Path to St. Peter ad Vincula Part VII – F

Path to St. Peter ad Vincula Part VII – F

The fall of Anne Boleyn will never be fully understood or explained. Her descent  appears to have happened so quickly as to baffle scholars and lay-people alike.  Most likely it was the result of many factors that came to head all at once: the revenge of Cromwell for past slights, the political situation — both domestic and international — the religious circumstances and the disillusionment of King Henry.

Henry’s role in Anne’s demise, often described as that of an innocent victim–a righteous man who, when presented with the facts of his adulterous wife, follows the letter of the law and allows officialdom to prosecute her as appropriate. Rumors spread that there were spies in her household and that “the King hates the Queen, because she has not presented him with an heir to the realm, nor was there any prospect of her so doing” (Stevenson 1312).  Henry, frustrated by a politically active, argumentative wife, saw Anne’s demise as the only way out.  Divorce was not enough, nor was execution.  Henry’s rage required both punishments inflicted on Anne along with the defamation of her character.

henry viii younger
King Henry VIII

No rumor was considered too fanciful to believe.  Stories circulated that the honor Anne had acquired to join the royal court in France stemmed from the fact that at “fifteen she sinned first with her father’s butler, and then with his chaplain, and forthwith was sent to France” (Sander 25).  While in France, Anne was supposed to have been the lover of many couriers and “her conversation hath been so loose and base” (Harpsfield 253) and her behavior “so rank and common” (Friedmann 298) that understandably she was “audacious and licentious in the prosecution of her detestable and abominable vices” (Gairdner X 54).

There was no end to the implied and declared evils of Anne by the Spanish Ambassador, Eustace Chapuys.  He claimed her to be a seductress and murderess, “whose importunate and malignant cravings are well known” (de Gayangos 1133).  Convinced that Anne would try to poison Queen Katherine and Princess Mary, Chapuys reported that although the “Queen has no fears, but is marvelously concerned for the Princess” (Gairdner VI 351). Added to the speculation that Anne tried to murder members of the royal family, there was laid the charge of her role in the deaths of public figures.  Bishop Fisher of Rochester and Sir Thomas More were “both inscribed on the black-list of the revengeful mistress, who never rested from her ill offices toward them, until their heads had fallen” (Herbert, Henry 171).

“Yet did not our King love her at first”(Herbert, Edward 285).  Although Henry was touted as a hero of the Protestant cause and liberator of the English peoples, he also was blamed for how he “stained the purity of his action by intermingling with it a weak passion for a foolish and bad woman, and bitterly he had to suffer for his mistake” (Froude 324).  “A long catalog of misdeeds had been registered…”  It was puzzling to many that Henry did not realize Anne had “worn a mask so long” and never gave Henry “occasion for dissatisfaction.  Incidents must have occurred in the details of daily life, if not to rouse his suspicions, yet to have let him see that the woman for whom he had fought so fierce a battle had never been worthy what she had cost him”  (Froude 402).

Anne Boleyn Hever
Anne Boleyn 

These sentiments are very different from when Anne was at her heyday; yet, all was not as it seemed as observed by Jean du Bellay, Bishop of Bayonne, Ambassador from France on December 9, 1528.  “I see they mean to accustom the people by degrees to endure her, so that when the great blow comes it may not be thought strange. However, the people remain quite hardened, and I think they would do more if they had more power; but great order is continually taken” (Brewer IV 5016).

Hence a severe ordinance was issued “against any that spoke ill of her; which shut people’s mouths when they knew what ought not to be concealed.”  Anne could do as she pleased and “if perhaps taken with the love of some favored person, she could treat her friends according to her pleasure, owing to the ordinance. But that law could not secure to her lasting friendships, and the King daily cooled in his affection” (Gairdner X 1036).  Therefore, with the King’s new policies and his actions, such as the execution of More, causing so much hostility toward Anne Boleyn, the Crown’s agents were kept busy trying to preserve public order and ensure the people would accept the new edicts.  Records show several examples of the investigations into many reported violations.  Although the punishments are not always documented, below are brief summaries of some of the charges against those of all stations of life.

In April of 1532 Charles Brandon’s kinsman, William Peninthum was assaulted and killed by the men in the service of the Duke of Norfolk.  When Thomas Cromwell investigated it came to light that the root of the trouble came from “opprobrious language uttered against Madam Anne by his Majesty’s sister, the Duchess of Suffolk, Queen Dowager of France” (Brown IV 761).

Suffolks
Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk and Mary, Dowager Queen of France, Duchess of Suffolk.

Edward Earl of Derby and Sir Henry Farington wrote a letter to Henry VIII concerning the widespread discontent over his marriage to Anne Boleyn.  The men informed Henry that they felt compelled to send a letter of the examinations they had made of various witnesses because of “the discharge of our duties” (Ellis 42).  Sir Edward and Sir Farington “perceyve your graces pleasor is that a lewde and noghty priest inhabytyng in thise partyes, who hathe of late reported and spoken befor and in the audyence of certeyn persons sundry and diverse unfyttyng and sklaunderous words, aswell by your Highnes as by the Quenes grace” (Ellis 42).  They assured Henry that they “have called befor us suche persons whose names and dsposicions hereafter do enue; and the same persons did examyn upon ther othes at Ley in the Countie of Lancaster” (Ellis 43).

In 1533 a Warwickshire priest called Anne “a harlot and maintainer of heretics” and expressed the hope that “she would be burned at Smithfield” (Haigh 141).

Evidently, in Lancashire, when Sir Richard Clerke, a vicar at Leigh, read out the proclamation declaring Katherine of Aragon as Princess Dowager, “Sir Jamys Harrison priest hering the said proclamacion, said that Quene Katharyn was Quene, And that Nan Bullen whuld not be Quene, nor the King to be no King but on his bering” (Ellis 43).  Substantiated by many witnesses, a more strongly worded exclamation was related that “Sir Jamys said I will take non for Quene but Quene Katharin; who the devell made Nan Bullen that hoore Quene, for I will never take her for Quene, and the King on his bering” (Ellis 44).

Katherine-of-aragon
Katharine of Aragon 

A scuffle between an ostler of the White Horse in Cambridge with a customer, Henry Kilby, in May of 1534 did not go unnoticed by the authorities.  During a discussion over the religious changes occurring in the country, the inn worker declared that “this business had never been if the king had not married Anne Boleyn” (Wilson).  He was duly reported after blows were exchanged between the two men.

Sir Walter Stonor described, in a letter to Master Secretary Cromwell, the affidavit presented by John Dawson of Watlyngton in June of 1534.  Dawson and a William Goode, the constable, documented a conversation which took place between Mrs. Burgyn of Watlington in Oxfordshire and her midwife, Joan Hammulden.  It was alleged that while in labor Burgyn praised Hammulden by saying that “for her honesty and cunning … she might be midwife to the Queen of England, if it were Queen Catherine, and if it were Queen Anne she was too good to be her midwife, for she was a whore and a harlot for her living” (Elton 279).  Mrs. Burgyn counter claimed that Joan replied that “it was never merry in England since there was three queens in it and …there would be fewer shortly” (Gairdner VII 840).

On 20 August 1535, the high constable of South Brent, John Gillinge, and John Buckett informed Thomas Clerk and William Vowell that “David Leonard, hooper, an Irishman, had said, ‘God save king Henry and queen Katharine his wedded wife, and Anne at his pleasure, for whom all England shall rue” (Gairdner IX 136).

In 1535, Margaret Chaunseler (of Suffolk) earned notoriety by calling Queen Anne “a goggle-eyed whore” (Elton 137) and a lay brother of Roche Abbey thought that Anne was not the queen but ‘Anne the bawd’ (Haigh 141).

roche abbey
Roche Abbey Ruins

No slander was deemed too outrageous to be believed. As Chapuys succinctly said to his emperor, “These things are monstrous and difficult to believe yet, the obstinacy of the King and malice of this cursed woman everything may be apprehended” (Gairdner VII 726).  While not prosecuted in any way, Eustace Chapuys continued his diplomatic campaigned against Anne.  In May 1536, he wrote to Monseigneur de Granvelle describing Anne as “the English Messalina, or Agrippina” (Gairdner X 54). For an interesting article on Agrippina see Romm, James. “The Woman Who Would Rule Rome.” History Today 64.4 (2014): 10-16. Print.  Meanwhile, all the time Anne was being protected against these raucous mutterings, her descent was in progress.  Many at Court were watching and waiting.

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

 

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The Lion’s Grandcub: Conclusion

The Lion’s Grandcub: Conclusion:

Personalities
This blog has discussed in several entries the initial proposal that Henry VII and Elizabeth I were the Tudors who most closely resembled each other.  Discussions included many aspects: their physical appearance, their internships, their manner of rule and their basic accomplishments.

Similarities between Henry VII and Elizabeth Regina are easiest at the superficial level of their appearance.  Obviously, they were described at various times of their lives by numerous people (some perhaps being less subjective than others).  Their physiques were tall, slender, and strong.  Their features were narrow, high-browed, with prominent cheek bones and pale complexions.  For detailed descriptions of both Henry VII and Elizabeth Regina, based on primary sources, consult https://elizregina.com/2013/01/ the blog entry “Eat, Drink and Be Moderate”.

henry 7                 e1 like h7

Character sketches also invoke parallels.  Polydore Vergil’s description of Henry VII could easily be applied to his granddaughter.  Using words such as distinguished, wise, prudent, brave, shrewd, intelligent, and gracious along with praising a “pertinacious memory” (Vergilus 143-147).

Alison Weir’s description of Elizabeth could easily be applied to her grandfather.  Using words such as tenacity, cautious, realism, dissemble, parsimonious, dithering, and devious along with describing a “subtle brain” (Weir 17).

We know that like Henry VII whose speech was “gracious in diverse languages,” his “counseyelles fortunate and taken by wyse delyberacyon” and his “wytte always quycke and redy,” Elizabeth was also praised for her skill at languages, her wise counsel and quick wit (Fisher 269).

Lovers of Peace Not War
Throughout each of their reigns the negotiations undertaken by Henry and Elizabeth on the international level proved what lengths they would go to preserve peace.  Henry VII nor his granddaughter relished the cost of war in lives and money.  Gairdner declared that Henry made overtures to war only when it was “really forced upon him by the necessities of his position” (Gairdner 214).

Bacon was a bit more cynical and believed that Henry VII used “a noise of war” to gain funding from Parliament and so that a peace “might coffer up” (Bacon The Major Works 45).  It was the reality, “by refraining from war he ended solvent…”  (Loades 8).

francis bacon 
Sir Francis Bacon

He knew that “the way to peace was not to seem to be desirous to avoid wars: therefore would he make offers and fames of wars, till he had mended the conditions of peace” (Bacon and Lumby 212).  Henry called Parliament together to approve war with France, yet “in his secret intentions he had no purpose to go through with any war” (Bacon and Lumby 91).  For this he was praised at the end of his life for spending “many a day in pease and tranquyllyte” (Fisher 269).

Elizabeth is treated a bit more harshly by the historian James Anthony Froude.  He theorized that during the Scottish Rebellion if Elizabeth I had committed troops and money earlier thousands of lives and pounds would have been saved.  Rather than formulate an aggressive foreign policy to handle the international elements of this issue “she gravitated towards … peace” (Froude 409). “It was like dancing a tight rope.  Her movements may have been extremely clever, but they were also extremely dangerous” (Froude 443-444).

When peace negotiations did not work, both rulers turned to marriage alliances.  As a way to establish the legitimacy of their rule there was no faster way than to have a powerful, established foreign power seriously consider such a match with the Tudor Dynasty.  Weddings were far cheaper than wars.

Their preference for peace could have been their natural dispositions or political clemency. As seen in their handling of insurgents (Perkin Warbeck and Mary, Queen of Scots) both Henry VII and Elizabeth I were reluctant to execute.  Unless the security of the realm dictated otherwise, punishments were imprisonment, loss of lands and fines.

Perkin warbeck       mary scots
Perkin Warbeck                                      Mary, Queen of Scots

Renaissance Princes
Henry had reason to bolster the legitimacy of his claim to the English throne and Elizabeth had reason to bolster her right to the throne being declared an illegitimate child and as an unmarried woman.  Surprisingly one way these two rulers intended to establish the Tudor Dynastic legitimacy was through patronage of the arts.

“Henry assembled an impressive array of scholars and notables at his court, favouring the foreign-born rather than the native English” (Tucker 327).

“The King’s passion for music, court revels, sport, foreign scholarship, and more lowly amusements, reveals a keen interest in life and in the new intellectual currents which were transforming the Continent” (Tucker 331).  Consequently, many Continental elements “evolved to a distinct English form” and were manifested in the marriage celebrations of Arthur, Prince of Wales and Katherine of Aragon in 1501 (White 141).

Arthur_Prince_of_Wales            Katherine-of-aragon
Arthur, Prince of Wales                              Katherine of Aragon

Gordon Kipling persuades us that Henry VII felt compelled to display the “magnificence of his royal household and regime through calculated patronage of literature, drama, painting, music, glasswork, tapestry, and every aspect of cultural life…. Henry’s patronage …has been consistently undervalued” (White 141).

Henry employed humanistic tutors for his children.  The men at Oxford that Erasmus praised “were in the vanguard of the English humanists who were reforming education at both the secondary and university level” (Tucker 329).

erasmus1         oxforduniversity
Erasmus                                         Modern view of Oxford University

Royal daughters as well as royal sons were educated and we saw that carried through to Elizabeth’s own education. Here we must give her father, Henry VIII, and her mother, Anne Boleyn, credit for continuing Henry VII’s interests in classics, foreign languages, religion, art, music, dance and deportment.

H8 AB
Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn

While Henry can be credited with adding the secular classical themes of the Franco-Burgundian Court to England which encouraged alternative cultural elements, Elizabeth added national days, such as Accession Day, rather than religious days to the calendar which encouraged the Renaissance to take firm hold during her reign (Loades 71).

Jan van Dorsten argues that in Elizabethan England “patronage had declined to a very low ebb by the beginning of Elizabeth’s reign” which was certainly reversed by the end of her rule as “the use of patronage to secure political ends by Elizabeth’s courtiers was still intense in a political context”  (White 140).  Elizabeth’s Court is famous for patronizing troupes of actors, yet recognition as the first sovereign to sponsor troupes of dramatic players goes to Henry VII.

henry7manuscript2
Henry VII being presented with a manuscript on astrology

Lord Chamerlain's Men
The Lord Chamberlain’s Men, sponsored by the Lords Hunsdon until King James I took over patronage.

Elizabeth became the subject of many artists’ work from portraits, sonnets and famously, The Faerie Queene.  Decades earlier, Henry was compared to the legendary Hercules by Bernard Andre in the poem, Les Douze Triomphes de Henry VII (Tucker 328).

Andre became a tutor for Prince Arthur making true Gordon Kipling’s observation that “Artists in his [Henry VII’s] service became servants in his household…his artists were expected to enhance his estate through their poetry, pageantry, and paintings” (White 140).

Circumstances of Childhoods
Without getting into the ‘nature v. nurture’ debate, one must acknowledge that hereditary traits, physiological and psychological, are present in family members even when the people are not in close proximity (or one has died before the birth of descendants).  Also circumstances of a childhood can greatly effect a person.

The upbringings of Henry VII and Elizabeth I (discussed in earlier blogs, “Fate is Remarkable’ and “Persona Non Grata” at www.elizregina.com) taught them to be cautious.  “Always guarded in his dealings with others” (Jones 75), Henry’s caution came via military experience and living as a prisoner and political exile for most of his early life.  Elizabeth learned early to “keep her own counsel, control her emotions, and to behave circumspectly in public… ” (Weir 17).

Neither Henry nor Elizabeth was kept in the English public’s eye, so to speak, yet both managed to gain widespread support.  Henry, living away from England, lost familiarity with English politics.  Why so popular?  Was it his appeal or were people tired of war?

Elizabeth could have been seen as the calming answer to the religious upheaval from Queen Mary’s reign.  Regardless of why, somehow Henry and Elizabeth managed to convey a belief that they had the good of the people at heart.  It worked.  Years later Elizabeth would exclaim “I care not for myself; my life is not dear to me.  My care is for my people” (Elizabeth I).

While Henry learned his statecraft through the observations of Louis XI, The Spider, Elizabeth learned from William Cecil.  Henry’s policies of taxation and financial extractions, plus his use of men from the mercantile class as advisors and intelligence agents throughout his reign, came straight from ‘The Spider’ (Wilson 15).  Elizabeth adopted most of these ideas in a broad sense.  When she learned from William Lambarde, The Keeper of the Records at the Tower of London, about money lent to subjects for bond repayment, she exclaimed, “So did my good grandfather King Henry VII, sparing to dissipate his treasure or lands” (Rowse 56).

Louis Spider King            William Lambarde
Louis XI, The Spider               William Lambarde

Quotation of Psalms
Their religious and Latin studies emerged in a simplistic way as both quoted psalms at the crucial time of their rise to power.  When Henry landed on English soil he reportedly quoted Psalm 43:1, Judica me, Deus, et discerne causam meam de gente non sancta: ab homine iniquo et doloso erue me. Do me justice, O God, and fight my fight against an unholy people, rescue me from the wicked and deceitful man (Temperley 16).

Elizabeth is said to have whispered from Psalm 118:23 what she truly must have felt, “A Domino factum est istud et est mirabile in oculis nostris.” This is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes.

e1 at prayer
Elizabeth Regina at prayer

Big Picture, Small Details
Having a strong general background on the lives of Henry VII and Queen Elizabeth this blogger decided on the topic series, The Lion’s Grandcub.  Comparing the two opened up avenues of study previously unexplored.  So many things were learned, so many more questions raised, so many hours diverted from other topics—what bliss for an amateur historian.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was the discovery of so many sources available digitally and in translation.  Of course, many primary sources are not objective and history tends to revise its opinion on past figures.  Regardless, research eventually taps all available resources and the historian, left to the mercy of said sources, is stopped.  That was not the case here. Instead this blogger had to restrain herself and resist continued inquiry into these fascinating characters of Henry VII and Elizabeth I.

Both sovereigns were intelligent, tenacious, independent, and dedicated. They strengthened the country through their appointment of capable advisors, promotion of the arts, fiscal policies and adherence to peace at home and abroad.  How easy to admire them as exceptional rulers in exceptional times.

Although this series is completed, this blogger is eagerly anticipating dealing with other topics concerning Elizabeth Regina.

References

Bacon, Francis.  The Major Works.  Ed. Brian Vickers. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.  Google Books. Web. 9 Mar. 2013.

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

Carpenter, Christine. The Wars of the Roses: Politics and the Constitution in England, C. 1437-1509. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997. Google Books. Web. 21 Apr. 2013.

Elizabeth I. ed. Chamberlain, Frederick.  The Sayings of Queen Elizabeth I.  Londo:  Dodd, Mead & Company: New York, 1923.  Google Books.  Web.  11 Mar. 2013

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

Froude, James Anthony. History of England from the Fall of Wolsey to the Defeat of the Spanish Armada. London: Longman, Green, 1908. Google Books. Web. 10 Mar. 2013. 

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

Gairdner, James. Henry the Seventh,. London: Macmillan, 1889. Google Books. Web. 26 Nov. 2012.

The History of the Life and Reign of That Excellent Princess Queen Elizabeth from Her Birth to Her Death: As Also the Trial, Sufferings, and Death of Mary Queen of Scots. With the Whole Proceedings of the Divorce of King Henry VIII. from Queen Catherine; His Marriage with the Lady Anne Bullen, and the Cause of Her Unfortunate Death on the Scaffold. London: Printed, and Sold by the sellers in Town and Country, 1739. Google Books. Web. 9 Mar. 2013.

Jones, Michael K. and Malcolm G. Underwood.  The King’s Mother: Lady Margaret

Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby. New York: Cambridge University Press. 1992. Print.

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

Rowse, A. L. The England of Elizabeth; the Structure of Society. New York: Macmillan, 1951. Google Books. Web. 20 Feb. 2013.

Temperley, Gladys. Henry 7. London: Constable, 1917. Google Books. Web. 20 Feb. 2013.

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

Thomas, Heather, M.Phil. “Elizabeth R.” Elizabeth I’s Pastimes. Self-Published, 27 Sept. 2012. Web. 21 Apr. 2013.

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

Vergilius, Polydorus, and Denys Hay. The Anglica Historia of Polydore Vergil: A.D. 1485-1537. Google Books.  Web. 2 Jan. 2013.

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

White, Paul Whitfield., and Suzanne R. Westfall. Shakespeare and Theatrical Patronage in Early Modern England. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge UP, 2002. Google Books. Web. 17 Feb. 2013.

Wilson, Derek. “Web of Intrigue.” History Today 63.4 (2013): 10-16. Print.

Rest in Peace

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

h7 death mask   e1 death mask

Death mask of Henry VII                Replica death mask of Elizabeth I

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

Pedro de Ayala

Pedro de Ayala, Spanish Ambassador

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

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

henry 7 death bed

Henry VII on his death bed

henry7_deathbed_standard

Henry’s eyes being closed by Fitzwilliam 

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

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

henry VII will 001

Fragment of the Will of Henry VII

will-of-king-henry

 Published in 1775 by Thomas Astle

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

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

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

chapel alms for h7    chapel prayer 001

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

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

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

john fisher

Bishop of Rochester, John Fisher                      

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

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

williamwarham

William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury

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

Richmond 1562

Richmond Palace 1562

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

henry 7 chapel exterior

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

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

henry 7 chapel celing

Fan-vaulted ceiling of the Henry VII Chapel

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

henry 7 chapel tomb     henry 7 tomb

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

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

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

k of nottingham

Katherine Carey Howard, Countess of Nottingham

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

Elizabeth-I-Allegorical

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

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

william camden

William Camden

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

johnharington

John Harington  

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

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Robert Carey, surrounded by his wife and children

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

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

death-of-queen-elizabeth-1

Final days of Elizabeth 1 by Paul Delaroch, 1828

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

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

charles howard nottingham

Lord Admiral Charles Howard, Earl of Nottingham

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

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

Robert Cecil

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

henry parry

Henry Parry, Chaplain to Elizabeth Regina

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

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

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

WhitgiftJohn2

John Whitgift, Archbishop of Canterbury 

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

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

anne russell      helena snakenborg

       Anne Russell,                                     Helena Snakenborg
Countess of Warwick                        Marchioness of Northampton

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

e1 funeral procession 2

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

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

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

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

e1 tomba

Tomb of Elizabeth Regina

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

ElizabethTomb

Monument to Elizabeth I in Westminster Abbey

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

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

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

e1 tombd

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

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

e1 tomb effigy

Stanza 21 and 22 of a poem written by Queen Elizabeth

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

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

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

References

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“History.” Elizabeth I. The Dean and Chapter of Westminster Abbey, n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2013.

Jones, Michael K. and Malcolm G. Underwood.  The King’s Mother: Lady Margaret

Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992. Print.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Words to the Wise

Words to the Wise

What is wisdom?  If we followed Aristotle’s idea of the practicality of wisdom not only would a person choose the best means to the ends or goals they may have, but also the ‘correct’ ends.  Now the discussion takes on another dimension involving ethical choices.  And where do we insert experiences, knowledge, perceptions, logic?  Regardless of the definition of wisdom, is it applied differently depending on the person and their role in life, such as a ruler?  If a head of state is expected to make decisions wisely, how do we judge the wisdom of the decisions?  Is it simply because we agree with her or his choices?

We have much evidence that Henry VII and Elizabeth Regina were wise given the profuse use of the word to describe them both.  With Henry we are assured that this “King, to speak of him in terms equal to his deserving, was one of the best sort of wonders, a wonder for wise men” (Bacon and Lumby 211).  Praise indeed.

henry 7          elizagheer2

Henry VII                                      Elizabeth Regina

Both Polydore Vergil, an Italian priest who arrived in Britain in the year 1502 and was commissioned by King Henry VII to write a history of Britain, and Edward Hall, a Henrican contemporary, commented on Henry’s wisdom, shrewdness, prudence and resoluteness especially in moments of danger.  “Kyng Henry being made wyse and expert with troubles and myschiefes before” in the time of his exile (Hall 435).  Vergil and Hall also observed how the people respected his abilities and “no one dared to get the better of him through deceit or guile” (Vergil 144).

polydore vergil  Edward Hall

Polydore Vergil                                                  Edward Hall

John Fisher, the Bishop of Rochester spoke glowingly of Henry.  Below are the text and the modern script of his oratory about Henry:

Fisher sermon   john fisher

 

John Fisher

All be it he had as much of them                                             
as was possible in manner for any king to have, his
politic wisdom in governance it was singular, his
wit always quick and ready, his reason pithy and
substantial, his memory fresh and holding, his
experience notable, his counsels fortunate and taken
by wise deliberation, his speech gracious in divers
languages … his dealing in time
of perils and dangers was cold and sober with great
hardiness.

Francis Bacon also reported that Henry’s “wit increased upon the occasion; and so much the more, if the occasion were sharpened by danger.  Again, whether it were the shortness of his foresight, or the strength of his will, or the dazzling of his suspicions…” (Bacon and Lumby 219).

Henry’s suspicions made him guarded in his dealings with others, in his plans and his strategies.  Perhaps it was this guarded behavior that led to the many chroniclers referring to him as shrewd.  He was “undoubtedly shrewd, calculating, and long-headed; he seems never to have been overcome by passion” (Elton 16).

He was so shrewd he could make good use of what little advantages he had and in turn he was not a man of whom people could take advantage.  Henry was very prudent in his selection of advisors.  He “cogregated together the sage councelers of his realme, in which coiisail like a prince of just faith and true of promes… (Hall 423).

Men wanted to serve him but they could not tell what was on Henry’s mind.  As a “wise Prince, it was but keeping of distance, which indeed he did towards all; not admitting any near or full approach, either to his power, or to his secrets: for he was governed by none” (Bacon and Lumby 215).

“Few indeed were the councillors that shared his confidence, but the wise men, competent to form an estimate of his statesmanship, had but one opinion of his consummate wisdom” (Gairdner 209).

Henry could not be called a learned man yet he was a lover of learning and gave his children an excellent education (Gairdner 217).  Famously in 1498-99 Erasmus met with the then future Henry VIII when he was eight in 1498-1499 and still in the royal nursery at Eltham in Kent.  Henry appreciated the humanist movement and ensured his sons were grounded in a classical education. Henry VII supported universities as well as his wife’s and mother’s patronage of colleges.  He purchased books and acquired a library.  “He was rather studious than learned; read most books that were of any worth, in the French tongue, yet he understood the Latin, as appeareth in that cardinal Adrian and Others, who could very well have written French, did use to write to him in Latin” (Bacon and Lumby 218). John Fisher spoke of Henry knowing many languages, the “fruit of his long exile” (Fisher).  Perhaps the best ‘education’ he had was the exposure to various governmental methods while in exile and visiting other Courts in Brittany and France.

eltham exterior                 Eltham_palace_GreatHall

Exterior and Interior of Eltham Palace

Henry brought with him the experiences and knowledge of the cultures of France, Burgundy and Brittany with the secular classical themes. “This trend had already been apparent at Edward IV’s court, but Henry was an important influence in encouraging trends which were to lead to the flowering of Renaissance culture at the Tudor court in the 16th century” (Loades 71). He made “princely use of his wealth, encouraged scholarship and music as well as architecture, and dazzled the eyes of foreign ambassadors with the spendour of his receptions” (Gairdner 9).

Ambassadors were astonished not only with his Court but with the depth of knowledge he displayed of the situations in their own countries and “that they did write ever to their superiors in high terms, considering his wisdom and art of rule:  nay, when they were returned, they did commonly maintain intelligence with him” (Bacon and Lumby 216)

Henry’s prudent policies, circumspect behaviors and political wisdom earned him high praise from contemporaries and historians.  “He was of an high mind and loved his own will and his own way, as one that revered himself and would reign…” with triumph as he excelled at so many things (Bacon 793).  He was successful.  He was prudent.  He was wise. He was emulated by his granddaughter, Elizabeth Regina.

Events in Elizabeth’s childhood taught her not to speak or act unwisely; her very life depended upon deliberate, cautious actions. These early lessons contributed to her wisdom and, along with her characteristics of intelligence, tenacity, compromise, and subtlety, she became well-respected.  Even after centuries, most historians and chroniclers explain “even her errors of taste and judgment as superlative examples of political skill” (Elton 262).

Author Jasper Ridley is one of the few dissenters.  He proposed that the truth was that “Elizabeth was an emotional woman, and often acted on impulse, and not from cunning political calculation” (Ridley 41).  Her successes were not by good policy and planning, “but by luck, by muddling through…” (Ridley 335).

As much as one respects the interpretation of Ridley, overwhelming examples, even if disregarding sycophantic inclinations of contemporaries, show her intelligence and wisdom.

Maximilien de Bethune, Baron de Rosny, ambassador from France, exclaimed “this great Queen merited the whole of that great reputation she had throughout Europe” concerning her grasp for the political situation in Europe (Hibbert 115).  Even as she aged, diplomats were still astounded at her grasp of affairs of state.  Andre de Maisse, the French ambassador, thought her shrewd, calculating, statesmanlike and well-informed.

baron de rosny                             demassie

Baron de Rosny                                Andre de Maisse

Her Clerk of the Council, Robert Beale, believed that she was a “princess of great wisdom, learning and experience” and Sir John Harington wrote how Elizabeth would pass her judgment on matters and knew how to “cunningly commit the good issue to her own honour and understanding…” (Sitwell 87). Harington also observed that he “never did find greater show of understanding and learning than she was blessed with” (Hibbert 114).

johnharington

Sir John Harington

The success of Elizabeth’s education is well-known and documented.  Her preference for Roger Ascham as her tutor showed early on her judgment in men.  He was an excellent choice and provided her not only a thorough education but a life-time love of learning. Even as queen, Elizabeth continued her studies as it was well-known she spent a part of her day reading and at study “by a wise distribution of her time” (Bohun 346).  Ascham had nothing but praise for the quick mind and abilities of his pupil.  Below, reproduced in its entirety is a letter Ascham wrote to his friend, Johannes Sturm, German scholar concerning Elizabeth:

“It is difficult to say, whether the gifts of nature or of fortune are most to be admired in my distinguished mistress.  The praise which Aristotle gives, wholly centres in her; beauty, stature, prudence, and industry.  She has just passed her sixteenth birthday and shows such dignity and gentleness as are wonderful at her age and in her rank.  Her study of true religion and learning is most eager.  Her mind has no womanly weakness, her perseverance is equal to that of a man, and her memory long keeps what it quickly picks up.  She talks French and Italian as well as she does English, and has often talked to me readily and well in Latin, moderately in Greek.  When she writes Greek and Latin, nothing is more beautiful than her handwriting” (Neale 14 – 15).

      aschamengraving2                                           roger asham

Princess Elizabeth and                                     Sketch of Roger Ascham
Roger Ascham

Like her grandfather Henry VII, her skill in many languages allowed her to take a prominent role in the diplomacy of her country as she could meet with ambassadors herself.  Her intellect allowed her to match the professional diplomats in subtlety and the language of diplomacy itself.

Elizabeth’s skills in government did not come from specific training as an apprentice but from her formal, classical and humanist education and her practical, political education of survival during her brother’s and sister’s reigns.

Without going into great detail, the young Elizabeth’s handling of the Thomas Seymour issue shows the intelligence, courage and composure she displayed while detained and questioned by Sir Robert Tyrwhitt.  Tyrwhitt wrote the Lord Protector “I do assure your grace, she hath a very good wit, and nothing is gotten of her, but by great policy” (Erickson 88).

Another early example comes during her sister Mary’s reign.  While under suspicion as part of the Wyatt Rebellion, Elizabeth negotiated with the councilors sent to arrest her to write a letter to Mary. Using her talents and education, Elizabeth not only composed a brilliant note, she also managed to utilize enough time that the tide had altered deflecting her move to the Tower for one more day.  On the letter itself, she made diagonal marks at the end of the second page to ensure no one would tamper with the document.

diagonal letters 001

Letter to Mary with diagonal lines across second page

As a mature and seasoned sovereign, Elizabeth continually dealt with complicated and life-threatening situations.  Would all decisions be exact?  Of course they would not.  Yet, most historians agree with her contemporary John Hayward’s exclamation concerning her character that she was “in purpose, just; of spirit, above credit … as well for depth of judgment…” (Hayward 8).  Maybe her wisdom came from knowing that her success came from serving England and her peoples and from making decisions that rested on the good of the kingdom.  Or maybe it was simply she had a brain in her head and she used it:

There is small disproportion betwixt a fool who
useth not wit because he hath it not and him
that useth it not when it should avail him
Queen Elizabeth

References 

Bacon, Francis.  The Works of Lord Bacon:  Philosophical Works.  Longman and Co. 1858-1859.  Google Books. Web. 11 Apr. 2013.

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

Bohun, Edmund. The Character of Queen Elizabeth, Or, A Full and Clear Account of Her Policies and the Methods of Her Government Both in Church and State, Her Virtues and Defects Together with the Characters of Her Principal Ministers of State … London: Printed for Ric. Chiswell at the Rose and Crown in St. Paul’s Church-Yard(IS), 1693. Google Books. Web. 26 Jan. 2013.

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

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

Fisher, John, and John E. B. Mayor. The English Works of John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester. London: N. Trübner for the Early English Text Society, 1876. Google Books. Web. 12 Feb. 2013.

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

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

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

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

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

Jones, Michael K. and Malcolm G. Underwood.  The King’s Mother: Lady Margaret

Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992. Print.

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

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

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

Okerlund, Arlene Naylor.  Elizabeth of York.  New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. Print.

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

Pollard, Albert Frederick, ed. The Reign of Henry VII: From Contemporary Sources.[S.l.]: Longmans Green and, Co. 1913. Google Books. Web. 1 Apr. 2013. 

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

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

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

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

Vergil, Polydore, The Anglica Historia of Polydore Vergil, A.D. 1485-1537 (translated by Denys Hay), London: Office of the Royal Historical Society, Camden Series, 1950. Web. 29 Mar. 2013.

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

Fit for a King

Fit for a King

The need to express majesty may have been greater in Henry VII and Elizabeth I than in royals contemporary with them or even before and after their reigns.  Both had precarious claims to the throne, both had rivals waiting to step in and both had to project strength to Continental Courts. Henry and Elizabeth used Court ceremonial, dress and jewels and building programs / portraiture to convey their royal dignity.

Henry VII realized the need to show his majesty to the nobles at home and abroad at his coronation.  If he “looked, behaved and ruled like a king, perhaps the exhausted, traumatized country of England would come to believe he was one” (Penn 11). Apparently he succeeded as a contemporary recalled the rejoicing “[f]or whan the kynge … was crowned in all that grete tryumphe & glorye…” (Fisher 306).

One of the greatest ceremonials that Henry VII hosted was the marriage of his son Arthur to Catherine of Aragon in November of 1501.  It is not the scope of this entry to discuss the entire celebrations but it was well-known to have cost a great deal of money with the purpose being to emphasize to the Spanish the affluence and security of his Court.  The Spanish were impressed as were envoys from around Europe. A contemporary who attended the wedding feast described the display of plate which was intended to show Henry’s wealth, “And ye shall understande that in the said halle was ordeyned a cupbourde of 6 stages height, being Tryangled; the which Cupbord was garnysshed w gilt plate, as fflagons, greate pottes, standing, cuppys, and bolles, to a greate value” (Kingsford 250).

Henry VII’s expenses reveal that he did not spare for his attire of which he had a “penchant for expensively dyed black clothes” (Penn 6). Jewelry purchased for large sums of money were of “diverse precious stones and other juells that come from beyond the see” (Norton 147).  Raimondo de’ Raimondi of Soncino, Milanese Ambassador in England, wrote to Ludovico Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan: “His Majesty, in addition to his wonderful presence, was adorned with a most rich collar, full of great pearls and many other jewels, in four rows, and in his bonnet he had a pear-shaped pearl, which seemed to me something most rich” (Hinds).

Henry had an affinity for the European Courts, which is understandable when one thinks of the many years he spent on the Continent, and tried to copy many of their fashions, be it traditions or architecture. Building projects culminated in his stunning chapel at Westminster Abbey, although Richmond Palace, built on the site of the burned Sheen, was also a great showpiece.  Henry spared no expense in providing the palace with tapestries, furnishings and other costly adornments. In fact, Richmond was referred to by contemporaries as …“Riche mount a pun on Henry’s title as Earl of Richmond, and his conspicuous talent for heaping up wealth” (Perry 17).

Richmond 1562
Richmond 1562

Although not as ‘cash rich’ as her grandfather, Elizabeth understood the need to display her majesty at her coronation.  Sir John Hayward, writing his recollections of Elizabeth’s reign, recalled how for her coronation procession she was “most royally furnished, both for her persone and for her trayne, knowing right well that in pompous ceremonies a secret of government doth much consist, for that the people are naturally both taken and held with exterior shewes” (Bruce 15).  And what a show she put on!  C. S. Knighton and Richard Mortimer, while quoting the oft-footnoted Neville Williams’ estimate that the cost of the coronation was £16,742, believe it was closer to £20,000—or about 10% of her annual revenue (Knighton 125).  Since Williams’ figure is the most credited, I used that to calculate the current value of costs:  £4,730.00 using the retail price index or £73,900.00 using average earnings figures*. “We learn that besides the queen’s parliament robe there were provided a kirtle, surcoat, and mantle of crimson velvet furred with ermine, and like robes of purple velvet, also furred with ermine” (Grindal).

Westminster
Westminster Abbey

As queen, Elizabeth had gowns from all over Europe and was described by a German visitor, Heutzner, as “very majestic” (Ripley 317). Her wardrobe was extensive and famous.  Not only were the dresses and sleeves made of costly fabrics such as satin and velvet (her favored color scheme was of black and white), they were also embellished with gold braid, fur (mink) and precious gems.  The French were impressed with the number of pearls on her gowns saying that “…all the other princes of Christendom had not the like quantity of pearls of that sort” (Somerset 360). Elizabeth loved clothes and realized “the part which external magnificence could play in propagating an image of regality and power…” (Somerset 357).

Her jewels were beyond compare as she had at her disposal the wealth which her father had accumulated from the dissolution of the monasteries and the rings, pendants, necklaces and bracelets she acquired.  of her ostentatious display.  Andre de Maisse, the French Ambassador to her Court, wrote to Henry IV of her ostentatious display that she “wore innumerable jewels on her person, not only on her head, but also within her collar, about her arms and on her hands, with a very great quantity of pearls, around her neck and on her bracelets”…(Erickson 389). Another Ambassador of Venice, Giovanni Scaramelli, described her gown of silver and gold which “showed her throat encircled with pearls and rubies….”  Elizabeth “wore great peals like pears round the forehead.  She had a vast quantity of gems and pearls upon her person; even under her stomacher she was covered with golden jeweled girdles and single gems, carbuncles, balas-rubies and diamonds.  Round her wrists in place of bracelets she wore double rows of pearls of more than medium size” (Perry 316).

demassie                                         sforza
Attributed as  Andre de Maisse            Giovanni Scaramelli, 
Ambassador to France                           Ambassador to Venice

As Roy Strong reminds us, the purpose of state portraits was to “depict a ruler accompanied by the full panoply of state …posed in a majestic and grave manner…” (Strong 37). Elizabeth knew she needed portraiture “designed to emphasize the legitimacy of the Tudor right to the throne” (Strong 12) and this was demonstrated in the painting, The Allegory of the Tudor Succession, 1572.  It is well-known that the images approved by Elizabeth Regina were not intended to imitate her features true to life.  State portraiture was to convey her majesty, power and successes.

Although other rulers of the era used similar elements such as dress and ceremonies to project royal imagery, Henry VII and Elizabeth I understood their particular need to convey the legitimacy of their power.

*Used the calculator at Measuringworth http://www.measuringworth.com/ppoweruk/

 

Works Cited

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

Fisher, John. The English Works of John Fisher, Bishop of
Rochester.
London: Published for the Early English Text
Society by Trübner, 1876. Google Books. Web. 24 Nov. 2012.

Grindal, Edmund. The Remains of Edmund Grindal: Successively Bishop of London and Archbishop of York and Canterbury. Cambridge [England: Printed at the UP, 1843. Google Books. Web. 21 Nov. 2012.

Hayward, John, and John Bruce. Annals of the First Four Years of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth. London: Printed for the Camden Society by J.B. Nichols and Son, 1840. Google Books. Web. 24 Nov. 2012.

Hinds, Allen, ed. “Milan: 1497.” Calendar of State Papers and Manuscripts in theArchives and Collections of Milan: 1385-1618. (1912): 310-341. British History Online. Web. 24 November 2012.

Kingsford, Charles Lethbridge. Chronicles of London (1189-1509). Oxford: Clarendon, 1905. 234-50. Google Books. Web. 21 Dec. 2012.

Knighton, C. S., and Richard Mortimer. Westminster Abbey Reformed: 1540-1640. Aldershot, Hants, England: Ashgate, 2003. Google Books. Web. 25 Nov. 2012.

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

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

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

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

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

Strong, Roy C. Gloriana: The Portraits of Queen Elizabeth I. London: Pimlico, 2003. Print.