Reigned With Your Loves

Reigned with Your Loves

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

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

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

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

margaret beaufort

Margaret Beaufort

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

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

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

Star Chamber H7 seated

Henry VII, seated in the Star Chamber

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

Councilors Serving Henry VII

Councilor / Servant

Role

Miscellaneous

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

jasper tudor           gilesdubeney

Jasper Tudor                                          Giles Daubeney

Cardinal_John_Morton               Richard Fox       

John Morton                                                           Richard Fox

    Peter Courtenay     williamwarham

                 Peter Couetenay                                William Warham

chrisurswick              thomas lovell

Christopher Urswick                                     Thomas Lovell  ThomasRotherham             John Alcock

Thomas Rotherham                                          John Alcock

Thomas-Stanley

 Thomas Stanley

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

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

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

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

EmpsonHenryDudley

Henry VII, Richard Empson and Edmund Dudley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                    Councilors Serving Elizabeth Regina 

Councilor / Servant

Role

Miscellaneous

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

edstanley          Henry FitzAlan 19thEarlOfArundel

Edward Stanley                                                     Henry FitzAlan

Henry Herbert EarlOfPemboke         HOward of Effingham

Henry Herbert                                              William Howard

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

William Paulet                                               Edward Clinton

WilliamPetre           Nicholas_Wotton

William Petre                                                     Nicholas Wotton

Thomas Parry    francisknollys

Thomas Parry                                              Francis Knollys

bacon nicoholas     cecil william

Nicholas Bacon                                             William Cecil

Russell,Francis(2EBedford)01       william parr

Francis Russell                                                   William Parr

robertdudley       henrycarey1

Robert Dudley                                                   Henry Carey

johnfortseque          Edward-de-Vere-1575

John Fortesque                                            Edward de Vere

walsingham       Thomas_Radclyffe_Earl_of_Sussex

Francis Walsingham                               Thomas Radclyffe

chrishatton       thomas wilson

Christopher Hatton                                  Thomas Wilson

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

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

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

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

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

johnharington

John Harington

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

progress1

Elizabeth on Progress

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

References

Bacon, Francis. The Works of Francis Bacon, Baron Verulam, Viscount of St. Albans, and Lord High Chancellor of England. Vol. 5. London: Printed for M. Jones, 1818. Google Books. Web. 6 Apr. 2013.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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