The author of West Country Stories, A Cornish Childhood, etc., examines and interprets the foundations--social, agricultural, economic--upon which the structure and achievements of England's golden age rested. Permeating it all is the personality and power of the great queen whose wise rule was the fulcrum that moved forward the era's achievements. The largely wild land--so different from the present parklike appearance of England--, the still small but growing cities and towns, the rural yeomanry, the church, the alteration and expansion of education--all formed the bases and the tools with which the Elizabethan Age carried through its conversion of England into an empire. This is the first book of a projected two-volume study of 16th century England. The volume to follow will portray its achievements in mind and action, at home and overseas. Scholarly and well-documented but written in a lively style that will make it go down easily with the interested layman.