Queen Elizabeth I's
Queen Elizabeth Hunting
The Elizabethan age is celebrated for its literary and dramatic culture, its music and chivalry. The Elizabethan nobility loved to have a good time, and knew just how to have it. The wealthy of the land would entertain each other with great banquets of rich foods, wine, music and dancing. They would play games against each other, play sports such as tennis or bowls, and they would ride and hunt. Women too would participate in some of these sports, aswell as play musical instruments, draw, sew and embroider.
When Queen Elizabeth was not busy with matters of state, she too would enjoy some of these pleasures. Evenings at court were full of entertainments often dedicated to the Queen, and often there would be public performances conducted especially for her, but the Queen also enjoyed less public activities.
Queen Elizabeth's Horse
Elizabeth loved to horse ride. She would spend many an hour riding fast through the Palace grounds. Her love for the sport terrified her Councilors, who feared that she would seriously injure, or even kill herself, from a fall. But Elizabeth was undaunted, and continued to ride long distances and at great speed until the end of her life. Even in her sixties she could ride a distance of ten miles, which she once proved to a courtier who advised the aging Queen to take the carriage. Elizabeth would tire out her ladies by riding hard, and early in her reign, Robert Dudley, her Master of Horse, had to bring over some new horses from Ireland, as the Queen's own horses were not fast or strong enough for her. Elizabeth and Dudley would ride together often. He was probably the most accomplished horse-man in England, and could match the Queen's speed and vigor. In the summer of 1560, Elizabeth and Dudley rode together almost everyday, while some of her ministers bewailed that the Queen was neglecting matters of state.
Elizabeth also loved to hunt. On horseback, she would hunt deers and stags with her courtiers, and when the unfortunate animal was caught, she would be invited to cut its throat. In 1575, the French Ambassador reported that she had killed "six does" with her cross bow. Hunting was quite an event, and would take several hours, so the Queen and her courtiers would often have a picnic in the forest.