Rest in Peace

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

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Death mask of Henry VII                Replica death mask of Elizabeth I

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

Pedro de Ayala

Pedro de Ayala, Spanish Ambassador

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

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

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Henry VII on his death bed

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Henry’s eyes being closed by Fitzwilliam 

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

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

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Fragment of the Will of Henry VII

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 Published in 1775 by Thomas Astle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Bishop of Rochester, John Fisher                      

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

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

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William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury

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

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Richmond Palace 1562

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

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

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

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Fan-vaulted ceiling of the Henry VII Chapel

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

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

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

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

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Katherine Carey Howard, Countess of Nottingham

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

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

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

william camden

William Camden

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

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John Harington  

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

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Robert Carey, surrounded by his wife and children

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

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

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Final days of Elizabeth 1 by Paul Delaroch, 1828

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

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

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Lord Admiral Charles Howard, Earl of Nottingham

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

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

Robert Cecil

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

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Henry Parry, Chaplain to Elizabeth Regina

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

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

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

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John Whitgift, Archbishop of Canterbury 

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

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

anne russell      helena snakenborg

       Anne Russell,                                     Helena Snakenborg
Countess of Warwick                        Marchioness of Northampton

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

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

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

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

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

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Tomb of Elizabeth Regina

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

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Monument to Elizabeth I in Westminster Abbey

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

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

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

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

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

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Stanza 21 and 22 of a poem written by Queen Elizabeth

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

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

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

References

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Reigned With Your Loves

Reigned with Your Loves

Connections and service, be they within personal or formal relationships, create loyalty.  Loyalty which can be demonstrated in many ways.  Both Henry VII and Elizabeth Regina developed heightened abilities in sensing gifted allies to serve them.  Perhaps the skills were honed during their times of confinement (Henry in Brittany and Elizabeth at Hatfield) or they were innate.  Regardless, each surrounded themselves with talented, loyal councilors. 

Henry knew that if England was to recover and the throne was to become stable, the War of the Roses would have to end and healing would have to take place.  What was required now was for the king to be resolute and to act with “judicious mercy, the mercy of head not heart.”  Henry VII was to display clemency and firmness by his “reluctance to proceed to extremes and his readiness to accept old enemies into the fold.”  Actions which “display his determination to show that the wars were over” (Elton 16).

Henry not only utilized Lancastrian loyalists, gentry from his native Wales, and fellow exiles, he also incorporated the Yorkist faction in his new government.  He knew he must not further antagonize the opposition.  Therefore, he pardoned men who had fought at Bosworth against him, and allowed them to enter government positions, even granting them property, if they took the oath of allegiance.  He approached the many Woodville Yorkists cautiously as he did not want to be indebted to them nor to give the impression he reigned in any name but his own– meaning he did not want to appear to have need of Elizabeth of York’s family ties to strengthen his claim. “As a new man, Henry had to secure his place.  He did this by a compromsing approach” (Bacon and Weinberger 238).

Henry had little knowledge of England and its government workings as he had been in exile for so many of his formative years.  He was even unprepared for the responsibilities and life of a king. He thus relied heavily on the associates of his youth and those men who had joined him in exile along with many advisors from his mother’s household.

margaret beaufort

Margaret Beaufort

Henry and his mother, Margaret Beaufort, recognized the need for experienced men to provide council.  Therefore, her household became a basis for Henry to draw officials from such as Christopher Urswick and Reginald Bray.  Many of his contemporaries recognized that service his mother could easily lead to a royal appointment.  Henry viewed service to his mother almost as those who served him “during his period of exile, as a debt of honour” (Jones 80).

Needing men of experience also meant he had to appoint those who had been in England and not exiled—people familiar with the ways of England.  Therefore, a mix of noblemen, gentry, lawyers and clerics were used to comprise Henry VII’s Council (Loades 30).  Henry did not want to give too much power to the men with governmental experience. He kept the nobles contained and “chose rather to advance clergymen and lawyers, which were more obsequious to him…” (Bacon and Lumby 217). These men recognized for their talents were more grateful to the king.

Henry was adamant about allegiance and service.  The men he appointed were “loyal and ardent servants of an exacting but worthy master” (Elton 17).  Despite his harshness, “Henry showed himself capable of attracting men to his side and retaining their loyalty…”  (Griffiths 168).

Star Chamber H7 seated

Henry VII, seated in the Star Chamber

“Like all his family he had an uncanny gift for picking men to serve him, and not even the great Elizabeth surrounded herself with a brighter galaxy of first-rate ministers than did her grandfather” (Elton 17). It is not the purpose here to list every member of Henry’s Privy Council, the focus will be on those he relied upon early in his reign.  Below, in chart form, are listed the pertinent advisors and servants.

Councilors Serving Henry VII

Councilor / Servant

Role

Miscellaneous

Jasper Tudor, Duke of Bedford Military advisor and commander paternal uncle to Henry, took him into exile
John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford Military advisor and commander shared exile and influntial as nobleman
Sir Giles Daubeney Chancellor shared exile and very influential
Cardinal John Morton—Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Chancellor financial advisor/innovator dare we say exploiter
Bishop Richard Fox Lord Privy Seal shared exile, very influencial after Morton’s death
Bishop Peter Courtenay Keeper of the Privy Seal shared exile
Bishop William Warham Master of the Rolls and later Lord Chancellor performed many diplomatic missions
Sir Reginald Bray Courtier acquired from Margaret Beaufort’s advisors,very influential and architect of Henry VII’s Chapel at Westminster Abbey and St. George’s Chapel, Windsor
Christopher Urswick Courtier acquired from Margaret Beaufort’s advisors
Sir John Heron Treasurer of the Chamber shared exile and one of the most trusted advisors
Sir Edward Belknap Surveyor of the King’s Prerogative could confiscate anyone’s land that overtook the King’s prerogative
Richard Empson Carried out Cardinal Morton’s financial policies arrested under Henry VIII for unpopular financial activities
Edmund Dudley Carried out Cardinal Morton’s financial policies executed under Henry VII for unpopular financial activitiesGrandfather to Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester
Sir Thomas Lovell Treasurer of the Chamber shared exile and one of the most trusted advisors
Sir Richard Guildford Chamberlain of the Receipt shared exile and one of the most trusted advisors
Thomas Rotherham, Archbishop of York Lord Chancellor experience in previous reigns, did not serve Henry very long
John Alcock, Bishop of Worcester Lord Chancellor experience in previous reigns, bridge between Edward IV, Richard III and Henry’s rule
Sir Thomas Stanley, 1st Earl of Derby High Constable of England Henry’s step-father
Sir Edward Woodville Courtier brother to the Queen Dowager, military leader
Sir William Stanley, Lord Chamberlain brother to Henry’s step-father, executed for treason over Perkin Warbeck

jasper tudor           gilesdubeney

Jasper Tudor                                          Giles Daubeney

Cardinal_John_Morton               Richard Fox       

John Morton                                                           Richard Fox

    Peter Courtenay     williamwarham

                 Peter Couetenay                                William Warham

chrisurswick              thomas lovell

Christopher Urswick                                     Thomas Lovell  ThomasRotherham             John Alcock

Thomas Rotherham                                          John Alcock

Thomas-Stanley

 Thomas Stanley

“Henry became practiced in awarding empty honours and rewards to the deserving, which gratified the receivers and heightened their loyalty to him without increasing their actual strength” (Ross 19). Minor merchants or officials who had helped him in one way or another were rewarded as well—prudently. Henry was not a man to throw money around and, although he was generous, it was not beyond his means or beyond what was suitable. e rewarded people who had served his father and other Welsh followers, had helped his mother and even those who had served his revered uncle, Henry VI. (Griffiths 175). 

Machiavelli wrote that a prince should be feared over loved although it would be ideal to be able to be both. In Henry VII’s case it appears as if he did not manage fear and love.  Down the ages we have Edmund Dudley’s treatise, Tree of the Common Wealth, written in defense of absolute monarchy as applied to Henry VI.  Dudley defended Henry’s actions (and maybe reflecting Henry’s views) by stating that if the King was lenient to his subjects “in all cases let them … psume to take it of theire owne authoritie, for then it will surelie choke them” (Dudley 28). 

Henry did set the path for his administration although Bacon proclaimed that Cardinal Morton and Sir Reginald Bray not only reflected Henry’s views but “did temper them” (Bacon 214).  Whereas Empson and Dudley, middle-ranking servants who rose to prominence by being men who “best content the king” (Penn 33), did not moderate his policies, especially financial, “but shaped his way to those extremities, for which himself was touched with remorse at his death….” (Bacon 214).

It is well-known that many of Henry’s financial practices were disliked by his people.  Bacon proclaimed that ” of the three affections which naturally tie the hearts of the subjects to their sovereigns, love, fear, and reverence; he had the last in height, the second in good measure, and so little of the first, as he was beholden to the other two” (Bacon and Lumby 218). Financial acts were not popular with anyone but the benefits of his stable rule, his courts of law and justice did benefit everyone and they knew it too.

EmpsonHenryDudley

Henry VII, Richard Empson and Edmund Dudley

By implying to the people that civil war would happen if they lost him, Henry maintained stability.  Another method he consciously employed to control his ministers was in the journal he kept of his thoughts. It included notes he wrote while in conversation with ministers, diplomats and advisors about whom to reward and whom to watch—this was similar to his granddaughter.  Elizabeth Regina kept mental notes of conversations and events she engaged in with her ministers to utilize if necessary in future dealings.

Elizabeth “kept her advisers off balance and perpetually astonished them by the range and mutability of her passions.  Beyond this, they came to know that, with Elizabeth, nothing was ever what it seemed.  Beneath her surface emotions were layer upon calculating layer of secondary reactions, ploys and schemes” (Erickson 173). She enjoyed laying traps for her ministers, throwing back at them their own words.  Yet, they were devoted to her, perhaps because of her political, intellectual and interpersonal skills.  An example could be from the way she handled the ex-ministers of Mary’s reign.  Elizabeth greatly reduced the number of advisors and assured those that had served Mary that they were not retained because she wanted a smaller group to make it more manageable and less open to faction, not because of any deficit on their part (Neale 55).

Battles for Court positions were based on “loosely structured groups focusing on family, household, and master-servant connections…” (Warnicke 135).   Some men were ambitious seeking power and money, others were honored to serve.  Or, as Mervyn James has shown, “the ties of blood were liable to assert themselves with a particular power” (James 325). 

As Queen, Elizabeth did not forget those who were still alive and had served her mother, Anne Boleyn. William Barlow was created Bishop of Chichester; William Latymer, became Dean of Peterborough under Elizabeth and author of Chronickle of Anne Bulleyne; and Matthew Parker appointed Archbishop of Canterbury.  Parker had been chaplain to Anne Boleyn.  Although he did not want to take the Archbishopric, he did so based on a promise he had made to Anne shortly before her death to watch out for the spiritual needs of her daughter.

Like her grandfather, Elizabeth kept her beloved servants of her childhood and youth.  She knew the Privy Council, the body that held up the authority of the Crown and was key to forming royal policy, should be conciliatory to the previous reign and diverse.  In respect to the first consideration, Elizabeth retained 10 ministers from Mary’s reign. Taking a page from her grandfather, she kept members of the opposing faction in her council. Whereas his were Lancaster and York, hers were Catholic (Marian) and Protestant (Elizabethan). 

For diversity, as did Henry, she promoted gifted men of the professions, many who had never held high office before, while keeping a balance of nobles and clergy.  Her main criteria appeared to be efficiency, talent and loyalty.  She wanted advisors who would give good counsel and ones she could trust.  

It is not the purpose here to list every member of Elizabeth’s Privy Council, the focus will be on those she relied upon early in her reign.  Below, in chart form, are listed the pertinent advisors and servants.

                                    Councilors Serving Elizabeth Regina 

Councilor / Servant

Role

Miscellaneous

Edward Stanley, 3rd Earl of Derby High Chamberlain served Mary, kept due to prominent role in nobility
Francis Talbot, 5th Earl of Shrewbury Courtier and Privy Council Member served Mary, kept due to prominent role in nobility—died within 2 years, son George famously married Bess of Hardwick and was custodian of Mary, Queen of Scots as 6th Earl
Henry FitzAlan, 19th Earl of Arundel High Constable and Lord Steward served Mary, kept due to prominent role in nobility as relative to Woodvilles and Percys.
Henry Herbert, 2nd Earl of Pembroke Lord Lieutenant served Mary, kept due to prominent role in nobility as husband to Lady Katherine Grey
William Howard, 1st Baron Howard of Effingham Lord Admiral and Lord Chamberlain served Mary, Elizabeth’s great-uncle and defender in Marian court
William Paulet, Marquis of Winchester Treasurer and Speaker of the House served Mary, great administrator
Edward Clinton, later Earl of Lincoln Lord Admiral andAmbassador to France served Mary, he was Lord Admiral and capable
Sir John Mason Diplomat and Chancellor of Oxford University served Mary, was knighted as public servant
Sir William Petre Secretary of State served Mary, lawyer & tutor to George Boleyn rose rapidly and was knighted
Sir Nicholas Wotton Diplomat served Mary, commoner and cleric
Sir Thomas Parry Comptroller of the Household Elizabeth’s steward since childhood, relative to Cecil,  in household at Hatfield and later knighted
Sir Richard Sackville Chancellor of the Exchequer Elizabeth’s relative as his mother was cousin to Anne Boleyn, had experience during Edward’s time
Sir Francis Knollys Vice-Chamberlain of the Royal Household Elizabeth’s relative as he married her cousin the daughter of Mary Boleyn, served Edward and a staunch Protestant
Sir Nicholas Bacon Lord Keeper of the Great Seal an attorney—very capable and had been in Edward’s Court, father to Francis
William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley Secretary of State later Lord High Treasurer served Elizabeth during Mary’s reign while maintaining a position at CourtBacon’s brother-in-law
Francis Russell, 2nd Earl of Bedford Diplomat created into Peerage, staunch Protestant and collector—Armada Portrait at Woburn Abbey—godfather to Francis Drake
William Parr,1st Marquis of Northampton Courtier created into Peerage, brother to Katherine Parr
Sir Edward Rogers Comptroller served Edward and was in Elizabeth’s household at Hatfield
Sir Ambrose Cave connection of Cecil’s, and was in Elizabeth’s household at Hatfield
Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester Master of the Horse later Privy Council Member known to Elizabeth since childhood, held in Tower concurrently, became principle favorite
Henry Carey, Lord Hunsdon Courtier later Privy Council Member Elizabeth’s cousin (son of aunt Mary Boleyn) given many positions
John Ashley Courtier husband of her governess, Kat Ashley
John Fortescue Courtier relative of Thomas Parry
Sir William St. Loe Courtier accused at time of Wyatt rebellion
Sir James Crofts Courtier accused at time of Wyatt rebellion, was a practicing Catholic
Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford Lord Great Chamberlain at 12 his wardship was handed over to Cecil from Elizabeth, inclined toward Catholicism, some believe he is “Shakespeare”
Sir Francis Walsingham Principal Secretary known as ‘spy master,’ loyal, yet very out-spoken
Thomas Radclyffe, 3rd Earl of Sussex Courtier and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland distantly related to Elizabeth, served Mary
Sir Christopher Hatton Courtier later Privy Council Member rose to prominence after Elizabeth saw him dance at Court, called “the Dancing Chancellor”, very devoted
Sir Thomas Wilson Diplomat and Judge later Secretary of State associate of the Dudleys, wrote Arte of Rhetorique which set English style

edstanley          Henry FitzAlan 19thEarlOfArundel

Edward Stanley                                                     Henry FitzAlan

Henry Herbert EarlOfPemboke         HOward of Effingham

Henry Herbert                                              William Howard

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

William Paulet                                               Edward Clinton

WilliamPetre           Nicholas_Wotton

William Petre                                                     Nicholas Wotton

Thomas Parry    francisknollys

Thomas Parry                                              Francis Knollys

bacon nicoholas     cecil william

Nicholas Bacon                                             William Cecil

Russell,Francis(2EBedford)01       william parr

Francis Russell                                                   William Parr

robertdudley       henrycarey1

Robert Dudley                                                   Henry Carey

johnfortseque          Edward-de-Vere-1575

John Fortesque                                            Edward de Vere

walsingham       Thomas_Radclyffe_Earl_of_Sussex

Francis Walsingham                               Thomas Radclyffe

chrishatton       thomas wilson

Christopher Hatton                                  Thomas Wilson

At the beginning of her reign, Elizabeth proclaimed “I mean to direct all my actions by good advice and counsel” (Marcus 52).  I believe this does not mean she meant to bend to the will of her ministers.  She had received a humanist education similar to many of her advisors and she knew she ruled.  In her speech to her councilors shortly before her Coronation she assured them she would take advice from them and knew what a good team they would all be: “I with my ruling and you with your service may make a good account to almighty God…” (Marcus 52).

Personal relationships between monarchs and their council members were a big part of the appointments more than just political views—thus the factions that could emerge and the debates. Lord Burghley helped set the tone for the Privy Council as reported by Francis Peck: “He would never deliver his opinion in council, but when he might freely debate it” (Peck 43). 

Elizabeth did permit differences of opinion and allowed council members to make comments. She respected independent thought (look at the type of men she appointed).  Her council became more fiery and diverse in later years (especially the final 15 years of her rule as many of the early advisors died) but this conciliatory, initial one proved effective and wise under the leadership of the experienced William Cecil.  While teaching Elizabeth the art of statecraft, Cecil devoted himself to her, England and the Protestant cause. Once when he offered to resign after a disagreement, he requested that he be able to “serve her Majesty elsewhere, be it in kitchen or garden” (Brimacombe 63). 

She did consult her advisors but she also knew her own mind.  One has to give her credit for appointing such able councilors.  Yet, how did she hold their loyalty?  Similarly to her grandfather, she did not give excessive rewards, she was often harsh, she could be unkind, yet they were devoted to her. She had courage, subtlety, intelligence and charisma.  

Elizabeth loved a crowd and performed well in front of one.  She always had a rejoinder for the comments made by the people when she was out in public.  She seemed friendly and approachable while still retaining her dignity. Throughout her entire reign, when she went on progress the countryside filled with people eager to catch a glimpse of her on the road.  This was devotion above and beyond fear of majesty and her relatively tolerant rule. “When she smiles, it was a pure sunshine that everyone did choose to bask in if they could” said Sir John Harington (Hibbert 117).

johnharington

John Harington

John Hayward, a contemporary, wrote of her entry into London and her first few weeks as queen that “if ever any persone had eyther the gift or the stile to winne the hearts of people, it was this Queene; and if ever shee did expresse the same, it was at that present, in coupling mildnesse with majesty as shee did, and in stately stouping to the meanest sort” (Hayward 6).

progress1

Elizabeth on Progress

The feeling was mutual.  She commented to a French diplomat late in her reign concerning her people’s affection that “it seems incredible, and I love them no less, and I can say that I would rather die than see any diminution of it on one side or the other” (Sitwell 75).  As she famously exclaimed in her Golden Speech, “…though God hath raised me high, yet this I count the glory of my Crown, that I have reigned with your loves” (Marcus 337).

References

Bacon, Francis. The Works of Francis Bacon, Baron Verulam, Viscount of St. Albans, and Lord High Chancellor of England. Vol. 5. London: Printed for M. Jones, 1818. Google Books. Web. 6 Apr. 2013.

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

Brimacombe, Peter.  All the Queen’s Men: the World of Elizabeth I.  Stroud: Sutton Publishing, 2000.  Print.

Cecil, Lord Burghley, William, Sir. Queen Elizabeth and Her Times: A Series of Original Letters Selected from the Inedited Private Correspondence of the Lord Treasurer Burghley, the Earl of Leicester, the Secretaries Walsingham and Smith, Sir Christopher Hatton and Most of the Distinguished Persons of the Period : In Two Volumes. Ed. Thomas Wright. London: Colburn, 1838. Google Books. Web. 10 Mar. 2013.

Doran, Susan and Norman Jones. The Elizabethan World. London: Routledge, 2011. Print.

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

Dudley, Edmund. The Tree of Common Wealth: A Treatise. Manchester London: C. Simms & Co., 1859. Google Books. Web. 1 Apr. 2013.

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

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

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

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

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

James, Mervyn. Society, Politics, and Culture: Studies in Early Modern England. Cambridge [Cambridgeshire: Cambridge UP, 1986. Web. 6 Apr. 2013. 

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

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

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

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

Nichols, John. Gentleman’s Magazine … Vol. 163. London: William Pickering; John Bowyer Nichols and Son, January to June Inclusive,1833. Google Books. Web. 2013.

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

Peck, Francis. Desiderata Curiosa:  Or, a collection of divers scarce and curious pieces relating chiefly to matters of English history; Consisting of Choice Tracts, Memoirs, Letters, Wills, Epitaphs, & Transcribed, Many of them, from the Originals Themselves, and the Rest from Divers Antient MS. Copies, or the MS. Collections of Sundry Famous Antiquaries and other Eminent Persons, both of the Last and Present Age: the whole, as Near as Possible, digested into an Order of Time, and Illustrated with Ample Notes, Contents, Additional Discourses, and a Complete Index.  By Francis Peck, M..A. Rector of Godeby Near Melton in Leicestershire.  Adorned with Cuts.  A new edition, greatly corrected, with some memoirs of the life and writings of Mr. Peck.  Vol. 1. London: Thomas Evans in the Strand, 1732. Google Books. Web. 30 Mar. 2013. 

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

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

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

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

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

Warnicke, Retha M. The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989. Print.

Wilson, A. N.  The Elizabethans.  London: Hutchinson, 2011. Print.

Heir Unapparent

Heir Unapparent
Looked at with a cursory glance, the roads to succession for the heirs to Henry VII and Elizabeth I was without challenge and smooth.  Looked at with greater scrutiny, those roads to succession were troubled with opposition and rough.  Although many other royal houses had issues, the House of Tudor developed unique situations.

The Oxford Dictionary lists the earliest use of the identification of the House of Tudor as the “Tudor Dynasty” to 1779 with it becoming much more prevalent around 1906. According to C. S. L. Davis, the name “Tudor” was not widely used in the sixteenth century. Davis continued to explain that the contemporary publications did not use the surname until 1584, speculating that the monarchs wanted to distance themselves as descendents from non-royal, actually lowly-born, origins.

Until the Yorkist view of legitimacy based on primogeniture, the law of succession was not clear.  The dynastic struggles of the War of the Roses had continued the beliefs that the ruling king was such by divine right (having won the victory to place him there) and was cemented through the oaths of allegiance.  Obviously, legitimacy was not in Henry VII’s favor but it is a doctrine which he embraced once he became king  (Elton 18-19).  Henry had the succession registered in Parliament.  His purpose was to get his dynasty clearly declared.  He had parliament issue forth “that the inheritance of the crown of England, with every right and possession belonging to it, should remain and abide with our now sovereign lord king Henry and his heirs” (Elton 19-20).

Upon his death, Henry VII’s throne did not move automatically to his son.  Power brokers concealed his death for two days while they consolidated their positions.  Henry VIII was proclaimed, but not given full sovereignty under the guise of his being shy of 18 years of age.  Despite this, it cannot be denied that it was a smooth transition with no elaborate power plays.  Henry VII may have thought this impossible at various stages of his reign.

Edward Hall claimed in the title of his history, “The Union of the two Noble and Illustrious Families,” that the children born to Henry VII and Elizabeth of York brought this about.  There were claimants to the throne that had to be dealt with in various degrees of severity.  The remaining daughters of Edward IV were married to supporters. John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln, was a nephew of Edward IV and had been nominated as successor by Richard III.  His oath of allegiance to Henry VII mitigated his claim.  Edward Plantagenet, Earl of Warwick, was handled less gently by being thrown in jail to dilute his dynastic claims.  Henry realized “There had to be an end to dynastic war before any dynasty could set about rebuilding the kingdom” (Elton 10).

john pole heraldry                                        edward warwick heraldry
Heraldry of John de la Pole,                Heraldry of Edward Plantagenet,
Earl of Lincoln                                            Earl of Warwick

Also early in his reign Henry VII faced dangers to his less-than-stable throne in with not one but two pretenders as Duke of York.  The first, Lambert Simnel, was quickly dealt with while the second, Perkin Warbeck, gained substantial support.  William Stanley, brother to his own step-father, deserted the Tudor cause to support Warbeck as did the Dowager Duchess of Burgundy, Margaret of York.  Her support proved so threatening that Henry was compelled to exclaim, “That stupid brazen woman hates my own family with such bitterness … she remains bent on destroying myself and my children” (Hutchinson 17).

lambertsimnel                 Perkin warbeck

   Lambert Simnel                                       Perkin Warbeck

Once the rebellions were stopped, Henry declared his second son Henry as Duke of York in order to claim the title and cement the succession of Lancaster and York. Preserving the Tudor succession continued to be in the forefront of Henry’s mind.  Henry wanted to leave no inheritance pretenders to endanger his son’s position on the throne of England” (Ross 36).  At the end of his reign he could know that the “threats of the dynasty had faded away; he could pass on a safe inheritance to his son” (Morrill 314).   Although the throne was passed to the second son rather than the eldest (due to the early death of Prince Arthur) Henry VIII was the first sovereign in many years to inherit rather than win it by conquest. The crown that Henry VIII inherited was as strong as the one that James VI succeeded to from Elizabeth Regina.

Astoundingly it could be argued that the greatest issues of Elizabeth Regina’s reign, from Parliament’s perspective, were her marriage and the succession.  Once Elizabeth passed the childbearing age, the question of her marriage took care of itself; and, obviously, affected the matter of the succession.

William Cecil tried to convince her that if she did not have children she would be in danger as people of “devilish means might be tempted to desire her end” as they tried to gain the throne and “she would have perpetual torment in life” (Froude 127).

Elizabeth’s perception was that settling the succession would not necessarily bring safety and stability.  “I know that my people have no other cause for regret than that they know me to be but mortal, and therefore they have no certainty of a successor born of me to reign over them”  (Sitwell 269).  Debate would begin immediately, those slighted would be angry and it could still create a struggle for power upon her death. So, with her skill in statecraft, Elizabeth maintained her silence understanding the wisdom of this better than her advisors or her people.

Although in 1559 at her first Parliament Elizabeth assured the members that “the realm shall not remain destitute of an heir” she had no intention of clarifying who that person would be (Perry 100).  She learned during her sister Mary’s reign that a monarch’s heir presumptive automatically becomes the center of dissent.  “I have good experience of myself in my sister’s time, how desirous men were that I should be in place, and earnest to set me up.  And if I would have consented, I know what enterprises would have been attempted to bring it to pass” (Marcus 66).  Every person who had declared for her would have expected rewards when she became queen.  They surely would have been disappointed in what had been meted out and would look around for someone else to put in place who would better reward them.  “No prince’s revenues be so great that they are able to satisfy the insatiable cupidity of men” (Marcus 66).

Throughout her reign, various contenders took their turn leading the short list of possible heirs.  Early on Katherine Grey held the prime spot.  It was well-known that Elizabeth did not care for Katherine and when Katherine married in secret to Somerset’s heir, Elizabeth had no compunction about tossing her in the Tower.  Katherine gave birth to two sons while confined who, despite their lineage, were never true contenders for the throne.  Included in the list early in her reign would be Henry, Lord Hastings and Mary, Queen of Scots, who styled herself as Queen of England much to Elizabeth’s dismay, and never could be discredited as a true heir.  Mary’s role will be discussed later.

Katherine Grey      henry hastings

  Lady Katherine Grey                 Henry, Lord Hastings, Earl of Huntingdon

As Elizabeth grew older the attention focused on the following claimants: Lady Arbella Stuart; Isabella, the Infanta of Spain; Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex; and, James VI of Scotland. She never could escape the political pressures to name an heir although she assured Sir William Maitland, Lord Lethington, a Scottish politician that “When I am dead, they shall succeed that have most right” (Neale 110).

Arbella Stuart                 isabella infanta of spain
 Lady Arbella Stuart                Isabella Clara Eugenia, Infanta of Spain

earl of essex

Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex

King James VI of Scotland
 King James VI of Scotland

Small pox, that feared scourge of the 16th century became even more so when Elizabeth contracted it.  She survived with minimal effects, but the fear instilled in her ministers of the possibility of her dying without an heir did not fade as quickly as her symptoms.  During the 1563 Parliament petitions from both the House and the Lords were presented to her begging her to marry and to name an heir.

The House of Commons saw “the unspeakable miseries of civil wars, the perilous intermeddlings of foreign princes with seditious, ambitious and factious subjects at home, the waste of noble houses, the slaughter of people, subversion of towns … unsurety of all men’s possessions, lives and estates:  if the sovereign were to die without a known heir, and pointed out that “from the Conquest to this present day the realm was never left as now it is without a certain heir, living and known” (Plowden  Marriage with my Kingdom 130).

Elizabeth certainly gave a refined response on January 28, 1563. This short speech gave no concrete answer regarding the succession although she assured her listeners that she understood the gravity of the situation while letting them know that it was her concern for “I know that this matter toucheth me much nearer than it doth you all” (Marcus 71).  She told them that it needed consideration, that she would let them know later and ‘so I assure you all that, though after my death you may have many stepdames, yet shall you never have a more natural mother than I mean to be unto you all” (Marcus 72).

The Lords sent an equally bloodcurdling petition about what would happen when Elizabeth died as they all knew that “upon the death of a prince, the law dieth” (Plowden Marriage with my Kingdom 131).  Elizabeth’s response to the Lords was read out by Nicholas Bacon, Lord Keeper on April 10, 1563.  As with the Commons she recognized that the succession was a grave matter and she would give it close attention.  It was another brilliant example of an “answer, answerless” (Seaward).

1563

1563

Draft of Elizabeth Regina’s Speech Given to Parliament in April 1563

Elizabeth was not pleased when in 1566 members of Parliament brought up her marriage and the succession again.  She told them they could not discuss it and they replied that they had a right to do so.  Once more they received an adamant ‘no’ and a comment that “it is monstrous that the feet should direct the head” (Marcus 98).

Wrapped up very eloquently and fancily, Elizabeth replied to both the Commons and the Lords and, although the style of each response differed, the message was clear: when it was convenient for her to determine a successor she would and not before.

Elizabeth assured the members that she would marry when it was convenient and they were not to be concerned about that.  She explained: “I will never break the word of a prince spoken in public place for my honor sake” (Marcus 95).  As for the succession in no uncertain terms she reminded them that it was her decision and hers alone.  Parliament had no business even discussing it and if the issue was debated it would be useless as “some would speak for their master, some for their mistress and every man for his friend…” (Marcus 97). One can imagine how incensed Elizabeth was as she had spoken that the Parliamentarians did not understand nor concern themselves with the peril she placed herself in by naming an heir.  She believed “nothing was said for my safety, but only for themselves” (Marcus 96).

Next she derisively questioned if the named heirs would be able to go above their own personal interests for the good of the country.  Would they “be of such uprightness and so divine as in them shall be divinity itself.  …they would have such piety in them that they would not seek where they are the second to be the first, and where the third to be the second, and so forth” (Marcus 96). She made it clear that “at this present, it is not convenient, nor never shall be without some peril unto you and certain danger unto me” to name a successor so she would not (Marcus 97).

These admonishments did not silence the members and she had to threaten any Parliamentarian who brought up the issue of the succession with examination by the Privy Council and possible punishment which in turn led Paul Wentworth, on behalf of the House, to assert the right of freedom of speech.

This power struggle did not end there.  Guzman de Silva, the Spanish ambassador whom she liked, learned about Parliament’s attempt to blackmail Elizabeth into naming a successor by placing in the preamble of the subsidy bill the necessity of the Queen to name her heir.  Elizabeth caught this request while reading the draft of the subsidy bill and let it be known via annotations to the document, that she would not have her word questioned by being put into law form.  “Shall my princely consent be turned to strengthen my words that be not themselves substantives?  Say no more at this time; but if these fellows were well answered, and paid with lawful coin, there would be fewer counterfeits among them”  (Mueller 40).

guzman de silva
Guzman de Silva, Spanish Ambassador

In her speech to dissolve Parliament on January 2, 1567, she let the members have it again about the inappropriateness of bringing up the succession question as it was a concern only for her.  She did not cloak her pique with Parliament.  She had replied that “not one of them that ever was a second person, as I have been, and have tasted of the practices against my sister… I stood in danger of my life, my sister was incensed against me. …and I was sought in divers ways.  And so shall never be my successor” (Marcus 96).

1566

1566

Draft of Elizabeth Regina’s Speech Given to Parliament on January 2, 1567

Mary, Queen of Scots plays a dominate role in the succession question under Elizabeth.  At first it was as a thorn in the side of the English Queen because Mary, even when she was the Dauphine of France, styled herself “as heiress-presumptive to the English throne” (Fraser 118). Elizabeth was trying to establish herself as sovereign and Anglicanism as the Church and did not relish such threats to her country’s stability.   Later, Mary conspired to overthrow Elizabeth and take over the crown of England—leading to her execution.

mary as dauphine
Mary, Queen of Scots as Dauphine of France

In between times, where does Mary fit?  Many believed Mary was Elizabeth’s true choice as heir.  It was reported by Sir William Maitland that Elizabeth compared the contenders to her throne alongside Mary.  “You know them all, alas; what power or force has any of them, poor souls? It is true that some of them has made declaration to the world that they are more worthy of it than either she or I…” (Dunn 189).  Yes, indeed.  Elizabeth felt the succession question greatly, was concerned about the pool of contenders, and feared naming any one of them.

william maitland
William Maitland, Lord Lethington

Maitland was certainly given every reason to believe that his Queen could obtain the throne of England as Elizabeth felt Mary had a legitimate right to it (even if she was angry at Mary for her self-declaration as heir and her use of Elizabeth’s arms in her heraldry) but she did couch her consideration in a warning. “For so long as I live there shall be no other queen in England but I, and failing thereof she cannot allege that ever I did anything which may hurt the right she may pretend” (Marcus 62).

Mary’s rights seemed to be overshadowed by all the reasons why she should not be heir:  She was Catholic; Henry VIII’s will had excluded that branch of the family; and Scottish relations could deteriorate if the independent minded Scots felt threatened.

Yet, the greatest deterrent to actually naming Mary would be that as long as she thought she was in the running, she had to toe the line.  Once declared, it would be harder for Elizabeth to control her.  Elizabeth was convinced “it is hard to bind princes by any security where hope is offered of a kingdom” (Marcus 67). The risks of naming a successor were too great. Once Elizabeth gave the succession to someone, it was theirs.  They had a right to keep it and it could not be taken back.  One must see why the granting of it must be weighed so carefully.

The execution of Mary, Queen of Scots does not make this a moot point as the logical successor became Mary’s son, the Protestant James VI. For many years, Elizabeth maintained a correspondence with James which are available and well-worth checking out –one source, Letters of Queen Elizabeth and King James VI of Scotland: Some of Them Printed from Originals… edited by John Bruce.   Historians have interpreted these letters to be in the line of a mentor and mentee.  Obviously, her intentions were for him to succeed although she never would declare that because “to have done otherwise would have been to invite all rivals and enemies to set about forestalling his succession, thus jeopardizing both his rights and her domestic peace” (Neale 403).

Elizabeth astuteness understood the reality as she asserted “I know the inconsistency of the people of England, how they ever mislike the present government and has their eyes fixed upon that person that is next to succeed; and naturally men be so disposed:  ‘Plures adorant solem orientem quam occidentem’ [More do adore the rising than the setting sun]” (Dunn 187 or Marcus 66).

References

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

Allen, William. Robert Parsons.  A conference about the next succession to the crown of England: divided into two parts. The first containeth the discourse of a civil lawyer; how, and in what manner propinquity of bloud is to be preferred. The second containeth the speech of a temporal lawyer, about the particular titles of all such as do, or may pretend (within England or without) to the next succession. Whereunto is also added, a new and perfect arbor and genealogy of the descents of all the kings and princes of England, from the Conquest unto this day; whereby each mans pretence is made more plain. London:  R. Doleman, 1594.  Google Books. Web. 19 Mar. 2013.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Do Today…?

Why Do Today…?

Both Henry VII and Elizabeth I have had the word temporise used to describe their behavior.  Will historians ever know positively if their irresolute actions were procrastination due to personal reasons or reluctance due to political reasons; oscillation or genius?  As usual, it depends on who is writing the history. 

“As a new man, Henry had to secure his place.  He did this by a compromising approach:  by marrying Elizabeth, but only belatedly…” (Bacon and Weinberger 238).  In December 1483 he had pledged to marry Elizabeth of York and had obtained the papal dispensation needed.  It was left to Parliament to encourage the marriage on December 10, 1485, by proclamation to the King “that he would please take the noble Lady Elizabeth, daughter of King Edward the IV, as his wife and consort” (Bacon and Lumby 239).

parl to use
Parliamentary Directive for King Henry to marry Elizabeth of York, in Latin

On January 18, 1486, the greatly anticipated marriage took place to great joy on the part of the peoples of England.  Henry had to realize that the ceremony “was thought by some to have been too long delayed, and historians have declaimed against Henry on this account” (Bacon and Lumby 239).

According to Jerry Weinberger, many of Henry’s early troubles stemmed from the fact that he slighted Elizabeth and the House of York. He postponed their marriage and delayed her coronation.  The coronation occurred most likely, as with other things, because events forced his hand.  Henry learned that by not crowning Elizabeth and “vouchsafing her the honour of a matrimonial crown” (Bacon and Lumby 22) it “did rankle and fester the affections of his people” and therefore, “he resolved at last to proceed” (Bacon and Lumby 39).

eyork
Elizabeth of York

When he returned to London after traveling north, “the Queen was with great solemnity crowned at Westminster, the twenty-fifth of November, in the third year of his reign, which was about two years after the marriage…” (Bacon and Vickers 37).  His “strange and unusual distance of time made it subject to every man’s note, that it was an act against his stomach, and put upon him by necessity and reason of state” (Bacon and Lumby 40).

francis bacon
Francis Bacon

Although it is not the purpose here to relay the history of the country of Ireland, suffice to say that the issues were complicated and Henry was “obliged to temporize.  After long hesitation …” the king instituted his policy in Ireland (Morris 24).

Irelandca1500
Map of Ireland in 1500

Other international situations, such as in France, “precipitated the kind of decision which Henry had striven to avoid since his accession…” (Griffiths 172).  When dealing with Ferdinand of Aragon, the Hapsburg Empire and Burgundy “Henry hesitated, drew back…” (Mattingly 77).  Likewise, it appears to be déjà vu all over again with his actions concerning events in Flanders where the “the King was obliged to temporise” (Fletcher 61). At least he was consistent as Raimondo di Soncino, the Milanese envoy to Ludirio Sforza, Duke of Milan, reported of Henry VII that “he well knows how to temproise…” (Pollard 160).

Was it personality?  Was it policy?

Ten years into his reign, it was thought that policies and events that unfolded positively we accredited to his foresight and skill.  The King would “cunningly put off…” decisions and revelations of his plans until favorable conditions arose (Bacon and Vickers 37).  Amazingly, while Henry VII appears skillful in his vacillating, Elizabeth Regina was scoffed at as displaying womanly indecision.  Historians, I believe, have not been able to remove the sexism of her time period in their interpretations.  Understandably, the evidence which is left is the letters between her advisors or dispatches between diplomats and their home countries–written by men in that traditional time period.  Can Elizabeth not be credited for having the wisdom to allow events to unfold, to await natural solutions and to weigh possible options?

In general Elizabeth had her secretaries “fuming by her time-wasting ploys” (Somerset 279).  Once she had ordered letters to be written, she often would not sign them or allow the letters to be sent until she had thought things over some more.  Sir Thomas Smith writing to Lord Burghley said, “I had somewhat ado to get to the Queene, and more to get anything signed” (Wright 448) and “the letter already signed, which your Lordship knoweth, permitted to be sent away, but day by day, and hour by hour, deferred till anoe, sone, and to-morrow” (Cecil 1).

thomas smith                      cecil william
Sir Thomas Smith                                            William Cecil, Lord Burghley

The letters between these two men displayed “her peculiarities, her caution, her love of procrastination…her fondness for reiterated considerations of matters which every one thought to have been determined upon…” (Sylvanus 346).  Elizabeth did temporize and she was notorious for ignoring decisions.  Often these courses of action (or inaction) worked in her favor, as it did for her grandfather, because events would unfold and either resolve themselves or reveal a clearer path.  Nevertheless, while Henry VII is touted as exuding cunning, she is condemned as exuding “weakness” (Carruthers).

“Her hesitation, indecision, petulance, emotionalism and petty-mindedness are vices which men throughout the ages have been pleased to regard as typically feminine” (Ridley 335).  Yet, in 1569 the failure of the northern Earls’ rebellion was “due to the cautious and temporising policy for which Elizabeth has been so severely blamed by heated partisans” (Beesly).

Mary, Queen of Scots, had been a troubling issue for Elizabeth from the moment Mary returned to Scotland.  After many years as a political prisoner in England, Elizabeth was still unsure of how to handle the situation.  Once “proof” (many would interpret the evidence-gathering by Walsingham and his operatives as entrapment) had been collected to prove Mary was plotting with Catholics for the overthrow of Elizabeth, her conviction was a foregone conclusion.

mary scots
Mary, Queen of Scots

Judgment was handed down in October of 1586 yet Elizabeth wavered until February of 1587 before signing the death warrant.  The story is well-known of how William Davison, a privy councilor, bore the brunt of Elizabeth’s wrath once the execution was carried out.  Elizabeth had given him the signed warrant with the intention, so she later said, that it would not be delivered.  The seasoned Davison recognized the dangerous position he was in and “fearing she should lay the Fault upon me…” he had eventually taken the signed warrant to Cecil (The Life and Reign … 243).  Burghley called a meeting of the Privy Council and all agreed to send the warrant off without delay (Froude, Hibbert, MacCaffrey, Neale, Ridley, Somerset).

Her vacillation and unclear directives can be interpreted as genuine indecision of putting a fellow monarch to death or as brilliant political maneuverings to avoid the blame and placate the French and Spanish. If one acknowledges the emotions Elizabeth was experiencing concerning the death of a fellow monarch and family member plus the pressures of domestic and international politics, it is easier to recognize her indecision.

As an interesting aside at his trial for disobeying his sovereign, William Davison testified that “I perceived that she wavered in her Resolution, I asked her whether she had changed her Mind?  She answered, No: but another Course, said she, might have been devised…” (The Life and Reign …244). Like her grandfather, she held out waiting for another means; in this case it was her hope that Mary could be quietly done away with by some other method besides execution.  This came to light when Mary’s custodian at the time, Sir Amyas Paulet, asserted in a letter to Walshingham that he would do much for his Queen but would not “make so foul a shipwreck of my conscience, or leave so great a blot to my poor posterity, to shed blood without law or warrant” (Paulet 362).

amyaspaulet         walsingham
Sir Amyas Paulet                                        Francis Walsingham 

Determining the path to take concerning the Netherlands proved another area of discontent between Elizabeth and her advisors. Sir Thomas Smith wrote to Burghley that “…nothing resolved, and therefor, such number of things unanswered, whereupon her Majestie’s ministers lie still in suspense” (Cecil 1). Many of her councilors sided with Leicester very early to support William of Orange’s rebellion against the Spanish.  Her view was different from her councilors as she did not relish supporting ‘rebels’ against their sovereign; even if in this case the sovereign was her adversary Philip II.  “After long oscillation Elizabeth’s policy finally gravitated towards Philip and peace” (Froude 409).

This was not the policy that was eventually carried out.  As the political situation changed, military intervention on behalf of the Prince of Orange would become the official policy.  Secretary of State Sir Thomas Wilson stated “Temporising hath been thought heretofore good policy.  There was never so dangerous a time as this is, and temporising will no longer serve” (Archer 136).
WilliamOfOrange     philip-ii
William of Orange                                      Philip II

England’s neighbor, Scotland, proved another trouble spot for policy.  Support for rebels against the state was never an easy path for Elizabeth.  She would not give aid even though there were French troops landing on Scottish shores then agreed to do so because of the intervention of Spain.   Was she irresolute or facing realpolitik?

Walsingham boldly wrote in January 1575 to the Queen concerning her procrastination over policy in Scotland, “For the love of God, madam, let not the cure of your diseased state hang any longer on deliberation.  Diseased states are no more cured by consultation, when nothing resolved on is put into execution…” (Halser).  Would he have done this if his sovereign had been Henry VII?  Obviously, that is one of those unanswerable questions.

Elizabeth’s oscillating about marriage is so well-known there is no need to go into great detail.  She changed her mind not only per candidate, but even to marry, many times based on the international situation of the balance of power in Europe and perhaps her thoughts of having a chance at romantic happiness.  “The Queen skittishly shifted her ground, consistent only in her unwillingness to commit herself” (MacCaffrey 208).

Elizabeth came closest to marrying the Duke of Anjou (also referred to as the Duke of Alençon), even becoming ill at one point over her indecision.  The lengthy negotiations could be interpreted solely to “gain time and to keep the peace” (Hibbert 202).  Her purpose was served as she kept England out of the troubled Netherlands for longer, she lead Philip II to believe there was a chance for an Anglo-French alliance, and she dispensed Anjou out of the country on good terms.

dukeanjou

Duke of Anjou

Perhaps diplomatic and romantic reasons were not enough and James Melville, the Scottish diplomat, found the most precise reason for Elizabeth never marrying when he declared “Ye think gene ye wer married, ye wald be bot Quen of England, and now ye ar King and Quen baith; ye may not suffer a commander” (Melville 122).

The hesitations and changes of policy were genuine, and often due to the change in political climates both domestic and international rather than due to a character flaw.  Elizabeth herself wrote to William Cecil, Lord Burghley, on April 11, 1572,  “Methinks that I am more beholding to the hinder part of my head than well dare trust the forwards side of the same …” (Marcus 131).

Throughout her reign, Elizabeth’s goals were consistent –to keep England at peace and prosperous.  One can understand how hard it would be to make these decisions as there would be no way to see all eventualities.

Maybe in modern day parlance it would be that she had a fear of failure.  Elizabeth wanted so much to make the right decisions that she was often incapable of making one.  The issues discussed above were complex even if one did not include the factors of a monarch with obligations to her state and a woman with personal preferences.

Works Cited

Archer, Jayne Elizabeth et. al., ed.  The Progresses, Pageants, & Entertainments of Queen Elizabeth I.  Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. Print.

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

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

Bacon, Francis. The History of the Reign of King Henry the Seventh a New Ed. with Introduction, Annotation and Interpretative Essay. Ed. Jerry Weinberger. Ithaca (N.Y): Cornell UP, 1996. Google Books. Web. 8 Mar. 2013.

Beesly, Edward Spencer. “Chapter V.” Queen Elizabeth. London: Macmillan and Co, 1892. EnglishHistory.net. Web. 3 Mar. 2013.

Campbell, William, ed. Materials for a History of the Reign of Henry VII. From Original Documents Preserved in the Public Record Office. Vol. I. London: Longman &: etc., 1873. Google Books. Web. 6 Mar. 2013.

Cecil, Lord Burghley, William, Sir. Queen Elizabeth and Her Times: A Series of Original Letters Selected from the Inedited Private Correspondence of the Lord Treasurer Burghley, the Earl of Leicester, the Secretaries Walsingham and Smith, Sir Christopher Hatton and Most of the Distinguished Persons of the Period : In Two Volumes. Ed. Thomas Wright. London: Colburn, 1838. Google Books. Web. 10 Mar. 2013.

Carruthers, Robert. “Queen Elizabeth I of England.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 10th ed. Edinburgh: Scotland. Encyclopedia Britannica, 1902. 1902 Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, 2005. Web. 17 Mar. 2013.

Fletcher, C. R. L. An Introductory History of England from Henry VII to the Restoration. With Maps. Vol. II. New York: Dutton, 1908. Google Books. Web. 9 Mar. 2013.

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

Hasler, P. W. “WALSINGHAM, Francis (c.1532-90), of Scadbury and Foots Cray, Kent; Barn Elms, Surr. and Seething Lane, London.” The History of Parliament: British Political, Social and Local History. The History of Parliament Trust 1964-2013, Web. 10 Mar. 2013. .

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

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

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

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

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

Melville, James. Memoirs of His Own Life: M.D.XLIX.-M.D.XCII : From the Original Manuscript. Ed. Thomas Thomson. Glasgow: G. Brookman, 1833. Google Books. Web. 17 Mar. 2013.

Morris, William O’Connor. Ireland, 1494-1868, with Two Introductory Chapters.. Cambridge: University, 1898. Google Books. Web. 9 Mar. 2013.

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

Paulet, Amias Sir.  The Letter Books of Sir Amias Paulet, Keeper of Mary, Queen of Scots. Ed John Morris.  London:  Burns and Gates, 1874.  Internet Archive.  Web 9 March 2013.

Pollard, Albert Frederick. “Full Text of “The Reign of Henry VII from Contemporary Sources”” Full Text of “The Reign of Henry VII from Contemporary Sources “Google Books, 1914. Internet Archive.  Web. 9 Mar. 2013.

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.

Sylvanus, Urban, Gent. Gentleman’s Magazine … Vol. IX. London: William Pickering; John Bowyer Nichols and Son, January to June Inclusive 1838. Google Books. Web. 2013.