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Thursday, October 06, 2005

17th Century Britain

Timeline of some of the major events and incidents in the 17th century in Britain: (around Katherine Philips lifetime.) The turmoil that Britain found itself in over the centuries would of impacted not only the writing by Philips but the roles of women in her society.


James VI (king of Scotland) becomes James I (king of England as well) after the death of Elizabeth I; which unites both countries under one crown. -- March 24 1603

Accession (taking the crown) of Charles I -- March 27 1625

A riot erupts in Scotland -- July 23 1637

The English Civil War begins on August 22 1642

The trial and execution of Charles I -- January 20-30 1649

Abolition of the monarchy --March 17 1649

Charles II is crowned -- Jan. 1 1651

Cromwell becomes Lord Protector -- Dec. 16 1653-1658 during the interregnum

Population of 1603: England: 5 million. Wales, Scotland, and Ireland: around 2 million .

Religion: The official religion is Protestant Anglican (Church of England) but their were Roman Catholics, Quakers, Baptists, Jews, Congregationalists, and Presbyterians.

Money: Currency is comprised of pounds, shillings and pence. The price of food takes up about four/fifths of an ordinary families budget. The diet was quite basic in nature.

Social Hierarchy:
For example, in 1685, there were an estimated 5 million people in England. Of these, 7,000 were lords and bishops; 8,000 knights; 50,000 clergymen; 70,000 lawyers; 250,000 shopkeepers; 750,000 farmers; about 2,500,000 laborers, servants and poor – and 30,000 vagrants.

Gays and Lesbians:
Sodomy is a capital crime and – if convicted – men would be hung. But although men were regularly executed, lesbians – because they would attract less notice – remained hidden from view and were given more leniency and didn't get executed often.

Women's Place in Society:
Women were socially and legally inferior: they were unable to vote, not educated for the most part, barely allowed to trade, and had to be widows before they could control their own property.

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