Elizabeth's reign is associated readily enough with a literary golden age, but other artistic and cultural achievements are less widely known. Furthermore, culture in the widest sense was both broader and narrower, both richer and poorer, than today. The earl of Leicester - no outstanding intellectual - was fluent in Italian, and in middle life started to learn Latin before abandoning it for geometry. Yet it was also an age when nobles and commoners alike delighted in cock-fighting and in baiting bulls and bears. Elizabeth spent her time 'watching bears and bulls fighting dogs', grumbled a Spanish envoy in 1576;2 but it was the same queen who read Greek daily with her old tutor Ascham whenever he was at court. The Renaissance belief in the 'complete man' prevented any sharp
separation between sports and pastimes and more sober pursuits. Ascham was as proud of his treatise on archery, Toxophilus, as of his other writings; and the queen admired skill in dancing as much as in languages or theology.