Elizabeth's England
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Elizabethan Humanism

Elizabethan education emphasized the humanities, including the study of history, law, ancient and modern languages, and literature. Humanists sought to reform these subjects to reflect more accurately the truth of nature and the wisdom achieved by ancient Greece and Rome. This led to what they believed was a "renaissance," or rebirth, of learning in their time, and caused them to dismiss the intervening centuries as "dark" or "middle" ages.

While the humanist movement began in Italy, it flourished in England under the Tudor monarchs. Elizabeth herself received an outstanding humanist education. During the years of her reign, literacy spread rapidly. Both men and women learned to read and write for practical as well as cultural reasons. Elizabethan education emphasized social behavior and ethics, and learning was increasingly seen as a way to advance in society as well as a basis for social order itself.

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