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

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

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

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

The Roots of Mary’s Problems

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

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

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

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

Henry VIII will
Last Will and Testament of Henry VIII

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

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

Mary Acknowledges Succession—Elizabeth Becomes Queen

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

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

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

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

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

Philip—As a Person not a Politician

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Philip—Widower, Friend, Enemy

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

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

Sixtus5
Pope Sixtus V

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

Advertisements

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

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

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

Philip’s Decision to Propose Marriage

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

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

Ip2 for part V
Philip II by Anthonis Mor Van Dashorst, 1549-1555

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elizabeth_I_in_coronation_robes
Elizabeth Regina, Coronation Portrait

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

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

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

Robert_Dudley_Leicester8
Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester 

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

The Rejection

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

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

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

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

Lorenzo_Priuli_Cropped
Lorenzo Priuli, Doge of Venice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

francisknollys
 Sir Francis Knollys

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