Path to St. Peter ad Vincula Part VII – E

Path to St. Peter ad Vincula Part VII – E

Although as Queen, Anne expected strict moral behavior from her women and was well known for performing charitable works — even making garments for the poor herself, she could never overcome the reputation of a calculating flirt.

Anne played the game.  She became the “finished coquette, playing fast and loose, hot and cold, as Henry appeared more or less urgent and enamored.”  She also encouraged the addresses of Wyatt and “inflamed Henry’s passions to the height of jealous fury” (Herbert, Henry 340).  Anne was indeed playing with fire as most of her contemporaries would not have appreciated nor accepted the idea of a young, unmarried girl flirting with married men.  She was tarnishing her reputation to such a degree that in 1536 it was easy for most people to accept her guilty of the licentious behavior she was accused of committing.  Many never questioned it because she had spent her formative years in France and everyone knew what had happened there. When she was “sent to France; where also she behav’d her self so licentiously, that she was vulgarly call’d the Hackney of England, till being adopted to that Kings Familiarity, she was termed his mule” (Herbert, Edward 286-287).

anneboleyn
Anne Boleyn

Upon her return from France, Lord Percy expressed an interest in Anne “but Misstris Bolen, whether she were ignorant, as yet, how much the King loved her, or howsoever had rather be that Lords Wife, than a Kings Misstris, took very ill of the Cardinal this his unreasonable Interruption of her Marriage” (Herbert, Edward 286).  Therefore, Anne was all set to marry Henry Percy but for the intervention of Cardinal Wolsey whom she never did forget nor forgive.

Why would she not have preferred to be the wife of Lord Percy or any other gentlemen rather than the King’s mistress? This blogger must concede that from the time period in which she lived, Anne relinquishing her honor to Henry before their marriage would have been viewed as wanton. Even her Protestant supporters would have been shocked by her behavior.  We can surmise that Anne did not spend six years balancing the King’s passion for her with her chastity to casually surrender one of her most valuable assets.  She has been defended that “up to this time, Anne’s conduct was irreproachable, and it is unmanly, as well as unjust, to attribute baseness, where no baseness is shown” (Herbert, Henry 338). Both she and Henry had to have been pretty certain that his divorce from Katherine was imminent before they committed to a physical relationship.  This action though would taint her image and encourage gossip.

lord percy
Henry Percy, 6th Earl of Northumberland

Carlo Capello, the Venetian Ambassador to England, wrote to his superiors a description of Anne Boleyn in late October of 1532, close to the time Henry and Anne’s relationship changed.  “Madam Anne is not one of the handsomest women in the world; she is of middling stature, swarthy complexion, long neck, wide mouth, bosom not much raised, and in fact has nothing but the English King’s great appetite, and her eyes, which are black and beautiful” (Brown IV 824).  Lancelot de Carle, later the Bishop of Riez, said Anne’s eyes were her most attractive feature “always most attractive which she knew well now to use with effect.  Sometimes leaving them at rest and at others, sending a message to carry the secret witness of the heart.  And, truth to tell, such was their power that many surrendered to their obedience” (Riehl 24).  Modern language would refer to her as having star-power or charisma  which was unsettling to people and affected her reputation. Even one of her greatest distracters acknowledged that she was “amusing in her ways” (Sander 25). Nothing less would have kept a man like Henry enthralled and enamored with only her eyes to credit for it.

Anne certainly knew how to make the most of herself.  “She was the model and the mirror of those who were at court, for she was always well dressed, and every day made some change in the fashion of her garments” (Sander 25).  Anne played “well on the lute, and was a good dancer” (Sander 25). Yet, were these talents enough?  Harpsfield questioned how Henry could put aside the virtuous Katharine “for such an incestuous woman, being in all other qualities beside so far inferior to her, as she was in very chastity itself” (Harpsfield 255).  Once again, we are back to the issue of Anne’s reputation.  When the charges against Anne were brought forward, many courtiers who had responded with ‘obedience’ to the pull of her personality needed to justify their actions.  Thus, witchcraft, dishonesty and duplicity were brought forward as rationales.

Anne Boleyn Bendor
Recently confirmed portrait of Anne Boleyn, Royal Collection Archives
http://www.arthistorynews.com/articles/894_Anne_Boleyn_regains_her_head

People felt the need even to justify their religious views. Those who did not support the Reformation said “it now appeared how bad that cause was which was supported by such a patron.  But it was answered, that her faults could not reflect on those who, being ignorant of them,” had supported her. (Burnet 115).  People who were less evangelical raised their “hopes of a reaction built on the fall of those ‘apostles of the new sect,’ Anne Boleyn and her relatives…” but those hopes, “were promptly and roughly destroyed” (Pollard 349).

Understanding the religious differences between Anne’s more evangelical leanings and others of the time (be it moderate Protestants and Roman Catholics) one should realize that she was “her Religion, there is no probability that it should (at first) be other than what was commonly profest” (Herbert, Edward 287).  Besides, her views were popular with many in power at the time as she promoted those clergy who shared her ideas.  It is apparent from “original Letters of hers, that she was a special Favourer of the Clergy of that time, and a preferrer of the worthiest sort of them of Ecclesiastical Livings, during her chief times of Favour with the King” (Herbert, Edward 287).

Those of the old faith were much more vocal against Anne Boleyn, “damned as the cause of all the trouble” (Haigh 141). Anne was blamed for the deaths of Thomas More and Bishop Fisher.  Nevertheless she did not leave off her evil conversation, which at length brought her to shame” (Gairdner X 1036).

thomas morejohn fisher
            Sir Thomas More                         John Fisher

Her religious views were not of the extreme variety at the time (although more so than Henry’s).  While she would have created enemies from those who staunchly followed the ‘old faith,’ she did not initially upset people on religious grounds. Her abrasive personality, her willfulness, and her flirtatiousness were things that created negative responses from people.

We see Anne’s elevation was opposed for her religious views and mostly for her lack of virtue as seen in the eyes of the people of the 16th century.  An interesting emphasis placed on the international element comes from Henry William Herbert.  He asserts that Cardinal Wolsey opposed Anne not because of her religious views nor because of her personally; he opposed her elevation because she was not of foreign royal blood.  Her acquisition of the throne would “alienate and affront foreign Princes, breed intestine strifes, and give undue preponderance in the state, to private families” (Herbert, Henry 340). This interpretation proves interesting.  Anne’s preference for France and Cromwell’s (remember Cromwell was Wolsey’s protégé) for the Imperial faction has been previously discussed as an element in Anne’s downfall in the blog entry Path to St. Peter ad Vincula: Part IV.   Here is another case of the interplay between national, even personal policy and foreign policy.  The King was a being of State.  What he did or did not do effected diplomacy—both foreign and domestic.  To marry a subject created discord amongst the English themselves and frustration with foreign nations as the perceived thwart to their ambitions.  In Henry VIII’s immediate predecessors we have examples of what Wolsey feared—strife within the English aristocracy and disgruntled foreign courts.  Edward IV’s wife, Elizabeth Woodville, yes; Richard III’s wife, Anne Neville, yes; and Henry VII’s wife, Elizabeth of York, yes—although the marriage was contracted as a way to end the factional warfare.

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

 

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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).

References

Auchter, Dorothy. Dictionary of Literary and Dramatic Censorship in Tudor and Stuart England. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2001. Google Books. Web. 19 Mar. 2013.

Allen, William. Robert Parsons.  A conference about the next succession to the crown of England: divided into two parts. The first containeth the discourse of a civil lawyer; how, and in what manner propinquity of bloud is to be preferred. The second containeth the speech of a temporal lawyer, about the particular titles of all such as do, or may pretend (within England or without) to the next succession. Whereunto is also added, a new and perfect arbor and genealogy of the descents of all the kings and princes of England, from the Conquest unto this day; whereby each mans pretence is made more plain. London:  R. Doleman, 1594.  Google Books. Web. 19 Mar. 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.

Davis, C. S. L. “Tudor:  What’s in a Name?” History Abstract 97.325 (2012): 24-44. Trove. Web.

Elizabeth I, James VI, and John Bruce. Letters of Queen Elizabeth and King James VI of Scotland: Some of Them Printed from Originals in the Possession of the Rev. Edward Ryder, and Others from a Manuscript. Which Formerly Belonged to Sir Peter Thompson, Kt. Vol. 46. [London]: Printed for the Camden Society, 1849. Google Books. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.

Elton, G. R. England Under the Tudors. Third ed. London:  Routledge, 1991 Print
Fraser, Antonio. Mary Queen of Scots.  New York: Delacorte Press, 1969. Print.
Froude, James Anthony. History of England from the Fall of Wolsey to the Defeat of the Spanish Armada. London: Longman, Green, 1908. Google Books. Web. 10 Mar. 2013.

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

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 &
Nicholson, 2011. Google Books. Web. 02 Dec. 2012.

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

Gristwood, Sarah.  Arbella: England’s Lost Queen.  London:  Bantam Press, 2003.  Print.

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

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

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

Morrill, John, ed.  The Oxford Illustrated History of Tudor & Stuart Britain.  Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 1996.  Print.

Mueller, Janel, ed.  Elizabeth I:  Autograph Compositions and Foreign Language Originals. Chicago:  The University of Chicago Press, 2003 Print.

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

Norrington, Ruth.  In the Shadow of the Throne:  The Lady Arbella Stuart.  London:  Peter Owen Publishers, 2002. Print.

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

Oxford English Dictionary, Second edition. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1991. Print

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

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

Plowden, Allison.  Marriage with My Kingdom:  The Courtships of Elizabeth I.  New York:  Stein and Day, 1977. Print.

Plowden, Allison.  Two Queens in One Isle:  The Deadly Relationship Between Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots.  Stroud, Gloucestershire: Sutton Publishing, 1999. Print

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

Roberts, Peter R. “History Today.” History Today Jan. 1986: n. page. History Today. History Today. Web. 12 Dec. 2012.

Seaward, Paul. “History of Parliament Online.” On This Day, 24 November 1586: Parliament’s Intervention against Mary, Queen of Scots. The History of Parliament Trust 1964-2013, n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2013.

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

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

Fate is Remarkable

 Fate is Remarkable:

Henry Tudor as Earl of Richmond and Elizabeth Tudor as Lady Elizabeth were each in their time potential heirs to the English throne.  Remarkably, both believed in their chance and right to rule.  They took their fate into their own hands,  ensuring their options remained open as they forged their paths to the throne.

Henry was a young man of around 15 years of age in September of 1471 when he and his paternal uncle, Jasper Tudor, found themselves avoiding the Yorkist threat of Edward IV in England by sailing for France.  As fate would have it, storms blew them off course and they landed in Brittany.  Thus began Henry’s 14-year exile.

 

Pembroke Castle

Pembroke Castle from which Henry, Earl of Richmond and Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke fled in 1471.

Astoundingly, Henry was able to direct much of his destiny while in Brittany despite being removed from England and under close surveillance as a possible political pawn between France, Brittany and England.

During the majority of his years in exile, Henry honed his leadership skills as the focal point of the expatriates who joined him . He kept informed of the events in England so when conditions seemed favorable to an invasion in 1483 Henry attempted it. Philippe de Commynes diplomat and historian for the Dukes of Burgundy and later the Kings of France, who was often in Brittany, reported that, upon King Edward’s death, Francis II, Duke of Brittany, “supplied the Earl of Richmond liberally both with men and ships …and sent him to land his forces in England; but; meeting with foul weather, he was driven into Dieppe, and from thence went back into Bretagne” (Commynes 313).  The Lancastrians wisely abandoned the invasion.

Henry earnestly began preparations at this time for his ascension to the throne and to legitimize his claim.  It was reported, first by Bernard Andreas, an early biographer of Henry VII, that Henry made a formal pledge while in exile in Britanny at Rennes Cathedral on Christmas Day 1483 that whenever he obtained the crown he would marry Elizabeth of York, the eldest daughter of Edward IV (Andreas 25).  Negotiations had been on-going and culminated in the marriage agreement which would unite the houses of York and Lancaster and eventually give Henry’s children a strong claim to the throne.

 

 

 

 

Rennes Cath

Rennes Cathderal

Henry realized that it was paramount to secure the support of men in England and Wales.  Having the Yorkist leadership on his side (proof is the marriage agreement between him and Elizabeth) emboldened him to write several letters to supports, especially those in Wales where his base was strongest and from where he planned to march on Richard.  He asked for their aid and promised to remember their good offices.  Not a very hefty guarantee despite his signature as H.R. the regal monogram.  Below is an example of one such correspondence:  (Roberts 403)

H7 Letter Use

Once the invasion was imminent, Henry continued to contact sympathizers promising deliverance from servitude if they marched with him.  In the letter below Henry does not come off as a ‘poor exile’.  Here Henry refers to himself as King and Richard III as a usurper of Henry’s rights.

“By the King
Right trusty and well-beloved, wee greete you well:
And whereas it is soe, that, through the helpe of Almighty
God, the assistance of our loveing and true subjects … in all haste
possible to descend into our realme of England, not only for
the adoption of the Crowne, unto us of right appertaining,
but also for the oppression of the odious tyrant Richard,
late duke of Gloucester, usurper of our said right; and …
moreover to reduce as well our said realme of England into
its ancient estate, honour, and property … and the people of the
same to their dear erst liberties, delivering them of such
miserable servitude as they have piteously long stood in.
We desire and pray you, and upon your allegiance strictly
charge and command you, that immediately upon the sight
hereof with all such power as ye may make, defencibly
arrayed for the warre, ye addresse you towards us, without
any tarrying upon the way, until such time as ye be with
us, … your singular good Lord, and that ye faile not hereof as ye
will avoyd our grievous displeasure, and answere it unto
your peril.  Given under our signet…” (Jones 25).

When Henry learned that Pierre Landais, chief advisor to the Duke of Brittany, was in negotiations with Richard III to extradite Henry to England he knew he had to act.  According to Commynes, there was “some agreement with king Richard, much to his [Henry’s] prejudice and disadvantage… he and his retinue went away privately without taking their leave of the duke” (Commynes 313).  What Henry had done was to orchestrate his own escape to France from the town of Vannes dressed as a groom with a small group of loyal Lancastrians. Once in France, King Charles VIII provided aid in money, men and artillery and after extensive preparations a final and successful invasion was made.   That August of 1485, Henry had to have realized that he was taking his fate into his own hands (Commynes, Griffiths, Hutchinson, Norton, Penn, Roberts and Vergil). 

vannes

Vannes, Brittany

Henry and we will see his granddaughter, Elizabeth, learned patience and persistence as exiles, but also as rulers-in-waiting they recognized the time for decisive action. By taking full advantage of circumstances they achieved their goal—becoming seated on the throne of England as an all-powerful sovereign.

As a young woman of 15, Elizabeth was involved, unwittingly, in the schemes of Thomas Seymour the widower of her last step-mother, Catherine Parr.  His ambition and folly are well-known and to have involved this young person was unconscionable.  It is not the point here to explain the elaborate plan although it must be acknowledged that the affect on Elizabeth was immense. Certainly it took its toll emotionally and physically, and Elizabeth was unwell for some months after. However, as well as affecting her health, it also affected her reputation and this was a great concern to Elizabeth.

  Seymour Thomas       
Thomas Seymour    

Always sensitive about what people thought of her, Elizabeth wanted the rumor that she was pregnant by the Admiral suppressed. She wrote to Edward Seymour, the Lord Protector, demanding a public statement be made disclaiming the rumors and threatening punishment for those who continued spreading the tale.  Here is a remarkable example of Elizabeth taking matters into her own hands when she penned “rumours abroad which be greatly both against my honour and honesty, which, above all other things, I esteem, which be these, that I am in the Tower, and with child by my Lord Admiral.  My lord, these are shameful slanders, for which besides the great desire I have to see the King’s Majesty, I shall most heartily desire your lordship that I may come show myself there as I am.  Written in haste.  Your assured friend to my little power, Elizabeth” (Mumby 45).

Seymour Edward
Edward Seymour

More letters of the same vein were sent, such as this one to the Lord Protector, on February 21, 1549, in which she wrote requesting “unto your lordship and the rest of the Council to send forth a proclamation into the countries that they refrain their tongues, declaring how the tales be but lies, it should make both the people think that you and the Council have great regard that no such rumors should be spread of any of the king’s majesty’s sisters (as I am, though unworthy)” (Marcus 33).

She was successful; a proclamation was eventually issued.  Elizabeth steadfastly professed her innocence to Seymour’s plans to marry her and saying she would never do anything without the Council’s permission.  Elizabeth understood the moral of the experience: she was careful of her lifestyle; she scrupulously avoided any hint of scandal; she became very conservative in her dress—plain, sober colors, little adornment or jewelry–as she presented an image of modesty and decorum; she managed her own bookkeeping; and she applied herself to her studies.  This remarkable young woman knew she needed to gain what she could from this experience and that was to maintain her reputation and secure her servants’ freedom (Erickson, MacCaffrey, Neale, and Ridley).

During the investigation, several members of Elizabeth’s household were detained, most painfully for Elizabeth her governess, Kat Ashley—it would be sometime before they were reunited.  The Lord Protector was subjected to a flurry of letters demanding the return of Kat Ashley to Elizabeth’s service and the dismissal of other ladies appointed to her household.   She continued protestations of innocence that there was ever any intention to marry–Thomas Seymour or anyone– without permission from the King, the Council or the Lord Protector.  “I am not of so simple understanding” (Marcus 33) this 15-year old told seasoned politicians.

Elizabeth was at Hatfield in late November of 1556 when she was summoned by Queen Mary to London.  While there Mary presented to her sister a prospective marriage with Emmanuel Philibert, the Duke of Savoy.  Contemporary Westerners cannot understand the strength of will and purpose it took for Elizabeth to decline.  Society of her time could not fathom a young woman not wanting to marry and even more so, defying the express wishes of her family let alone her sovereign.  Her rationale for declining was that she would not marry anyone.  Having been invited for the Christmas festivities, she abruptly returned to Hatfield on December 3rd after only a short stay in London (Bassnett, Gristwood, Machyn, Plowden, and Somerset).

Em Phil savoy
Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy

Perhaps she had displeased the Queen over her refusal despite having through her “amiable condescension, obliging address, and agreeable conversation, procured her new interests and attachments, and even engaged the best part of the Lords of the Council in her favor” (Nichols 25).

Leaving London
This is an eye witness account of Elizabeth’s entry and then exit from London on 28 November and 3 December 1556.

During the spring of 1558 when approached by the King of Sweden as a possible bride for his son, Elizabeth would tell Mary’s representative Thomas Pope that what she believed in 1556 was still true: “I assure you upon my truthe and fidelitie, and as God be mercifull unto me, I am not at this tyme otherways mynded, than I have declared unto you; no, though I were offered the greatest Prince in all Europe” (Nichols 24).  This was the response Pope declared “the Ladye Elizabeth hir Graces aunswere made at Hattfield, the xxvi of April 1558, to Sir T. Pope, Knt. Being sent from the Queenes Majestie to understand how hir Grace lyked of the mocyon of marryage made by the Kynge elect of Swethelandes Messenger” (Nichols 25).  Elizabeth had chartered her course of remaining unmarried, and was determined to control that element of her life.

Legend has it that Elizabeth was in the parkland at Hatfield seated beneath an oak tree on November 17, 1558, when news reached her of Mary’s death. She is said to have whispered in Latin what she truly must have felt: “A Domino factum est istud et est mirabile in oculis nostris” –This is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes.”
Hatfield_House_Old_Palace
Hatfield Old Palace 

Even if Elizabeth did give Divine credit for this awe-inspiring event, she did much to keep herself safe and established in a position for inheriting.  Elizabeth was at twenty-five years old Queen of England. For the first time in her life, her destiny lay completely in her own hands.  Fate is remarkable.

Works Cited

Andreas, Bernardus, and James Gairdner. Historia Regis Henrici Septimi Necnon AliaQuaedam Ad Eundem Regem Spectantia. London: Longman, Brown, Green, Langmans, and Roberts, 1858. Google Books. Web. 2 Mar. 2013.

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

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

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

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

Gristwood, Sarah.  Elizabeth & Leicester:  Power, Passion, Politics. New York: Viking Press, 2007.  Print.

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

Jones, W. Garmon. Welsh Nationalism and Henry Tudor. London: Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, 1918. Internet Archive. Web. 2 Mar. 2013.

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

Machyn, Henry. The Diary of Henry Machyn, Citizen and Merchant-taylor of London From 1550 to 1563. Ed. John Gough Nichols. London: Camden Society, 1848. Google Books. Web. 24 Feb. 2013.

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

Mumby, Frank  Arthur, and Elizabeth. The Girlhood of Queen Elizabeth, a Narrative in Contemporary Letters, London: Constable, 1909. Internet  Archive. Web. 18 Feb. 2013.

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

Nichols, John. The Progresses and Public Processions of Queen Elizabeth. Among Which Are Interspersed Other Solemnities, Public Expenditures, and Remarkable Events during the Reign of That Illustrious Princess. Collected from Original MSS., Scarce Pamphlets, Corporation Records, Parochial Registers, &c., &c.: Illustrated with Historical Notes. New York: B. Franklin, 1823. Google Books. Web. 19 Jan. 2013.

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

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

Plowden, Allison.  Marriage with My Kingdom.  New York: Stein and Day, 1977. Print.

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

Roberts, Emma. Memoirs of the Rival Houses of York and Lancaster: Historical and Biographical, Embracing a Period of Engl. History from the Accession of Richard II. to the Death of Henry VII. ; in Two Volumes. London: Harding & Lepard, 1827. Google Books. Web. 9 Feb. 2013.

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

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