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.

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Miniature of Katherine by Lucas Horenbout, 1544

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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.
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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.

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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.

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).

vannes
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.