Lady Bryan: An Iron Hand in a Velvet Glove

Lady Bryan:  An Iron Hand in a Velvet Glove

Margaret, Lady Bryan, governess to the royal children of King Henry VIII, was born about 1468 in Benningborough, Yorkshire, England.  Her parents were Sir Humphrey Bourchier–who was killed fighting for Edward VI at the battle of Barnet (Wagner 180) and Elizabeth Tilney–related through the Plantagent line to Edward III.  Elizabeth Tilney remarried upon the death of Sir Humphrey to Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk.  She went on to have more children, notably the 3rd Duke who played a very prominent role in Tudor politics and Elizabeth Boleyn, mother to Queen Anne, thus making Margaret Bourchier a half-sister to Anne Boleyn’s mother.

Elizabeth_tylney
Detail of a stained glass window at Holy Trinity Church, Long Melford, Suffolk depicting Elizabeth Tilney

The pre-contract that had been arranged with John Sands in November of 1478, did not impede her marriage to Sir Thomas Bryan in 1487.  It is known the couple had four children of which, most sources agree, two reached adulthood, Sir Francis Bryan and Elizabeth.

Francis Bryan did not care for Anne Boleyn and would take a role in her downfall.  He was referred to as the ‘Vicar of Hell’ by both King Henry and Thomas Cromwell for his lack of principles.  He had a “reputation for liking rich clothing and for gambling.  He was a popular courtier, skilled hunter and ouster, and lost an eye in a joust in 1526” (Ridgway xv).  Sir Francis was a very close friend to King Henry VIII and held positions on the Privy Council until eventually he became Lord Chief Justice of Ireland where he died in 1550.

Elizabeth Bryan married Sir Nicholas Carew.  The King did not forget his obligation to his loyal servants’ daughter. Accounts record a dowry, “Receipt 7 Nov. 6 Hen. VIII., from Sir John Daunce, by Dame Margaret Bryan, wife of Sir Thomas Bryan, on behalf of Mistress Elizabeth Bryan, their daughter, of 550/. Given ‘to her marriage, which by God’s grace shall be espoused and wedded to Nicholas Carewe, son and heir apparent to Sir Richard Carewe, knight, before the feast of the Purification of Our Blessed Lady the Virgin” (Brewer I 3419). Nicholas Carew was in high favor with the king and on May 3, 1516, a further wedding gift was recorded : “For NICH. CARUE. squire of the Body, son and heir of Sir Ric, and for ELIZ his wife, daughter of Tho. Bryan, vice-chamberlain to Queen Katherine. Writ to the Barons of the Exchequer, to make over lands …to the annual value of 40 mks., in part payment of 50 mrks. as a marriage portion” (Brewer II 1850).

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Sir Nicholas Carew by Hans Holbein, 1533

Sir Nicholas Carew, Master of the Horse, was very close to the king.  He had “at first been one of Anne’s partisans – they were cousins–but by 1532 she had alienated and angered him not only by her overbearing ways and her abuse of her position, but also by her unjust treatment of his friend, Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, and his brother-in-law, Sir Henry Guildford” (Weir Lady in the Tower 33).  Carew was executed in 1539 for treasonous actions.  Because his assets and property were confiscated, he left his widow and children destitute. Obviously, her mother intervened and wrote from Hunsdon an imploring letter to Thomas Cromwell in 1539:  “My lord, I most humbly thank your good lordship for the great goodness you shew upon my poor daughter Carew, which bindeth me to owe you my true heart and faithful service while I live.  She sendeth me word that it is the king’s pleasure she shall have lands in Sussex, which is to the value of six score pounds, and somewhat above, which I heartily thank his grace and your lordship for” (Wood 112).  It appears that the land did not have a house so Lady Bryan was requesting more suitable property for the widow and “her heirs males” upon which receipt it would “comfort two troubled hearts; for, my lord, unfeignedly you have, and shall have our true prayers and hearty service during our lives.”  Lady Bryan wanted to assure Cromwell that she knew that putting her trust in him and the King was the best she could do for her daughter who is “so kind a child to me as she hath been, I cannot for pity do no less” (Wood 113-114).

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Tomb of Elizabeth Bryan Carew

Margaret Bryan had been a lady-in-waiting to Catherine of Aragon from the time she married Henry VIII in 1509; she also attended Catherine at her coronation and was later listed as a chamber woman (Brewer I 82).  Sir Thomas was a vice chamberlain to the Queen Catherine’s household until his death sometime before 1517. Perhaps her widowhood is the reason for the king’s taking measures to assist this loyal servant.  A ledger entry for November 19, 1517, was not very comforting to a servant named Elizabeth Denton, but it certainly was for Margaret Bryan. “Marg. Brian, lady mistress to the King’s daughter, the Princess states: Annuity of 40 marks for services to the Princess, during the life of Eliz. Denton, widow, who has the fee of lady mistress to the Princess, and on whose death Brian is to have her office and fee” (Brewer II 3802).

Well-placed, Lady Margaret became governess to Princess Mary and was rewarded by Henry with her own title when she was made Baroness Bryan suo jure.  It is known that she stayed with Mary for almost six years and prior to being relieved of her duties was given a pension.  On July 7, 1519, “Margaret Bryan, widow of Sir Thomas Bryan, and now wife of David Soche, annuity of 50/, for services to the King and queen Katharine, and one tun of Gascon wine; yearly, out of the wine received for the King’s use” (Brewer III 361). Still known as Lady Bryan, Margaret had married her final husband David Zouche sometime before July 1519.

margaret_bourchier
Lady Bryan, Margaret Bourchier

David Zouche is all but lost to history.  Some believe he died in 1526, others in 1536 shortly after Anne Boleyn was executed. Certainly, someone important to her died in the summer of 1536 as revealed in the beginning sentence of a letter Margaret wrote to Cromwell: “I beseech you to be good lord to me now in the greatest need that ever [was], for it hath pleased God to take from me hem (them) that was my most com[fort] in this world, to my great heaviness, Jesu have mercy on his soul, a[nd] I am succourless and as a redeless creature but for my great trust in the King and your good lordship” (Gairdner XI  203).

Lady Margaret’s exact role is not clear after she left Princess Mary.  Some speculate that she looked after Henry Fitzroy, the king’s illegitimate son.  She was granted a gift of plate in 1532 even though the Royal household may not have directly employed her at that time (Gairdner V 1711). When she was called upon to care for Elizabeth, Lady Bryan was over the age of 60.  Margaret took charge of Elizabeth at her birth and went on to setup her household at Hatfield three months later. On 2 December 1533, “The king’s highness hath appointed that the lady princess Elizabeth (almost three months old) shall be taken from hence towards Hatfield to remain with such household as the king’s highness has established for the same” (Strickland VI 6).  At Hatfield and Hunsdon is where the princess “spent much of her childhood although, like her parents, she traveled from house to house, staying in such places as Richmond, Eltham, Langley,and the More” (Warnicke 170).

Hatfield_House_Old_Palace
 Hatfield

Much of what we know from the childhoods of Elizabeth and Edward come from the correspondence from Lady Bryan to Thomas Cromwell concerning the households of the children.  In a much quoted letter to Thomas Cromwell soon after Anne’s execution, Lady Bryan lays forth the difficulties of the child’s household with her change of status, her lack of clothing and her method of eating, all to be discussed further.

Held in such esteem by King Henry VIII when his treasured male heir was born in October of 1537, Lady Bryan was installed as his governess and Kat Ashley nee Champernowne took charge as Elizabeth’s. As conscientious with the Prince as she was with Elizabeth, Lady Bryan wrote to Cromwell appraising him of her charge.  A letter survives from 11 March 1539 in which young Edward is praised and touted; “Pleaseth your lordship to understand that, blessed be Jesu, my lord prince’s grace is in good health and merry, as would to God the king’s grace and your lordship had seen him yesternight; for his grace was marvelous pleasantly disposed.  The minstrels played, and his grace danced and played so wantonly that he could not stand still, and was as full of pretty toys as ever I saw a child in my life; as Master Chamberlain and my lady his wife can shew your lordship when they speak with you, whom I assure your lordship giveth as good and diligent attendance as is possible” (Wood 112).

It is unclear if Margaret relinquished her duties prior to Edward’s becoming king.  She was not forgotten as there is a mention of an annuity to her in January 1545. A ledger entry reads for “Lady Margaret Bryane, the King’s servant.  Annuity of 20/ from the Annunciation of Our Lady last.  Greenwich, 16 Jan. 36 Hen. VIII” (Gairdner XX 125).  Once Edward succeeded to the throne, Lady Bryan maintained her title, but lived away from court at her estates in Essex, “where she enjoyed a generous annuity of £70 per year” (Wagner 180).

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Prince Edward by Hans Holbein, 1538

We do know Lady Bryan died in Leyton, a village in Essex; the year is a bit more elusive.  Various sources list her possible years of death as 1551, 1552, and 1554. One source confidently declared that Margaret “died in 1552, shortly before the proving of her will on 21 June” (Wagner 180).

When Anne Boleyn gave birth to Elizabeth in 1533, Margaret transferred her duties to become the governess of the newest royal baby.  Margaret held this post until Edward was born in 1537 when she moved to his household and Katherine Ashley took over duties with Princess Elizabeth.  Anne did not have much say in her child’s upbringing—that was for Henry and his council. When Lady Bryan thought Elizabeth should be weaned, she contacted Lord Cromwell and then he submitted the request to the Privy Council.

A response from Sir William Paulet, onetime Comptroller of the Royal Household and  Lord Chamberlain to Henry VIII,  to Thomas Cromwell on 9 October 1535 addressed the issue of Elizabeth’s weaning.  “The King having considered the letter to Cromwell from lady Brian and other of the Princess’s officers, has determined that she shall be weaned with all diligence” (Gairdner IX 568). Agnes Strickland gives us some sardonic imagery when she tells us that in order for Elizabeth to be weaned “the preliminaries for this important business were arranged between the officers of her household and the cabinet ministers of her august sire, with as much solemnity as if the fate of empires had been involved in the matter” (Strickland Life of Elizabeth 6).

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

Having the charge of the royal children meant teaching them etiquette and proper manners—and displaying the children in the majesty expected. “Lady Bryan, who had brought Mary up until she was six, had been accustomed to treat her as the heiress to the throne for seventeen years. She must have been profoundly embarrassed when the girl was sent to share Elizabeth’s household with orders to ride behind the baby’s litter on progress and to cede the seat of honour even when the infant was still in the care of a wet-nurse” (Perry 19).  But as a stickler to her duty, it can be assumed she ensured the King’s wishes were fulfilled.

Chapuys, no friend of Elizabeth, shared with Charles V a meeting that took place on the Tuesday following Easter of 1534 between the French Ambassadors, La Pommeraye and Catillion and Elizabeth.  This visit was orchestrated to present Elizabeth as a fitting bride for a French prince and full-credit for its success went to Lady Bryan.  The Ambassadors “went to visit the King’s bastard daughter, who was brought out to them splendidly accoutred and dressed, and in princely state, with all the ceremonial her governess could think of”  (Gayangos V 40).

That Lady Bryan took this portion of her duties seriously was again shown in her letter to Cromwell.  It is speculated this letter was written in response to Lord Chancellor Thomas Audeley’s proposed visit to baby Prince Edward in 1537.  Lady Bryan wrote:

“My lord,
After my most bounden duty I humbly recommend me unto your good lordship; and shall accomplish it to the best of my power…. The best coat my lord prince’s grace hath is tinsel, and that he shall have on at that time; he hath never a good jewel to set on  his cap; howbeit I shall order all things for my lord’s honour the best I can, so as I trust the king’s grace shall be contented withal” (Wood 68-69).

Her affection seemed sincere for her royal charges and her pride in them too. She could not help but brag on Prince Edward, informing Cromwell, “I thank Jesu my lord prince’s grace is in good health and merry, and his grace hath four teeth; three full out, and the fourth appeareth” (Wood 69).

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 Lord Chancellor, Thomas Audeley

“Much of the future greatness of Elizabeth may reasonably be attributed to the judicious training of her sensible and conscientious governess, combined with the salutary adversity, which deprived her of the pernicious pomp and luxury that had surrounded her cradle while she was treated as heiress of England” (Strickland VI 12).  Elizabeth was brought up calmly in the way that Lady Bryan thought best, shielded from the gossip and temptations of the adult world.  Lady Bryan no doubt shielded Princess Elizabeth as much as she could from the gossip surrounding her mother and the inevitable slander that began shortly after Anne’s death concerning the paternity of her daughter (Weir, The Lady in the Tower 316-317).

The king’s order for Elizabeth to remain in seclusion could have been his attempt to protect her as much as the theory that it was his unwillingness to face the child.  To read further on this topic visit the blog entry “Elizabeth:  Her Mother’s Memory” @elizregina.com.  This blogger believes that Agnes Strickland judged the Tudor Era with the mores of her own time period when she exclaimed that when “Elizabeth was branded with the stigma of illegitimacy; she was for a time exposed to the sort of neglect and contempt which is too often the lot of children to whom that reproach applies” (Strickland VI 9).  Henry VIII did not neglect his recognized illegitimate son, Henry FitzRoy, and perhaps he did not purposefully neglect Elizabeth in the summer of 1536.  He was embarking on a new life with his third wife, Jane Seymour, and was traveling the country.  We have seen how the final word of the organization of the children’s households rested with Henry.  His thoughts were on her to some degree so it could not be his indifference that led to the ‘crisis’ of her wardrobe and her household but perhaps more of benign neglect—administrative oversight.  That her position was diminished was obvious. “On 25 June 1536, an order reconstituted the households of Mary and Elizabeth.  It was certainly no coincidence, in that age when the number of servants in a household was a great status symbol, that Mary was given fourty-two servants, and Elizabeth thirty-two” (Ridley 26).  Below reprinted in chart form is the information from the 10th volume of Letters and Papers of Henry VIII concerning the structural changes made to the two households.

Personages appointed to attend on the lady Mary:—
Gentlewomen. Anne Morgan, Mrs. Finche, Frances Jerningham, Elizabeth Sydney.
Chamberers: Systile (Cecil ?) Barnes, Lucretia the Tumbler.
Gentlemen Ushers and Waiters: Richard Wilbraham, Robt. Chichester, Sir Ric. Baldwin, Walter Bridges, Thos. Burrows.
Wardrobe of Robes: Thos. Palmer, Nic. Newes.
Footman: Chas. Morley.
Laundress: Deachryche (Beatrice) Ap Rice.
Woodbearer: John Layton.
Keeper of Greyhounds: Christopher Bradley.
The Stable: Thos. Jene, yeoman; Ric. Hogg, Nic. Twydall, and Thos. Crabtree, grooms.
The names of persons attending upon lady Mary and lady Elizabeth:— i. On lady Mary:—
Gentlewomen: Susan Clarencyus, Frances Elmer, Mary Baynton Frances Baynan. “Chamberes:” Knyght, Syssele. Physician: Dr. Mychell. Gentlemen: Ant. Cotton, Wm. Chechester, Ric. Wylbram, Randale Dod, Sym Borton. Chaplain: Bauldewen. Yeoman: Geo. Mounge, David à Pryce, Chr. Wryght, John Conwey, Gray. Grooms of the Chamber: Thos. Borow, Walter Brydges, Thos. Palmer, Nic. Newes. Footman: Chas. Morley. Stable: Thos. Gent, yeoman; Thos. Bell, John Smith, and John Hyges, grooms. Laundress: Beatrice a Pryce. Woodbearer: William. Total, 42.
On lady Elizabeth:—
Ladies and gentlewomen: Lady Troy, Mrs. Chambrum, lady Garet, Eliz. Candysche, Mary Norice. “Chamberes:” Alys Huntercum, Jane Bradbelt. Gentlemen: Thos. Torrell, Robt. Porter, Ric. Sandes.Chaplain: Sir Rauffe. Grooms of the Chamber: Ric. Foster, Wm. Russell. Yeomen: David Morgan, Gabryell Tenant. Laundress: Agnes Hylton. Woodbearer: Christopher. Total, 32.
Personages appointed to attend on the lady Elizabethe, the Kinges doughter.”
Gentlewomen: Kateryne Chambernowne, Elizabethe Garret, Mary Hyll, Blanche ap Harrye.
Chamberers: Alice Huntercombe, Jane Bradbelt.
Gentlemen Ushers and Gentlemen Waiters: Rychard Sandes, Robert Power.
Chaplain: Sr Raffe Taylour.
Gromes of the Chambre: Willm. Man, John Acton.
Wardrobe of Robes: John Goughe, yeoman.
Lawndresse: Anne Hilton.
Woodberer: John Wyllycke
(Gairdner X 1187)

Lady Bryan’s letter to Thomas Cromwell in the summer of 1536, which was referred to earlier and has been recreated in full below, can be seen as a way to restore the prestige of and attention on Elizabeth’s household which was at Hunsdon. Cromwell’s response has not survived but Mistress Bryan’s concerns must have been addressed as there appears to be no further pleas on her part.  Her initial issue involved the altered status Elizabeth held.  Lady Bryan was searching for guidance when she wrote, “Now, as my lady Elizabeth is put from that degree she was in, and what degree she is at now I know not but by hearsay, I know not how to order her or myself, or her women or grooms” (Gairdner XI  203).

hunsdon
Hunsdon

Next up was the issue of Elizabeth’s wardrobe. It was up to “the lady mistress to make certain Elizabeth looked and acted like a king’s daughter, and proper clothes were essential to the role” (Erickson 37).  Margaret was beside herself as she begged Cromwell “to be good lord to her and hers, and that she may have raiment, for she has neither gown nor kirtle nor petticoat, nor linen foresmocks, nor kerchiefs, rails (night dresses), bodystychets (corsets), handkerchiefs, sleeves, mufflers, nor begins (night-caps).  All thys her Graces must take I have dreven off as long as I can, that, be my trothe, I cannot drive it no lenger. Besseeching you, my lord, that ye will see that her grace may have that which is needful for her, as my trust is that ye will do” (Gairdner XI  203).

The condition of Elizabeth’s wardrobe “reflected the general penury of the household” (Erickson 38).  Money must have been tight as the final concern that Lady Bryan has mixes the role of the steward, John Shelton, with the need for economy.  Shelton, who was responsible for keeping up the supplies of food, drink and other items necessary for the household, wrote to Cromwell shortly after Lady Bryan did to complain that he was “running short of money and ‘could not continue’ without more.”  This may not have been easy to acquire as the king’s Secretary Brian Tuke “had made it clear only a week earlier that he hoped Mr. Shelton would not be appealing for additional funds, as he had little or nothing to give him” (Erickson 38).
tuke
Sir Brian Tuke by Hans Holbein, 1527

Lady Bryan’s tactic was to explain the poor judgment on Shelton’s part– who, she lets us know, “saith he is master of this house. ‘What fashion that shal be I cannot tel, for I have not seen it afore.’” (Gairdner XI  203)–and offer a solution.  Apparently, Shelton “would have my lady Elizabeth to dine and sup every day at the board of estate.”  Margaret explains that this is not good for a child and “she will see divers meats, fruits, and wine, that it will be hard for me to refrain her from. ‘Ye know, my lord, there is no place of correction there; and she is too young to correct greatly.’ I beg she may have a good mess of meat to her own lodging, with a good dish or two” which would be enough to feed 11 of her personal attendants which in turn would be more economical as less people would have to be fed in the great hall (Gairdner XI  203).

One theory for Mr. Shelton,  a relative of Anne Boleyn, actions could be that he “wished to keep regal state as long as possible round the descendant of the Boleyns” and with “perhaps an eye to ingratiate himself with the infant, by indulging her by the gratification of her palate with mischievous dainties” (Strickland VI 11).  Or, as this blogger wonders, could it be a way for him and his associates to be served elaborate meals at the King’s expense.
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Princess Elizabeth

This letter, which gives us a peek into the politics of the household, ends with Margaret expressing sympathy for Elizabeth’s teething.  The governess realizes that witnessing the pain the child is in, “makes me give her her own way more than I would” yet excuses herself by assuring Cromwell that “she is as toward a child and as gentle of conditions as ever I knew any in my life….” Determined in her duties, Lady Bryan wanted to ensure that when the time came for Elizabeth to be “set abroad, I trust so to endeavour me that she shall so do as shall be to the King’s honour and hers…”(Gairdner XI  203).

Letter from Lady Margaret Bryan to Thomas Cromwell, June 1536
I beseech you to be good lord to me now in the greatest need that ever [was], for it hath pleased God to take from me hem (them) that was my most com[fort] in this world, to my great heaviness, Jesu have mercy on his soul, a[nd] I am succourless and as a redeless creature but for my great trust in the King and your good lordship. When your lordship was last here you bade me not mistrust the King or you, which gave me great comfort, and encourages me now to show you my poor mind. When my lady Mary was born the King appointed me lady Mistress, and made me a baroness; ‘And so I have been a governess to the children his Grace have had since.’

Now, as my lady Elizabeth is put from that degree she was in, and what degree she is at now I know not but by hearsay, I know not how to order her or myself, or her women or grooms. I beg you to be good lord to her and hers, and that she may have raiment, for she has neither gown nor kirtle nor petticoat, nor linen foresmocks, nor kerchiefs, rails (night dresses), bodystychets (corsets), handkerchiefs, sleeves, mufflers, nor begins (night-caps).  All thys her Graces must take I have dreven off as long as I can, that, be my trothe, I cannot drive it no lenger. Besseeching you, my lord, that ye will see that her grace may have that which is needful for her, as my trust is that ye will do.  Beseeching ye, mine own good lord, that I may know from you, by writing, how I shall order myself, and what is the king’s grace’s pleasure and yours; and that I shall do in everything?  And whatsomever it shall please the king’s grace or your lordship to command me at all time, I shall fulfil it to the best of my power.

Mr. Shelton saith he is master of this house. ‘What fashion that shal be I cannot tel, for I have not seen it afore.’ I trust to your lordship, who, as every man reports, loveth honour, to see this house honourably ordered,’ howsom ever it hath been aforetime.’ If the head of [the same] know what honor meaneth it will be the better ordered; if not, it will be hard to bring it to pass.

Mr. Shelton would have my lady Elizabeth to dine and sup every day at the board of estate. It is not meet for a child of her age to keep such rule. If she do, I dare not take it upon me to keep her Grace in health; for she will see divers meats, fruits, and wine, that it will be hard for me to refrain her from. ‘Ye know, my lord, there is no place of correction there; and she is too young to correct greatly.’  I know well and she be there, I shall neither bring her up t the king’s grace’s honour, nor hers, nor to her health, nor to my poor honesty.

I beg she may have a good mess of meat to her own lodging, with a good dish or two meet for her to eat of; and the reversion of the mess shall satisfy her women, a gentleman usher, and a groom; ‘which been eleven persons on her side.’ This will also be more economical.

God knoweth my lady hath great pain with her teeth, which come very slowly. This makes me give her her own way more than I would. ‘I trust to God and her teeth were well graft to have her Grace after another fashion than she is yet; so, as I trust, the King’s Grace shall have great comfort in her Grace. For she is as toward a child and as gentle of conditions as ever I knew any in my life, Jesu preserve her Grace. As for a day or two at a hey time or whansomever it shall please the King’s Grace to have her set abroad, I trust so to endeavour me that she shall so do as shall be to the King’s honour and hers; and then after to take her ease again. I think Mr. Shelton will not be content with this. He may not know it is my desire, but that it is the King’s pleasure and yours it should be so.’ From Hunsdon with the evil hand of your daily bede woman.
Apologies for her boldness in writing thus” (Gairdner XI  203).

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Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd: Part VII

Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd: Part VII

Elizabeth had the common touch, the ability to ‘work a crowd’.  Many rulers including, Mary and Philip, did not.  It is interesting that all three had classical educations and they used those foundations completely opposite.  Mary and Philip’s studies prepared them to be patriarchal, Catholic monarchs: Elizabeth’s studies prepared her to be a humanist Protestant monarch.  Philip entered his inheritance viewed as the king and his subjects were literally subject to him.  He also did not have to assure anyone that he could rule.  Mary and Elizabeth entered their inheritance in a world where Catholic and Protestant interests were in competition after several altering successions and, as women, they were forced to prove themselves as a leader of men. 

Elizabeth certainly held an emotional sway over her peoples; she inspired them to her vision of England via her propaganda and her imagery and provided intellectual stimulation by supporting and encouraging the arts.  No one can deny that Elizabeth instilled loyalty in her civil servants, something at which her sister was less successful.

The Roots of Mary’s Problems

King Henry VIII’s will and that of his son, Edward VI, were problems for Mary.  She could not countenance Elizabeth inheriting her throne.  According to Mary, Elizabeth was the daughter of a concubine, from an unlawful union.  Yet, Henry’s will and his Act of Successions stipulated Elizabeth as a successor while Edward’s will eliminated both of his half-sisters.  Mary was in a difficult position as she had declared Edward’s will ineffectual based on her father’s legal provisions; obviously, this was convenient for her at the time of her accession to solidify her position.  Her brother had declared that because of acts of parliament stating their illegitimacy “the said lady Marye as also the said ladie Elizabeth to all intents and purposes are and be clearly disabled to aske, claime, or challenge the said imperiall crowne… as also for that the said lady Mary and lady Elizabeth be unto us but of the halfe bloud, and therfore by the auntyent lawes, statutes, and customes of this realme be not inheritable unto us, although they were legitimate, as they be not indeed” (Nichols The Chronicle of Queen Jane 92-93).

oath of alligence
Oath of Allegiance as part of The Act of Succession of 1534

If Mary were to ignore her brother’s will using the right and statutes of her father acts, she then was bound to Henry’s last will and testament.  Below is a contemporary’s summary of the will of Henry VIII (this was written by ‘A Resident in the Tower of London’ and edited by John Gough Nichols).

“In conformity with the enactment of his 35th year,
king Henry the Eighth made a will, and by that will
the crown was to devolve, 1. on his son Edward and
the heirs of his body  2. on his own heirs by queen
Katharine (Parr) or any other future wife; 3. on his
daughter Mary; 4. on his daughter Elizabeth;
5. on the heirs of the body of his niece the lady Frances;
6. on those of her sister the lady Eleanor; 7. to the
next rightful heirs. In the event of either the lady Mary
or the lady Elizabeth marrying without the consent of the
privy council, they were respectively to be passed over
as if dead without lawful issue” (Nichols Chronicle of Queen Jane 85-86).

Henry VIII will
Last Will and Testament of Henry VIII

To honor these provisions, there is urgency for Mary to gain the permission of the Privy Council for her marriage contract to Philip of Spain. She knew it was not popular and there was a fear of his taking over England and not respecting its customs.  This was even seen as an argument by her brother’s heightening the fear that if either Mary or Elizabeth married a foreign prince “the same stranger, havinge the governemente and the imperiall crowne in his hands, would rather adhere and practice to have the lawes and customes of his or their owne native countrey or countreyes to be practised or put in ure within this our realme” rather than English laws and customs which would lead to the utter subversion of the comon-welth of this our realme, which God defend” (Nichols Chronicle of Queen Jane 93). 

A union between Mary and Philip was not universally accepted and she expended some effort to convince her subjects all would be well.  In a speech to Parliament she setdown assurances.  “I am already married to the Common Weal and the faithful members of the same; the spousal ring whereof I have on my finger: which never hitherto was, nor hereafter shall be, left off. Protesting unto you nothing to be more acceptable to my heart, nor more answerable to my will, than your advancement in wealth and welfare, with the furtherance of God’s glory” (Loades Chronicle of Tudor Queens 36).  It took some convincing people to see the marriage “presented as not only for the comfort and benefit of this entire realm, but universally of the entire Christendom” (Hunt 152).

Mary Acknowledges Succession—Elizabeth Becomes Queen

Another main purpose of the union between Mary and Philip was to provide a Catholic heir to succeed in England.  Of course, this was not to transpire.  Although Mary had not formally acknowledged Elizabeth as her heir until the autumn of 1559, Elizabeth had been laying the groundwork for her succession throughout that summer. Mary had to be aware of what was happening as Paulo Tiepolo, Venetian Ambassador to King Philip’s Court reported that Elizabeth “may be said never to have been at liberty, for although she is allowed to live at a house of hers called Hatfield, 12 miles from London, the Queen has nevertheless many spies and guards in the neighbourhood who keep strict watch on all persons passing to and fro, nor is any thing said or done that is not immediately reported to the Queen, so she is obliged to act very cautiously” (Brown VI May 1557 884).

ChildrenofHenrvyVIIIb
The children of Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I, in a copy of the 1545-1550 original.  Property of the Duke of Buccleuch, Boughton House.

Regardless of what was perhaps being reported, Elizabeth began to employ talented political and military men of the Court, who willingly flocked to her side.  Men were already in place with Elizabeth by the time Mary sent “a message to her half-sister, acknowledging Elizabeth’s right” (Loades Mary Tudor 196). Mary sent her Comptroller Sir Thomas Cornwallis and her Secretary John Boxall on behalf of the Council to visit Elizabeth with the news that she could succeed if she fulfilled two requests: “one, that she will maintain the old religion as the Queen has restored it; and the other that she will pay the Queen’s debts” (Tyler XIII November 1558 498). According to the Memoirs of Jane Dormer, Mary’s trusted companion who married Count de Feria and returned with him to Spain, Elizabeth, when implored by Mary’s Councilmen to maintain the orthodox religion, declared vehemently “that she prayed God that the earth might open and swallow her alive, if she were not a true Roman Catholic” (Queen Elizabeth I 244).

Jane’s memoirs imply that Elizabeth was at Court when Mary died and owed her succession to Mary’s appointment.  As far as we know, Elizabeth did not respond by letter to the visit by the Council’s representatives nor did the two sisters meet.  Elizabeth was at Hatfield.  In contrast to the passionate declarations from Jane Dormer, the ever-popular story that has been relayed down through history is that Elizabeth was seated under an oak tree in the grounds of Hatfield when she learned she was Queen. Elizabeth quoted a psalm in Latin: A Dominium factum est illud, et est mirabile in oculis notris – “It is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes” immediately upon hearing the news.  Shortly thereafter, Articles of Parliament proclaimed her Queen to the rejoicing of the people of England. Mary had done what was necessary: she had ensured a peaceful transfer of power.

Wallace MacCaffrey, in his book Elizabeth I, noted the manner in which, and the extent to which, Elizabeth was able to illicit strong emotions in her supporters and identification with her people. Common purposes with her people were religious stability and economic security. “She had imposed her will on her people as effectively as her father ever did.  He had ruled by fear; she had won her people’s loving devotion, and achieved a degree of personal popularity unequalled by her predecessors or successors” (MacCaffrey 445).

Philip—As a Person not a Politician

Through the diplomatic dispatches, the paper portrait of Philip is of a rather cold, calculating politician with only one focus and that is the promotion of his dynasty and its interests.   Yet, there is a person hidden within who was a caring father and master.

A series of letters he wrote to his daughters in Spain when he was in Portugal, reveals Philip’s more human side. For instance it is revealed how when an old beloved servant Magdalena teased him for travelling on horseback like a child instead of in a carriage he replied “I feel so lonely in the carriage without you both and the days are so beautiful that it would be a shame to miss them” (Ravencroft 28).  Is this the man who stated upon the death of his wife, “I felt a reasonable regret for her death”?

servant magdalena
Isabella, eldest daughter of Philip II and loyal servant Magdalena Ruiz by Alonso Coello.

His letters covered many topics: fashion, he compared the styles in Portugal to those “worn in Madrid”; teething, he commented that his youngest child’s first teeth “must be in place of the two that I am about to lose”; and, pride, he warned his daughters who were angling to be praised for being taller than their cousin not to “be conceited about this as I believe it is because she is very short rather than you being tall” (Ravencroft 26).  Moreover, a poetic Philip expressed that the servant Magdalena “has a great desire for strawberries and I of nightingales, although they can sometimes be heard from one of my windows” (Ravencroft 27).

These fatherly comments are a window through which we can see the man who one could believe was truly “not only popular and universally beloved, but even longed for…by good men and by all who know the good effect produced by his presence” (Brown VI May 1557 884).  Count Michiel, the Venetian Ambassador to England, explained how Philip gained this devotion from those men in positions of power close to him.

By respecting the authority of the Queen and Cardinal Pole, Philip “won the whole Court, especially the chief nobility, by so much the more as he has made no alteration whatever in the style and form of government, nor has he departed a hair’s breadth from the marriage contract” (Brown VI May 1557 884). He was reported to have “behaved in line with English customs….”  In addition, by altering some of the ceremonies subtly there was no need for the English to “fear that their queen would be dominated by her Habsburg husband….” Even after Mary’s death, “it was still stated that he had managed to convince the English that they did not need to fear foreign domination” (Hunt 151).

Count Michiel described the difficulty that would arise from Philip staying in England mainly that “the customs there and the mode of governing differing so much from what he has been used to” (Brown VI May 1557 884).  Michiel speculated that having subjects from such diverse nations from Burgundians to Italians, makes them all “indifferently his subjects” but the English “do not brook being treated as their companions” (Brown VI May 1557 884).  If the King were to remedy the situation, it would “turn the English constitution topsyturvy and perhaps revolutionize the kingdom completely.”

Another positive action, or lack of action, taken by Philip was that he did not replace officials nor force his countrymen into government positions and “he rendered himself yet more popular, not only by purposely dispensing with many pecuniary advantages and prerogatives, to which he had a personal right, but also because during his stay in England, …he showed that he had not come from ambition to be King, he having so many crowns, he always paid his own expenses” (Brown VI May 1557 884).  Beyond these righteous moves, the Ambassador stressed that Philip was not in England to act as sole sovereign.  King Philip acted more “as mediator and intercessor with the Queen (towards whom he shows deference in everything), rather than from any wish to be considered either master or lord-paramount” (Brown VI May 1557 884).

Philip—Widower, Friend, Enemy

Upon Mary’s death and Elizabeth’s ascension, Philip’s policy toward England did not take much of a change.  As seen in the previous blog postings in the series, “Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd,” https://elizregina.com/ Philip proposed marriage to Elizabeth and when that bid was not successful, he promoted his nephew. She exclaimed that even though they could not marry they could continue their friendship. In later years Elizabeth knew she could count on Philip “exerting his powerful influence in her favour at Rome” (Neale 56) and even as late as 1577 diplomats wrote to Philip that “the Queen did not forget the favour he had showed her in her sister’s time” (Allan 1236).  Unfortunately, friendship could not be maintained as the international scene shifted.  Spain’s treaty with France, the power of the Hapsburg empire, England’s assistance to the Low Countries, the position of Mary, Queen of Scots, and the treatment of Protestants in Catholic countries (the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre) are just samples of the churning diplomatic world which culminated in the Spanish Armada.

Giovanni Gritti, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, quoted Pope Sixtus V in a dispatch to the Doge and Senate on 19 March, 1588. The Pope stated that he had heard from Spain that the Armada was ready.  He exclaimed that the English were ready, also giving credit to Queen Elizabeth: “She certainly is a great Queen, and were she only a Catholic she would be our dearly beloved.  Just look how well she governs; she is only a woman, only mistress of half an island, and yet she makes herself feared by Spain, by France, by the empire, by all” (Brown VIII 641).

Sixtus5
Pope Sixtus V

For references, please refer to the blog entry “Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd: Part I.”

Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd: Part VI

Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd:  Part VI

Elizabeth’s ability to have children would surface in all marriage negotiations no less those for her alliance to the Hapsburgs.  As early as December 14, 1558, de Feria’s diplomatic assessments to King Philip, the potential bridegroom, were determining that Elizabeth would be “more likely to have children on account of her age and temperament”, than Mary (Hume Simancas: December 1558 4).  Surprisingly, in a short amount of time—April 1559—the evaluation had changed. Now with Philip’s proposal rejected and an Archduke put forward as candidate, de Feria informed his king that

“If my spies do not lie, which I believe they do not, for a certain reason which they have recently given me I understand she will not bear children” (Hume Simancas April 1559 29).  Bishop Quadra continued this premise in January 1561 in a letter to Philip, where he disrespectfully referred to the Queen as ‘this woman’. He stated that he “must not omit to say also that the common opinion, confirmed by certain physicians, is that this woman is unhealthy, and it is believed certain that she will not have children, although there is no lack of people who say she has already had some, but of this I have seen no trace and do not believe it” (Hume Simancas January 1561 122).

A Hapsburg Archduke Should Do the Trick

Philip’s next move was to get Elizabeth to marry a Hapsburg archduke.  Gómez Suárez de Figueroa, Count de Feria, was recalled to Spain upon his request but for several months in the spring and early summer of 1559 attended Court with his replacement.  For this particular assignment, Philip sent his newly-appointed ambassador, Alvarez de Quadra, Bishop of Aquila, to discuss the situation with the Queen.  As with de Feria, Philip received a detailed report of all that transpired. 

When approached by the Bishop, the Queen began to “talk about not wishing to marry and wanted to reply in that sense” to which de Quadra “cut short the colloquy” to assure Elizabeth he did not want an answer.  Talks continued with Cecil concerning the various marriageable candidates from Austria.  Cecil implied that had it not “been for the impediment of affinity the Queen would have married your Majesty [Philip], but the matter involved religious questions….” The Bishop had no qualms to stop this course of discussion either as “it would be fruitless now to discuss as the offer had fallen through” (Hume Simancas May 1559 35).  The Ambassador interpreted the message as being the Queen’s way to secretly show interest in marrying, despite protestations that she would remain unwed.

young willliam cecil
William Cecil

He returned to the discussion with Elizabeth to encourage her to see that “in a matter of this gravity touching the welfare and tranquillity of their kingdoms and those of their neighbours kings and queens could not always follow their own desires to the prejudice of those of their subjects without doing great wrong and grievous sin, and therefore she should not consult her own inclination about her marriage but should look at the ruin that would come to her country by her doing so” (Hume Simancas May 1559 35).   He said he wanted “to clear the ground and find out whether all this means a desire not to marry at all or simply to avoid a Catholic husband…”  Holding on to his patience, de Quadra listened as the Queen “went back again to her nonsense and said she would rather be a nun than marry…. We continued at this for some time wasting words and at last she said she was resolved not to marry except to a man of worth whom she had seen and spoken to”  (Hume Simancas May 1559 35).

When Elizabeth had learned Philip had signed a marriage treaty with Elisabeth of Valois, daughter of Henri II of France, she pretended to be annoyed.  After teasing Philip for being fickle and not being enough in love with her to wait longer for a conclusive answer to his proposal, Elizabeth herself was willing to listen to the Austrian proposal within a few short weeks.  The German and Spanish Ambassadors presented the idea formally to the Council.  Bishop Aquila reiterated an alliance between the Hapsburgs would please Philip not only “on account of the Queen’s own happiness and the welfare of her subjects, but also in the interest of the lasting alliance and union” (Hume Simancas May 1559 35).  Perhaps more to assure himself, de Quadra stated that “ so clearly is the need for her to marry being daily more understood by herself and her advisers, notwithstanding her disinclination to say yes, I need not despair of her listening to the proposal” or her councilors being receptive to it (Hume Simancas May 1559 35).  Despite this bravado, de Quadra could not definitively state her intentions.  He confessed to his King, “I am not sure about her for I do not understand her” (Hume Simancas May 1559 35).  She had him just where she wanted him.

Elisabeth_de_Valois7
Elisabeth of Valois

Count de Feria, in one of his final letters to Philip, defended the queen in the negotiations concerning the Hapsburg match by saying he believed she approached the offer openly.  Yet, his confidence was not solid when he confessed, “although to say the truth I could not tell your Majesty what this woman means to do with herself, and those who know her best know no more than I do” (Hume Simancas April 1559 27).

Outcome

Formal introductions of Alvarez de Quadra, Bishop of Aquila as future Spanish Ambassador to England were part of the 12 April dispatches to de Feria from Philip II.  Included was the news that although Philip did not marry the English Queen, the Holy Roman Emperor, Ferdinand I (Philip’s uncle) was interested in putting forth one of his sons as candidate.  Philip agreed to “promote and favour” either nephew. Believing that it would be “very good for all parties” (Hume Simancas April 1559 25).  Count de Feria was to get an audience as soon as possible with the Queen to let her know that Philip agreed to the idea of her marrying a Hapsburg Archduke.  The Ambassador was to “tell her that as the love I bear her is that of a good brother, I am always thinking of what will conduce to her welfare and the stability of her kingdom…”  (Hume Simancas April 1559 25).  Still not letting go of the possibility of the English making a complete conversion to Catholicism, Philip was adamant for his Ambassadors to ensure she accept the proposal and gave multiple reasons for the “good feeling which have prompted me to propose it” (Hume Simancas April 1559 25).

Philip was persistent in expecting the English to continue to see him with gratitude and as rescuer.  He instructed de Feria on April 24th to deliver a letter to Elizabeth telling him that its purpose was so that “they may understand thoroughly that they are ruined unless I succor and defend them…when you have frightened the Queen about this …you will assure her from me that I will never fail to help her in all I can to preserve her realm and settle her own affairs exactly the same as if they were my own” (Pryor 31). 

Philip’s message was clear in the letter written to Elizabeth.   As seen in the translation from the Spanish of line 11, he wrote, “…this business affects nothing less than the safety of your kingdom, and you may be assured that in this as in any other matter which affects you I shall be as attentive as I have been in the past…” (Pryor 31).

Feria letter

Letter to Elizabeth from Philip II in Spanish from 24 April 1559.

Elizabeth acquired the letter on the 28th and very soon after de Feria sent off a dispatch to his king assuring him that he “tried to frighten her” and that she had “answered amiably” and “she thanked your Majesty for your message.”  Then the Count was told by the Queen that England would pass Protestant settlement legislation.  A dispirited de Feria grumbled, “It is very troublesome to negotiate with this woman, as she is naturally changeable, and those who surround her are so blind and bestial that they do not at all understand the state of affairs” (Pryor 31).

For references, please refer to the blog entry “Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd: Part I.”

Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd: Part V

Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd:  Part V

Already in December of 1558 Gómez Suárez de Figueroa, Count de Feria was plotting how to approach Elizabeth on marrying King Philip.  He knew that she was convinced that a foreigner was too divisive for the realm.  Added to this he had to persuade her not to marry an Englishman by pointing out that she would not want to “hold herself less than her sister, who would never marry a subject” (Hume Simancas: December 1558 4). His strategy included telling her it would look bad for her to marry a subject where there are so many worthy princes.  “After that we can take those whom she might marry here and pick them to pieces one by one, which will not require much rhetoric, for there is not a man amongst them worth anything” (Hume Simancas: December 1558 4).  The Count would stress the need for an alliance with Spain against the French threat and add the argument of maintaining the Catholic faith to secure her throne.  Okay, he had the strategy, now to implement it.

Philip’s Decision to Propose Marriage

Philip’s instructions to his ever-faithful ambassador, de Feria, on 10 January 1559 were to propose marriage to Elizabeth Regina when de Feria could obtain a private audience with Elizabeth.  The ever-cautious king did stipulate that Count Feria was not to propose any conditions until he ascertained “how the Queen is disposed towards the matter itself” (Hume Simancas January 1559 8).  Philip did struggle with his conscience and “many great difficulties” but he “decided to place on one side all other considerations which might be urged against it” and was “resolved to render this service to God, and offer to marry the queen of England”  (Hume Simancas January 1559 8).  He wrote to his Ambassador in England that he believed as a faithful Catholic he had “to sacrifice my private inclination” and if “it was not to serve God, believe me, I would not have got into this… Nothing would make me do this except the clear knowledge that it would gain the kingdom [of England] for his service and faith” (Somerset 107).

The difficulties Philip envisioned with the marriage included his obligation to be in his other dominions and therefore could not be in England; Elizabeth’s lack of sincere commitment to the Catholic faith; the French perceived threat to their interests; and, Spain’s exhausted treasury.  Despite these and “many other difficulties no less grave,” Philip admits that he “cannot lose sight of the enormous importance of such a match to Christianity and the preservation of religion” (Hume Simancas January 1559 8).   Philip did not think he could, in all conscience, risk the loss of England, and put neighboring countries in danger, to the Protestant faith.  

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Philip II by Anthonis Mor Van Dashorst, 1549-1555

Philip figured that as Elizabeth would have to be Catholic to marry him, it would “be evident and manifest” that he was “serving the Lord in marrying her and that she has been converted by his act” (Hume Simancas January 1559 8).   Not so astonishingly, Philip wanted to portray himself with having the upper hand, being seen as the benefactor of as many things as possible and to once again force a sense of obligation on Elizabeth.

Count de Feria, so loyal to his country and king, could not contemplate that Elizabeth would not readily marry Philip.  Imagine his surprise when she thanked him for the compliments but requested time to think it over—which she did for several months. 

Perhaps de Feria would have done well to have remembered Elizabeth’s comments in November 1558 when she referred to the loss of the peoples’ affections that her sister Mary experienced upon marriage to a foreigner.  This topic was discussed more thoroughly in the blog entry, “Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd: Part IV” at http://www.elizregina.com.

Elizabeth told de Feria that she would lay the question before her Privy Council and Parliament.  The Ambassador certainly had an ear to the ground.  He heard the rumblings that Elizabeth’s First Parliament was going to push forward the issue of her marriage (this topic has been discussed in the blog entry “Heir Unapparent” at https://elizregina.com/2013/04/02/heir-unapparent/).  He advised his king on 31 January 1559 “to wait for Parliament to press the Queen to marry” which she did not want to have happen.  If she did declare her choice while Parliament was sitting, “if the person chosen is not to their liking they could use the national voice to stop the affair” (Hume Simancas January 1559 13).

Elizabeth assured Count de Feria that if she were to marry anyone it would be Philip. Of course, the councilors were against it, just as she probably suspected they would be.  Elizabeth understood the diplomatic responses she had to make.  She was holding out on giving a true answer as she waited for the international scene to unfold and she did not think it was politic to turn Philip down outright, as she needed Spain and his good will.

One objection Elizabeth raised to the marriage was the consanguinity of her relationship with Philip. As the widow of her sister, she walked the fine line as her father had married his brother’s widow.  Henry VIII divorced Catherine of Aragon based on the violation of the Book of Leviticus.  A dispensation from the Pope would tactically admit her illegitimacy by saying that she and Philip could marry; there could be no way to apply the objection of consanguinity to Henry and Catherine’s marriage because if they were legally married, Henry’s marriage to Anne Boleyn would have been bigamous.

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Elizabeth Regina, Coronation Portrait

By the time of his letter to his King on February 12th, de Feria was clued to Elizabeth’s responses and her delays.  He reported that at his audience with her the day before she “began to answer me by keeping to her old argument for not wishing to marry” but when he “cut short the reply” and pressed for an answer his exasperation could be felt.  “I soon understood what the answer would be, namely, that she did not think of marrying, and so to shelve the business with fair words” (Hume Simancas February 1559 14). So ended this conversation, yet, the Count’s optimism could not be curtailed.  He believed that even though he “would have no answer that was not a very good one” he “left the matter open” (Hume Simancas February 1559 14).

By February 12, Paulo Tiepolo, Venetian Ambassador to King Philip’s Court was conceding that “the discussion about the Queen’s marriage to this King has in great measure ceased, and it seems that the whole of this negotiation will depend on the resolve of Parliament about religion” (Brown Venice February 1559 21).

Some flippancy could not be held back from a London writer in correspondence with Paulo Tiepolo. Tiepolo related that the Londoner revealed that “Parliament also sent a deputation to pray the Queen that she will be pleased to marry within the Realm” and although no particular candidate was mentioned “her Majesty, after having first made some verbal resistance to the first point, as becoming a maiden, replied that to oblige them she would marry; adding with regard to the second point, that she had well seen how many inconveniences her sister was subjected to, from having married a foreigner. Obviously, knowing Elizabeth fairly well, the correspondent continued “some persons are of the opinion that she will marry to please herself (as it seems to me that I also should do the like), and perhaps a person of not much lineage. Amongst those most frequently mentioned is a gentleman who is now in Flanders, and who is said to be ill there. Guess who he is!” (Brown Venice February 1559 19).  Robert Dudley never was out of peoples’ thoughts as Elizabeth’s possible consort.

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Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester 

One thing that discomposed the Ambassador was the suspicion he had over the integrity of his correspondence with Spain.  He wrote to his fellow ministers in a debriefing at the end of February 1559 that sometimes it seemed as if Elizabeth could read his thoughts.  He speculated that Elizabeth was “so well informed about this that it looks as if she had seen His Majesty’s letters.  This should be taken good note of” (Hume Simancas February 1559 17).

The Rejection

On 19 March, de Feria shared with Philip that during his audience with Elizabeth she told him “she could not marry your Majesty as she was a heretic. I was much surprised to hear her use such words and begged her to tell me the cause of so great a change since I last discussed the subject with her, but she did not enlighten me” (Hume Simancas March 1559 18).

By this time the international situation had shifted as she was in sounder diplomatic standing with France and she could not keep up the pretext that she would be a Catholic.  She and Parliament were pressing forward with religious changes as de Feria wrote to Philip on March 18th that she was “resolved about what was yesterday passed in Parliament, and which Cecil and Chamberlain Knollys and their followers have managed to bring about for their own ends” (Hume Simancas March 1559 18).

Feria was quite astounded by her response which he could only contribute to those heretics who “leave no stone unturned to compass their ends that no doubt they have persuaded her that your Majesty wishes to marry her for religious objects alone, and so she kept repeating to me that she was heretical and consequently could not marry your Majesty” (Hume Simancas March 1559 18).  Fearful of losing the objective Feria told his King that he assured her that he “did not consider she was heretical and could not believe that she would sanction the things which were being discussed in Parliament, because if she changed the religion she would be ruined” (Hume Simancas March 1559 18).

Now we see the blend of religious policy, marriage policy and foreign policy. In Spanish eyes to balance all three was virtually impossible. Those Spanish eyes were not viewing Elizabeth Regina in all her determined glory.  Elizabeth was determined to return her country to the Church of Henry VIII if not Edward VI; she was determined not to marry; and she was equally determined to pacify French and Spanish demands.  Paulo Tiepolo wrote from Brussels on 19 March 1559 to the Doge that the Bishop of Aquila told him that Elizabeth risked “alienating herself entirely from the Catholic religion” but he also “bestowed on her as much praise for talent and ability as was ever given to any other woman” (Brown Venice March 1559 44).  High praise indeed.

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Lorenzo Priuli, Doge of Venice

Philip wrote to his Ambassador, Count de Feria, on 23 March after the negotiations for marriage to Elizabeth had failed expressing lukewarm regret.  “By your letters and by the bishop of Aquila I am informed of the Queen’s decision about the marriage, and, although I cannot help being sorry that the affair has not been arranged, as I greatly desired and the public weal demanded, yet as the Queen thinks it was not necessary and that with good friendship we shall attain the same object, I am content that it should be so” (Hume Simancas March 1559 19).

Elizabeth was to rely on Philip’s “friendship implicitly so that no opportunity shall be presented for the French to be appealed to in case of necessity.…”  The Hapsburg interests emerged in the direct mission for de Feria: “The main end and aim that you must have in view in all things is to obstruct and impede, by every way, form and means, any rupture between the Catholics and heretics in England, this being the best course for the pacification of the country, and for the welfare of our interests, as it will deprive the French of any excuse for putting their foot in the country, which is the thing principally to be avoided” (Hume Simancas March 1559 20).  Quite an assignment.

As always Philip needed to cover all his bases.  Worried that “the Queen might perhaps think I was offended at her rejection of the marriage,” he wrote a separate letter to de Feria that was to be presented to Elizabeth. For a man who approached the proposal feeling “like a condemned man awaiting his fate” (Somerset 107), he wanted to maintain the idea of friendship between them.  The letter Feria was commissioned to give to Elizabeth stressed to her that Philip was “quite satisfied with what pleases her.”  Feria was given a bit of leeway by his boss to give the necessary “complimentary words and offers of service…in accord with the contents of the letter” and Spanish interests (Hume Simancas March 1559 20).

It is good to see Philip acknowledge the diligence of his hard-working Ambassador by including in the letter praise for “the prudence, moderation and zeal” Count de Feria had shown in all his dealings with the Queen.  The King thanked his servant but could not help but send a not-so-subtle message that he expected Feria “to continue the same care, diligence and good will in the guidance of affairs touching my interests” (Hume Simancas March 1559 20).

The King wanted his ambassador to ensure the Queen understood that he would always be ready to assist her and cooperate with her government.  Philip did want to assure her that he would “preserve the good friendship and brotherhood that I have hitherto maintained.” Elizabeth was also to be advised that Philip would “render her any service in the matter of her marriage …with all the goodwill …ever shown in matters that concern her” (Hume Simancas March 1559 19).

Elizabeth took the chance to tease de Feria on his master’s inconstancy saying that if Philip would not change religions for “all the kingdoms of the earth” then “much less would he do it for a woman.”  Feria’s romantically diplomatic answer was that “men did more for a woman than for anything else” (Hume Simancas March 1559 18).  According to his report, Elizabeth shifted the line of the interview by discussing the large sums of money taken out of the country every year for the Pope and that she knew it must be ended.

Interestingly, Feria revealed a maneuver on the part of Sir Francis Knollys.  He said that about a half hour after they were talking, Knollys came to announce supper was ready.  Feria clearly thought this was “arranged by those who are working this wickedness, for there is nothing that annoys them more than that I should speak to her.”  He took his leave and informed Philip that he told her “that she was not the Queen Elizabeth that I knew and that I was very dissatisfied with what I had heard, and if she did what she said she would be ruined” (Hume Simancas March 1559 18).  Pretty courageous fellow.

francisknollys
 Sir Francis Knollys

For references, please refer to the blog entry “Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd: Part I.”

Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd: Part IV

Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd: Part IV

The diplomatic accounts sent to Philip II by his Spanish Ambassador to England, Gómez Suárez de Figueroa, Count de Feria, will be quoted at length as they give such clear and vivid pictures of the events from spring of 1558 until the autumn.  Philip, convinced that if his wife Mary I died the preferred successor would be Princess Elizabeth, tried to preserve close ties with the princess while maintaining the upper hand.  He had quite a job for himself.

 Philip Turns His Attention to Elizabeth—1558

As everyone at Court, except for Queen Mary, realized her pregnancy was a delusion, Philip turned his attention to Elizabeth.  He did not have an easy task in convincing his wife to accept her sister as heir.  Ambassador Michiel wrote to the Doge of Venice on October 29, 1558, that King Philip had sent over his envoy, Count de Feria to visit the Queen and to convince her that it was better to arrange the marriage of Elizabeth now while they could “prevent the evils which might occur were Lady Elizabeth, seeing herself slighted, to choose after Her Majesty’s death, or perhaps even during her lifetime, to take for her husband some individual who might convulse the whole kingdom into confusion. For many days during which the confessor treated this business, he found the Queen utterly averse to give Lady Elizabeth any hope of the succession, obstinately maintaining that she was neither her sister nor the daughter of the Queen’s father, King Henry, nor would she hear of favouring her, as she was born of an infamous woman, who had so greatly outraged the Queen her mother and herself”  (Queen Elizabeth I 242-243).

This was to be done in utmost secrecy for Elizabeth could not be slighted if the Queen would not agree to it.  There was also the fear if the French found out it could jeopardize any marriage schemes as the “greater part of England is opposed to the Queen, and most hostile to King Philip and his dependants, and much inclined towards Miladi Elizabeth, who has always shown greater liking for the French faction than for this other” (Queen Elizabeth I 243).  As seen in a previous blog, “Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd: Part III” Mary and Elizabeth were both against a marriage for Elizabeth, albeit for different reasons.  Philip may have seen the writing on the wall concerning the Savoy and Swedish marriage proposals but he was not without schemes.  He knew he needed to keep Elizabeth in his favor.

When Charles V died in September, Philip wrote to Elizabeth himself to tell her about it.  She in turn wrote a reply to him.  “Sire and dearest cousin, The honour which your Majesty has done me by sending a gentleman to advertise me of the death of the august Emperor, your father of most glorious memory, agreeably reminds me that your Majesty continues to honour me with that generous good-will which you have been pleased ever to bestow on me, and from which I have felt so much advantage that, in calling to mind these Graces and favours, I can find no other fit means of evincing my gratitude than by earnestly remembering that the life I enjoy is equally the fruit of the Queen my sister’s goodness and of your Majesty’s magnanimous protection” (Queen Elizabeth I 239-240).

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Charles V by Titian

Elizabeth went on to tell Philip that she was “employed at present in reading the history of his warlike actions, and his great feats of courage and valour, in order to redouble, by the glorious memory of the father, the veneration and esteem which I have for the son.

“I pray God that amidst the afflictions which such a loss causes you, he may load your life with prosperity and happiness; so shall I ever, with great satisfaction, assure you that I am your Majesty’s very humble servant and sister-in-law, Elizabeth” (Queen Elizabeth I 240).

Mary’s View of Elizabeth

Venetian Ambassador Michiel, who described Mary as “a very great and rare example of virtue and magnanimity, a real portrait of patience and humility,” also was aware of “her evil disposition towards her sister my Lady Elizabeth, which although dissembled, it cannot be denied that she displays in many ways the scorn and ill will she bears her.”

Michiel perceived that “what disquiets her most of all is to see the eyes and hearts of the nation already fixed on this lady as successor to the Crown, from despair of descent from the Queen, to see the illegitimate child of a criminal who was punished as a public strumpet, on the point of inheriting the throne with better fortune than herself, whose descent is rightful, legitimate, and regal. Besides this the Queen’s hatred is increased by knowing her to be averse to the present religion, that she has recanted, she is nevertheless supposed to dissemble, and to hold to it more than ever internally” (Brown VI May 1557 884).

Philip was up against a strong force. Mary truly wanted to be a loving and obedient wife, which would have meant following in with Philip’s plans of complete reconciliation with Elizabeth and, more importantly, announcing her as heir.  Mary preferred to wait and let events unravel.  She still held hope that she would have her own child or, if that would not be the case, then “referring the matter after her death to those whom it concerns either by right or by force” (Brown VI May 1557 884).  This was at complete variance with Philip who “it cannot be supposed will choose to delay until then, nor remain at the mercy of the English and their divisions, he would therefore wish to secure himself immediately and proclaim the heir” (Brown VI May 1557 884).  Yet, where Elizabeth was concerned there was too much anger, jealousy and distrust on Mary’s side to overcome.

Why were these feelings of Mary’s so difficult to submerge?  Let us return to Ambassador Michiel’s report. Elizabeth is described physically as very attractive and as “a young woman, whose mind is considered no less excellent than her person; and her intellect and understanding are wonderful, as she showed very plainly by her conduct when in danger and under suspicion.”  It is of Michiel’s opinion that “as a linguist she excels the Queen” speaking Latin, Greek, and Italian.  Perhaps Mary would not feel overshadowed by these skills, except as the Ambassador shrewdly related that everybody believed Elizabeth resembled King Henry VIII “more than the Queen” and “he therefore always liked her and had her brought up in the same way as the Queen.” This perhaps could have been easier to swallow for Mary, but she was aware “that she [Elizabeth] was born of such a mother,” and that Elizabeth believed she was no less legitimate than Mary was (Brown VI May 1557 884).

Elizabeth_I_Steven_Van_Der_Meulen
Elizabeth by Steven van der Meulen, 1563

Added to Elizabeth’s faults, was the fact that Mary had to be aware that as the years passed, “there is not a lord or gentleman in the kingdom who has failed, and continues endeavouring, to enter her service himself or to place one of his sons or brothers in it, such being the love and affection borne her” (Brown VI May 1557 884).  Michiel explained that Elizabeth was always in need of money “and would be much more so did she not steadily restrain herself to avoid any increase of the Queen’s hatred and anger”; therefore, she did not increase the number of servants or add expenditures of any kind.

When requested to take on household members, Elizabeth would decline pleading her relative state of poverty and “by this astute and judicious apology she adroitly incites a tacit compassion for herself and consequently yet greater affection, as it seems strange and vexatious to everybody that being the daughter of a King she should be treated and acknowledged so sparingly” (Brown VI May 1557 884).

An example of Mary’s anger we have seen in her frustration in having to give way to the daughter of Anne Boleyn and her jealousy showed in her annoyance of Elizabeth’s skills and popularity.  An example of her distrust is perfectly illustrated over Elizabeth’s professed religious convictions.  Ambassador Michiel, recognized the danger to Catholicism if Elizabeth succeeded as she would “reverse of what the Queen has done, this seeming to her a sort of revenge. Besides this, she would think that nothing could render her more popular, independently of her own interest through the restitution to herself and to the Crown of all those revenues amounting to upwards of 60,000l., of which the Queen has deprived it.  And “and above all she would withdraw the obedience to the Pope, were it solely for the sake of not seeing money go out of the kingdom” (Brown VI May 1557 884).

Perhaps Mary’s policy should have been to remove Elizabeth from her realm.  The Queen’s reluctance to acknowledge Elizabeth’s legitimacy via a diplomatic marriage kept her sister in the kingdom.  Maybe a reversal of her decision would have eased many of her concerns.  Below is a lengthy extract from a diplomatic dispatch between Count Feria, the Spanish Ambassador to England and Philip II explaining the events of May 1558.

May 1, 1558, de Feria to King Philip II
“An ambassador of the King of Sweden came here recently. He appears to be a learned man. Several days passed without his having audience of the Queen or even demanding it. His mission appears to consist of two parts: one about commercial affairs between England and Sweden, and the other to negotiate a match between the Lady Elizabeth and the King of Sweden’s son, for which purpose he brought a letter from the young man accrediting him to the Lady. Before he had been received by the Queen, he went to present his letter to the Lady Elizabeth. The Queen is writing to you on the subject; and as I have heard from her all I know about it I need say no more. She fancies herself very much where this matter is concerned. She was angry with me the other day when she knew that I was sending a servant of mine to Antwerp on my own business, thinking that I meant to write to your Majesty before she had done so about this matrimonial affair. She spoke to me very severely.

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Eric XIV of Sweden by Steven van der Meulen, 1561 

“When this ambassador first arrived, the Queen was greatly distressed, thinking that your Majesty would blame her because the match proposed a year ago [to Philip’s choice, Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy] had not come off. Now that the Lady Elizabeth has answered that she does not wish to marry, the Queen has calmed down; but she takes a most passionate interest in the affair. She now realises that her pregnancy has come to nothing, and seems afraid your Majesty will urge her to take a decision (about marrying off Elizabeth). Figueroa and I think your Majesty ought to do this, grasping the occasion supplied by this ambassador and the pregnancy matter, but it must not be raised at the same time as the military affair, for that might spoil everything. I do not think the Queen will wish to prevent Elizabeth from succeeding, in case God grants no issue to your Majesties” (Tyler XIII May 1558 425).

Official Response to Swedish Proposals
While in Brussels, Philip wrote a response to de Feria on May 7, 1558.
“I am answering your letter in my own hand, as you will see.  You will also see that I am writing to the Privy Council about the four points raised by the Swedish ambassador on behalf of his King concerning trade between England and Sweden. As the terms he proposes are harsh and impracticable, you will try to get them to temporise, keeping me informed of anything they may intend to do so that I may signify my pleasure to them” (Tyler XIII May 1558 429) .

On May 18, 1558, Ambassador Feria, ever the conscientious diplomat, informed his king of the merry-go-round of events in England. “They tell me that with this courier they are sending a report to your Majesty, with the reply they think of making to the Swedish Ambassador. What the Swede is trying to do will come to nothing.

“I have already written to your Majesty that I did not see the Lady Elizabeth when she was here. As my principal support in negotiating the matters I was sent here for was the Queen’s goodwill, I thought I had better avoid upsetting her, especially as your Majesty had not given me any special instructions” (Tyler XIII May 1558 435).

Feria clarified that he had sent word to Elizabeth that he had permission from the king to visit her and asked another courtier, referred to as Paget and it is assumed to be Charles Paget, to offer his excuses for not meeting her earlier.  It appears that Paget rather fumbled the job.  Feria explained that he had asked one of the women close to Elizabeth if Paget had done so and she told him “that he asked the Lady Elizabeth whether I had been to see her, and that when she said I had not, he expressed great surprise and said nothing further.”   Now in a bit of a tricky situation Feria decided, “I do not think that things ought to be left there, but that it would be well that I should go and see her before I leave the country; she lives twenty miles from here. As your Majesty is fully informed, you will send me instructions. If I am to see her, you must write about it to the Queen” (Tyler XIII May 1558 435).

Since Count de Feria appeared to be anxious about Mary’s reception to the news that he had gone to visit Elizabeth. It is obvious his commission dealt with the sensitive topics of either the succession or a possible marriage for Elizabeth.  Regardless, Philip did agree to Feria’s perception that Mary had to be informed of his actions with the unwritten idea that Mary would be angry at such an overture.  Several days later Feria received word from Philip saying “I approve of your intention not to leave England without visiting the Lady Elizabeth. I am writing to the Queen that I have instructed you to do so, and that she is to speak to you in the same sense. Thus I hope that the Queen will take it well.

“The Council have written to me how they intend to answer the Swedish Ambassador. Their reply seems to me satisfactory, except that I should like to have them add that they were not pleased with his going to make a proposal to the Lady Elizabeth without the Queen’s knowledge, and that in future neither he nor anyone else on his master’s behalf should come to negotiate such matters without informing the Queen in advance, for if they did, the Queen would greatly resent it and could not fail to show her resentment in some appropriate manner” (Tyler XIII May 1558 440).

Elizabeth Gripsholm
Elizabeth, in the ‘Gripsholm Portrait’ –a painting done specifically for Erik of Sweden.

Obviously, Philip had written Count Feria on May 27, 1558, and quickly sent off the missive.  On the same day, he received the message that Feria had written on the 18th.  Therefore, Philip wrote again on the 27th praising Feria that he was “glad to hear that you had gone to see the Lady Elizabeth. When you come, you will report what happened between her and you” (Tyler XIII May 441).  Again, the topic of conversation between Count Feria and Elizabeth had been too sensitive to commit to paper; the communiqué would be done in person to the King.  If the discussion concerned the Swedish marriage proposal, the diplomatic course laid down by Philip was followed by his faithful envoy.  Several months later Feria had the satisfaction to write, “The Swedish Ambassador was satisfied with the answer he received from the Council, and said that he wished to report to his master and wait here for an answer. When the Queen reproved him in presence of the Councillors and Petre for having made a proposal to the Lady Elizabeth without her knowledge, he put up a feeble defence, but then repeated his request. Her Majesty answered that she did not intend to proceed further in this matter. I believe she intends to write to your Majesty about what happened between her and the ambassador” (Tyler XIII July 1558 457).

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King Philip II by Titian, 1554

Regardless of what Philip and his envoy publically proclaimed, another meeting between the Spanish Ambassador and Elizabeth took place sometime in June of 1558 at Hatfield.  He kept Philip informed of the arrangements, letting him know “I am going to see the Lady Elizabeth on Friday, 16 miles from here, as your Majesty has ordered me to do. (Tyler XIII June 1558 444).  After the meeting, Feria continued with King Philip’s instructions for filling him in on the details in person and kept to a bare bones account that he wrote on 23 June: “I went to visit the Lady Elizabeth, as your Majesty instructed me to do. She was very much pleased; and I was also, for reasons I will tell your Majesty when I arrive over there. (Tyler XIII June 1558 451).  It appears that when Count Feria returned to Brussels he had information to share that would apparently satisfy Hapsburg interests.

The marriage of Mary, Queen of Scots and the future Francis II had taken place in the spring of 1558.  Philip understood the dangers of Mary’s claim to the English throne to his country.  Elizabeth herself must have been feeling more confident of her position as these international developments strengthened her case at home among not only the English, but also the Hapsburgs.  Philip needed Elizabeth, as she was well aware.

Count de Feria Meets His Match
Count Feria had returned to his master in Brussels and was sent back to England relatively quickly as news of the Queen’s ill-health reached her husband. The meeting between Elizabeth and Feria will be relayed extensively below due to the insightful nature not only of the event but also of Feria’s interpretation of Elizabeth’s character.  The basis for the bulk of the communiqué derives from David Loades’ materials with extended passages from various sources to emphasis other points.

14 November 1558
“I arrived here on Wednesday, the ninth of this month, at lunchtime and found the Queen our lady’s health to be just as Dr. Nunez* describes in his letter to your Majesty.  There is, therefore, no hope of her life, but on the contrary each hour I think that they will come to inform me of her death, so rapidly does her condition deteriorate from one day to the next.  She was happy to see me, since I brought her news of your Majesty, and to receive the letter, although she was unable to read it.  In view of this I felt that there was not time to waste on other matters and sent word to the council to assemble as I wished to talk to them on your Majesty’s behalf.  This I preceded to do ….I also declared your Majesty’s will on the question of the succession to the kingdom, and told them how pleased your Majesty would be to hear of their good offices with Madame Elizabeth on this matter, reminding them how your Majesty had sought to have this done much earlier, as they all well knew.  These councilors are extremely frightened of what Madame Elizabeth will do with them.  They have received me well, but somewhat as they would a man who came with bulls from a dead pope.

“The day after I arrived, I went to a house belonging to a gentleman some twenty three miles from there, where Madame Elizabeth is staying.**  She received me well but not as joyfully as she did last time. She asked me to dine with her and the wife of Admiral Clinton who was there when I arrived was also invited.  After dinner she rose and told me that should I desire to speak with her I might now do so, for she was giving orders that only two or three women who could speak no other language than English should remain in the room… I gave her to understand that it was your Majesty who had procured her recent recognition as the queen’s sister and successor, and not the Queen or the council, and that this was something your Majesty had been trying to secure for some time, as she no doubt realized, for it was common knowledge in the whole kingdom; and I condemned the Queen and the council severely… She was very open with me on many points, much more than I would have expected, and although it is difficult to judge a person one has known for a short a time as I have known this woman, I shall tell your Majesty what I have been able to gather.  She is a very vain and clever woman.  She must have been thoroughly schooled in the manner in which her father conducted his affairs, and I am very much afraid that she will not be well disposed in matters of religion, for I see her inclined to govern through men who are believed to be heretics, and I am told that all the women around her definitely are.  Apart from this it is evident that she is highly indignant about what has been done to her during the Queen’s lifetime. She puts great store by the people, and is very confident that they are all on her side—which is certainly true…

Brockett
Brockett Hall

“I have been told for certain that Cecil, who was King Edward’s secretary, will also be secretary to Madame Elizabeth.  He is said to be an able and virtuous man, but a heretic…

“Last night they administered extreme unction to the queen or lady and today she is better, although there is little hope of her life. Our Lord etc., From London, 14th November 1558” (Loades Mary Tudor 200-202).

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Mary I by Hans Eworth, 1555-1558.

If the Ambassador thought his advice would be listened to meekly, let alone followed, he had another think coming.   When the discussion emerged about the Privy Council members, Feria counseled Elizabeth to show restraint and not seek revenge.  Elizabeth told him that she wanted to make the “councillors who had wronged her admit they had done so” (Perry 126).  She acknowledged Philip’s support when she was detained by her sister and how Philip “had shown her favour and helped her to obtain her release. She felt that it was not dishonourable to admit that she had been a prisoner; on the contrary, it was those who had put her there who were dishonoured because she had never been guilty of having acted or said anything against the queen, nor would she ever confess otherwise” (Porter 405).

What a gal!  Faced still with a tremendous amount of uncertainty and with no true internship in the halls of power, Elizabeth’s courage and sangfroid are astounding.  A baffled Feria shared with Philip, the person who Feria felt was solely responsible for obtaining the throne for Elizabeth, that she “puts great store by the people who put her in her present position, and she will not acknowledge that your Majesty or the nobility of this realm had any part in it, although, as she herself, says, they have all sent her assurances of their loyalty…. There is not a heretic or traitor in all the kingdom, who has not joyfully raised himself from the grave to come to her side. She is determined to be governed by no one” (Perry 125).

Feria claimed that Elizabeth had not received him as ‘joyfully’ as before— the change could be easily explained.  Her position as future queen was much more secure; her sister had recently acknowledged the succession which was linked back to her father’s actions.  The Third Act of Succession of 1544 gave the act of law to the last will and testament of Henry VIII.  In 1546, Henry spelled out exactly how the succession should proceed if his son Edward died childless and if his daughter Mary did as well.  Mary used that Act as her claim to the succession over Lady Jane Grey yet was loath to enact it for her half-sister.  In the autumn of 1558 Mary acknowledged the fact that she might die without issue and so on 28 October she added a codicil to her will—written in March of that same year.  She left the “government, order and rule” of the kingdom to her “next heir and successor, according to the laws and statues of this realm” (Alford 28).  Mary consciously did not mention Elizabeth by name nor did she accept her as her heir willingly. Christophe d’Assonleville, the Imperial envoy from Brussels, wrote to Philip that the Privy Council had persuaded Mary to “make certain declarations in favour of the Lady Elizabeth concerning the succession.  Her Majesty consented; and the Comptroller and the Master of the Rolls are being sent to-day on her behalf and that of the Council to visit the Lady Elizabeth and inform her that the Queen is willing that she succeed in the event of her own death” (Tyler XIII November 1558 498).  Good news for Philip as he was in full support of Elizabeth as heir— there really was no choice in his eyes—and Feria had the delicate task of dealing with Elizabeth as the soon-to-be-Queen while diplomatically presenting the belief that Mary would recover.  This interview could not have been easy for the Count.

While giving praise for Philip’s support, Elizabeth did not hesitate to imply that Mary had hurt her realm by “sending large sums of money and jewels out of the country to her husband” (Porter 405). “She then went on to discomfort him further by observing that her sister had lost her subjects’ affection by marrying a foreigner, to which he had relied, punctiliously but untruthfully, that on the contrary Philip had been much loved.  She was grateful for Philip’s support but set no particular store by it, placing all her confidence in the English people, who were she was convinced, ‘all on her side’.  This, Feria concluded ruefully, ‘is undoubtedly true’” (Loades Mary Tudor 199).

JOanna regent of spain
Joanna, Regent of Spain

*Luis Nunez was a Portuguese physician practicing in the Netherlands, sent over with de Feria.

**Most likely Brockett Hall, home of Sir John Brockett, who was one of her Hatfield tenants.

For references, please refer to the blog entry “Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd: Part I.”

Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd: Part III

Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd: Part III

Philip protected Elizabeth after the Wyatt and Dudley rebellions.  She was indebted to him for her improved treatment by her sister, Queen Mary, and the Court.  Philip “wisely determined that Elizabeth’s petty misdemeanours should be winked at” (Strickland 111).  Why should activity, bordering on treason, be ignored?  Elizabeth was the main heir with Mary, Queen of Scots and Dauphiness of France was second.  Hapsburg interests had to prevent the balance of power in Europe from moving to the French.  If Mary Stuart became Queen of England, France and Scotland, Spain would lose its hold on world affairs.  Therefore, “this sudden kindness of Philip, who thought Elizabeth a much less obnoxious character than his father Charles the Fifth had conceived her to have been, did not arise from any regular principle of real generosity, but partly from an affection of popularity, and partly from a refined sentiment of policy” (Nichols 11).

Philip Understood Elizabeth Was the Best Heiress Presumptive

There were issues with Elizabeth as heir: first, her sister did not relish the thought of appointing a successor.  Even when Philip sent his confessor “Fresneda to England to urge Mary to send a message to Elizabeth recognizing her as heir to the throne,” Mary refused (Ridley 72).  The antagonism Mary felt toward Elizabeth was a difficulty that Philip knew he had to overcome.  He did persuade Mary to make an effort at reconciliation and enfold Elizabeth into the Court.  One-time Ambassador from Spain, Simon Renard, succinctly stated a second issue in June of 1555 he wrote a memorandum to Charles V outlining his concerns. “I foresee trouble on so great a scale that the pen can hardly set it down. Certain it is that the order of succession has been so badly decided that the Lady Elizabeth comes next, and that means heresy again, and the true religion overthrown. Churchmen will be wronged, Catholics persecuted; there will be more acts of vengeance than heretofore…. A calamitous tragedy will lie ahead” (Tyler XIII June 1555 216).

charles
Charles V

Spanish diplomats foresaw that if Elizabeth were to succeed, there would be religious revolution once again.  But, what if she were married to a Catholic?  Philip realized she was the only plausible successor to his wife and that Elizabeth would be queen because the people would not have it any other way.  If he could use Elizabeth to promote Hapsburg interests and encourage her to be beholden to those interests, things would turn in his favor.   Elizabeth could be a “demure, flatteringly deferential young lady” (Plowden 68).  Philip saw no reason why with the right husband, suggested by her concerned and kindly brother-in-law, this ‘calamitous tragedy’ could be avoided. 

The Savoy Marriage

What criteria would entail the right husband?  He must be a Catholic, a Hapsburg ally or dependent with enough status to garner a marriage to a Queen Regnant.

In a memorandum prepared for Philip by Simon Renard, he let it be known that Elizabeth should marry the Duke of Savoy.  This would have placed a lieutenant in England to help Queen Mary when Philip would be absent and help promote international relations (Plowden 65). 

Simon_Renard
Simon Renard 

That early proposal between Elizabeth and Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy, was suggested but came to nothing.  Philip did not give up easily.  According to several written sources upon meeting Elizabeth at Court, Philip “paid her such obeisance as to fall with one knee to the ground, notwithstanding his usual state and solemnity” (Nichols 11). He did not account for her resolve. “Elizabeth failed not to avail herself of every opportunity of paying her court to her royal brother-in-law, with whom she was on very friendly terms, although she would not comply with his earnest wish of her becoming the wife of his friend and ally, Philibert of Savoy” (Strickland 110). 

Late in 1556, Philip again pursued this alliance.  This time he put extreme pressure on Mary to ensure it took place. Letters between Mary and Philip show the tension this caused as he felt Mary should force Elizabeth to wed.  She was reluctant to do that and used it as a way to get her husband back to England’s shores as then they could pray together to God—this was too weighty a matter to be determined without Him and him.  Mary probably did not want Elizabeth to marry and produce an heir, strengthening her position for the throne; she also was reluctant to approve of it without the consent of Parliament.  Philip implied if Parliament did not agree he would blame her.  Mary wrote to him: “But since your highness writes in those letters, that if Parliament set itself against this thing, you will lay the blame upon me, I beseech you in all humility to put off the business till your return, and then you shall judge if I am blameworthy or no.  For otherwise your highness will be angry against me, and that will be worse than death for me, for already I have begun to taste your anger all too often, to my great sorrow” (Porter 399). 

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Philip and Mary

Despite Mary’s protests of being held to blame, she did take steps to achieve Philip’s request.  Elizabeth was sent for to join the Christmas Court.  She arrived in London on 28 November and returned to Hatfield by 3 December.  It was assumed the Queen brought up the subject of the marriage to Philibert and Elizabeth rejected the proposal.  This topic has been more fully discussed in the blog entry, ‘Fate is Remarkable’, at https://elizregina.com/2013/03/12/fate-is-remarkable/

Em Phil savoy
Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy

Elizabeth was allowed to return to Court before the end of February 1557.  Philip returned to England in the spring of 1557 to gain support for his war with France and “to settle his scheme for the marriage of Elizabeth and Emmanuel Philibert” (Queen Elizabeth I 235).  While he was successful in obtaining a commitment for the war, he was not successful regarding Elizabeth.  Mary and Elizabeth both were stubbornly opposed to it.  If Elizabeth were to marry Emmanuel Philibert, Philip would acquire a Catholic client state out of England. To him it would be a win-win situation.  To Mary it was not.  She could not sanction the alliance as it would be as good as handing Elizabeth the succession.  Mary felt that Elizabeth should not be the Tudor heir because she was an illegitimate heretic. “Mary seems to have convinced herself that Elizabeth’s whole claim to royalty was fraudulent” (Loades Mary Tudor 169).

While the Queen had her reasons for not sanctioning her sister’s marriage, Elizabeth  would not approve of the marriage either.  She perceived that the succession had to clearly be acquired on her own, not as if it had been orchestrated by Philip

Marriage Proposal to the Crown Prince of Sweden
Elizabeth was acting with great circumspection so as not to jeopardize her position nor antagonize her sister.  Therefore, when the King of Sweden, in the spring of 1558, sent an envoy to her to propose marriage between her and his son, she hastily informed him that any such request must first be submitted to the Queen and her Council.

Gustav-I-Sweden      Eric K of SW
King Gustav I Vasa of Sweden              Eric, Crown Prince soon Eric XIV

Sir Thomas Pope informed Mary what had taken place.  According to him, when Elizabeth let the Ambassador know in no uncertain terms that she would not treat with him, the Ambassador assured her that the king was “as a man of honor and a gentleman” who “thought it most proper to make the first application to herself” and that “having by this preparatory step obtained her consent, he would next mention the affair in form to her majesty” (Wart 96) .    Evidently, Elizabeth informed the Swede that she “could not listen to any proposals of that nature, unless made by the queen’s advice or authority” and “that if left to her own will, we would always prefer a single condition of life” (Wart 97). 

Mary was very pleased when she heard how Elizabeth had handled the situation.  She called Sir Thomas Pope to Court to hear of the meeting first hand.  She then commissioned Sir Thomas “to write to the princess and acquaint her with how much she was satisfied with this prudent and dutiful answer to the king of Sweden’s proposition.”  He was then returned to Hatfield to stress to Elizabeth how much her conduct was appreciated by the Queen and also to find out what Elizabeth’s views were concerning matrimony in general. Pope was to “receive from her own mouth the result of her sentiments concerning it;  and at the same time to take an opportunity of founding her affections concerning the duke of Savoy, without mentioning his name” (Wart 98).  The Hapsburgs were still anxious to form another alliance between the English and Spanish crowns.  Sir Thomas knew the importance of this to the Queen and did his best to carry out his mission and inform her of the results.  On April 26, 1558, he informed the Queen of his conversation with Elizabeth when she responded to his questions concerning the Swedish and Savoy proposals and matrimony.  

tpope
Sir Thomas Pope

“Whereunto after a little  pause taken, her grace answered in forme following, ‘Master Pope i requyre you, after my most humble commendaticions to the quenes majestie, to render unto the same lyke tahnkes, that it pleased her highnes of her goodnes, to conceive so well of my answer made to the same messenger; and herwithal, of her princelie consideration, with such speede to command you by your letters to signyfie the same unto me: who before remained wonderfullie perplexed, fering that her majestie might mistake the same: for which her goodnes I ackowledge myself bound to honour, serve, love, and obey her highnes, during my life.  Requyring you also to saye unto her majestie, that in the king my brothers time, there was offered me a verie honorable marriage or two: and ambassadors sent to treat with me touching the same; whereupon I made my humble suit unto his highness, as some of honour yet living can be testimonies, that it would lyke the same to give me leave, with his graces favour, to remayne in that estate I was, which of all others best liked me or pleased me’”  (Wart 99-100).

Elizabeth finished off her argument by stressing to Pope her sentiments.  “And, in good faith, I pray you say unto her Highness, I am even at this present of the same mind, and so intend to continue, with Her Majesty’s favour: and assuring her Highness I so well like this estate, as I persuade myself there is not any kind of life comparable unto it”  (Queen Elizabeth I 237).

Once the Princess’s response had been recorded, Pope informed Queen Mary what he then announced.  “And when her Grace had thus ended, I was so bold as of myself to say unto her Grace, her pardon first required that I thought few or none would believe but that her Grace could be right well contented to marry; so that there were some honourable marriage offered her by the Queen’s Highness, or by Her Majesty’s assent. Whereunto her Grace answered, ‘What I shall do hereafter I know not; but I assure you, upon my truth and fidelity, and as God be merciful unto me, I am not at this time otherwise minded than I have declared unto you; no, though I were offered the greatest prince in all Europe.’ And yet perchance the Queen’s Majesty may conceive this rather to proceed of a maidenly shamefacedness, than upon any such certain determination” (Queen Elizabeth I 237-238).  Here was a man who, as a product of his era and not understanding the true will of Elizabeth, could not fathom that she would not wish to marry.

eliz cornation
Elizabeth in her Coronation Robes, less than a year after her interview with Pope

To complete the inquiry and perhaps to put her stamp on the response which Elizabeth must have known was being sent to her sister, she wrote a letter to Mary.  The letter that follows comes to us from the historian Gregorio Leti’s sources. 

“Madame, my dear Sister, However deeply I may
have fallen into disgrace with your Majesty, I have
always felt that you were so just and good that I
have never imputed the cause to anything but my
own ill-fortune. And even if my troubles had been a
thousand times greater they would have been incapable
of removing from my heart the loyalty and respect
which I owe to your Majesty. The ties of blood by
which we are united make me devotedly attached to
your interests, and I am ever inspired by a perfect
submission to the Royal and Sovereign authority of
your Majesty. The answer which I gave to the
Swedish ambassador is an evidence of my obedience;
I could not have replied in any other manner without
failing in my duty to you. But the thanks, which
you have been pleased to send me by Mr. Pope, is
only a part of your generous kindness, which has
filled me with affection and gratitude for you. I can
assure you, Madame, that since I have been old
enough to reason, I have had no other thought in my
heart for you except the love which one owes to a
sister, and, even more, the profound respect which
is due to a mistress and a queen. My feelings
will never change, and I should welcome, with
much pleasure, opportunities of showing you that I
am your Majesty’s very obedient servant and sister,
ELIZABETH” (Queen Elizabeth I 239).

Phantom Pregnancy of 1558—Its Foundation from 1556

“Philip was forced to acknowledge defeat” (Queen Elizabeth I 235).  Elizabeth had evaded his attempts to influence her to wed.  She remained in the background under the watchful eye of Sir Thomas Pope at Hatfield while the queen harbored hopes of another pregnancy.  Philip’s brief visit to England in the spring of 1557 to untangle the Savoy and surprise Swedish marriage proposals and ask for military assistance was enough to raise the hopes of Mary that she was expecting a child.  Responses by the principal parties, the Court and even the international diplomatic world to Mary’s declared pregnancy of 1557 were cemented in the events of 1556.

Back in 1556 Simon Renard kept Charles V informed of the minute details of Mary’s pregnancy telling the emperor “that one cannot doubt that she is with child. A certain sign of this is the state of the breasts, and that the child moves. Then there is the increase of the girth, the hardening of the breasts and the fact that they distill” (Tyler XIII June 1555 217).

Shortly thereafter Renard had to let the expectant grandfather know the reason he had not written to him with the good news.  Apparently the Queen’s “doctors and ladies have proved to be out in their calculations by about two months, and it now appears that she will not be delivered before eight or ten days from now” (Tyler XIII June 1555 216).

Of one thing Renard was certain, “everything in this kingdom depends on the Queen’s safe deliverance.” He was incredulous “how the delay in the Queen’s deliverance encourages the heretics to slander and put about false rumours; some say that she is not with child at all…. Those whom we have trusted inspire me with the most misgivings as to their loyalty. Nothing appears to be certain, and I am more disturbed by what I see going on than ever before” (Tyler XIII June 1555 216).  The Ambassador was concerned for Hapsburg and Catholic interests as members of the Privy Council were showing “an increasing amount of boldness and evil intentions” indicating a possible warming to the French (Tyler XIII June 1555 216).

These passages, except for the change of name and dates, could have been written in 1558.   Philip had left England to lead his troop in the war against France but dutifully sent Count de Feria to Mary “to congratulate her on the announcement that she had sent him of her new hopes of an heir to the throne hopes which he probably knew to be illusory, though he so far humoured her as to say that her letter contained the best news that he had heard since the loss of Calais” (Queen Elizabeth I 239.

Upon their marriage Mary was 37 years old, eleven years older than Philip.  She did not wear those years well.  Years of stress, worry and ill-health had taken their toll on her. Now, several years into their marriage with one delusionary pregnancy behind her, chances were this would be too.  Philip recognized her to be mortally ill since he had been out of the country for over a year and would have noticed the marked difference in her health that those close to home may have not detected.  When he was back in Brussels he wrote to his sister and speculated what he “must do in England, in the event either of the Queen’s survival or of her death, for these are questions of the greatest importance, on which the welfare of my realms depend” (Tyler November 1558 502).

bloody mary
Queen Mary I

In the summer the Queen was clearly becoming weaker and weaker.  “It was clear that there was no pregnancy” (Whitelock 327).  By the end of October it “became apparent to everyone, Mary included, that she was not going to survive” (Porter 403).

Queen Mary died November 17, 1558.  Foxe’s narrated from information he received from Rees Mansell, a gentleman of Mary’s privy chamber, that Queen Mary at “about three or four o’clock in the morning, yielded life to nature, and her kingdom to Queen Elizabeth her sister.  As touching the manner of whose death, some say that she died of a tympany, some (by her much sighing before her death) supposed she died of thought and sorrow.  Whereupon her council, seeing her sighing, and desirous to know the cause, to the end they might minister the more ready consolation unto her, feared, as they said, that she took that thought for the king’s Majesty her husband, which was gone from her.  To whom she answering again, ‘Indeed,’ said she, ‘that may be one cause, but that is not the greatest wound that pierceth my oppressed mind:’ but what that was, she would not express to them.  Albeit, afterward, she opened the matter more plainly to Master Rise and Mistress Clarencius (if it be true that they told me, which heard it of Master Rise himself); who then, being most familiar with her, and most bold about her, told her, that they feared she took thought for King Philip’s departing from her. ‘Not that only,’ said she, ‘but when I am dead and opened, you shall find Calais lying in my heart.’  And here an end of Queen Mary” (Foxe 330).

John_Foxe
John Foxe

While Philip, the historic records shows, was courteous and gentlemanly toward her, affection did not seem to run too deep.  In the midst of a business letter to his sister, Joanna of Austria, Princess Dowager of Portugal, Regent of Spain, Philip announced the death of his wife, Queen Mary concluding, “I felt a reasonable regret for her death” (Tyler November 1558 502).  Maybe he was ‘made out of iron and stone.’

For references, please refer to the blog entry “Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd: Part I.”

Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd: Part II

Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd: Part II

To understand the relationship between Elizabeth Regina and Philip II, a study must be made of the events of their association and the outcomes.  These include two attempts to place Elizabeth on the throne during Mary’s reign; the role Philip played in how Elizabeth was treated in the aftermath of each rebellion; and Mary’s view of her sister’s place in the succession.

Wyatt Rebellion, 1554
Sir Thomas Wyatt was the leader of a rebellion instigated in early 1554 by Mary’s proposed marriage to Philip of Spain.  Once she became queen, Mary repealed the act which declared her parents’ marriage invalid and herself illegitimate.  She was, as queen, a highly eligible match even though she was 37, certainly middle-aged in that era.  She assured Charles V she would be guided by him in her selection of husband, and low and behold his son, Philip, a widower at 26, was the most eligible prince in Catholic Europe.  Mary was determined to marry him.

thomas wyatt
Sir Thomas Wyatt

The Wyatt Rebellion caused her to take decisive action.  She went to the Guildhall and gave a speech to the populace assuring them that she married Philip only with the consent of her councilors and that she was firstly married to her kingdom.

Wyatt did enter London; Mary sent her troops after him.  She did not flee and, while she was praying for her country’s safety, Wyatt was captured.  The rebel said he took action being “persuaded, that by the marriage of the Prince of Spain, the second person of this realm, and next heir to the crown, should have been in danger; and I, being a free-born man, should, with my country, have been brought into bondage and servitude of aliens and strangers” (Strype 132).  Rebellion was saving England from the Catholic scourge by ‘the second person of this realm.’  Thus, Elizabeth was implicated although Wyatt never named her during his interrogations or on the scaffold.  Elizabeth was sent to the Tower for two months where she was held prisoner, questioned and intimidated.     

bloody mary     elizabeth 1 by scrouts
  Mary I                                           Princess Elizabeth 

Simon Renard, Ambassador to Spain, wrote to his sovereign, Charles V, 22 March 1554 that there was disagreement in the Council when “it was proposed to throw the Lady Elizabeth into the Tower, the Council expressed a wish to know exactly the reason, and the upshot was that the heretics combined against the Chancellor, and stuck to it that the law of England would not allow of such a measure because there was not sufficient evidence against her, that her rank must be considered and that she might perfectly well be confined elsewhere than in the Tower.”  Renard relayed that no one would “accept the responsibility of taking custody of her.”  Because of the councilors shying away from taking charge of Elizabeth, they “decided to conduct her to the Tower last Saturday, by river and not through the streets; but it did not happen that day, because when the tide was rising Elizabeth prayed to be allowed to speak to the Queen, saying the order could not have been given with her knowledge, but merely proceeded from the Chancellor’s hatred of her. If she could not speak to the Queen, she begged to be allowed to write to her. This was granted, and while she was writing the tide rose so high that it was no longer possible to pass under London bridge, and they had to wait till the morrow” (Tyler XII March).

Simon_Renard    charles v
  Simon Renard                                    A Youthful Charles V

Elizabeth had achieved her purposes: she had postponed her imprisonment in the Tower and had written to her sister.  This letter of March 16, 1554, one of Elizabeth’s most famous, was a marvel how she handled her sister and logically argued her innocence while writing under distressing circumstances. 

Elizabeth beseeched Mary to remember her agreement to Elizabeth’s request “That I be not condemned without answer and due proof.” Elizabeth wanted her sister to know that “I am by your Council from you commanded to go unto the Tower, a place more wonted for a false traitor than a true subject.”  Although she bravely declared that she will go and be proved innocent, she pledged to her sister “I protest afore God that I never practiced, counseled, nor consented to anything that might be prejudicial to your person any way or dangerous to the state by any mean.”  Elizabeth appealed for an opportunity to meet with the Queen to tell her in person of her innocence and asked her sister to pardon her boldness, excusing her actions “which innocency procures me to do, together with the hope of your natural kindness.…”  The evidence of a letter written by Wyatt is addressed by logically stating “he might peradventure write me a letter, but on my faith I never received any from him.”  Elizabeth completed the letter by making diagonal lines across the bottom so that nothing could be inserted and signed herself “Your highness’ most faithful subject that hath been from the beginning and will be to my end, Elizabeth”   (Marcus 41-42). 

diagonal letters 001
   The letter Elizabeth wrote to Mary in March of 1554

Her collaboration in the rebellion was never proven.  Renard suggests that Gardiner “held documentary evidence of her [Elizabeth’s] active interest in the plot, but that he destroyed this because it also involved young Courtenay” (Queen Elizabeth 110).  Not having direct proof of her sister’s guilt, Mary was reluctant to condemn Elizabeth and so  released her to house arrest.  John Foxe informed “The xix daye of Maye, the Ladye Elizabeth, Sister to the Queene, was brought oute of the Tower, and committed to the kepyng of Syr Henry Benifielde… shewed himself more harde and strayte unto her, then eyther cause was geven of her parte, or reason of his owne parte.”  Foxe showed the surprise not in Bedingfield’s  bad treatment but in the benevolence shown by Elizabeth once she came to the throne.  Praising her for not taking revenge as other monarchs “oftentimes requited lesse offences with losse of life,” Foxe explained that Elizabeth did not deprive Bedingfield of his liberty “save only that he was restrained  for not comming to the court” (Foxe V 1072).

StephenGardiner    John_Foxe
  Stephen Gardiner                                               John Foxe

When she was released from Woodstock, it was to come to Court to witness the birth of Mary’s heir.  Sources differ on when Mary’s pregnancy was officially announced with some historians, such as Jasper Ridley, claiming it was in the spring of 1555 while we have an official document from January.  The Doge Francesco Venier of Venice did send his Ambassador Giovanni Michiel instructions 5 January 1555 to congratulate the King and Queen on the “certainty now obtained of the Queen giving an heir to the realm” (Brown VI January 5).  Further exclamations were extended for this “auspicious and desired event” concluding this was a “great gift conferred on the whole of Christendom” (Brown VI January  6). 

venier doge
Francesco Venier, Doge of Venice

Regardless of when it was officially announced, the impending event did affect Elizabeth.  On 29 April 1555, Michiel reported to the Doge, “that day or on the morrow Elizabeth Tudor was to arrive at Hampton Court from Woodstock.” Then on the 6th of May he informed the Venetian officials that when Elizabeth “appeared she was neither met nor received by anyone, but was placed in the apartment lately inhabited by the Duke of Alva, where she lives in retirement, not having been seen by any one, save once or twice by their Majesties, by private stairs” (Brown VIPreface 16).  

Elizabeth was housed with a “certain Sir Thomas Pope, a rich and grave gentleman, of good name, both for conduct and religion; the Queen having appointed him Miladi’s governor. I am told …they also assigned her a widow gentlewoman, as governess, in lieu of her own who is a prisoner, she herself likewise may be also said to be in ward and custody, though in such decorous and honourable form as becoming” (Brown VI June 514). No ifs, ands or buts about it, Elizabeth was still under house arrest.   Elizabeth’s release is credited to Philip’s influence on Mary.  Philip realized without an heir born of Mary, Elizabeth would be the successor.  To preserve Hapsburg interests, Philip realized Elizabeth had to be married to a Catholic prince: the intended bridegroom was Emmanuel Philibert, Prince of Piedmont and titular Duke of Savoy. 

Philip had plans for Elizabeth.  Antoine de Noailles wrote to the Queen-Dowager of Scotland in September 1555 informing her of Elizabeth’s popularity and the fact that “his Grace, the said Lord King, has shown a friendly disposition for her, and he has written several letters to the Queen, his wife, commending the Princess to her care”  (Queen Elizabeth I 200).

Dudley Conspiracy, Late 1555 -1556

Another rebellion against the reign of Queen Mary began in December 1555.  In a letter to Sir William Petre, Secretary of State, dated January 21, 1556, Nicholas Wotton, Dean of Canterbury and English Ambassador to France, wrote of information he had gleaned from an informant.  There was a “plot against the Queen which he said was devised by some of the best in England, and so many were agreed thereupon that it was impossible but that it must take effect; that the matter had been in hand about a year ago.”  The conspirators’ intentions were not to kill her Majesty “but to deprive her of her estate…” Wotton “did not think it necessary to write thereof to her Majesty lest she might suddenly be troubled with it, and conceive some greater fear of it than were good for her to do.”  Petre was to inform the Queen when “it shall not disquiet her Majesty” (Turnbull 285-286).  Mary was disquieted though and fearful for her life. 

WilliamPetre       Nicholas_Wotton
    Sir William Petre                            Nicholas Wotton, Dean of Canterbury

Called the Dudley Conspiracy for the main instigator, Sir Henry Dudley (a distant relative to John Dudley, the executed Duke of Northumberland and Robert Dudley, the future favorite of Elizabeth), its purpose became clearer as the investigation continued.   Mary and Philip were to be deposed and replaced by Elizabeth with her consort being Edward Courtenay. 

Imprisoned during the time of Henry VIII, Courtenay spent 15 years in confinement.  Released upon Mary’s ascension to the throne, he was created 1st Earl of Devon and sent on several diplomatic missions.  His hopes of marriage to Mary fell flat when she espoused Philip.  Courtenay then turned his attention to Elizabeth obviously seeing marriage as his way to the throne.  After serving more time in the Tower for the Wyatt Rebellion, the Earl of Devon was exiled to Europe until his death in September of 1556.  He found acceptance in Venice where he became the focal point for further conspiracies such as the Dudley Rebellion.

EdwardCourtenayD1556
Edward Courtenay, 1st Earl of Devon

Several prominent supporters of the rebellion were Lord Thomas Howard, Sir Peter Killigrew, Henry Peckham and several members of the Throckmorton clan.  One cannot underestimate the organization of Dudley and his fellow conspirators.  They raised money, attempted to gain powerful allies such as the King of France and landed gentry, approached Courtenay and saturated England with anti-Catholic and anti-Spanish writings. It was subversive writings such as these that were found in the London residence of Kat Ashley, governess to Princess Elizabeth. 

Giovanni Michiel, Ambassador to England for Venice kept the Doge and the Venetian Senate informed of what was occurring.  Michiel reported on 2 June, “The number of persons imprisoned increases daily… Mistress [Katharine] Ashley was taken thither [to the Tower], she being the chief governess of Miladi Elizabeth, the arrest, together with that of three other domestics, having taken place in the country, 18 [Venetian] miles hence, even in the aforesaid Miladi’s own house [Hatfield], and where she at present resides, which has caused great general vexation.  I am told that they have all already confessed to having known about the conspiracy; so not having revealed it, were there nothing else against them, they may probably not quit the Tower alive, this alone subjecting them to capital punishment. This governess was also found in possession of those writings and scandalous books against the religion and against the King and Queen which were scattered about some months ago, and published all over the kingdom” (Brown VIJune 505).

katahsley
Kat Ashley

People close to Elizabeth knew about the plot — that has been well established.  How involved was Elizabeth? The only written link between her and the rebels occurred in February 1556 when Anne, Duke de Montmorency, Constable of France wrote to the French Ambassador, Antoine de Noailles that “above all restrain Madame Elizabeth from stirring at all in the affair of which you have written to me, for that would be to ruin everything” (Queen Elizabeth I 203).  Can this letter be seen as proof of Elizabeth’s willing cooperation with the Dudley plot?  Although it is damaging, it is not conclusive.  This could be a misinterpretation of information gathered by the Constable or wishful thinking. 

Constable of France
Anne, Duke de Montmorency, Constable of France

Noailles and King Henri II were implicated in the Dudley plot.  Because the international diplomatic scene had changed with the Vaucelles truce, Henri did not want to antagonize Charles and Philip so he “advised the conspirators to defer the execution of their plans” which they ignored (Acton 544).  The success of the plot depended on too many people and too many variables (this blog will not relay the details there are many sources available including contemporary diplomatic dispatches in the Calendar of State Papers-Venice Volume VI).  A conspirator, Thomas White, on staff at the Royal Exchequer was to ensure the robbery of funds to finance the conspiracy (Whitelock Mary Tudor 303).  Ambassador Michiel wondered if White came forward “either from hope of reward, or to exculpate himself… revealed the plot to Cardinal Pole” (Brown VI March 5 434).  White was rewarded as shown in the Originalia Roll (the fine roll sent to the Exchequer) for Mary and Philip because “of good and faithful service by our beloved servant, Thomas White, gentleman, in the late conspiracy against us, our crown and dignity attempted not long since by Henry Dudley and his accomplices” (Thoroton Society 52).  A known conspirator rewarded: what of Elizabeth? 

henri ii
King Henri II of France

Convinced that Elizabeth was aware of the plot, Mary sent her trusted courtier, Francesco Piamontese, to Brussels to consult with Philip on how to handle the situation.  Venetian Ambassador Michiel went further to explain that this issue was very sensitive because of Kat Ashley’s involvement “by reason of her grade with the “Signora,” who is held in universal esteem and consideration” (Brown VI June 505).  So not only is a trusted servant of Elizabeth’s in possession of seditious materials, it appears to be universally acknowledged that Elizabeth is very popular. Would it be wise to move against her too aggressively?  A tricky situation for Mary.

In June Michiel wrote to his superiors in Venice, “Finally, at the very hour when persons were departing, her chamberlain and the courier Francesco Piamontese returned” from Brussels to the Queen’s relief.  “As for many months the Queen has passed from one sorrow to another” (Brown VI June 525). 

So what was to become of Elizabeth?  What guidance had Philip given his wife concerning the suspicions of her sister?  What Mary received was pro-Hapsburgian advice. Despite Michiel’s predicitons, none of Elizabeth’s household members were executed nor was she punished. Although there was strong evidence that those around her were involved in treasonous activities (Kat Ashley being in posession of the seditious materials was enough cause for punishment beyond time in the Tower) and questions concerning what Elizabeth knew, any action against her would threaten her succession.  “There is little doubt that it was the King’s influence which prevented Elizabeth herself from being again arrested on this occasion and sent to the Tower with the four other members of her household.  It is difficult otherwise to account for Mary’s leniency” (Queen Elizabeth I 209).

tower of london
Tower of London

Hapsburg interests demanded that Elizabeth be heir to the throne of England over Mary, Queen of Scots.  Mary had the surest position of inheritance after Elizabeth and as the fiancé of the dauphin of France, could unite Scottish, French and English dominions and interests which would threaten the power of Spain. Hapsburg interests prevailed.  “Piamontese returned to London with an unequivocal message from the king: no further inquiries should be made into Elizabeth’s guilt, nor any suggestion made that her servants had been implicated in the plot with her authority” (Whitlock 307).  Philip was more than willing to be lenient with Elizabeth.  By 1556 few people believed that Mary would produce an heir and looked toward Elizabeth to be the next queen.  It probably was wise on the part of the councilors not to antagonize Elizabeth.  She was considered the preferred heir, and her smooth succession could halt potential civil conflict or French interference to place Mary Stuart on the throne—both good enough reasons to leave well-enough alone.

So, astoundingly, Elizabeth remained free.  Protestations of ignorance about her household’s activities were enough.  Mary probably did not believe her but allowed the stories that Elizabeth’s name had been used without authority to be circulated.  This blogger cannot help but feel for the position in which Mary was placed.  Her motto, ‘Truth, Daughter of Time,’ seemed to be jeopardized as she did her husband’s bidding; although, with most of Mary’s submissiveness it was up to a point. 

According to Michiel, in June of 1556 Mary sent two of her gentlemen, Sir Henry Hastings, and Sir H. Francis Englefield, to Elizabeth with a “message of good will…with a ring worth 400 ducats, and also to give her minute account of the cause of their arrest, to aquaint her with what they had hitherto deposed and confesssed, and to persaude her not to take amiss the removal from about her persons of similar folds, who subjected her to the danger of some evil suspicion; assuring her of the Queen’s good will and disposiiton, provided she continue to live becomingly, to Her Majesty’s liking.  Using in short loving and gracious expressions, to show her that she is neither neglected nor hated, but loved and esteemed by Her Majesty.  This message is considered most gracious by the whole kindom, everybody in general wishing her all ease and honour, and very greatly regretting any trouble she may incure; the proceeding having been not only necessary but profitable, to warn her of the licentious life led, especially in matters of religion, by her household” (Queen Elizabeth I 210).

henry hastings
  Henry Hastings 

Ambassador Michiel let on that Elizabeth’s household would be made up of persons the Queen believed to better serve her.  It is assumed Mary thought her sister guilty and urged Elizabeth “to keep so much the more to her duty, and together with her attendants behave the more cautiously” (Queen Elizabeth I 210).

Mary feigned that she believed Elizabeth had been in danger of “being thus clandestinely exposed to the manifest risk of infamy and ruin.” So, the solution was for the Queen to remodel Elizabeth’s household “in another form, and with a different sort of persons to those now in her service, replacing them by such as are entirely dependent on her Majesty; so that as her own proceedings and those of all such persons as enter or quit her abode will be most narrowly scanned” (Brown VIJune 505).

Assigned to Elizabeth’s household was “Sir Thomas Pope, a rich and grave gentleman, of good name, both for conduct and religion; the Queen having appointed him Miladi’s governor, and she having accepted him willingly, although he himself did his utmost to decline such a charge. I am told that besides this person, they also assigned her a widow gentlewoman, as governess, in lieu of her own who is a prisoner, so that at present having none but the Queen’s dependents about her person, she herself likewise may be also said to be in ward and custody, though in such decorous and honourable form as becoming” (Brown VI June 514). 

tpope
  Sir Thomas Pope

Pope was commissioned by Mary’s Council in July of 1556 to keep Elizabeth informed of the activities confessed by the Dudley conspirators “how little these men stick, by falsehood, and untruth, to compass their purpose; not letting, for that intent, to abuse the name of her Grace, or any others” (Queen Elizabeth I 213). 

Elizabeth did write to the Queen in careful phraseology about the information she had received from Pope.  “Of this I assure your majesty, though it be my part above the rest to bewail such things though my name had not been in them, yet it vexeth me too much …as to put me in any part of his [the devil] mischievous instigations.  And like as I have been your faithful subject from the beginning of your reign, so shall no wicked persons cause me to change to the end of my life.  And thus I commit your majesty to God’s tuition, whom I beseech long time to preserve … from Hatfield this present Sunday, the second day of August. Your majesty’s obedient subject and humble sister, Elizabeth” (Marcus 43-44).

For references, please refer to the blog entry “Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd: Part I.”