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

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

Many of Elizabeth Regina’s international affairs were intertwined with those of Philip II.  Most students of history understand his connection as King of Spain and the adversary who lost The Spanish Armada.  Many forget his role as ruler of the Netherlands and Elizabeth’s opposition to his sovereignty there.  Even more do not realize his role as her brother-in-law, Philip was married to Elizabeth’s half-sister Mary for several years.  What was the basis of their relationship?  Did Elizabeth feel any allegiance to Philip for the contribution he made to her relationship with her sister and her position at Court? How did this association influence both countries’ foreign policies?  These questions and several others will be addressed in a series of blogs entitled “Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd”.

Philip II 

Who was Philip II of Spain?  Born 21 May 1527, his parents were Charles I of Spain (Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor) and Isabella of Portugal.  Given a classical education, he was also given practical instruction.  Philip spent much time as interim ruler of Spain while his father traveling through his domains and much of Philip’s time was spent in the 17 Provinces of the Spanish Netherlands (territories of modern day Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxemburg) where he became nominal ruler from 1549.

Married four times, he was created King of Naples upon his marriage to his second wife, Mary I of England, in order to share equal rank as a ruling sovereign with his new bride.  Philip arrived in Winchester on July 19, 1554, where he met with Mary for the first time prior to their marriage held in the cathedral on 25 July 1554.

philip-ii
  Philip II

As King of Naples and England, Philip’s main concern at all times was for Hapsburg interests.  Leaving England for Flanders in late August of 1555, he attempted to impose the will of the Holy Roman Empire in central Europe.  He returned to his wife 18 March 1557 to request her support in the war against France.  He left again four months later never to return.  Mary did embroil England in a war with France on behalf of his interests and lost Calais January 7, 1558.

Philip’s royal rank was secured when his father abdicated in 1556 and he became ruler in the Spanish Netherlands, Burgundy and Spain. Besides titles in many European territories that had once been part of the Holy Roman Empire, Philip became King of Portugal in 1580 through his mother’s claims.

Referred to accurately as the “secretary-king” or the “king of paper”, Philip ruled “through the written word rather than through personal contact and debate.” As a young king he was a “shy, passive, sedentary man” resolving perfectly to rule his “far-flung dominions with pen and ink alone” (Boyden 66).  Words to describe Philip would be pious, frugal in dress and at table, hard-working, and conscientious.  This blogger believes his dominate trait was loyalty—to the Hapsburg interests.  Politically, this trait overshadowed his religious scruples; religiously, this trait overshadowed his politics. Regardless, from the time of his father’s abdication until his own death at the age of 71 in 1598, Philip ruled absolutely. On one occasion, he wrote “I don’t know if [people] think I’m made of iron or stone. The truth is, they need to see that I am mortal, like everyone else” — but he seldom had qualms about exercising his absolute power (Parker).  Surprisingly, the cautious almost hesitant Philip of his early reign morphed into a more reckless, imprudent ruler in his later years as he struggled with his country’s relations with the Low Countries and England.

bloody mary
  Mary I

England’s military and financial assistance to the Dutch rebels, the seizure of Spanish bullion ships and lack of cooperation with Spain—as perceived by Philip—led to deteriorating relations between the two countries.  Whereas Elizabeth ruled in a time of change, ironically in the face of her motto Semper eadem, he was seen to hold to tradition.  While she did try to keep things familiar, he had to innovate in response to the needs of his vast empire and the shifting international scene.

Despite four marriages and the births of many children, Philip constantly contended with inadequate heirs who were sickly or mentally unstable.  He exclaimed once in frustration, “God, who has given me so many Kingdoms to govern, has not given me a son fit to govern them” (Philip II of Spain).

Mary I

Upon the death of Edward VI and the proclamation of Jane Grey as Queen, there was confusion and anger from the London masses.  Many landowners favored the ‘old religion’ and thus supported Mary when she came to call on the magnates to rally troops for her cause.  She stunned the foreign ambassadors (most likely thinking she couldn’t succeed without foreign troops and intervention) with a following of thousands at Framlingham in Suffolk.

The rationale included in Jane’s proclamation was set to instill fear in the country.  It was a warning that if Mary were to take over the throne and eventually marry “any stranger born out of this realm…to have the laws and customs of his … country …practiced and put in use within this realm, rather than the laws, statues, and customs here… of long time used, …to the peril of conscience and the utter subversion of the common weal of this realm” (Castor 409).

ladyjayne
  The “Streatham” portrait believed to be Lady Jane Grey

Mary’s sex and the traditional role of wife were against her but the people knew her to be the rightful heir.  When she was set to marry Philip of Spain and the people expressed their concern, she gave a rousing speech to ease their fears.  Mary proclaimed, “I am already married to the Common Weal and the faithful members of the same; the spousal ring whereof I have on my finger: which never hitherto was, nor hereafter shall be, left off.  Protesting unto you nothing to be more acceptable to my heart, nor more answerable to my will, than your advancement in wealth and welfare, with the furtherance of God’s glory” (Loades Chronicle of Tudor Queens 36).  This assertion that she was married to her kingdom was a smart political move.

Many people in the country could not fathom that as a woman she did not need a husband to carry out “the offices which do not properly belong to woman’s estate” (Castor 428). Linked to this was the belief that Mary would not hand over the power of England to her husband.  The marriage treaty solved this fear.  Philip would have little to do with the running of the country.  He could assist and that was about it. Mary would do all in her power to appear to include him yet there was no doubt that she, who had been trained as a sovereign Princess of Wales, would be ruler of England.  In the Council Register two days after their marriage it was noted that “At Winchester, 27th July, This daye it was ordered by the boarde that a note of all such matteres of state as should passe from hence should be pute into Latten and Spanyche from henceforth.  It was also ordered that all matteres of estate passynge in the kinge and quenes names should be signed with both their handes” (Nichols Chronicle of Queen Jane 135). So he could read documents in Spanish, he could sign them, but he would be greatly restricted in his formal influence.

Philip mary
Mary and Philip 

Did Mary need a husband to help rule England.  No.  She needed one for an heir though. She had misread her people.  They opposed the foreign match with Philip.  Yes, he was Catholic, the choice of the advisor she so admired (Charles V), and he was from her mother’s homeland.  These emotional elements were also supported by the more practical and political merits of his being a good choice from a limited selection.  It is well-known that Mary fell head-over-heels in love with Philip.  With a restricted formal influence, his informal influence was close to boundless. Giovanni Michiel, Ambassador to England for Venice reported to the Doge and the Venetian Senate that Queen Mary’s representative, Francesco Piamontese, was sent in June 1556 to Brussels because “it being credible that nothing is done, nor does anything take place, without having the King’s opinion about it, and hearing his will” (Brown VI June 1-15 505).

charles
Charles V

Simon Renard, Ambassador to Spain in England was instructed to feel Mary out about the union.   Charles also inquired about his son’s view.  Dutifully, he responded “I very well see the advantages that might accrue from the successful conclusion of this affair.”  Philip assured his father, “ If you wish to arrange the match for me, you know that I am so obedient a son that I have no will other than yours” (Patterson 42-43).  Mary, showing as much filial loyalty as Philip assured Renard that she wanted to please Charles “in the same way she would wish to please her father” (Patterson 43).  The marriage was inevitable despite Mary’s need to have the Privy Council’s approval.  Charles V was aware of this and worked hard behind the scenes to get members on his side.  The importance of this marriage, uniting England and Hapsburg territories, was discussed in many contemporary writings; all agree that the purpose was for “temporal and spiritual peace and unity among Europeans” (Hunt 152).  Quite a mission.

Simon_Renard
 Simon Renard, Spanish Ambassador to England

John Elder shared many details about the ceremonies which marked the marriage between Mary and Philip in the summer of 1554.  Philip had “landed  at Southampton in Hamshire, within ten mile of the citie of Winchester, on Friday the xx day of July at iii of the clocke at afternone” and was met by “the lords of the counsel and diverse other noble men” (Nichols The Chronicle of Queen Jane 137-138).  Philip rode through Winchester “on a faire white horse, in a riche coate embroidered with gold, his doublet, hosen, and hat suite-like” (Nichols The Chronicle of Queen Jane 139).

Mary stayed at Wolvesey Palace (the Old Bishop’s Palace) and Philip was housed in the Dean’s house. They met on July 23rd for the first time at Wolvesey Palace and while some reports say Mary spoke French, most sources agree they conversed “in the Spanishe tongue” (Nichols Chronicle of Queen Jane 140).

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Ruins of Wolvesey Palace, where Mary and Philip met for the first time

The wedding, held on 25 July 1554 the feast day of St. James, patron saint of Spain, was very sumptuous with many sources describing decorations of the churches and palaces and the splendor of the clothes and jewelry of the participants.  We know Philip was attired “in brocade, covered with white velvet, rich in gold and pearls, with a very rich brocade collar, a ruby robe, richly decorated with gold and pearls  and diamond buttons” (Hunt 148).  Mary was dressed “in silver cloth with a cloak …a very rich collar and hair decoration…a belt in the richest gold, with jewellery on the breast with a diamond in the center” (Hunt 148).

At the Cathedral Philip was met by the Bishop of Winchester, Stephen Gardiner Lord Chancellor and five other bishops all “mitred, coped, and staved” where he knelt, kissed the crucifix, prayed and then entered “upon a skafholde which was made for the solomnizacion of his marriage” (Nichols The Chronicle of Queen Jane 139).  Remarkably, throughout the ceremony Mary was placed on the right and Philip on the left, the opposite of the conventional set-up.  Perhaps to placate her English subjects or her own feelings of triumph, Mary showed herself as the ruling sovereign with Philip as consort.

StephenGardiner
Stephen Gardiner, Lord Chancellor and Bishop of Winchester

Regardless of who was seen as sovereign and consort, the royal titles are impressive.  John Elder, with relish, gives the list in the “stile in Latin” and the “stile in Englishe” which will be recreated below:

"Philip and Marie, by the grace of God king and quene of England, 
Fraunce, Naples, Hierusalem, and Irelande, defenders of the faith, 
princes of Spain and Secy, archdukes of Austria, dukes of Millan,
Burgundy, and Brabant, counties of Haspurge, Flaunders, and Tiro” 
(Nichols Chronicle of Queen Jane 142).

After the ceremony Philip “addressed the Spanish lords who were about him, and told them they must at once forget all the customs of Spain, and live in all respects after the English fashion” (Nichols The Chronicle of Queen Jane 139).  Post wedding celebrations were then held at Wolvesey Palace where there was much “triumphing, bankating, singing, masking, and daunsing, as was never seen in Englande heretofore” (Nichols Chronicle of Queen Jane 136).

WinCathi
Winchester Cathedral

Two days later, in the Council Register it was noted that “At Winchester, 27th July, This daye it was ordered by the boarde that a note of all such matteres of state as should passe from hence should be pute into Latten and Spanyche from henceforth, and the same to be delyvered to such as it should please the kinges highnes to appointe to recave it.  It was also ordered that all matteres of estate passynge in the kinge and quenes names should be signed with both their handes” (Nichols Chronicle of Queen Jane 135).

Elder was beside himself exclaiming the joy after “this moste noble mariage” of seeing dual sovereignty with “the kinges magestie and the queen sitting under the cloth of estate” (Nichols Chronicle of Queen Jane 143).  We know this did not come to pass without problems.  In January of 1554, after hearing the rumors of a possible match between Mary and Philip, a group of gentlemen organized an uprising known as the Wyatt Rebellion.  This will be further discussed in the blog entry, “Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd: Part II.”

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Persona Non Grata

Persona Non Grata

As a young man, the Earl of Richmond claimed that “from the time he was five years old he had been always a fugitive or a prisoner (Commynes 396-397). When Henry was just over four years old, Pembroke Castle, where he had lived with his mother and paternal uncle, Jasper Tudor, was overridden by William Herbert during a stage of the War of the Roses.  Henry’s ward-ship was given to Herbert and he was raised along with the Herbert children at Raglan Castle.  In fact, Anne Devereux , Herbert’s wife, held Henry’s affection throughout her life.

When William Herbert died in battle in 1469, following another stage of the War of the Roses and the return of the Lancastrians, Henry and Pembroke Castle were returned to Jasper Tudor. This time of stability was short-lived. By 1470 the Yorkist king, Edward IV, returned to power.  It is not the purpose here to explain the minutiae of this civil war; let it suffice to say that it was expedient for Jasper and Henry to leave the country.

Intended for France, contrary winds blew them to Brittany (Often referred to as Bretagne) where Henry was to begin his 14-year exile as an enforced guest at the court of Francis II, Duke of Brittany  (Griffiths, Hutchinson, Norton, Penn, Roberts, Vergil).

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City of Vannes with the St.Peter Cathedral where Henry VII sent gifts in acknowledgement of his time there.  He also depicted the city’s patron Saint, St. Vincent in his chapel in Westminster Abbey.

Because of the threats on his life and kidnapping plots, and the logistics of maintaining basically a refugee household, Henry was transferred from place to place.  He was never truly settled.  “Dependent on the whims of others, he learned to think like the fugitive he now was:  to watch and assess loyalties, to sift information from rumour and, caught in the wash of European power politics, to understand how they affected his own fortunes” (Penn 4-5).

Tour dd Elven
Chateau Lagoet’s Tour de Elven where Henry was kept between 1474-1476.

chateau of nantes
Chateau Vannes built by Francis II and visited several times by Henry.

His experiences certainly affected him.  “He developed an exile’s patience, inured to a life in which stretches of empty time were punctuated by sudden alerts, moments of danger in which logical clear-headedness meant the difference between life and death” (Penn 5).  He became resourceful, determined and “unabashed and unafraid when faced with adversity.  He was capable of swift and decisive reactions, and yet he also learned the value of careful and detailed planning in order to avoid needless risks” (Griffiths168), all seemingly positive traits learned while under house arrest and exile.  Some historians believe exile also created in Henry “an almost pathological suspicion” (Jones 61).

Regardless, Henry certainly impressed the French diplomat, Philippe Commynes who met him while he was in Brittany and France.  Commynes marveled that Henry “without power, without money, without right … and without any reputation but what his person and deportment excited; for he had suffered much, been in distress all the days of his life, and particularly a prisoner in Bretagne to Duke Francis from the eighteenth year of his age who treated him as kindly as the necessity of his imprisonment would permit…” would emerge strong and noble (Commynes 560).

Vannes h7 excile
In the fifteenth century this gate in Vannes, Brittany was where Henry VII, as Earl of Richmond, passed into the city which protected other English expats.

In 1483 circumstances galvanized Henry to attempt an invasion of England; a pro-Lancastrian conspiracy, headed by the Duke of Buckingham, gained support in England; and Margaret Beaufort, Henry’s mother, began negotiations with the ex-Queen Elizabeth Woodville to marry their children (Henry to Elizabeth of York) to unite the Houses of York and Lancaster.  After extensive preparations, several ships set sail toward Wales where Henry knew support would be the strongest and he could gain an entry point.  After accompanying ships went astray, Henry “learnt the virtue of caution that day” (Griffiths102).  Wisely, Henry returned to Brittany disappointed but not defeated.

About 10 months later, Henry was informed of a different sort of conspiracy which would have Brittany (under the leadership of Pierre Landais, chief advisor to an incapacitated Francis II) hand him over to Richard III.  Henry organized his flight from the town of Vannes to France dressed as a groom with a small group of expats, he escaped across the border.  Later when a recovering Francis II learned what had happened, he gave safe-conduct passage to the remaining retainers of Henry’s who were still in Brittany. This was a relief to Henry, who had a strong sense of obligation to those who shared his exile.  Once in France, Henry obtained men and equipment from Charles VIII to launch an invasion of England in August of 1485 at the age of 28 (Griffiths, Hutchinson, Norton, Penn, Vergil, Roberts).  The rest they say is history.

The impressions made on him from his years of exile affected more than just his personality.  Henry VII was known for his preference for speaking French, his understanding of European politics and his unfamiliarity with English ways.  Nevertheless, he was able to establish one of the most infamous ruling dynasties in England culminating in the rule of his granddaughter, Elizabeth Regina.

Unlike her grandfather, who had his mother and paternal uncle to direct him, Elizabeth had no such guidance and her apprenticeship to the throne was as severe as his had been.  She too spent many years in a form of exile.  She had to learn the art of statecraft and how to assimilate various players’ actions all while in seclusion at country houses with little or no contact with politicians both domestic or foreign.    

She was able to create a strategy and with determination she maintained her course. This is not to say that she was inflexible.  Elizabeth knew when to shift her course of action as her survival demanded it.

A religious book, The Epistles of St. Paul, owned by Elizabeth during the time that she was imprisoned by Queen Mary, has been preserved in the Bodleian Library.  Amongst the passages she had designed was Vincit omnia pertinax virtus.  E. C. In translation, Tenacious virtue conquers all* Elizabeth the Captive (Marshall 158, Nichols 11).  Beyond her perseverance, her courage, cool headedness, self-reliance and self-possession were cemented during her removal from Court. Also forged during this time were several of her least attractive characteristics: her lack of candor, her ability to conceal her true intentions, her inability to trust, her extreme caution and her vacillation. 

Epistles of st paul
The Epistles of St. Paul preserved by the Bodleian Library showing the above mentioned phrase done in needlework by Elizabeth.

While Henry VII as Earl of Richmond spent 14 years in exile, Elizabeth experienced removal from Court several times.  First was her self-imposed banishment to Hatfield after the Seymour troubles.  She was barely 15 and she had the wisdom to rehabilitate her reputation by concentrating on running the estate, biding her time and minding her behavior.  She led an exemplary life of scholarly pursuits in a decorous manner.  She remained there when the Duke of Northumberland, using Lady Jane Grey as his figurehead, and Mary struggled for the throne.  Once Mary was victorious, Elizabeth journeyed from Hatfield to offer congratulations and support (Erickson, Hibbert, MacCaffrey, Neale, Ridley).

Hatfield_House_Old_Palace Hatfield Old Palace

As mentioned above, Elizabeth was detained by Queen Mary at Woodstock after the Wyatt Rebellion.  This captivity, when Elizabeth was 21, was conducted differently from her grandfather’s escape to Brittany.

A letter preserved in the Talbot Papers from Robert Swift, steward to the Earl of Shrewsbury, reported on May 20, 1554,“Of Saterdaye, at one of the cloke at afternone, my Lady Elisabethe was delyv’ed out of Towre by the Lord Tresorer and my Lord Chamb’leyn, and went to Richemonde (on her way to the old Palace of Woodstock, where she remained in confinement till the end of April in the next year,) by water furthewy’er she landyd; wher she shal be attended upon by sundreye of garde, and some officers of ev’y office in the Quen’s howse, but how long she shall co’tinewe there I know not”  (Nichols 8).

woodstock ruins cropped Woodstock Palace drawn in 1714 

Although her custodian, Sir Henry Bedingfield, a Privy Council member under Queen Mary, attempted to spirit her away it was not the case.  People gathered to watch her pass, shouted support, offered her cakes and treats and rang the bells of their churches.  The entire journey saw demonstrations favorable to Elizabeth to such an extent that at one point Bedingfield reminded their hosts along the route that Elizabeth was “a prisoner who had offended against the Queen” (Ridley 62).  Once ensconced in Woodstock, Elizabeth knew her status as in the above reference to herself as ‘captive’ and also in the famous couplet she etched onto a window pane while at Woodstock when she signed herself as prisoner. 

“Much suspected by me,
Nothing proved can be,
Quoth Elizabeth prisoner” (Nichols 9).

After almost a year’s confinement, Elizabeth was summoned to Hampton Court by orders directed to Sir Henry Bedingfeld by Queen Mary: 

Hampton Court, April 17, 1555.

Trusty and well beloved, we greet you well. And forasmuch as we have resolved to have the Lady Elizabeth to repair nearer unto us, we do therefore pray and require you do declare unto her that our pleasure is she shall come to us to Hampton Court in your company with as much speed as you can have things in order for that purpose; wherein you shall not need to make any delay for calling of any other numbers than these, which are yourself and [those that] be now there attendant upon her, And of the time of your setting forward from thence, and by what day you shall think you may be there, we require you to advertise us by your letters with speed. Mary, the Queen (Mumby 187).

bedingfield

Sir Henry Bedingfield

Elizabeth spent time at Hampton Court and other houses from April 1555 until October when she returned to Hatfield.  At Hatfield with her trusted servants, Elizabeth could still not feel safe as Mary had her under continual surveillance (Erickson 153).  Eventually Mary’s suspicions eased, “there was something like a tacit truce between the two sisters.  Elizabeth, withdrawn to country retirement at Hatfield…remained carefully aloof from all political activity. On both sides civility and decorum served to mask underlying unease” (MacCaffrey 25). It was here at Hatfield where Elizabeth learned of her ascension to the throne in November of 1558.

Works Cited

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. http://archive.org/details/historicalmemoi00comigoog

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.

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.

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.

Marshall, Edward. The Early History of Woodstock Manor and Its Environs, in Bladon, Hensington, New Woodstock, Blenheim; with Later Notices:. Oxford: J. Parker and, 1873. Internet Archive. Web. 18 Feb. 2013.

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

Mumby, Frank  Arthur, and Elizabeth. The Girlhood of Queen Elizabeth, a Narrative in Contemporary Letters, London: Constable, 1909. Internet  Archive. Web. 19 Feb. 2013.

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

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

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

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

“Queen Elizabeth, Her Progresses and Processions: Confinement of the Princess Elizabeth in the Tower–Her Removal to Woodstock.” The Saturday Magazine 21 Apr. 1838: 146-47. Google Books. Web. 18 Feb. 2013. <http://books.google.com/books?id=i1YFAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA145&dq=saturday+magazine+372&hl=en&sa=X&ei=yKEiUb_1LfGLyAHc1YCwBA&ved=0CDAQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=saturday%20magazine%20372&f=false&gt;.

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

Roberts, Peter.  “The Welshness of the Tudors.” History Today. History Today.com, n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2013.

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

For a reproduction of Queen Mary’s orders to Sir Henry Bedingfeld on his duties and responsibilities as keeper of the then Lady Elizabeth consult the digitized volume of The Girlhood of Queen Elizabeth: A Narrative in Contemporary Letters pages 135 & 135 at the following address: http://books.google.com/books?id=bpkQAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA134&dq=A+Memorial+given+by+the+Queen’s+Highness++unto+her+trusty+and+right+councillor&hl=en&sa=X&ei=p9ooUYOoC8XHrQGnyIGgDw&ved=0CDAQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=A%20Memorial%20given%20by%20the%20Queen’s%20Highness%20%20unto%20her%20trusty%20and%20right%20councillor&f=false

*Special thanks to Jamie, a Latin instructor, for her help with the translation of the quote by Elizabeth I.

Fate is Remarkable

 Fate is Remarkable:

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

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

 

Pembroke Castle

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Rennes Cath

Rennes Cathderal

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

H7 Letter Use

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

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

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

vannes

Vannes, Brittany

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

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

  Seymour Thomas       
Thomas Seymour    

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

Seymour Edward
Edward Seymour

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

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

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

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

Em Phil savoy
Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy

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

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

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

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

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

Works Cited

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

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

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

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

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

Gristwood, Sarah.  Elizabeth & Leicester:  Power, Passion, Politics. New York: Viking Press, 2007.  Print.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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