England was the clear winner of the latter half of the 16th century. Flourishing under the reign of their industrious and stylish monarch, Queen Elizabeth I, it was between 1558 and 1603 that England emerged as the world’s first real superpower.
Elizabethan England also saw the birth of a cultural and courtly movement that makes even the most stringent and alien ritualized historical decorum look like totally reasonable practices. Sure, England was winning history at the time, but some of the rules of aristocratic etiquette they and the rest of the world operated under were straight up bananas. Their social decorum and crazy Elizabethan manners belied the growing strength of Elizabeth’s England. It’s almost as though the monarch needed an outlet for silliness just to keep her head on straight while she was busy taking over the rest of the world.