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

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

Philip protected Elizabeth after the Wyatt and Dudley rebellions.  She was indebted to him for her improved treatment by her sister, Queen Mary, and the Court.  Philip “wisely determined that Elizabeth’s petty misdemeanours should be winked at” (Strickland 111).  Why should activity, bordering on treason, be ignored?  Elizabeth was the main heir with Mary, Queen of Scots and Dauphiness of France was second.  Hapsburg interests had to prevent the balance of power in Europe from moving to the French.  If Mary Stuart became Queen of England, France and Scotland, Spain would lose its hold on world affairs.  Therefore, “this sudden kindness of Philip, who thought Elizabeth a much less obnoxious character than his father Charles the Fifth had conceived her to have been, did not arise from any regular principle of real generosity, but partly from an affection of popularity, and partly from a refined sentiment of policy” (Nichols 11).

Philip Understood Elizabeth Was the Best Heiress Presumptive

There were issues with Elizabeth as heir: first, her sister did not relish the thought of appointing a successor.  Even when Philip sent his confessor “Fresneda to England to urge Mary to send a message to Elizabeth recognizing her as heir to the throne,” Mary refused (Ridley 72).  The antagonism Mary felt toward Elizabeth was a difficulty that Philip knew he had to overcome.  He did persuade Mary to make an effort at reconciliation and enfold Elizabeth into the Court.  One-time Ambassador from Spain, Simon Renard, succinctly stated a second issue in June of 1555 he wrote a memorandum to Charles V outlining his concerns. “I foresee trouble on so great a scale that the pen can hardly set it down. Certain it is that the order of succession has been so badly decided that the Lady Elizabeth comes next, and that means heresy again, and the true religion overthrown. Churchmen will be wronged, Catholics persecuted; there will be more acts of vengeance than heretofore…. A calamitous tragedy will lie ahead” (Tyler XIII June 1555 216).

charles
Charles V

Spanish diplomats foresaw that if Elizabeth were to succeed, there would be religious revolution once again.  But, what if she were married to a Catholic?  Philip realized she was the only plausible successor to his wife and that Elizabeth would be queen because the people would not have it any other way.  If he could use Elizabeth to promote Hapsburg interests and encourage her to be beholden to those interests, things would turn in his favor.   Elizabeth could be a “demure, flatteringly deferential young lady” (Plowden 68).  Philip saw no reason why with the right husband, suggested by her concerned and kindly brother-in-law, this ‘calamitous tragedy’ could be avoided. 

The Savoy Marriage

What criteria would entail the right husband?  He must be a Catholic, a Hapsburg ally or dependent with enough status to garner a marriage to a Queen Regnant.

In a memorandum prepared for Philip by Simon Renard, he let it be known that Elizabeth should marry the Duke of Savoy.  This would have placed a lieutenant in England to help Queen Mary when Philip would be absent and help promote international relations (Plowden 65). 

Simon_Renard
Simon Renard 

That early proposal between Elizabeth and Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy, was suggested but came to nothing.  Philip did not give up easily.  According to several written sources upon meeting Elizabeth at Court, Philip “paid her such obeisance as to fall with one knee to the ground, notwithstanding his usual state and solemnity” (Nichols 11). He did not account for her resolve. “Elizabeth failed not to avail herself of every opportunity of paying her court to her royal brother-in-law, with whom she was on very friendly terms, although she would not comply with his earnest wish of her becoming the wife of his friend and ally, Philibert of Savoy” (Strickland 110). 

Late in 1556, Philip again pursued this alliance.  This time he put extreme pressure on Mary to ensure it took place. Letters between Mary and Philip show the tension this caused as he felt Mary should force Elizabeth to wed.  She was reluctant to do that and used it as a way to get her husband back to England’s shores as then they could pray together to God—this was too weighty a matter to be determined without Him and him.  Mary probably did not want Elizabeth to marry and produce an heir, strengthening her position for the throne; she also was reluctant to approve of it without the consent of Parliament.  Philip implied if Parliament did not agree he would blame her.  Mary wrote to him: “But since your highness writes in those letters, that if Parliament set itself against this thing, you will lay the blame upon me, I beseech you in all humility to put off the business till your return, and then you shall judge if I am blameworthy or no.  For otherwise your highness will be angry against me, and that will be worse than death for me, for already I have begun to taste your anger all too often, to my great sorrow” (Porter 399). 

mp to redo
Philip and Mary

Despite Mary’s protests of being held to blame, she did take steps to achieve Philip’s request.  Elizabeth was sent for to join the Christmas Court.  She arrived in London on 28 November and returned to Hatfield by 3 December.  It was assumed the Queen brought up the subject of the marriage to Philibert and Elizabeth rejected the proposal.  This topic has been more fully discussed in the blog entry, ‘Fate is Remarkable’, at https://elizregina.com/2013/03/12/fate-is-remarkable/

Em Phil savoy
Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy

Elizabeth was allowed to return to Court before the end of February 1557.  Philip returned to England in the spring of 1557 to gain support for his war with France and “to settle his scheme for the marriage of Elizabeth and Emmanuel Philibert” (Queen Elizabeth I 235).  While he was successful in obtaining a commitment for the war, he was not successful regarding Elizabeth.  Mary and Elizabeth both were stubbornly opposed to it.  If Elizabeth were to marry Emmanuel Philibert, Philip would acquire a Catholic client state out of England. To him it would be a win-win situation.  To Mary it was not.  She could not sanction the alliance as it would be as good as handing Elizabeth the succession.  Mary felt that Elizabeth should not be the Tudor heir because she was an illegitimate heretic. “Mary seems to have convinced herself that Elizabeth’s whole claim to royalty was fraudulent” (Loades Mary Tudor 169).

While the Queen had her reasons for not sanctioning her sister’s marriage, Elizabeth  would not approve of the marriage either.  She perceived that the succession had to clearly be acquired on her own, not as if it had been orchestrated by Philip

Marriage Proposal to the Crown Prince of Sweden
Elizabeth was acting with great circumspection so as not to jeopardize her position nor antagonize her sister.  Therefore, when the King of Sweden, in the spring of 1558, sent an envoy to her to propose marriage between her and his son, she hastily informed him that any such request must first be submitted to the Queen and her Council.

Gustav-I-Sweden      Eric K of SW
King Gustav I Vasa of Sweden              Eric, Crown Prince soon Eric XIV

Sir Thomas Pope informed Mary what had taken place.  According to him, when Elizabeth let the Ambassador know in no uncertain terms that she would not treat with him, the Ambassador assured her that the king was “as a man of honor and a gentleman” who “thought it most proper to make the first application to herself” and that “having by this preparatory step obtained her consent, he would next mention the affair in form to her majesty” (Wart 96) .    Evidently, Elizabeth informed the Swede that she “could not listen to any proposals of that nature, unless made by the queen’s advice or authority” and “that if left to her own will, we would always prefer a single condition of life” (Wart 97). 

Mary was very pleased when she heard how Elizabeth had handled the situation.  She called Sir Thomas Pope to Court to hear of the meeting first hand.  She then commissioned Sir Thomas “to write to the princess and acquaint her with how much she was satisfied with this prudent and dutiful answer to the king of Sweden’s proposition.”  He was then returned to Hatfield to stress to Elizabeth how much her conduct was appreciated by the Queen and also to find out what Elizabeth’s views were concerning matrimony in general. Pope was to “receive from her own mouth the result of her sentiments concerning it;  and at the same time to take an opportunity of founding her affections concerning the duke of Savoy, without mentioning his name” (Wart 98).  The Hapsburgs were still anxious to form another alliance between the English and Spanish crowns.  Sir Thomas knew the importance of this to the Queen and did his best to carry out his mission and inform her of the results.  On April 26, 1558, he informed the Queen of his conversation with Elizabeth when she responded to his questions concerning the Swedish and Savoy proposals and matrimony.  

tpope
Sir Thomas Pope

“Whereunto after a little  pause taken, her grace answered in forme following, ‘Master Pope i requyre you, after my most humble commendaticions to the quenes majestie, to render unto the same lyke tahnkes, that it pleased her highnes of her goodnes, to conceive so well of my answer made to the same messenger; and herwithal, of her princelie consideration, with such speede to command you by your letters to signyfie the same unto me: who before remained wonderfullie perplexed, fering that her majestie might mistake the same: for which her goodnes I ackowledge myself bound to honour, serve, love, and obey her highnes, during my life.  Requyring you also to saye unto her majestie, that in the king my brothers time, there was offered me a verie honorable marriage or two: and ambassadors sent to treat with me touching the same; whereupon I made my humble suit unto his highness, as some of honour yet living can be testimonies, that it would lyke the same to give me leave, with his graces favour, to remayne in that estate I was, which of all others best liked me or pleased me’”  (Wart 99-100).

Elizabeth finished off her argument by stressing to Pope her sentiments.  “And, in good faith, I pray you say unto her Highness, I am even at this present of the same mind, and so intend to continue, with Her Majesty’s favour: and assuring her Highness I so well like this estate, as I persuade myself there is not any kind of life comparable unto it”  (Queen Elizabeth I 237).

Once the Princess’s response had been recorded, Pope informed Queen Mary what he then announced.  “And when her Grace had thus ended, I was so bold as of myself to say unto her Grace, her pardon first required that I thought few or none would believe but that her Grace could be right well contented to marry; so that there were some honourable marriage offered her by the Queen’s Highness, or by Her Majesty’s assent. Whereunto her Grace answered, ‘What I shall do hereafter I know not; but I assure you, upon my truth and fidelity, and as God be merciful unto me, I am not at this time otherwise minded than I have declared unto you; no, though I were offered the greatest prince in all Europe.’ And yet perchance the Queen’s Majesty may conceive this rather to proceed of a maidenly shamefacedness, than upon any such certain determination” (Queen Elizabeth I 237-238).  Here was a man who, as a product of his era and not understanding the true will of Elizabeth, could not fathom that she would not wish to marry.

eliz cornation
Elizabeth in her Coronation Robes, less than a year after her interview with Pope

To complete the inquiry and perhaps to put her stamp on the response which Elizabeth must have known was being sent to her sister, she wrote a letter to Mary.  The letter that follows comes to us from the historian Gregorio Leti’s sources. 

“Madame, my dear Sister, However deeply I may
have fallen into disgrace with your Majesty, I have
always felt that you were so just and good that I
have never imputed the cause to anything but my
own ill-fortune. And even if my troubles had been a
thousand times greater they would have been incapable
of removing from my heart the loyalty and respect
which I owe to your Majesty. The ties of blood by
which we are united make me devotedly attached to
your interests, and I am ever inspired by a perfect
submission to the Royal and Sovereign authority of
your Majesty. The answer which I gave to the
Swedish ambassador is an evidence of my obedience;
I could not have replied in any other manner without
failing in my duty to you. But the thanks, which
you have been pleased to send me by Mr. Pope, is
only a part of your generous kindness, which has
filled me with affection and gratitude for you. I can
assure you, Madame, that since I have been old
enough to reason, I have had no other thought in my
heart for you except the love which one owes to a
sister, and, even more, the profound respect which
is due to a mistress and a queen. My feelings
will never change, and I should welcome, with
much pleasure, opportunities of showing you that I
am your Majesty’s very obedient servant and sister,
ELIZABETH” (Queen Elizabeth I 239).

Phantom Pregnancy of 1558—Its Foundation from 1556

“Philip was forced to acknowledge defeat” (Queen Elizabeth I 235).  Elizabeth had evaded his attempts to influence her to wed.  She remained in the background under the watchful eye of Sir Thomas Pope at Hatfield while the queen harbored hopes of another pregnancy.  Philip’s brief visit to England in the spring of 1557 to untangle the Savoy and surprise Swedish marriage proposals and ask for military assistance was enough to raise the hopes of Mary that she was expecting a child.  Responses by the principal parties, the Court and even the international diplomatic world to Mary’s declared pregnancy of 1557 were cemented in the events of 1556.

Back in 1556 Simon Renard kept Charles V informed of the minute details of Mary’s pregnancy telling the emperor “that one cannot doubt that she is with child. A certain sign of this is the state of the breasts, and that the child moves. Then there is the increase of the girth, the hardening of the breasts and the fact that they distill” (Tyler XIII June 1555 217).

Shortly thereafter Renard had to let the expectant grandfather know the reason he had not written to him with the good news.  Apparently the Queen’s “doctors and ladies have proved to be out in their calculations by about two months, and it now appears that she will not be delivered before eight or ten days from now” (Tyler XIII June 1555 216).

Of one thing Renard was certain, “everything in this kingdom depends on the Queen’s safe deliverance.” He was incredulous “how the delay in the Queen’s deliverance encourages the heretics to slander and put about false rumours; some say that she is not with child at all…. Those whom we have trusted inspire me with the most misgivings as to their loyalty. Nothing appears to be certain, and I am more disturbed by what I see going on than ever before” (Tyler XIII June 1555 216).  The Ambassador was concerned for Hapsburg and Catholic interests as members of the Privy Council were showing “an increasing amount of boldness and evil intentions” indicating a possible warming to the French (Tyler XIII June 1555 216).

These passages, except for the change of name and dates, could have been written in 1558.   Philip had left England to lead his troop in the war against France but dutifully sent Count de Feria to Mary “to congratulate her on the announcement that she had sent him of her new hopes of an heir to the throne hopes which he probably knew to be illusory, though he so far humoured her as to say that her letter contained the best news that he had heard since the loss of Calais” (Queen Elizabeth I 239.

Upon their marriage Mary was 37 years old, eleven years older than Philip.  She did not wear those years well.  Years of stress, worry and ill-health had taken their toll on her. Now, several years into their marriage with one delusionary pregnancy behind her, chances were this would be too.  Philip recognized her to be mortally ill since he had been out of the country for over a year and would have noticed the marked difference in her health that those close to home may have not detected.  When he was back in Brussels he wrote to his sister and speculated what he “must do in England, in the event either of the Queen’s survival or of her death, for these are questions of the greatest importance, on which the welfare of my realms depend” (Tyler November 1558 502).

bloody mary
Queen Mary I

In the summer the Queen was clearly becoming weaker and weaker.  “It was clear that there was no pregnancy” (Whitelock 327).  By the end of October it “became apparent to everyone, Mary included, that she was not going to survive” (Porter 403).

Queen Mary died November 17, 1558.  Foxe’s narrated from information he received from Rees Mansell, a gentleman of Mary’s privy chamber, that Queen Mary at “about three or four o’clock in the morning, yielded life to nature, and her kingdom to Queen Elizabeth her sister.  As touching the manner of whose death, some say that she died of a tympany, some (by her much sighing before her death) supposed she died of thought and sorrow.  Whereupon her council, seeing her sighing, and desirous to know the cause, to the end they might minister the more ready consolation unto her, feared, as they said, that she took that thought for the king’s Majesty her husband, which was gone from her.  To whom she answering again, ‘Indeed,’ said she, ‘that may be one cause, but that is not the greatest wound that pierceth my oppressed mind:’ but what that was, she would not express to them.  Albeit, afterward, she opened the matter more plainly to Master Rise and Mistress Clarencius (if it be true that they told me, which heard it of Master Rise himself); who then, being most familiar with her, and most bold about her, told her, that they feared she took thought for King Philip’s departing from her. ‘Not that only,’ said she, ‘but when I am dead and opened, you shall find Calais lying in my heart.’  And here an end of Queen Mary” (Foxe 330).

John_Foxe
John Foxe

While Philip, the historic records shows, was courteous and gentlemanly toward her, affection did not seem to run too deep.  In the midst of a business letter to his sister, Joanna of Austria, Princess Dowager of Portugal, Regent of Spain, Philip announced the death of his wife, Queen Mary concluding, “I felt a reasonable regret for her death” (Tyler November 1558 502).  Maybe he was ‘made out of iron and stone.’

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

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

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

To understand the relationship between Elizabeth Regina and Philip II, a study must be made of the events of their association and the outcomes.  These include two attempts to place Elizabeth on the throne during Mary’s reign; the role Philip played in how Elizabeth was treated in the aftermath of each rebellion; and Mary’s view of her sister’s place in the succession.

Wyatt Rebellion, 1554
Sir Thomas Wyatt was the leader of a rebellion instigated in early 1554 by Mary’s proposed marriage to Philip of Spain.  Once she became queen, Mary repealed the act which declared her parents’ marriage invalid and herself illegitimate.  She was, as queen, a highly eligible match even though she was 37, certainly middle-aged in that era.  She assured Charles V she would be guided by him in her selection of husband, and low and behold his son, Philip, a widower at 26, was the most eligible prince in Catholic Europe.  Mary was determined to marry him.

thomas wyatt
Sir Thomas Wyatt

The Wyatt Rebellion caused her to take decisive action.  She went to the Guildhall and gave a speech to the populace assuring them that she married Philip only with the consent of her councilors and that she was firstly married to her kingdom.

Wyatt did enter London; Mary sent her troops after him.  She did not flee and, while she was praying for her country’s safety, Wyatt was captured.  The rebel said he took action being “persuaded, that by the marriage of the Prince of Spain, the second person of this realm, and next heir to the crown, should have been in danger; and I, being a free-born man, should, with my country, have been brought into bondage and servitude of aliens and strangers” (Strype 132).  Rebellion was saving England from the Catholic scourge by ‘the second person of this realm.’  Thus, Elizabeth was implicated although Wyatt never named her during his interrogations or on the scaffold.  Elizabeth was sent to the Tower for two months where she was held prisoner, questioned and intimidated.     

bloody mary     elizabeth 1 by scrouts
  Mary I                                           Princess Elizabeth 

Simon Renard, Ambassador to Spain, wrote to his sovereign, Charles V, 22 March 1554 that there was disagreement in the Council when “it was proposed to throw the Lady Elizabeth into the Tower, the Council expressed a wish to know exactly the reason, and the upshot was that the heretics combined against the Chancellor, and stuck to it that the law of England would not allow of such a measure because there was not sufficient evidence against her, that her rank must be considered and that she might perfectly well be confined elsewhere than in the Tower.”  Renard relayed that no one would “accept the responsibility of taking custody of her.”  Because of the councilors shying away from taking charge of Elizabeth, they “decided to conduct her to the Tower last Saturday, by river and not through the streets; but it did not happen that day, because when the tide was rising Elizabeth prayed to be allowed to speak to the Queen, saying the order could not have been given with her knowledge, but merely proceeded from the Chancellor’s hatred of her. If she could not speak to the Queen, she begged to be allowed to write to her. This was granted, and while she was writing the tide rose so high that it was no longer possible to pass under London bridge, and they had to wait till the morrow” (Tyler XII March).

Simon_Renard    charles v
  Simon Renard                                    A Youthful Charles V

Elizabeth had achieved her purposes: she had postponed her imprisonment in the Tower and had written to her sister.  This letter of March 16, 1554, one of Elizabeth’s most famous, was a marvel how she handled her sister and logically argued her innocence while writing under distressing circumstances. 

Elizabeth beseeched Mary to remember her agreement to Elizabeth’s request “That I be not condemned without answer and due proof.” Elizabeth wanted her sister to know that “I am by your Council from you commanded to go unto the Tower, a place more wonted for a false traitor than a true subject.”  Although she bravely declared that she will go and be proved innocent, she pledged to her sister “I protest afore God that I never practiced, counseled, nor consented to anything that might be prejudicial to your person any way or dangerous to the state by any mean.”  Elizabeth appealed for an opportunity to meet with the Queen to tell her in person of her innocence and asked her sister to pardon her boldness, excusing her actions “which innocency procures me to do, together with the hope of your natural kindness.…”  The evidence of a letter written by Wyatt is addressed by logically stating “he might peradventure write me a letter, but on my faith I never received any from him.”  Elizabeth completed the letter by making diagonal lines across the bottom so that nothing could be inserted and signed herself “Your highness’ most faithful subject that hath been from the beginning and will be to my end, Elizabeth”   (Marcus 41-42). 

diagonal letters 001
   The letter Elizabeth wrote to Mary in March of 1554

Her collaboration in the rebellion was never proven.  Renard suggests that Gardiner “held documentary evidence of her [Elizabeth’s] active interest in the plot, but that he destroyed this because it also involved young Courtenay” (Queen Elizabeth 110).  Not having direct proof of her sister’s guilt, Mary was reluctant to condemn Elizabeth and so  released her to house arrest.  John Foxe informed “The xix daye of Maye, the Ladye Elizabeth, Sister to the Queene, was brought oute of the Tower, and committed to the kepyng of Syr Henry Benifielde… shewed himself more harde and strayte unto her, then eyther cause was geven of her parte, or reason of his owne parte.”  Foxe showed the surprise not in Bedingfield’s  bad treatment but in the benevolence shown by Elizabeth once she came to the throne.  Praising her for not taking revenge as other monarchs “oftentimes requited lesse offences with losse of life,” Foxe explained that Elizabeth did not deprive Bedingfield of his liberty “save only that he was restrained  for not comming to the court” (Foxe V 1072).

StephenGardiner    John_Foxe
  Stephen Gardiner                                               John Foxe

When she was released from Woodstock, it was to come to Court to witness the birth of Mary’s heir.  Sources differ on when Mary’s pregnancy was officially announced with some historians, such as Jasper Ridley, claiming it was in the spring of 1555 while we have an official document from January.  The Doge Francesco Venier of Venice did send his Ambassador Giovanni Michiel instructions 5 January 1555 to congratulate the King and Queen on the “certainty now obtained of the Queen giving an heir to the realm” (Brown VI January 5).  Further exclamations were extended for this “auspicious and desired event” concluding this was a “great gift conferred on the whole of Christendom” (Brown VI January  6). 

venier doge
Francesco Venier, Doge of Venice

Regardless of when it was officially announced, the impending event did affect Elizabeth.  On 29 April 1555, Michiel reported to the Doge, “that day or on the morrow Elizabeth Tudor was to arrive at Hampton Court from Woodstock.” Then on the 6th of May he informed the Venetian officials that when Elizabeth “appeared she was neither met nor received by anyone, but was placed in the apartment lately inhabited by the Duke of Alva, where she lives in retirement, not having been seen by any one, save once or twice by their Majesties, by private stairs” (Brown VIPreface 16).  

Elizabeth was housed with a “certain Sir Thomas Pope, a rich and grave gentleman, of good name, both for conduct and religion; the Queen having appointed him Miladi’s governor. I am told …they also assigned her a widow gentlewoman, as governess, in lieu of her own who is a prisoner, she herself likewise may be also said to be in ward and custody, though in such decorous and honourable form as becoming” (Brown VI June 514). No ifs, ands or buts about it, Elizabeth was still under house arrest.   Elizabeth’s release is credited to Philip’s influence on Mary.  Philip realized without an heir born of Mary, Elizabeth would be the successor.  To preserve Hapsburg interests, Philip realized Elizabeth had to be married to a Catholic prince: the intended bridegroom was Emmanuel Philibert, Prince of Piedmont and titular Duke of Savoy. 

Philip had plans for Elizabeth.  Antoine de Noailles wrote to the Queen-Dowager of Scotland in September 1555 informing her of Elizabeth’s popularity and the fact that “his Grace, the said Lord King, has shown a friendly disposition for her, and he has written several letters to the Queen, his wife, commending the Princess to her care”  (Queen Elizabeth I 200).

Dudley Conspiracy, Late 1555 -1556

Another rebellion against the reign of Queen Mary began in December 1555.  In a letter to Sir William Petre, Secretary of State, dated January 21, 1556, Nicholas Wotton, Dean of Canterbury and English Ambassador to France, wrote of information he had gleaned from an informant.  There was a “plot against the Queen which he said was devised by some of the best in England, and so many were agreed thereupon that it was impossible but that it must take effect; that the matter had been in hand about a year ago.”  The conspirators’ intentions were not to kill her Majesty “but to deprive her of her estate…” Wotton “did not think it necessary to write thereof to her Majesty lest she might suddenly be troubled with it, and conceive some greater fear of it than were good for her to do.”  Petre was to inform the Queen when “it shall not disquiet her Majesty” (Turnbull 285-286).  Mary was disquieted though and fearful for her life. 

WilliamPetre       Nicholas_Wotton
    Sir William Petre                            Nicholas Wotton, Dean of Canterbury

Called the Dudley Conspiracy for the main instigator, Sir Henry Dudley (a distant relative to John Dudley, the executed Duke of Northumberland and Robert Dudley, the future favorite of Elizabeth), its purpose became clearer as the investigation continued.   Mary and Philip were to be deposed and replaced by Elizabeth with her consort being Edward Courtenay. 

Imprisoned during the time of Henry VIII, Courtenay spent 15 years in confinement.  Released upon Mary’s ascension to the throne, he was created 1st Earl of Devon and sent on several diplomatic missions.  His hopes of marriage to Mary fell flat when she espoused Philip.  Courtenay then turned his attention to Elizabeth obviously seeing marriage as his way to the throne.  After serving more time in the Tower for the Wyatt Rebellion, the Earl of Devon was exiled to Europe until his death in September of 1556.  He found acceptance in Venice where he became the focal point for further conspiracies such as the Dudley Rebellion.

EdwardCourtenayD1556
Edward Courtenay, 1st Earl of Devon

Several prominent supporters of the rebellion were Lord Thomas Howard, Sir Peter Killigrew, Henry Peckham and several members of the Throckmorton clan.  One cannot underestimate the organization of Dudley and his fellow conspirators.  They raised money, attempted to gain powerful allies such as the King of France and landed gentry, approached Courtenay and saturated England with anti-Catholic and anti-Spanish writings. It was subversive writings such as these that were found in the London residence of Kat Ashley, governess to Princess Elizabeth. 

Giovanni Michiel, Ambassador to England for Venice kept the Doge and the Venetian Senate informed of what was occurring.  Michiel reported on 2 June, “The number of persons imprisoned increases daily… Mistress [Katharine] Ashley was taken thither [to the Tower], she being the chief governess of Miladi Elizabeth, the arrest, together with that of three other domestics, having taken place in the country, 18 [Venetian] miles hence, even in the aforesaid Miladi’s own house [Hatfield], and where she at present resides, which has caused great general vexation.  I am told that they have all already confessed to having known about the conspiracy; so not having revealed it, were there nothing else against them, they may probably not quit the Tower alive, this alone subjecting them to capital punishment. This governess was also found in possession of those writings and scandalous books against the religion and against the King and Queen which were scattered about some months ago, and published all over the kingdom” (Brown VIJune 505).

katahsley
Kat Ashley

People close to Elizabeth knew about the plot — that has been well established.  How involved was Elizabeth? The only written link between her and the rebels occurred in February 1556 when Anne, Duke de Montmorency, Constable of France wrote to the French Ambassador, Antoine de Noailles that “above all restrain Madame Elizabeth from stirring at all in the affair of which you have written to me, for that would be to ruin everything” (Queen Elizabeth I 203).  Can this letter be seen as proof of Elizabeth’s willing cooperation with the Dudley plot?  Although it is damaging, it is not conclusive.  This could be a misinterpretation of information gathered by the Constable or wishful thinking. 

Constable of France
Anne, Duke de Montmorency, Constable of France

Noailles and King Henri II were implicated in the Dudley plot.  Because the international diplomatic scene had changed with the Vaucelles truce, Henri did not want to antagonize Charles and Philip so he “advised the conspirators to defer the execution of their plans” which they ignored (Acton 544).  The success of the plot depended on too many people and too many variables (this blog will not relay the details there are many sources available including contemporary diplomatic dispatches in the Calendar of State Papers-Venice Volume VI).  A conspirator, Thomas White, on staff at the Royal Exchequer was to ensure the robbery of funds to finance the conspiracy (Whitelock Mary Tudor 303).  Ambassador Michiel wondered if White came forward “either from hope of reward, or to exculpate himself… revealed the plot to Cardinal Pole” (Brown VI March 5 434).  White was rewarded as shown in the Originalia Roll (the fine roll sent to the Exchequer) for Mary and Philip because “of good and faithful service by our beloved servant, Thomas White, gentleman, in the late conspiracy against us, our crown and dignity attempted not long since by Henry Dudley and his accomplices” (Thoroton Society 52).  A known conspirator rewarded: what of Elizabeth? 

henri ii
King Henri II of France

Convinced that Elizabeth was aware of the plot, Mary sent her trusted courtier, Francesco Piamontese, to Brussels to consult with Philip on how to handle the situation.  Venetian Ambassador Michiel went further to explain that this issue was very sensitive because of Kat Ashley’s involvement “by reason of her grade with the “Signora,” who is held in universal esteem and consideration” (Brown VI June 505).  So not only is a trusted servant of Elizabeth’s in possession of seditious materials, it appears to be universally acknowledged that Elizabeth is very popular. Would it be wise to move against her too aggressively?  A tricky situation for Mary.

In June Michiel wrote to his superiors in Venice, “Finally, at the very hour when persons were departing, her chamberlain and the courier Francesco Piamontese returned” from Brussels to the Queen’s relief.  “As for many months the Queen has passed from one sorrow to another” (Brown VI June 525). 

So what was to become of Elizabeth?  What guidance had Philip given his wife concerning the suspicions of her sister?  What Mary received was pro-Hapsburgian advice. Despite Michiel’s predicitons, none of Elizabeth’s household members were executed nor was she punished. Although there was strong evidence that those around her were involved in treasonous activities (Kat Ashley being in posession of the seditious materials was enough cause for punishment beyond time in the Tower) and questions concerning what Elizabeth knew, any action against her would threaten her succession.  “There is little doubt that it was the King’s influence which prevented Elizabeth herself from being again arrested on this occasion and sent to the Tower with the four other members of her household.  It is difficult otherwise to account for Mary’s leniency” (Queen Elizabeth I 209).

tower of london
Tower of London

Hapsburg interests demanded that Elizabeth be heir to the throne of England over Mary, Queen of Scots.  Mary had the surest position of inheritance after Elizabeth and as the fiancé of the dauphin of France, could unite Scottish, French and English dominions and interests which would threaten the power of Spain. Hapsburg interests prevailed.  “Piamontese returned to London with an unequivocal message from the king: no further inquiries should be made into Elizabeth’s guilt, nor any suggestion made that her servants had been implicated in the plot with her authority” (Whitlock 307).  Philip was more than willing to be lenient with Elizabeth.  By 1556 few people believed that Mary would produce an heir and looked toward Elizabeth to be the next queen.  It probably was wise on the part of the councilors not to antagonize Elizabeth.  She was considered the preferred heir, and her smooth succession could halt potential civil conflict or French interference to place Mary Stuart on the throne—both good enough reasons to leave well-enough alone.

So, astoundingly, Elizabeth remained free.  Protestations of ignorance about her household’s activities were enough.  Mary probably did not believe her but allowed the stories that Elizabeth’s name had been used without authority to be circulated.  This blogger cannot help but feel for the position in which Mary was placed.  Her motto, ‘Truth, Daughter of Time,’ seemed to be jeopardized as she did her husband’s bidding; although, with most of Mary’s submissiveness it was up to a point. 

According to Michiel, in June of 1556 Mary sent two of her gentlemen, Sir Henry Hastings, and Sir H. Francis Englefield, to Elizabeth with a “message of good will…with a ring worth 400 ducats, and also to give her minute account of the cause of their arrest, to aquaint her with what they had hitherto deposed and confesssed, and to persaude her not to take amiss the removal from about her persons of similar folds, who subjected her to the danger of some evil suspicion; assuring her of the Queen’s good will and disposiiton, provided she continue to live becomingly, to Her Majesty’s liking.  Using in short loving and gracious expressions, to show her that she is neither neglected nor hated, but loved and esteemed by Her Majesty.  This message is considered most gracious by the whole kindom, everybody in general wishing her all ease and honour, and very greatly regretting any trouble she may incure; the proceeding having been not only necessary but profitable, to warn her of the licentious life led, especially in matters of religion, by her household” (Queen Elizabeth I 210).

henry hastings
  Henry Hastings 

Ambassador Michiel let on that Elizabeth’s household would be made up of persons the Queen believed to better serve her.  It is assumed Mary thought her sister guilty and urged Elizabeth “to keep so much the more to her duty, and together with her attendants behave the more cautiously” (Queen Elizabeth I 210).

Mary feigned that she believed Elizabeth had been in danger of “being thus clandestinely exposed to the manifest risk of infamy and ruin.” So, the solution was for the Queen to remodel Elizabeth’s household “in another form, and with a different sort of persons to those now in her service, replacing them by such as are entirely dependent on her Majesty; so that as her own proceedings and those of all such persons as enter or quit her abode will be most narrowly scanned” (Brown VIJune 505).

Assigned to Elizabeth’s household was “Sir Thomas Pope, a rich and grave gentleman, of good name, both for conduct and religion; the Queen having appointed him Miladi’s governor, and she having accepted him willingly, although he himself did his utmost to decline such a charge. I am told that besides this person, they also assigned her a widow gentlewoman, as governess, in lieu of her own who is a prisoner, so that at present having none but the Queen’s dependents about her person, she herself likewise may be also said to be in ward and custody, though in such decorous and honourable form as becoming” (Brown VI June 514). 

tpope
  Sir Thomas Pope

Pope was commissioned by Mary’s Council in July of 1556 to keep Elizabeth informed of the activities confessed by the Dudley conspirators “how little these men stick, by falsehood, and untruth, to compass their purpose; not letting, for that intent, to abuse the name of her Grace, or any others” (Queen Elizabeth I 213). 

Elizabeth did write to the Queen in careful phraseology about the information she had received from Pope.  “Of this I assure your majesty, though it be my part above the rest to bewail such things though my name had not been in them, yet it vexeth me too much …as to put me in any part of his [the devil] mischievous instigations.  And like as I have been your faithful subject from the beginning of your reign, so shall no wicked persons cause me to change to the end of my life.  And thus I commit your majesty to God’s tuition, whom I beseech long time to preserve … from Hatfield this present Sunday, the second day of August. Your majesty’s obedient subject and humble sister, Elizabeth” (Marcus 43-44).

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