The sixteenth, like all centuries in the modern history of the British Isles, was a century of significant change. The particular importance of the period was that it witnessed a new emphasis on religious division, one that created serious problems at home and abroad, and that there was a related stress on relations between the parts of the British Isles. It is also significant in the long term that England developed trans-oceanic interests and ambitions, not least in the New World. First, however, it is appropriate to turn to the condition of the people.
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