The Elizabethan big society

Phil Withington explains how the current call for a big society echoes that created in the reign of the first Queen Elizabeth, back in the 16th century

A scene from Edmund Spenser's 'Shepherd's Calendar' (1597). The concept of 'society' entered the English language in the 16th century, and its influence was soon being felt in all corners of the nation. (Culture Club/Getty Images)

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