The Name of a Queen: William Fleetwood’s Itinerarium ad Windsor

The Name of a Queen: William Fleetwood’s Itinerarium ad Windsor

The Name of a Queen: William Fleetwood’s Itinerarium ad Windsor

The Name of a Queen: William Fleetwood’s Itinerarium ad Windsor
edited by Charles Beem and Dennis Moore
publisher:  Palgrave McMillian
date:  2013
pages: 203

While no contemporary manuscript of the Itinerarium ad Windsor has survived, several 17th century copies have from which Dennis Moore, in “Chapter 1” of The Name of a Queen:  William Fleetwood’s Itinerarium ad Windsor, has provided a reproduction.

William Fleetwood, The Master Recorder— the recorder of London which meant chief law enforcement officer— relates a conversation conducted on horseback from London to Windsor in 1575 between himself, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, Thomas Sackville, Lord Buckhurst and later first Earl of Dorset and John Dudley, a relative of Leicester’s.

Fleetwood was a distinguished lawyer, a 30-year member of Parliament for London, a member of Middle Temple, serjeant at law and eventually the Queen’s Serjeant.  His interest in legal scholarship led him to search out the history of English laws and institutions and applied such findings to current events. Leister’s question, “Why should a woman be allowed to rule with the same powers as a king?” provided an excellent way for Fleetwood to showcase his scholarly approach to contemporary issues.

Fleetwood’s Itinerarium is often overlooked (understandable as it was not widely published) and contains a remarkable difference. Where most conversations focused on the traditional moral rationale or quotations from scripture and other religious texts in discourse on female rule, Fleetwood used legal doctrines and moral philosophies in a less formal setting, riding on horseback.

It is not of interest here to determine the fiction from direct documentation of Fleetwood’s text, the purpose is to respond to what was said even if the speeches were improved and researched after the fact.

This entire edition includes annotations and scholarly essays by leading experts who provide background material, contextual narratives and interpretations of Elizabethan sources beyond Fleetwood’s Itinerarium, which only takes up 15 of the 203 pages.

Although often repetitive (several times the authors covered territory already mentioned in a previous chapter) the essays provide excellent information to understand the Fleetwood manuscript and the impact of “Bloody” Mary’s reign, Elizabeth’s views toward marriage and her rule and to explain the concerns and fears of having a female monarch. A positive, valuable source for understanding 16th century views of regnant queenship.