His Last Letter

His Last Letter

At her death in 1603, Leicester’s last letter* to Elizabeth (written six days before his death in September 1588) was found in a small casket by her bed with “His Last Letter” written in her own handwriting on it. This story has always captured my imagination as a very adoring gesture taken by this imposing historical figure.

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His Last Letter.  For a modern transcription see below*.

In the early summer of 2003, I came home from work to find a present waiting for me from my husband. When I opened it, imagine my surprise when I found Susan Doran’s Elizabeth: The Exhibition at the National Maritime Museum--the catalog to the Greenwich Exhibition celebrating the 400th anniversary of the death of Queen Elizabeth I. Along with the catalog were entry tickets for August 8th and plane and hotel reservations.  I was going!  The catalog was read thoroughly beforehand with meticulous notes taken on which items would be “Want to See” and “Must See”.  Lot #70, Leicester’s last letter written to Elizabeth, was a “Must See” and became one of the top artifacts that I said I would die if I didn’t see.  What a way to set myself up.

We arrived early at the National Maritime Museum.  I was so excited.  We were some of the first in the doors that morning and sat front and center to watch the introductory video narrated by Guest Curator, David Starkey then I was ready to view the artifacts.

Armed with my list of exhibits to see (see below for an abbreviated chart of artifacts), I came upon Lot #70 and the letter wasn’t there!  There was #69 and #71 immediately next to it.  No #70.  I kept looking expecting it to miraculously materialize.  Nothing.  My husband looked: he called a docent over and they looked together.  The young man expressed great concern and radioed his supervisor who came to spend over 15 minutes looking for it.  Neither one of them could come up with a reason for its absence.  Still mystified, I finished the rest of the exhibit, went back to admire some particular items, wrote my notes and had to leave despite not seeing “His Last Letter.”

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Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester 

The rest of my surprise trip to Great Britain was a thrill (My visit to the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula in the Tower of London is for another blog entry).  Upon my return home to the USA, I was determined to discover what had happened to Lot #70.  Leicester’s last letter had become almost as important to me as it had to Elizabeth I.  I researched as much as I could and came up empty handed until my husband and I attended Dr. David Starkey’s lecture at the Newberry Library in Chicago, IL on November 22, 2003.

While standing in line to have books autographed (I took Elizabeth: The Exhibition at the National Maritime Museum and my husband had Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII), I resolved to ask him about the letter.  Dr. Starkey was wonderful to take the time to answer my questions (with a queue trailing behind me) and expressed surprise that I did not see the letter. He assured me that it should have been there.

books                   six

My next step, e-mailing the National Maritime Museum, which I did on November 24, 2003, asking if the lot had been removed for some reason.

The reply I received on November 26, 2003 is as follows.  [Having eliminated the name of the respondent for privacy.]

             Dear Jodi,

             Dudley’s last letter was on display in the exhibition but unfortunately, the  
 National Archives would only loan it to us for 3 months or so. By the time you 
 visited, it was replaced with another letter from Dudley to Elizabeth.>

 An image of the letter is available to view on our website. [The link is not active  
now in 2013.] http://www.nmm.ac.uk/site/request/setTemplate:singlecontent/
contentTypeA/conWebDoc.contentld/6088/viewPage

Mystery solved.  It still does not end my disappointment of not seeing the actual letter but ten years later and I am close to being over it.  Happily, I have a framed poster of the fantastic Exhibition in my den as a reminder.

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National Maritime Museum Exhibition on Queen Elizabeth I

Attended August 8, 2003

Lot

*Must See

Subject

Form

Comments

*7 Elizabeth Locket ring Has picture of her mom.
*26 Elizabeth & Mary Letter Hard to read as faded at the top of the paper.  Elizabeth wrote to Mary requesting an audience during the Wyatt Rebellion interrogation—diagonals across the bottom so no one could add anything.
*70 Elizabeth & Dudley Letter Was not there—his last letter to her with her writing on it identifying it as his last letter.
*192 Elizabeth Portrait Three Goddess.
*193 Elizabeth Portrait Pelican—from Walker Art Gallery.
*196 Elizabeth Portrait Peace
4 Anne Boleyn Pendant Given to her by Henry VIII.
5 Anne Boleyn Medal Has her motto on it.
12 Elizabeth, Katherine Parr, Henry VIII Book Elizabeth made for Henry of Katherine’s writings.
17 Elizabeth & Katherine Parr Letter Elizabeth forgot the word ‘them’ in the two letters on display. Letters she wrote to her little brother Edward were also interesting to see.
29 Elizabeth Portrait Coronation (Enjoyed the one of her at about age 14 also.)
69 Elizabeth & Dudley Letter He wrote to her as her ‘eyes’ signature was Ȱ Ȱ.  (Well, close to that.)
118 Elizabeth Inventory Great Wardrobe inventory of 1600 with separate exhibits of a pair of gloves and even her saddle.
264/265 Elizabeth Drawings Funeral procession.  (These drawings appear to be seen infrequently prior to this exhibit.)

 Newberry Library Elizabeth I Exhibit—Attnded November 22, 2003

Subject

Comments

Quentin Massey’s “Sieve” Portrait From 1580-83, after the one in Sienna, Italy.
Copy book by Roger Ascham (her tutor) Book on the education of children.
Elizabeth letter to Seymour Written February 21, 1549.
Evangelical Shepherd 1533 Gift to Anne Boleyn from Francis I with the introduction by a French poet.
Small portrait of Elizabeth She is in black and has a watch noticeably –from 1564-1567.
Elizabeth’s letter to Catherine de Medici The letter offers condolences over d’Alencon’s death in 1584—it was in French and in her  handwriting.
Answer to the Lords Petition that she marry It had her scribbles etc.  It was delivered in 1563 to Parliament by Nicholas Bacon with her seated nearby.
Speech of 1567 Elizabeth gave the speech herself to Parliament on the topic of her marrying –calling it “lip labored orations.”
Copy of Stubbs pamphlet It protested her marriage to d’Alencon– of which cost him his right hand.
Copy of Knox’s book, Blast on Female Rulers. It was a colonial copy from 1766 printed in Philadelphia.
Elizabeth speech to Parliament Topic concerned Mary, Queen of Scots on November 12, 1586.
Letter Elizabeth wrote to James Written in January 1593 offering advice.
Letter to Elizabeth from James The letter was written after Mary, Queen of Scots execution and dated March 1587.  He protests the action but would say—gently.
Mary’s execution drawing Similar to the one seen in Greenwich Exhibition.
Painting of Henry VIII, Edward VI and Elizabeth  from 1597 Had never seen this painting before although it is from the Art Institute of Chicago.57197_764549
Essex letter to Elizabeth from November 1597 Essex pleading for her forgiveness in his own arrogant way.
Version of Tilbury speech August 9, 1588 Written by an eyewitness.
Scroll of funeral procession, from British Library Forty feet long by College of Heralds.  Had listed Walter Raleigh as Capitan of the Guard.
William Camden Annals of 1625 Definitive source of information on Elizabeth.

Afterward:

In October of 2012 inquires were made as how Liecester’s letter came to the ownership of the National Archives.  My first e-mail was mistakenly taken as a request for a copy (for those of you who are interested, here is the web address where it can be purchased: https:www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/recordcopying/estimateoptions.aspx).  A second e-mail fielded this reply:

Dear Jodi,

Thank you for your further email, and I am sorry if my colleague did not fully answer your enquiry. While it is often very difficult to check the provenance of a single document, more generally the National Archives holds the archive of the crown and central government, and as such many personal documents from the reigning monarch ended up amongst more formal state documents, known collectively as State Papers. Some have ended up elsewhere, as royal officials often treated official papers as personal property, but royal letters can be found for all the Tudor monarchs in our collections. There is some background research guidance on this in:http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/records/research-guides/state-papers-1547-1649.htm. Elizabeth’s letter is likely to have been in custody of royal officials since her death.

 Yours sincerely,
 Dr. #####  ######
Medieval and Early Modern Team
Advice and Records Knowledge (ARK)
The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU
http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk

It must be surmised that the letter was treated as a “State Paper” and handled as such throughout.  I am just thankful that it is still in existence and the story of Elizabeth I treasuring it for the 15 years until her own death is preserved as well.

*“I most humbly beseech your Majesty to pardon your poor old servant to be thus bold in sending to know how my gracious lady doth, and what ease of her late pains she finds, being the chiefest thing in this world I do pray for, for her to have good health and long life. For my own poor case, I continue still your medicine and find that (it) amends much better than with any other thing that hath been given me. Thus hoping to find perfect cure at the bath, with the continuance of my wonted prayer for your Majesty’s most happy preservation, I humbly kiss your foot. From your old lodging at Rycote, this Thursday morning, ready to take on my Journey, by your Majesty’s most faithful and obedient servant,

R. Leicester

Even as I had writ thus much, I received Your Majesty’s token by Young Tracey.”

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The Fourth Step-Mother of Elizabeth, Katherine Parr

The Fourth Step-Mother of Elizabeth, Katherine Parr
As discussed in an earlier blog entry, Catherine Howard, Henry VIII passed a law that required all future queens of England to have chaste pasts or be willing to confess any ‘indiscretions.’  Obviously, this eliminated many candidates.  Who would be free from scandal or brave enough to tell Henry if she was not?

Enter Katherine Parr, the daughter of Thomas and Maud Parr.  Maud, a lady-in-waiting to Queen Catherine of Aragon, was a highly intelligent and well-educated woman.  Queen Catherine placed her in charge of the education of many of the youngsters at Court. Her children, especially Katherine, benefited greatly from the Court tutors and developed a life-long love of learning.  Maud was widowed at the age of 25 and never remarried.  She concentrated her efforts on establishing good matches for her children and protecting her son’s inheritance.  In 1529 when Katherine was 16 or 17, she was married to Edward Borough.  Edward was in his early twenties when he died in 1533.  It is often confused that she married his grandfather, another Edward, perpetuating the myth of her marrying aged widowers. This blogger wonders if the confusion came because she would have resided in a multi-generational household perhaps with the grandfather-in-law as the head.

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The Borough family manor, Gainsborough Old Hall.

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Gainsborough Old Hall

Maud Parr died the year after Katherine was widowed and it left the young woman basically independent.  Katherine arranged her own next marriage to John Neville, Lord Latimer of Snape Castle in Yorkshire, a man in his early forties.  The exact date is unknown but they married in 1534.  Lord Latimer had two children both of whom became very close to their young stepmother, especially the daughter, Margaret.  From the time of her marriage, Katherine had the responsibilities of the household.  Her responsibilities expanded to include the entire estate when Lord Latimer took an active role, on the side of the rebels, in the Pilgrimage of Grace.  As examples of her abilities, Katherine withheld a siege, protected the occupants of the household and managed, with the help of her brother William, to gain a pardon for Latimer.  King Henry did not hold it against Latimer and both Katherine and her husband were welcomed back to Court.

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Snape Castle

It was while at Court, with Latimer ailing and soon dying, that Henry became aware of the thirty-year-old Lady Latimer.  Described as attractive but not pretty, Katherine always dressed impeccably, had the translucent skin that was so praised in Tudor times, auburn colored hair and a dignified bearing.

parrk
Katherine Parr by an unknown artist.  Displayed at Montacute House.

Thomas Wriothesley, Lord Chancellor, wrote to the Duke of Norfolk that there was “a woman, in my judgement, for certain virtue, wisdom and gentleness, most meet for his Highness.  And sure I am that his Majesty had never a wife more agreeable to his heart than she is.  The Lord grant them long life and much joy together” (Weir 498).  Praise indeed considering he later tried to have her arrested and executed.

Eustace Chapuys, the Spanish Ambassador, reported to Charles V that Katherine “is graceful and of cheerful countenance; and is praised for her virtue” (Hume 248).  He continued that she was not “so beautiful” and that there was “no hope of issue, seeing that she had none with her two former husbands” (Gairdner XVIII 954).  Charming and amiable, she was pleasant to nobles and servants alike.  Sensible and efficient, a good conversationalist, experienced with step-children, and having aided an ailing spouse, Katherine seemed ideal to become the sixth wife of Henry VIII.

parrhorenbout
Miniature of Katherine by Lucas Horenbout, 1544

kp5
Held in the possession of the National Portrait Gallery, this portrait had been mistakenly identified as Lady Jane Grey for many years.  Done in 1545 it is now credited to be Katherine Parr.

Interestingly, she was the only one of Henry’s wives who did not want to become his next bride. Historians believe this for a couple of reasons: she was intelligent enough to see the dangers involved; and she had developed an interest in Thomas Seymour, Lord High Admiral.  Once Henry proposed, Katherine accepted her fate and became determined to make the best of the situation.  Most commentators now believe she saw her chance to promote a more liberal religious agenda and the betterment of her family.  As was Henry’s custom, his bride’s family advanced along with her elevation.  Katherine’s brother, William Parr, was granted the Earldom of Essex in his own right.  Her sister Ann and brother-in-law Sir William Herbert gained positions at Court as did members of her extended family, the Throckmortons and her step-daughter Margaret Neville.

parr by holbien
William Parr in a sketch by Hans Holbein.

As Queen, Katherine used her influence to encourage the King to bring to Court his children from their respective households.  She felt they should be there, beyond the wedding celebrations, and see their father more.  Henry gave his approval and Katherine wrote them all to come.  Agnes Strickland assures that Katherine, who knew Princess Mary well, was also “acquainted with Elizabeth before she became queen, and greatly admired her wit and manners” (Strickland Volume 4 14).

A letter from 10-year-old Elizabeth survives in which she wrote, flowing with gratitude, to acknowledge what Katherine had done.

“Madame, The affection that you have testified in wishing that I should be suffered to be with you in the Court, and requesting this of the King my father, with so much earnestness, is a proof of your goodness.  
So great a mark of your tenderness for me obliges me to examine myself a little, to see if I can find anything in me that can merit it, but I can find nothing but a great zeal and devotion to the service of your Majesty.  But as that zeal has not been called into action so as to manifest itself, I see well tha tit is only the greatness of soul in your Majesty which makes you do me this honour, and this redoubles my zeal towards your Majesty.  I can assure you also that my conduct will be such that you shall never have cause to complain of hainv done me the honour of calling me to you; at least, I will make it my constant care that I do nothing but with a design to show always my obedience and respect.  I await with  much iimpatience the orders of the King my father for the accomplishment of the happiness for which I sigh, and I remain with much submission, your Majesty’s very dear Elizabeth” (Queen Elizabeth I 21-22).

There is an interesting interlude in the chronology of Elizabeth’s life between the summers of 1543 and 1544.  Most historians (Linda Porter is an exception) believe Elizabeth offended her father in some way and was banished to Ashridge near the Hertfordshire-Buckinghamshire border—near Berkhamsted where the Queen held the lordship of the manor. Because Katherine kept in contact with Elizabeth and she sent her other step-daughter, Margaret Neville, to act “as liaison between her step-mother and step-sister” it appears as if the youngster had not offended her (James 172-173).  Elizabeth, obviously, had no ill-feelings as she wrote to Katherine that “Inimical Fourtune …has deprived me for a whole year of your most illustrious presence….”  Elizabeth conveyed to Katherine her belief that she was “not only bound to serve but also to revere you with daughterly love …”(Marcus 5).

Henry was abroad, Katherine was Regent and Elizabeth was persistent.  By petitioning her step-mother to speak to her father, who was on military campaign, Elizabeth was able to end “this my exile” (Marcus 5). Katherine successfully convinced the King to allow Elizabeth to join her at Hampton Court in late July of 1544 cementing her step-daughter’s affection.  Elizabeth seemed secure in Katherine’s affection although she never took it for granted as she wrote “I know that I have your love and that you have not forgotten me for if your grace had not a good opinion of me you would not have offered friendship to me that way” (James 136).

exile letter 001

Fragment of the letter to Katherine from 10-year-old Elizabeth.  Written in Italian.  On line five you can make out the reference to her exile [mio exilio].

The regard Elizabeth had for Katherine was also shown in the New Year’s Day gift that she presented to her in December of 1544.  Elizabeth translated, in italic script, Marguerite of Navarre’s Le Miroir de l’ame pecheresse [The Mirror of a Sinful Soul].  The gift itself was a tribute to her spiritual leanings, her education and her affection.  The dedication was “To our most noble and virtuous Queen Katherine, Elizabeth, her humble daughter, wisheth perpetual felicity and everlasting joy.” In the accompanying letter Elizabeth hoped that Katherine would “rub out, polish, and mend (or else cause to mend) the words (or rather the order of my writing), the which I know in many places to be rude and nothing done as it should be” (Marcus 6-7).  This shows the trust Elizabeth had for Katherine as a loving mentor and the respect she had for Katherine’s intellectual abilities.

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Elizabeth’s translation of The Mirror of the Sinful Soul with a cover of embroidery she worked herself.  Notice Katherine’s initials in the center.

The next year, Elizabeth translated Katherine’s book, Prayers or Meditations, into French, Italian and Latin for her father (James 137).  One would suspect that Elizabeth would not want to upset Henry nor jeopardize Katherine by presenting to him materials that would be contrary to his religious beliefs.
gift
Gift to Henry VIII from Elizabeth.  A translation of the work, Prayers or Meditations, by Katherine Parr in multiple languages and covered in embroidery by Elizabeth. 

When Henry had gone to France in July 1544, he appointed Katherine his Regent. This certainly was an expression of his respect and affection for her.  Lord Chancellor Wriothesley, Archbishop Cranmer, Lord Hertford, Dr. Thomas Thirlby and William Petre were her advisors.  Not a woman to be gainstayed, in September 1544, Katherine, dealing with her Regency Council, let it be known that exasperation had set in and she was “wearied with their continual clamor” (Gairdner XIX 231).

Thomas Wriothesley, despite his earlier praise for Katherine, grew to distrust her as he was concerned about the liberal religious views she held and strong personality.  Early in 1544 Katherine had written in the Tenth Psalm of her text Psalms or Prayers taken out of the Holy Scripture this thought-provoking sentence “I am so vexed that I am utterly weary; help me against them that lie in wait for me” (Parr 318).  This has been tagged as a response to the Catholic attempts to discredit her, led by Wriothesley and Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, because of her evangelical leanings.

1stEarlOfSouthampton
Thomas Wriothesley, 1st Earl of Southampton, Lord Chancellor

The unease of these two men reached a peak in the summer of 1546 and led to their attempt to arrest Katherine.  They convinced Henry that she harbored radical leanings and fueled his irritation of the recent views Katherine had expressed. Wriothesley lined up the arrest warrant, gathered forty yeomen of the guard and descended upon Katherine while she was in the Whitehall gardens with Henry.

Little did Wriothesley know, Katherine had been warned and had hastened to Henry to apologize for seeming to overstep her boundaries.  She assured the King that she had debated him to distract him from the pain in his leg and to take instruction from him on the proper theological discourse, not to lecture him. Katherine supposedly said that she felt it “preposterous for a woman to instruct her lord” (Strickland III 246). Henry was certainly ready to believe her.  Upon the conclusion of Katherine’s assurances, Henry replied, “And is it so, sweetheart?  Then we are perfect friends” (Strickland III 246).

When Wriothesley came to arrest her, Henry gave him a dressing down and sent him off.  Obviously, this was a very close call for Katherine and she never again conveyed any views counter to the Establishment.

One area which Katherine thwarted convention was in her encouragement of Elizabeth’s education.  The resulting life-long influence cannot be undervalued.  For over four years, although they did not live together that entire time, a close bond was formed. This intelligent and capable woman encouraged and loved this exceptional child.  By taking charge of Elizabeth’s education, both book learning and practical application (Elizabeth witnessed Katherine’s Regency), Katherine influenced the reign of her step-daughter.

Elizabeth received an excellent education.  She was educated alongside her brother for many years until it was decided by Katherine to employ a tutor solely for the princess. This would have been an exception rather than the rule in 16th century England although there were many highly educated women of the previous generation:  Anne Boleyn, Mary More and, of course, Katherine Parr.  Katherine’s deep and genuine love of learning makes her so admirable as an interesting, remarkable woman.

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Copy of Katherine’s text, Lamentations of a Sinner, published in 1547 with her signature.
signature

As Maud Parr’s daughter, a woman who had set up a school at Court and bequeathed money in her will for education, Katherine’s taste for learning was formed young and continued throughout her life.  Margaret Neville, her step-daugher, said in the spring of 1545 “I am never able to render to her grace sufficient thanks for the goodly education and tender love and bountiful goodness which I have evermore found in her highness….”  Prince Edward pretty much said the same thing in 1546.  He thanked Katherine for her “tender and loving letters” and for the “encouragement to go forward in such things wherein your grace beareth me on hand that I am already entered” (James 141).  And Elizabeth praised Katherine for her “fervent zeal your Highness hath towards all godly learning” (Wood 178).

The educations of Edward and Elizabeth were certainly guided by Katherine Parr. Many of their tutors were committed Protestants and humanists.  The tutors’ willingness to educate the princess in the exacting disciplines was telling.  With Katherine also in charge of Jane Grey’s education, her patronage and direction helped formulate two of the sharpest minds of the era—both belonging to females.  Of note is a rare difference of opinion between Katherine and her step-daughter.  In early 1548, Elizabeth’s tutor, William Grindal died.  Katherine wanted to replace him with Francis Goldsmith but Elizabeth wanted Roger Ascham, a fellow from St. John’s College in Cambridge who was well-acquainted with Katherine (James 322).  Writing to Edward’s tutor, Sir John Cheke, Ascham expressed his “uneasy at being the cause of disagreement between the queen and her stepdaughter on such an important matter, actually counseled Elizabeth to accept Goldsmith” (Porter 306). It probably did not take much persuasion, as Ascham became the royal tutor.

roger asham                  dowmmnload

Roger Ascham                                            Sir John Cheke

Elizabeth is a product of Katherine Parr.  The future Queen Regina’s education, religious beliefs, and open-mindedness stem from the guidance of her step-mother. Her devotion was reflected in 1582, when Thomas Bentley’s work, The Monument of Matrons, depicted Katherine Parr as one of the virtuous Queens of history (Fraser 405). Elizabeth’s actions of not forgetting the woman who had permitted her to see the possibilities of rule and to establish England as a cultural center, was certainly a tribute.

The relationship of Elizabeth and Katherine cannot be revealed without the discussion of Thomas Seymour.  This blogger does not want to expend too much time on this topic for all its relevance because of its worthiness of an entire entry on its own.  Thomas Seymour, as brother-in-law to King Henry VIII and uncle to the future king, held prominent positions at Court.  He was there during the times that Katherine Parr was and they began a romance before Henry VIII turned his attention to her.  Upon Henry’s death in January of 1547, the sensible Katherine allowed Seymour to talk her into marriage well before the conventional time-frame of mourning was over.  Katherine had married him for love and as a last chance of happiness.

Seymour Thomas
Thomas Seymour, Lord High Admiral

Little did Katherine know that Seymour had had designs on Elizabeth as a possible wife.  He never quite seemed to relinquish the idea and for her own safety, Elizabeth was removed from her step-mother’s household at Chelsea in 1548 to the care of Anthony Denny and his wife at Cheshunt.  Katherine was pregnant and Seymour could not keep in check his, shall it be said, emotional immaturity and grandiose aspirations.

The story leads to Sudeley Castle where Katherine gave birth to a baby girl, Mary, and died days later of puerperal fever.  She is buried in the chapel in the Castle grounds.

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Sudeley Castle

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Katherine Parr was interred in St. Mary’s Chapel on the grounds of Sudeley under this tomb in the 1800s.

When Elizabeth left Chelsea for her own residence of Cheston, Katherine, according to Gregorio Leti, told her “God has given you great qualities.  Cultivate them always, and labour to improve them, for I believe you are destined by Heaven to be Queen of England” (Strickland 26).

References

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

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

Gairdner, James, ed. Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, of the Reign of Henry VIII. Vol. 19. London: Longman, Green, Longman & Roberts, 1888. Google Books. Web. 4 May 2013..

Haselkorn, Anne M., and Betty Travitsky. The Renaissance Englishwoman in Print: Counterbalancing the Canon. Amherst: University of Massachusetts, 1990. Google Books. Web. 27 May 2013.

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

Hume, Martin A. Sharp. Chronicle of King Henry the Eighth of England: Being a Contemporary Record of Some of the Principal Events of the Reigns of Henry VIII and Edward VI, Written in Spanish by an Unknown Hand ; Translated, with Notes and Introduction, by Martin A. Sharp Hume. London: George Belland Sons, 1889. Internet Archive. Web. 4 May 2013.

James, Susan. Catherine Parr:  Henry VIII’s Last Love. Stroud, Gloucestershire: Tempus Publishing. 2008. Print.

James, Susan.  Kateryn Parr:  The Making of a Queen. Brookfield, USA: Ashgate, 1999. Print.

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

Loades, David. The Chronicles of the Tudor Queens.  Stroud, Gloucestershire: Sutton Publishing, 2002. Print.

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

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

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

Parr, Katherine, and Janel Mueller. Katherine Parr: Complete Works and Correspondence. Chicago, IL [etc.: University of Chicago, 2011. Google Books. Web. 23 May 2013.

Porter, Linda.  Katherine the Queen:  The Remarkable Life of Katherine Parr.  London:  McMillian, 2010. Print.

Pryor, Felix.  Elizabeth I, Her Life in Letters.  Berkeley, California: University of           California Press, 2003.  Print.

Queen Elizabeth I, Frank Mumby, and R. S. Rait. The Girlhood of Queen Elizabeth: A Narrative in Contemporary Letters. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1909. Google Books. Web. 9 May 2013.

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

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

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

Strickland, Agnes, and Elisabeth Strickland. Lives of the Queens of England, from the Norman Conquest. Vol. III. London: Colburn & Co. Publishers, 1851. Google Books. Web. 7 May 2013.

Strickland, Agnes, and Elisabeth Strickland. Lives of the Queens of England, from the Norman Conquest. Vol. IV. London: Longmans, Green, 1857. Google Books. Web. 2 May 2013.

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

Tytler, Sarah.  Tudor Queens and Princesses.  New York:  Barnes and Noble, 1993. Print.

Weir, Alison. The Children of Henry VII.  New York:  Ballantine Books, 1996. Print

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

Wood, Mary Anne Everett. Letters of Royal and Illustrious Ladies of Great Britain: From the Commencement of the Twelfth Century to the Close of the Reign of Queen Mary : Edited, Chiefly from the Originals in the State Paper Office, the Tower of London, the British Museum and Other State Archives. Vol. II. London: Henry. Colburn, 1846. Google Books. Web. 12 May 2013.

Words to the Wise

Words to the Wise

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

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

henry 7          elizagheer2

Henry VII                                      Elizabeth Regina

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

polydore vergil  Edward Hall

Polydore Vergil                                                  Edward Hall

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

Fisher sermon   john fisher

 

John Fisher

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

eltham exterior                 Eltham_palace_GreatHall

Exterior and Interior of Eltham Palace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

baron de rosny                             demassie

Baron de Rosny                                Andre de Maisse

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

johnharington

Sir John Harington

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

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

      aschamengraving2                                           roger asham

Princess Elizabeth and                                     Sketch of Roger Ascham
Roger Ascham

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

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

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

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

diagonal letters 001

Letter to Mary with diagonal lines across second page

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

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

References 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the Stars

In the Stars

Many believed Henry VII’s well-known interest in prophesy could have stemmed from his Welsh background as the Welsh “follow prophecies, affirming that they are true” (Tremlett 100) and have a “prophetic tradition” (Thornton 15). As discussed in a previous blog, King Henry VI, upon meeting the young Henry, Earl of Richmond, gave a prophecy that he would become king (Bacon, Vergil).

Henry VII did not have a formal Royal Astrologer but Gulielmus Parronus Placentinus, an Italian known in England as William Parron, came close.  Parron is credited, according to an expert at the British Library, with bringing to England the practice of creating astrological almanacs for the nation (Pickup).  Astrology almanacs were compilations of astrological data that was considered useful for physicians and other medical professionals as well as for the general public (Parker).  Evidence shows that Parron received payments from the king, possibly for an early almanac, as seen in the king’s account books from 6 March 1499: “To Master William Paromis an astronymyre £1” (Macalister 301). After making several successful prognostications, Parron presented to Henry, De astrorum succincte vi fatali, (The Fateful Meaning of the Stars) completed on 15 October 1499. In this work Parron ingratiated himself by giving justifications for Henry’s actions on many fronts especially his treatment of Perkin Warbeck and the Earl of Warwick saying that people born under bad stars must die before infecting the country.  A “satisfyingly closed logic, and it satisfied Henry’s conscience” (Penn 38).

Parron’s last known compilation for the Tudor family was a horoscope in late 1502 titled, Liber de Optimo fato Henrici Eboraci ducis et optimorum ipsius parentum, (The Book of the Excellent Fortunes of Henry Duke of York and his Parents). This was less than successful and perhaps why he disappears from official sources.  It is supposed he left England in disgrace after predicting that Queen Elizabeth, Henry VII’s wife, would live until she was 80.  She died shortly thereafter at the age of 37.  As an aside, he also foretold that Prince Henry, the future Henry VIII would have a happy marriage and many sons (Carlin, Penn, Tucker).

The following illustrations are from Parron’s 1502 horoscope and almanac including the cover page, his dedication page and the illustration of Henry VII –note the Tudor roses in the border.

Parron 1503 Almanac  Royal 12 B vi  1v  Royal 12 B vi  2r

Parron was not the only astrologer and scientist to whom Henry offered his patronage.  Dr. Janina Ramirez explained that “Henry VII saw himself as a patron of science and scholarship and in Tudor times astrology was held in high esteem” (Ridgway).  At court was Lewis of Caerleon, physician to Margaret Beaufort, who was valued for his “astronomical and astrological skills, and he received considerable remuneration and generous favours from the monarch” (Pahta 50).  Added to the list of astrologers were John Argentine who “assembled an extensive collection of astrological and astronomical treatises” and was “appointed physician and chaplain” to Prince Arthur, son of Henry VII (Pahta 50); and John Killingworth “perhaps the most important of fifteenth-century English astrologers” (Pahta 51).  Killingworth’s scientific manuscript of planetary data and prophecies was written for Henry VII in 1490.  Another example of Henry’s patronage was the sculptures on the ceilings at Merton College where Bishop Richard Fitzwilliam’s “astrological symbols were next to the royal arms of Henry VII, showing that Henry was ruling not just England but the cosmos. Astrology was the science of the day and was seen as important” (Ridgway).

The strong influence prophecy and astrology held over Henry VII did not diminish throughout the Tudor time-period and was as prominent with his granddaughter, Elizabeth Regina.   Enter John Dee, astrologer, astronomer, mathematician, alchemist, and rumored neocromancer who found time “to dabble in the mysteries of the occult” (Brimacombe 143).  He was a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge; an acquaintance to Continental academics, Abraham Ortelius, Gemma Frisius—Court Astrologer to Charles V— and Geradus Mercator; and, a friend to influential people— Roger Ascham, Robert Dudley and Lord Pembroke.  In fact, Dudley and Pembroke introduced him to the 25-year old Elizabeth when she needed to set the date for her coronation.  This auspicious occasion could not just be any day. It would be the birth date of the Elizabethan Age and had to be considered carefully (Bassnett, Brimacombe, Somerset, Watkins).

John Dee      

                                          johndee

John Dee would become an influential member of Elizabeth’s circle (he was a cousin to Blanche Parry, Elizabeth’s gentlewoman, and had been a member of the Duke of Northumberland’s household when Robert Dudley was a youth). By 1564 when he had returned from the Emperor’s Court, Dee was “appointed Royal Adviser in mystic secrets” (Bassnett 63), another way of saying Court Astrologer.  Elizabeth offered him apartments at Court (something most people vied for their entire lives) and he turned her down fearing it would interfere with his studies. Supposedly he “applied himself to his studies with such diligence that he allowed only four hours for sleep, and two for his meals and recreation”  (Nichols 414). He appreciated Elizabeth’s support and acknowledged it:  “Whereupon her Majestie had a little perusion of the same with me, and then in most heroicall and princely wise did comfort and encourage me in my studies philosophicall and mathematicall” (Dee Autobiographical 19).

“In the sixteenth century, the borderline between science and sorcery was often perilously narrow” (Brimacombe 144). The role of natural magic cannot be ignored in the rise of experimental science .  This reminds me of some experiments that science teachers demonstrated when I was in school.  The exploding volcano bordered on magic!  Some authors suspect “Sir Walter Ralegh and his circle of friends practiced sorcery at this infamous ‘School of the Night’ at his home at Sherborne in Dorset” (Brimacmbe 144) and others that it was a gathering to discuss all topics of learning especially religion (Marlowe Society). Dee was very much aware of the links between religious thoughts and the sciences “which fruite and gaine if I attaine unto, it shall encourage me hereafter, in such like sort to translate, and set abroad some other good authors, both pertaining to religion (as partly I have already done) and also pertaining to the Mathematicall Artes” (Dee Mathmatical iii).

Elizabeth, a highly educated, intelligent woman, frequently consulted Dee be it for explanations for comets, a toothache, diet and medicines, navigation (he is reported to have coined the term British Empire) and the dangers to be apprehended from a waxen image of her with a pin struck through its breast, which had been found in Lincoln’s Inn Fields.  Her faith in his abilities also earned him the role as a foreign spy “reporting, in code, to both the Queen and William Cecil on intrigues abroad.  His coded letters were signed using the numerals 007” (Watkins 39).

When Dee was in England, she visited him at his home in Mortlake, Surrey, where he was reputed to have one of the largest private libraries in Europe along with his famous laboratories (Brimacombe, Hibbert, Lipscomb, Watkins). Although it was suggested in some readings that Dee built an astrolabe for Elizabeth, the only evidence found was one made for her by the Flemish instrument maker Thomas Gemini.

Astrolabe known to belong to Elizabeth with enlargement of the inscription.

astrolobe     Astrolabe closeup

Today we would call the Elizabethans superstitious*, not understanding the seriousness in which they took elements of magic, the occult and alchemy.  In fact, I get the impression that many modern writers try to ‘excuse’ Elizabeth’s reliance on Dee by down-playing her interest or referring to her as impressionable. Elizabeth was in good company as there are letters that William Cecil wrote to Edward Kelley, Dee’s colleague for many years when they lived in Europe conducting experiments, to encourage him to return to England with his “powder that could transform base metals into gold” (Bassnett 63).  Even the Archbishop of Canterbury responded to Elizabeth’s fears of assassination and assured her that no harm would come to her so long as her “birth sign, Virgo, was in the ascendant” (Hibbert 72).

Ironically, despite Elizabeth’s beliefs and interests, when it was predicted in 1572 there would be a series of catastrophes after the appearance of a comet, it was reported that “with a courage answerable to the greatness of her state, she caused the window to be set open and cast out this word, jacta est alea, the dice are thrown” (Malcolm 355). Added to this account was the following when there were prophecies circulating about the countryside.  Elizabeth sent out a proclamation in which she “warns all not to be moved by murmurers and spreaders of rumours, the dissemination of which is to be punished as the spreading of sedition (Pollen 340).

Thus is another paradox of Elizabeth Regina:  her pragmatic response to threats to her realm and her embracing prophecies.  When in January 1603 John Dee cast her horoscope and warned her to “beware of Whitehall” (Sitwell 454) she moved to Richmond.  She did so seeing it as a realistic response.  Ironically, it was at Richmond that she died about two months later. Thus the tradition of the Tudors’ consultation with and acceptance of astrologer’s predictions was maintained.

*A consultation with an astrologer in the time of Queen Elizabeth was reported to last about “15 minutes and cost 2s. 6d” (Emerson 264).

Works Cited

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.

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

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

Carlin, Martha. “Parron, William.” Oxford DNB. Oxford University Press, Jan. 2013. Web. 02 Feb. 2013.

Dee, John. Autobiographical Tracts of Dr. John Dee … Ed. James Crossley. [Manchester]: Printed for the Chetham Society, 1851. Google Books. Web. 31 Jan. 2013.

Dee, John. Mathematicall Praeface to Elements of Geometrie of Euclid of Megara. [S.l.]: General, 13 Jul 2007. Project Gutenburg. Web. 31 Jan. 2013.

Emerson, Kathy L. The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in Renaissance England : from 1485-1649. Cincinnati, Ohio: Writer’s Digest Books, 1996. Print.

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

Lipscomb, Suzannah.  A Visitor’s Companion to Tudor England. London : Ebury Press, 2012. Print.

Macalister, J. Y. W., and Alfred W. Pollard, eds. New Series. The Library; a Quarterly Review of Bibliography and Library Lore, Etc. Dec. 1899-Oct. 1909. Vol. IV. London: Alexander Moring, 1913. Third Series. Internet Archive. Web. 4 Feb. 2013.

Malcolm, James Peller. Anecdotes of the Manners and Customs of London from the Roman Invasion to the Year 1700: Including the Origin of British Society, Customs and Manners, with a General Sketch of the State of Religion, Superstition, Dresses, and Amusements of the Citizens of London, during That Period: To Which Are Added, Illustrations of the Changes in Our Language, Literary Customs, and Gradual Improvement in Style and Versification, and Various Particulars concerning Public and Private Libraries. London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1811. Google Books. Web. 3 Feb. 2013.

Marlowe Society. “The Free-Thinkers.”: Marlowe & The School of Night. The Marlowe Society, 2012. Web. 01 Feb. 2013.

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.

Pahta, Päivi, and Andreas H. Jucker. Communicating Early English Manuscripts. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010. Google Books. Web. 4 Feb. 2013.

Parker, Derek. “Skyscript: The Rise and Fall of the Astrological Almanac by Derek Parker. The Traditional Astrologer Magazine, Dec. 2004. Web. 04 Feb. 2013.

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

Pickup, Oliver. “It’s Nostra-dumbass! Astrologer Predicted Henry VIII Would Marry Well and Take Care of the Church.” Mail Online. Daily Mail, 26 Aug. 2011. Web. 03 Feb. 2013.

Pollen, John Hungerford. The English Catholics in the Reign of Queen Elizabeth: A Study of Their Politics, Civil Life, and Government : From the Fall of the Old Church to the Advent of the Counter-Reformation. London: Longmans, Green, 1920. Internet Archive. Web. 30 Jan. 2013.

Ridgway, Claire. “Illuminations: The Private Lives of Kings – Libraries Gave Us Power.” The Anne Boleyn Files RSS. N.p., 24 Jan. 2012. Web. 05 Feb. 2013.

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

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

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

Tremlett, Giles.  Catherine of Aragon: Henry’s Spanish Queen.  London: Faber and             Faber, 2010. Print.

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

Vergil, Polydore. “Full Text of “Three Books of Polydore Vergil’s English History,             Comprising the Reigns of Henry VI., Edward IV., and Richard III. from an Early            Translation, Preserved among the Mss. of the Old Royal Library in the British             Museum”” Full Text of “Three Books of Polydore Vergil’s English History,             Comprising the Reigns of Henry VI., Edward IV., and Richard III. from an Early             Translation, Preserved among the Mss. of the Old Royal Library in the British             Museum” Internet Archive, n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2012.

Watkins, Susan, and Mark Fiennes. The Public and Private Worlds of Elizabeth I. New York, NY: Thames and Hudson, 1998. Print.