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).

Charles v for part four
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.

erik_xiv_van_der_meulen
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.”

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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). 

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   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.”

The Third Step-Mother to Elizabeth, Catherine Howard

The Third Step-Mother to Elizabeth, Catherine Howard

Henry was infatuated with Catherine Howard.  At Oatlands the two were married on July 28 a couple of weeks after Henry’s marriage to Anne of Cleves was dissolved. The King kept it a secret for many days because he wanted to enjoy his bride before Court etiquette interfered.

He showered his young bride with gifts, gowns, jewels, anything she wanted and did any act which would show his affection.  Henry granted Catherine all the lands that had been Queen Jane’s and even had a gold half-crown coin minted to commemorate his marriage to this perfection of womanhood with Henricus VIII, Rutilans rosa sine spina; “Henry VIII, the shining rose without a thorn” (Dye 771).  Henry also granted her political protection by passing through parliament the Queen Consort Act of 1540.  This legislation allowed the Queen to “act as a woman sole, without the consent of the King’s Highness” (Weir 436).  Perhaps Henry felt safe in her devotion as Catherine adopted as her device, Non aultre volontè que le sinne; “No other will than his.”

coinrosaspina2
Gold Crown Coin with Henricus VIII, Rutilans rosa sine spina —the reverse the crown shield of the royal coat of arms.  

Many observers did not think he showed such generosity or affection to his other wives.  The French Ambassador, Charles de Marillac reported in early September that the “King is so amourous of her that he cannot treat her well enough and caresses her more than he did the others”  (Gairdner XVI 5).

The new queen was still a teenager.  Most historians calculate that she was about 15 when 49-year-old Henry married her.  Physically, Charles de Marillac described Catherine as “rather graceful than beautiful, of short stature, etc.” (Gairdner XVI 5).

Catherine howared02        catherine howard3
Miniature by Hans Holbein                 After Hans Holbein

Was Catherine, personality-wise, a “frivolous, empty-headed young girl who cared for little else but dancing and pretty clothes” (Weir 434)?  Was she simply captivating, pleasant and kind-hearted enough to want everyone to be happy?  Perhaps she did let things go to her head and recklessness took center-stage but one could not call her scheming, “lewd, sly, pitiable” (Sitwell 53).  It does appear as if Catherine was charming, sensual and obedient–a great combination for Henry.

Catherine Howard / Elizabeth Seymour
Also attributed to Hans Holbein

Not only was Henry delighted with his new bride, Elizabeth, Catherine’s seven-year-old stepdaughter, was too.  When Catherine was publicly acknowledged by Henry as his queen, “she directed that the princess Elizabeth should be placed opposite to her at table, because she was of her own blood and lineage.”  At all the public engagements which continued to celebrate the marriage, Catherine “gave the lady Elizabeth the place of honour nearest to her own person” because, according to Gregorio Leti, “that she [Elizabeth] was her cousin” (Strickland Lives of the Queens of England, from the Norman Conquest 15-16).  Elizabeth Boleyn, Anne’s mother, was a sister to Edmund Howard, Catherine’s father (and to Thomas Howard, Third Duke of Norfolk), so they were first cousins.  Elizabeth Regina would technically have been Catherine’s first cousin once removed.

thomas howard norfolk
Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk

Catherine did not only favor Elizabeth when they were residing in the same palaces, she made a point for the two of them to meet.  Based on account records from the Master of the Barge, it has been shown that on 5 May 1541 Catherine arranged that Elizabeth would be taken from Suffolk Place to Chelsea where she, Catherine joined her on 6 May (Gairdner XVI 391). 

Besides the attention Catherine showed her youngest step-daughter she also gave her presents of jewelry as shown in November of 1541.  Records show that she gave a jewel “to lady Elizabeth, the King’s daughter, being …of little thing worth.”  Regardless of the value, it was a kind gesture as when Catherine had “23 pairs of beads minutely described, with crosses, pillars, and tassels attached. One is marked as given by the Queen to lady Elizabeth, the King’s daughter” (Gairdner XVI 686).

Catherine Howard’s fall came after John Lascelles revealed to Archbishop Cranmer the Queen’s sexual activity during her years at the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk’s estate. The Dowager was Catherine’s step-grandmother.  Like all children of aristocratic families, Catherine and her eleven siblings, were sent to other households at young ages.  Included in the Norfolk household was Lascelles’ sister, Mary Hall, who knew of the goings on in the maid’s dormitory.  Many of the young women ‘entertained’ men after hours and Catherine was one of them.  She was about 13 at the time and had a physical relationship with Francis Dereham–after earlier being involved with her music teacher, Henry Manox.

Cranmer took the information very seriously.  Political, religious and social motivations were all involved here as Catherine was a conservative and Lascelles and Cranmer were Protestants.  Cranmer began a full investigation which led to allegations of Catherine’s being intimate with Thomas Culpeper, a member of the king’s privy chamber, after her marriage to Henry.

Thomas_Cranmer
Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer

Under interrogation (read that as some type of torture most likely), Culpeper admitted to being in love with Catherine, that she had rebuffed him at first then grew to love him.  Culpeper “persisted in denying his guilt and said it was the Queen who, through lady Rocheford, solicited him to meet her in private in Lincolnshire, when she herself told him that she was dying for his love” (Gairdner XVI 651-652).  The prisoner said that although they spent time alone and in private, they never committed adultery.  This did not matter.  The Council felt there was enough evidence:  Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford, Catherine’s Lady-in-Waiting, professed to have helped them arrange their meetings and implied she guessed there was a physical relationship between them (Her cooperation did not save her. Rochford was executed as an accomplice.) and, most importantly, a letter from Catherine found in Culpeper’s belongings.  The letter is reproduced below.

jane parkerboylen
Jane Parker Boleyn, Lady Rochford

Master Coulpeper, I hertely recomend me unto youe praying you to 
sende me worde how that you doo. Yt was showed me that you was
sike, the wyche thynge trobled me very muche tell suche tyme that I
here from you praying you to send me worde how that you do.
For I never longed so muche for [a] thynge as I do to se you and
to speke wyth you, the wyche I trust shal be shortely now, the
wyche dothe comforthe me verie much whan I thynk of ett and
wan I thynke agan that you shall departe from me agayne
ytt makes my harte to dye to thynke what fortune I have
that I cannot be always yn your company. Y[e]t my trust ys
allway in you that you wolbe as you have promysed me
and in that hope I truste upon styll, prayng you than that
you wyll com whan my lade Rochforthe ys here, for then
I shalbe beste at leaysoure to be at your commarendmant.
Thaynkyng you for that you have promysed me to be so
good unto that pore felowe my man, whyche is on of the
grefes that I do felle to departe from hym for than I do
know noone that I dare truste to sende to you and therfor
I pray you take hym to be wyth you that I may sumtym
here from you one thynge. I pray you to gyve me a horse
for my man for I hyd muche a do to gat one and
thefer I pray sende me one by hym and yn so doying I
am as I sade afor, and thus I take my leve of you
trusting to se you s[h]orttele agane and I wode you was
wythe me now that yoo maitte se what pane I take
yn wryte[n]g to you.

Yours as long as
lyffe endures
Katheryn

One thyng I had forgotten and that hys to instruct my man to tare here wyt[h] me still, for he sas wat so mever you bed hym he wel do et and […]

When the King was notified of the accusations by a document left for him in his church pew, his anger knew no bounds.  He supposedly called for a sword to slay her himself as she would never have “such delight in her inconstancy as she would have torture in her death” (Hibbert 23).

Catherine was arrested at Hampton Court and moved shortly afterwards to Syon House.  She was there until February 11, 1542, when she was taken by barge to the Tower of London.  On Sunday the 12th she was told to prepare herself for death.  In a dispatch to his king, Chapuys conveyed that “she asked to have the block brought in to her, that she might know how to place herself; which was done, and she made trial of it.”  On February 1542, Marillac reported, she was beheaded on Tower Green by axe “after the manner of the country. The Queen was so weak that she could hardly speak, but confessed in few words that she had merited a hundred deaths for so offending the King who had so graciously treated her” (Gairdner XVI 44).  Chapuys let Charles V know that Catherine was executed “in the same spot where Anne Boleyn had been executed. Her body was then covered [with a black cloak] and her ladies took it away” (Gairdner XVII 51).

syon remnant gothic
Gothic ornamentation remnant from  Syon

No records survive of Elizabeth’s reactions to the sudden loss of any of her step-mothers.  Elizabeth was too young to be greatly affected by the death of Jane Seymour and her only living step-mother, Anne of Cleves, she still had contact with.  What impact would it have had on Elizabeth?  Could we go as far as Anne Somerset working from the text of Larissa J. Taylor-Smither’s article, “Elizabeth I: A Psychological Profile” to say that the “shock of Catherine Howard’s execution (when Elizabeth was at the impressionable age of eight) would have been more immediate, for even if Elizabeth had not been especially close to her young stepmother, Catherine’s sudden extinction must at the very least have had a powerful effect on her subconscious” (Somerset 96).  With no recorded evidence of Elizabeth’s reaction, nor any evidence of altered personality traits or behavior, this blogger thinks it is best to refrain from any such speculation.  

Henry’s reaction to Catherine’s death was made clear. Shortly after her execution, Chapuys wrote that the King has been in better spirits and during the last three days before Lent there has been much feasting (Gairdner XVII 51).  Henry found himself in an unusual position—that of widower.  Anne Boleyn’s death occurred after he had dissolved their marriage so this was the first time he was widowed.

Chapuys, the Spanish Ambassador, reported to his Imperial colleague, Nicolas Granvelle, that Henry “felt the case of the Queen, his wife, and has certainly shown greater sorrow at her loss than at the faults, loss, or divorce of his preceding wives.”  He cites a parable of the widow who cries most bitterly at the death of her tenth husband because she had always been sure of the next.  Chapuys speculates this is the same with Henry as “it does not seem that he has formed any new plan”(Gairdner XVI 653).

nicolas-granvelle
Nicholas Granvelle

Henry, most diplomats and contemporaries assumed, would soon enough be taken up with his matrimonial status.  Charles de Marillac did not mince words to Francis I when he observed “It is not yet said who will be Queen; but the common voice is that this King will not be long without a wife, for the great desire he has to have further issue” (Gairdner XVI 44).  While Eustace Chapuys explained to Charles V that “Parliament prays him to take another wife, he will not, I think, be in a hurry to marry; besides, few, if any, ladies now at Court would aspire to such an honour, for a law has just been passed that should any King henceforth wish to marry a subject, the lady will be bound, on pain of death, to declare if any charges of misconduct can be brought against her, and all who know or suspect anything of the kind against her are bound to reveal it within 20 days, on pain of confiscation of goods and imprisonment for life” (Gairdner XVII 50).

The King was ensuring that his next bride would not put him in a position of uncertainty which would give cause for him to receive any other letters such as the sympathetic, comforting one from his fellow sovereign, Francis I of France.  Francis proclaimed to Henry, concerning Catherine’s behavior, that he “feels the grief of the King, his brother, as his own. Still his good brother should consider that the lightness of women cannot bind the honor of men and that the shame is confined to those who commit the crime” (Gairdner XVI 649).

francisi
King Francis I of France

Even though his matrimonial record was not smooth, King Henry VIII  was not deterred from acquiring another bride. In a relatively short amount of time, he had provided his children with a new step-mother.

References

Denny, Joanna.  Katherine Howard:  A Tudor Conspiracy.  London: Portrait, 2005. Print.

Dye, John S. Dye’s Coin Encyclopædia: A Complete Illustrated History of the Coins of the World. Philadelphia: Bradley & Co., 1883. Google Books. Web. 12 May 2013.

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

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

Gairdner, James and R. H. Brodie (editors). “Henry VIII: December 1541, 11-20.” Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 16: 1540-1541 (1898): 671-681. British History Online. Web. 12 May 2013.

Gairdner, James and R. H. Brodie (editors). “Henry VIII: January 1542, 1-10.” Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 17: 1542 (1900): 1-9. British History Online. Web. 12 May 2013.

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

Hume, Martin. The Wives of Henry the Eighth and the Parts They Played in History. New York: McClure, Phillips & Co., 1905. Google Books, n.d. Web. 06 May 2013.

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

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

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

Strickland, Agnes. Life of Elizabeth, Queen of England, with Anecdotes of Her Court, from Official Records and Other Authentic Documents, Private as Well as Public. New York: Miller, [18-. Internet Archive. Web. 6 May 2013.

Strickland, Agnes, and Elisabeth Strickland. Lives of the Queens of England, from the Norman Conquest; with Anecdotes of Their Courts, Now First Published from Official Records and Other Authentic Documents, Private as Well as Public. Vol. 6. London: Henry Colburn, 1844. Google Books. Web. 15 Mar. 2013.

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

Fate is Remarkable

 Fate is Remarkable:

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

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

 

Pembroke Castle

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Rennes Cath

Rennes Cathderal

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

H7 Letter Use

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

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

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

vannes

Vannes, Brittany

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

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

  Seymour Thomas       
Thomas Seymour    

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

Seymour Edward
Edward Seymour

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

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

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

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

Em Phil savoy
Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy

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

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

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

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

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

Works Cited

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

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

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

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

Griffiths, Ralph A. and Roger S. Thomas.  The Making of the Tudor Dynasty.  New
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Gristwood, Sarah.  Elizabeth & Leicester:  Power, Passion, Politics. New York: Viking Press, 2007.  Print.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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