The importance of popular entertainment

Life was hard for the overwhelming majority of Elizabethans and it was a daily struggle to survive. Sundays, a few festivals and events such as harvest and new year, were their only breaks from working. Entertainment gave people an opportunity to escape the hardship of their lives.

Sports and pastimes

Rich and poor Elizabethans enjoyed different sports and pastimes. The rich had more time as well as more money to spend, and were therefore able to take part in a wider range of sports and pastimes.

The rich would attend and participate in sports such as jousts and hunting. Wealthy families would often entertain in their own homes and masques, madrigals, minstrels and the private showing of plays would be the entertainment after feasts and banquets.

Poorer elements of society would enjoy plays by wandering or 'strolling' players, puppet shows and conjurors. They would also play an early version of football or enjoy tilting at the quintain, which was a version of jousting where riders rode at a bag of sand with a tilt.

The enjoyment of cruel sports and the theatre was common to all Elizabethans, as was singing and dancing.