know the earlier Tudors did), and making sure you at least don't accidentally use Leicester or something. (he was the guy she loved and would have married if not for politics and crappy circumstances)

    I just realised I took out the book I was reading earlier in the library so I don't have to give you this second hand:

    (from The Erotic World of Faery by Maureen Duffy, just so I don't look like a plagiarist. It was basically doing a case study on her as a "real" elf queen. :p)


    Oh and
    Yes! They would have had household servants (so maids, men who worked in the stables, cooks, and menservants who were helpful around the house and helping the master of the house etc. Definitely gardeners and lots of people whose status blurs with normal workers on the land like farmers. Probably more seasonal help as well. They'd have a few personal servants they'd have in London - enough to be respectable. The kind you'd use most in a story would probably be a multi-purpose servant who'd be useful for plot things like running messages, following them around looking good to prove they have enough money to hire someone and dress them in a nice uniform, so they'd be present in a lot of scenes, or at least withing shouting distance. If they go to someone else's big house, for example, he might wait in the kitchen, where servants would drift when there wasn't anything to be done because warm and food. :p
     
  8. Link the Writer
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    Hmmm...Interesting. So given Edwin's courageous acts of stopping criminals, Elizabeth I might consider him one of her new favorites.

    Seeing as he's the son of an earl, there might be enemies of his father that want to do away with the boy using any means neccesary.

    I wonder if daddy-dearest would approve of his boy going out to chase criminals?
     
  9. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Oh, added a bit more about servants at the bottom of my previous reply.

    she'd definitely find it amusing. :p If he got an enemy of the state then she'd definitely approve - and probably hire him. :p What level of crimes is he investigating? I know craploads about the politics after studying it several years running, so I can help you there too. :D
     
  10. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    err no if he was handsome she would be flirting :)

    It would be the Banqueting Hall and she wasn't always in London she may even have stayed in the home of an earl.

    Is he the oldest son ~?

    Would he be at school ? etc and Earl would be called Lord ____ name of place he is earl of or by the name of place - just make it up. Earl's are quite low down the social heirachy - I think only viscounts and barons are below them title wise.
     
  11. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    It would depend. Right now, I'm planning on having him investiage the usual murders, thefts, kidnappings, etc. However, there's nothing saying that Edwin's prime suspect turns out to be a spy. THAT could be something that grabs Elizabeth's attention quick.

    Speaking of the dear Queen, would she be able to roam London as much as she pleased (under escort of personal guards of course)? I can imagine her showing up in the middle of a climax. XD

    "Great heavens! Guards! Seize that man and protect Edwin!"

    I think he's the third son, because like you said, the first son would go to church, the second son would likely go to the army. I want to have Edwin be able to stay around London/his country manor. He's probably apprentinced some high and mighty tutor or something.
     
  12. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    no first son inherits, third son I think is usually church, I could have second and third wrong way round. His best way is to find a patron possibly one that does similar things. Probably another Earl or higher.

    As son of Earl he may have had a tutor
     

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