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Background History Paper of 16th Century England

Social Hierarchy in England

The England class system was strictly organized and hierarchical in the sixteenth century. The nobility, gentry, and commoners comprised the three major social classes in the society (Goldthorpe, 2020). The monarch, the royal family, and the titled aristocracy were among the highest-ranking members of the nobility. As a rule, individuals of the landed nobility, known as the gentry, held powerful parts in their communities and had critical landholdings. The term “commoners” alluded to the more significant part of individuals, including traders, artisans, agriculturists, and labourers. Even though social mobility was constrained then, people may move up the social scale by running a profitable business or trade. A person’s social standing could increase when they amass wealth and own land (Goldthorpe, 2020). It was still difficult for those from lower social strata to ascend in society since social advancement was still heavily determined by birth and family ties.

Land Ownership

Land ownership was mostly restricted to the gentry and nobility in 16th-century England (Cressy, 2023). They controlled massive estates and substantial power in regional and international affairs. Women could purchase land during this time, but anyone could. Married women suffered legal restrictions because their land automatically became their husbands’ property when they married. However, the ability to acquire and sell land was free for widowed and single women. The term “dower,” which referred to the cash or property that widows were entitled to following the passing of their husbands, also applied to income earned by widows. In the discussions leading up to the marriage, some estates were occasionally mentioned with dower.

Migration into/out of England

People from different British nations frequently migrated to England during the 16th century in search of employment possibilities. These immigrants were seen differently depending on their abilities and economic contributions; some were welcomed, while others encountered prejudice. Additionally, there were differences in how persons from other nations, such as France, were perceived (Berry, 2021). Particularly during the political conflict between England and France, French immigrants were frequently regarded with distrust (Berry, 2021). However, some French people, incredibly talented artisans, were appreciated for their knowledge.

Non-Caucasian People in England

The 16th century had several non-white residents in England. According to chronicled reports, African migrants arrived within the nation during the same period as those from the Middle East and Asia (Almeida, 2020). In any case, how non-white individuals were treated and respected in Britain shifted significantly depending on a person’s financial status and position in society. People like John Blanke, a black trumpeter who served in the courts of Henry VII and Henry VIII, were praised for their musical prowess. Despite these achievements, numerous others endured severe prejudice and hatred because of their race or origin. Non-white persons have occasionally experienced violence and abuse. For instance, a crowd attacked and beat Africans in London during the 1596 London racial riots (Almeida, 2020). Overall, the events in England’s history that took place in 1540 are notable for the existence of non-white people and the complexity of how these people were treated and perceived about their race or ethnicity.

European Countries

Castile, Aragon, Navarre, and Granada were numerous kingdoms that comprised the Spanish empire in the 16th century (McDiarmid & Wabuda, 2021). Taking after the marriage of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile, these regions, in the long run, served as the premise for the unified Kingdom of Spain. The Sacred Roman Empire ruled over various countries and zones in Central Europe and was a complex political structure instead of a single, independent state (Chen, 2021). Despite the Holy Roman Empire’s dispersed nature and the emperor’s scant power, these areas were under its rule. The word “Rome” generally alludes to the city of Rome and its alliance with the Roman Catholic Church instead of the Sacred Roman Realm (Chen, 2021). The Sacred Roman Empire of the German Country, or essentially the Holy Roman Empire, was the title given to the locale presently known as Germany. It comprised a heterogeneous bunch of republics, districts, and free cities ruled by the emperor.

Ottoman Empire

As previously established, the Ottoman Empire’s naming pattern for unmarried women often involved her given name being followed by either “bint” or “kizi,” depending on the local traditions. In the Ottoman Empire, Muslim communities frequently used the Arabic word “bint” for “daughter,” especially in regions where Arabic was spoken. In areas where Turkish was spoken, the word “kizi” for “daughter” was more frequently employed. Depending on whether name practice was more common in her neighbourhood, an unmarried lady would be referred to as “Ayşe bint Mustafa” or “Ayşe kizi Mustafa” (Argit, 2020). It is important to remember that naming practices throughout the Ottoman Empire can change based on local and individual preferences. Unmarried women may occasionally only be addressed by their first name, without other titles or honorifics. Additionally, it is possible that women in the Ottoman Empire from various ethnic and religious origins had diverse naming customs affected by their linguistic and cultural traditions.


Almeida, C. (2020). TF Earle; KJP Lowe (eds), Black Africans in Renaissance Europe. Africana Studia, (10).

Argit, B. (2020). The Imperial Harem and Its Residents. In Life after the Harem: Female Palace Slaves, Patronage and the Imperial Ottoman Court (pp. 38-77). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Berry, C. (2021). Guilds, Immigration, and Immigrant Economic Organization: Alien Goldsmiths in London, 1480–154060(3), 534–562.

Chen, B.-Y. (2021). Early Modern English Borders: Homogeneity and Heterogeneity30(4), 556–571.

Cressy, D. (2023). Society and culture in early modern England. Taylor & Francis.

Goldthorpe, J. H. (2020). Class and status in interwar England: Current issues in the light of a historical case72(2), 239–251.

McDiarmid, J. F., & Wabuda, S. (2021). The Cambridge Connection in Tudor, England. St Andrews Studies in Reformat.


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