Reigned With Your Loves

Reigned with Your Loves

Connections and service, be they within personal or formal relationships, create loyalty.  Loyalty which can be demonstrated in many ways.  Both Henry VII and Elizabeth Regina developed heightened abilities in sensing gifted allies to serve them.  Perhaps the skills were honed during their times of confinement (Henry in Brittany and Elizabeth at Hatfield) or they were innate.  Regardless, each surrounded themselves with talented, loyal councilors. 

Henry knew that if England was to recover and the throne was to become stable, the War of the Roses would have to end and healing would have to take place.  What was required now was for the king to be resolute and to act with “judicious mercy, the mercy of head not heart.”  Henry VII was to display clemency and firmness by his “reluctance to proceed to extremes and his readiness to accept old enemies into the fold.”  Actions which “display his determination to show that the wars were over” (Elton 16).

Henry not only utilized Lancastrian loyalists, gentry from his native Wales, and fellow exiles, he also incorporated the Yorkist faction in his new government.  He knew he must not further antagonize the opposition.  Therefore, he pardoned men who had fought at Bosworth against him, and allowed them to enter government positions, even granting them property, if they took the oath of allegiance.  He approached the many Woodville Yorkists cautiously as he did not want to be indebted to them nor to give the impression he reigned in any name but his own– meaning he did not want to appear to have need of Elizabeth of York’s family ties to strengthen his claim. “As a new man, Henry had to secure his place.  He did this by a compromsing approach” (Bacon and Weinberger 238).

Henry had little knowledge of England and its government workings as he had been in exile for so many of his formative years.  He was even unprepared for the responsibilities and life of a king. He thus relied heavily on the associates of his youth and those men who had joined him in exile along with many advisors from his mother’s household.

margaret beaufort

Margaret Beaufort

Henry and his mother, Margaret Beaufort, recognized the need for experienced men to provide council.  Therefore, her household became a basis for Henry to draw officials from such as Christopher Urswick and Reginald Bray.  Many of his contemporaries recognized that service his mother could easily lead to a royal appointment.  Henry viewed service to his mother almost as those who served him “during his period of exile, as a debt of honour” (Jones 80).

Needing men of experience also meant he had to appoint those who had been in England and not exiled—people familiar with the ways of England.  Therefore, a mix of noblemen, gentry, lawyers and clerics were used to comprise Henry VII’s Council (Loades 30).  Henry did not want to give too much power to the men with governmental experience. He kept the nobles contained and “chose rather to advance clergymen and lawyers, which were more obsequious to him…” (Bacon and Lumby 217). These men recognized for their talents were more grateful to the king.

Henry was adamant about allegiance and service.  The men he appointed were “loyal and ardent servants of an exacting but worthy master” (Elton 17).  Despite his harshness, “Henry showed himself capable of attracting men to his side and retaining their loyalty…”  (Griffiths 168).

Star Chamber H7 seated

Henry VII, seated in the Star Chamber

“Like all his family he had an uncanny gift for picking men to serve him, and not even the great Elizabeth surrounded herself with a brighter galaxy of first-rate ministers than did her grandfather” (Elton 17). It is not the purpose here to list every member of Henry’s Privy Council, the focus will be on those he relied upon early in his reign.  Below, in chart form, are listed the pertinent advisors and servants.

Councilors Serving Henry VII

Councilor / Servant

Role

Miscellaneous

Jasper Tudor, Duke of Bedford Military advisor and commander paternal uncle to Henry, took him into exile
John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford Military advisor and commander shared exile and influntial as nobleman
Sir Giles Daubeney Chancellor shared exile and very influential
Cardinal John Morton—Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Chancellor financial advisor/innovator dare we say exploiter
Bishop Richard Fox Lord Privy Seal shared exile, very influencial after Morton’s death
Bishop Peter Courtenay Keeper of the Privy Seal shared exile
Bishop William Warham Master of the Rolls and later Lord Chancellor performed many diplomatic missions
Sir Reginald Bray Courtier acquired from Margaret Beaufort’s advisors,very influential and architect of Henry VII’s Chapel at Westminster Abbey and St. George’s Chapel, Windsor
Christopher Urswick Courtier acquired from Margaret Beaufort’s advisors
Sir John Heron Treasurer of the Chamber shared exile and one of the most trusted advisors
Sir Edward Belknap Surveyor of the King’s Prerogative could confiscate anyone’s land that overtook the King’s prerogative
Richard Empson Carried out Cardinal Morton’s financial policies arrested under Henry VIII for unpopular financial activities
Edmund Dudley Carried out Cardinal Morton’s financial policies executed under Henry VII for unpopular financial activitiesGrandfather to Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester
Sir Thomas Lovell Treasurer of the Chamber shared exile and one of the most trusted advisors
Sir Richard Guildford Chamberlain of the Receipt shared exile and one of the most trusted advisors
Thomas Rotherham, Archbishop of York Lord Chancellor experience in previous reigns, did not serve Henry very long
John Alcock, Bishop of Worcester Lord Chancellor experience in previous reigns, bridge between Edward IV, Richard III and Henry’s rule
Sir Thomas Stanley, 1st Earl of Derby High Constable of England Henry’s step-father
Sir Edward Woodville Courtier brother to the Queen Dowager, military leader
Sir William Stanley, Lord Chamberlain brother to Henry’s step-father, executed for treason over Perkin Warbeck

jasper tudor           gilesdubeney

Jasper Tudor                                          Giles Daubeney

Cardinal_John_Morton               Richard Fox       

John Morton                                                           Richard Fox

    Peter Courtenay     williamwarham

                 Peter Couetenay                                William Warham

chrisurswick              thomas lovell

Christopher Urswick                                     Thomas Lovell  ThomasRotherham             John Alcock

Thomas Rotherham                                          John Alcock

Thomas-Stanley

 Thomas Stanley

“Henry became practiced in awarding empty honours and rewards to the deserving, which gratified the receivers and heightened their loyalty to him without increasing their actual strength” (Ross 19). Minor merchants or officials who had helped him in one way or another were rewarded as well—prudently. Henry was not a man to throw money around and, although he was generous, it was not beyond his means or beyond what was suitable. e rewarded people who had served his father and other Welsh followers, had helped his mother and even those who had served his revered uncle, Henry VI. (Griffiths 175). 

Machiavelli wrote that a prince should be feared over loved although it would be ideal to be able to be both. In Henry VII’s case it appears as if he did not manage fear and love.  Down the ages we have Edmund Dudley’s treatise, Tree of the Common Wealth, written in defense of absolute monarchy as applied to Henry VI.  Dudley defended Henry’s actions (and maybe reflecting Henry’s views) by stating that if the King was lenient to his subjects “in all cases let them … psume to take it of theire owne authoritie, for then it will surelie choke them” (Dudley 28). 

Henry did set the path for his administration although Bacon proclaimed that Cardinal Morton and Sir Reginald Bray not only reflected Henry’s views but “did temper them” (Bacon 214).  Whereas Empson and Dudley, middle-ranking servants who rose to prominence by being men who “best content the king” (Penn 33), did not moderate his policies, especially financial, “but shaped his way to those extremities, for which himself was touched with remorse at his death….” (Bacon 214).

It is well-known that many of Henry’s financial practices were disliked by his people.  Bacon proclaimed that ” of the three affections which naturally tie the hearts of the subjects to their sovereigns, love, fear, and reverence; he had the last in height, the second in good measure, and so little of the first, as he was beholden to the other two” (Bacon and Lumby 218). Financial acts were not popular with anyone but the benefits of his stable rule, his courts of law and justice did benefit everyone and they knew it too.

EmpsonHenryDudley

Henry VII, Richard Empson and Edmund Dudley

By implying to the people that civil war would happen if they lost him, Henry maintained stability.  Another method he consciously employed to control his ministers was in the journal he kept of his thoughts. It included notes he wrote while in conversation with ministers, diplomats and advisors about whom to reward and whom to watch—this was similar to his granddaughter.  Elizabeth Regina kept mental notes of conversations and events she engaged in with her ministers to utilize if necessary in future dealings.

Elizabeth “kept her advisers off balance and perpetually astonished them by the range and mutability of her passions.  Beyond this, they came to know that, with Elizabeth, nothing was ever what it seemed.  Beneath her surface emotions were layer upon calculating layer of secondary reactions, ploys and schemes” (Erickson 173). She enjoyed laying traps for her ministers, throwing back at them their own words.  Yet, they were devoted to her, perhaps because of her political, intellectual and interpersonal skills.  An example could be from the way she handled the ex-ministers of Mary’s reign.  Elizabeth greatly reduced the number of advisors and assured those that had served Mary that they were not retained because she wanted a smaller group to make it more manageable and less open to faction, not because of any deficit on their part (Neale 55).

Battles for Court positions were based on “loosely structured groups focusing on family, household, and master-servant connections…” (Warnicke 135).   Some men were ambitious seeking power and money, others were honored to serve.  Or, as Mervyn James has shown, “the ties of blood were liable to assert themselves with a particular power” (James 325). 

As Queen, Elizabeth did not forget those who were still alive and had served her mother, Anne Boleyn. William Barlow was created Bishop of Chichester; William Latymer, became Dean of Peterborough under Elizabeth and author of Chronickle of Anne Bulleyne; and Matthew Parker appointed Archbishop of Canterbury.  Parker had been chaplain to Anne Boleyn.  Although he did not want to take the Archbishopric, he did so based on a promise he had made to Anne shortly before her death to watch out for the spiritual needs of her daughter.

Like her grandfather, Elizabeth kept her beloved servants of her childhood and youth.  She knew the Privy Council, the body that held up the authority of the Crown and was key to forming royal policy, should be conciliatory to the previous reign and diverse.  In respect to the first consideration, Elizabeth retained 10 ministers from Mary’s reign. Taking a page from her grandfather, she kept members of the opposing faction in her council. Whereas his were Lancaster and York, hers were Catholic (Marian) and Protestant (Elizabethan). 

For diversity, as did Henry, she promoted gifted men of the professions, many who had never held high office before, while keeping a balance of nobles and clergy.  Her main criteria appeared to be efficiency, talent and loyalty.  She wanted advisors who would give good counsel and ones she could trust.  

It is not the purpose here to list every member of Elizabeth’s Privy Council, the focus will be on those she relied upon early in her reign.  Below, in chart form, are listed the pertinent advisors and servants.

                                    Councilors Serving Elizabeth Regina 

Councilor / Servant

Role

Miscellaneous

Edward Stanley, 3rd Earl of Derby High Chamberlain served Mary, kept due to prominent role in nobility
Francis Talbot, 5th Earl of Shrewbury Courtier and Privy Council Member served Mary, kept due to prominent role in nobility—died within 2 years, son George famously married Bess of Hardwick and was custodian of Mary, Queen of Scots as 6th Earl
Henry FitzAlan, 19th Earl of Arundel High Constable and Lord Steward served Mary, kept due to prominent role in nobility as relative to Woodvilles and Percys.
Henry Herbert, 2nd Earl of Pembroke Lord Lieutenant served Mary, kept due to prominent role in nobility as husband to Lady Katherine Grey
William Howard, 1st Baron Howard of Effingham Lord Admiral and Lord Chamberlain served Mary, Elizabeth’s great-uncle and defender in Marian court
William Paulet, Marquis of Winchester Treasurer and Speaker of the House served Mary, great administrator
Edward Clinton, later Earl of Lincoln Lord Admiral andAmbassador to France served Mary, he was Lord Admiral and capable
Sir John Mason Diplomat and Chancellor of Oxford University served Mary, was knighted as public servant
Sir William Petre Secretary of State served Mary, lawyer & tutor to George Boleyn rose rapidly and was knighted
Sir Nicholas Wotton Diplomat served Mary, commoner and cleric
Sir Thomas Parry Comptroller of the Household Elizabeth’s steward since childhood, relative to Cecil,  in household at Hatfield and later knighted
Sir Richard Sackville Chancellor of the Exchequer Elizabeth’s relative as his mother was cousin to Anne Boleyn, had experience during Edward’s time
Sir Francis Knollys Vice-Chamberlain of the Royal Household Elizabeth’s relative as he married her cousin the daughter of Mary Boleyn, served Edward and a staunch Protestant
Sir Nicholas Bacon Lord Keeper of the Great Seal an attorney—very capable and had been in Edward’s Court, father to Francis
William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley Secretary of State later Lord High Treasurer served Elizabeth during Mary’s reign while maintaining a position at CourtBacon’s brother-in-law
Francis Russell, 2nd Earl of Bedford Diplomat created into Peerage, staunch Protestant and collector—Armada Portrait at Woburn Abbey—godfather to Francis Drake
William Parr,1st Marquis of Northampton Courtier created into Peerage, brother to Katherine Parr
Sir Edward Rogers Comptroller served Edward and was in Elizabeth’s household at Hatfield
Sir Ambrose Cave connection of Cecil’s, and was in Elizabeth’s household at Hatfield
Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester Master of the Horse later Privy Council Member known to Elizabeth since childhood, held in Tower concurrently, became principle favorite
Henry Carey, Lord Hunsdon Courtier later Privy Council Member Elizabeth’s cousin (son of aunt Mary Boleyn) given many positions
John Ashley Courtier husband of her governess, Kat Ashley
John Fortescue Courtier relative of Thomas Parry
Sir William St. Loe Courtier accused at time of Wyatt rebellion
Sir James Crofts Courtier accused at time of Wyatt rebellion, was a practicing Catholic
Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford Lord Great Chamberlain at 12 his wardship was handed over to Cecil from Elizabeth, inclined toward Catholicism, some believe he is “Shakespeare”
Sir Francis Walsingham Principal Secretary known as ‘spy master,’ loyal, yet very out-spoken
Thomas Radclyffe, 3rd Earl of Sussex Courtier and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland distantly related to Elizabeth, served Mary
Sir Christopher Hatton Courtier later Privy Council Member rose to prominence after Elizabeth saw him dance at Court, called “the Dancing Chancellor”, very devoted
Sir Thomas Wilson Diplomat and Judge later Secretary of State associate of the Dudleys, wrote Arte of Rhetorique which set English style

edstanley          Henry FitzAlan 19thEarlOfArundel

Edward Stanley                                                     Henry FitzAlan

Henry Herbert EarlOfPemboke         HOward of Effingham

Henry Herbert                                              William Howard

NPG 65,William Paulet, 1st Marquess of Winchester,by Unknown artist       edclinton

William Paulet                                               Edward Clinton

WilliamPetre           Nicholas_Wotton

William Petre                                                     Nicholas Wotton

Thomas Parry    francisknollys

Thomas Parry                                              Francis Knollys

bacon nicoholas     cecil william

Nicholas Bacon                                             William Cecil

Russell,Francis(2EBedford)01       william parr

Francis Russell                                                   William Parr

robertdudley       henrycarey1

Robert Dudley                                                   Henry Carey

johnfortseque          Edward-de-Vere-1575

John Fortesque                                            Edward de Vere

walsingham       Thomas_Radclyffe_Earl_of_Sussex

Francis Walsingham                               Thomas Radclyffe

chrishatton       thomas wilson

Christopher Hatton                                  Thomas Wilson

At the beginning of her reign, Elizabeth proclaimed “I mean to direct all my actions by good advice and counsel” (Marcus 52).  I believe this does not mean she meant to bend to the will of her ministers.  She had received a humanist education similar to many of her advisors and she knew she ruled.  In her speech to her councilors shortly before her Coronation she assured them she would take advice from them and knew what a good team they would all be: “I with my ruling and you with your service may make a good account to almighty God…” (Marcus 52).

Personal relationships between monarchs and their council members were a big part of the appointments more than just political views—thus the factions that could emerge and the debates. Lord Burghley helped set the tone for the Privy Council as reported by Francis Peck: “He would never deliver his opinion in council, but when he might freely debate it” (Peck 43). 

Elizabeth did permit differences of opinion and allowed council members to make comments. She respected independent thought (look at the type of men she appointed).  Her council became more fiery and diverse in later years (especially the final 15 years of her rule as many of the early advisors died) but this conciliatory, initial one proved effective and wise under the leadership of the experienced William Cecil.  While teaching Elizabeth the art of statecraft, Cecil devoted himself to her, England and the Protestant cause. Once when he offered to resign after a disagreement, he requested that he be able to “serve her Majesty elsewhere, be it in kitchen or garden” (Brimacombe 63). 

She did consult her advisors but she also knew her own mind.  One has to give her credit for appointing such able councilors.  Yet, how did she hold their loyalty?  Similarly to her grandfather, she did not give excessive rewards, she was often harsh, she could be unkind, yet they were devoted to her. She had courage, subtlety, intelligence and charisma.  

Elizabeth loved a crowd and performed well in front of one.  She always had a rejoinder for the comments made by the people when she was out in public.  She seemed friendly and approachable while still retaining her dignity. Throughout her entire reign, when she went on progress the countryside filled with people eager to catch a glimpse of her on the road.  This was devotion above and beyond fear of majesty and her relatively tolerant rule. “When she smiles, it was a pure sunshine that everyone did choose to bask in if they could” said Sir John Harington (Hibbert 117).

johnharington

John Harington

John Hayward, a contemporary, wrote of her entry into London and her first few weeks as queen that “if ever any persone had eyther the gift or the stile to winne the hearts of people, it was this Queene; and if ever shee did expresse the same, it was at that present, in coupling mildnesse with majesty as shee did, and in stately stouping to the meanest sort” (Hayward 6).

progress1

Elizabeth on Progress

The feeling was mutual.  She commented to a French diplomat late in her reign concerning her people’s affection that “it seems incredible, and I love them no less, and I can say that I would rather die than see any diminution of it on one side or the other” (Sitwell 75).  As she famously exclaimed in her Golden Speech, “…though God hath raised me high, yet this I count the glory of my Crown, that I have reigned with your loves” (Marcus 337).

References

Bacon, Francis. The Works of Francis Bacon, Baron Verulam, Viscount of St. Albans, and Lord High Chancellor of England. Vol. 5. London: Printed for M. Jones, 1818. Google Books. Web. 6 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.

Brimacombe, Peter.  All the Queen’s Men: the World of Elizabeth I.  Stroud: Sutton Publishing, 2000.  Print.

Cecil, Lord Burghley, William, Sir. Queen Elizabeth and Her Times: A Series of Original Letters Selected from the Inedited Private Correspondence of the Lord Treasurer Burghley, the Earl of Leicester, the Secretaries Walsingham and Smith, Sir Christopher Hatton and Most of the Distinguished Persons of the Period : In Two Volumes. Ed. Thomas Wright. London: Colburn, 1838. Google Books. Web. 10 Mar. 2013.

Doran, Susan and Norman Jones. The Elizabethan World. London: Routledge, 2011. Print.

Doran, Susan.  The Tudor Chronicles 1485-1603.  New York:  Metro Books, 2008. Print.

Dudley, Edmund. The Tree of Common Wealth: A Treatise. Manchester London: C. Simms & Co., 1859. Google Books. Web. 1 Apr. 2013.

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

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

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.

Hutchinson, Robert. Young Henry: The Rise of Henry VIII. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2011. Google Books. Web. 02 Dec. 2012.

James, Mervyn. Society, Politics, and Culture: Studies in Early Modern England. Cambridge [Cambridgeshire: Cambridge UP, 1986. Web. 6 Apr. 2013. 

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.

MacCaffrey, Wallace. Elizabeth I. London: E. Arnold. 1993. Print.

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

Nichols, John. Gentleman’s Magazine … Vol. 163. London: William Pickering; John Bowyer Nichols and Son, January to June Inclusive,1833. Google Books. Web. 2013.

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

Peck, Francis. Desiderata Curiosa:  Or, a collection of divers scarce and curious pieces relating chiefly to matters of English history; Consisting of Choice Tracts, Memoirs, Letters, Wills, Epitaphs, & Transcribed, Many of them, from the Originals Themselves, and the Rest from Divers Antient MS. Copies, or the MS. Collections of Sundry Famous Antiquaries and other Eminent Persons, both of the Last and Present Age: the whole, as Near as Possible, digested into an Order of Time, and Illustrated with Ample Notes, Contents, Additional Discourses, and a Complete Index.  By Francis Peck, M..A. Rector of Godeby Near Melton in Leicestershire.  Adorned with Cuts.  A new edition, greatly corrected, with some memoirs of the life and writings of Mr. Peck.  Vol. 1. London: Thomas Evans in the Strand, 1732. Google Books. Web. 30 Mar. 2013. 

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

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.

Warnicke, Retha M. The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989. Print.

Wilson, A. N.  The Elizabethans.  London: Hutchinson, 2011. Print.

Advertisements

Dieu et mon Droit

Dieu et mon Droit

Although Henry (Earl of Richmond and later Henry VII) was born to a lawfully married couple, his ancestry implied illegitimacy.  Whereas, Queen Elizabeth I had to contend with the doubts over the legality of the marriage between her parents, and the Parliamentary action of July 1536 declaring her illegitimate.  Both Henry VII and Elizabeth I realized the importance of confirming their claim to the throne, and how they handled this issue is interesting.

Henry was named for his half-uncle King Henry VI.  His grandmother, Katherine of Valois, was married to King Henry V of England and gave birth to the future Henry VI.  As a widow Katherine married Owen Tudor.  Some people at that time and even now believe there was no marriage ceremony.  In all probability they wed in secret, or perhaps a wedding away from Court would not have been as well documented which could add to people’s suspicions.  Their eldest surviving son was Edmund, first Earl of Richmond.  Edmund went on to marry Margaret Beaufort who herself descended from questionable legitimacy.

Margaret’s great-grandmother, Katherine Swynford, was the mistress of John of Gaunt (son of King Edward III and father of Henry VI).  After John was widowed, he married Katherine and received a Papal Bull declaring their children legitimate.  Shortly after, in February of 1397, Richard II legitimized his cousins. The Letters Patent were read in Parliament, ratified and confirmed, making the legitimization an Act of Parliament.  Regardless, the taint of illegitimacy lingered. Thus, in 1407 John Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, the eldest child of John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford asked his half-brother, King Henry IV, for an exemplification of the original Letters Patent. This is where things get tricky.

Henry IV must have felt some threat from the Beauforts to his throne for he inserted the phrase ‘excepta dignitate regali’ which meant his half-siblings were not eligible for the royal dignity—they could not inherit the throne.  Although people could argue endlessly as to whether children born of parents who were married to other spouses were legitimate, the legal fact remains.  Henry IV could not on his own authority alter the Letters Patent issued in a previous reign which had become law through the ratification of Parliament.  This has been discussed in much greater detail by Michael Jones and Malcolm Underwood in The King’s Mother and by Samuel Bentley in the Excerpta Historica which includes a transcript of the Letters Patent.

So where does this place Henry when he came to the throne in 1485?  Henry used the 1397 Act to cement his royal lineage even though, interestingly enough, he did not base his claim to the throne on this act.  He probably realized its precariousness and he intentionally kept his genealogy vague (Jones, Penn).  Henry obviously ignored the 1407 statute that said the Beauforts would be excluded from the throne (Griffiths 183). Therefore, Henry VII could claim the throne as the heir of the House of Lancaster through the lineage of John of Gaunt. So it is the Beaufort line on the female side that gave Henry the greatest claim to the throne. His mother, a firm supporter in his right of inheritance, made popular the story recounted by Vergil of the prophecy made by Henry VI upon meeting the young Henry, Earl of Richmond:

Whan the king saw the chylde, beholding within himself without
speache a prety space the haultie disposition therof, he ys
reportyd to H. 6 pro have sayd to the noble men ther present.
This trewly, this is he unto whom both we and our adversaryes
must yeald and geave of H. 7. over the domynion.  Thus the holy
man shewyd yt woold coome to passe that Henry showld in time enjoy
the kingdom. (Vergil 135)

Years into his reign, Henry VII still worried that, although he was the acknowledged victor at Bosworth and the Pope had confirmed his right to the crown, he still felt the need to ensure his rule to the point of naming his first son Arthur to connect himself to the king of legend (Perry). It is obvious there were no Yorkist names for his sons—no Edward, no George, no Richard.  He also used Lancastrian names for his daughters. Carrying this further, Henry reinforced his family’s royal connections and lineage using symbolism including the Tudor rose and the Beaufort portcullis.

The Tudor Rose emerged upon the marriage of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York.  The smaller, white rose of York was surrounded by the large, red rose of Lancaster to become the emblem of the union.  The Tudor Rose was used expansively throughout the successive reigns in various formats making it perhaps the most recognizable symbol of the Tudors.  Less dramatic but in use longer was the portcullis of the Beaufort badge.  Beaufort Castle in Champagne, France, was where John of Gaunt had a stronghold.  The family embedded the portcullis into the design of the badge for the Somerset dukedom.  This was used extensively from the time of Henry VII from the badge of the London Borough of Richmond to the architecture in the King’s Chapel at Cambridge.  Its importance is seen in its longevity for in the modern era it was used on the backside of the penny until 2008.

Corfe Castle, a Beaufort stronghold, and its local parish church was used by Henry to show the legitimacy of the Beaufort line. On the left side of the door was the coats-of-arms with the shield on its side symbolizing an illegitimate line while on the right it was upright (Jones 71-72).

portcullis rose

Photographs from the online version of A Short Account of King’s College Chapel by W. P. Littlechild.

While Henry stressed his maternal line, he did identify with his paternal Welsh side (Norton 44).  This was the exact opposite position of his granddaughter, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth maintained the silence that surrounded her mother as she knew opening up that line of thinking would question her claim to the throne. Following that same reasoning, at the urging of her councilors notably Nicholas Bacon, Elizabeth did not pass any legislation legitimizing herself, as Henry VIII’s will gave her the right to succession  (Ridley 85).  By invoking her right to succeed via Henry’s will, she tactically ignored the Act of Succession of July 1536 in which Henry declared her illegitimate and excluded her from any inheritance.  The page from The Statutes at Large of Henry VIII’s reign is below as it contains the annulment of his marriage to Anne Boleyn as well (Pickering 422).

                  Statute E1     

Both Mary and Elizabeth spent many years in the limbo world of being an illegitimate child of a king.  Illegitimate royal children held positions at Court but could not inherit the throne nor provide attractive prospects for foreign marriages. Several years into her reign when members of Parliament approached her urging her to marry and name her successor, Elizabeth was not welcoming.  She remembered that when her sister Mary was fighting for her right to succeed after Edward VI had altered the succession some of these very men declared “my sister and I were bastards” (Marcus 97).  It is easy to conclude that the question of her legitimacy and others’ responses to it was never far from her mind. Although her line in succession was reinstated in June 1543 by act of Parliament (and, as mentioned above, in December of 1546 by Henry’s will), Elizabeth was not declared legitimate. This issue was pressed by Mary as Queen when, in 1553, her Parliament repealed the divorce between Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon thus reinforcing Elizabeth’s illegitimacy (Somerset 35).

Thus it was in Elizabeth’s interest to face the world in as firm a position as possible when she became queen. It was well-known she would often reference her father when she spoke, perhaps to instill her claim to the throne and famously referred to herself as the ‘lion’s cub’.  Those who knew her must have recognized this as we see attempts made in pageants and writings to promote her legitimate status.

At her coronation pageant at Gracechurch Street, her ancestors were depicted as the “valiant and noble prince King Henry the eighth” and “the right worthy Lady Queen Anne…”  The entire quote is recreated below as it stresses that Anne was the wife of Henry:

Out of which two roses sprang, two branches gathered into one,
which were directed upward to the second stage or degree wherein
was placed one representing the valiant and noble prince King
Henry the eighth, which sprang out of the former stock, crowned
with a crown imperial, and by him sat one representing the right
worthy Lady Queen Anne, wife to the said King Henry the eighth and
mother to our most sovereign Lady Queen Elizabeth that now is,
both appareled with scepters and diadems and other furniture due
to the estate of a king and queen … (Warkentin 78).

One avenue taken to promote her legitimacy was to invoke her descent from the legendary King Arthur.  A pageant at Kenilworth in 1575 declared the lake was being kept until a true heir of Arthur came and it would be handed over.  Although it was meant in all seriousness, Elizabeth could not help but tease when she exclaimed that she thought the lake had always been hers (or was it a reminder to Leicester that she was the one of royal blood?).  An account of this pageant written by John Nichols but gleaned from the contemporary source, George Gascoigne’s Princely Pleasures at Kenelwoorth Castle, is shared below:

…first of the auncientee of the Castl, whoo had been ownerz
of the same e’en till this day, most allweyz in the hands of
the Earls of Leyceter ; hoow shee had kept this Lake sins King
Arthur’z dayz ; and now understanding of her Highness hither
cumming, thought it both office and duetie, in humble wize to
discover her and her estate ; oflfering up the same her Lake
and poour therein, with promise of repayre unto the Coourt. It
pleazed her Highness too thank this Lady, and too add withall,
we had thought indeed the Lake had been oours, and doo you call
it yourz noow ? Well, we will herein common more with yoo
hereafter (Nichols 431).

In Spencer’s Faerie Queene, the link to King Arthur was wrapped in allegory throughout.  In Book II, Canto X titled “A chronicle of Briton Kings, from Brute to Vthers rayne.  And rolles of Elfin Emperours, till time of Gloriane”, we see Spencer’s attempt to link the historical Arthur to Elizabeth as the stanzas relate to the book, History of the Kings of Britain by Geoffrey of Monmouth:

Who now shall giue vnto me words and sound,
Equall vnto this haughtie enterprise?
Or who shall lend me wings, with which from ground
Lowly verse may loftily arise,
And lift it selfe vnto the highest skies?
More ample spirit, then hitherto was wount,
Here needes me, whiles the famous auncestries
Of my most dreaded Soueraigne I recount,
By which all earthly Princes she doth farre surmount.

Ne vnder Sunne, that shines so wide and faire,
Whence all that liues, does borrow life and light,
Liues ought, that to her linage may compaire,
Which though from earth it be deriued right,
Yet doth it selfe stretch forth to heauens hight,
And all the world with wonder ouerspred;
A labour huge, exceeding farre my might:
How shall fraile pen, with feare disparaged,
Conceiue such soueraine glory, and great bountihed?

Argument worthy of Moeonian quill,
Or rather worthy of great Phoebus rote,
Whereon the ruines of great Ossa hill,
And triumphes of Phlegræan Ioue he wrote,
That all the Gods admird his loftie note.
But if some relish of that heauenly lay
His learned daughters would to me report,
To decke my song withall, I would assay,
Thy name, ô soueraine Queene, to blazon farre away.

Thy name soueraine Queene, thy realme and race,
From this renowmed Prince deriued arre,
Who mightily vpheld that royall mace,
Which now thou bear’st, to thee descended farre
From mightie kings and conquerours in warre,
Thy fathers and great Grandfathers of old,
Whose noble deedes aboue the Northerne starre
Immortall fame for euer hath enrold;
As in that old mans booke they were in order told.

Carolly Erickson mentioned that Elizabeth had a large genealogy of her personal lineage which she kept.  There was reference to it in Robert Cecil’s papers as seen below.  Now this does not necessarily mean it was important to her, but it is noteworthy that it was kept and recorded.                          

                     salsbury calendar   

Thanks to Vicki Perry, Head of Archives and Historic Collections Library and Archives at Hatfield House, who responded to an inquiry concerning the genealogical scroll.  She informed me that the scroll itself is on view at Hatfield House (only a small portion is shown at a time) and a digitized copy is at the British Library–reference number Cecil Papers 357.

Although much of this evidence is anecdotal, there are enough instances to realize that both Henry VII and Elizabeth I were concerned with projecting an image of their lineage, ancestral connections and right to the throne.

Works Cited

Bentley, Samuel, ed. “Issue of Katherine de Roelt, Wife of Sir Hugh Swynford, and Afterwards of John of Gaunt Duke of Lancaster.  Letters Patent of  King Henry the Fourth Certifying the Legitimacy of Sir Thomas Svvynford;with Notices of the Swynford Family.” Excerpta Historica: Or, Illustrations of English History. London: Samuel Bentley, 1831. 152-54. Web. 15 Nov. 2012.

Cecil, Sir Robert, Marquess of Salisbury. “Elizabeth.” Calendar of the Manuscripts of the Most Honourable, the Marquess of Salisbury Preserved at Hatfield House, Hertfordshire. Vol. 11. London: His Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1906. 147+. Great Britain, Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts. Web. 13 Nov. 2012.

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.

Jones, Michael K., and Malcolm G. Underwood. The King’s Mother: Lady Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby. Cambridge, England: Cambridge UP, 1992. Print.

Littlechild, Walter Poole, ed. A Short Account of King’s College Chapel. 2nd ed. Cambridge: W. HEFFER & SONS, 1921. Project Gutenberg, 2 Aug. 2008. Web. 15 Nov. 2012.

Marcus, Leah S. et al., eds. Elizabeth I: The Collected Works. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002. Print.

Nichols, John. The Progresses and Public Processions of Queen Elizabeth. Among Which Are Interspersed Other Solemnities, Public Expenditures, and Remarkable Events during the Reign of That Illustrious Princess. London: Printed by and for J. Nichols, 1823. Web.  29 Oct. 2012.

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

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

Perry, Maria.  The Word of a Prince: A Life of Elizabeth from Contemporary Documents. Woodbridge, Suffolk: The Boydell Press, 1990.  Print.

Pickering, Danby, Esq. “Statues Made at Westminster, Year 28 of Henry VIII, Year 1536.” Statue At Large: From the Fifth Year of King Richard III to the 31st Year of King Henry VIII. Vol. 4. London: Gray’s Inn, 1763. 421-22. Google Books. Web. 09 Nov. 2012.

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

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

Spenser, Edmund, and Alexander Balloch Grosart. The Complete Works in Verse and Prose of Edmund Spenser. [Manchester]: Printed for the Spenser Society, 1882. Web. 29 Oct. 2012.

Vergil, Polydore.  Full Text of “Three Books of Polydore Vergil’s English History, Comprising the Reigns of Henry VI., Edward IV., and Richard III. from an Early Translation, Preserved among the Mss. of the Old Royal Library in the British Museum” Internet Archive, n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2012.

Warkentin, Germain, ed. “The Queen’s Majesty’s Passage & Related         Documents.” Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Oct. 2012.