Path to St. Peter ad Vincula-Part VI-A

Path to St. Peter ad Vincula-Part VI-A

Anne Boleyn had reigned over Henry VIII and his Court as Queen for a relatively short time span considering the many years that built up to her coronation. What was even shorter was her fall. In less than half of a year she not only lost her position, she lost her head. Many factors have been attributed to the reason.
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Anne Boleyn

The international scene had altered. Charles V at the Imperial Court showed an       interest in treating with England thus weakening the traditional French alliance         —an alliance favored by Anne.

Henry blamed Anne for the failed embassy he had sent to Germany –at her             urging. It had cost him a great deal of money, was inconclusive and only                 managed to cause the German princes to doubt his faith (Stevenson 1329 to         1332).

The death of Queen Katherine of Aragon led Henry to consider that marriage to someone where there was no question of legitimacy would settle doubts and perhaps result in the birth of a male child. The King was apprehensive that, if he left no heir, upon his death civil wars would break out and the crown would be transferred again to the family of the White Rose (Stevenson 1303).

Anne had miscarried a son, which weakened her position. Chapuys filled in Charles V on April 29, 1536, on the fact that George Boleyn was disappointed because he had not achieved a Court favor as “the Concubine has not had sufficient influence to get it for her brother” (Gairdner X 752).

Henry was suspicious of Anne’s behavior. Alexander Alesius summarized Anne’s sins: she had danced with others and kissed her brother (like all women of England). The story of Anne dropping her handkerchief out of her window during the jousts at Greenwich so one of her suspected lovers could claim it is most likely false. Anne’s flirtatiousness is without quesiton and Henry came to “look on them as artifices to cover some other criminal affection. Her cheerfulness was not always governed with decency and discretion” (Burnet 109-110).

Henry was attracted to Jane Seymour. In April Ambassador Chapuys explained that advisors “continually counsel Mrs. Semel and other conspirators pour luy faire une venue,” and encouragement was given to the opposite party because “the King was already as sick and tired of the concubine as could be” (Gairdner X 752). As seen with Anne at the time of his marriage to Katherine, so ardent was Henry once he began to form an attachment, there was no let up. Also observed during both of these courtships, the King was “still inclined to pay his court to ladies” (de Gayangos V 43).

Various factions at Court (including the Catholics) were jostling for position. Steven Gunn wrote that the fall of Anne Boleyn “on one side stand the champions of a strong king, for whom the rhythms of politics and government were determined by Henry’s informed choice of ministers and policies. On the other stand the advocates of faction, for whom the king’s choice of policies and executants was determined by the victory of one pressure-group” (Davies 59).
Previously all factions were concerned over the influence Anne had on Henry. Now with the noticeable coldness in Henry’s relationship with her, the divisive groups at Court considered their options. Anne’s opponents, the “enemies of the Gospel, whose intention it was, along with her, to bury true religion in England” would perpetuate negative claims against Anne, who was famed for her pursuit of more evangelical doctrines (Stevenson 1303-15). Many believed the “difficulties abroad…the severity of the new laws and the rigour with which they were enforced, were held to be due altogether to Anne’s ascendency; and it was expected that with her downfall there would be a total change of policy, which would place England once more in a secure and prosperous condition” (Friedmann 256).

Anne was quickly losing support, even among Protestants. The Lancelot poem, written in London on 2 June 1536, expressed that Anne “had her way in all things; she could treat her friends according to her pleasure….” But she could not “secure to her lasting friendships, and the King daily cooled in his affection. Nevertheless she did not leave off her evil conversation, which at length brought her to shame” (Gairdner X 1036). “Having thus so many, so great factions at home and abroad set loose by the distorned favour of the king, and so few to show themselves for her… she and her friends therefore were suddenly sent to the Tower” (Cavendish II 209).

Oyer & Terminer
A divorce was out of the question, as it would imply that Henry’s conscience was aroused only upon convenience. He ended his marriage to Katherine of Aragon citing his breech with the teachings of Leviticus; now if he invoked the issue of consanguinity (based on his previous relationship with Anne’s sister) it would appear as if he entered the holy bonds of marriage carelessly. In addition, a divorced Anne would still be Marchioness of Pembroke— wealthy, influential and evangelical. Anne had to be disposed of in such a way that no one would be able, let alone willing, to defend her nor would she be able to defend herself.

Charles V learned that Henry, as Chapuys had “been for some days informed by good authority, was determined to abandon her; for there were witnesses testifying that a marriage passed nine years before had been made and fully consummated between her and the earl of Northumberland” (Gairdner X 782). The Ambassador’s informants told him that while Katherine of Aragon was alive, Henry “could not separate from the Concubine without tacitly confirming, not only the first marriage, but also, what he most fears, the authority of the Pope” (Gairdner X 782).
Katherine-of-aragon
Katherine of Aragon

“Thus Cromwell, as he afterwards told Chapuis, resolved to plot for the ruin of Anne” (Friedman 242). He said “it was he who had discovered and followed up the affair of the Concubine, in which he had taken a great deal of trouble… he had set himself to arrange the plot”(Gairdner X 1069). Cromwell was “resolved to destroy her” (Burnet 110). He wanted to get rid of Anne quickly and she needed to “be found guilty of such heinous offences that she would have no opportunity of avenging her wrongs” and the public’s focus on the crimes would take attention away “from the intrigue at the bottom of the scheme” (Friedmann 241-242). “Calamity was to be brought upon her, too, in a way that would satisfy the hatred with which she was regarded by the nation” (Friemann 242).

At Cromwell’s urging, while at Greenwich, Henry summoned a ‘commission of oyer and terminer’ April 24, 1536, to investigate treasonous offences committed by persons close to him, including Anne. Probably Henry was “only told by Cromwell that he was menaced by grave dangers, and that it would be necessary to appoint commissioners to hold special sessions at which offenders against him might be tried.” The commission consisted of “the Lord Chancellor Audeley, the Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk, the Earl of Oxford, lord high chamberlain, the Earl of Westmoreland, the Earl of Wilshire, lord privy seal, the Earl of Sussex, Lord Sandys, chamberlain of the household, Sir Thomas Cromwell, chief secretary, Sir William Fitzwilliam, treasurer, Sir William Paulet, comptroller of the household, and the nine judges.” These men were “empowered to make inquiry as to every kind of treason, by whomsoever committed, and to hold a special session to try the offenders” (Friedmann II 243). Unusually, no specific crime was mentioned when the commission of oyer and terminer was formed.

Statutes of the Realmoyer

An Acte for persons to enjoye their lands and to have avauntage in the Lawe wherin the Lord Rocheford, Norreys and others, were seased.

Persons to enjoye their lands & to have avantage in the Law wherin the Lord Rochford Nores and other were seased. An Act _______conserninge Norris and others.

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

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Visiting St. Peter ad Vincula

On Friday, August 22, 2003, it was arranged for this blogger to meet the PR Manager of HM Tower of London (am withholding the name due to privacy) for access to the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula from 9:00 until 9:45.  My excitement grew as, at the Pass Office, the PR Manager welcomed me.  While she gathered the keys to the church she explained that the restricted entry was a policy resulting in the sacredness of the site. Since my visit, the availability to view the church has increased—tourists can now enter during the final hour before closing.

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Exterior of the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula in the Tower of London.

Described by John Noorthouck in his book, A New History of London published in 1773, St. Peter ad Vincula in the Tower “was founded by Edward III and dedicated to St. Peter in chains. This is a plain Gothic building void of all ornament: 66 feet in length, 54 in breadth, and 24 feet high from the floor to the roof. The walls, which have Gothic windows, are strengthened at the corners…. The tower is plain, and is crowned with a turret” (Noorthhouck 768).  This rather clinical description did not reveal the picturesque chapel this blogger encountered.

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Another view of the chapel.

As we walked through the Tower precincts, the PR Manager made clear that the Chapel is first and foremost a parish church and the residents of the Tower have used it as such for centuries.  As if to underline this fact, the parson’s cat roamed around while we were there. 

By the 19th century with the Tower no longer a residence of the sovereign, the chapel became “regarded too much in the light of a mere ordinary parish church” (Bell 15).  The hominess of the church is evident into the 21st century.  Plain wooden pews top slab flooring.  An exposed stonewall shelters the altar under which are the plaques (laid during the renovation completed in 1877) of those buried in the Chapel. Most of the bodies were placed in the crypt.

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Doyne Courtenay Bell wrote, in 1877, of the Victorian Era restoration of the St. Peter ad Vincula.  Bell had been granted access to the facilities and records by the Resident Governor of the Tower, Colonel Milman.  Bell acknowledged that the records kept by Lord De Ros when he was Deputy Lieutenant of the Tower and his zeal in the restoration made it much easier for him (Bell) to write his book. 

In 1862, entrances were altered so that the “insignificant porch on the south side, by which the building had been entered since the time of Queen Elizabeth, was removed, and the original old doorway at the west end, which had been bricked up and concealed by plaster” was reopened (Bell 10).

From this blogger’s point of view the most noteworthy alteration to the physical building was that the “lath and plaster covering was at the same time removed from the ceiling, and the old chesnut beams of Henry VIII’s roof were disclosed to view” (Bell 10).  The ceiling was architecturally interesting and to know it was from the Tudor Era specifically added to its importance. 
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The ‘chesnut’ beams.

Bell supported the information this blogger received during the time of her 2003 visit that after the initial changes done in 1862 further restoration was needed by 1876 because the flooring had become too uneven and dangerous.  In that year Constable of the Tower of London, Sir Charles Yorke, submitted a plan to have the Chapel “architecturally restored to its original condition, and also suitably arranged as a place of worship for the use of the residents and garrison of the Tower” (Bell 10). 

As the restoration began, Bell reported, the “necessity for relaying the pavement, which had sunk and become uneven in many parts, became very evident; it was at once seen that nothing could be done until a level and safe foundation was prepared, upon which the new pavement could be placed…” (Bell 15).  Once the paving stones had been removed it was found “that the resting places of those who had been buried within the walls of the chapel during the troublous times of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, had been repeatedly and it was feared almost universally desecrated” (Bell 15).  People familiar with the history of St. Peter ad Vincula know that in “this church lie the ashes of many noble and royal personages, executed either in the Tower, or on the hill, and deposited here in obscurity” (Noorthouck 768). 
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A list of some prominent personages buried near the altar.

It is beyond the scope of this blog to discuss all of the notable people inscribed on their memorial tablets in the chancel. There was still questionable evidence as to who was buried in the chancel at the altar and the placement of each person.  At the time of the Duke of Monmouth’s burial, in 1685, a diagram of the suggested burial places of notable persons interred was created based on information compiled from several sources. 

St Peter Vincula graves

John Stowe first reported the use of a contemporary anonymous diary that John Gough Nichols later compiled with other sources in his Chronicle.  Stowe described what happened after the executions of the Duke of Northumberland and two associates, “Theyr corpes, with the hedes, wer buryed in the chapell in the Tower ; the duke at the highe alter, and the other too at the nether ende of the churche” (Nichols 24).   This placement was confirmed by Baker in his work.  He stated that after the execution of the Duke of Northumberland “his body with the head was buried in the Tower, by the body of Edward late Duke of Somerset, (mortal enemies while they lived, but now lying together as good friends) so as there lieth before the high Altar in St. Peters Church, two Dukes between two Queens, namely, the Duke of Somerset, and the Duke of Northumberland, between Queen Anne, and, Queen Katharine, all four beheaded” (Baker 315). 

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The Duke of Somerset, Edward Seymour
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Queen Anne Boleyn
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The Duke of Northumberland, John Dudley
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Queen Katherine Howard

Restorations are recorded to have occurred between the winter of 1876 and the spring of 1877 with the renovated chapel opened for service in June of 1877.  At an initial  meeting held to discuss the method of refurbishment attended by many worthies of the Tower administration, including Colonel Milman, it was decided to leave the more notable interments of the two queens and three dukes undisturbed near the altar.  Typical of many a remodel, the agreed upon plan could not be carried out.  The flooring was too unstable and after an examination by the Surveyor of the Office of Works, it was “decided that the pavement must be removed, but that as little disturbance of the ground as possible should take place” (Bell 17). 

Bell gives us a brief run-down on the changes that were made.  He reports that the old plaster and whitewash were removed from the walls and columns; a “piscina and hagioscope on the east wall of the aisle were discovered.” A wooden structure “which served as a vestry, was pulled down” and a new one was built “outside the eastern end of the aisle” (Bell 17).  Sadly, none of my photographs show any of these religious architectural elements.  

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A more encapsulating photo of the Chapel St. Peter ad Vincula.

Despite acknowledging that many of the remains had been disturbed in centuries passed, Bell firmly believed that the female bones discovered during the reconstruction of the floor were of Anne Boleyn.  He wrote, “not much doubt existed in the minds of those present that these were the remains of Anne Boleyn, who is recorded to have been buried in front of the altar by the side of her brother George Rochford, and these being the first burials in the chancel, the graves were in all probability dug to the right or dexter side of the altar, the so-called place of honour” (Bell 21).  A description of Anne’s removal from the site of her execution, written 2 June 1536 by a Londoner, relayed that Anne’s ladies “fearing to let their mistress be touched by unworthy hands, forced themselves to do so. Half dead themselves, they carried the body, wrapped in a white covering, to the place of burial within the Tower. Her brother was buried beside her” (Gardiner 1036). 
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Not the grave marker of George, Viscount of Rochford but his wife, Lady Jane, who is buried near Queen Katherine Howard.  

During the restoration of the winter of 1876-1877, hundreds of bones and partial skeletons were discovered. This ‘mere ordinary parish church’ witnessed many interments be they of notable, historical figures or parishioners.  During my visit the PR Manager described the church as similar to a catacomb.  The side chapel, actually a crypt, held many burial sites including the tomb of Sir Thomas More. With very few written, official documents precise locations of burials is impossible.  It is similar to the locations of where people were kept in the Tower.  Mostly the information comes from personal letters and historians piecing together where people must have stayed based on who they talk about, what they say they saw, or if lucky their mentioning that they were in such and such a tower. There is even some dispute as to where Elizabeth was housed when a prisoner–was she in the Bell Tower or in the royal apartments. 

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Bell Tower, part of the Tower of London

There was no inquiry on my part if there was any evidence that Elizabeth would have visited St. Peter ad Vincula when she was held prisoner I the Tower during her half-sister Mary’s reign. This blogger has already concluded that Elizabeth was too politically savvy and perhaps too anxious not to anger or upset her sister to do such a thing.  Even as Queen she would not have ventured to her mother’s gravesite.  To do so would have re-circulated old scandals and upset those subjects of more conservative leanings.  She spent very little time in the royal apartments in the Tower of London. Upon her entry into London after her accession in 1558, she had to take formal and symbolic possession of the Tower.  She entered on 28 November and stayed at least six days.  Elizabeth returned 12 January 1559 to spend two nights prior to her coronation.  It appears as if having fulfilled the requisite stay in the Tower Elizabeth never felt obliged to return.  She had understood the poignancy of the place when, upon her formal entry that late November day, she remarked “Some have fallen from being Princes in this land to be prisoners in this place; I am raised from being prisoner in this place to be Prince in this land” (Marshall). 

References

Baker, Richard, George Sawbridge, Benjamin Tooke, Thomas Clarges, Edward Phillips, and Edward Phillips. A Chronicle of the Kings of England, from the Time of the Romans Government, Unto the Death of King James the First.: Containing All Passages of State and Church, with All Other Observations Proper for a Chronicle. Faithfully Collected out of Authors Ancient and Modern; and Digested into a Method. By Sir Richard Baker, Knight. Whereunto Is Added, the Reign of King Charles the First, and King Charles the Second. In Which Are Many Material Affairs of State, Never before Published; and Likewise the Most Remarkable Occurrences Relating to King Charles the Second’s Most Wonderful Restauration, by the Prudent Conduct of George Late Duke of Albemarle, Captain General of All His Majesties Armies. As They Were Extracted out of His Excellencies Own Papers, and the Journals and Memorials of Those Imploy’d in the Most Important and Secret Transactions of That Time. London: Printed for Ben. Tooke ; A. and J. Churchill, at the Black-Swan in Pater-Noster Row; and G. Sawbridge, at the Three Flower-de Luces in Little-Britain, 1696. Google Books. Web. 15 Sept. 2013.

Bell, Doyne Courtenay. Notices of the Historic Persons Buried in the Chapel of St. Peter Ad Vincula, in the Tower of London. With an Account of the Discovery of the Supposed Remains of Queen Anne Boleyn. London: J. Murray, 1877. Google Books. Web. 14 Sept. 2013. 

Denny, Joanna.  Anne Boleyn:  An New Life of England’s Tragic Queen. Philadelphia, PA:  Da Capo Press, 2006. Google Books. Web. 1 Sept. 2013

Gardiner, James (editor). “Henry VIII: June 1536, 1-5.” Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 10: January-June 1536 (1887): 424-440. British History Online. Web. 22 September 2013.

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. 

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

Hume, Martin A. Sharp. Chronicle of King Henry the Eighth of England: Being a Contemporary Record of Some of the Principal Events of the Reigns of Henry VIII and Edward VI, Written in Spanish by an Unknown Hand ; Translated, with Notes and Introduction, by Martin A. Sharp Hume. London: George Belland Sons, 1889. Internet Archive. Web. 4 May 2013.

Ives, Eric.  The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn: The Most Happy. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2004. Print.

Marshall, Henrietta Elizabeth. “Elizabeth-How the Imprisoned Princess Became a Queen,”  An Island Story:  A History of England for Boys and Girls. New York:  Frederick A. Stokes Company, Publishers, 1920. Web. 22 Sept. 2013.  

Nichols, John Gough. The Chronicle of Queen Jane, Two Years of Queen Mary, and Especially of the Rebellion of Sir Thomas Wyat.  London: J. B Nichols and Son, 1822. Google Books. Web. 17 June 2013.

Noorthouck, John. “Book 5, Ch. 2: The suburbs of the City.” A New History of London: Including Westminster and Southwark (1773): 747-768. British History Online. Web. 15 September 2013.

“The Queen Elizabeth Virginal.” V&A Images Collection. Victoria and Albert Museum, n.d. Web. 03 July 2013.

Ridgway, Claire.  The Fall of Anne Boleyn:  A Countdown.  UK:  MadeGlobal Publishing, 2012. Print.

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

Stevenson, Joseph (editor). “Elizabeth: September 1559, 1-5.” Calendar of State Papers Foreign, Elizabeth, Volume 1: 1558-1559 (1863): 524-542. British History Online. Web. 01 September 2013.

Walker, Greg. “Rethinking The Fall Of Anne Boleyn.” Historical Journal 45.1 (2002): 1. MasterFILE Premier EBSCOhost. Web. 2 Sept. 2013.

Warnicke, Retha.  The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn: Family Politics at the Court of Henry VIII. Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 1989.  Print.

Weir, Alison. The Children of Henry VIII.  New York:  Ballantine Books, 1996. Print

Weir, Alison.  Henry VIII:  The King and His Court.  New York:  Ballatine Books, 2001. Google Books. Web. 30 June 2013.

Weir, Alison.  The Lady in the Tower:  The Fall of Anne Boleyn.  London:  Jonathan Cape, 2009.  Print.

Persona Non Grata

Persona Non Grata

As a young man, the Earl of Richmond claimed that “from the time he was five years old he had been always a fugitive or a prisoner (Commynes 396-397). When Henry was just over four years old, Pembroke Castle, where he had lived with his mother and paternal uncle, Jasper Tudor, was overridden by William Herbert during a stage of the War of the Roses.  Henry’s ward-ship was given to Herbert and he was raised along with the Herbert children at Raglan Castle.  In fact, Anne Devereux , Herbert’s wife, held Henry’s affection throughout her life.

When William Herbert died in battle in 1469, following another stage of the War of the Roses and the return of the Lancastrians, Henry and Pembroke Castle were returned to Jasper Tudor. This time of stability was short-lived. By 1470 the Yorkist king, Edward IV, returned to power.  It is not the purpose here to explain the minutiae of this civil war; let it suffice to say that it was expedient for Jasper and Henry to leave the country.

Intended for France, contrary winds blew them to Brittany (Often referred to as Bretagne) where Henry was to begin his 14-year exile as an enforced guest at the court of Francis II, Duke of Brittany  (Griffiths, Hutchinson, Norton, Penn, Roberts, Vergil).

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City of Vannes with the St.Peter Cathedral where Henry VII sent gifts in acknowledgement of his time there.  He also depicted the city’s patron Saint, St. Vincent in his chapel in Westminster Abbey.

Because of the threats on his life and kidnapping plots, and the logistics of maintaining basically a refugee household, Henry was transferred from place to place.  He was never truly settled.  “Dependent on the whims of others, he learned to think like the fugitive he now was:  to watch and assess loyalties, to sift information from rumour and, caught in the wash of European power politics, to understand how they affected his own fortunes” (Penn 4-5).

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Chateau Lagoet’s Tour de Elven where Henry was kept between 1474-1476.

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Chateau Vannes built by Francis II and visited several times by Henry.

His experiences certainly affected him.  “He developed an exile’s patience, inured to a life in which stretches of empty time were punctuated by sudden alerts, moments of danger in which logical clear-headedness meant the difference between life and death” (Penn 5).  He became resourceful, determined and “unabashed and unafraid when faced with adversity.  He was capable of swift and decisive reactions, and yet he also learned the value of careful and detailed planning in order to avoid needless risks” (Griffiths168), all seemingly positive traits learned while under house arrest and exile.  Some historians believe exile also created in Henry “an almost pathological suspicion” (Jones 61).

Regardless, Henry certainly impressed the French diplomat, Philippe Commynes who met him while he was in Brittany and France.  Commynes marveled that Henry “without power, without money, without right … and without any reputation but what his person and deportment excited; for he had suffered much, been in distress all the days of his life, and particularly a prisoner in Bretagne to Duke Francis from the eighteenth year of his age who treated him as kindly as the necessity of his imprisonment would permit…” would emerge strong and noble (Commynes 560).

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In the fifteenth century this gate in Vannes, Brittany was where Henry VII, as Earl of Richmond, passed into the city which protected other English expats.

In 1483 circumstances galvanized Henry to attempt an invasion of England; a pro-Lancastrian conspiracy, headed by the Duke of Buckingham, gained support in England; and Margaret Beaufort, Henry’s mother, began negotiations with the ex-Queen Elizabeth Woodville to marry their children (Henry to Elizabeth of York) to unite the Houses of York and Lancaster.  After extensive preparations, several ships set sail toward Wales where Henry knew support would be the strongest and he could gain an entry point.  After accompanying ships went astray, Henry “learnt the virtue of caution that day” (Griffiths102).  Wisely, Henry returned to Brittany disappointed but not defeated.

About 10 months later, Henry was informed of a different sort of conspiracy which would have Brittany (under the leadership of Pierre Landais, chief advisor to an incapacitated Francis II) hand him over to Richard III.  Henry organized his flight from the town of Vannes to France dressed as a groom with a small group of expats, he escaped across the border.  Later when a recovering Francis II learned what had happened, he gave safe-conduct passage to the remaining retainers of Henry’s who were still in Brittany. This was a relief to Henry, who had a strong sense of obligation to those who shared his exile.  Once in France, Henry obtained men and equipment from Charles VIII to launch an invasion of England in August of 1485 at the age of 28 (Griffiths, Hutchinson, Norton, Penn, Vergil, Roberts).  The rest they say is history.

The impressions made on him from his years of exile affected more than just his personality.  Henry VII was known for his preference for speaking French, his understanding of European politics and his unfamiliarity with English ways.  Nevertheless, he was able to establish one of the most infamous ruling dynasties in England culminating in the rule of his granddaughter, Elizabeth Regina.

Unlike her grandfather, who had his mother and paternal uncle to direct him, Elizabeth had no such guidance and her apprenticeship to the throne was as severe as his had been.  She too spent many years in a form of exile.  She had to learn the art of statecraft and how to assimilate various players’ actions all while in seclusion at country houses with little or no contact with politicians both domestic or foreign.    

She was able to create a strategy and with determination she maintained her course. This is not to say that she was inflexible.  Elizabeth knew when to shift her course of action as her survival demanded it.

A religious book, The Epistles of St. Paul, owned by Elizabeth during the time that she was imprisoned by Queen Mary, has been preserved in the Bodleian Library.  Amongst the passages she had designed was Vincit omnia pertinax virtus.  E. C. In translation, Tenacious virtue conquers all* Elizabeth the Captive (Marshall 158, Nichols 11).  Beyond her perseverance, her courage, cool headedness, self-reliance and self-possession were cemented during her removal from Court. Also forged during this time were several of her least attractive characteristics: her lack of candor, her ability to conceal her true intentions, her inability to trust, her extreme caution and her vacillation. 

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The Epistles of St. Paul preserved by the Bodleian Library showing the above mentioned phrase done in needlework by Elizabeth.

While Henry VII as Earl of Richmond spent 14 years in exile, Elizabeth experienced removal from Court several times.  First was her self-imposed banishment to Hatfield after the Seymour troubles.  She was barely 15 and she had the wisdom to rehabilitate her reputation by concentrating on running the estate, biding her time and minding her behavior.  She led an exemplary life of scholarly pursuits in a decorous manner.  She remained there when the Duke of Northumberland, using Lady Jane Grey as his figurehead, and Mary struggled for the throne.  Once Mary was victorious, Elizabeth journeyed from Hatfield to offer congratulations and support (Erickson, Hibbert, MacCaffrey, Neale, Ridley).

Hatfield_House_Old_Palace Hatfield Old Palace

As mentioned above, Elizabeth was detained by Queen Mary at Woodstock after the Wyatt Rebellion.  This captivity, when Elizabeth was 21, was conducted differently from her grandfather’s escape to Brittany.

A letter preserved in the Talbot Papers from Robert Swift, steward to the Earl of Shrewsbury, reported on May 20, 1554,“Of Saterdaye, at one of the cloke at afternone, my Lady Elisabethe was delyv’ed out of Towre by the Lord Tresorer and my Lord Chamb’leyn, and went to Richemonde (on her way to the old Palace of Woodstock, where she remained in confinement till the end of April in the next year,) by water furthewy’er she landyd; wher she shal be attended upon by sundreye of garde, and some officers of ev’y office in the Quen’s howse, but how long she shall co’tinewe there I know not”  (Nichols 8).

woodstock ruins cropped Woodstock Palace drawn in 1714 

Although her custodian, Sir Henry Bedingfield, a Privy Council member under Queen Mary, attempted to spirit her away it was not the case.  People gathered to watch her pass, shouted support, offered her cakes and treats and rang the bells of their churches.  The entire journey saw demonstrations favorable to Elizabeth to such an extent that at one point Bedingfield reminded their hosts along the route that Elizabeth was “a prisoner who had offended against the Queen” (Ridley 62).  Once ensconced in Woodstock, Elizabeth knew her status as in the above reference to herself as ‘captive’ and also in the famous couplet she etched onto a window pane while at Woodstock when she signed herself as prisoner. 

“Much suspected by me,
Nothing proved can be,
Quoth Elizabeth prisoner” (Nichols 9).

After almost a year’s confinement, Elizabeth was summoned to Hampton Court by orders directed to Sir Henry Bedingfeld by Queen Mary: 

Hampton Court, April 17, 1555.

Trusty and well beloved, we greet you well. And forasmuch as we have resolved to have the Lady Elizabeth to repair nearer unto us, we do therefore pray and require you do declare unto her that our pleasure is she shall come to us to Hampton Court in your company with as much speed as you can have things in order for that purpose; wherein you shall not need to make any delay for calling of any other numbers than these, which are yourself and [those that] be now there attendant upon her, And of the time of your setting forward from thence, and by what day you shall think you may be there, we require you to advertise us by your letters with speed. Mary, the Queen (Mumby 187).

bedingfield

Sir Henry Bedingfield

Elizabeth spent time at Hampton Court and other houses from April 1555 until October when she returned to Hatfield.  At Hatfield with her trusted servants, Elizabeth could still not feel safe as Mary had her under continual surveillance (Erickson 153).  Eventually Mary’s suspicions eased, “there was something like a tacit truce between the two sisters.  Elizabeth, withdrawn to country retirement at Hatfield…remained carefully aloof from all political activity. On both sides civility and decorum served to mask underlying unease” (MacCaffrey 25). It was here at Hatfield where Elizabeth learned of her ascension to the throne in November of 1558.

Works Cited

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. http://archive.org/details/historicalmemoi00comigoog

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.

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.

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.

Marshall, Edward. The Early History of Woodstock Manor and Its Environs, in Bladon, Hensington, New Woodstock, Blenheim; with Later Notices:. Oxford: J. Parker and, 1873. Internet Archive. Web. 18 Feb. 2013.

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

Mumby, Frank  Arthur, and Elizabeth. The Girlhood of Queen Elizabeth, a Narrative in Contemporary Letters, London: Constable, 1909. Internet  Archive. Web. 19 Feb. 2013.

Neale, J. E. Queen Elizabeth I. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1957. 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. Collected from Original MSS., Scarce Pamphlets, Corporation Records, Parochial Registers, &c., &c.: Illustrated with Historical Notes. New York: B. Franklin, 1823. Google Books. Web. 19 Jan. 2013.

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.

“Queen Elizabeth, Her Progresses and Processions: Confinement of the Princess Elizabeth in the Tower–Her Removal to Woodstock.” The Saturday Magazine 21 Apr. 1838: 146-47. Google Books. Web. 18 Feb. 2013. <http://books.google.com/books?id=i1YFAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA145&dq=saturday+magazine+372&hl=en&sa=X&ei=yKEiUb_1LfGLyAHc1YCwBA&ved=0CDAQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=saturday%20magazine%20372&f=false&gt;.

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

Roberts, Peter.  “The Welshness of the Tudors.” History Today. History Today.com, n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2013.

Vergil, Polydore. Polydore Vergil, Anglica Historia (1555 Version). Ed. Dana F. Sutton. Irvine: University of California, 2005. Polydore Vergil, Anglica Historia (1555 Version). The Philological Museum, 04 Aug. 2005. Web. 02 Jan. 2013.

For a reproduction of Queen Mary’s orders to Sir Henry Bedingfeld on his duties and responsibilities as keeper of the then Lady Elizabeth consult the digitized volume of The Girlhood of Queen Elizabeth: A Narrative in Contemporary Letters pages 135 & 135 at the following address: http://books.google.com/books?id=bpkQAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA134&dq=A+Memorial+given+by+the+Queen’s+Highness++unto+her+trusty+and+right+councillor&hl=en&sa=X&ei=p9ooUYOoC8XHrQGnyIGgDw&ved=0CDAQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=A%20Memorial%20given%20by%20the%20Queen’s%20Highness%20%20unto%20her%20trusty%20and%20right%20councillor&f=false

*Special thanks to Jamie, a Latin instructor, for her help with the translation of the quote by Elizabeth I.

In the Stars

In the Stars

Many believed Henry VII’s well-known interest in prophesy could have stemmed from his Welsh background as the Welsh “follow prophecies, affirming that they are true” (Tremlett 100) and have a “prophetic tradition” (Thornton 15). As discussed in a previous blog, King Henry VI, upon meeting the young Henry, Earl of Richmond, gave a prophecy that he would become king (Bacon, Vergil).

Henry VII did not have a formal Royal Astrologer but Gulielmus Parronus Placentinus, an Italian known in England as William Parron, came close.  Parron is credited, according to an expert at the British Library, with bringing to England the practice of creating astrological almanacs for the nation (Pickup).  Astrology almanacs were compilations of astrological data that was considered useful for physicians and other medical professionals as well as for the general public (Parker).  Evidence shows that Parron received payments from the king, possibly for an early almanac, as seen in the king’s account books from 6 March 1499: “To Master William Paromis an astronymyre £1” (Macalister 301). After making several successful prognostications, Parron presented to Henry, De astrorum succincte vi fatali, (The Fateful Meaning of the Stars) completed on 15 October 1499. In this work Parron ingratiated himself by giving justifications for Henry’s actions on many fronts especially his treatment of Perkin Warbeck and the Earl of Warwick saying that people born under bad stars must die before infecting the country.  A “satisfyingly closed logic, and it satisfied Henry’s conscience” (Penn 38).

Parron’s last known compilation for the Tudor family was a horoscope in late 1502 titled, Liber de Optimo fato Henrici Eboraci ducis et optimorum ipsius parentum, (The Book of the Excellent Fortunes of Henry Duke of York and his Parents). This was less than successful and perhaps why he disappears from official sources.  It is supposed he left England in disgrace after predicting that Queen Elizabeth, Henry VII’s wife, would live until she was 80.  She died shortly thereafter at the age of 37.  As an aside, he also foretold that Prince Henry, the future Henry VIII would have a happy marriage and many sons (Carlin, Penn, Tucker).

The following illustrations are from Parron’s 1502 horoscope and almanac including the cover page, his dedication page and the illustration of Henry VII –note the Tudor roses in the border.

Parron 1503 Almanac  Royal 12 B vi  1v  Royal 12 B vi  2r

Parron was not the only astrologer and scientist to whom Henry offered his patronage.  Dr. Janina Ramirez explained that “Henry VII saw himself as a patron of science and scholarship and in Tudor times astrology was held in high esteem” (Ridgway).  At court was Lewis of Caerleon, physician to Margaret Beaufort, who was valued for his “astronomical and astrological skills, and he received considerable remuneration and generous favours from the monarch” (Pahta 50).  Added to the list of astrologers were John Argentine who “assembled an extensive collection of astrological and astronomical treatises” and was “appointed physician and chaplain” to Prince Arthur, son of Henry VII (Pahta 50); and John Killingworth “perhaps the most important of fifteenth-century English astrologers” (Pahta 51).  Killingworth’s scientific manuscript of planetary data and prophecies was written for Henry VII in 1490.  Another example of Henry’s patronage was the sculptures on the ceilings at Merton College where Bishop Richard Fitzwilliam’s “astrological symbols were next to the royal arms of Henry VII, showing that Henry was ruling not just England but the cosmos. Astrology was the science of the day and was seen as important” (Ridgway).

The strong influence prophecy and astrology held over Henry VII did not diminish throughout the Tudor time-period and was as prominent with his granddaughter, Elizabeth Regina.   Enter John Dee, astrologer, astronomer, mathematician, alchemist, and rumored neocromancer who found time “to dabble in the mysteries of the occult” (Brimacombe 143).  He was a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge; an acquaintance to Continental academics, Abraham Ortelius, Gemma Frisius—Court Astrologer to Charles V— and Geradus Mercator; and, a friend to influential people— Roger Ascham, Robert Dudley and Lord Pembroke.  In fact, Dudley and Pembroke introduced him to the 25-year old Elizabeth when she needed to set the date for her coronation.  This auspicious occasion could not just be any day. It would be the birth date of the Elizabethan Age and had to be considered carefully (Bassnett, Brimacombe, Somerset, Watkins).

John Dee      

                                          johndee

John Dee would become an influential member of Elizabeth’s circle (he was a cousin to Blanche Parry, Elizabeth’s gentlewoman, and had been a member of the Duke of Northumberland’s household when Robert Dudley was a youth). By 1564 when he had returned from the Emperor’s Court, Dee was “appointed Royal Adviser in mystic secrets” (Bassnett 63), another way of saying Court Astrologer.  Elizabeth offered him apartments at Court (something most people vied for their entire lives) and he turned her down fearing it would interfere with his studies. Supposedly he “applied himself to his studies with such diligence that he allowed only four hours for sleep, and two for his meals and recreation”  (Nichols 414). He appreciated Elizabeth’s support and acknowledged it:  “Whereupon her Majestie had a little perusion of the same with me, and then in most heroicall and princely wise did comfort and encourage me in my studies philosophicall and mathematicall” (Dee Autobiographical 19).

“In the sixteenth century, the borderline between science and sorcery was often perilously narrow” (Brimacombe 144). The role of natural magic cannot be ignored in the rise of experimental science .  This reminds me of some experiments that science teachers demonstrated when I was in school.  The exploding volcano bordered on magic!  Some authors suspect “Sir Walter Ralegh and his circle of friends practiced sorcery at this infamous ‘School of the Night’ at his home at Sherborne in Dorset” (Brimacmbe 144) and others that it was a gathering to discuss all topics of learning especially religion (Marlowe Society). Dee was very much aware of the links between religious thoughts and the sciences “which fruite and gaine if I attaine unto, it shall encourage me hereafter, in such like sort to translate, and set abroad some other good authors, both pertaining to religion (as partly I have already done) and also pertaining to the Mathematicall Artes” (Dee Mathmatical iii).

Elizabeth, a highly educated, intelligent woman, frequently consulted Dee be it for explanations for comets, a toothache, diet and medicines, navigation (he is reported to have coined the term British Empire) and the dangers to be apprehended from a waxen image of her with a pin struck through its breast, which had been found in Lincoln’s Inn Fields.  Her faith in his abilities also earned him the role as a foreign spy “reporting, in code, to both the Queen and William Cecil on intrigues abroad.  His coded letters were signed using the numerals 007” (Watkins 39).

When Dee was in England, she visited him at his home in Mortlake, Surrey, where he was reputed to have one of the largest private libraries in Europe along with his famous laboratories (Brimacombe, Hibbert, Lipscomb, Watkins). Although it was suggested in some readings that Dee built an astrolabe for Elizabeth, the only evidence found was one made for her by the Flemish instrument maker Thomas Gemini.

Astrolabe known to belong to Elizabeth with enlargement of the inscription.

astrolobe     Astrolabe closeup

Today we would call the Elizabethans superstitious*, not understanding the seriousness in which they took elements of magic, the occult and alchemy.  In fact, I get the impression that many modern writers try to ‘excuse’ Elizabeth’s reliance on Dee by down-playing her interest or referring to her as impressionable. Elizabeth was in good company as there are letters that William Cecil wrote to Edward Kelley, Dee’s colleague for many years when they lived in Europe conducting experiments, to encourage him to return to England with his “powder that could transform base metals into gold” (Bassnett 63).  Even the Archbishop of Canterbury responded to Elizabeth’s fears of assassination and assured her that no harm would come to her so long as her “birth sign, Virgo, was in the ascendant” (Hibbert 72).

Ironically, despite Elizabeth’s beliefs and interests, when it was predicted in 1572 there would be a series of catastrophes after the appearance of a comet, it was reported that “with a courage answerable to the greatness of her state, she caused the window to be set open and cast out this word, jacta est alea, the dice are thrown” (Malcolm 355). Added to this account was the following when there were prophecies circulating about the countryside.  Elizabeth sent out a proclamation in which she “warns all not to be moved by murmurers and spreaders of rumours, the dissemination of which is to be punished as the spreading of sedition (Pollen 340).

Thus is another paradox of Elizabeth Regina:  her pragmatic response to threats to her realm and her embracing prophecies.  When in January 1603 John Dee cast her horoscope and warned her to “beware of Whitehall” (Sitwell 454) she moved to Richmond.  She did so seeing it as a realistic response.  Ironically, it was at Richmond that she died about two months later. Thus the tradition of the Tudors’ consultation with and acceptance of astrologer’s predictions was maintained.

*A consultation with an astrologer in the time of Queen Elizabeth was reported to last about “15 minutes and cost 2s. 6d” (Emerson 264).

Works Cited

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.

Bassnett, Susan.  Elizabeth I: a Feminist Perspective.  Oxford: Berg Publishers, 1997. Print.

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

Carlin, Martha. “Parron, William.” Oxford DNB. Oxford University Press, Jan. 2013. Web. 02 Feb. 2013.

Dee, John. Autobiographical Tracts of Dr. John Dee … Ed. James Crossley. [Manchester]: Printed for the Chetham Society, 1851. Google Books. Web. 31 Jan. 2013.

Dee, John. Mathematicall Praeface to Elements of Geometrie of Euclid of Megara. [S.l.]: General, 13 Jul 2007. Project Gutenburg. Web. 31 Jan. 2013.

Emerson, Kathy L. The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in Renaissance England : from 1485-1649. Cincinnati, Ohio: Writer’s Digest Books, 1996. Print.

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

Lipscomb, Suzannah.  A Visitor’s Companion to Tudor England. London : Ebury Press, 2012. Print.

Macalister, J. Y. W., and Alfred W. Pollard, eds. New Series. The Library; a Quarterly Review of Bibliography and Library Lore, Etc. Dec. 1899-Oct. 1909. Vol. IV. London: Alexander Moring, 1913. Third Series. Internet Archive. Web. 4 Feb. 2013.

Malcolm, James Peller. Anecdotes of the Manners and Customs of London from the Roman Invasion to the Year 1700: Including the Origin of British Society, Customs and Manners, with a General Sketch of the State of Religion, Superstition, Dresses, and Amusements of the Citizens of London, during That Period: To Which Are Added, Illustrations of the Changes in Our Language, Literary Customs, and Gradual Improvement in Style and Versification, and Various Particulars concerning Public and Private Libraries. London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1811. Google Books. Web. 3 Feb. 2013.

Marlowe Society. “The Free-Thinkers.”: Marlowe & The School of Night. The Marlowe Society, 2012. Web. 01 Feb. 2013.

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. Collected from Original MSS., Scarce Pamphlets, Corporation Records, Parochial Registers, &c., &c.: Illustrated with Historical Notes. New York: B. Franklin, 1823. Google Books. Web. 19 Jan. 2013.

Pahta, Päivi, and Andreas H. Jucker. Communicating Early English Manuscripts. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010. Google Books. Web. 4 Feb. 2013.

Parker, Derek. “Skyscript: The Rise and Fall of the Astrological Almanac by Derek Parker. The Traditional Astrologer Magazine, Dec. 2004. Web. 04 Feb. 2013.

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

Pickup, Oliver. “It’s Nostra-dumbass! Astrologer Predicted Henry VIII Would Marry Well and Take Care of the Church.” Mail Online. Daily Mail, 26 Aug. 2011. Web. 03 Feb. 2013.

Pollen, John Hungerford. The English Catholics in the Reign of Queen Elizabeth: A Study of Their Politics, Civil Life, and Government : From the Fall of the Old Church to the Advent of the Counter-Reformation. London: Longmans, Green, 1920. Internet Archive. Web. 30 Jan. 2013.

Ridgway, Claire. “Illuminations: The Private Lives of Kings – Libraries Gave Us Power.” The Anne Boleyn Files RSS. N.p., 24 Jan. 2012. Web. 05 Feb. 2013.

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

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

Thornton, Tim. Prophecy, Politics and the People in Early Modern England. Woodbridge: Boydell, 2006. Google Books. Web. 2 Feb. 2013.

Tremlett, Giles.  Catherine of Aragon: Henry’s Spanish Queen.  London: Faber and             Faber, 2010. Print.

Tucker, M. J. “Life at Henry VII’s Court.” History Today. History Today.com, n.d. Web. 4 Feb. 2013.

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”” 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.

Watkins, Susan, and Mark Fiennes. The Public and Private Worlds of Elizabeth I. New York, NY: Thames and Hudson, 1998. Print.