Elizabethan society was highly structured and everyone was expected to know their place in that structure. It was a strict hierarchy, which most believed was ordered by God.
Within this general structure could be added further layers. In Elizabethan England and Wales, the following would be below the nobles but above the peasants:
Life for the bottom 20 to 30 per cent of the population was very hard, with many constantly on the edge of starvation. It was made worse during this period by rising prices, poor harvests and unemployment.
Many nobles and merchants increased their wealth during this period.