Path to St. Peter ad Vincula Part VII – F

Path to St. Peter ad Vincula Part VII – F

The fall of Anne Boleyn will never be fully understood or explained. Her descent  appears to have happened so quickly as to baffle scholars and lay-people alike.  Most likely it was the result of many factors that came to head all at once: the revenge of Cromwell for past slights, the political situation — both domestic and international — the religious circumstances and the disillusionment of King Henry.

Henry’s role in Anne’s demise, often described as that of an innocent victim–a righteous man who, when presented with the facts of his adulterous wife, follows the letter of the law and allows officialdom to prosecute her as appropriate. Rumors spread that there were spies in her household and that “the King hates the Queen, because she has not presented him with an heir to the realm, nor was there any prospect of her so doing” (Stevenson 1312).  Henry, frustrated by a politically active, argumentative wife, saw Anne’s demise as the only way out.  Divorce was not enough, nor was execution.  Henry’s rage required both punishments inflicted on Anne along with the defamation of her character.

henry viii younger
King Henry VIII

No rumor was considered too fanciful to believe.  Stories circulated that the honor Anne had acquired to join the royal court in France stemmed from the fact that at “fifteen she sinned first with her father’s butler, and then with his chaplain, and forthwith was sent to France” (Sander 25).  While in France, Anne was supposed to have been the lover of many couriers and “her conversation hath been so loose and base” (Harpsfield 253) and her behavior “so rank and common” (Friedmann 298) that understandably she was “audacious and licentious in the prosecution of her detestable and abominable vices” (Gairdner X 54).

There was no end to the implied and declared evils of Anne by the Spanish Ambassador, Eustace Chapuys.  He claimed her to be a seductress and murderess, “whose importunate and malignant cravings are well known” (de Gayangos 1133).  Convinced that Anne would try to poison Queen Katherine and Princess Mary, Chapuys reported that although the “Queen has no fears, but is marvelously concerned for the Princess” (Gairdner VI 351). Added to the speculation that Anne tried to murder members of the royal family, there was laid the charge of her role in the deaths of public figures.  Bishop Fisher of Rochester and Sir Thomas More were “both inscribed on the black-list of the revengeful mistress, who never rested from her ill offices toward them, until their heads had fallen” (Herbert, Henry 171).

“Yet did not our King love her at first”(Herbert, Edward 285).  Although Henry was touted as a hero of the Protestant cause and liberator of the English peoples, he also was blamed for how he “stained the purity of his action by intermingling with it a weak passion for a foolish and bad woman, and bitterly he had to suffer for his mistake” (Froude 324).  “A long catalog of misdeeds had been registered…”  It was puzzling to many that Henry did not realize Anne had “worn a mask so long” and never gave Henry “occasion for dissatisfaction.  Incidents must have occurred in the details of daily life, if not to rouse his suspicions, yet to have let him see that the woman for whom he had fought so fierce a battle had never been worthy what she had cost him”  (Froude 402).

Anne Boleyn Hever
Anne Boleyn 

These sentiments are very different from when Anne was at her heyday; yet, all was not as it seemed as observed by Jean du Bellay, Bishop of Bayonne, Ambassador from France on December 9, 1528.  “I see they mean to accustom the people by degrees to endure her, so that when the great blow comes it may not be thought strange. However, the people remain quite hardened, and I think they would do more if they had more power; but great order is continually taken” (Brewer IV 5016).

Hence a severe ordinance was issued “against any that spoke ill of her; which shut people’s mouths when they knew what ought not to be concealed.”  Anne could do as she pleased and “if perhaps taken with the love of some favored person, she could treat her friends according to her pleasure, owing to the ordinance. But that law could not secure to her lasting friendships, and the King daily cooled in his affection” (Gairdner X 1036).  Therefore, with the King’s new policies and his actions, such as the execution of More, causing so much hostility toward Anne Boleyn, the Crown’s agents were kept busy trying to preserve public order and ensure the people would accept the new edicts.  Records show several examples of the investigations into many reported violations.  Although the punishments are not always documented, below are brief summaries of some of the charges against those of all stations of life.

In April of 1532 Charles Brandon’s kinsman, William Peninthum was assaulted and killed by the men in the service of the Duke of Norfolk.  When Thomas Cromwell investigated it came to light that the root of the trouble came from “opprobrious language uttered against Madam Anne by his Majesty’s sister, the Duchess of Suffolk, Queen Dowager of France” (Brown IV 761).

Suffolks
Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk and Mary, Dowager Queen of France, Duchess of Suffolk.

Edward Earl of Derby and Sir Henry Farington wrote a letter to Henry VIII concerning the widespread discontent over his marriage to Anne Boleyn.  The men informed Henry that they felt compelled to send a letter of the examinations they had made of various witnesses because of “the discharge of our duties” (Ellis 42).  Sir Edward and Sir Farington “perceyve your graces pleasor is that a lewde and noghty priest inhabytyng in thise partyes, who hathe of late reported and spoken befor and in the audyence of certeyn persons sundry and diverse unfyttyng and sklaunderous words, aswell by your Highnes as by the Quenes grace” (Ellis 42).  They assured Henry that they “have called befor us suche persons whose names and dsposicions hereafter do enue; and the same persons did examyn upon ther othes at Ley in the Countie of Lancaster” (Ellis 43).

In 1533 a Warwickshire priest called Anne “a harlot and maintainer of heretics” and expressed the hope that “she would be burned at Smithfield” (Haigh 141).

Evidently, in Lancashire, when Sir Richard Clerke, a vicar at Leigh, read out the proclamation declaring Katherine of Aragon as Princess Dowager, “Sir Jamys Harrison priest hering the said proclamacion, said that Quene Katharyn was Quene, And that Nan Bullen whuld not be Quene, nor the King to be no King but on his bering” (Ellis 43).  Substantiated by many witnesses, a more strongly worded exclamation was related that “Sir Jamys said I will take non for Quene but Quene Katharin; who the devell made Nan Bullen that hoore Quene, for I will never take her for Quene, and the King on his bering” (Ellis 44).

Katherine-of-aragon
Katharine of Aragon 

A scuffle between an ostler of the White Horse in Cambridge with a customer, Henry Kilby, in May of 1534 did not go unnoticed by the authorities.  During a discussion over the religious changes occurring in the country, the inn worker declared that “this business had never been if the king had not married Anne Boleyn” (Wilson).  He was duly reported after blows were exchanged between the two men.

Sir Walter Stonor described, in a letter to Master Secretary Cromwell, the affidavit presented by John Dawson of Watlyngton in June of 1534.  Dawson and a William Goode, the constable, documented a conversation which took place between Mrs. Burgyn of Watlington in Oxfordshire and her midwife, Joan Hammulden.  It was alleged that while in labor Burgyn praised Hammulden by saying that “for her honesty and cunning … she might be midwife to the Queen of England, if it were Queen Catherine, and if it were Queen Anne she was too good to be her midwife, for she was a whore and a harlot for her living” (Elton 279).  Mrs. Burgyn counter claimed that Joan replied that “it was never merry in England since there was three queens in it and …there would be fewer shortly” (Gairdner VII 840).

On 20 August 1535, the high constable of South Brent, John Gillinge, and John Buckett informed Thomas Clerk and William Vowell that “David Leonard, hooper, an Irishman, had said, ‘God save king Henry and queen Katharine his wedded wife, and Anne at his pleasure, for whom all England shall rue” (Gairdner IX 136).

In 1535, Margaret Chaunseler (of Suffolk) earned notoriety by calling Queen Anne “a goggle-eyed whore” (Elton 137) and a lay brother of Roche Abbey thought that Anne was not the queen but ‘Anne the bawd’ (Haigh 141).

roche abbey
Roche Abbey Ruins

No slander was deemed too outrageous to be believed. As Chapuys succinctly said to his emperor, “These things are monstrous and difficult to believe yet, the obstinacy of the King and malice of this cursed woman everything may be apprehended” (Gairdner VII 726).  While not prosecuted in any way, Eustace Chapuys continued his diplomatic campaigned against Anne.  In May 1536, he wrote to Monseigneur de Granvelle describing Anne as “the English Messalina, or Agrippina” (Gairdner X 54). For an interesting article on Agrippina see Romm, James. “The Woman Who Would Rule Rome.” History Today 64.4 (2014): 10-16. Print.  Meanwhile, all the time Anne was being protected against these raucous mutterings, her descent was in progress.  Many at Court were watching and waiting.

For References, please refer to the blog entry, Path to St. Peter ad Vincula-Part I

 

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Words to the Wise

Words to the Wise

What is wisdom?  If we followed Aristotle’s idea of the practicality of wisdom not only would a person choose the best means to the ends or goals they may have, but also the ‘correct’ ends.  Now the discussion takes on another dimension involving ethical choices.  And where do we insert experiences, knowledge, perceptions, logic?  Regardless of the definition of wisdom, is it applied differently depending on the person and their role in life, such as a ruler?  If a head of state is expected to make decisions wisely, how do we judge the wisdom of the decisions?  Is it simply because we agree with her or his choices?

We have much evidence that Henry VII and Elizabeth Regina were wise given the profuse use of the word to describe them both.  With Henry we are assured that this “King, to speak of him in terms equal to his deserving, was one of the best sort of wonders, a wonder for wise men” (Bacon and Lumby 211).  Praise indeed.

henry 7          elizagheer2

Henry VII                                      Elizabeth Regina

Both Polydore Vergil, an Italian priest who arrived in Britain in the year 1502 and was commissioned by King Henry VII to write a history of Britain, and Edward Hall, a Henrican contemporary, commented on Henry’s wisdom, shrewdness, prudence and resoluteness especially in moments of danger.  “Kyng Henry being made wyse and expert with troubles and myschiefes before” in the time of his exile (Hall 435).  Vergil and Hall also observed how the people respected his abilities and “no one dared to get the better of him through deceit or guile” (Vergil 144).

polydore vergil  Edward Hall

Polydore Vergil                                                  Edward Hall

John Fisher, the Bishop of Rochester spoke glowingly of Henry.  Below are the text and the modern script of his oratory about Henry:

Fisher sermon   john fisher

 

John Fisher

All be it he had as much of them                                             
as was possible in manner for any king to have, his
politic wisdom in governance it was singular, his
wit always quick and ready, his reason pithy and
substantial, his memory fresh and holding, his
experience notable, his counsels fortunate and taken
by wise deliberation, his speech gracious in divers
languages … his dealing in time
of perils and dangers was cold and sober with great
hardiness.

Francis Bacon also reported that Henry’s “wit increased upon the occasion; and so much the more, if the occasion were sharpened by danger.  Again, whether it were the shortness of his foresight, or the strength of his will, or the dazzling of his suspicions…” (Bacon and Lumby 219).

Henry’s suspicions made him guarded in his dealings with others, in his plans and his strategies.  Perhaps it was this guarded behavior that led to the many chroniclers referring to him as shrewd.  He was “undoubtedly shrewd, calculating, and long-headed; he seems never to have been overcome by passion” (Elton 16).

He was so shrewd he could make good use of what little advantages he had and in turn he was not a man of whom people could take advantage.  Henry was very prudent in his selection of advisors.  He “cogregated together the sage councelers of his realme, in which coiisail like a prince of just faith and true of promes… (Hall 423).

Men wanted to serve him but they could not tell what was on Henry’s mind.  As a “wise Prince, it was but keeping of distance, which indeed he did towards all; not admitting any near or full approach, either to his power, or to his secrets: for he was governed by none” (Bacon and Lumby 215).

“Few indeed were the councillors that shared his confidence, but the wise men, competent to form an estimate of his statesmanship, had but one opinion of his consummate wisdom” (Gairdner 209).

Henry could not be called a learned man yet he was a lover of learning and gave his children an excellent education (Gairdner 217).  Famously in 1498-99 Erasmus met with the then future Henry VIII when he was eight in 1498-1499 and still in the royal nursery at Eltham in Kent.  Henry appreciated the humanist movement and ensured his sons were grounded in a classical education. Henry VII supported universities as well as his wife’s and mother’s patronage of colleges.  He purchased books and acquired a library.  “He was rather studious than learned; read most books that were of any worth, in the French tongue, yet he understood the Latin, as appeareth in that cardinal Adrian and Others, who could very well have written French, did use to write to him in Latin” (Bacon and Lumby 218). John Fisher spoke of Henry knowing many languages, the “fruit of his long exile” (Fisher).  Perhaps the best ‘education’ he had was the exposure to various governmental methods while in exile and visiting other Courts in Brittany and France.

eltham exterior                 Eltham_palace_GreatHall

Exterior and Interior of Eltham Palace

Henry brought with him the experiences and knowledge of the cultures of France, Burgundy and Brittany with the secular classical themes. “This trend had already been apparent at Edward IV’s court, but Henry was an important influence in encouraging trends which were to lead to the flowering of Renaissance culture at the Tudor court in the 16th century” (Loades 71). He made “princely use of his wealth, encouraged scholarship and music as well as architecture, and dazzled the eyes of foreign ambassadors with the spendour of his receptions” (Gairdner 9).

Ambassadors were astonished not only with his Court but with the depth of knowledge he displayed of the situations in their own countries and “that they did write ever to their superiors in high terms, considering his wisdom and art of rule:  nay, when they were returned, they did commonly maintain intelligence with him” (Bacon and Lumby 216)

Henry’s prudent policies, circumspect behaviors and political wisdom earned him high praise from contemporaries and historians.  “He was of an high mind and loved his own will and his own way, as one that revered himself and would reign…” with triumph as he excelled at so many things (Bacon 793).  He was successful.  He was prudent.  He was wise. He was emulated by his granddaughter, Elizabeth Regina.

Events in Elizabeth’s childhood taught her not to speak or act unwisely; her very life depended upon deliberate, cautious actions. These early lessons contributed to her wisdom and, along with her characteristics of intelligence, tenacity, compromise, and subtlety, she became well-respected.  Even after centuries, most historians and chroniclers explain “even her errors of taste and judgment as superlative examples of political skill” (Elton 262).

Author Jasper Ridley is one of the few dissenters.  He proposed that the truth was that “Elizabeth was an emotional woman, and often acted on impulse, and not from cunning political calculation” (Ridley 41).  Her successes were not by good policy and planning, “but by luck, by muddling through…” (Ridley 335).

As much as one respects the interpretation of Ridley, overwhelming examples, even if disregarding sycophantic inclinations of contemporaries, show her intelligence and wisdom.

Maximilien de Bethune, Baron de Rosny, ambassador from France, exclaimed “this great Queen merited the whole of that great reputation she had throughout Europe” concerning her grasp for the political situation in Europe (Hibbert 115).  Even as she aged, diplomats were still astounded at her grasp of affairs of state.  Andre de Maisse, the French ambassador, thought her shrewd, calculating, statesmanlike and well-informed.

baron de rosny                             demassie

Baron de Rosny                                Andre de Maisse

Her Clerk of the Council, Robert Beale, believed that she was a “princess of great wisdom, learning and experience” and Sir John Harington wrote how Elizabeth would pass her judgment on matters and knew how to “cunningly commit the good issue to her own honour and understanding…” (Sitwell 87). Harington also observed that he “never did find greater show of understanding and learning than she was blessed with” (Hibbert 114).

johnharington

Sir John Harington

The success of Elizabeth’s education is well-known and documented.  Her preference for Roger Ascham as her tutor showed early on her judgment in men.  He was an excellent choice and provided her not only a thorough education but a life-time love of learning. Even as queen, Elizabeth continued her studies as it was well-known she spent a part of her day reading and at study “by a wise distribution of her time” (Bohun 346).  Ascham had nothing but praise for the quick mind and abilities of his pupil.  Below, reproduced in its entirety is a letter Ascham wrote to his friend, Johannes Sturm, German scholar concerning Elizabeth:

“It is difficult to say, whether the gifts of nature or of fortune are most to be admired in my distinguished mistress.  The praise which Aristotle gives, wholly centres in her; beauty, stature, prudence, and industry.  She has just passed her sixteenth birthday and shows such dignity and gentleness as are wonderful at her age and in her rank.  Her study of true religion and learning is most eager.  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.  She talks French and Italian as well as she does English, and has often talked to me readily and well in Latin, moderately in Greek.  When she writes Greek and Latin, nothing is more beautiful than her handwriting” (Neale 14 – 15).

      aschamengraving2                                           roger asham

Princess Elizabeth and                                     Sketch of Roger Ascham
Roger Ascham

Like her grandfather Henry VII, her skill in many languages allowed her to take a prominent role in the diplomacy of her country as she could meet with ambassadors herself.  Her intellect allowed her to match the professional diplomats in subtlety and the language of diplomacy itself.

Elizabeth’s skills in government did not come from specific training as an apprentice but from her formal, classical and humanist education and her practical, political education of survival during her brother’s and sister’s reigns.

Without going into great detail, the young Elizabeth’s handling of the Thomas Seymour issue shows the intelligence, courage and composure she displayed while detained and questioned by Sir Robert Tyrwhitt.  Tyrwhitt wrote the Lord Protector “I do assure your grace, she hath a very good wit, and nothing is gotten of her, but by great policy” (Erickson 88).

Another early example comes during her sister Mary’s reign.  While under suspicion as part of the Wyatt Rebellion, Elizabeth negotiated with the councilors sent to arrest her to write a letter to Mary. Using her talents and education, Elizabeth not only composed a brilliant note, she also managed to utilize enough time that the tide had altered deflecting her move to the Tower for one more day.  On the letter itself, she made diagonal marks at the end of the second page to ensure no one would tamper with the document.

diagonal letters 001

Letter to Mary with diagonal lines across second page

As a mature and seasoned sovereign, Elizabeth continually dealt with complicated and life-threatening situations.  Would all decisions be exact?  Of course they would not.  Yet, most historians agree with her contemporary John Hayward’s exclamation concerning her character that she was “in purpose, just; of spirit, above credit … as well for depth of judgment…” (Hayward 8).  Maybe her wisdom came from knowing that her success came from serving England and her peoples and from making decisions that rested on the good of the kingdom.  Or maybe it was simply she had a brain in her head and she used it:

There is small disproportion betwixt a fool who
useth not wit because he hath it not and him
that useth it not when it should avail him
Queen Elizabeth

References 

Bacon, Francis.  The Works of Lord Bacon:  Philosophical Works.  Longman and Co. 1858-1859.  Google Books. Web. 11 Apr. 2013.

Bacon, Francis, and J. Rawson Lumby. Bacon’s History of the Reign of King Henry VII,. Cambridge: University, 1902. Internet Archive. Web. 22 Jan. 2013.

Bohun, Edmund. The Character of Queen Elizabeth, Or, A Full and Clear Account of Her Policies and the Methods of Her Government Both in Church and State, Her Virtues and Defects Together with the Characters of Her Principal Ministers of State … London: Printed for Ric. Chiswell at the Rose and Crown in St. Paul’s Church-Yard(IS), 1693. Google Books. Web. 26 Jan. 2013.

Commynes, Philippe de.  The memoirs of Philip de Commines, Lord of Argenton: containing the histories of Louis XI and Charles VIII. Kings of France and of Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy. To which is added, The scandalous chronicle, or Secret history of Louis XI  London:  H. G. Bohn, 1855.  Internet Archive. Web. 10 Feb. 2013.

Elton, G. R. England Under the Tudors. Third ed. London:  Routledge, 1991. Print.

Fisher, John, and John E. B. Mayor. The English Works of John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester. London: N. Trübner for the Early English Text Society, 1876. Google Books. Web. 12 Feb. 2013.

Erickson, Carolly. The First Elizabeth. New York: Summit Books. 1983. Print.

Griffiths, Ralph A. and Roger S. Thomas.  The Making of the Tudor Dynasty.  New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1985. Print.

Hall, Edward, Henry Ellis, and Richard Grafton. Hall’s Chronicle; Containing the History of England, during the Reign of Henry the Fourth, and the Succeeding Monarchs, to the End of the Reign of Henry the Eighth, in Which Are Particularly Described the Manners and Customs of Those Periods. London: Printed for J. Johnson and J. Rivington; T. Payne; Wilkie and Robinson; Longman, Hurst, Rees and Orme; Cadell and Davies; and J. Mawman, 1809. Archive.org. Web. 2 Jan. 2013.

Hayward, John, and John Bruce. Annals of the First Four Years of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth. London: Printed for the Camden Society by J.B. Nichols and Son, 1840. Google Books. Web. 19 Jan. 2013.

Hibbert, Christopher.  The Virgin Queen: Elizabeth I, Genius of the Golden Age.  New York: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc., 1991.  Print.

Jones, Michael K. and Malcolm G. Underwood.  The King’s Mother: Lady Margaret

Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992. Print.

Loades, David, ed. The Tudor Chronicles: The Kings.  New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1990.  Print.

Neale, J. E. Queen Elizabeth I. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1957. Print.

Norton, Elizabeth.  Margaret Beaufort: Mother of the Tudor Dynasty.  Stroud: Amberley, 2010. Print.

Okerlund, Arlene Naylor.  Elizabeth of York.  New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. Print.

Penn, Thomas.  Winter King; the Dawn of Tudor England.  New York: Penguin Books, 2012. Print.

Pollard, Albert Frederick, ed. The Reign of Henry VII: From Contemporary Sources.[S.l.]: Longmans Green and, Co. 1913. Google Books. Web. 1 Apr. 2013. 

Ridley, Jasper. Elizabeth I: The Shrewdness of Virtue.  New York: Fromm International Publishing Corporation, 1989.  Print.

Ross, Josephine.  The Tudors, England’s Golden Age.  London: Artus, 1994.  Print. 

Sitwell, Edith.  The Queens and the Hive.  Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1966. Print.

Somerset, Anne. Elizabeth I.  New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1991. Print.

Vergil, Polydore, The Anglica Historia of Polydore Vergil, A.D. 1485-1537 (translated by Denys Hay), London: Office of the Royal Historical Society, Camden Series, 1950. Web. 29 Mar. 2013.

Weir, Alison.  The Life of Elizabeth I.  New York: Ballatine Books, 1998. Print.

Fit for a King

Fit for a King

The need to express majesty may have been greater in Henry VII and Elizabeth I than in royals contemporary with them or even before and after their reigns.  Both had precarious claims to the throne, both had rivals waiting to step in and both had to project strength to Continental Courts. Henry and Elizabeth used Court ceremonial, dress and jewels and building programs / portraiture to convey their royal dignity.

Henry VII realized the need to show his majesty to the nobles at home and abroad at his coronation.  If he “looked, behaved and ruled like a king, perhaps the exhausted, traumatized country of England would come to believe he was one” (Penn 11). Apparently he succeeded as a contemporary recalled the rejoicing “[f]or whan the kynge … was crowned in all that grete tryumphe & glorye…” (Fisher 306).

One of the greatest ceremonials that Henry VII hosted was the marriage of his son Arthur to Catherine of Aragon in November of 1501.  It is not the scope of this entry to discuss the entire celebrations but it was well-known to have cost a great deal of money with the purpose being to emphasize to the Spanish the affluence and security of his Court.  The Spanish were impressed as were envoys from around Europe. A contemporary who attended the wedding feast described the display of plate which was intended to show Henry’s wealth, “And ye shall understande that in the said halle was ordeyned a cupbourde of 6 stages height, being Tryangled; the which Cupbord was garnysshed w gilt plate, as fflagons, greate pottes, standing, cuppys, and bolles, to a greate value” (Kingsford 250).

Henry VII’s expenses reveal that he did not spare for his attire of which he had a “penchant for expensively dyed black clothes” (Penn 6). Jewelry purchased for large sums of money were of “diverse precious stones and other juells that come from beyond the see” (Norton 147).  Raimondo de’ Raimondi of Soncino, Milanese Ambassador in England, wrote to Ludovico Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan: “His Majesty, in addition to his wonderful presence, was adorned with a most rich collar, full of great pearls and many other jewels, in four rows, and in his bonnet he had a pear-shaped pearl, which seemed to me something most rich” (Hinds).

Henry had an affinity for the European Courts, which is understandable when one thinks of the many years he spent on the Continent, and tried to copy many of their fashions, be it traditions or architecture. Building projects culminated in his stunning chapel at Westminster Abbey, although Richmond Palace, built on the site of the burned Sheen, was also a great showpiece.  Henry spared no expense in providing the palace with tapestries, furnishings and other costly adornments. In fact, Richmond was referred to by contemporaries as …“Riche mount a pun on Henry’s title as Earl of Richmond, and his conspicuous talent for heaping up wealth” (Perry 17).

Richmond 1562
Richmond 1562

Although not as ‘cash rich’ as her grandfather, Elizabeth understood the need to display her majesty at her coronation.  Sir John Hayward, writing his recollections of Elizabeth’s reign, recalled how for her coronation procession she was “most royally furnished, both for her persone and for her trayne, knowing right well that in pompous ceremonies a secret of government doth much consist, for that the people are naturally both taken and held with exterior shewes” (Bruce 15).  And what a show she put on!  C. S. Knighton and Richard Mortimer, while quoting the oft-footnoted Neville Williams’ estimate that the cost of the coronation was £16,742, believe it was closer to £20,000—or about 10% of her annual revenue (Knighton 125).  Since Williams’ figure is the most credited, I used that to calculate the current value of costs:  £4,730.00 using the retail price index or £73,900.00 using average earnings figures*. “We learn that besides the queen’s parliament robe there were provided a kirtle, surcoat, and mantle of crimson velvet furred with ermine, and like robes of purple velvet, also furred with ermine” (Grindal).

Westminster
Westminster Abbey

As queen, Elizabeth had gowns from all over Europe and was described by a German visitor, Heutzner, as “very majestic” (Ripley 317). Her wardrobe was extensive and famous.  Not only were the dresses and sleeves made of costly fabrics such as satin and velvet (her favored color scheme was of black and white), they were also embellished with gold braid, fur (mink) and precious gems.  The French were impressed with the number of pearls on her gowns saying that “…all the other princes of Christendom had not the like quantity of pearls of that sort” (Somerset 360). Elizabeth loved clothes and realized “the part which external magnificence could play in propagating an image of regality and power…” (Somerset 357).

Her jewels were beyond compare as she had at her disposal the wealth which her father had accumulated from the dissolution of the monasteries and the rings, pendants, necklaces and bracelets she acquired.  of her ostentatious display.  Andre de Maisse, the French Ambassador to her Court, wrote to Henry IV of her ostentatious display that she “wore innumerable jewels on her person, not only on her head, but also within her collar, about her arms and on her hands, with a very great quantity of pearls, around her neck and on her bracelets”…(Erickson 389). Another Ambassador of Venice, Giovanni Scaramelli, described her gown of silver and gold which “showed her throat encircled with pearls and rubies….”  Elizabeth “wore great peals like pears round the forehead.  She had a vast quantity of gems and pearls upon her person; even under her stomacher she was covered with golden jeweled girdles and single gems, carbuncles, balas-rubies and diamonds.  Round her wrists in place of bracelets she wore double rows of pearls of more than medium size” (Perry 316).

demassie                                         sforza
Attributed as  Andre de Maisse            Giovanni Scaramelli, 
Ambassador to France                           Ambassador to Venice

As Roy Strong reminds us, the purpose of state portraits was to “depict a ruler accompanied by the full panoply of state …posed in a majestic and grave manner…” (Strong 37). Elizabeth knew she needed portraiture “designed to emphasize the legitimacy of the Tudor right to the throne” (Strong 12) and this was demonstrated in the painting, The Allegory of the Tudor Succession, 1572.  It is well-known that the images approved by Elizabeth Regina were not intended to imitate her features true to life.  State portraiture was to convey her majesty, power and successes.

Although other rulers of the era used similar elements such as dress and ceremonies to project royal imagery, Henry VII and Elizabeth I understood their particular need to convey the legitimacy of their power.

*Used the calculator at Measuringworth http://www.measuringworth.com/ppoweruk/

 

Works Cited

Erickson, Carolly. The First Elizabeth. New York: Summit Books. 1983. Print.

Fisher, John. The English Works of John Fisher, Bishop of
Rochester.
London: Published for the Early English Text
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