Tudor Education was generally designed for boys of the Upper and Middle Classes. However, there were some girls notably Royalty or Nobility who were also given and education. The education of girls such as Lady Jane Grey and her sisters, Princess Mary and Princess Elizabeth was outstanding covering the subjects taught to the boys of the era. Other less fortunate and less wealthy Tudor girls were provided with little education and their skills were focussed on life in the home.
Tudor Education for Girls
The education of most Tudor girls were focussed on non-academic subjects according to their rank and status. Lessons provided to the Middle Class girls included sewing, embroidery, dancing, music, archery, riding and hunting. Tudor education for girls of the Lower classes were of a totally practical nature and these girls would not have attended school or received any formal type of education. It was important for Tudor girls to learn how to govern a household and become skilled in all housewifely duties in preparation for the only real career option for a girl which was marriage. Above all Tudor Girls would be taught obedience to the male members of the family.
Tudor Education at Home
The basic principles of a wealthy Tudors education would be started in the home and taught by those responsible for raising the children . The basic elements of early education was conducted up to the age of seven and included the following:
- Respecting their mother and father
- Religion - Rising early in the morning and saying their prayers
- Table Manners - it was important to learn the correct behaviour at table from eating small morsels, chewing properly, using a knife and using a napkin
- Tudor Children would also be taught their 'place' in society which included where they should sit at the table
- Basic skills in grammar, reading and writing
Between the ages of 5 and 7 the education of wealthy Tudor children was undertaken by private tutors. Middle class children were taught at schools.
Tudor Education - the Petty Schools
The most elementary level of education for Middle class boys was conducted at what was called a ' Petty School '. The education was conducted not in a school but in the house of a teacher. The word ' petty ' probably derives from the French word ' petit ' meaning little or small. The Tudor Petty schools were run by a local, well educated housewife and the Petty schools were also referred to as 'Dame Schools'. The education provided at the Petty School ' consisted of being taught to read and write English, learn the catechism and also learn lessons in behaviour.
Tudor Education - the Grammar Schools
From the age of 7 to 14, Middle class children were educated at Grammar Schools which were usually financed by the local Guild. The rudiments of Latin were taught with the assistance of the Tudor text-book known as Lily's Latin Grammar. A horn-book and the Tudor alphabet were the tools used to provide this basic level of Tudor education. Lily's Latin Grammar provided an introduction to grammar and was compiled by William Lily. Lily's Latin Grammar had been authorised by King Henry VIII as the sole Latin grammar textbook to be used in education and schools. In 1558 a child's speller was written in England as spelling consistency gradually emerged. Tudor education at the Grammar schools adhered to the following educational regime:
- Tudor education for those aged 7 - the curriculum would have consisted of learning parts of speech, verbs and nouns
- Tudor education for those aged 8 - the boys would be taught the rules of grammar and sentence construction
- Tudor education for those aged 9 - Tudor education concentrated on English-Latin and Latin-English translations
Between the ages of 10 and 14 Tudor education focussed on the following lessons:
- Latin to English translations
- Literature including the works of the great classical authors and dramatists, such as Ovid, Plautus, Horace, Virgil and Cicero
- Religious education
- Occasionally the study of history, astrology and Greek
A similar range of different lessons were taught by the tutors of wealthy Tudors as part of a standard curriculum. These studies included various languages, grammar, theology, history, rhetoric, logic, philosophy, arithmetic, literature, geometry, religion and music. At 14 the Tudor education continued at University.
Tudor Education - University Education
Oxford University or Cambridge University were the most popular choices to complete the Tudor education. A classical Tudor education would have been provided at universities including the following choices of subjects:
- Education in the Arts would have included Philosophy, Rhetoric, Poetics, Natural History education etc.
- The Liberal Arts would have included Grammar, Logic, Music, Astronomy, Arithmetic and Geometry
- Theology concentrating on a religious education
- Medicine including the study of Hippocrates, Galen, Arabic and Jewish medical texts
- Education in Law
The final part of a wealthy Tudor Education might include a tour of the major cities of Europe. Travelling to other countries required permission from the monarch therefore it was usually only the nobility were able to travel abroad.
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