Friend, Cousin, Brother? Part I

Henry Carey, Lord Hunsdon Part I

Henry Carey, Lord Hunsdon was born 4 March 1526 to Mary Boleyn and William Carey who married on 4 February 1520.  Mary was the eldest daughter of Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire and Lady Elizabeth Howard, eldest daughter of Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk. Mary was the sister to Anne Boleyn, second wife to Henry VIII.

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 Henry Carey, Lord Hunsdon

Mary Boleyn, was born most likely at Blickling Hall and reared at Hever Castle; with no evidence of an exact date for her birth most historians place it in the year 1499. Mary, tutored at home along with her siblings George and Anne, received a conventional education until 1514.  Her father arranged for her to become a maid-of-honor to Mary Tudor, sister to Henry VIII, who was soon to become the bride of King Louis XII of France. Mary Tudor was widowed shortly after her wedding and returned home. Mary Boleyn’s reputation through generations has implied affairs with French courtiers and even the new King of France Francis I.  Mary Boleyn became a maid-of-honor to Catherine of Aragon and shortly after wed Sir William Carey.  It was believed that she began an affair with King Henry around this time.  This was not a publicized liaison but the evidence is difficult to shift through.  Was the relationship not well-known at the time or was it suppressed later?  After Henry VIII had discarded Catherine due to the rise in his conscience of marrying the wife of his brother (against scripture Leviticus 20:21), could he have destroyed all evidence of an affair once he became determined to marry Anne?  If he had fathered children by Mary, would he also have repressed those facts? 

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Blickling Hall June 2012

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Hever Castle 2007

Evidence is strong that Henry VIII did have an affair with Mary Boleyn.  Paul Friedmann relays that Dr. Ortiz, the Spanish theologian sent to Rome to assist the cause of Catherine of Aragon, “wrote to the empress, ‘that some time ago he [Henry] sent to ask his holiness for a dispensation to marry her, notwithstanding the affinity between them on account of his having committed adultery with her sister.’ In 1529 Charles V had already heard of the matter. Charles declared that Henry’s conscientious scruples did not seem to be justified, especially ‘if it were true, as his said Majesty had heard (although he himself would not positively affirm it), that the said king had kept company with the sister of her whom he now, it was stated, wanted to marry.’ In 1532, Eustache Chapuis speaks of the former adultery of Henry with Mary Boleyn as a well-known fact of which there can be no doubt. ‘Even if,’ he writes, ‘he could separate from the queen, he could not have her [Anne], for he has had to do with her sister.’ Such, in the main, are the arguments for the opinion that Mary Carey had been the mistress of Henry” (Friedmann 325-327).

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Mary Boleyn Carey                               William Carey

Of course, there is the famous incident of Sir George Throgmorton speaking to the king of the rumor that Henry had improper relations with Anne’s mother and sister, and “Henry replied, ‘Never with the mother;’ and Cromwell, who was present, added, ‘Nor with the sister either.’” (Friedman 326).  Could even Henry VIII have been such a hypocrite to justify marriage to Anne Boleyn after he had discarded Catherine of Aragon for being the wife of his brother? One must remember, Henry desperately wanted to marry Anne.

Another rumor passed down through the centuries is that Henry Carey was the natural son of Henry VIII.  If this were true, would the king have recognized the boy as such?  After all, Henry had acknowledged Henry FitzRoy, the child he had with Elizabeth Blount, and rewarded him accordingly. The difference is the king did not want to marry Elizabeth Blount’s sister.  Would measures have been taken at the time to suppress the truth?  Even if Henry had acknowledged Mary’s child, would he have disposed of all official records two to three years later when he became infatuated with Anne?

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Henry FitzRoy

Allison Weir is adamant that Henry did not father Mary Boleyn Carey’s child (Weir Lady in the Tower 309-310). This blogger also wonders if Anne would have obligingly taken the wardship of Henry Carey when William Carey died if she thought he could be a threat to her own children as an illegitimate son to the king?  Very few contemporary sources mention this possibility.  John Haile*, vicar of Isleworth, wrote on April 20, 1535, that Morever, Mr. Skydmore dyd show to me yongge Master Care, saying that he was our suffren Lord the Kynge’s son by our suffren Lady the Qwyen’s syster, whom the Qwyen’s grace might not suffer to be yn the Cowrte” (Hoskins).

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John Haile 

Mary’s disgrace came in 1534 when she secretly married a soldier, William Stafford.  As a second son of a modestly wealthy landowner, William’s prospects were not great. Queen Anne was furious and banished her sister from Court.  After her siblings were executed in 1536, her parents died within a short time period.  As sole heir Mary then inherited some family property.  She lived comfortably and quietly until her death in July of 1543. 

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Thomas Boleyn                          Believed to be Elizabeth Boleyn

When William Carey died of the sweating sickness 23 June 1528, Anne Bolyen was granted Henry’s wardship. He benefited enormously as Anne had him educated by “Nicholas Bourbon, a French humanist and other prominent educators” (Warnicke 148).  This patronage came to an end when Anne was executed in May of 1536; Henry was ten years old. 

Anne Morgan, the daughter of Sir Thomas Morgan and Anne Whitney, was his bride on 21 May 1545.  The couple would eventually have 12 children. In 1547, Henry was elected as a member of Parliament for Buckingham where he served for many years.  During the reign of Edward VI, he received several manors to provide a living for him and his family.  Soon after the accession of Elizabeth Regina, Henry received a knighthood (his wife was appointed as a Lady of the Privy Chamber) and was elevated to the peerage by letters patent, as Baron Hunsdon. Along with the peerage was a grant of the estate of Hunsdon in Hertfordshire and a pension of £4,000 a year “(according to the valuation in that age) in fair desmesnes, parks, and lands lying about it” (Fuller 47). 

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Anne Morgan, Lady Hunsdon, portrait is displayed at Hatfield House

*John Haile was one of the first priests to die as a result of the Act of Supremacy (not acknowledging Henry VIII as Head of the Church).  He, along with several others, was hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn on 4 May 1535. Haile was beatified by Pope Leo XIII in 1886.

Henry Carey, Lord Hunsdon Part II will follow as the next published blog entry.

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The Fourth Step-Mother of Elizabeth, Katherine Parr

The Fourth Step-Mother of Elizabeth, Katherine Parr
As discussed in an earlier blog entry, Catherine Howard, Henry VIII passed a law that required all future queens of England to have chaste pasts or be willing to confess any ‘indiscretions.’  Obviously, this eliminated many candidates.  Who would be free from scandal or brave enough to tell Henry if she was not?

Enter Katherine Parr, the daughter of Thomas and Maud Parr.  Maud, a lady-in-waiting to Queen Catherine of Aragon, was a highly intelligent and well-educated woman.  Queen Catherine placed her in charge of the education of many of the youngsters at Court. Her children, especially Katherine, benefited greatly from the Court tutors and developed a life-long love of learning.  Maud was widowed at the age of 25 and never remarried.  She concentrated her efforts on establishing good matches for her children and protecting her son’s inheritance.  In 1529 when Katherine was 16 or 17, she was married to Edward Borough.  Edward was in his early twenties when he died in 1533.  It is often confused that she married his grandfather, another Edward, perpetuating the myth of her marrying aged widowers. This blogger wonders if the confusion came because she would have resided in a multi-generational household perhaps with the grandfather-in-law as the head.

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The Borough family manor, Gainsborough Old Hall.

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Gainsborough Old Hall

Maud Parr died the year after Katherine was widowed and it left the young woman basically independent.  Katherine arranged her own next marriage to John Neville, Lord Latimer of Snape Castle in Yorkshire, a man in his early forties.  The exact date is unknown but they married in 1534.  Lord Latimer had two children both of whom became very close to their young stepmother, especially the daughter, Margaret.  From the time of her marriage, Katherine had the responsibilities of the household.  Her responsibilities expanded to include the entire estate when Lord Latimer took an active role, on the side of the rebels, in the Pilgrimage of Grace.  As examples of her abilities, Katherine withheld a siege, protected the occupants of the household and managed, with the help of her brother William, to gain a pardon for Latimer.  King Henry did not hold it against Latimer and both Katherine and her husband were welcomed back to Court.

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Snape Castle

It was while at Court, with Latimer ailing and soon dying, that Henry became aware of the thirty-year-old Lady Latimer.  Described as attractive but not pretty, Katherine always dressed impeccably, had the translucent skin that was so praised in Tudor times, auburn colored hair and a dignified bearing.

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Katherine Parr by an unknown artist.  Displayed at Montacute House.

Thomas Wriothesley, Lord Chancellor, wrote to the Duke of Norfolk that there was “a woman, in my judgement, for certain virtue, wisdom and gentleness, most meet for his Highness.  And sure I am that his Majesty had never a wife more agreeable to his heart than she is.  The Lord grant them long life and much joy together” (Weir 498).  Praise indeed considering he later tried to have her arrested and executed.

Eustace Chapuys, the Spanish Ambassador, reported to Charles V that Katherine “is graceful and of cheerful countenance; and is praised for her virtue” (Hume 248).  He continued that she was not “so beautiful” and that there was “no hope of issue, seeing that she had none with her two former husbands” (Gairdner XVIII 954).  Charming and amiable, she was pleasant to nobles and servants alike.  Sensible and efficient, a good conversationalist, experienced with step-children, and having aided an ailing spouse, Katherine seemed ideal to become the sixth wife of Henry VIII.

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Miniature of Katherine by Lucas Horenbout, 1544

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Held in the possession of the National Portrait Gallery, this portrait had been mistakenly identified as Lady Jane Grey for many years.  Done in 1545 it is now credited to be Katherine Parr.

Interestingly, she was the only one of Henry’s wives who did not want to become his next bride. Historians believe this for a couple of reasons: she was intelligent enough to see the dangers involved; and she had developed an interest in Thomas Seymour, Lord High Admiral.  Once Henry proposed, Katherine accepted her fate and became determined to make the best of the situation.  Most commentators now believe she saw her chance to promote a more liberal religious agenda and the betterment of her family.  As was Henry’s custom, his bride’s family advanced along with her elevation.  Katherine’s brother, William Parr, was granted the Earldom of Essex in his own right.  Her sister Ann and brother-in-law Sir William Herbert gained positions at Court as did members of her extended family, the Throckmortons and her step-daughter Margaret Neville.

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William Parr in a sketch by Hans Holbein.

As Queen, Katherine used her influence to encourage the King to bring to Court his children from their respective households.  She felt they should be there, beyond the wedding celebrations, and see their father more.  Henry gave his approval and Katherine wrote them all to come.  Agnes Strickland assures that Katherine, who knew Princess Mary well, was also “acquainted with Elizabeth before she became queen, and greatly admired her wit and manners” (Strickland Volume 4 14).

A letter from 10-year-old Elizabeth survives in which she wrote, flowing with gratitude, to acknowledge what Katherine had done.

“Madame, The affection that you have testified in wishing that I should be suffered to be with you in the Court, and requesting this of the King my father, with so much earnestness, is a proof of your goodness.  
So great a mark of your tenderness for me obliges me to examine myself a little, to see if I can find anything in me that can merit it, but I can find nothing but a great zeal and devotion to the service of your Majesty.  But as that zeal has not been called into action so as to manifest itself, I see well tha tit is only the greatness of soul in your Majesty which makes you do me this honour, and this redoubles my zeal towards your Majesty.  I can assure you also that my conduct will be such that you shall never have cause to complain of hainv done me the honour of calling me to you; at least, I will make it my constant care that I do nothing but with a design to show always my obedience and respect.  I await with  much iimpatience the orders of the King my father for the accomplishment of the happiness for which I sigh, and I remain with much submission, your Majesty’s very dear Elizabeth” (Queen Elizabeth I 21-22).

There is an interesting interlude in the chronology of Elizabeth’s life between the summers of 1543 and 1544.  Most historians (Linda Porter is an exception) believe Elizabeth offended her father in some way and was banished to Ashridge near the Hertfordshire-Buckinghamshire border—near Berkhamsted where the Queen held the lordship of the manor. Because Katherine kept in contact with Elizabeth and she sent her other step-daughter, Margaret Neville, to act “as liaison between her step-mother and step-sister” it appears as if the youngster had not offended her (James 172-173).  Elizabeth, obviously, had no ill-feelings as she wrote to Katherine that “Inimical Fourtune …has deprived me for a whole year of your most illustrious presence….”  Elizabeth conveyed to Katherine her belief that she was “not only bound to serve but also to revere you with daughterly love …”(Marcus 5).

Henry was abroad, Katherine was Regent and Elizabeth was persistent.  By petitioning her step-mother to speak to her father, who was on military campaign, Elizabeth was able to end “this my exile” (Marcus 5). Katherine successfully convinced the King to allow Elizabeth to join her at Hampton Court in late July of 1544 cementing her step-daughter’s affection.  Elizabeth seemed secure in Katherine’s affection although she never took it for granted as she wrote “I know that I have your love and that you have not forgotten me for if your grace had not a good opinion of me you would not have offered friendship to me that way” (James 136).

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Fragment of the letter to Katherine from 10-year-old Elizabeth.  Written in Italian.  On line five you can make out the reference to her exile [mio exilio].

The regard Elizabeth had for Katherine was also shown in the New Year’s Day gift that she presented to her in December of 1544.  Elizabeth translated, in italic script, Marguerite of Navarre’s Le Miroir de l’ame pecheresse [The Mirror of a Sinful Soul].  The gift itself was a tribute to her spiritual leanings, her education and her affection.  The dedication was “To our most noble and virtuous Queen Katherine, Elizabeth, her humble daughter, wisheth perpetual felicity and everlasting joy.” In the accompanying letter Elizabeth hoped that Katherine would “rub out, polish, and mend (or else cause to mend) the words (or rather the order of my writing), the which I know in many places to be rude and nothing done as it should be” (Marcus 6-7).  This shows the trust Elizabeth had for Katherine as a loving mentor and the respect she had for Katherine’s intellectual abilities.

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Elizabeth’s translation of The Mirror of the Sinful Soul with a cover of embroidery she worked herself.  Notice Katherine’s initials in the center.

The next year, Elizabeth translated Katherine’s book, Prayers or Meditations, into French, Italian and Latin for her father (James 137).  One would suspect that Elizabeth would not want to upset Henry nor jeopardize Katherine by presenting to him materials that would be contrary to his religious beliefs.
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Gift to Henry VIII from Elizabeth.  A translation of the work, Prayers or Meditations, by Katherine Parr in multiple languages and covered in embroidery by Elizabeth. 

When Henry had gone to France in July 1544, he appointed Katherine his Regent. This certainly was an expression of his respect and affection for her.  Lord Chancellor Wriothesley, Archbishop Cranmer, Lord Hertford, Dr. Thomas Thirlby and William Petre were her advisors.  Not a woman to be gainstayed, in September 1544, Katherine, dealing with her Regency Council, let it be known that exasperation had set in and she was “wearied with their continual clamor” (Gairdner XIX 231).

Thomas Wriothesley, despite his earlier praise for Katherine, grew to distrust her as he was concerned about the liberal religious views she held and strong personality.  Early in 1544 Katherine had written in the Tenth Psalm of her text Psalms or Prayers taken out of the Holy Scripture this thought-provoking sentence “I am so vexed that I am utterly weary; help me against them that lie in wait for me” (Parr 318).  This has been tagged as a response to the Catholic attempts to discredit her, led by Wriothesley and Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, because of her evangelical leanings.

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Thomas Wriothesley, 1st Earl of Southampton, Lord Chancellor

The unease of these two men reached a peak in the summer of 1546 and led to their attempt to arrest Katherine.  They convinced Henry that she harbored radical leanings and fueled his irritation of the recent views Katherine had expressed. Wriothesley lined up the arrest warrant, gathered forty yeomen of the guard and descended upon Katherine while she was in the Whitehall gardens with Henry.

Little did Wriothesley know, Katherine had been warned and had hastened to Henry to apologize for seeming to overstep her boundaries.  She assured the King that she had debated him to distract him from the pain in his leg and to take instruction from him on the proper theological discourse, not to lecture him. Katherine supposedly said that she felt it “preposterous for a woman to instruct her lord” (Strickland III 246). Henry was certainly ready to believe her.  Upon the conclusion of Katherine’s assurances, Henry replied, “And is it so, sweetheart?  Then we are perfect friends” (Strickland III 246).

When Wriothesley came to arrest her, Henry gave him a dressing down and sent him off.  Obviously, this was a very close call for Katherine and she never again conveyed any views counter to the Establishment.

One area which Katherine thwarted convention was in her encouragement of Elizabeth’s education.  The resulting life-long influence cannot be undervalued.  For over four years, although they did not live together that entire time, a close bond was formed. This intelligent and capable woman encouraged and loved this exceptional child.  By taking charge of Elizabeth’s education, both book learning and practical application (Elizabeth witnessed Katherine’s Regency), Katherine influenced the reign of her step-daughter.

Elizabeth received an excellent education.  She was educated alongside her brother for many years until it was decided by Katherine to employ a tutor solely for the princess. This would have been an exception rather than the rule in 16th century England although there were many highly educated women of the previous generation:  Anne Boleyn, Mary More and, of course, Katherine Parr.  Katherine’s deep and genuine love of learning makes her so admirable as an interesting, remarkable woman.

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Copy of Katherine’s text, Lamentations of a Sinner, published in 1547 with her signature.
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As Maud Parr’s daughter, a woman who had set up a school at Court and bequeathed money in her will for education, Katherine’s taste for learning was formed young and continued throughout her life.  Margaret Neville, her step-daugher, said in the spring of 1545 “I am never able to render to her grace sufficient thanks for the goodly education and tender love and bountiful goodness which I have evermore found in her highness….”  Prince Edward pretty much said the same thing in 1546.  He thanked Katherine for her “tender and loving letters” and for the “encouragement to go forward in such things wherein your grace beareth me on hand that I am already entered” (James 141).  And Elizabeth praised Katherine for her “fervent zeal your Highness hath towards all godly learning” (Wood 178).

The educations of Edward and Elizabeth were certainly guided by Katherine Parr. Many of their tutors were committed Protestants and humanists.  The tutors’ willingness to educate the princess in the exacting disciplines was telling.  With Katherine also in charge of Jane Grey’s education, her patronage and direction helped formulate two of the sharpest minds of the era—both belonging to females.  Of note is a rare difference of opinion between Katherine and her step-daughter.  In early 1548, Elizabeth’s tutor, William Grindal died.  Katherine wanted to replace him with Francis Goldsmith but Elizabeth wanted Roger Ascham, a fellow from St. John’s College in Cambridge who was well-acquainted with Katherine (James 322).  Writing to Edward’s tutor, Sir John Cheke, Ascham expressed his “uneasy at being the cause of disagreement between the queen and her stepdaughter on such an important matter, actually counseled Elizabeth to accept Goldsmith” (Porter 306). It probably did not take much persuasion, as Ascham became the royal tutor.

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Roger Ascham                                            Sir John Cheke

Elizabeth is a product of Katherine Parr.  The future Queen Regina’s education, religious beliefs, and open-mindedness stem from the guidance of her step-mother. Her devotion was reflected in 1582, when Thomas Bentley’s work, The Monument of Matrons, depicted Katherine Parr as one of the virtuous Queens of history (Fraser 405). Elizabeth’s actions of not forgetting the woman who had permitted her to see the possibilities of rule and to establish England as a cultural center, was certainly a tribute.

The relationship of Elizabeth and Katherine cannot be revealed without the discussion of Thomas Seymour.  This blogger does not want to expend too much time on this topic for all its relevance because of its worthiness of an entire entry on its own.  Thomas Seymour, as brother-in-law to King Henry VIII and uncle to the future king, held prominent positions at Court.  He was there during the times that Katherine Parr was and they began a romance before Henry VIII turned his attention to her.  Upon Henry’s death in January of 1547, the sensible Katherine allowed Seymour to talk her into marriage well before the conventional time-frame of mourning was over.  Katherine had married him for love and as a last chance of happiness.

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Thomas Seymour, Lord High Admiral

Little did Katherine know that Seymour had had designs on Elizabeth as a possible wife.  He never quite seemed to relinquish the idea and for her own safety, Elizabeth was removed from her step-mother’s household at Chelsea in 1548 to the care of Anthony Denny and his wife at Cheshunt.  Katherine was pregnant and Seymour could not keep in check his, shall it be said, emotional immaturity and grandiose aspirations.

The story leads to Sudeley Castle where Katherine gave birth to a baby girl, Mary, and died days later of puerperal fever.  She is buried in the chapel in the Castle grounds.

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Sudeley Castle

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Katherine Parr was interred in St. Mary’s Chapel on the grounds of Sudeley under this tomb in the 1800s.

When Elizabeth left Chelsea for her own residence of Cheston, Katherine, according to Gregorio Leti, told her “God has given you great qualities.  Cultivate them always, and labour to improve them, for I believe you are destined by Heaven to be Queen of England” (Strickland 26).

References

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

Fraser, Antonia.  The Wives of Henry VIII.  New York:  Alfred A. Knopf, 1992. Print.

Gairdner, James, ed. Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, of the Reign of Henry VIII. Vol. 19. London: Longman, Green, Longman & Roberts, 1888. Google Books. Web. 4 May 2013..

Haselkorn, Anne M., and Betty Travitsky. The Renaissance Englishwoman in Print: Counterbalancing the Canon. Amherst: University of Massachusetts, 1990. Google Books. Web. 27 May 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.

James, Susan. Catherine Parr:  Henry VIII’s Last Love. Stroud, Gloucestershire: Tempus Publishing. 2008. Print.

James, Susan.  Kateryn Parr:  The Making of a Queen. Brookfield, USA: Ashgate, 1999. Print.

Lindsey, Karen.  Divorced, Beheaded, Survived:  A Feminist Reinterpretation of the Wives of Henry VIII.  Reading, Massachusetts:  Addison-WESLEY Publishing Company, 1995. Print.

Loades, David. The Chronicles of the Tudor Queens.  Stroud, Gloucestershire: Sutton Publishing, 2002. Print.

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

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

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

Parr, Katherine, and Janel Mueller. Katherine Parr: Complete Works and Correspondence. Chicago, IL [etc.: University of Chicago, 2011. Google Books. Web. 23 May 2013.

Porter, Linda.  Katherine the Queen:  The Remarkable Life of Katherine Parr.  London:  McMillian, 2010. Print.

Pryor, Felix.  Elizabeth I, Her Life in Letters.  Berkeley, California: University of           California Press, 2003.  Print.

Queen Elizabeth I, Frank Mumby, and R. S. Rait. The Girlhood of Queen Elizabeth: A Narrative in Contemporary Letters. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1909. Google Books. Web. 9 May 2013.

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

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

Starkey, David.  Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII.  London:  Chatto & Windus, 2003.  Print.

Strickland, Agnes, and Elisabeth Strickland. Lives of the Queens of England, from the Norman Conquest. Vol. III. London: Colburn & Co. Publishers, 1851. Google Books. Web. 7 May 2013.

Strickland, Agnes, and Elisabeth Strickland. Lives of the Queens of England, from the Norman Conquest. Vol. IV. London: Longmans, Green, 1857. Google Books. Web. 2 May 2013.

Strickland, Agnes, and Elisabeth Strickland. Lives of the Queens of England, from the Norman Conquest; with Anecdotes of Their Courts, Now First Published from Official Records and Other Authentic Documents, Private as Well as Public. Vol. VI. London: Henry Colburn, 1844. Google Books. Web. 15 Mar. 2013.

Tytler, Sarah.  Tudor Queens and Princesses.  New York:  Barnes and Noble, 1993. Print.

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

Weir, Alison.  The Six Wives of Henry VIII.  New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991. Print.

Wood, Mary Anne Everett. Letters of Royal and Illustrious Ladies of Great Britain: From the Commencement of the Twelfth Century to the Close of the Reign of Queen Mary : Edited, Chiefly from the Originals in the State Paper Office, the Tower of London, the British Museum and Other State Archives. Vol. II. London: Henry. Colburn, 1846. Google Books. Web. 12 May 2013.

Rest in Peace

It is not the purpose here to debate whether or not a person can be completely prepared for death when it comes.  Each person’s preparation must be unique and based on his or her views and life-choices.  This preparation is most often done in private, but what if the person is a public figure—a sovereign? Now the natural process of death becomes a public experience. The deaths of both Henry VII and Elizabeth Regina were witnessed by a multiple people and recorded as part of the historic chronicle.  Their foibles and quirks exposed and also their immense courage.

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Death mask of Henry VII                Replica death mask of Elizabeth I

Henry VII’s health was never robust and after he suffered the deaths of his son Arthur and his Queen, Elizabeth of York, in childbirth along with the baby he became more delicate and more frequently experienced bouts of ill-health.  The Spanish ambassador, Pedro de Ayala, declared in a letter to Ferdinand and Isabella that “the king looks old for his years, but young for the sorrowful life he has led” (Bergenroth 178).

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Pedro de Ayala, Spanish Ambassador

In early March of 1509 Henry became unwell at Hanworth, about six miles from Richmond to where he ordered the Court to move.  By early April he was unable to eat and struggled for breath.  Some historians believe he suffered from quinsy, complications to tonsillitis.  Henry “lay amid mounds of pillows, cushions and bolsters” throughout the month of April (Penn 339).

Henry’s deathbed illness is not well-documented by narrative although we know several men who attended based on the scene depicted by Garter Herald Thomas Wroithesly.  There are 14 figures placed around the bed with three doctors identified by occupation by the flasks in their hands including Giovanni Battista Boerio and two clerics, including Thomas Wosley. The other nine had their coats-of-arms painted above their heads; they were Bishop Richard Fox, Lord George Hastings, Richard Weston, Richard Clement, Sir Matthew Baker, John Sharp, William Tyler, Hugh Denys and William Fitzwilliam.

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Henry VII on his death bed

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Henry’s eyes being closed by Fitzwilliam 

Henry lingered for some days until “having lived two and fifty years, and thereof reigned three and twenty years, and eight months, being in perfect memory, and in a most blessed mind, in a great calm of a consuming sickness passed to a better world, the two and twentieth of April 1509, at his palace of Richmond, which himself had built” (Bacon and Lumby 211).  Most of his Court was residing there and upon his death ministers went to great lengths (those maneuverings could fill another blog entry) to keep his death secret or at least unannounced, as they worked to decide who should control the realm.  Although the transfer of power was not immediate or completely smooth, enough preparations were in place for councilors to solidify their positions and to rally around the 17-year-old Henry VIII, securing the Tudor dynasty. John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, assured the kingdom that Henry had handed over the throne to his son by  “wisely consyderynge this noble prynce ordred hymselfe therafter, let call for his sone the kynge that now is our governour. He called unto hym and gave hym faderly and godly exhortacion, commyttynge unto him the laborious governaunce of this realme…” (Fisher 285-86).

Henry’s will was published, luckily, in 1775 by Thomas Astle as the original is severely damaged. Only a small section of it remains.  The will is dated for March 31, 1509, three weeks before the King’s death. Scholars are sure that the will was written in real-time as the place, location and the date were written continuously with the main body of the text indicating that they were not placed in separately (Condon 107).

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Fragment of the Will of Henry VII

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 Published in 1775 by Thomas Astle

The document “captures the king’s authentic voice” and the overall tone is one of contrition and remorse”  (Condon 103).  Henry VII greatly repented during his final days. Some observers wondered if he felt remorse at the stringent economic measures that were instituted during his rule. Henry requested that his Executors listen to complaints “And in caas by suche examinacion it can be founde, that the complaint be made of a grounded cause … we wol then that as the caas shall require, he and thei bee restored and recompensed by our said Executours, of such our redy money and juelx as then shall remayne…” (Henry VII 12).  Here was a man conscious of the financial hardships he imposed on many of his subjects.

Perhaps, as his life drew to a close, he realized money was not the answer to all life’s questions or he was fearful of eternal punishment.  Whichever reason, he wanted to ensure that “also if any psone of what degree foevir he bee, shewe by way of complainte to our Executours, any wrong to have been doon to hym, by us, oure commaundement, occasion or meane, or that we helde any goodes or lands which of right ought to apperteigne unto hym; we wol that every such complainte, be spedely, tenderly and effectually herde, and the matier duely and indifferently examyned…” (Henry VII 11).

Besides the King’s preoccupation with righting possible wrongs, the other main provisions of his will were to complete the Lady Chapel, build the Savoy hospital and complete King’s College, Cambridge.  Added were the stipulation for alms to be given between the time of his death and burial…” (Condon 104).  Contemporaries believed that he was “a great almsgiver in secret; which shewed, that his works in public were dedicated rather to God’s glory than his own” (Bacon and Lumby 212).  Furthermore, he gained praise for granting a general pardon for less Earthly rewards “expecting a second coronation in a better kingdom” (Bacon and Lumby 211).  To ensure he covered all his bases, Henry stipulated for a “continual and continued edifice of prayer” for his soul (Condon 104).

chapel alms for h7    chapel prayer 001

Illustrated document (and enlargement) of Henry VII requesting prayers and giving alms for the Lady Chapel of Westminster Abbey

Edward Hall was confident that, because of Henry’s “noble acts and prudent policies”, when he died “he has the sure fruition of the godhead, and the joy that is prepared for such as shall sit on the right hand of our savior, for ever world without end” (Loades 97). Although as previously mentioned, Henry appeared repentant, perhaps he was fearful of final judgment for evidence of his religious devotion in his final days included hearing several Masses a day and taking the sacrament when “he was of that feblenes that he might not receive it again”, saying confession and kissing the crucifix “not the selfe place where the blessed body of our lorde was conteyned, but the lowest parte of the fote of the monstraunt, that all that stode aboute hym scarsly might conteyn them from teres and wepyng” (Fisher 274).

Henry’s concern was reflected in the Reverend John Fisher’s funeral sermon in which he claimed that, while awaiting his death, Henry “was not without drede” in the face of God’s judgment even though he received “sacraments of crystes chyrche whiche with full grete devocyon…” (Fisher 277).

john fisher

Bishop of Rochester, John Fisher                      

After his death 22 April, the ex-king’s body was laid in state at Richmond until 9 May when it was taken by barge as far as London Bridge.  From here the casket was processed, in a carriage drawn by horses draped in black velvet, to St. Paul’s Cathedral on 10 May.  Atop the coffin was a life-sized effigy worked from Henry’s death mask and draped in parliamentary robes with the scepter and orb.  Heraldic banners and flags displaying Henry’s titles and dominions decorated the hearse and route.  Inside St. Paul’s, the coffin was laid at the high altar where a Mass for the dead was sung and a vigil kept throughout the night.  The funeral service was held on 11 May with the sermon given by Bishop Fisher.  Margaret Beaufort, Henry’s mother, was so pleased with the sermon she ordered it to be printed and distributed around the country.

From St. Paul’s the body was again taken in procession, this time to Westminster Abbey for burial to join Queen Elizabeth of York who was already laid to rest there.  Several more Masses were sung with the requiem led by Archbishop of Canterbury William Warham.  Once the services were completed, the body was interred at Henry’s stipulation “in the Chapell where our said graunt Dame laye buried, the which Chapell we have begoune to buylde of newe, in the honour of our blessed Lady” (Henry VII 4).  The ex-king’s household officers broke their staves of office and threw them in the tomb before it was sealed.

williamwarham

William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury

Posthumous reflections stressed the final days of Henry’s life when he showed remorse for some of his administrative policies.  Bishop Fisher revealed that worldly pleasures brought Henry unease that “al his goodly houses so rychely dekte & appareyled, his walles & galaryes of grete pleasure, his gardyns large … were paynfull to hym” (Fisher 278).  Not to be outdone, Bacon let us know that he was “born at Pembroke castle, and lieth buried at Westminster, in one of the stateliest and daintiest monuments of Europe, both for the chapel, and for the sepulcher.  So that he dwelleth more richly dead, in the monument of his tomb, than he did alive in Richmond, or any of his palaces” (Bacon and Lumby 221).

Richmond 1562

Richmond Palace 1562

Founding the Lady Chapel had been an ambition of Henry VII for some time.  His last will and testament is the central text for the creation of the Lady Chapel of Westminster Abbey (what is now referred to as Henry VII Chapel).  For a detailed explanation of the creation and building of the chapel please refer to the text, Westminster Abbey: The Lady Chapel of Henry VII edited by T. W. T. Tatton-Brown and Richard Mortimer.

henry 7 chapel exterior

Exterior of the Lady Chapel of Westminster Abbey, known as the Henry VII Chapel

From the onset, there was going to be no doubt who was the benefactor of the building of the Chapel; starting at the gates the King’s arms, badges, emblems would be shown and repeated throughout the chapel (Condon 64). Pietro Torrigiano was commissioned in 1512 to create Henry VII’s tomb. Seven years later the chapel was completed.

henry 7 chapel celing

Fan-vaulted ceiling of the Henry VII Chapel

His tomb was in the place of honor as his will decreed “And we wol that our Towmbe bee in the myddes of the same Chapell, before the High Aultier…” (Henry VII 4).  Yet, despite imploring his Executors to “full and entrie perfourmyng and executing of this our present Wille, and every thing conteyned in the same,” the tomb was moved to the side (Henry VII 27).  Henry VIII moved it behind the altar, “reserving the more prominent space for his own tomb…” (Penn 377).

henry 7 chapel tomb     henry 7 tomb

Tomb of Henry VII & Elizabeth of York, placed behind the altar rather than in the middle to allow space for the monument of Henry VIII

As things in life do happen, Henry VII’s son was not buried at Westminster in the carefully planned testimonial to the Tudor dynasty but his granddaughter, Elizabeth Regina, famously was.

Like her grandfather, Elizabeth grew depressed after the deaths of several people close to her: the Earl of Essex’s execution was a severe blow; the deaths of several of her women, Lady Peyton, Lady Skolt, Lady Heyward and in late February 1603 her cousin Katherine, Countess of Nottingham, granddaughter of her aunt Mary Boleyn and one of her closest attendants.

k of nottingham

Katherine Carey Howard, Countess of Nottingham

Her melancholy increased causing attendants (and later historians) to speculate upon the continual causes.  Was it the political losses in Ireland?  Was it the neglect of Courtiers who were lined up to offer services to James VI of Scotland? Was it the physical ailments which curtailed her activities such as riding and hunting? Was it the deaths of many from her council members? Was it the care and worry of the kingdom?  Was it insomnia?

Elizabeth-I-Allegorical

Allegorical painting of Elizabeth I done after 1620 during a revival of interest in her reign

Elizabeth had caught cold in early January which had turned to bronchitis.  On January 21 the Court moved to Richmond. The records we have from this time period are pretty extensive from contemporaries’ writings.  William Camden was given the Queen’s Rolls, Memorials and Records by William Cecil to use in compiling an historical account of the reign of Queen Elizabeth.  He wanted to do her justice, he wanted to obey Cecil and he wanted to tell the truth as he attested on the third page of ‘The Author to the Reader’ note.  A noble ambition and one that is hard to argue against.  We have from him that in the beginning of Elizabeth’s illness the “Almonds in her Throat swelled, and soon abated again; then her Appetite failed by degrees; and withal she gave herself over wholly to Melancholy, and seemed to be much troubled with a peculiar Grief for some Reason or other” (Camden 659).

william camden

William Camden

Her godson, John Harington, tried to cheer her up with verses and light-hearted talk but, according to a letter he sent his wife, Elizabeth told him, “When thou dost feel creeping Time at thy gate, these fooleries will please thee less; I am past my relish for such matters; thou seest my bodily meet doth not suit me well; I have eaten but one ill-tasted cake since yesternight” (Sitwell 453).

johnharington

John Harington  

Her kinsman, Robert Carey, the son of her cousin Lord Hunsdon, also visited her at Richmond and he found her “in one of her withdrawing chambers, sitting low upon her cushions.  After greetings he wished her in health and she said ‘No, Robin, I am not well’; and then discoursed with me of the indisposition; and that her heart had been sad and heavy for ten or twelve days; and in her discourse she fetched not so few as forty or fifty great sighs.  I was grieved at the first to see her in this plight; for in all my lifetime I never knew her to fetch a sigh, but when the Queen of Scots was beheaded” (Carey 116).  Carey continued that “I used the best words I could to persuade her from this melancholy humour but I found by her it was too deep rooted in her heart and hardly to be removed” (Aikin 523).

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Robert Carey, surrounded by his wife and children

Carey reported that in late-March on a Sunday Elizabeth had expressed her wish to go to chapel in her closet but she could not make it.  Cushions were laid for her on the floor near the closet door and she listened to services from there. “From that day forward she grew worse and worse.  She remained upon her cushions four days and nights at the least.  All about her could not persuade her either to take any sustenance or go to bed….” (Carey 119).  Her coronation ring had to be cut off of her finger as it had grown into the flesh—perhaps hard for her to accept as she had always prided herself in her long, tapered fingers.  The removal of the ring “was taken as a sad Omen, as if it portended that her Marriage with the Kingdome, contracted by the Ring, would now be dissolved” (Camden 659).

Some reported that she was losing her mental faculties but John Nichols assured that  “there was no such matter; only she held an obstinate silence for the most part, because she had a persuasion, that if she once lay down she should never rise; could not be got to go to bed in a whole week” (Nichols 604). She did not speak for several days “sitting sometimes with hir eye fixed upon one object many howres together, yet shee always had hir perfect senses and memory” (Manningham 146).

death-of-queen-elizabeth-1

Final days of Elizabeth 1 by Paul Delaroch, 1828

The Queen would take no medicines, but she would not go to bed to die either.  Maybe we could say it was another example of her trying to see both sides of an issue, trying to compromise, or simply trying to wait-out the events.

The Lord Admiral Charles Howard, Earl of Nottingham, was brought in to persuade her to go to bed. He was successful yet all knew “there was no hope of her recovery, because she refused all remedies” (Aikin 524).  Not long after, she had herself pulled to her feet and stood for 15 hours before returning to her cushions.  Elizabeth was fighting death with her usual tenacity.

charles howard nottingham

Lord Admiral Charles Howard, Earl of Nottingham

The Venetian Ambassador, Giovanni Scaramelli said she had rallied a little 21 March.  Most speculate it was after the abscess in her throat burst allowing for her to feel better for a while.  Around this time there occurred the famous incident involving Robert Cecil.  He approached the Queen and said “Madam, to content the people you must go to bed” and the Queen rebuked him with “Little man, little man, the word must is not to be used to princes” (Perry The Word of a Prince 317).

(c) National Trust, Hardwick Hall; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Robert Cecil

Carey provided that “on Wednesday the 23rd of March she grew speechless” (Aikin 524).  John Manningham, a diarist and lawyer, went to Richmond Palace on that date after the rumors of Elizabeth’s health had reached London and even stories that she was already dead.  He was acquainted with Dr. Henry Parry, Bishop of Gloucester and Elizabeth’s favorite chaplain.  Manningham dined in the privy chamber with Dr. Parry and several others learning about the Queen’s illness how “for a fortnight she had been overwhelmed with melancholy, sitting for hours with eyes fixed upon one object, unable to sleep, refusing food and medicine, and …still retained her faculties and memory” (Manningham 14).

henry parry

Henry Parry, Chaplain to Elizabeth Regina

When it appeared as if there would be no recovery, the councilors became anxious to officially secure the succession.  Therefore, when she was asked if James VI of Scotland would be her heir, she made a gesture that was taken as assent.  Many witnesses relayed with drama that she placed her hands above her head in the shape of a crown, others that she merely motioned with her hand agreement.  Regardless of the true action, the movement was taken as her sanction and preparations were made for the ascension of James Stuart. Unlike her grandfather, she left no will.  Her treasury was intact and her possessions available for James to inherit as he would her throne.

During her final days Dr. Parry, her chaplain, administered to her when she “tooke great delight in hearing prayers, would often at the name of Jesus lift up hir hands and eyes to Heaven” (Manningham 146).

The Archbishop of Canterbury, John Whitgift, came at about six in the evening of the 23March to pray with her.  He knelt at Elizabeth’s bedside and prayed until he became sore and tired and when he “blessed her, and meant to rise and leave her” she gave indication that she wanted him to continue.  He did so with “earnest cries to God for her soul’s health, which he uttered with that fervency of spirit, as the Queen to all our sight much rejoiced thereat, and gave testimony to us all of her Christian and comfortable end” (Carey 122).  The Archbishop stayed quite late until everyone but a few of her women and, according to some reports, Dr. Parry departed.

WhitgiftJohn2

John Whitgift, Archbishop of Canterbury 

She died between two and three in the morning of Thursday March 24, 1603. Manningham recorded Dr. Parry’s words when he made the death announcement.  “This morning about three at clocke, hir Majestie departed this lyfe, mildly like a lambe, easily like a ripe apple from the tree”(Manningham 146).  He continued that Dr. Parry reported he “sent his prayers before hir soule” … and concluded that he, Manningham, “doubt not but shee is amongst the royall saints in Heaven in enternall joyes” (Manningham 147).

Upon her death, Elizabeth’s body was tended at Richmond Palace by her ladies, specifically Anne Russell, Countess of Warwick, and Helena Snakenborg, Marchioness of Northampton.  Five days later, at night, it was taken along the river in a black-draped barge to Whitehall.  There it lay in State in a withdrawing chamber attended continuously by lords and ladies of the Court.  Many days later, the body was moved to Westminster Hall to await the King’s orders for the funeral.

anne russell      helena snakenborg

       Anne Russell,                                     Helena Snakenborg
Countess of Warwick                        Marchioness of Northampton

The funeral was held 28 April 1603.  Elizabeth’s body was processed to Westminster Abbey.  Four horses, hung in black velvet, pulled a hearse carrying the coffin which was covered in purple velvet upon which lay the life-sized wax effigy—remade in 1760.  Although spectacularly covered in Parliamentary robes, holding the scepter and orb, no hint of Elizabeth’s carefully controlled image of Gloriana remained in the true-to-life likeness from the death mask. When the effigy was seen by the tens of thousands of people along the procession route, it was responded to as emotionally as if it were the Queen in life.  John Stowe who attended the funeral left this description of “all sorts of people in their streets, houses, windows, leads and gutters, that came to see the obsequy, and when they beheld her statue lying upon the coffin, there was such a general sighing, groaning and weeping as the like hath not been seen or known in the memory of man” (“History”).  Even Scaramelli, the Venetian Ambassador thought the effigy was depicted “so faithfully she semmes alive” (Doran 249).

e1 funeral procession 2

Funeral procession of Elizabeth Regina, first pictorial record of a funeral of an English monarch

The funeral was organized by Robert Cecil with an estimated cost ranging between £11,305 to £25,000 (in 2010 values that would be £30,800,000 to £68,100,000*) a remarkable sum (Doran 248-249).

The impressive procession of nobles (six earls in no less, in mourning dress, supported the canopy of estate under which was the coffin) with councilors, clerics, courtiers, heralds, gentlemen, servants and 276 poor people filed behind.  Over a thousand people took their place with the peeresses of the realm, who were led by the chief mourner the Marchioness of Northampton.  Archbishop Whitgift officiated at the service which saw the interment of Elizabeth under the main altar of the chapel of her grandfather, Henry VII.  Following tradition her officers broke their staves and threw them atop the coffin before the tomb was sealed.

Three years later, Elizabeth’s body was relocated, along with her sister Mary’s to a chapel James I had created on the north aisle. This blogger had contacted Westminster Abbey to confirm via primary source evidence that Elizabeth was first buried in Henry VII’s tomb.  Miss Christine Reynolds, Assistant Keeper of Muniments, verified that there is a document in the Abbey archives, reference W. A. M. 33659 of 1605-06,  that authorized the removal of the Queen’s body from Henry VII’s vault to the present tomb. The effigy of the newer monument was sculptured by Maximilian Colt and painted by John de Critz according to some reports it too was worked from the death mask at a cost of £1485 (£4,040,000 in 2010 values*).

e1 tomba

Tomb of Elizabeth Regina

The Latin inscription on her tomb would have pleased her.  Below is a portion of it translated:
“Mother of her country, a nursing-mother to religion and all liberal sciences, skilled in many languages, adorned with excellent endowments both of body and mind, and excellent for princely virtues beyond her sex” (“History”).

ElizabethTomb

Monument to Elizabeth I in Westminster Abbey

Elizabeth had gained the love and devotion of her people and had ruled with great popularity.  William Camden’s biography was to prove prophetic when he said: “No Oblivion shall ever bury the Glory of her Name: for her happy and renowned Memory still liveth, and shall for ever live in the Minds of men to all Posterity” (Camden 661).

Once the proclamation was made for James I, the crowds were not exuberant as “sorrowe for hir Majesties departure was soe deep in many hearts they could not soe suddenly showe anie great joy” (Manningham 147).

That sorrow manifested itself 10 years later in comments made by Edward Hall.  “Such was the sweetness of her government and such the fear of misery in her loss, that many worthy Christians desired that their eyes be closed before hers” (Aikin 529).

e1 tombd

It was the “new men and new manners brought in by James I served to teach the nation more highly to appreciate all that it had enjoyed under his illustrious predecessor…” and the “despicable weakness of her successor caused her decease to be regretted and deplored” (Aikin 529).

Many people saw the significance of her death date with William Camdon explaining:  “On the 24 of March, being the Eve of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin, she (who was born on the Eve of the Nativity of the same Blessed Virgin) was called out of the Prison of her earthly Body to enjoy an everlasting Country in Heaven, peaceably and quietly leaving this Life after that happy manner of Departure… having reigned 44 Years, 4 Months, and in the seventieth Year of her Age; to which no King of England ever attained before” (Camdon 661).

e1 tomb effigy

Stanza 21 and 22 of a poem written by Queen Elizabeth

Regret for my fault
Delivered me from sin,
For it afflicted me so
That this alone was my care—
That I did not have care enough;
Knowing better, that in joy
I had to suffer,
I turned myself to so many tears
That a thousand times my comfort
Renewed my pains.

To increase the grief
Of my follish past,
Contemplating my Creator,
I remember the making
Of me, a sad sinner;
I saw that God redeemed me,
Beign cruel against Him,
And considering well who He was,
I saw how He made Himself me,
So that I would make myself Him.
Queen Elizabeth (Marcus 419)

*Values for pounds were figured using the Measuring Worth website at http://www.measuringworth.com/ppoweruk/

References

Aikin, Lucy. Memoirs of the Court of Elizabeth, Queen of England. London: G. P. Putnam, 1870. Kindle.

Bergenroth, G. A., and, Pascual De. Gayangos. Calendar of Letters, Dispatches and State Papers, Relating to the Negotiations between England and Spain, Preserved in the Archives at Simancas and Elsewhere: Published by the Authority of the Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty’s Treasury under the Direction of the Master of the Rolls. Henry VII 1485 – 1509. ed. Vol. 1. London: Longman, Green, Longman and Roberts, 1862. Google Books. Web. 26 Nov. 2012.

Borman, Tracy. Elizabeth’s Women:  The Hidden Story of the Virgin Queen.  London:  Jonathan Cape.  2009. Print.

Camden, William, and Robert Norton. Annals, Or, The Historie of the Most Renovvned and Victorious Princesse Elizabeth, Late Queen of England.: Containing All the Important and Remarkable Passages of State, Both at Home and Abroad, during Her Long and Prosperous Reigne. 4th ed. London: Printed by Thomas Harper, for Benjamin Fisher, and Are to Be Sold at His Shop in Aldersgate Street, at the Signe of the Talbot., 1688. Google Books. Web. 2 Dec. 2012.

Carey, Robert Sir, Earl of Monmouth. The Memoirs of Sir Robert Carey. Edinburgh: James Ballantyne and Co. and Archibald Constable and Co.. 1808. Google Books. Web. 15 Apr. 2013

Condon, Margaret. Westminster Abbey: The Lady Chapel of Henry VII. Ed. T. W. T. Tatton-Brown and Richard Mortimer. Rochester, NY: Boydell, 2003. Google Books. Web. 14 Apr. 2013. 

Doran, Susan, ed. Elizabeth:  The Exhibition at the National Maritime Museum. London: Chatto & Windus, 2003. Print.

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

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

Fisher, John, and John E. B. Mayor. “Sermon Sayd in the Cathderall Chyrche of Saynt Poule within the Cyte of London the Body Being Present of the Moost Famous Prynce Kyng Henry the VIII, 10 May MCCCCCIX. Enprinted by Wynkyn De Worde 1 H. VIII.”The English Works of John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester. London: N. Trübner for the Early English Text Society, 1876. 268-88. Google Books. Web. 1 Dec. 2012.

Frye, Susan.  Elizabeth I:  The Competition for Representation. Oxford:  Oxford Univseity Press. 1993. Print.

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

Henry VII. The Will of King Henry VII. London: Printed for the Editor: and Sold by T. Payne; and B. White, 1775. Google Books. Web. 13 Apr. 2013.

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

“History.” Elizabeth I. The Dean and Chapter of Westminster Abbey, n.d. Web. 14 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.

Levin, Carole.  The Heart and Stomach of a King:  Elizabeth I and the Politics of Sex and Power.  Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. 1994. Print.

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

Manningham, John, and John Bruce. Diary of John Manningham of the Middle Temple and of Bradbourne, Kent, Barrister-at-law, 1602-1603. London: Camden Society, 1868. Open Library, 13 Apr. 2010. Web. 2 Dec. 2012.

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

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.

Perry, Maria. The Sisters of Henry VIII.  New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999. Print.

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

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

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

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

Strachey, Lytton.  Elizabeth and Essex: A Tragic History.  New York: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1969. Print.

Starkey, David, ed. Rivals in Power. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1990. Print.

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

Heir Unapparent

Heir Unapparent
Looked at with a cursory glance, the roads to succession for the heirs to Henry VII and Elizabeth I was without challenge and smooth.  Looked at with greater scrutiny, those roads to succession were troubled with opposition and rough.  Although many other royal houses had issues, the House of Tudor developed unique situations.

The Oxford Dictionary lists the earliest use of the identification of the House of Tudor as the “Tudor Dynasty” to 1779 with it becoming much more prevalent around 1906. According to C. S. L. Davis, the name “Tudor” was not widely used in the sixteenth century. Davis continued to explain that the contemporary publications did not use the surname until 1584, speculating that the monarchs wanted to distance themselves as descendents from non-royal, actually lowly-born, origins.

Until the Yorkist view of legitimacy based on primogeniture, the law of succession was not clear.  The dynastic struggles of the War of the Roses had continued the beliefs that the ruling king was such by divine right (having won the victory to place him there) and was cemented through the oaths of allegiance.  Obviously, legitimacy was not in Henry VII’s favor but it is a doctrine which he embraced once he became king  (Elton 18-19).  Henry had the succession registered in Parliament.  His purpose was to get his dynasty clearly declared.  He had parliament issue forth “that the inheritance of the crown of England, with every right and possession belonging to it, should remain and abide with our now sovereign lord king Henry and his heirs” (Elton 19-20).

Upon his death, Henry VII’s throne did not move automatically to his son.  Power brokers concealed his death for two days while they consolidated their positions.  Henry VIII was proclaimed, but not given full sovereignty under the guise of his being shy of 18 years of age.  Despite this, it cannot be denied that it was a smooth transition with no elaborate power plays.  Henry VII may have thought this impossible at various stages of his reign.

Edward Hall claimed in the title of his history, “The Union of the two Noble and Illustrious Families,” that the children born to Henry VII and Elizabeth of York brought this about.  There were claimants to the throne that had to be dealt with in various degrees of severity.  The remaining daughters of Edward IV were married to supporters. John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln, was a nephew of Edward IV and had been nominated as successor by Richard III.  His oath of allegiance to Henry VII mitigated his claim.  Edward Plantagenet, Earl of Warwick, was handled less gently by being thrown in jail to dilute his dynastic claims.  Henry realized “There had to be an end to dynastic war before any dynasty could set about rebuilding the kingdom” (Elton 10).

john pole heraldry                                        edward warwick heraldry
Heraldry of John de la Pole,                Heraldry of Edward Plantagenet,
Earl of Lincoln                                            Earl of Warwick

Also early in his reign Henry VII faced dangers to his less-than-stable throne in with not one but two pretenders as Duke of York.  The first, Lambert Simnel, was quickly dealt with while the second, Perkin Warbeck, gained substantial support.  William Stanley, brother to his own step-father, deserted the Tudor cause to support Warbeck as did the Dowager Duchess of Burgundy, Margaret of York.  Her support proved so threatening that Henry was compelled to exclaim, “That stupid brazen woman hates my own family with such bitterness … she remains bent on destroying myself and my children” (Hutchinson 17).

lambertsimnel                 Perkin warbeck

   Lambert Simnel                                       Perkin Warbeck

Once the rebellions were stopped, Henry declared his second son Henry as Duke of York in order to claim the title and cement the succession of Lancaster and York. Preserving the Tudor succession continued to be in the forefront of Henry’s mind.  Henry wanted to leave no inheritance pretenders to endanger his son’s position on the throne of England” (Ross 36).  At the end of his reign he could know that the “threats of the dynasty had faded away; he could pass on a safe inheritance to his son” (Morrill 314).   Although the throne was passed to the second son rather than the eldest (due to the early death of Prince Arthur) Henry VIII was the first sovereign in many years to inherit rather than win it by conquest. The crown that Henry VIII inherited was as strong as the one that James VI succeeded to from Elizabeth Regina.

Astoundingly it could be argued that the greatest issues of Elizabeth Regina’s reign, from Parliament’s perspective, were her marriage and the succession.  Once Elizabeth passed the childbearing age, the question of her marriage took care of itself; and, obviously, affected the matter of the succession.

William Cecil tried to convince her that if she did not have children she would be in danger as people of “devilish means might be tempted to desire her end” as they tried to gain the throne and “she would have perpetual torment in life” (Froude 127).

Elizabeth’s perception was that settling the succession would not necessarily bring safety and stability.  “I know that my people have no other cause for regret than that they know me to be but mortal, and therefore they have no certainty of a successor born of me to reign over them”  (Sitwell 269).  Debate would begin immediately, those slighted would be angry and it could still create a struggle for power upon her death. So, with her skill in statecraft, Elizabeth maintained her silence understanding the wisdom of this better than her advisors or her people.

Although in 1559 at her first Parliament Elizabeth assured the members that “the realm shall not remain destitute of an heir” she had no intention of clarifying who that person would be (Perry 100).  She learned during her sister Mary’s reign that a monarch’s heir presumptive automatically becomes the center of dissent.  “I have good experience of myself in my sister’s time, how desirous men were that I should be in place, and earnest to set me up.  And if I would have consented, I know what enterprises would have been attempted to bring it to pass” (Marcus 66).  Every person who had declared for her would have expected rewards when she became queen.  They surely would have been disappointed in what had been meted out and would look around for someone else to put in place who would better reward them.  “No prince’s revenues be so great that they are able to satisfy the insatiable cupidity of men” (Marcus 66).

Throughout her reign, various contenders took their turn leading the short list of possible heirs.  Early on Katherine Grey held the prime spot.  It was well-known that Elizabeth did not care for Katherine and when Katherine married in secret to Somerset’s heir, Elizabeth had no compunction about tossing her in the Tower.  Katherine gave birth to two sons while confined who, despite their lineage, were never true contenders for the throne.  Included in the list early in her reign would be Henry, Lord Hastings and Mary, Queen of Scots, who styled herself as Queen of England much to Elizabeth’s dismay, and never could be discredited as a true heir.  Mary’s role will be discussed later.

Katherine Grey      henry hastings

  Lady Katherine Grey                 Henry, Lord Hastings, Earl of Huntingdon

As Elizabeth grew older the attention focused on the following claimants: Lady Arbella Stuart; Isabella, the Infanta of Spain; Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex; and, James VI of Scotland. She never could escape the political pressures to name an heir although she assured Sir William Maitland, Lord Lethington, a Scottish politician that “When I am dead, they shall succeed that have most right” (Neale 110).

Arbella Stuart                 isabella infanta of spain
 Lady Arbella Stuart                Isabella Clara Eugenia, Infanta of Spain

earl of essex

Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex

King James VI of Scotland
 King James VI of Scotland

Small pox, that feared scourge of the 16th century became even more so when Elizabeth contracted it.  She survived with minimal effects, but the fear instilled in her ministers of the possibility of her dying without an heir did not fade as quickly as her symptoms.  During the 1563 Parliament petitions from both the House and the Lords were presented to her begging her to marry and to name an heir.

The House of Commons saw “the unspeakable miseries of civil wars, the perilous intermeddlings of foreign princes with seditious, ambitious and factious subjects at home, the waste of noble houses, the slaughter of people, subversion of towns … unsurety of all men’s possessions, lives and estates:  if the sovereign were to die without a known heir, and pointed out that “from the Conquest to this present day the realm was never left as now it is without a certain heir, living and known” (Plowden  Marriage with my Kingdom 130).

Elizabeth certainly gave a refined response on January 28, 1563. This short speech gave no concrete answer regarding the succession although she assured her listeners that she understood the gravity of the situation while letting them know that it was her concern for “I know that this matter toucheth me much nearer than it doth you all” (Marcus 71).  She told them that it needed consideration, that she would let them know later and ‘so I assure you all that, though after my death you may have many stepdames, yet shall you never have a more natural mother than I mean to be unto you all” (Marcus 72).

The Lords sent an equally bloodcurdling petition about what would happen when Elizabeth died as they all knew that “upon the death of a prince, the law dieth” (Plowden Marriage with my Kingdom 131).  Elizabeth’s response to the Lords was read out by Nicholas Bacon, Lord Keeper on April 10, 1563.  As with the Commons she recognized that the succession was a grave matter and she would give it close attention.  It was another brilliant example of an “answer, answerless” (Seaward).

1563

1563

Draft of Elizabeth Regina’s Speech Given to Parliament in April 1563

Elizabeth was not pleased when in 1566 members of Parliament brought up her marriage and the succession again.  She told them they could not discuss it and they replied that they had a right to do so.  Once more they received an adamant ‘no’ and a comment that “it is monstrous that the feet should direct the head” (Marcus 98).

Wrapped up very eloquently and fancily, Elizabeth replied to both the Commons and the Lords and, although the style of each response differed, the message was clear: when it was convenient for her to determine a successor she would and not before.

Elizabeth assured the members that she would marry when it was convenient and they were not to be concerned about that.  She explained: “I will never break the word of a prince spoken in public place for my honor sake” (Marcus 95).  As for the succession in no uncertain terms she reminded them that it was her decision and hers alone.  Parliament had no business even discussing it and if the issue was debated it would be useless as “some would speak for their master, some for their mistress and every man for his friend…” (Marcus 97). One can imagine how incensed Elizabeth was as she had spoken that the Parliamentarians did not understand nor concern themselves with the peril she placed herself in by naming an heir.  She believed “nothing was said for my safety, but only for themselves” (Marcus 96).

Next she derisively questioned if the named heirs would be able to go above their own personal interests for the good of the country.  Would they “be of such uprightness and so divine as in them shall be divinity itself.  …they would have such piety in them that they would not seek where they are the second to be the first, and where the third to be the second, and so forth” (Marcus 96). She made it clear that “at this present, it is not convenient, nor never shall be without some peril unto you and certain danger unto me” to name a successor so she would not (Marcus 97).

These admonishments did not silence the members and she had to threaten any Parliamentarian who brought up the issue of the succession with examination by the Privy Council and possible punishment which in turn led Paul Wentworth, on behalf of the House, to assert the right of freedom of speech.

This power struggle did not end there.  Guzman de Silva, the Spanish ambassador whom she liked, learned about Parliament’s attempt to blackmail Elizabeth into naming a successor by placing in the preamble of the subsidy bill the necessity of the Queen to name her heir.  Elizabeth caught this request while reading the draft of the subsidy bill and let it be known via annotations to the document, that she would not have her word questioned by being put into law form.  “Shall my princely consent be turned to strengthen my words that be not themselves substantives?  Say no more at this time; but if these fellows were well answered, and paid with lawful coin, there would be fewer counterfeits among them”  (Mueller 40).

guzman de silva
Guzman de Silva, Spanish Ambassador

In her speech to dissolve Parliament on January 2, 1567, she let the members have it again about the inappropriateness of bringing up the succession question as it was a concern only for her.  She did not cloak her pique with Parliament.  She had replied that “not one of them that ever was a second person, as I have been, and have tasted of the practices against my sister… I stood in danger of my life, my sister was incensed against me. …and I was sought in divers ways.  And so shall never be my successor” (Marcus 96).

1566

1566

Draft of Elizabeth Regina’s Speech Given to Parliament on January 2, 1567

Mary, Queen of Scots plays a dominate role in the succession question under Elizabeth.  At first it was as a thorn in the side of the English Queen because Mary, even when she was the Dauphine of France, styled herself “as heiress-presumptive to the English throne” (Fraser 118). Elizabeth was trying to establish herself as sovereign and Anglicanism as the Church and did not relish such threats to her country’s stability.   Later, Mary conspired to overthrow Elizabeth and take over the crown of England—leading to her execution.

mary as dauphine
Mary, Queen of Scots as Dauphine of France

In between times, where does Mary fit?  Many believed Mary was Elizabeth’s true choice as heir.  It was reported by Sir William Maitland that Elizabeth compared the contenders to her throne alongside Mary.  “You know them all, alas; what power or force has any of them, poor souls? It is true that some of them has made declaration to the world that they are more worthy of it than either she or I…” (Dunn 189).  Yes, indeed.  Elizabeth felt the succession question greatly, was concerned about the pool of contenders, and feared naming any one of them.

william maitland
William Maitland, Lord Lethington

Maitland was certainly given every reason to believe that his Queen could obtain the throne of England as Elizabeth felt Mary had a legitimate right to it (even if she was angry at Mary for her self-declaration as heir and her use of Elizabeth’s arms in her heraldry) but she did couch her consideration in a warning. “For so long as I live there shall be no other queen in England but I, and failing thereof she cannot allege that ever I did anything which may hurt the right she may pretend” (Marcus 62).

Mary’s rights seemed to be overshadowed by all the reasons why she should not be heir:  She was Catholic; Henry VIII’s will had excluded that branch of the family; and Scottish relations could deteriorate if the independent minded Scots felt threatened.

Yet, the greatest deterrent to actually naming Mary would be that as long as she thought she was in the running, she had to toe the line.  Once declared, it would be harder for Elizabeth to control her.  Elizabeth was convinced “it is hard to bind princes by any security where hope is offered of a kingdom” (Marcus 67). The risks of naming a successor were too great. Once Elizabeth gave the succession to someone, it was theirs.  They had a right to keep it and it could not be taken back.  One must see why the granting of it must be weighed so carefully.

The execution of Mary, Queen of Scots does not make this a moot point as the logical successor became Mary’s son, the Protestant James VI. For many years, Elizabeth maintained a correspondence with James which are available and well-worth checking out –one source, Letters of Queen Elizabeth and King James VI of Scotland: Some of Them Printed from Originals… edited by John Bruce.   Historians have interpreted these letters to be in the line of a mentor and mentee.  Obviously, her intentions were for him to succeed although she never would declare that because “to have done otherwise would have been to invite all rivals and enemies to set about forestalling his succession, thus jeopardizing both his rights and her domestic peace” (Neale 403).

Elizabeth astuteness understood the reality as she asserted “I know the inconsistency of the people of England, how they ever mislike the present government and has their eyes fixed upon that person that is next to succeed; and naturally men be so disposed:  ‘Plures adorant solem orientem quam occidentem’ [More do adore the rising than the setting sun]” (Dunn 187 or Marcus 66).

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[Original Title–The union of the two noble and illustre famelies of Lancaster & Yorke…]

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