Elizabeth, the only child of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn was born on 7th September, 1533. Henry expected a son and selected the names of Edward and Henry. While Henry was furious about having another daughter, the supporters of his first wife, Catherine of Aragon were delighted and claimed that it proved God was punishing Henry for his illegal marriage to Anne. (1)
Retha M. Warnicke, the author of The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn (1989) has pointed out: "As the king's only legitimate child, Elizabeth was, until the birth of a prince, his heir and was to be treated with all the respect that a female of her rank deserved. Regardless of her child's sex, the queen's safe delivery could still be used to argue that God had blessed the marriage. Everything that was proper was done to herald the infant's arrival." (2)
Although Anne Boleyn visited her daughter, for most of the time she was cared for by a large staff. Lady Margaret Bryan was Lady Mistress (the governess with day-to-day control of the nursery). Lady Margaret had also cared for Princess Mary, Elizabeth's elder half-sister. Elizabeth's earliest portraits suggest that she resembled her father in the shape of her face and her auburn hair, but had inherited her mother's coal-black eyes. (3)
The 17-year-old Mary was declared illegitimate, lost her rank and status as a princess and was exiled from Court. She was placed with Sir John Shelton and his wife, Mary Shelton. It has been claimed that "Mary was bullied unmercifully by the Sheltons, humiliated, and was constantly afraid that she would be imprisoned or executed." (4) Alison Plowden has concluded that the treatment Mary received "turned a gentle, affectionate child into a bigoted, neurotic and bitterly unhappy woman." (5)
Catherine of Aragon died on 7th January, 1536. Ambassador Eustace Chapuys reported to King Charles V: "The King dressed entirely in yellow from head to foot, with the single exception of a white feather in his cap. His bastard daughter Elizabeth was triumphantly taken to church to the sounds of trumpets and with great display. Then, after dinner, the King went to the Hall where the Ladies were dancing, and there made great demonstrations of joy, and at last went to his own apartments, took the little bastard in his arms, and began to show her first to one, then to another, and did the same on the following days." (6)
Henry VIII continued to try to produce a male heir. Anne Boleyn had two miscarriages and was pregnant again when she discovered Jane Seymour sitting on her husband's lap. Anne "burst into furious denunciation; the rage brought on a premature labour and was delivered of a dead boy." (7) It has been claimed that the baby was born deformed and that the child was not Henry's. (8) In April 1536, a Flemish musician in Anne's service named Mark Smeaton was arrested. He initially denied being the Queen's lover but later confessed, perhaps tortured or promised freedom. Another courtier, Henry Norris, was arrested on 1st May. Sir Francis Weston was arrested two days later on the same charge, as was William Brereton, a Groom of the King's Privy Chamber. Anne's brother, George Boleyn was also arrested and charged with incest. (9)
Anne was taken to the Tower of London on 2nd May, 1536. Four of the accused men were tried in Westminster ten days later. Smeaton pleaded guilty but Weston, Brereton, and Norris maintained their innocence Three days later, Anne and George Boleyn were tried separately. She was accused of enticing five men to have illicit relations with her. (10) Adultery committed by a queen was considered to be an act of high treason because it had implications for the succession to the throne. All were found guilty and condemned to death. The men were executed on 17th May.
Anne went to the scaffold at Tower Green on 19th May, 1536. The Lieutenant of the Tower reported her as alternately weeping and laughing. The Lieutenant assured her she would feel no pain, and she accepted his assurance. "I have a little neck," she said, and putting her hand round it, she shrieked with laughter. The "hangman of Calais" had been brought from France at a cost of £24 since he was a expert with a sword. This was a favour to the victim since a sword was usually more efficient than "an axe that could sometimes mean a hideously long-drawn-out affair." (11)
Anne Boyleyn's last words were: "Good Christian people... according to the law I am judged to die, and therefore I will speak nothing against it... I pray God save the King, and send him long to reign over you... for to me he was always a good, a gentle, and sovereign Lord." (12)
When her mother was executed Elizabeth was only three years old. Patrick Collinson has argued: "Elizabeth can have had few memories of her mother... There is no profit in speculating about the psychological damage which Anne's terrible end might have had on her daughter, although many of Elizabeth's biographers have found significance in the fact that she never in adult life invoked or otherwise referred to her mother." (13)
Shortly after Anne was executed Archbishop Thomas Cranmer annulled her marriage to Henry VIII. A second Act of Succession, passed in June, excluded Elizabeth, like Mary before her, from the succession. However, Henry did not disown Elizabeth, and she received a good education. Richard Fetherston was hired as her tutor. "Elizabeth, like her sister before her, was to benefit from as good an education as the sixteenth century could provide." (14)
Archbishop Cranmer issued a dispensation from prohibitions of affinity for Jane Seymour to marry Henry the day of Anne's execution, because they were fifth cousins. The couple were betrothed the following day, and a private marriage took place on 30th May 1536. Coming as it did after the death of Catherine of Aragon and the execution of Anne Boleyn, there could be no doubt of the lawfulness of Henry's marriage to Jane. The new queen was introduced at court in June. "No coronation followed the wedding, and plans for an autumn coronation were laid aside because of an outbreak of plague at Westminster; Jane's pregnancy undoubtedly eliminated any possibility of a later coronation." (15)
Historians have claimed that Jane Seymour ignored Elizabeth but treated Henry's first daughter, Mary, with respect. "One of Jane's first requests of the King was that Mary be allowed to attend her, which Henry was pleased to allow. Mary was chosen to sit at the table opposite the King and Queen and to hand Jane her napkin at meals when she washed her hands. For one who had been banished to sit with the servants at Hatfield, this was an obvious sign of her restoration to the King's good graces. Jane was often seen walking hand-in-hand with Mary, making sure that they passed through the door together, a public acknowledgement that Mary was back in favour." (16) In August, 1536 Ambassador Eustace Chapuys reported to King Charles V that "the treatment of the princess Mary is every day improving. She never did enjoy such liberty as she does now." (17)
Jane Seymour gave birth to a boy on 12th October 1537 after a difficult labour that lasted two days and three nights. The child was named Edward, after his great-grandfather and because it was the eve of the Feast of St Edward. It was said that the King wept as he took the baby son in his arms. At the age of forty-six, he had achieved his dream. "God had spoken and blessed this marriage with an heir male, nearly thirty years after he had first embarked on matrimony." (18)
Edward was christened when he was three days old, and both his sisters played a part in this important occasion. In the great procession which took the baby from the mother's bed-chamber to the chapel, Elizabeth carried the chrisom, the cloth in which the child was received after his immersion in the font. As she was only four years old, she herself was carried by the Queen's brother, Edward Seymour, the Earl of Hertford. Jane was well enough to receive guests after the christening. Edward was proclaimed prince of Wales, duke of Cornwall, and earl of Carnarvon.
On 17th October 1537 Jane became very ill. Most historians have assumed that she developed puerperal fever, something for which there was no effective treatment, though at the time the queen's attendants were blamed for allowing her to eat unsuitable food. An alternative medical opinion suggests that Jane died because of retention of parts of the placenta in her uterus. That condition could have led to a haemorrhage several days after delivery of the child. What is certain is that septicaemia developed, and she became delirious. Jane died just before midnight on 24th October, aged twenty-eight. (19)
Mary reacted with relief to the birth of Prince Edward. As her father now had a male heir she was at last safe. Mary happily accepted the decline in her political importance. Henry VIII now attempted to find a husband for Mary. However, he was unable to find a suitable candidate. Henry's marriage to Anne of Cleves was too brief to alter Mary's circumstances, but after Henry married Catherine Howard in 1540, Mary frequently resided on the queen's side of court, even though the two women were not particularly friendly. When Catherine was arrested and her household dissolved late in 1541, Henry sent Mary to Prince Edward's household. Mary had another serious illness in May 1542 with a strange fever and heart palpitations. During this period Mary described herself as the "unhappiest woman in Christendom". (20)
Catherine Howard was said to be poorly educated, selfish and foolish. It appears that she got on badly with Mary, who, she said, failed to treat her with the same respect as her two predecessors, Jane Seymour and Anne of Cleves. It did not help that Mary was three years older than her stepmother, and that she "was well-educated, beautifully mannered and the daughter of Spanish royalty." Catherine, however, did enjoy a good relationship with Elizabeth and gave her presents of jewellery and invited her to sit opposite her at table. It is clear that Catherine's beheading for infidelity on 13th February 1542 had a lasting impression on the eight-year-old Elizabeth. Catherine's death was of course very similar to the death of her own mother. It was reported that the death of her stepmother resulted in her telling Robert Dudley, who was the same age as Elizabeth and working as a page boy to Henry VIII, that "I will never marry". (21)
Katherine (Kat) Ashley had worked for Elizabeth since 1536 and by 1542 she was working as her governess. It was the beginning of a long and important relationship. Elizabeth never lived with her father and the loss of her mother at an early age, meant they were essentially both unknown to her. In Katherine (she always called her Kat) she had the "most loyal, if limited, of mother figures who had been with her all her life, and was to remain, until her death, the woman Elizabeth cared for most." (22)
Catherine Parr was on the verge of marrying Thomas Seymour when she met Henry VIII. He was immediately attracted to Catherine. Susan E. James has argued: "Print and film alike have represented Katherine as an ageing, plain-faced, pious widow with few attractions, selected by the king for her talents as a nurse. This is a misleading image that does not hold up beneath the weight of contemporary evidence. She was of medium height, with red hair and grey eyes. She had a lively personality, was a witty conversationalist with a deep interest in the arts, and an erudite scholar who read Petrarch and Erasmus for enjoyment. She was a graceful dancer, who loved fine clothes and jewels, particularly diamonds, and favoured the colour crimson in her gowns and household livery. Katherine also conveyed a sense of her own value, independent of the marital relationship, which was rare for a woman of this period." (23)
Henry asked Catherine to become his sixth wife. She was in a difficult position. Although she was deeply in love with Thomas Seymour, it was made clear to her, that her reluctance to accept the king as her husband was to defy God's will. Catherine wrote to Seymour "my mind was fully bent the other time I was at liberty to marry you before any man I know". However she decided to marry Henry. Jane Dunn, the author of Elizabeth & Mary (2003) has pointed out: "In marrying the King rather than this love, Catherine Parr had sacrificed her heart for the sake of duty." (24) It has also been suggested that Catherine accepted his proposal for religious reasons: "She was marrying Henry at God's command and for His purpose. And that purpose was no less than to compete the conversion of England to Reform." (25)
Catherine Parr married Henry VIII on 12th July, 1543, at Hampton Court with eighteen people in attendance. A few days later, the King and Queen left on what turned out to be a protracted honeymoon that kept them away from London for the rest of the year. First they travelled into Surrey to visit some of Henry's favourite hunting parks at Oatlands, Woking, Guildford and Sunninghill. They spent several months at Ampthill Castle, the former home of Thomas Wolsey. The plague was particularly virulent in London that summer and autumn and they did not return to the capital until December.
Catherine inherited three step-children, Elizabeth (9), Mary (27) and Edward (6). Queen Catherine became an excellent step-mother. Antonia Fraser, the author of The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1992) points out: "It is greatly to her credit that she managed to establish excellent loving relations with all three of her step-children, despite their very different needs and ages (the Lady Mary was twenty-one years older than Prince Edward). Of course she did not literally install them under one roof: that is to misunderstand the nature of sixteenth-century life when separate households were more to do with status than inclination. At the same time, the royal children were now all together on certain occasions, under the auspices of their stepmother... But the real point was that Catherine was considered by the King - and the court - to be in charge of them, an emotional responsibility rather than a physical one." (26)
Elizabeth did not see very much of her father. On 31st July 1544, she wrote to Catherine asking if she could spend time with the royal couple at Hampton Court. "Inimical fortune, envious of all good and ever revolving human affairs, has deprived me for a whole year of your most illustrious presence, and, not thus content, has yet again robbed me of the same good; which thing would be intolerable to me, did I not hope to enjoy it very soon. And in this my exile I well know that the clemency of your Highness has had as much care and solicitude for my health as the King's Majesty himself. By which thing I am not only bound to serve you, but also to revere you with filial love, since I understand that your most illustrious Highness has not forgotten me every time you have written to the King's Majesty, which, indeed, it was my duty to have requested from you. For heretofore I have not dared to write to him. Wherefore I now humbly pray your most excellent Highness, that, when you write to his Majesty, you will condescend to recommend me to him, praying ever for his sweet benediction, and similarly entreating our Lord God to send him best success, and the obtaining of victory over his enemies, so that your Highness and I may, as soon as possible, rejoice together with him on his happy return. No less pray I God that he would preserve your most illustrious Highness; to whose grace, humbly kissing your hands, I offer and recommend myself." (27)
During the summer of 1544 Henry VIII led a military expedition to France. "During his absence Henry appointed his queen regent-general, together with a regency council dominated by the queen's fellow religionists.... This assumption of power, not merely by a woman but by a woman who only a year before had been a Yorkshire housewife, made the queen enemies, particularly among the religious conservatives who resented her evangelical beliefs." (28) While he was away Catherine wrote him several letters about events at home. According to Antonia Fraser they were "remarkably well-written." (29) Catherine took this opportunity to bring Princess Elizabeth back to court. From the middle of July until the middle of September she kept the royal children with her at Hampton Court.
Henry VIII formed an alliance with Charles V. In 1545 a treaty between the two kings included the proposal that Prince Edward marry Charles V's daughter, Maria and that Mary would marry Charles V himself. Elizabeth's future was also discussed and it was suggested that she should marry Charles V's son and heir, Philip of Spain, although that failed to go beyond the initial stages of negotiation. It is claimed that during discussions "Charles was polite, but not encouraging." (30)
Henry, who was in poor health (although it was treason to say so), had agreed a new Act of Succession that stated that in the case of his death the throne would pass to his son Edward and his heirs, but, if Edward died without children, Princess Mary would succeed to the throne. If she, too, died without heirs, the throne would pass to Princess Elizabeth. He excluded his elder sister, Margaret Tudor (she had died in 1541) and her heirs, who were the royal family of Scotland. This included her granddaughter, Mary Stuart.
John Cheke left St John's College to become tutor to Prince Edward. (30a) Towards the end of 1546, and following representations from Roger Ascham, Cheke was able to secure for William Grindal the post of tutor to Princess Elizabeth. (31)
Jane Dunn, the author of Elizabeth & Mary (2003) argues that Grindal was "an inspirational tutor" who gave her an excellent grounding in Greek, Latin and foreign languages. (32) It was not long before she was "fluent in Latin and Greek, in French and Italian, and was conversant in Spanish". (33)
Henry VIII died on 28th January, 1547. The following day Edward and his thirteen year-old sister, Elizabeth, were informed that their father had died. According to one source, "Edward and his sister clung to each other, sobbing". Edward VI's coronation took place on Sunday 20th February. "Walking beneath a canopy of crimson silk and cloth of gold topped by silver bells, the boy-king wore a crimson satin robe trimmed with gold silk lace costing £118 16s. 8d. and a pair of ‘Sabatons’ of cloth of gold." (34)
Edward was only nine years old and was too young to rule. In his will, Henry had nominated a Council of Regency, made up of 16 nobles and churchman to assist him in governing his new realm. His uncle, Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, emerged as the leading figure in the government and was given the title Lord Protector. He was now arguably the most influential person in the land. (35)
His brother, Thomas Seymour, although he was in his late thirties, proposed to the Council that he should marry the 13-year-old, Elizabeth, but he was told this was unacceptable. He now set his sights on Catherine Parr. At the time he was described as "being gifted with charm and intelligence... and a handsome appearance". (36) Just a few weeks after Henry's death Catherine wrote to Seymour: "I would not have you think that this mine honest good will toward you to proceed from any sudden motion of passion; for, as truly as God is God, my mind was fully bent, the other time I was at liberty, to marry you before any man I know. Howbeit, God withstood my will therein most vehemently for a time, and... made that possible which seemed to me most impossible." (37)
The historian, Elizabeth Jenkins, believes that the "Queen Dowager, released from the sufferings of her marriage to Henry VIII, behaved like an enamoured girl." (38) Seymour wanted to marry Parr but realised the Council would reject his proposal, as it would be pointed out that if she became pregnant, there would have been uncertainty about whether the child was Seymour's or Henry's. (39) Seymour married Parr in secret in about May 1547.
Seymour visited Parr in her home in Chelsea before the news of their marriage was announced. This created extra problems as Elizabeth and Lady Jane Grey were also living with Parr at this time. (40) It has been pointed out that "Elizabeth was still only thirteen when her stepmother, of whom she was most fond, married for love. The young Princess remained in her care, living principally with her at her dower houses at Chelsea and Hanworth. Ever curious and watchful, Elizabeth could not fail to have noted the effects of the sudden transformation in Catherine Parr's life. From patient, pious consort of an ailing elderly king she had been transmuted into a lover, desired and desiring." (41)
William Grindal died from plague in January 1548. It has been claimed that the "tragic death of someone so young and close to Elizabeth stripped more security from her life". (42) Princess Elizabeth suggested that Roger Ascham should become her new tutor. At first the couple rejected the idea but eventually they agreed and Ascham joined the household. (43) Ascham was impressed with what Grindal achieved and admitted he did not know "whether to admire more the wit of her who learned, or the diligence of him who taught". (44)
Roger Ascham developed a curriculum for the princess that would allow her to play an important political role in the future. He taught her history, geography, mathematics, the elements of architecture and astronomy and six languages: Latin, Greek, French, Italian, Spanish and Flemish. He also taught calligraphy to Elizabeth and her brother, Prince Edward. (45)
Ascham was very impressed with Princess Elizabeth precocious intellect "with a masculine power of application". She became a skilled translator and linguist, speaking French and Italian fluently, and developed interests in science, philosophy and history. (46) He later commented: "Her mind has no womanly weakness, her perseverance is equal to that of a man, and her memory long keeps what it quickly picks up." (47)
Roger Ascham held very progressive views on education: "Fond of the open air, of physical exercise, games and sports, Ascham transmitted those likings to his young pupil, who always found it easy to alternate between intellectual pleasures and the more worldly delights of riding, dancing and the chase." (48)
Catherine Parr, who was now thirty-five, became pregnant. Although she had been married three times before, it was her first pregnancy. It came as a great shock as Catherine was assumed to be "barren". (49) Thomas Seymour now began paying more attention to Elizabeth. Katherine Ashley, Elizabeth's governess, later recorded: "Seymour... would come many mornings into the Lady Elizabeth's chamber, before she were ready, and sometimes before she did rise. And if she were up, he would bid her good morrow, and ask how she did, and strike her upon the back or on the buttocks familiarly, and so go forth through his lodgings; and sometime go through to the maidens and play with them, and so go forth... If Lady Elizabeth was in bed, he would... make as though he would come at her. And he would go further into the bed, so that he could not come at her." On one occasion Ashley saw Seymour try to kiss her while she was in bed and the governess told him to "go away for shame". Seymour became more bold and would come up every morning in his nightgown, "barelegged in his slippers". (50)
According to Elizabeth Jenkins, the author of Elizabeth the Great (1958) claims that the evidence suggested that the "Queen Dowager took to coming with her husband on his morning visits and one morning they both tickled the Princess as she lay in her bed. In the garden one day there was some startling horse-play, in which Seymour indulged in a practice often heard of in police courts; the Queen Dowager held Elizabeth so that she could not run away, while Seymour cut her black cloth gown into a hundred pieces. The cowering under bedclothes, the struggling and running away culminated in a scene of classical nightmare, that of helplessness in the power of a smiling ogre... The Queen Dowager, who was undergoing an uncomfortable pregnancy, could not bring herself to make her husband angry by protesting about his conduct, but she began to realize that he and Elizabeth were very often together." (51)
Jane Dunn has controversially argued that Elizabeth was a willing victim in these events: "Although not legally her step-father, Thomas Seymour assumed his role as head of the household and with his manly demeanour and exuberant animal spirits he became for the young Princess a charismatic figure of attraction and respect. Some twenty-five years her senior, Seymour in fact was old enough to be her father and the glamour of his varied heroic exploits in war and diplomatic dealings brought a welcome worldly masculinity into Elizabeth's cloistered female-dominated life.... Elizabeth was also attractive in her own right, tall with fair reddish-gold hair, fine pale skin and the incongruously dark eyes of her mother, alive with unmistakable intelligence and spirit. She was young, emotionally inexperienced and understandably hungry for recognition and love. She easily became a willing if uneasy partner in the verbal and then physical high jinks in the newly sexualised Parr-Seymour household." (52)
Sir Thomas Parry, the head of Elizabeth's household, later testified that Thomas Seymour loved Elizabeth and had done so for a long time and that Catherine Parr was jealous of the fact. In May 1548 Catherine "came suddenly upon them, where they were all alone, he having her (Elizabeth) in his arms, wherefore the Queen fell out, both with the Lord Admiral and with her Grace also... and as I remember, this was the cause why she was sent from the Queen." (53) Later that month Elizabeth was sent away to stay with Sir Anthony Denny and his wife, at Cheshunt. It has been suggested that this was done not as punishment but as a means of protecting the young girl. Philippa Jones, the author of Elizabeth: Virgin Queen (2010) has suggested that Elizabeth was pregnant with Seymour's child. (54)
Elizabeth wrote to Catherine soon after she left her home: "Although I could not be plentiful in giving thanks for the manifold kindness received at your highness' hand at my departure, yet I am something to be borne withal, for truly I was replete with sorrow to depart from your highness, especially leaving you undoubtful of health. And albeit I answered little, I weighed it more deeper when you said you would warn me of all evils that you should hear of me; for if your grace had not a good opinion of me, you would not have offered friendship to me that way that all men judge the contrary. But what may I more say than thank God for providing such friends to me, desiring God to enrich me with their long life, and me grace to be in heart no less thankful to receive it than I now am glad in writing to show it. And although I have plenty of matter, here I will stay for I know you are not quiet to read." (55)
Catherine Parr gave birth to a daughter named Mary on 30th August 1548. After the birth, Catherine developed puerperal fever. Her delirium took a painful form of paranoid ravings about her husband and others around her. Catherine accused the people around her of standing "laughing at my grief". She told the women attending her that her husband did not love her. Thomas Seymour held her hand and replied "sweetheart, I would do you no hurt". Seymour is reported to have lain down beside her, but Catherine asked him to leave because she wanted to have a proper talk with the physician who attended her delivery, but dared not for fear of displeasing him. (56)
The fever eventually went and she was able to dictate her will calmly, revealing that Thomas Seymour was the "great love of her life". Queen Catherine, "sick of body but of good mind", left everything to Seymour, only wishing her possessions "to be a thousand times more in value" than they were. Catherine, thirty-six years old, died on 5th September 1548, six days after the birth of her daughter. (57)
Katherine Ashley later claimed that Princess Elizabeth took the news very badly. She refused to leave her bed and for the next five months she was unable to go more than a mile from the house. (58) Elizabeth wrote to Thomas Seymour thanking him for sending the physician, Dr. Thomas Bille, to attend to her. However, rumours began to circulate that the reasons that Elizabeth was housebound was because she was pregnant and that those around her were protecting her by alluding to her illness. (59)
Thomas Seymour, Duke of Sudeley, sought to win Edward's affection and gain acceptance as his intimate adviser. He regularly visited Edward's bedchamber. Antonia Fraser has claimed: "He showed no greater greed than the rest of the nobility round him. Seymour's real weakness was his morbid jealously of his elder brother Somerset, whose military victories had first marked him out before his position as Protector raised him up." (60)
When his brother, Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, discovered what was happening he "put a special watch on all doors leading into the king's privy chamber in order to prevent Sudeley's clandestine entry". One night Thomas found the door to Edward's bedchamber bolted; enraged, he shot dead the king's barking dog. Somerset was given copies of letters that Sudeley had been passing to Edward. "Somerset found such correspondence intolerable" and ordered his brother's arrest in January, 1549. (61)
Elizabeth's governess, Katherine Ashley, and Sir Thomas Parry, the head of Elizabeth's household, were also arrested and interviewed by Sir Robert Tyrwhitt. They both provided accounts of Thomas Seymour's relationship with Elizabeth. On 22nd January, 1549, Tyrwhitt had a meeting with Elizabeth. He reported to Edward Seymour "all I have gotten yet is by gentle persuasion, whereby I do begin to grow with her in credit... this is a good beginning, I trust more will follow." (62)
On 28th January, Elizabeth wrote a letter to the Lord Protector denying that she was pregnant: "Master Tyrwhit and others have told me that there goeth rumours abroad which be greatly both against my honour and honesty, which, above all other things, I esteem, which be these, that I am in the Tower, and with child by my Lord Admiral (Thomas Seymour). My lord, these are shameful slanders, for the which, besides the great desire I have to see the king's majesty, I shall most heartily desire your lordship that I may show myself there as I am." (63)
The Lord Protector wrote back to her to say that if Elizabeth could identify anyone who uttered such slanders against her, the Council would have them punished. Elizabeth replied that she was unwilling to accuse specific people but suggested a better plan of action: "It might seem good to your lordship, and the rest of the council, to send forth a proclamation into the countries that they refrain their tongues, declaring how the tales be but lies, it should make both the people think that you and the council have great regard that no such rumours should be spread of any of the King's majesty's sisters (as I am, though unworthy) and also that I should think myself to receive such friendship at your hands as you have promised me, although your lordship showed me great already." (64)
Sir Robert Tyrwhitt attempted to discover if Elizabeth, Katherine Ashley, and Sir Thomas Parry were involved in what was described a "marriage plot" with Thomas Seymour. However, they all refused to confess and Tyrwhitt reported, "They all sing the same song and so I think they would not do, unless they had set the note before." However, without confessions, Tyrwhitt was forced to release Ashley and Parry but Seymour was charged with 39 articles of treasonable activities, including that he "had attempted and gone about to marry the King's Majesty's sister, the Lady Elizabeth, second inheritor in remainder to the Crown." (65)
Thomas Seymour was examined on 18th and 23rd February but refused to answer unless his accusers stood before him. (66) Seymour demanded an open trial to face his accusers but this was denied. To prevent his brother, Edward Seymour, from showing leniency, the Council gained permission to act without the Lord Protector's authorization. On 20th March, 1549, Seymour was beheaded on Tower Hill. Even on the scaffold, Seymour refused to make the usual confession. Bishop Hugh Latimer commented: "Whether he be saved or no, I leave it to God, but surely he was a wicked man, and the realm is well rid of him." (67)
When she heard the news, it is claimed Elizabeth commented: "This day died a man of much wit and very little judgment." Elizabeth Jenkins, the author of Elizabeth the Great (1958) has pointed out: "If the words are apocryphal their tenor shows the effect of her beating. No one who saw her doubted the intensity of her emotion: they merely admired the fortitude with which she restrained it." (68)
Edward Seymour was blamed by the nobility and gentry for the social unrest such as the Kett Rebellion. They believed his statements about political reform had encouraged rebellion. His reluctance to employ force and refusal to assume military leadership merely made matters worse. Seymour's critics also disliked his popularity with the common people and considered him to be a potential revolutionary. His main opponents, including John Dudley, 2nd Earl of Warwick, Henry Wriothesley, 2nd Earl of Southampton and Henry Howard, 1st Earl of Northampton and Nicholas Wotton met in London to demand his removal as lord protector. (69)
Seymour no longer had the support of the aristocracy and had no choice but to give up his post. On 14th January 1550 his deposition as lord protector was confirmed by act of parliament, and he was also deprived of all his other positions, of his annuities, and of lands to the value of £2,000 a year. He was sent to the Tower of London where he remained until the following February, when he was released by the Earl of Warwick who was now the most powerful figure in the government. Roger Lockyer suggests that this "gesture of conciliation on Warwick's part served its turn by giving him time to gain the young King's confidence and to establish himself more firmly in power". (70) This upset the nobility and in October 1551, Warwick was forced to arrest the Duke of Somerset.
Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, pleaded not guilty to all charges against him. He skillfully conducted his own defence and was acquitted of treason but found guilty of felony under the terms of a recent statute against bringing together men for a riot and sentenced to death. (71) "Historians sympathetic to Somerset argue that the indictment was largely fictitious, that the trial was packed with his enemies, and that Northumberland's subtle intrigue was responsible for his conviction. Other historians, however, have noted that Northumberland agreed that the charge of treason should be dropped and that the evidence suggests that Somerset was engaged in a conspiracy against his enemies." (72) Although the king had supported Somerset's religious policies with enthusiasm he did nothing to save him from his fate. (73)
As he was such a popular figure the authorities feared that Somerset's execution would cause disorder. On the morning of 22nd January, 1552, people living in London were ordered to remain in their houses. For added protection, over a 1,000 soldiers were on the streets of the city. Despite these measures large crowds gathered at Tower Hill. (74) He showed no sign of fear and he told those assembled that he died in the knowledge that he was "glad of the furtherance and helping forward of the commonwealth of this realm". (75) He also urged those present to follow the reformed religion that he had promoted. Edward wrote in his journal: "The Duke of Somerset had his head cut off upon Tower Hill between eight and nine in the morning." (76)
John Dudley, 2nd Earl of Warwick, now became Edward's main adviser. It has been claimed that the secret of Warwick's power was that he took the young prince seriously. To be successful he "knew that he must accommodate the boy's keen intelligence and also his sovereign will". By this time the king clearly "possessed a powerful sense that he and not his council embodied royal authority". However, foreign observers did not believe that Edward was making his own decisions. The French ambassador reported that "Warwick... visited the King secretly at night in the King's Chamber, unseen by anyone, after all were asleep. The next day the young Prince came to his council and proposed matters as if they were his own; consequently, everyone was amazed, thinking that they proceeded from his mind and by his invention." Dale Hoak agrees and suggests that "Warwick was skillfully guiding the king for his own purposes by exploiting the boy's precocious capacity for understanding the business of government." (77)
Christopher Morris, the author of The Tudors (1955) believes that by the age of fifteen he was exerting control over his kingdom: "There were sporadic rebellions, but they were less dangerous than the risings against Henry, and they were all put down. The machinery of government was monstrously misused but it did not come to a standstill. England was to have a corrupt and an unjust government but not an ineffective government. There was a seemingly untroubled point of rest in the very centre of the storm. It was the mind of a small orphan boy who was the last Tudor king of England. And yet we know his mind better than that of any other Tudor, for we have his own full journal of his reign. It might be called the first of all English diaries. On certain matters, notably the trial of Somerset, the boy's journal is much the best surviving evidence. It is arguable that potentially Edward was the ablest of all the Tudors." (78)
In April 1552 Edward VI fell ill with a disease that was diagnosed first as smallpox and later as measles. He made a surprising recovery and wrote to his sister, Elizabeth, that he had never felt better. However, in December he developed a cough. Elizabeth asked to see her brother but John Dudley, the lord protector, said it was too dangerous. In February 1553, his doctors believed he was suffering from tuberculosis. In March the Venetian envoy saw him and said that although still quite handsome, Edward was clearly dying. (79)
According to Philippa Jones, the author Elizabeth: Virgin Queen (2010): "Early in 1553, Dudley... began working to persuade the King to change the succession. Edward VI was reminded that Mary and Elizabeth were both illegitimate, and more importantly, that Mary would bring Catholicism back to England. Dudley reasoned that if Mary were to be struck out of the succession, how could Elizabeth, her equal, be left in? Furthermore, he argued that both the princesses would seek foreign husbands, jeopardizing English sovereignty." (80)
Under the influence of the Lord Protector, Edward made plans for the succession. Sir Edward Montague, chief justice of the common pleas, testified that "the king by his own mouth said" that he was prepared to alter the succession because the marriage of either Princess Mary or Princess Elizabeth to a foreigner might undermine both "the laws of this realm" and "his proceedings in religion". According to Montague, Edward also thought his sisters bore the "shame" of illegitimacy. (81) Coming under the influence of the Lord Protector, Edward selected Lady Jane Grey to succeed him. A few days later she married Guildford Dudley, the fourth son of the Lord Protector.
At first Jane refused to marry Guildford on the grounds that she had already been promised to Edward Seymour, the Earl of Hertford, the son of Edward Seymour, the Duke of Somerset. However, her protests were overcome "by the urgency of her mother and the violence of her father, who compelled her to accede to his commands by blows". (82) The marriage took place on 21st May 1553 at Durham House, the Dudleys' London residence, and afterwards Jane went back to her parents. She was told Edward was dying and she must hold herself in readiness for a summons at any moment. "According to her own account, Jane did not take this seriously. Nevertheless she was obliged to return to Durham House. After a few days she fell sick and, convinced that she was being poisoned, begged leave to go out to the royal manor at Chelsea to recuperate." (83)
King Edward VI died on 6th July, 1553. Three days later one of Northumberland's daughters came to take her to Syon House, where she was ceremoniously informed that the king had indeed nominated her to succeed him. Jane was apparently "stupefied and troubled" by the news, falling to the ground weeping and declaring her "insufficiency", but at the same time praying that if what was given to her was "‘rightfully and lawfully hers", God would grant her grace to govern the realm to his glory and service. (84)
On 10th July, Queen Jane arrived in London. An Italian spectator, witnessing her arrival, commented: "She is very short and thin, but prettily shaped and graceful. She has small features and a well-made nose, the mouth flexible and the lips red. The eyebrows are arched and darker than her hair, which is nearly red. Her eyes are sparkling and reddish brown in colour." (85) Guildford Dudley, "a tall strong boy with light hair’, walked beside her, but Jane apparently refused to make him king, saying that "the crown was not a plaything for boys and girls." (86)
Jane was proclaimed queen at the Cross in Cheapside, a letter announcing her accession was circulated to the lords lieutenant of the counties, and Bishop Nicholas Ridley of London preached a sermon in her favour at Paul's Cross, denouncing both Mary and Elizabeth as bastards, but Mary especially as a papist who would bring foreigners into the country. It was only at this point that Jane realised that she was "deceived by the Duke of Northumberland and the council and ill-treated by my husband and his mother". (87)
Mary, who had been warned of what John Dudley, the Duke of Northumberland, had done and instead of going to London as requested, she fled to Kenninghall in Norfolk. As Ann Weikel has pointed out: "Both the earl of Bath and Huddleston joined Mary while others rallied the conservative gentry of Norfolk and Suffolk. Men like Sir Henry Bedingfield arrived with troops or money as soon as they heard the news, and as she moved to the more secure fortress at Framlingham, Suffolk, local magnates like Sir Thomas Cornwallis, who had hesitated at first, also joined her forces." (88)
Mary summoned the nobility and gentry to support her claim to the throne. Richard Rex argues that this development had consequences for Elizabeth: "Once it was clear which way the wind was blowing, she (Elizabeth) gave every indication of endorsing her sister's claim to the throne. Self-interest dictated her policy, for Mary's claim rested on the same basis as her own, the Act of Succession of 1544. It is unlikely that Elizabeth could have outmanoeuvred Northumberland if Mary had failed to overcome him. It was her good fortune that Mary, in vindicating her own claim to the throne, also safeguarded Elizabeth's." (89)
The problem for Dudley was that the vast majority of the English people still saw themselves as "Catholic in religious feeling; and a very great majority were certainly unwilling to see - King Henry's eldest daughter lose her birthright." (90) When most of Dudley's troops deserted he surrendered at Cambridge on 23rd July, along with his sons and a few friends, and was imprisoned in the Tower of London two days later. Tried for high treason on 18th August he claimed to have done nothing save by the king's command and the privy council's consent. Mary had him executed at Tower Hill on 22nd August. In his final speech he warned the crowd to remain loyal to the Catholic Church. (91)
Queen Mary told a foreign ambassador that her conscience would not allow her to have Lady Jane Grey put to death. Jane was given comfortable quarters in the house of a gentleman gaoler. The anonymous author of the Chronicle of Queen Jane and of Two Years of Queen Mary (c. 1554), dropped in for dinner, finding the Lady Jane sitting in the place of honour. She made the visitor welcome and asked for news of the outside world, before going on to speak gratefully of Mary - "I beseech God she may long continue" and made a fierce attack against John Dudley, the Duke of Northumberland: "Woe worth him! He hath brought me and our stock in most miserable calamity by his exceeding ambition". (92)
Jane, together with Guildford Dudley and two more of his brothers, stood trial for treason on 19th November. They were all found guilty but foreign ambassadors in London reported that Jane's life would be spared. Mary's attitude towards Jane changed when her father joined the rebellion led by Sir Thomas Wyatt against her proposed marriage to Philip of Spain. Based at Rochester Castle, Wyatt soon had fifteen hundred men under his command.
When Mary heard about Wyatt's actions, she issued a pardon to his followers if they returned to their homes within twenty-four hours. Some of his men took up the offer. However, when a large number of the army were sent to arrest Wyatt, they changed sides Wyatt now controlled a force of 4,000 men and he now felt strong enough to march on London. On 1st February, 1554, Mary addressed a meeting in the Guildhall where she proclaimed Wyatt a traitor. The next morning, 20,000 men enrolled their names for the protection of the city. The bridges over the Thames within a distance of fifteen miles were broken down and on 3rd February, a reward of land of the annual value of one hundred pounds a year was offered to the person who captured Wyatt.
By the time Thomas Wyatt entered Southwark, large numbers of his army had deserted. However, he continued to march towards St. James's Palace, where Mary Tudor had taken refuge. Wyatt reached Ludgate at two o'clock in the morning of 8th February. The gate was shut against him, and he was unable to break it down. Wyatt now went into retreat but he was captured at Temple Bar. (93)
Although there is any evidence that Jane had any foreknowledge of the Thomas Wyatt conspiracy, "her very existence as a possible figurehead for protestant discontent made her an unacceptable danger to the state". Mary, now agreed with her advisers and the date of Jane's execution was fixed for 9th February, 1554. However, she was still willing to forgive Jane and sent John Feckenham, the new dean of St Paul's, over to the Tower of London in an attempt to see if he could convert this "obdurate heretic". However, she refused to change her Protestant beliefs. (94)
Jane watched the execution of her husband from the window of her room in the Tower of London. She then came out leaning on the arm of Sir John Brydges, Lieutenant of the Tower. "Lady Jane was calm, although. Elizabeth and Ellen (her two women attendants) wept... The executioner kneeled down and asked for forgiveness, which she gave most willingly... she said: "I pray you dispatch me quickly." (95)
Jane then made a brief speech: "Good people, I am come hither to die, and by a law I am condemned to the same. The fact, indeed, against the queen's highness was unlawful, and the consenting thereunto by me: but touching the procurement and desire thereof by me or on my behalf, I do wash my hands thereof in innocency, before God, and the face of you, good Christian people, this day' and therewith she wrung her hands, in which she had her book." (96) Kneeling, she repeated the 51st Psalm in English. (97)
According to the Chronicle of Queen Jane and of Two Years of Queen Mary: "Then she kneeled down, saying, 'Will you take it off before I lay me down?' and the hangman answered her, 'No, madame.' She tied the kercher about her eyes; then feeling for the block said, 'What shall I do? Where is it?' One of the standers-by guiding her thereto, she laid her head down upon the block, and stretched forth her body and said: 'Lord, into thy hands I commend my spirit!' And so she ended." (98)
Stories circulated as to the piety and dignity on the scaffold, however, she did not receive a great deal of sympathy. (99) As Alison Plowden has pointed out: "The judicial murder of sixteen-year-old Jane Grey, and no one ever pretended it was anything else, caused no great stir at the time, not even among the militantly protestant Londoners. Jane had never been a well-known figure, and in any case was too closely associated with the unpopular Dudleys and their failed coup to command much public sympathy." (100)
Elizabeth's sister, Mary, was the first woman to rule England in her own right. In November 1554, Mary's distant cousin, Reginald Pole, returned from exile, to become Archbishop of Canterbury. He shared Mary's devotion to the Catholic Church and wished to see England restored to full communion with Rome. (101) Pole persuaded Parliament to revive former measures against heresy. These had been repealed under Henry VIII and Edward VI.
An unmarried woman of thirty-seven, small in stature and near-sighted, appeared older than her years and often tired, because of her generally poor health. Her first parliament reinforced the Act of Succession of 1543 by declaring the validity of the marriage of her mother, Catherine of Aragon, so that the issue of "Mary's legitimacy could not be associated with the abolition of the royal supremacy and the restoration of papal authority." (102)
Almost from her infancy Mary had "hawked around Europe and offered to every prince from Portugal to Poland". As she had been described by her own father as illegitimate, she did not obtain a husband. She felt humiliated and now she was Queen of England, she had much more to offer. Mary also needed an heir. The Protestant attempts to overthrow Mary had also made her feel insecure. To protect her position, Mary decided to form an alliance with the Catholic monarchy in Spain. This gave her the "prospect of a Catholic heir, reunion with Rome, her martyred mother's Spanish dynasty." (103)
In deciding to marry Philip of Spain, the only son of Emperor Charles V, Mary made her first and most serious political error. "She either failed to comprehend or chose to disregard the depth of an English xenophobic sentiment which was made all the more powerful for being combined with anxiety about the potential power of a male consort. The prospect of a foreign ruler created considerable opposition in parliament and throughout the realm." When the speaker of the House of Commons suggested she marry an English subject, not a foreign prince, Mary angrily told him that she would not subject herself in marriage to an individual whom her position made her inferior. (104)
Philip arrived in England on 19th July, 1554. Their first meeting turned out fairly well in spite of the obvious age difference (Mary was 38 and Philip was 27). The couple married on 25th July. Soon rumours began circulating that Mary was pregnant. In April 1555, Elizabeth, who was held under house arrest, was summoned to Court to witness the birth of the expected child that summer. However, no child was forthcoming and Mary still did not have an heir. (105)
In the summer of 1558 Mary began to get pains in her stomach and thought she was pregnant. This was important to Mary as she wanted to ensure that a Catholic monarchy would continue after her death. It was not to be. Mary had stomach cancer. Mary now had to consider the possibility of naming Elizabeth as her successor. "Mary postponed the inevitable naming of her half-sister until the last minute. Although their relations were not always overtly hostile, Mary had long disliked and distrusted Elizabeth. She had resented her at first as the child of her own mother's supplanter, more recently as her increasingly likely successor. She took exception both to Elizabeth's religion and to her personal popularity, and the fact that first Wyatt's and then Dudley's risings aimed to install the princess in her place did not make Mary love her any more. But although she was several times pressed to send Elizabeth to the block, Mary held back, perhaps dissuaded by considerations of her half-sister's popularity, compounded by her own childlessness, perhaps by instincts of mercy." On 6th November she acknowledged Elizabeth as her heir. (106)
Mary died, aged forty-two, on 17th November 1558. Queen Elizabeth was just twenty-five and was described at the time as being "tall, slender and straight". Her hair was variously described as "redder than yellow" and "tawny inclining to gold". Her face was a long oval like her mother, Anne Boleyn. Elizabeth had her father's colouring and "aquiline nose". It has also been claimed that she also "inherited from her mother a strain of hysteria, and while her mental power and nervous energy were equal to excessive demands, brain-storms, fainting fits and moments of paralysing dread for which no cause was seen, showed a nervous system that was overstrung." (107)
On the first day of her reign Elizabeth appointed William Cecil as her Secretary of State. Elizabeth trusted Cecil to give him good advice. They both saw the nation's future as bound up with the Protestant Reformation. She told Cecil and her Privy Council: "I give you this charge that you shall be of my Privy Council and content to take pains for me and my realm. This judgement I have of you that you will not be corrupted by any manner of gift and that you will be faithful to the state; and that without respect of my private will, you will give me that counsel which you think best and if you shall know anything necessary to me of secrecy, you shall show it to myself only. And assure yourself I will not fail to keep taciturnity therein and therefore herewith I charge you." (108)
According to his biographer, Wallace T. MacCaffrey: "Cecil made immediate use of the powers inherent in it and quickly took the lead in conducting all public business. This office, through which all official correspondence flowed - outgoing and incoming, foreign and domestic - offered an ambitious man the opportunity to become the centre to which all public business gravitated. Nothing would be done in which his voice had not been heard." (109)
Cecil advised Queen Elizabeth to be cautious in both religious policy and foreign affairs. He warned her against going to war. It was, he argued, to accept the loss of Calais in order to obtain peace with France. William Cecil pointed out that wars were expensive and that the "treasury was bare". One of Cecil's common sayings was that the "realm gains more from one year of peace than from ten years of war". (110) While he refrained from changing his opinion if it differed from Elizabeth's, Cecil followed her will once she had made a decision. (111)
It is claimed that this relationship sometimes resulted in a failure to make decisions: "On those occasions when her instincts and Cecil's did not immediately converge, the result was hesitation. Throughout her reign, hesitancy and parsimony were continually picked out by her councillors, in their private correspondence and comments, as her besetting political failings (though both traits may well have saved her from numerous expensive mistakes!). " (112) William Camden said: "Of all men of genius he was the most a drudge; of all men of business, the most a genius." (113)
Mathew Lyons has pointed out that Cecil's closeness to Queen Elizabeth resulted in hostility of the nobility. "The group's Catholicism distracts from the more general reactionary nostalgia of its worldview... It was fed by resentment of the rising gentry families, of which Cecil was the most egregious and of course most powerful example; by a sense of sour entitlement, the humiliation of proud men excluded from positions of influence that their ancestors had held." (114)
Robert Dudley soon emerged as one of Elizabeth's leading advisers and was given the post of Master of the Horse. This made him the only man in England officially allowed to touch the Queen, as he was responsible for helping Elizabeth mount and dismount when she went horse-riding. (115) He was described as "splendid in appearance and a promptness and energy of devotion". (116) He was allotted official quarters in the palace. He encouraged her to go riding every day. Unlike most of her officials, Dudley was of her own age. "Although Elizabeth did have some women friends, she much preferred the company of men, and it soon became apparent that she preferred Robert Dudley's company to any other." (117)
According to Dudley's biographer, Simon Adams: "It was only in April 1559 that Robert Dudley's peculiar relationship to Elizabeth began to attract comment. This relationship - which defined the rest of his life - was characterized by her almost total emotional dependence on him and her insistence on his constant presence at court.... It also helps to explain his separation from his wife, who came to London from Throcking in May 1559, but spent only a month or so there." (118) In 1559 Elizabeth gave Dudley land in Yorkshire, as well as the manor of Kew. She also gave him a licence to export woolen cloth free of charge. (119) It is estimated that this was worth £6,000 in 1560.
David Starkey has pointed out that in many ways Dudley was similar to Thomas Seymour. "Dudley was strikingly similar to Seymour - in looks, physique and temperament. But whereas Seymour's seduction had involved the threat and perhaps the reality of force, Dudley was all soft words and whirlwind charm. It was the more attractive for that. Did Elizabeth surrender and have sexual relations? She denied it absolutely - just as she had denied it with Seymour. On the other hand, powerful rumour accused her." (120)
The Spanish ambassador, Gómez Suárez de Figueroa y Córdoba, 1st Duke of Feria, was one of those who spread these rumours. He wrote to King Philip II: "During the last few days Lord Robert has come so much into favour that he does what he likes with affairs and it is even said that her Majesty visits him in his chamber day and night. People talk of this so freely that they go so far as to say that his wife has a malady in one of her breasts and that the Queen is only waiting for her to die so she can marry Lord Robert." (121)
Another letter at the time from Paolo Tiepolo, the Venetian Ambassador, suggested that she had "been ailing for some time". It has been suggested that Amy was suffering from cancer and according to her maid, Mrs Pirto, her illness resulted in severe depression. However, on 24th August, 1560, she sent a letter to her tailor in a tone that was considered to be "cheerful" and shows her "looking forward to the pleasure of a new gown". (122)
Elizabeth's companion, Katherine Ashley, warned her about the rumours and commented that she was behaving in such a way that would sully her "honour and dignity" and would in time undermine her subjects' loyalty. (123) When she suggested that Elizabeth should end her relationship with Dudley, the Queen angrily retorted that if she showed herself gracious towards her Master of the Horse she had deserved it for his honourable nature and dealings: "She was always surrounded by her ladies of the bedchamber and maids of honour, who at all times could see whether there was anything dishonourable between her and her Master of the Horse." (124)
Elizabeth entered negotiations about the possibility of marrying Charles von Habsburg, Archduke of Austria. However, the Spanish ambassador, Álvaro de la Quadra, claimed that this was just a ploy to save the life of Robert Dudley: "She (Elizabeth) is not in earnest, but only wants to amuse the crowd with the hope of the match in order to save the life of Lord Robert, who is very vigilant and suspicious, as he has again been warned that there is a plot to kill him, which I quite believe, for not a man in the realm can suffer the idea of his being King... A plot was made the other day to murder Lord Robert, and it is now common talk and threat." Quadra went on to say that Dudley was known to wear beneath his clothes a "privy coat", a doublet, made by the armourer at Greenwich.
De Quadra also told Philip II that members of the Privy Council were very hostile to the idea of Elizabeth marrying Dudley and were making no secret of "their evil opinion of his intimacy with Elizabeth." Quadra claimed that he had heard stories that Dudley intended to poison his wife so he would be free to marry Elizabeth. "It is generally stated that it is his fault that the Queen does not marry (someone else) and his own sister and friends bear him ill-will." (125)
It was not only Robert Dudley who was in danger. William Cecil received information that the Queen was in danger of being murdered. He reported that too often the back doors of the chambers where the Queen's gentlewomen were often left open and unattended. Cecil claimed that "anyone could slip in and attack the Queen or introduce into her chambers a poison, slow-acting or immediate, that could be ingested by mouth or through the skin". He instructed that from now on, no meat or other food prepared outside the royal kitchens should be allowed into the Privy Chamber without "assured knowledge" of its origins. (126)
During the summer of 1560 Queen Elizabeth and Robert Dudley spent every day together. The story that the couple were lovers and that Elizabeth was pregnant had spread across the country. In June, a sixty-eight-year-old widow from Essex, "Mother Dowe", was arrested for "openly asserting that the Queen was pregnant by Robert Dudley". John de Vere, the 16th Earl of Oxford, wrote to Cecil with news that Thomas Holland, vicar of Little Burstead, had been detained for telling another man that the Queen "was with child". Oxford wanted to know whether he should follow the usual punishment for "rumour-mongers" and cut off Holland's ears. (127)
On Sunday 8th September, 1560, Amy Dudley insisted that everyone in the house attend a local fair in Abingdon. (128) When her servants returned that evening, they found her lying dead at the foot of the staircase, her neck broken. According to several sources, as soon as he heard the news, Robert sent his household officer, Thomas Blount, to investigate. (129)
Philippa Jones has argued: "Robert acted quickly, with an eye to his own interests. His feelings for Amy were now largely irrelevant: he needed to minimize the damage that his wife's unnatural death might have on his chances of marrying Elizabeth. It was important that he remain in London, partly to be near the Court and partly to stem any accusations that he had rushed to Cumnor to orchestrate a cover-up or to intimidate the jury at the inquest. He counted on Blount to handle things at Cumnor without interfering personally. He was insistent that the jury should be composed of local men of good standing, even if they were hostile towards Forster or himself, as this would count for their impartiality. He knew that there had to be a full and honest appraisal of events, resulting in a finding that Amy's death had been an accident, in order for him to be free to marry Elizabeth after a suitable period of mourning." (130)
Thomas Blount reported that he spoke to several people in Abington and the general feeling seemed to be that Amy's death had been accidental. Others suspected that she had committed in suicide but there was a minority who thought it was possible that she had been murdered. Blount told Dudley he hoped it was an accident, but feared it was suicide, "My Lord... The tales I do hear of her make me think she had a strange mind as I will tell you at my coming." Robert replied, "If it fall out a chance or misfortune, then so to say; and, if it appear a villainy as God forbid so mischievous or wicked a body should live, then to find it so." (131)
Robert Dudley did not want a verdict of suicide as people would have claimed that his relationship with Queen Elizabeth had driven her to take her own life. Dudley was also concerned about the impact of this verdict would have had on her reputation. During the Tudor period suicide was considered a grave sin. "If she had taken her own life, she would have been denied a Christian burial and would have been laid to rest in unhallowed ground, although her rank would have saved her from the fate of being buried at a crossroads with a stake through her heart. In any case, her soul would still be damned for eternity." (132)
Dudley wanted a verdict of accidental death. However, there were problems with this theory. The records show that there were only 8 steps on the part of the staircase where she fell. Some experts have said such a small fall was unlikely to have caused a broken neck. Others have suggested that this also rules out suicide as such a fall would have resulted in injury rather than death. Professor Ian Aird believes the broken neck might be related to her illness. He has pointed out that breast cancer can cause secondary deposits in the bones, making them brittle (the deposits occurred in 50 percent of fatal cases studied; 6 percent of these showed deposits in the spine). If in a fall down a flight of stairs, as Aird explains, that part of the spine which lies in the neck suffers ... the affected person gets spontaneously a broken neck. Such a fracture is more likely to occur in stepping downstairs than in walking on the level." (133)
Rumours began to circulate that Dudley had murdered his wife so that he could marry Elizabeth. It was suspected that these were being promoted by the enemies of Elizabeth. Mary Stuart, who believed she should be queen of England, was quoted as saying: "The Queen of England is going to marry her horsekeeper, who has killed his wife to make room for her." (134) It was now politically impossible for Elizabeth to marry Dudley. It has even been suggested that Dudley's main rival, William Cecil, might have arranged Amy's death and "thus wrecking any chance of marriage and damaging the reputation of Dudley himself." (135)
At the inquest Amy's servant, Mrs Pirto, testified that her mistress suffered from severe depression and admitted the possibility that she had committed suicide. Anka Muhlstein is someone who supports this view. (136) However, the jury found it difficult to believe that Amy would have chosen such a method to kill herself. After weighing up all the testimony and evidence, the jury formally determined a verdict of accidental death. The foreman wrote to Robert to let him know, who in turn wrote to Blount, stating that the verdict "doth very much satisfy and quiet me." (137) Elizabeth Jenkins, the author of Elizabeth the Great (1958) has pointed out: "The verdict at the inquest was accidental death, but in the general opinion it should have been murder, either at Dudley's instigation, or without his connivance but in his interest. The question, all-important though hardly to be framed, was whether the Queen had been accessory before the fact." (138)
The most convincing evidence against Elizabeth and Dudley appeared in a letter sent by Alvaro de la Quadra, the Spanish Ambassador, to King Philip II, that recorded conversations with Elizabeth and her leading government officer, William Cecil: "He (William Cecil) told me the Queen cared nothing for foreign princes. She did not believe she stood in any need of their support. She was deeply in debt, taking no thought how to clear herself, and she had ruined her credit in the city. Last of all he said that they were thinking of destroying Lord Robert's wife. They had given out that she was ill, but she was not ill at all; she was very well and taking care not to be poisoned. God, he trusted, would never permit such a crime to be accomplished or so wretched a conspiracy to prosper.... Certainly this business is most shameful and scandalous, and withal I am not sure whether she will marry the man at once, or even if she will marry at all, as I do not think she has her mind sufficiently fixed. Since writing the above, I hear the Queen has published the death of Robert's wife." (139)
It seems the Spanish government definitely believed that Elizabeth and Dudley were involved in Amy's death. Philippa Jones, the author of Elizabeth: Virgin Queen (2010), clearly disagrees with this judgement: "If Amy was murdered, the most logical question to ask would be who would have benefited from the timing and manner of her death? It is hard to argue that Robert and Elizabeth did. Had Amy lived a few weeks or months longer and died of natural causes, Robert would have had a real chance of becoming King of England. They had no reason to rush; Elizabeth had successfully held off her various suitors for two years and showed few signs of giving in to any one of them. She and Robert had waited so long; a little longer would not have mattered. Furthermore, if Robert had genuinely wanted his wife out of the way, he had another option. He and Amy had no children and, with her ill health, were not likely to. A lack of children was a lawful reason for divorce at that time, and it was held to be the wife's fault unless she could prove otherwise. If Robert had wanted his freedom at any cost, he could have divorced Amy at any time." (140)
In 1564 Christopher Hatton came to the attention of Queen Elizabeth in a play that was performed for members of the Royal Court. He was seven years younger than the Queen, "tall, large-framed, solid but graceful". (141) It was claimed that the queen's eye had been drawn to this "mere vegetable of the court that sprang up at night" solely by his talent for dancing. (142) Anna Whitelock has argued that Hatton rose to power because of "Elizabeth's affection for him". (143)
In 1571, Hatton became Member of Parliament for Higham Ferrers. By this time he was seen as a rival to Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester. Elizabeth Jenkins, the author of Elizabeth the Great (1958) has pointed out: "Hatton was thirty-one and Elizabeth thirty-eight. He had not displaced Leicester as confidential favourite, but he had overhauled him, and while every year showed gifts of leases, wardships, lands, buildings, offices to Leicester and Hatton, during the years 1568 to 1571 the Queen gave Leicester four benefactions only and Hatton eight. No-one would ever entirely supplant Leicester in her affection, but Hatton's newness as an adorer and the vehemence of his passion made a strong appeal to her feelings, and for some years the relationship between them was one of the kind that was Elizabeth's nearest approach to sexual passion." (144)
Peter Ackroyd has argued that when Hatton told Queen Elizabeth that he desired some land owned by Richard Fox, the Bishop of Ely, she approached him about it. When he initially refused Elizabeth wrote him a letter stating: "You know what you were before I made you what you are now. If you do not immediately comply with my request, I will unfrock you, by God. Elizabeth." (145)
In 1572 Hatton was made one of the Gentlemen Pensioners, the fifty picked men who were chosen, among other attributes, for height and appearance, and formed the Queen's ceremonial bodyguard. (146) Hatton sent love notes and poems to Elizabeth. In one letter he wrote, "Your heart is full of rare and royal faith, the writings of your hand do raise me to a joy unspeakable." (147) Elizabeth was now romantically linked with two men. Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester, was nicknamed her "eyes" and Hatton her "lids". (148)
Rumours continued to circulate about Hatton and Elizabeth. A man named Mather was arrested for saying that "Mr. Hatton had more recourse to Her Majesty in her Privy Chamber than reason would suffer if she were so virtuous and well-inclined as some noiseth her". Archbishop Matthew Parker wrote to William Cecil about a man who had been examined before the Mayor of Dover for speaking against the Queen, "uttering most shameful words against her, as that the Earl of Leicester and Mr. Hatton should be such to her, as the matter is so horrible", the Mayor would not write down the words, "but would have uttered them in speech to your Lordship if ye had been at leisure". (149) Alone among the queen's male circle, Hatton refused to marry. "As he saw it, that would have been a betrayal of his love for her, which he never tired of expressing in letters whose fervent language sometimes takes the modern reader aback." (150)
In the opinion of many Catholics, Elizabeth was illegitimate, and Mary Stuart, as the senior descendant of Henry VIII's elder sister, was the rightful queen of England. Henri II of France proclaimed his eldest son, François, and his daughter-in-law king and queen of England, and in France the royal arms of England were quartered with those of Francis and Mary. (151)
On 10th July 1559, King Henri was killed by Gabriel Montgomery during a tournament. Mary's fifteen year old husband became king of France. This development caused concern in England and urged on by William Cecil, Queen Elizabeth ordered an English fleet to cut the sea link between Scotland and France.
Cecil now urged the Queen to form an alliance with Scotland that would provide a more secure barrier against France. It would also serve as a united front against any Catholic crusade against Protestantism. The Queen had doubts about this policy and "it required weeks of carefully managed manipulation and Cecil's threat of resignation to win her consent, first to a subsidy to the Scots lords, then a blockade, and finally an expeditionary force to assail the French entrenched in Leith". (152)
In the early months of 1560, negotiations between the countries took place. Under the terms of the Treaty of Edinburgh, signed in July, both France and England agreed to withdraw their forces from Scotland and leave the religious question to be settled by the Scottish Parliament. The body met in August and imposed the Reformation upon Scotland and the celebration of mass was forbidden. (153)
The following year François developed a middle ear infection which led to an abscess in his brain. He died on 5th December 1560. His mother, Catherine de Medici, became regent for his ten-year-old brother Charles IX, who inherited the French throne. She spent her period of strict mourning with her grandmother Antoinette. In January 1561, attempts were made to arrange a marriage with Don Carlos, eldest son of Philip II, but in April this was blocked by her mother-in-law.
John Leslie invited Mary to return to Scotland to restore Catholicism to the country. He promised that George Gordon, the 4th Earl of Huntly, would raise 20,000 men to help her gain power. Lord James Stewart, Mary's illegitimate half-brother and one of the protestant leaders, promised her that she could retain a private Catholic mass if she were to work with the regime. Mary accepted Lord James's offer and James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, as lord high admiral, went to France to escort her home. She arrived at Leith on 19th August 1561. Five days later she heard mass in her chapel at Holyroodhouse, protected by Lord James from the threats of more militant protestants encouraged by John Knox. She governed with the aid of her privy council, that included Lord James and William Maitland. (154)
Soon after arriving in Scotland. Mary sent Maitland, her Secretary of State, to England to ask Elizabeth for the succession. Elizabeth told him that she knew no better right than Mary's, but that she did not want to nominate a successor because it would undermine her own position. Guided by Maitland, Mary presented her demands to Elizabeth as a simple clarification of the Treaty of Edinburgh. She would renounce the English throne in return for a clear promise of the succession.
In March, 1563, William Maitland met with Queen Elizabeth to discuss the situation in Scotland. Elizabeth believed that Mary, Queen of Scots, posed a threat to her throne. She argued that it would be a good idea if Mary could be persuaded to marry Robert Dudley. He was, she said, a model of everything that was manly, noble and fine. "Maitland, presumely not sure if Elizabeth was joking or not, responded that, as Robert was so much to her taste, the Scottish Queen could not deprive Elizabeth of such a jewel; she should marry Robert herself." Elizabeth was indeed serious and sent Thomas Randolph, the English Ambassador to Scotland, to discuss the matter with Mary. He passed on Elizabeth's own thoughts that "being determined to end her life in virginity, she wished that the queen her sister should marry him." (155)
Queen Elizabeth wanted Dudley to marry Mary because she thought she could control him. (156) Mary agreed to the idea but Randolph had more difficulty persuading Dudley. He still had hopes of marrying Elizabeth, and feared that if he agreed to accept Randolph's suggestion, she would turn on him for betraying her. Randolph reported back to Elizabeth, "Now that I have got this Queen's goodwill to marry where I would have her, I cannot get the man to take her for whom I was a suitor." (157)
In 1562 Queen Elizabeth nearly died of smallpox. William Cecil now focused his attention on the awkward problem of her marriage and the succession. The death of the queen without a settled succession would imperil everything for which he had worked. In 1563 Cecil gave his support to a parliamentary petition to Queen Elizabeth that she marry. She met a parliamentary delegation in the Great Gallery at Whitehall Palace. When they begged her to marry she replied that she would act as God directed her. If God directed her not to marry she would obey. She withdrew her Coronation ring, and holding it up to them, she said: "I am already bound unto a husband, which is the Kingdom of England." (158)
In 1566 members of Parliament tried to force the Queen into action by discussing the subject in the House of Lords and the House of Commons. Elizabeth was furious with Parliament for doing this. She made a speech where she pointed out whether she got married or not was something that she would decide. She added that for Parliament to decide this question was like "the feet directing the head".
Cecil favoured the Queen marrying a Protestant foreign prince. (159) However, as Hugh Arnold-Forster has pointed out, the selection of a husband was bound to cause serious political problems: "Who was the queen's husband to be, and what power was he to have over the government of the country? ... If he were a foreigner there was no knowing what power he might get over the queen, power which he would very likely use for the good of a foreign country, and not for the good of England. On the other hand, if he were an Englishman, he must be chosen from among the queen's subjects, and then it was certain that there would be jealousy and strife among all the great nobles in the country when they saw one of their number picked out and made king over them." (160)
Queen Elizabeth often gave William Cecil the impression that she was seriously considering marriage. However, some historians have questioned whether she was only playing politics. To marry and establish the succession would take away at once her immense importance as a matrimonial catch for the heads of the royal families in Europe. She was aware that such a marriage would help build a strong alliance it would also deprive her of an invaluable diplomatic weapon. (161)
In April 1561, Queen Elizabeth told William Maitland: "As long as I live, I shall be Queen of England. When I am dead they shall succeed me who have the most right... I know the English people, how they always dislike the present government and have their eyes fixed upon that person who is next to succeed." (162) Three years later Sir James Melville suggested to the Queen: "You will never marry.... the Queen of England is too proud to suffer a commander... you think if you were married, you would only be Queen of England, and now you are king and queen both." (163)
Some historians have speculated that her doctors had warned her that her body might not be able to withstand the strain of childbirth. (164) Apparently, her personal physician, Dr Robert Huyck, commented that "she was physically incapable of sexual relations. On the other hand, at much the same time a committee of physicians judged her fit to bear children. (165)
Mary met Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, on Saturday 17th February 1565, at Wemyss Castle in Scotland. Both Mary and Henry were grandchildren of Margaret Tudor, sister of Henry VIII of England, and the widow of James IV, king of Scots. Soon afterwards, arrangements were made for the two to marry. Queen Elizabeth was totally against the match because it would unite two claims on the throne. Any children of the marriage would inherit an even stronger, combined claim. At first Elizabeth was confident that she would block it because Darnley was an English subject, and his parents were her dependants with lands in England. (166) However, they married at Holyrood Palace on 29th July 1565, even though both were Catholic and a papal dispensation for the marriage of first cousins had not been obtained. (167)
Mary's marriage to a leading Catholic resulted in her half-brother, James Stewart, the Earl of Moray, to join with other Protestant lords in open rebellion. Mary and her forces and Moray and the rebellious lords roamed around Scotland without ever engaging in direct combat. Mary's numbers were boosted by the return of James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, from exile in France. Mary's forces were greatly superior, and unable to obtain sufficient support, Moray left Scotland for asylum in England. (168)
Mary became pregnant. However, the marriage was not a happy one. According to Elizabeth Jenkins: "Marriage with a Queen and one of the most beautiful of women had been too much for Darnley's weak head. His brainless arrogance had been so much increased that he did not treat even his wife with courtesy. Mary's passion was soon extinct, and her coldness and dislike roused him to the fatuous self-assertion that had been fostered by his mother." (169)
Darnley became jealous of David Rizzio, who had replaced him as her most important political advisor. According to his biographer, Rosalind K. Marshall "he was an ugly little man, full of his own importance, with an expensive taste in clothes... but Mary evidently felt that she could trust him. As her secretary he was constantly in her company... At the same time he did everything he could to enhance his own position, and the courtiers soon came to realize that if they wished for favours, they would have to bribe Seigneur Davie, as he was known." (170)
Thomas Randolph, the English Ambassador to Scotland, reported to William Cecil that Rizzio was a growing influence on Mary. It was decided to spread rumours that Riccio was having an affair with the Queen of Scots. It was even suggested that Rizzio was the real father of Mary's unborn child. (171) Darnley decided to join forces with a group of protestant lords who shared a dislike of Rizzio.
On 9th March 1566, about seven o'clock in the evening, Mary was at supper with Riccio in the little room adjoining her bedchamber at Holyroodhouse. "Suddenly Darnley marched in, sat down beside Mary, and put an arm round her waist, chatting to her with unaccustomed geniality. She had scarcely replied when the startling figure of Patrick Ruthven, Lord Ruthven, appeared in the doorway, deathly pale and wearing full armour... The queen rose to her feet in alarm. Terrified, Riccio darted behind her, to cower in the window embrasure, clinging to the pleats of her gown. The royal attendants sprang forward to take Ruthven, but he pulled out a pistol and waved them back. At the same moment the earl of Morton's men rushed into the supper chamber, the table was overturned... While Andrew Ker of Fawdonside held his pistol to the queen's side, George Douglas, Darnley's uncle, snatched Darnley's dagger from his belt and stabbed Riccio. According to Mary's own description of events, this first blow was struck over her shoulder... On Darnley's orders his body, with fifty-six stab wounds, was hurled down the main staircase, dragged into the porter's lodge, and thrown across a coffer where the porter's servant stripped him of his fine clothes." (172)
It is claimed that when Mary was told the news that Riccio was dead, she apparently dried her eyes and said "No more tears now. I will think upon revenge". Riccio was buried hastily in a cemetery outside Holyrood Abbey. However, later, Mary had his body exhumed and placed in the royal vault in the abbey. She then appointed his young brother Joseph Riccio to take his place as her French secretary.
Mary, Queen of Scots, now joined forces with James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell. She pardoned Lord Moray and the other exiles, and the people involved in the assassination of David Rizzio fled to England. Mary was now back in charge. In April 1566, Mary took up residence in Edinburgh Castle in order to await her child's birth, and on 19th June, after a difficult labour, Prince James was born. Queen Elizabeth was furious when a poet based in Paris, described James as prince of Scotland, England, France, and Ireland. (173)
After the birth of their son the couple lived apart. Lord Darnley was taken ill (officially with smallpox, possibly in fact with syphilis) and was convalescing in a house called Kirk o' Field. Mary visited him daily, so that it appeared a reconciliation was in progress. In the early hours of the morning on 10th February, 1567, an explosion devastated the house, and Darnley was found dead in the garden. There were no visible marks of strangulation or violence on the body and so it was suggested that he had been smothered. Rumours began to circulate that Bothwell and his friends had arranged his death. Elizabeth wrote to Mary: "I should ill fulfil the office of a faithful cousin or an affectionate friend if I did not... tell you what all the world is thinking. Men say that, instead of seizing the murderers, you are looking through your fingers while they escape; that you will not seek revenge on those who have done you so much pleasure, as though the deed would never have taken place had not the doers of it been assured of impunity. For myself, I beg you to believe that I would not harbour such a thought." (174)
One of Mary's biographer's, Julian Goodare, claims that the murder was an "abiding historical whodunnit, generating a mass of contradictory evidence, and with a large cast of suspects since almost everyone had a motive to kill him." He points out that historians are divided about Mary's involvement in the killing. "The extreme anti-Mary case is that from late 1566 onwards she was conducting an illicit love affair with Bothwell, with whom she planned the murder. The extreme pro-Mary case is that she was wholly innocent, knowing nothing of the business. In between these two extremes, it has been argued that she was aware in general terms of plots against her husband, and perhaps encouraged them." (175)
According to the depositions of four of Bothwell's retainers, he had been responsible for placing the gunpowder in Darnley's lodgings and had returned at the last moment to make sure that the fuse was lit. According to his biographer, that there is little doubt that Bothwell played a principal part in the murder. (176) Mary's critics point out that she made no attempt to investigate the crime. When urged to do so by Darnley's father, she replied that Parliament would meet in the spring and they would look into the matter. Meanwhile she gave Darnley's clothes to Bothwell. The trial of Bothwell took place on 12th April, 1567. Bothwell's men, estimated at 4,000, thronged the streets surrounding the court-house. Witnesses were too frightened to appear and after a seven-hour trial, he was found not guilty. A week later, Bothwell managed to convince more than two dozen lords and bishops to sign the Ainslie Tavern Bond, in which they agreed to support his aim to marry Mary. (177)
On 24th April, 1567, Mary was abducted by Lord Bothwell and taken to Dunbar Castle. According to James Melville, who was in the castle at the time, later wrote that Bothwell "had ravished her and lain with her against her will". However, most historians do not believe that she was raped and argue that the abduction was arranged by Mary. Bothwell divorced his wife, Jean Gordon, and on 15th May, he married Mary at a protestant ceremony. (178)
People were shocked that Mary could marry a man accused of murdering her husband. Murder placards began appearing in Edinburgh, accusing both Mary and Bothwell of Darnley's death. Several showed the queen as a mermaid, the symbol for a prostitute. Her senior advisors in Scotland claimed that that they were unable to see the queen without Bothwell being present, and alleging that he was virtually keeping her prisoner. Rumours circulated that Mary was bitterly unhappy, repelled by her new husband's boorish behaviour, and overcome with remorse at having contracted a protestant marriage. (179)
Twenty-six Scottish peers, turned against Mary and Bothwell, raising an army against them. Mary and Bothwell confronted the lords at Carberry Hill on 15th June, 1567. Clearly outnumbered, Mary and Bothwell surrendered. Bothwell was driven into exile and Mary was imprisoned in Lochleven Castle. While in captivity Mary miscarried twins. Her captors discussed several options: "conditional restoration; enforced abdication and exile; enforced abdication, trial for murder, and life imprisonment; enforced abdication, trial for murder, and execution". (180) On 24th July she was presented with deeds of abdication, telling her that she would be killed if she did not sign. She eventually agreed to abdicate in favour of her one-year-old son James. Mary's illegitimate half-brother, James Stewart, 1st Earl of Moray, was made regent. (181)
The Earl of Moray had no desire to keep the 24-year-old queen in prison for the rest of her life. On 2nd May 1568, she escaped from Lochleven Castle. She managed to raise an army of 6,000 men but was defeated at the Battle of Langside on 13 May. Three days later she crossed the Solway Firth in a fishing boat and landed at Workington. On 18 May, local officials took her into protective custody at Carlisle Castle. (182)
Queen Elizabeth was in a difficut position. She did not want the Catholic claimant to the English throne living in the country. At the same time she could not use her military forces to reimpose Mary's rule on the protestant Scots; nor could she allow Mary to take refuge in France and Spain, where she would be used as a "valuable pawn in the power game against England". There was no alternative but to keep the Queen of Scots in honourable captivity and in 1569 she was sent to Tutbury Castle under the guardianship of the George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury. (183) Mary was permitted her own domestic staff and her chambers were decorated with fine tapestries and carpets. (184)
Roberto di Ridolfi, an Italian banker living in London, became a strong supporter of Mary. By the late 1560s Ridolfi's commercial interests had been eclipsed by politics, and he soon became obsessed with returning England to the Catholic fold by means of foreign assistance. He developed contacts by supplying information to the French and Spanish ambassadors in London. He became an official agent when he accepted money for his efforts. In 1566 Ridolfi became a secret envoy for Pope Pius V. He asked Ridolfi to distribute 12,000 crowns to those in the northern regions opposing the rule of Queen Elizabeth.
Sir Francis Walsingham, became suspicious of Ridolfi and in October 1569 he brought him in for questioning. He also carried out a search of his house but nothing incriminating was found and he was released in January 1570. Ridolfi's biographer, L. E. Hunt, has suggested he may have become a double-agent during this period: "The leniency of his treatment at the hands of Elizabeth and her ministers has caused some scholars to suggest that during his house arrest Ridolfi was successfully ‘turned’ by Walsingham into a double agent who subsequently worked for, and not against, the Elizabethan government." (185)
Ridolfi now attempted to develop a close relationship with John Leslie, Bishop of Ross and Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk, a cousin to the queen and the highest ranking peer in England. Mary Queen of Scots encouraged Norfolk to join the plot by writing to him on 31st January 1571 suggesting marriage. Robert Hutchinson, the author of Elizabeth's Spy Master (2006) has commented: "One can imagine Norfolk's incredulous expression when he read her wholly unrealistic letter, its contents, if not the stuff of daydreams, certainly of rampant self-deception." (186)
According to Norfolk's biographer, Michael A. Graves: "An extensive, overmanned, and vulnerable conspiratorial network, including the servants of the principal participants, planned the release of the Scottish queen, her marriage to the duke, and, with Spanish military assistance, Elizabeth's removal in favour of Mary and the restoration of Catholicism in England. The success of the plan required Norfolk's approval and involvement. An initial approach by the bishop of Ross, forwarding ciphered letters from Mary, failed to secure his support. However, Norfolk reluctantly agreed to meet Ridolfi, as a result of which he gave verbal approval to the request for Spanish military assistance." (187)
Roberto di Ridolfi eventually convinced Howard to sign a declaration stating that he was a Catholic and, if backed by Spanish forces, was willing to lead a revolt. "The plan, later to be known as the Ridolfi plot, was soon in place: a Catholic rising was to free Mary and then, with zealous Catholics as well as Spanish forces joining en route, bring her to London, where the queen of Scots would supplant Elizabeth. The English queen's ultimate fate was purposely left unclear for the benefit of those with tender consciences. Mary would then secure her throne by marrying Norfolk." (188)
Ridolfi received through Ross a paper of detailed instructions agreed on by Norfolk and Mary. This empowered him to ask the Duke of Alva for guns, ammunition, armour and money, and 10,000 men, of whom 4,000, it was suggested, might make a diversion in Ireland. Ridolfi went to Brussels, where he discussed the plan with Alva. He then wrote to Philip II warning against a serious war against England: "But if the Queen of England should die, either a natural or any other death" then he should consider sending troops to put Mary on the vacant throne. (189) The Ridolfi Plot was ill conceived in the extreme and has been called "one of the more brainless conspiracies" of the sixteenth century (190).
It would seem that Francis Walsingham and William Cecil became aware of the Ridolfi Plot and they "grasped the opportunity to remove Norfolk, once and forever, from the political scene". (191) A servant of Mary Stuart and the bishop of Ross named Charles Bailly had been arrested upon his arrival at Dover on 12th April, 1571. A search of his baggage revealed that Bailly was carrying banned books as well as ciphered correspondence about the plot between Thomas Howard and his brother-in-law John Lumley. Bailly was taken to the Tower and tortured on the rack, and the information obtained from him led to the arrest of the Bishop of Ross and the Duke of Norfolk. (192)
Walsingham also arrested two of of Norfolk's secretaries, who were carrying £600 in gold to Mary's Scottish supporters. (193) At the sight of the rack Robert Higford told all he knew. The second secretary, William Barker, refused to confess and he was tortured. While on the rack his resolution failed and he revealed that secret documents were hidden in the tiles of the roof of one of the houses owned by Norfolk. In the hiding-place Walsingham found a complete collection of the papers connected with Ridolfi's mission, and nineteen letters to Norfolk from the Queen of Scots and the Bishop of Ross. (194)
On 7th September, 1571, Thomas Howard was taken to the Tower of London. He eventually admitted a degree of involvement in the transmission of money and correspondence to Mary's Scottish supporters. He was brought to trial in Westminster Hall on 16th January 1572. His request for legal counsel was disallowed on the grounds that it was not permissible in cases of high treason. The charge was that he practised to deprive the queen of her crown and life and thereby "to alter the whole state of government of this realm"; that he had succoured the English rebels who fled after the failed northern rising of 1569; and that he had given assistance to the queen's Scottish enemies. (195)
It has been claimed that a "state trial of the sixteenth century was little more than a public justification of a verdict that had already been reached". (196) The government case was supported with documentary proof, the written confessions of the bishop of Ross, his servant Bailly, the duke's secretaries, and other servants, and his own admissions. It is claimed that "Norfolk assumed an air of aristocratic disdain in his responses to the mounting evidence against him". This was "reinforced by what appeared to be a disbelief that the greatest noble in the land, scion of an ancient family, could be treated in this way". He was also dismissive of the evidence against him because of the inferiority of those who provided it. At its end he was convicted of high treason, condemned to death, and returned to the Tower to await execution. (197)
Queen Elizabeth was reluctant to authorize the execution of the Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk. Warrants were repeatedly signed and then cancelled. Meanwhile he wrote letters to her, in which he still endeavoured to persuade her of his loyalty, and to his children. He wrote: "Beware of the court, except it be to do your prince service, and that as near as you can in the meanest degree; for place hath no certainty, either a man by following thereof hath too much to worldly pomp, which in the end throws him down headlong, or else he lieth there unsatisfied." (198)
Elizabeth eventually agreed to execute Norfolk but at the last moment she changed her mind. William Cecil complained to Francis Walsingham: "The Queen's Majesty hath always been a merciful lady and by mercy she hath taken more harm than by justice, and yet she thinks she is more beloved in doing herself harm." (199) On 8th February, 1572, Cecil wrote to Walsingham: "I cannot write what is the inward stay of the Duke of Norfolk's death; but suddenly on Sunday late in the night, the Queen's Majesty sent for me and entered into a great misliking that the Duke should die the next day; and she would have a new warrant made that night for the sheriffs to forbear until they should hear further." (200)
On 8th May, 1572, Parliament assembled in an attempt to force Queen Elizabeth to act against those involved in the plot against her. Michael A. Graves points out that Elizabeth finally yielded to pressure, perhaps in the hope that, by "sacrificing Thomas Howard to the wolves, she could spare a fellow queen". Elizabeth refused to take action against Mary but agreed that Norfolk would be executed on 2nd June, 1572, on Tower Hill. (201)
Elizabeth Jenkins, the author of Elizabeth the Great (1958) has argued: "Since she came to the throne, Elizabeth had ordered no execution by beheading. After fourteen years of disuse, the scaffold on Tower Hill was falling to pieces, and it was necessary to put up another. The Duke's letters to his children, his letters to the Queen, his perfect dignity and courage at his death, made his end moving in the extreme, and he could at least be said that no sovereign had ever put a subject to death after more leniency or with greater unwillingness." (202)
Christopher Hatton joined the Privy Council and was involved in negotiations about the possible marriage of Queen Elizabeth to the Duke of Alençon. Hatton was against the match "but joined with the rest of the council in a sullen acquiescence, offering to support the match if it pleased her." (203) However, there was a great deal of opposition to the proposed marriage. In 1579 John Stubbs, a Norfolk squire with Puritan sympathies, wrote a pamphlet criticizing the proposed marriage. Stubbs objected to the fact that Alençon was a Catholic. He also argued that, at forty-six, Elizabeth was too old to have children and so had no need to get married. Hatton, under instructions from Elizabeth, led the prosecution of Stubbs. (204)
Circulation of this pamphlet was prohibited, and Stubbs, his publisher, William Page, were tried at Westminster, and found guilty of "seditious writing" and sentenced to have their right hands cut off. The punishment was carried out on 3rd November 1579. William Camden points out in The History of Queen Elizabeth (1617): "Stubbs and Page had their right hands cut off with a cleaver, driven through the wrist by the force of a mallet, upon a scaffold in the market-place at Westminster... I remember that Stubbs, after his right hand was cut off, took off his hat with his left, and said with a loud voice, 'God Save the Queen'; the crowd standing about was deeply silent: either out of horror at this new punishment; or else out of sadness." (205) However, by January, 1580, Queen Elizabeth admitted to Alençon that public opinion made their marriage impossible.
On 13th March 1581, Lettice Knollys Devereux, married Robert Dudley in secret. A son was born soon afterwards. Queen Elizabeth was furious when she heard the news and considered sending Dudley to the Tower of London. She eventually banished him to his house in Wanstead and Lettice was exiled from court for ever. (206)
Francis Walsingham, Queen Elizabeth's Principal Secretary, became convinced that King Phillip II of Spain, who had been Queen Mary's husband, wanted to make England a Catholic country. He therefore set up a network of spies and agents to prevent this from happening. One of the men who Walsingham was very concerned about was Francis Throckmorton, one of England's most prominent Catholics. In April 1583 Walsingham received a report from Henry Fagot, his agent inside the French embassy, that Throckmorton had dined with the ambassador. A month later Fagot wrote again with the information that "the chief agents for the Queen of Scots are Throckmorton and Lord Henry Howard". (207)
In November 1583, Walsingham ordered the arrest of Throckmorton in his London home. He just had time to destroy a letter he was in the act of writing to Mary, but among his seized papers was a list of the names of "certain Catholic noblemen and gentlemen" and also details of harbours "suitable for landing foreign forces". At first Throckmorton denied they were his, saying they must have been planted by the government searchers. He later admitted that they had been given to him by a man named Nutby who had recently left the country. (208)
Walsingham had Throckmorton put on the rack. During the first two sessions he courageously refused to talk. He managed to smuggle a message out to Bernardino Mendoza, the Spanish ambassador, written in cipher on the back of a playing card, saying he would die a thousand deaths before he betrayed his friends. However, on the third occasion he admitted that Mary Queen of Scots was aware of the plot against Elizabeth. He also confessed that Mendoza was involved in the plot. When he finished his confession he rose from a seat beside the rack and exclaimed: "Now I have betrayed her who was dearest to me in this world." Now, he said, he wanted nothing but death. (209) Throckmorton's confession meant that Walsingham now knew that it was the Spanish rather than the French ambassador who had been abusing his diplomatic privileges.
At his trial Francis Throckmorton attempted to retract his confession claiming that "the rack had forced him to say something to ease the torment". Throckmorton was executed at Tyburn on 10th July 1584 and was reported to have died "very stubbornly", refusing to ask for the Queen Elizabeth's forgiveness. (210)
In October 1585, Gilbert Gifford went to Paris, where he got in touch with Thomas Morgan, an agent of Mary Queen of Scots. In December he crossed over to England, landing at the port of Rye. Walsingham, had a spy in the camp of Morgan, and on his arrival he was arrested. It is claimed that Gifford told Wasingham: "I have heard of the work you do and I want to serve you. I have no scruples and no fear of danger. Whatever you order me to do I will accomplish." Gifford's biographer, Alison Plowden, has argued: "Gifford may or may not have already been employed by Walsingham's secret service, but from this point there can be no doubt about his double dealing." (211)
Gifford was released and immediately approached the French Embassy in London. He told them that he had several letters for Mary. (At that time she was being held at Chartley Castle. Gifford was told that if they forwarded the letters by the formal route, Mary would never see them. Gifford then suggested that he would try to find a way of smuggling the letters into Chartley Castle. With the help of Walsingham he arranged with the man who provided Chartley Castle with beer, to smuggle the letters to Mary. The letters were wrapped in leather and hidden inside a hollow bung used to seal a barrel of beer. The brewer delivered the barrel to Chartley Castle and one of her servants would open the bung and take the contents to Mary. The same process was used to send messages to Mary's supporters. (212)
In March 1586, Anthony Babington and six friends gathered in The Plough, an inn outside Temple Bar, where they discussed the possibility of freeing Mary, assassinating Elizabeth, and inciting a rebellion supported by an invasion from abroad. With his spy network, it was not long before Walsingham discovered the existence of the Babington Plot. To make sure he obtained a conviction he arranged for Gifford to visit Babington on 6th July. Gifford told Babington that he had heard about the plot from Thomas Morgan in France and was willing to arrange for him to send messages to Mary via his brewer friend. (213)
However, Babington did not fully trust Gifford and enciphered his letter. Babington used a very complex cipher that consisted of 23 symbols that were to be substituted for the letters of the alphabet (excluding j. v and w), along with 35 symbols representing words or phrases. In addition, there were four nulls and a symbol which signified that the next symbol represents a double letter. It would seem that the French Embassy had already arranged for Mary to receive a copy of the necessary codebook. (214)
Gilbert Gifford took the sealed letter to Francis Walsingham. He employed counterfeiters, who would then break the seal on the letter, make a copy, and then reseal the original letter with an identical stamp before handing it back to Gifford. The apparently untouched letter could then be delivered to Mary or her correspondents, who remained oblivious to what was going on. (215)
The copy was then taken to Thomas Phelippes. The copy was then taken to Thomas Phelippes. "In the ciphers used by Mary and her correspondents the letters of each word were encrypted using a system of substitutes or symbols which required for their decoding the construction of a parallel alphabet of letters. To establish such cipher keys Phelippes employed frequency analysis in which individual letters were identified in the order of those most commonly used in English and the less frequent substitutes deduced in the manner of a modern crossword puzzle." (216) Eventually he was able to break the code used by Babington. The message clearly proposed the assassination of Elizabeth.
Walsingham now had the information needed to arrest Babington. However, his main target was Mary and he therefore allowed the conspiracy to continue. On 17th July she replied to Babington. The message was passed to Phelippes. As he had already broken the code he had little difficulty in translating the message that gave her approval to the assassination of Elizabeth. Mary Queen of Scots wrote: "When all is ready, the six gentlemen must be set to work, and you will provide that on their design being accomplished, I may be myself rescued from this place." (217)
Walsingham now had enough evidence to arrest Mary and Babington. However, to destroy the conspiracy completely, he needed the names of all those involved. He ordered Phelippes to forge a postscript to Mary's letter, which would entice Babington to name the other men involved in the plot. "I would be glad to know the names and qualities of the six gentleman which are to accomplish the designment; for it may be that I shall be able, upon knowledge of the parties, to give you some further advice necessary to be followed therein, as also from time to time particularly how you proceed."
Simon Singh, the author of The Code Book: The Secret History of Codes & Code-Breaking (2000) has pointed out: "The cipher of Mary Queen of Scots clearly demonstrates that a weak encryption can be worse than no encryption at all. Both Mary and Babington wrote explicitly about their intentions because they believed that their communications were secure, whereas if they had been communicating openly they would have referred to their plan in a more discreet manner. Furthermore, their faith in their cipher made them particularly vulnerable to accepting Phelippes's forgery. Sender and receiver often have such confidence in the strength of their cipher that they consider it impossible for the enemy to mimic the cipher and insert forged text. The correct use of a strong cipher is a clear boon to sender and receiver, but the misuse of a weak cipher can generate a very false sense of security." (218)
Francis Walsingham allowed the letters to continue to be sent because he wanted to discover who else was involved in this plot to overthrow Elizabeth. Eventually, on 25th June 1586, Mary wrote a letter to Anthony Babington. In his reply, Babington told Mary that he and a group of six friends were planning to murder Elizabeth. Babington discovered that Walsingham was aware of the plot and went into hiding. He hid with some companions in St John's Wood, but was eventually caught at the house of the Jerome Bellamy family in Harrow. (219) On hearing the news of his arrest the government of the city put on a show of public loyalty, witnessing "her public joy by ringing of bells, making of bonfires, and singing of psalms". (220)
Babington home was searched for documents that would provide evidence against him. When interviewed, Babington, who was not tortured, made a confession in which he admitted that Mary had written a letter supporting the plot. At his trial, Babington and his twelve confederates were found guilty and sentenced to hanging and quartering. "The horrors of semi-strangulation and of being split open alive for the heart and intestines to be wrenched out were regarded, like those of being burned to death, as awful but in the accepted order of things." (221)
Gallows were set up near St Giles-in-the-Field and the first seven conspirators, led by Babington, were executed on 20th September 1586. Babington's last words were “Spare me Lord Jesus”. Another conspirator, Chidiock Tichborne, made a long speech where he blamed Babington "for drawing him in". (222) The men "were hanged only for a short time, cut down while they were still alive, and then castrated and disembowelled".
The other seven were brought to the scaffold the next day and suffered the same death, "but, more favourably, by the Queens commandment, who detested the former cruelty" They hung until they were dead and only then suffered the barbarity of castration and disembowelling. The last to suffer was Jerome Bellamy, who was found guilty of hiding Babington and the others at his family's house in Harrow. His brother cheated the hangman by killing himself in prison. (223)
Mary's trial took place at Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire on 14th October 1586. A commission of thirty-four, consisting of councillors, peers and judges, was convened. She was charged with being an accessory to the attempted murder of Elizabeth. At first she refused to attend the trial unless it were understood that she did so, not as a criminal and not as one subject to English jurisdiction. Elizabeth was furious and wrote to Mary stating: "You have in various ways and manners attempted to take my life and to bring my kingdom to destruction by bloodshed.... These treasons will be proved to you and all made manifest. It is my will that you answer the nobles and peers of the kingdom as if I were myself present... Act plainly without reserve and you will the sooner be able to obtain favour of me." (224)
During the trial Mary Stuart accused Walsingham of engineering her destruction by falsifying evidence. He rose to his feet and denied this: "I call God to witness that as a private person I have done nothing unbeseeming an honest man, nor, as I bear the place of a public man, have I done anything unworthy of my place. I confess that being very careful for the safety of the queen and the realm, I have curiously searched out all the practices against the same." (225)
Julian Goodare has argued that the plot was a frame-up: "A channel of communication with Mary was arranged, with packets of coded letters hidden in beer barrels; unknown to the plotters, Walsingham saw all Mary's correspondence. The plot was thus a frame-up, a point of which Mary's defenders sometimes complain. It is not, however, obvious that the English government was obliged to nip the plot in the bud to prevent Mary from incriminating herself. The frame-up was directed almost as much against Elizabeth as against Mary." (226)
The trial was moved to Westminster Palace on 25th October, where the 42-man commission, including Walsingham, found Mary guilty of plotting Elizabeth's assassination. As Walsingham had expected, Elizabeth proved reluctant to execute her rival and prevented a public verdict being decided after the trial. Christopher Morris, the author of The Tudors (1955) has argued that Elizabeth feared that Mary's execution might precipitate the rebellion or invasion which everybody feared. "To kill Mary was also foreign to Elizabeth's accustomed clemency and to her native fear of drastic action." (227)
Parliament petitioned for Mary's execution. Elizabeth hesitated and as always she hoped to shift the responsibility for action on to others and "hinted that Mary's murder would not be displeasing to her". (228) However, her government ministers refused to take action until he had written instructions from Elizabeth. On 19th December 1586, Mary wrote a long letter to Elizabeth arguing that she had been unjustly condemned by those who had no jurisdiction over her, and that she had "a constant resolution to suffer death for upholding the obedience and authority of the apostolical Roman church." (229)
Parliament devised two bills: one to execute Mary for high treason, the other to say she was incapable of succession to the English throne. The first of these she rejected and the second she promised to consider. William Cecil told Walsingham that the House of Commons and the House of Lords were both determined on the only sensible course "but in the highest person, such slowness... such stay in resolution." Elizabeth stated to Walsingham and Cecil "Can I put to death the bird that, to escape the pursuit of the hawk, has fled to my feet for protection? Honour and conscience forbid!"
Elizabeth Jenkins, the author of Elizabeth the Great (1958) has pointed out that she had ordered no execution by beheading since that of Thomas Howard, the 4th Duke of Norfolk, in 1572: "Since she came to the throne, Elizabeth had ordered no execution by beheading. After fourteen years of disuse, the scaffold on Tower Hill was falling to pieces, and it was necessary to put up another. The Duke's letters to his children, his letters to the Queen, his perfect dignity and courage at his death, made his end moving in the extreme, and he could at least be said that no sovereign had ever put a subject to death after more leniency or with greater unwillingness." (230)
On 1st February 1587, Elizabeth finally signed the long-prepared warrant authorizing Mary's execution. She gave it to William Davison, Walsingham's recently appointed colleague as principal secretary, with vague and contradictory instructions. She also told Davison to get Walsingham to write to Amyas Paulet asking him to assassinate Mary. Paulet replied that he would not "make so foul shipwreck of his conscience as to shed blood without law or warrant". However, it has been argued that Paulet refused, either on principle or fearing that an assassin would become a scapegoat. "The episode reveals much about Elizabeth: most relevantly, it shows that she was no longer aiming to keep Mary alive, merely to preserve her own reputation. Elizabeth was genuinely distraught by the execution; her claim that it had been against her wishes was not strictly true, but may be understandable when it is recalled how long and how hard she had resisted the pressure for it." (231)
Davidson took the execution warrant and on 3rd February, he convened a meeting of the leading councillors. William Cecil urged its immediate implementation without further reference to the queen. However, on 5th February she called in Davidson. According to Davidson, smiling, she told him she had dreamed the night before that Mary Stuart was executed, and this had put her "into such a passion with him". Davidson asked her if she still wanted to warrant to be executed. "Yes, by God," she answered, she did mean it, but she thought it should have been managed so that the whole responsibility did not fall upon herself. (232)
Mary was informed on the evening of 7th February that she was to be executed the following day. She reacted by claiming that she was being condemned for her religion. She mounted the scaffold in the great hall of Fotheringhay, attended by two of her women servants, Jane Kennedy and Elizabeth Curle. The two executioners knelt before her and asked forgiveness. She replied, "I forgive you with all my heart, for now, I hope, you shall make an end of all my troubles." (233)
Mary's last words were "Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit". The first blow missed her neck and struck the back of her head. The second blow severed the neck, except for a small bit of sinew, which the executioner cut through using the axe. He held her head aloft by the hair and declared, "God save the Queen." As he did so the head fell to the ground, revealing that Mary had been wearing a wig had actually had a very short, grey hair. (234)
According to the account written by Robert Wynkfield: "Then one of the executioners, pulling off her garters, espied her little dog which was crept under her cloths, which could not be gotten forth by force, yet afterward would not depart from the dead corpse, but came and lay between her head and her shoulders, which being imbrued with her blood was carried away and washed, as all things else were that had any blood was either burned or washed clean, and the executioners sent away with money for their fees, not having any one thing that belonged unto her. And so, every man being commanded out of the hall, except the sheriff and his men, she was carried by them up into a great chamber lying ready for the surgeons to embalm her." (235)
According to Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall, Queen Elizabeth first encountered Walter Raleigh in the streets of the city. "One day Elizabeth was passing along the streets, and the people as usual came crowding to see her. Among them was Sir Walter Raleigh. The Queen stepped from her coach and, followed by her ladies, was about to cross the road. But in those days the streets were very badly kept, and Elizabeth stopped before a puddle of mud. She was grandly dressed, and how to cross the muddy road, without soiling her dainty shoes and skirts, she did not know. As she paused Sir Walter sprang forward. He, too, was finely dressed and he was wearing a beautiful new cloak. This he quickly pulled off and, bowing low, threw upon the ground before the Queen. Elizabeth was very pleased, and, as she passed on, she smiled at the handsome young man who had ruined his beautiful cloak to save her dainty shoes, and ordered him to attend her at court." (236)
This story first appeared in a book written by Thomas Fuller that was published in 1663. (237) It is now considered by historians to be an inaccurate account of their first meeting. The evidence suggests that they met as a result of Raleigh providing her with secret documents he had discovered in Ireland. Raleigh Trevelyan, the author of Sir Walter Raleigh (2002), argues: "The cloak episode, said to have happened at Greenwich and usually regarded as a fairy story, could easily have been true, being perfectly in keeping with Raleigh's character - an extravagant gamble on his part... The story is found in Fuller's Worthies, and it has to be admitted that no other contemporary comment has been found on such a fascinating piece of gossip." (238)
Anna Whitelock, the author of Elizabeth's Bedfellows: An Intimate History of the Queen's Court (2013) has pointed out: "Raleigh, then around thirty years of age... was strikingly attractive, six foot tall with a trimmed beard and piercing blue eyes and a love of extravagant clothes, jewels and pearls. His boldness, blatant ambition, vanity, and self-confidence all greatly appealed to the Queen... In 1583, Elizabeth granted him one of her favourite palaces, the handsome London dwelling Durham Place on the Strand.. Raleigh wooed her with poetry and they spent increasing amounts of time together, talking, playing cards and riding out. He was frequently in the Privy Chamber by day and night, and would often be at the door of the bedchamber, waiting for Elizabeth to emerge in the morning." (239)
In April 1584, Raleigh informed Thomas Egerton, the solicitor-general, that: "It hath pleased her Majesty to bestow the leases of Scotney and Newland, lately granted unto her from All Souls College in Oxford, upon me." (240) Raleigh was short of money and immediately sold the leases. Scotney, for example, was worth over £100 annually. It is claimed that he needed the cashflow to maintain the impression of status and wealth he had not yet achieved. (241)
In May 1583 Walter Raleigh received a patent for the sale of wine and the licensing of vintners. (242) This meant that anyone who wished to sell wine had to pay Raleigh an annual fee of £1 for the right to do so. Raleigh promptly sublet it to a man named Richard Browne for £700 a year. This significantly undervalued the grant since within a few years Browne was contriving to extract some £1,100 a year. (243)
The following year the traveller Leopold von Wedel, recounting a visit to the English court, offered further insight into the relationship. Chatting with her courtiers, Queen Elizabeth pointed "with her finger at his face, that there was smut (dirt) on it, and was going to wipe it off with her handkerchief; but before she could he wiped it off himself". Von Wedel commented that his reaction suggested that Raleigh enjoyed an intimate relationship with the Queen. (244)
Robert Dudley, now back in favour, arranged for his stepson, Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, to meet Queen Elizabeth. It is believed he was hoping his advancement would weaken the position of his main rival, Sir Walter Raleigh. Elizabeth was greatly impressed with the 20-year-old Devereux. It has been claimed that "captivated within a few weeks by his gaiety, wit and high spirits, she became besotted with him" and "they were soon inseparable". One of his servants recorded that "nobody near her but my Lord of Essex, and at night my Lord is at cards or one game or another with her, that he cometh not to his own lodging till the birds sing in the morning." (245)
The Queen, who was now in her early fifties, demanded his constant attendance and "would dance with no one else" and insisted he went hunting with her. "Elizabeth's dislike of retiring to bed before dawn exhausted her entourage, but the young earl tirelessly kept her company. After an evening at the theatre they would return to the palace and play interminable hands of cards." (246)
Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, was described as being "tall, strikingly attractive with dark eyes and auburn hair" who was "intelligent, witty and flirtatious". It was suggested that the twenty-one-year-old's youth "enlivened her and gave her new energy". At court entertainments he would always sit close to Queen Elizabeth and she was often reported to whisper to him or touch him fondly. Despite the thirty-three age gap, members of the Royal Court began to speculate on the nature of their relationship. (247)
In June 1587, Essex was given the post of Master of the Horse. This made him the only man in England officially allowed to touch the Queen, as he was responsible for helping Elizabeth mount and dismount when she went horse-riding. The post also paid well and came with a salary of £1,500 per annum. (248)
Essex had a reputation for having a violent, irrational bad temper. (249) In July 1587, Elizabeth and Essex were visiting North Hall, the home of Ambrose Dudley, the 3rd Earl of Warwick. Just before they arrived they had an argument about his sister, Dorothy. Essex accused Elizabeth of acting to disgrace him and his family honour "only to please that knave Raleigh". He then went on to pour out his pent-up jealously of Sir Walter Raleigh. Elizabeth responded by complaining about the behaviour of his mother, Lettice Knollys Devereux. (250)
That night he wrote to a friend about the incident: "It seemed she (Elizabeth) could not well endure anything to be spoken against him (Walter Raleigh)... She said there was no such cause why I should disdain him. This speech troubled me so much... I did let her see whether I had cause to disdain his competition of love, or whether I could have comfort to give myself over to the service of a mistress that was in awe of such a man... In the end I saw she was resolved to defend him, and to cross me. For myself, I told her, I had no joy to be in any place but loath to be near about her when I knew my affection so much thrown down, and such a wretch as Raleigh highly esteemed of her." (251) The following morning Essex decided to leave the Queen's service and travel to Europe. However, as he rode towards the port of Sandwich, he was overtaken by Robert Carey, one of Elizabeth's courtier's, with a message commanding him to return to court. (252)
Even before the execution of Mary Stuart, King Philip II of Spain began considering the invasion of England. He had been angered by the actions of Francis Drake in the West Indies and Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, invasion of the Netherlands. His plan was for a great fleet to sweep the English Channel and leave it clear for Alexander Farnese, Duke of Parma, and his Spanish infantry to cross over from the Netherlands. Philip issued instructions to Alonso Pérez de Guzmán, 7th Duke of Medina Sidonia, to "invade and conquer England, taking the Queen alive at all costs". (253)
Details of the planned invasion reached England's spymaster, Sir Francis Walsingham, as early as December 1585. Walsingham, with his aggressive, almost fanatical desire to protect and promote his fledgling Protestant religion, had long feared Spanish military action against England. This initial information came from a merchant who had heard about it in Italy. However, Walsingham was unconvinced by the story. (254)
In the spring of 1586, Queen Elizabeth heard reports that Spain was preparing a huge invasion force to send against England. When she told Walsingham about this he said his agents in Spain saw no signs of such preparation in Spanish harbours. One of his well-informed spy reported that only eighteen ships in the entire Spanish fleet were ready for sea. A few weeks later the Queen heard from a sea-captain that he had seen a fleet of twenty-seven galleons in Lisbon Harbour. She summoned Walsingham, berated him, and threw a slipper in his face. (255)
In early 1587 Walsingham received alarming intelligence of the Spanish build-up. An estimated 450 ships were now in and around Lisbon, with 74,000 soldiers being mustered in Italy, Spain, Portugal and Flanders. He was also told that there were also 1,200 gunners and 8,912 sailors already in Spain, together with "accumulated provisions including 184,557 quintals of biscuit, 23,000 quintals of bacon, 23,000 butts of wine, 11,000 quintals of beef and 43,000 quintals of cheese." (256)
Throughout 1586 ships were being built and assembled along the Channel coast, and in England the Privy Council ordered the setting up of beacons at prominent places so that news of a Spanish invasion could be communicated to those with responsibility of defending the country. Francis Drake asked the Queen for fifty ships to attack the Armada while it was still on the coast of Spain. He argued that a blow struck in Spanish waters would weaken the determination of Spanish forces and raise morale in England. (257) Drake eventually received permission and arrived in Cadiz and destroyed the ships and stores assembled there. (258) Drake also managed to capture the vast and richly loaded San Philip, one of the largest of the treasure-ships ever to fall into English hands. (259)
Sir John Hawkins, the treasurer and controller of the Royal Navy, was the chief architect of the Elizabethan navy. William Cecil gave him the responsibility for providing enough ships to deal with the Spanish Armada. According to Harry Kelsey, the author of Sir John Hawkins (2002), Charles Howard of Effingham, Lord High Admiral, was "effusive in his praise for the ships" that Hawkins was able to supply. (260)
The Spanish Armada left Lisbon on 29th May 1588. It numbered 130 ships carrying 29,453 men, of whom some 19,000 were soldiers (17,000 Spanish, 2,000 Portuguese). Also on board were 180 monks and friars, 167 artillerymen and a hospital staff of 85 (which included five physicians, five surgeons and four priests). The Commander-in-chief, Alonso Pérez de Guzmán, took with him 50 servants. (261) The plan was to sail to Dunkirk in France where the Armada would pick up another 16,000 Spanish soldiers led by Alexander Farnese, Duke of Parma. (262)
According to Juan Bentivollo, and Italian who saw the Spanish Armada leave for England: "You could hardly see the sea. The Spanish fleet was stretched out in the form of a half moon with an immense distance between its extremities. The masts and rigging, the towering sterns and prows which in height and number were so great that they dominated the whole naval concourse, caused horror mixed with wonder and gave rise to doubt whether that campaign was at sea or on land and whether one or the other element was the more splendid. It came on with a steady and deliberate movement, yet when it drew near in full sail it seemed almost that the waves groaned under its weight and the winds were made to obey it."
On hearing the news that the ships had left Spain, Charles Howard of Effingham, Lord High Admiral, held a council-of-war. Lord Howard decided to divide the English fleet into squadrons. Francis Drake, John Hawkins and Martin Frobisher were chosen as the three other senior commanders of the fleet. Howard went in his flagship, the Ark Royal (800 tons and a crew of 250). Frobisher was given command of the largest ship in the fleet, the Triumph (1,110 tons and a crew of 500 men) whereas Drake was the captain of the Revenge (500 tons and a crew of 250) and Hawkins was aboard the Victory (800 tons and a crew of 250).
It has been claimed that after the fleet sailed for England Philip II remained kneeling before the Holy Sacrament, without a cushion, for four hours each day. (263) Sidonia kept his ships in tight formation to give them protection from the English ships. The galleons and large ships were concentrated in the centre. By July the Armada was in the Channel. The Tudor historian, William Camden, described it as being "built high like towers and castles, rallied into the form of a crescent whose horns were at least seven miles distant". (264)
English land forces were divided into an army of 30,000 under Henry Carey, 1st Baron Hunsdon based at Windsor, whose main task was to defend Queen Elizabeth and 16,000, who were to prevent an attack on London. (265) Elizabeth proved to be a rousing and fearless leader, planning to ride at the head of her army to wherever along the coast the enemy might seek to land, while her fleet went out to battle, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, in command of the ground forces, managed to dissuade her from this. He recommended instead that Elizabeth address her troops at Tilbury, where she gave a defiant and patriotic speech. Standing in front of her soldiers Elizabeth told them: "I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king." (266)
On 21st July the English fleet engaged the Armada off Plymouth near the Eddystone rocks. At the end of the first day's fighting, only one ship was sunk, the San Salvador. During the fighting a tremendous explosion tore out the Spanish ship's stern castle and killed 200 members of the crew. It was later discovered that a gunner's carelessness resulted in a spark reaching the gunpowder in the rear hold. (267)
Admiral Pedro de Valdés and his flag-ship, Nuestra Senora del Rosario, collided with another Spanish vessel, breaking her bowsprit and bringing down the halyards and forecourse. As it was the Admiral's ship, it had 55,000 gold ducats on board, in order to buy supplies from foreign ports. The following morning Francis Drake and the crew of Revenge captured the crippled ship. (268)
The Armada anchored at Calais and the Duke of Medina Sidonia sent a message to the Duke of Parma in Dunkirk : "I am anchored here two leagues from Calais with the enemy's fleet on my flank. They can cannonade me whenever they like, and I shall be unable to do them much harm in return." He asked Parma to send fifty ships to help him break out of Calais. Parma was unable to help as he had less than twenty ships and most of those were not yet ready to sail.
That night Medina Sidonia sent out a warning to his captains that he expected a fire-ship attack. This tactic had been successfully used by Francis Drake in Cadiz in 1587 and the fresh breeze blowing steadily from the English fleet towards Calais, meant the conditions were ideal for such an attack. He warned his captains not to panic and not to head out to the open sea. Medina Sidonia confidently told them that his patrol boats would be able to protect them from any fire-ship attack that took place.
Medina Sidonia was right to be worried by such an attack. This was the opportunity that Charles Howard of Effingham, the English commander, had been waiting for. It was decided to use eight fairly large ships for the operation. All the masts and rigging were tarred and all the guns were left on board and were primed to go off of their own accord when the fire reached them. John Young, one of Drake's men, was put in charge of the fire-ships. (269)
Soon after midnight the eight ships were set fire to and sent on their way. The Spaniards were shocked by the size of the vessels. Nor had they expected the English to use as many as eight ships. The Spanish patrol ships were unable to act fast enough to deal with the problem. The Spanish captains also began to panic when the guns began exploding. They believed that the English were using hell-burners (ships crammed with gunpowder). This tactic had been used against the Spanish in 1585 during the siege of Antwerp when over a thousand men had been killed by exploding ships.
The fire-ships did not in fact cause any material damage to the Spanish ships at all. They drifted until they reached the beach where they continued to burn until the fire reached the water line. Medina Sidonia, on board the São Martinho, had remained near his original anchorage. However, only a few captains had followed his orders and the vast majority had broken formation and sailed into the open sea. (270)
At first light Medina Sidonia and his six remaining ships left Calais and attempted to catch up with the 130 ships strung out eastwards towards the Dunkirk sandbanks. Some Spanish ships had already been reached by the English fleet and were under heavy attack. San Lorenzo, a ship carrying 312 oarsmen, 134 sailors and 235 soldiers, was stranded on the beach and was taken by the English.
Medina Sidonia announced that if any Spanish ship broke formation the captain would be hanged immediately. He also told his captains that they must maintain a tight formation in order to prevent further attacks from the English ships. This decision meant that they could now only move towards Dunkirk at the speed of the slowest ship. As the Amanda moved up the east coast of England the "pursuing English ships passed the bodies of the mules and horses the Spaniards had thrown into the sea". (271)
With their formation broken, the Spanish ships were easy targets for the English ships loaded with guns that could fire very large cannon balls. The Spanish captains tried to get their ships in close so that their soldiers could board the English vessels. However, the English ships were quicker than the Spanish galleons and were able to keep their distance. Bernado de Gongoro, a priest on one of the Spanish ships, complained: "The enemy did not dare to come alongside because he knew the advantage we had. The Duke offered him battle many times and he never wanted it, but only to fire on us, like a man who had better artillery with longer range." (272)
Sir John Hawkins reported to Sir Francis Walsingham: that despite the success they were having they were desperately short of gunpowder: "All that day Monday we followed the Spaniards with a long and great fight, wherein there was great valour showed generally by our company... In this fight there was some hurt done among the Spaniards... Our ships, God be thanked, have received little hurt... Now their fleet is here, and very forcible, it must be waited upon with all our force, which is little enough. There should be an infinite quantity of powder and shot provided... The men have long been unpaid and need relief." (273)
The Spanish fleet, battered and defeated, made its way along the Scottish coast. They were desperately short of supplies and it has been estimated that four or five men died each day from starvation. It was decided to throw all the horses overboard to save water. When the ships reached the Irish Sea a great storm blew up and threw against the Irish rocks. Thousands of Spaniards drowned and even those who reached land were often killed by English soldiers and settlers. One Irishman, Melaghin McCabb, boasted that he had dispatched eighty Spaniards with his axe. (274) Of the 30,000 men that had set out in the Armada, less than 10,000 arrived home safely. (275)
On 2nd August 1588, the English fleet headed home. By the time the fleet reached port, most of the ships had exhausted their supplies. Sir John Hawkins showed concern for his men: "The men have long been unpaid and need relief." However, the Queen had declared that the expenses of war must be stopped as soon as possible. The men also suffered from disease and "a sort of plague swept through the ranks, and men died by the dozens". William Cecil asked why so much money was needed if so many men were dying. Hawkins explained that it was necessary to give the back pay of dead men to their friends, who would deliver it to the families. (276)
Charles Howard of Effingham, the English commander, was also angry that his men had not received their wages. He was also disturbed by the condition of his men. The lack of fresh water caused an outbreak of disease. As they were still waiting for their wages to be paid they were even unable to buy fresh food for themselves. Howard wrote bitterly: "It is a most pitiful sight to see, here at Margate, how the men, having no place to receive them into here, die in the streets. I am driven myself, of force, to come a-land, to see them bestowed in some lodging; and the best I can get is barns and outhouses. It would grieve any man's heart to see them that have served so valiantly to die so miserably." (277)
Queen Elizabeth claimed that her forces had the help of God in the victory. She ordered the issue of a commemorative medal that stated: "God blew and they were scattered." (278) According to Philippa Jones, the author of Elizabeth: Virgin Queen (2010): "The defeat of the Spanish Armada in July 1588 heralded the highest point in Elizabeth's rule, and was a victory that lent England not only a strong sense of national pride, but also the sense that God was on the side of a Protestant victory against the Catholic enemy." (279)
Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, had a reputation for having a violent, irrational bad temper. (280) In July 1587, Elizabeth and Essex were visiting North Hall, the home of Ambrose Dudley, the 3rd Earl of Warwick. Just before they arrived they had an argument about his sister, Dorothy. Essex accused Elizabeth of acting to disgrace him and his family honour "only to please that knave Raleigh". He then went on to pour out his pent-up jealously of Sir Walter Raleigh. Elizabeth responded by complaining about the behaviour of his mother, Lettice Knollys Devereux. (281)
That night he wrote to a friend about the incident: "It seemed she (Elizabeth) could not well endure anything to be spoken against him (Walter Raleigh)... She said there was no such cause why I should disdain him. This speech troubled me so much... I did let her see whether I had cause to disdain his competition of love, or whether I could have comfort to give myself over to the service of a mistress that was in awe of such a man... In the end I saw she was resolved to defend him, and to cross me. For myself, I told her, I had no joy to be in any place but loath to be near about her when I knew my affection so much thrown down, and such a wretch as Raleigh highly esteemed of her." (282)
The following morning Essex decided to leave the Queen's service and travel to Europe. However, as he rode towards the port of Sandwich, he was overtaken by Robert Carey, one of Elizabeth's courtier's, with a message commanding him to return to court. Essex had been forgiven and on the death of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, in September, 1588, he was invited to move into his stepfather's lodgings in the palace. (283) Leicester's death triggered a fresh round of competition between Essex and Raleigh. At times the rivalry also came close to being fought out with swords. At Christmas 1588, Essex and Raleigh apparently came to the very brink of duelling at Richmond, only to be thwarted by the intervention of the queen and the privy council. (284)
The Earl of Essex secretly married Frances Sidney, the widow of Sir Philip Sidney and the daughter of spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham. The exact date is not known but it was probably in March 1590. She bore him one son, Robert, in January 1591. (285) Queen Elizabeth discovered about the marriage she was furious but after only a fortnight Essex was welcomed back into her inner-circle. Anna Whitelock, the author of Elizabeth's Bedfellows: An Intimate History of the Queen's Court (2013) compares to to the way she treated Robert Dudley after she found out about his secret marriage: "His relationship with the Queen was very different from that which Elizabeth had shared with Dudley. There had been - on both sides - genuine love and perhaps unrequited ambition for a marriage; whereas Essex's relationship with her was a flirtation which made the ageing Queen feel young and attractive again." (286)
Sir Christopher Hatton, died in 1591. Sir Walter Raleigh now succeeded Hatton as captain of the guard. However, unknown to the Queen, Raleigh had become romantically involved with Elizabeth Throckmorton, her Gentlewoman of the Privy Chamber. Elizabeth strongly disapproved of her maids-of-honour falling in love. William Stebbing was later to write, in Elizabeth's view "love-making, except to herself, was so criminal at Court that it had to be done by stealth". Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester and Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, had both discovered this. It was never any use asking her permission to marry, especially if it were to be to a maid-of-honour, because refusal would be a foregone conclusion. "By and large for Elizabeth the women would be the worst sinners in these clandestine marriages, and usually would be banned from Court forever afterwards." (287)
According to Paul Hyland, Elizabeth (Bess) was "a tall, unusual beauty with her long face, luminous eyes, strong nose and provocatively modest lips." (288) However, Robert Lacey disagrees and claims that she was the "most ugly of Elizabeth's maids of honour." (289)
In July 1591, Bess discovered she was pregnant and begged Raleigh to marry her. He agreed but feared what would happen when Queen Elizabeth discovered the news. They married in secret on 19th November. Meanwhile she remained in the Queen's service, disguising her growing belly as best she could. In the final month of pregnancy, Bess left court and went to live with her brother in Mile End. She had remained at court until the very last moment knowing that if she could be away for less than a fortnight, she would not need a licence to authorise her absence. (290)
On 29th March, 1593, Bess gave birth to a son, Damerei. Soon afterwards she was back in the Queen's service as if nothing had happened. She realised that she was in serious danger as it was strictly forbidden for ladies-in-waiting to marry without the Queen's consent. (291)
Rumours soon began to circulate about Bess's relationship with Raleigh. Robert Cecil, the twenty-seven-year-old son of William Cecil, decided to investigate. In an interview with Cecil he denied any romantic relationship with Bess: "I beseech you to suppress what you can any such malicious report. For I protest before God, there is none on the face of the earth that I would be fastened unto." (292)
Cecil took evidence to Queen Elizabeth in May, 1593, that Bess had given birth to Raleigh's child. Both were arrested and on 7th August they were imprisoned in the Tower of London. In an attempt to win back her affection, Raleigh sent the Queen some love poems he had written. He described her as "walking like Venus, the gentle wind blowing her fair hair about her pure cheeks like a nymph." (293) As one historian pointed out: "Elizabeth was irritated rather than pacified by these gestures, smacking as they did of implicit defiance and a wholesale lack of remorse." (294)
In September, 1593, some of Raleigh's fleet arrived back in England after capturing the Portuguese ship, Madre de Dios, that was carrying a great deal of treasure that amounted to £34,000. (295) Raleigh was released at the request of Sir John Hawkins and sent to Dartmouth where he was only allowed to keep only £2,000 of the money. On 22nd December, Elizabeth Throckmorton, was also allowed to leave the Tower, only to discover that her son, Damerei, had died of the plague, while she had been imprisoned. (296)
On 1st November 1593 the couple's second child, Walter was baptized at Lillington, Dorset, near the foundations of a fine new house Raleigh was beginning to build close by the old castle at Sherborne. Raleigh was elected to the House of Commons. Over the next couple of years he warned fellow MPs of the dangers posed by Spain, demanding pre-emptive action and increased spending on the navy. (297)
Raleigh gradually rebuilt his relationship with Queen Elizabeth. Mathew Lyons, the author of The Favourite: Raleigh and His Queen (2011) has attempted to explain the reasons for this: "When Raleigh married there would be pain for both of them, but in these years when their relationship was at its zenith, there is a steady and enduring sense of comfort and ease between them, a care that transcended the fraught and difficult use to which they were sometimes compelled to put each other. I think we can call that love." (298)
After the death of Walsingham, Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, took command of the intelligence service. (299) This included the employment of Thomas Phelippes, the country's principal cryptologist. Phelippes was a linguist who could speak French, Italian, Spanish, Latin and German. He was described at the time as a man "of low stature, slender every way, dark yellow haired on the head, and clear yellow beard, eaten in the face with smallpox, of short sight, thirty years of age by appearance." (300)
Essex was now able to provide secret information direct to Queen Elizabeth. "The queen appreciated the quality of the information she received. Intelligence lay at the very heart of her policy, so she welcomed the fact that, thanks to Essex, she learned things that not even the Cecils knew. One of the secrets of her authority was an ability to boast of being the best-informed person in her realm. She could not, therefore, depend on a single source and was quite happy to encourage competition in this sphere." (301)
It is claimed that Roderigo Lopez incurred the hostility of Essex, when he revealed that he had treated him for syphilis. (302) Essex asked Phelippes to investigate Lopez. He discovered a secret correspondence between Estevão Ferreira da Gama, and the count of Fuentes, in the Spanish Netherlands. This was followed by the arrest of Lopez's courier, Gomez d'Avila. When he was interrogated he implicated Lopez. Phelippes also discovered a letter that stated: "The King of Spain had gotten three Portuguese to kill her Majesty and three more to kill the King of France". (303)
On 28th January 1594, Essex, wrote a letter to Anthony Bacon: "I have discovered a most dangerous and desperate treason. The point of conspiracy was her Majesty's death. The executioner should have been Doctor Lopez. The manner by poison. This I have so followed that I will make it appear as clear as the noon day." (304)
William Cecil was put in a difficult situation as he was employing Lopez, along with Portuguese-Jewish called Manuel de Andrada, as double-agents. To protect his sources, Cecil told Queen Elizabeth that there was no evidence against Lopez. Elizabeth told Essex that she considered the "evidence as a tissue of malicious fabrications" and Essex as a "rash and temerarious youth". (305)
According to Lacey Baldwin Smith, the author of Treason in Tudor England (2006): "Enraged and humiliated, the Earl stalked out of the royal presence, dashed at breakneck speed back to London and Essex House, and locked himself into his private bedchamber. For two days, oscillating between bouts of obsessive brooding and overwork, Essex examined, cross-examined, and re-examined everyone concerned with Lopez." (306)
Essex arranged for Manuel Luis Tinoco, and Estevão Ferreira da Gama to be tortured. They confessed that they had indeed been involved in a conspiracy with Roderigo Lopez to murder Queen Elizabeth. (307) They claimed they had agreed to poison the Queen for 50,000 crowns paid by Philip II. On the rack, he confessed that he had accepted money from the Spanish intelligence services to carry out the poisoning using exotic drugs he had obtained abroad. (308) Worn down by relentless interrogation, "Lopez agreed to all manner of improbable plots, signed his confession and so sealed his fate." (309) It has been argued that Essex was exploiting the "anti-Semitic atmosphere" of Tudor England. (310)
Sir Edward Coke, the Attorney-General, opened the trial by arguing that the three men had been seduced by Jesuit priests with great rewards to kill the Queen "being persuaded that it is glorious and meritorious, and that if they die in the action, they will inherit heaven and be canonised as saints". He pointed out that Lopez was "her Majesty's sworn servant, graced and advanced with many princely favours, used in special places of credit, permitted often access to her person, and so not suspected... This Lopez, a perjuring murdering traitor and Jewish doctor, more than Judas himself, undertook the poisoning, which was a plot more wicked, dangerous and detestable than all the former." (311)
Coke emphasized the three men's secret Judaism and they were all convicted of high treason and sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered. (312) However, the Queen remained doubtful of her doctor's guilt and delayed giving the approval needed to carry out the death sentences. William Cecil wanted to ensure that Lopez was executed to protect himself from a possible investigation. "From Cecil's point of view Lopez knew too much and therefore had to be silenced". (313)
Roderigo Lopez, Manuel Luis Tinoco, and Estevão Ferreira da Gama were executed at Tyburn on 7th June 1594, without Elizabeth ever having signed a death warrant. (314) Elizabeth allowed his widow Sarah Lopez to retain the whole of her late husband's estate. This was a sign that she was still not convinced that Lopez was really involved in a plot against her. (315)
Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex proposed to Queen Elizabeth that Francis Bacon should become her attorney-general. However, his behaviour in the House of Commons showed that he would not automatically support government policies. Bacon opposed extra taxes needed to carry out future military action. He argued that this proposed new tax would cause economic problems for his constituents: "The gentlemen must sell their plate and the farmers their brass pots were this will be paid. And as for us, we are here to search the wounds of the realm and not to skin them over". (316)
Bacon proposed that the collection of this tax should be spread over six instead of four years. This brought Bacon into conflict with Robert Cecil and other ministers of the crown. When in the course of the next few months, Bacon attempted to secure for himself "a government office of prominence and profit" he was "sharply rebuffed". As Robert Lacey, the author of Robert, Earl of Essex (1971) has pointed out: "The speech that had been intended simply to discomfort the Cecils had discomforted the Queen as well." (317)
Queen Elizabeth informed William Cecil that she thought that Bacon was "in more fault than any of the rest in Parliament". As soon as Cecil had informed him of the queen's anger Bacon tried to excuse his speech. "The manner of my speech", he told his uncle, "did most evidently show that I spake simply and only to satisfy my conscience, and not with any advantage or policy to sway the cause". In expressing his sincere opinions Bacon had simply endeavoured to signify his "duty and zeal towards her Majesty and her service".
Realizing that he had miscalculated the impact his speeches would have on the Queen and he told Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, that he would "retire myself with a couple of men to Cambridge, and there spend my life in my studies and contemplations, without looking back". No such retirement took place. In July 1594 the queen made Bacon one of her learned counsel and he was employed in several legal cases. (318)
Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, remained a close advisor to Queen Elizabeth. However, he continued to upset Elizabeth and her senior government officials with his erratic behaviour. Robert Lacey, the author of Robert, Earl of Essex (1971), believes that the answer can be found in his his early relationship with his parents: The truth must lie deeper, in the relationship between the cuckolded father he hardly saw and the intense, unfaithful mother busy stalking her new lover. The labyrinth that was Essex was knotted up in his superficial eagerness to please and his wary reluctance to commit himself, his constant testing of new friends and acquaintances. He allowed no one really close to him. Was he incapable of genuine love and friendship? He could only relax in the transparent insincerity of Court alliance or the crude platitudes of battlefield comradeship. Ever ready to slap drinking companions on the back, he was suspicious of men who asked and offered more. It was strange, for he was not incapable of subtlety, indeed sometimes he seemed overcome by the impossible contradictions he could sense in himself, succumbing to vast waves of panic, tumbling head over heels, arms flailing into a void of despair. For he could grasp no middle in himself that he could come to terms with, acting out the bluff warrior, the courtly lover, the grave man of affairs, but floundering from one persona to the next with no idea of what lay between." (319)
Devereux continued to collect intelligence reports and in 1595 he reported to Queen Elizabeth, William Cecil and Robert Cecil, that Spain was developing plans to invade England. However, after a minor Spanish raid on Cornwall late in July encouraged unanimous support for a pre-emptive strike against Spain. This decision was finalised when in April 1596, the Spanish army marched on Calais. After taking the town it laid siege to the garrison. Spain now had a foothold just across the Channel. (320)
On 3rd June 1596 the English fleet set sail for Cadiz, a major port on the Andalusian coast some forty miles from Seville. Three weeks later the fleet rounded the cape into the Bay of Biscay and began demolishing the Spanish navy. Essex led the troops ashore and stormed Cadiz and plundered the city's vast riches. (321) He boosted his personal popularity by distributing the proceeds of the raid among his men instead of reserving them for Queen Elizabeth. (322)
According to Edgar Samuel: "This day's action was the most complete and dramatic English victory of the war against Spain. However, Essex failed to convince the lord admiral that Cadiz should be held in defiance of the queen's instructions. The vast riches which were plundered from the city also made many officers anxious to return home. With great reluctance Essex agreed that Cadiz should be burned and abandoned." (323)
Essex returned to England on 8th August and was given a hero's welcome when the ship dropped anchor at Plymouth. However, Queen Elizabeth was furious with Essex for giving the booty from Cadiz to his men. She ordered William Cecil to carry out an investigation into Essex's conduct of the campaign. He was eventually cleared of incompetence but it has been claimed that Elizabeth never forgave him for his actions. (324) Essex had hoped to be appointed to the prestigious and lucrative post of master of the Court of Wards. According to Roger Lockyer the Queen refused to give him what he wanted because she "distrusted his popularity and also resented the imperious manner in which he claimed advancement. (325)
In December 1597, Queen Elizabeth appointed Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, as Earl Marshal. He now resumed his efforts to influence foreign policy and remained committed to waging an aggressive war against Spain. However, the Queen was now looking for a peaceful settlement.
In June, 1598, Essex's frustrations erupted during a meeting of the Privy Council over the appointment of a new Lord Deputy in Ireland. When he disagreed with her suggestion for the post, she responded by striking Essex over the head. Essex impetuously reached for his sword and Charles Howard, 1st Earl of Nottingham, threw himself in front of the Queen. Essex left the room shouting that he "neither could nor would put up with so great an affront and indignity." (326)
Sir Thomas Egerton, one of the senior figures in the government, wrote to Essex urging him to make peace with the Queen. He replied that "the Queen is obdurate, and I cannot be senseless. I see the end of my fortunes and have to set an end to my desires". Another source claims that Essex commented that the Queen "was as crooked in her disposition as in her carcass." (327)
On 14th August, 1598, Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone, destroyed an English army at the battle of the Yellow Ford on the Blackwater river. An estimated 900 men were killed including their commander, Henry Bagenal. (328) It was the heaviest defeat the English forces had ever experienced in Ireland. Essex now returned to Court and offered his services to deal with Tyrone. The Queen agreed and gave him a far larger army and more supplies than had been allowed for any previous Irish expedition.
It has been argued that Queen Elizabeth selected the Earl of Essex for this task because he had demonstrated on several occasions his courage and powers of leadership. "More importantly, his popularity gave him an incalculable advantage over the other candidates... Men responded to his name with enthusiasm, and this disposed of the difficulty of raising a large force - an indispensable prerequisite of success. Everyone was eager to serve under Essex." (329)
Elizabeth Jenkins, the author of Elizabeth the Great (1958) pointed out that it was not long before Essex realised he had made a serious political mistake: "But almost at once, and long before his forces were embarked, Essex was regarding his appointment with self-pitying bitterness. He had felt he owed it to himself to allow no one else to take it, but he foresaw that once he was over the Irish Sea, his enemies in Council would undermine him... He departed on a tide of popular enthusiasm, the crowd following him for four miles as he rode out of London, but from the outset he bore himself in an injured and almost hostile manner to the Queen and Council." (330)
On 27th March, 1599, Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, set off with an army of 16,000 men. He originally intended to attack the Earl of Tyrone in the north, both by sea and by land. On his arrival in Dublin he decided he needed more ships and horses to do this. Information he received suggested he was significantly outnumbered. Essex also feared that Spain would send soldiers to support the 20,000 Irishmen in Tyrone's army. (331)
Essex decided to launch an expedition against Munster and Limerick. Although this did not bring a great deal of success he knighted several of his officers. This upset the Queen as only she had the power to confer knighthoods. (332) This lasted two months and upset Queen Elizabeth who demanded that Essex confronted Tyrone's army. She pointed out that such a large army was costing her £1,000 a day. (333)
Essex insisted he could not do this until more men from England arrived. He also began to worry that his enemies were keeping him short of supplies on purpose: "I am not ignorant what are the disadvantages of absence - the opportunities of practising enemies when they are neither encountered nor overlooked." (334) As a result of military action and especially illness, Essex now only had 4,000 fit men. (335)
Essex reluctantly marched his men north. The two armies faced each other at a ford on the River Lagan. Essex, aware he was in danger of experiencing an heavy defeat, agreed to secret negotiations. (336) The two men announced a truce but it was not known at the what was said during these talks. Essex's enemies back in London began spreading rumours that he was guilty of treachery. It later emerged that Essex had offered without permission, Home Rule for Ireland. (337)
Queen Elizabeth reacted to this news by appointing Robert Cecil to become master of the Court of Wards, a lucrative post that Essex himself had hoped to occupy. Essex wrote to the Queen that "from England I have received nothing but discomfort and soul's wounds" and that "Your Majesty's favour is diverted from me and that already you do bode ill both to me and to it?" (338)
Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, decided to return to England so he could give Queen Elizabeth a detailed account of the agreements reached with the Earl of Tyrone. He brought with him 200 men and six officers. (339) Deserting his post without permission was an extremely grave step. As Anka Muhlstein has pointed out: "His panic and desperation were such that they blinded him to reality. One question remains: Was he going to court to beg the queen to forgive him, or to intimidate her?" (340)
Without stopping at Essex House to change his spoiled, mud-splattered clothes, he crossed the Thames at Westminster by the horse-ferry, and after landing at Lambeth he rode on to Nonsuch Palace at Stoneleigh. On arriving he walked unannounced into Elizabeth's Bedchamber. The Queen had just a simple robe over her nightdress, her wrinkled skin was free of cosmetics and without her wig Essex saw her bald head with just wisps of thinning grey hair "hanging about her ears". This was the reality of the Queen's natural body that no one, except her trusted servants, saw. (341)
Although no man had ever entered her Bedchamber uninvited, the Queen remained calm, not knowing whether or not she was in danger, fearing that he might be leading an attempted coup. Elizabeth refused to talk to him and said she would arrange a meeting with the Privy Council the following day. Messengers were immediately dispatched to London and later that day senior officials arrived with news that their were no signs of an uprising. (342)
Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, was now arrested and interrogated. He was accused of committing a series of offences. The councillors accused him of disobeying the Queen's direct orders and deserting his command in Ireland. They also complained about entering the Queen's Bedchamber without permission. (343) Essex was criticised for knighting dozens of his junior officers without authority. This charge was especially serious. He was accused of trying to create a following composed of men entirely devoted to his service. Essex was held in custody in York House on the Strand and forbidden to leave or receive visitors. (344)
Essex's sister, Lady Penelope Rich, presented Queen Elizabeth with a strongly worded letter. In it she defended her brother, denounced his enemies and complained that Essex had not been allowed enough time to answer his critics. Elizabeth was outraged at Lady Penelope's letter and complained to Robert Cecil about her "stomach and presumption" and ordered her not to leave her house. Soon afterwards copies of the letter was being sold on the streets of London. (345) Essex's mother, Lettice Knollys, left her country estate to come to London to petition for her son's release. Elizabeth, who had never forgiven Lettice for marrying Robert Dudley, immediately rejected this plea. (346)
Essex's health was given cause of concern. On 18th December 1599, it appeared he was on the verge of death. This prompted several churches in London to ring their bells or offer special prayers for him. This upset Queen Elizabeth and her Privy Council as he highlighted the fact that Essex remained a popular figure in England. (347)
Essex gradually recovered and on 7th February, 1560, he was visited by a delegation from the Privy Council and was accused of holding unlawful assemblies and fortifying his house. (348) Fearing arrest and execution he placed the delegation under armed guard in his library and the following day set off with a group of two hundred well-armed friends and followers, entered the city. Essex urged the people of London to join with him against the forces that threatened the Queen and the country. This included Robert Cecil and Walter Raleigh. He claimed that his enemies were going to murder him and the "crown of England" was going to be sold to Spain. (349)
At Ludgate Hill his band of men were met by a company of soldiers. As his followers scattered, several men were killed. Essex and about 50 men managed to escape but when he tried to return to Essex House he found it surrounded by the Queen's soldiers. Essex surrendered and was imprisoned in the Tower of London. (350)
On 19th February, 1560, Essex and some of his men were tried at Westminster Hall. He was accused of plotting to deprive the Queen of her crown and life as well as inciting Londoners to rebel. Essex protested that "he never wished harm to his sovereign". The coup, he claimed was merely intended to secure access for Essex to the Queen". He believed that if he was able to gain an audience with Elizabeth, and she heard his grievances, he would be restored to her favour. Essex was found guilty of treason and sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered. (351)
In the early hours of 25th February, Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, attended by three priests, sixteen guards and the Lieutenant of the Tower, walked to his execution. In deference to his rank, the punishment was changed to being beheaded in private, on Tower Hill. (352) Essex was wearing doublet and breeches of black satin, covered by a black velvet gown; he also wore a black felt hat. (353)
As he knelt before the scaffold Essex made a long and emotional speech of confession where he admitted that he was "the greatest, the most vilest, and most unthankful traitor that ever has been in the land". His sins were "more in number than the hairs" of his head. It took three strokes of the axe to sever his head. (354)
Queen Elizabeth was playing the virginals when a messenger brought confirmation of Essex's death. She received the news in silence. After a few minutes she began to play again. (355) Robert Lacey has pointed out: "This was a relationship of convenience founded initially perhaps upon passing infatuation but drawing its real life from the profit motive of one, the ageing insecurity of the other and the vanity of both. When the profit vanished, when age proved inescapable and when the vanity exhausted itself then the relationship collapsed." (356)
William Cecil, Lord Burghley, the only man that Queen Elizabeth probably loved, became very ill and it seemed that he was near death. Queen Elizabeth prayed for him daily and frequently visited him. "When the patient's food was brought and she saw that his gouty hands could not lift the spoon, she fed him. (357) Burghley died on 4th August 1598. Elizabeth was deeply affected, retiring to her home to weep alone. (358) It is claimed that for the next few months the Privy Council did their best not to mention him at meetings when the Queen was present because it always made her breakdown in tears. (359)
Burghley's son, Robert Cecil, had over the years become a senior advisor to Queen Elizabeth. Some of his enemies believed that without the support of his father, his political career would go into decline. However, Elizabeth trusted Cecil and appointed him master of the Court of Wards. According to Pauline Croft this lucrative post "controlled a great array of patronage both at court and in the counties". However, "by far the most significant aspect of his elevation was that it signalled unequivocally that the queen recognized his personal worth and ability". (360)
Queen Elizabeth was now sixty-years old: "Her nose had slightly thickened, her eyes became sunken, and as she had lost several teeth on the left side of her mouth it was difficult for foreigners to catch her words when she spoke fast, but the impression she made in her last decade was one of astonishing energy for her years. She was erect and active as ever and though her face was wrinkled her skin preserved its flawless white." (361)
Elizabeth, who had difficulty sleeping, often worked before delight with her officials. All measures relating to public affairs were read over to her and she made notes on them, either in her own hand or dictating her comments to secretaries. Robert Cecil discovered he had to be very careful with the way he treated the Queen. During one long meeting with her one evening he noticed she looked tired and suggested that she "must" go to bed. The Queen replied, "Little man, little man, the word must is not to be used to Princes." (362)
Queen Elizabeth, was 67 years-old on 7th September, 1600. When she was younger she enjoyed riding, walking and dancing. However, for the past few years her frequent illnesses had pulled her down alarmingly. Ambassadors reported that she had suffered from fever, gastric attacks and neuralgia. She was described as "very thin", "the colour of a corpse" and that "her bones could be counted". At the opening of Parliament her robes of velvet and ermine were found to be too heavy for her and on the steps of the throne she staggered and was only saved from falling by the peer who stood next to her. (363)
Robert Cecil made strenuous attempts to sort out the Queen's finances that had been badly damaged by recent military adventures. Cecil advocated a foreign policy of peaceful co-existence with other major powers in Europe. When she ascended the throne the ordinary revenue amounted to some £200,000 a year, to which parliamentary subsidies added £50,000. By 1600 ordinary revenue had increased to £300,000, and parliamentary subsidies were now worth £135,000. Yet during this period the Queen's expenditure had gone up far more than her income. This was partly due to inflation. Between 1560 and 1600 prices had risen by at least 75%. (364)
Queen Elizabeth had to constantly appeal to Parliament to grant her more money. However, by 1601 members began to express doubts about whether the country could actually bear so heavy a burden of taxation. They also complained bitterly about Elizabeth's policy of granting of monopolies. These were patents granted to individuals which allowed them to manufacture or distribute certain named articles for their private profit. It was a device by which Elizabeth could confer benefits on favoured courtiers without putting her to any personal expense. (365)
In the 1601 Parliament one member called monopolists "bloodsuckers of the commonwealth" and argued that they brought "the general profit into a private hand". In the last few years the Queen had granted at least thirty new patents on items that included currants, iron, bottles, vinegar, brushes, pots, salt, lead and oil. Francis Bacon suggested that Parliament petition the Queen over this issue but some members wanted to take more direct action. Robert Cecil said he had never seen Parliament like this before: "This is more fit for a grammar school than a court of Parliament". As a result of these complaints proclamations were therefore issued cancelling the principal monopolies. In return, Parliament agreed to impose taxes in order to increase the Queen's income. (366)
Robert Cecil believed that James VI of Scotland was by far the strongest claimant to the English throne, but Elizabeth could not be brought to acknowledge him openly as her heir. In May 1601 Cecil took the decision to begin secret negotiations with James. "The secret correspondence between them was legally treasonable, but Cecil sensed that such a link was the only practical way to ensure in advance that the transition of power, whenever it came, would be peaceful." (367)
Cecil's covert correspondence was in code. Cecil was "10", Elizabeth "24" and James "30". Although he knew the Queen would disapprove of these negotiations he later justified his actions by arguing that "even with strictest loyalty and soundest reason for faithful ministers to conceal sometimes both thoughts and actions from princes when they are persuaded it is for their greater service". He added "if her Majesty had known all I did... her age... joined to the jealously of her sex, might have moved her to think ill of that which helped to preserve her." (368)
Her final illness began late in 1602 and thereafter her decline was steady. Robert Cecil wrote to George Nicholson, the Queen's agent in Edinburgh, that Elizabeth "hath good appetite, and neither cough nor fever, yet she is troubled with a heat in her breasts and dryness in her mouth and tongue, which keeps her from sleep, greatly to her disquiet." (369)
Unable to eat much and unwilling to sleep, her last days were difficult. Aware that she was dying Cecil attempted to persuade her to nominate a successor. Believing her unable to speak, they offered to run through a list of candidates and asked her to lift a finger if she wished to approve one. Various names left her unmoved. However, when she got to the name of Edward Seymour, Viscount Beauchamp, she burst into life: "I will have no rascal's son in my seat, but one worthy to be a king." (370)
Soon afterwards an abscess burst in her throat and she recovered a little and was able to sip some broth. Then she declined again and knowing the end was coming, Cecil asked her if she accepted James VI of Scotland as her successor. She had lost the power of speech and merely made a gesture towards her head which they interpreted as one of consent. (371)
Comte de Beaumont, the French ambassador, wrote to King Henry IV on 14th March, that the Queen did not speak for three days. When she regained consciousness she said, "I wish not to live any longer, but desire to die." He added that "she is moreover said to be no longer in her right senses: this, however, is a mistake; she has only had some slight wanderings at intervals." (372)
Four days later Beaumont reported: "The Queen is already quite exhausted, and sometimes, for two or three days together, does not speak a word. For the last two days she has her finger almost always in her mouth, and sits upon cushions, without rising or lying down, her eyes open and fixed on the ground. Her long wakefulness and want of food have exhausted her already weak and emaciated frame, and have produced heat in the stomach, and also the drying up of all the juices, for the last ten or twelve days." (373)
On 24th March, 1603, Archbishop John Whitgift was instructed to visit the Queen. The seventy-three year old head of the church knelt by her bed and prayed. After about 30 minutes he attempted to get up but she made a sign that suggested he carried on praying. He did so for another half-hour and when he attempted to rise, the Queen gestured with her hand to keep on the floor. Eventually, she sank into unconsciousness and he was allowed to leave the room. She died later that evening. (374)
It was Robert Cecil who read out the proclamation announcing James as the next king of England on the day Elizabeth died, first at Whitehall and then at the gates to the City of London. The following day James wrote from Edinburgh informally confirming all the privy council in their positions, adding in his own hand to Cecil, "How happy I think myself by the conquest of so wise a councillor I reserve it to be expressed out of my own mouth unto you". (375)
Cecil remained in London for a short time, to ascertain that there was no outbreak of trouble in the capital or elsewhere over the change of dynasty, and also to make arrangements for Elizabeth's funeral. (376) On Thursday 28th April, a procession of more than a thousand people made its way from Whitehall to Westminster Abbey. "Led by bell-ringers and knight marshals, who cleared the way with their gold staves, the funeral cortege stretched for miles. First came 260 poor women... Then came the lower ranking servants of the royal household and the servants of the nobles and courtiers. Two of the Queen's horses, riderless and covered in black cloth, led the bearers of the hereditary standards... The focal point of the procession was the royal chariot carrying the Queen's hearse, draped in purple velvet and pulled by four horses... On top of the coffin was the life-size effigy of Elizabeth... Sir Walter Raleigh and the Royal Guard walking five abreast, brought up the rear, their halberds held downwards as a sign of sorrow." (377)
The King's obsessive desire for the son whom his first twenty years of marriage had not given him was the source of the energy with which he shouldered through the breach with Rome; its immediate inspiration was his passion for Elizabeth's mother. Thin, black-eyed, excitable, tart and witty, Ann Boleyn made gentleness and amiability appear insipid. The French Ambassador Du Bellay said that the King's infatuation for her was such, that only God could abate his madness. For six years she refused to gratify his passion, keeping the lustful and domineering King in a white heat of desire. When the divorce was all but accomplished she yielded to him, and the marriage was performed secretly that the coming child might be the heir to its father's throne.
The marriage was celebrated in the dark of a winter's morning, but the coronation procession was made in brilliant weather on the last day of May. In her ruby wreath and her robes of glittering silver, "a woman clothed with the sun", Ann was borne on her way, the King's wife, to be crowned Queen and five months gone with child. Her long-sustained effort had resulted in an enormous triumph.
Her child proved to be a girl, and from that hour her influence began to wane. Two miscarriages diminished it further. The shrewishness, verging upon hysteria, to which she was driven by the dreadful sense of failure, paved the way for a successor of meek, adoring tenderness. The situation grew rapidly worse and alarm only sharpened her overbearing temper. When she discovered the King making love to her lady-in-waiting, Jane Seymour, she burst into furious denunciation; the rage brought on a premature labour and she was delivered of a dead boy. In Sir John Neale's words, "she had miscarried of her saviour".
Her reckless behaviour had provided ample means to destroy her. She was at Greenwich after the fatal miscarriage, where she was suddenly arrested and brought to the Tower in the month of May. The only description of the Queen with her child Elizabeth belongs to the days immediately before the arrest....
The Queen was charged with having committed adultery with five men, of whom one was her brother, and condemned on a verdict of high treason to be beheaded or burned alive at the King's pleasure. The Lieutenant of the Tower reported her as falling into fit after fit, alternately weeping and laughing. Some mercy was shown to her by the bringing over from Calais of a notably skilful headsman who used a sword instead of an axe. The Lieutenant assured her she would feel no pain, and she accepted his assurance. "I have a little neck," she said, and putting her hand round it, she shrieked with laughter.
On May 19 she was beheaded on Tower Green, a few minutes before noon. The guns of the Tower were fired to mark the act and the King, who was hunting in Richmond Park, paused beneath an oak tree to catch the sound. That night he was at the Seymours' house in Wiltshire, whence he married Jane Seymour the next morning. Meanwhile the head and body of Ann Boleyn had been put into a chest made for arrows and carried a few paces from the scaffold into the, chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula, where she was buried in a grave beside her brother's. Her daughter was not three years old.
The child was a lively little creature with reddish golden hair, a very white skin, and eyes of golden-brown with brows and lashes so fair as to be almost invisible. Though headstrong, she was remarkably teachable. Her excellent governess, Lady Bryan, said that she was spoiling the child at present because she was in pain with cutting her double teeth, but once this was over, Lady Bryan meant to have her behaving very differently.
The question of how the King would now regard her was an anxious one to those in charge of Elizabeth. Lady Bryan wrote with pathetic eagerness to the great minister Cromwell, saying she was sure that when the Princess had got over her teething, the King would be delighted with his little girl. Meanwhile, she was in dire need of clothes.
Her mother had dressed her beautifully, and in the mercer's account for the last year of Ann Boleyn's life, included in the lists of the Queen's dresses, are the kirtles made for "my Lady Princess": orange velvet, russet velvet, yellow satin, white damask. One of the last items was green satin for "a little bed". But the account had been closed in April 1536, over a year previously, and Elizabeth had outworn and outgrown almost everything she had; she wanted gowns kirtles, petticoats, smocks, night-gowns, stays, handkerchiefs, caps. "I have driven it off as best I can," Lady Bryan wrote, "that by my troth I can drive it off no longer; beseeching you, my Lord, that ye will see that her Grace hath that which is needful for her."
Inimical fortune, envious of all good and ever revolving human affairs, has deprived me for a whole year of your most illustrious presence, and, not thus content, has yet again robbed me of the same good; which thing would be intolerable to me, did I not hope to enjoy it very soon. And in this my exile I well know that the clemency of your Highness has had as much care and solicitude for my health as the King's Majesty himself. By which thing I am not only bound to serve you, but also to revere you with filial love, since I understand that your most illustrious Highness has not forgotten me every time you have written to the King's Majesty, which, indeed, it was my duty to have requested from you. For heretofore I have not dared to write to him. Wherefore I now humbly pray your most excellent Highness, that, when you write to his Majesty, you will condescend to recommend me to him, praying ever for his sweet benediction, and similarly entreating our Lord God to send him best success, and the obtaining of victory over his enemies, so that your Highness and I may, as soon as possible, rejoice together with him on his happy return. No less pray I God that he would preserve your most illustrious Highness; to whose grace, humbly kissing your hands, I offer and recommend myself... Your most obedient daughter, and most faithful servant, Elizabeth.
Although I could not be plentiful in giving thanks for the manifold kindness received at your highness' hand at my
departure, yet I am something to be borne withal, for truly I was replete with sorrow to depart from your highness, especially leaving you undoubtful of health. And albeit I answered little, I weighed it more deeper when you said you would warn me of all evils that you should hear of me; for if your grace had not a good opinion of me, you would not have offered friendship to me that way that all men judge the contrary. But what may I more say than thank God for providing such friends to me, desiring God to enrich me with their long life, and me grace to be in heart no less thankful to receive it than I now am glad in writing to show it. And although I have plenty of matter, here I will stay for I know you are not quiet to read.
Tell her (Elizabeth) from me that... I must warn her to consider deeply the evils which may result in England from a change in religion... if this change is made all idea of my marriage with her must be broken off.
Queen Elizabeth... said that so much money was taken out of the country for the Pope every year that she must put an end to it... she kept repeating to me that she was a heretic and consequently could not marry your Majesty.
The Queen of the Scots is and shall always be a dangerous person to your estate. Yet there are degrees of danger. If she is kept a prisoner... it will be less, if at liberty, greater.
Since that guilty woman (Elizabeth) ... is the cause of so much injury to the Catholic faith... there is no doubt that whosoever sends her out of the world... not only does not sin but gains merit... And so, if those English gentlemen decide actually to undertake so glorious a work, your Lordship can assure them that they do not commit any sin.
None knew better (than Elizabeth) the art... of commanding men.
No one's mind is quicker than hers, no memory more retentive... French and Italian she speaks like English; Latin with fluency.
Elizabeth, Queen of England... is the servant of wickedness... This woman, having seized the kingdom of England and... has reduced it into a miserable and ruinous condition.
She is tall with a good skin... she has fine eyes and above all, beautiful hands... Her intellect and understanding are wonderful.
Stubbs and Page had their right hands cut off with a cleaver, driven through the wrist by the force of a mallet, upon a scaffold in the market-place at Westminster... I remember that Stubbs, after his right hand was cut off, took off his hat with his left, and said with a loud voice, "God Save the Queen"; the crowd standing about was deeply silent: either out of horror at this new punishment; or else out of sadness.
You will never marry... the Queen of England is too proud to suffer a commander... you think if you were married, you would only be Queen of England, and now you are king and queen both.
I understand that she (Elizabeth) can not have children.
By judgement of physicians acquainted with her Majesty's body... she can have children. The investigation... proves that her Majesty to be very apt for the procreation of children.
Who was the queen's husband to be, and what power was he to have over the government of the country? ... If he were a foreigner there was no knowing what power he might get over the queen, power which he would very likely use for the good of a foreign country, and not for the good of England. On the other hand, if he were an Englishman, he must be chosen from among the queen's subjects, and then it was certain that there would be jealousy and strife among all the great nobles in the country when they saw one of their number picked out and made king over them.
As long as I live, I shall be Queen of England. When I am dead they shall succeed me who have the most right... I know the English people, how they always dislike the present government and have their eyes fixed upon that person who is next to succeed.
Her face was oblong, fair but wrinkled; her eyes small, yet black and pleasant; her nose a little hooked, her lips narrow... her hair... an auburn colour, but false.
On her head she wore a great reddish-coloured wig... As for her face, it is very aged. Her teeth are very yellow and irregular... Many of them are missing, so that one cannot understand her easily when she speaks.