Friday, 5 November 2010

Interview with Giles Tremlett on new Katherine of Aragon biography

Some time back, I discovered that a new biography on Katherine of Aragon was in the works. Intrigued by the prospect of a new study on this figure – it has been a while since we have had a biography on her! – I contacted the author, Giles Tremlett. As I was unable to attend his talk at this year’s Cheltenham Literature Festival, I was particularly thrilled to receive a reply. I would like to thank Mr Tremlett for answering my queries and allowing me to post this mini-interview here. Obviously this blog is not about Katherine, but I’m certain that those interested in Mary, and in Tudor history in general, will wish to know more about this book. I highly recommend this book; make sure to put it down on your Christmas list!

Why did you decide to write a biography on Katherine of Aragon? Was it due to an existing interest in her life story or perhaps a response to the limited amount of work on her?

There had been no serious solo biography of her since Mattingly in 1942. As a Spanish speaker with access to archives here in Spain, I felt I might be able to add something new to her story – if only by virtue of adopting a 'Spanish' perspective. In fact I have found some “new” (or, rather, previously underused) documents and have gone over many of the original documents (or transcripts of them) that can only by seen in their abbreviated, version in the Rolls Series of calendars (Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, Calendar of Spanish Papers etc...) They have allowed me, I think, to add new “shading” to her life. On a personal level, I also feel a natural sympathy for her as a 'displaced' Spaniard in England (being, myself, a displaced Englishman in Madrid, Spain). The result is “Catherine of Aragon: Henry's Spanish Queen” (note the different spelling) published by Faber and Faber in the UK and Walker in the U.S.

What is Katherine’s reputation in Spain? Every year the Spanish Embassy sends representatives to attend the commemorative services held for Katherine at Peterborough Cathedral. I was wondering whether this action was reflective of general sentiment in Spain or was just a nice gesture on behalf of the ambassador.

Katherine is barely known in Spain. She is overshadowed by her sister Juana “The Mad”, who was queen of Castile and (as her name implies) a troubled and colourful character. Katherine is a footnote in Spanish history. That footnote reads little more than this: “Victim of a wicked husband, Henry VIII”. The first proper biography written by a Spaniard (Luis Ulargui) was published just a few years ago and doesn't seem to have made much impact.

Katherine acted as Queen Regent during her husband’s military expedition to France in 1513. Do you think Katherine’s actions were heavily influenced by the example of her mother’s queenship?

Absolutely. Isabel had shown that a woman could organise a war (though not lead troops into battle, which neither Katherine nor her mother ever did), so she was by no means scared of the experience. In fact, reading her letters, she rather seemed to enjoy it. I think that, subconsciously, she probably also saw what she did in terms of the partnership that her mother and father enjoyed as monarchs of Castile and Aragon respectively – and was happy to be offering her husband victories at home, while he fought abroad. At one stage she compares their wars to her father's own conquest of Navarre, for example.

Some of Mary I’s biographers stress that it was Katherine who ensured her daughter was educated to be queen, and certainly Katherine was always confident that her daughter should rule in her own right. Would you agree that Katherine played a significant role in Mary’s education?

I am not sure that Katherine was confident that her daughter would be queen – especially not at the end. I imagine she always hoped to give birth to a son. But she certainly made sure Mary was well educated, commissioning a book from the Spanish humanist Juan Luis Vives outlining the proper education for a daughter. There is evidence that Katherine was personally active in educating Mary before she was sent off to Ludlow with her own court. She also taught her daughter absolute obstinacy in the defence of her rights (even at the risk of martyrdom, see below).

Several years ago, David Starkey argued in his study of the six wives of Henry VIII that Katherine was probably lying about the non-consummation of her first marriage, but this lie was understandable and done to protect her position and later her daughter’s. From your research would you concur, or do you think evidence points to Katherine being honest in this regard?

Starkey says that Katherine knew how to lie, and I agree with him on that – the evidence is clear in the case of her first pregnancy, for example. But I think there is good evidence that she may have been telling the truth on this particular issue. The strongest piece of evidence is that Henry never took up the opportunity of swearing on oath that she was not a virgin when they married. Was he worried for his soul if he lied? We don't know. He may, of course, not have known enough about women's biology to be able to determine whether she was a virgin or not. I have also discovered, in a Spanish archive, the evidence given by some of those who travelled with Katherine to England. They said, at a hearing at the cathedral in Zaragoza (which historians of the period either seem to be unaware of or simply ignore – I cannot say why), that the wedding night was a disaster and all was doom and gloom the following morning. The English witnesses said pretty much the opposite when questioned at a hearing at Blackfriars. Basically, there is not enough evidence either way. Certainly her father said right from the beginning that she was still a virgin, when no-one really cared. I can't see why he would lie about that, unless he wanted to get her dowry money back or foresaw the kind of challenge that Henry would later make to the marriage.

In a letter to her daughter (probably dated around late 1533), Katherine commanded her to always obey God and to remember that ‘we never come to the kingdom of Heaven but by troubles’. One recent historian (Anna Whitelock) has argued that Katherine was inviting her daughter to a sort of ‘shared martyrdom’ and that Mary adopted the principals presented in this letter. Do you agree with this?

I absolutely agree with this. Katherine inherited an intensity of character – and intense religiosity – from her mother. That made her both obstinate and tough when convinced she was in the right. She was prepared to pay the ultimate price herself (of martyrdom) and was ready to take her daughter with her, if that was the only way to save their souls (which, by her terms, would have been lost had they bowed to all Henry's demands).

Katherine of Aragon has been portrayed in film and TV productions on several occasions, including recently on the show, ‘The Tudors’. But these productions often depict her later in life and as physically different from what she actually appeared. Do you think such productions have presented a distorted and/or limited view of Katherine, or do you think they do a good job in getting people interested in her life?

I haven't watched them, I'm afraid. Ideas of beauty change over time, anyway, so I am not sure her physical aspect matters that much.

Katherine’s successor and rival, Anne Boleyn, is often the subject of much interest, so much so that there exists at least three major academic biographies on her. From your research, what are your own views of Anne Boleyn?

Anne Boleyn is fascinating, though I do not claim to be an expert on her. She was clever in all senses of the word - sometimes running rings around Henry - and a very strong character. I think Henry found her exciting as long as he could neither bed nor marry her. Once they were married (and once he was divorced) she was less of a challenge, and soon became less exciting. In fact he began to find her annoying. I can't help feeling sorry for her. She waited ages to marry him (while Katherine fought the divorce) and then lasted only a few years before having her head chopped off. Katherine's marriage lasted far longer..

Finally (sorry for all these questions!), if one was planning a trip to Spain and wished to visit sites relating to Katherine, what particular places would you recommend?

She spent so little of her life here (leaving at the age of 15) - and most of that was spent following her mother and father about on their wanderings - that there are very few places to visit. The only place she could ever really call home was the Alhambra at Granada – where she spent most of the last two years of her time in Spain. The Royal Alcazares at Seville were another place she stayed during that final period. Her birthplace of Alcala de Henares is a charming, if overbuilt, university town outside Madrid. For a symbolic place in her mother's story I recommend the Toros de Guisando (the ancient stone bulls, set in open countryside an hour's drive from Madrid, where the pact that sealed her position as heiress to the throne was agreed).

Giles Tremlett's book, Catherine of Aragon: Henry's Spanish Queen (Faber and Faber, 2010), is out now in the UK.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

New Mary site

Over a month ago, I asked readers of this blog whether a site holding a complete list of works on Mary would be of interest. The response was really encouraging so I decided it was definitely something to pursue. I’m certainly not computer savvy – hence my use on the rather dependable wordpress! – but I have started work on it.

The site can be found here:

As you can tell, it is nowhere near complete. But I will be uploading information on a regular basis and once I’ve completed the categories, I will organise the site more effectively. I am also including a section on personalities associated with Mary and her reign, with information regarding articles/books on these persons.

I hope this site will be of use to students/Tudor enthusiasts in general. One thing I have found interesting whilst devising the lists, was that certain areas relating to Mary, have barely been touched upon. Categorising the complete bibliography allows us to identify the areas that are need of more attention, along with those that have been of particular interest to scholars over the past decade or so.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Mary’s suitors – Part I: The Dauphin, François

In 1554, Mary married the most eligible royal in Europe. Wealthy, heir to numerous lands, handsome and chivalrous, Philip was the ideal candidate. He was also family, and we know how keen Mary was to preserve links with her Habsburg relatives. Mary did not marry for love; she had never met Philip before agreeing to marrying him and though she quickly became devoted to her husband, her choice was based primarily on his connections. In fact, the newly crowned Mary was more interested in Philip’s father, Charles V, who she had once been betrothed to (until he discarded her for Isabella of Portugal, Philip’s mother). Charles politely declined. He was, he argued, a rather old man, tied down with numerous problems across his vast empire. But he offered her his son and Mary readily accepted.

Throughout her life, Mary had been betrothed to, or there had been talk of her being married off to, the most prestigious figures in Europe. Despite being repudiated as heir to the throne in 1533, Mary was still regarded as a promising marriage candidate. This is part one (of what will probably be many!) posts looking at the men Mary was linked to.

François, Dauphin of France

Name: François, Dauphin of France

Parents: Francis I of France and Queen Claude (Francis’s first consort and the daughter of Louis XII of France who, incidentally, had once been married to Mary’s aunt, the ‘other’ Mary Tudor).

Position: The Dauphin; eldest son of the King of France and thus heir to the throne.

Live span: 1518-36

Qualities: Was heir to the throne of France; a great catch!

Faults: Dropped dead in 1536, a significant impediment.

The moment Mary was born speculations regarding her marriage were discussed. She was not the boy Henry and Katherine desired, but the appearance of a healthy baby gave the couple hope that a brother would soon follow. In the very early years of her life, marriage negotiations were somewhat ambiguous in nature, for they treated Mary as princess but were vague on her position as heir. Naturally those who sought her as their bride were quite excited by the prospect that Mary could be queen and they the king of England.

Dauphin François was betrothed to Mary at a very young age. In fact, he was still contently growing in his mother's womb when Henry and Francis I vaguely discussed a marriage between Mary and the child Queen Claude carried. Claude’s other children were daughters so like Katherine she faced pressure to deliver the necessary prince. Thankfully she had more luck than the English queen, and on 28 February 1518, François was born. In October, the Treaty of London was signed establishing ‘Universal Peace’ and promising Mary to the future king of France. Two betrothal ceremonies were held, one at Greenwich on 5 October, and the other in Paris on 16 December.

On 5 October, two-year-old Mary was taken to court and presented to the French ambassadors for the betrothal ceremony. The man standing in for the groom was Guillaume Gouffier, Lord Admiral of France. Wearing a gown of gold cloth, a small black cap to cover her auburn hair, and covered in jewels, Mary initially stood in front of her mother until the ceremony when she had to be held up to participate. The French ambassadors asked the royal parents for their, and thus Mary’s, consent which they duly gave. Then Mary’s godfather, Cardinal Wolsey, presented a magnificent diamond ring that was placed by the Admiral on the toddler’s finger. Mary was on her best behaviour but the event was naturally confusing for the child. She assumed the Admiral was her future husband. “Are you the Dauphin of France?” she asked. “If you are, I wish to kiss you.”

Portrait of The Lord Admiral by Jean Clouet, c.1516. Musée Condé, Chantilly

Shortly after, she was returned to the comforting world of the royal nursery, where her lessons in French would soon begin. Even by the end of her life, Mary’s proficiency in French was excellent and she conversed to her eventual husband, Philip of Spain, in this language. Her progress, and especially the state of her health, was carefully monitored by the French representatives at court. She only had few occasions to be displayed to them, namely in 1522 when Francis sent several diplomats to check up on the princess who was residing in Richmond. She entertained them by playing the virginals, performing with great skill for someone of her ‘tender age’. Yet she never visited France, nor ever met her intended husband.

Henry’s alliances with the French were always uncomfortably made, unsurprising given his desire to conquer rather than befriend them. Katherine, a Spanish princess, was horrified by the prospect of a French marriage for her daughter. Her father had once been engaged in a heated war with France, continued by his grandson and Katherine’s nephew, Charles V. She had been sent to England in 1501 to marry the prince of Wales, and help foster good relations between her native country and her adoptive one. This was the task of sixteenth-century foreign princesses – to act as ‘royal breeding machines’ (to coin a famous Tudor historian’s words!) and as diplomats. Mary’s engagement to the Dauphin signified Katherine’s failure. The same year she gave birth to a stillborn daughter; it would be her last pregnancy. 1518 must have been one of the bleakest years of Katherine’s life.

Fortunately for Katherine, Henry began to lose interest in the arrangement. Queen Claude dutifully sent an image of little François for his in-laws and bride to admire, along with a beautiful jewelled cross worth six thousand ducats. But Henry was reluctant to be so benevolent in return. Significantly, he failed to bring Mary to the Field of Cloth of Gold in 1520, though Francis and Claude brought the Dauphin with them. It came as no surprise when, in 1521, Henry broke off Mary’s engagement to the Dauphin and betrothed her instead to Charles V. The dauphin had been ditched.

Minature of the Dauphin by Jean Clouet, c. 1525-8. Royal Collection

Alliances were always feeble in nature and eventually the arrangement with Charles broke down. The English got a taste of their own medicine when in 1525 Charles married another cousin, the incredibly wealthy Isabella of Portugal. By 1526 a French marriage looked like a good prospect again. Unfortunately Francis had arranged another marriage for his heir, or to be more specific, it had been forced on him by Charles V. On 14 February 1525, Francis was captured in battle against the imperial forces at Pavia and to secure his freedom the French government sought an exchange – Charles may have the custody of Francis’s two eldest sons if he released the King (and the boys remained in captivity for around four years). Out of these talks came an agreement to marry the Dauphin to Charles’s niece Maria of Portugal and, given the unreliability of the English, the French regarded it as fair game to marry off the Dauphin elsewhere.[1] Thus by 1526 the Dauphin was no longer an option but Francis had other sons and he proposed that his second, Henri, duc d'Orleans, marry Mary. There was also talk of Francis being considered given that Claude had died in 1524.

Dauphin François and Mary were never betrothed again. In the mid 1530s there was some talk of a possible marriage between himself and Princess Elizabeth, Henry VIII’s daughter by Anne Boleyn, which came to nothing. On 10 August 1536, the Dauphin died suddenly at Tournon, an incident widely, and wildly, attributed to poison, resulting in the execution of one of his servants, Sebastiano de Montecuculli.[2] François’s death paved the way for his brother, Henri, to succeed to the throne. Henri was another of Mary’s one time ‘fiancées’. He would also turn out to be her main enemy.

Portrait of the Dauphin by Corneille De Lyon. Date unknown though seems mid-1530s

[1] Maria of Portugal was the daughter of Charles’s sister, Eleanor, who married Francis I in 1530. The marriage was one of the terms Charles forced upon the defeated Francis.

[2] François is said to have died after drinking contaminated water after building up a thirst playing a game of tennis. Tennis was a dangerous game for French royals. Charles VIII of France knocked himself out whilst playing the game, an injury which led to his death, and Louis X was said to have died after drinking large amounts of cold water after playing tennis for hours in the heat. Ironically, François’s brother, Henri (who became king in 1547), also suffered a sports-related death. This time it wasn’t the curse of tennis, but the ever dangerous pastime of jousting. A lance pierced Henri’s right eye and entered his brain. Physicians tried to save him but after ten agonising days he succumbed. In short, French royalty should never play sports.

Monday, 13 September 2010

A guide to Winchester

A few days ago, I visited the city of Winchester for the first time. Winchester is a particularly special place for the subject of this blog for, in July 1554, Mary married Philip of Spain in the fine cathedral. Here is a (very!) brief guide of the Mary sites in Winchester that will hopefully prove useful to anyone planning a visit:

Winchester Cathedral

Philip arrived at Southampton on the 19 July 1554. He stayed there for a few days, reaching Winchester in the early evening of 23rd. Soon after, he celebrated mass at the cathedral, then retired to the Dean’s house, changed dress, and went to Wolvesey Palace to meet Mary for the first time. Winchester’s proximity to Southampton, and the splendour of the cathedral, made it an ideal setting for the wedding. Additionally, the couple were to be married by the bishop of the diocese – Stephen Gardiner, the Lord Chancellor. The favourable comments made about the cathedral from Spanish visitors attests to the success of Mary’s decision to hold her special day there.

The couple married on 25 July, an auspicious date for it marked the feast day of St James, patron saint of Spain. The groom wore white and gold and the bride wore purple and white (sounds ghastly, I know! But from a contemporary perspective the couple were dressed magnificently). Philip’s ‘suit’ was a gift from his bride, who had spent quite some time arranging her own dress. Clearly she was determined to see Philip – the new King of England – as well turned out as she.

When visiting cathedral today, it is hard to fully appreciate the setting of the wedding for the couple married on a specially constructed scaffold that was removed shortly after. Two days earlier, they had met for the first time and this had also been a public affair. We are told that another sort of a stage had been constructed (this time in Wolvesey’s Palace, a short walk from the cathedral), where the couple first greeted each other in front of their receptive, and rather large, entourages. Thousands crammed into the cathedral for the ceremony, so the platforms proved handy. Along the nave a raised walkway had been built so the grand procession could be visible. This was no shabby affair. The cathedral was covered in ‘ryche hanginges’ and two sumptuous chairs were placed in the quire where Mary and Philip would sit during points of the ceremony. As the officiating herald recorded,

First the said Church was richlie hanged with Arras and cloath of gold, and there was a stage made along the bodie of the Churche that is to saie from the west dore untill the Rode Lofte wheare was a mounte made of iiii degrees of height as large as the place wold serue. The Stage and Mounte covered with Redd saie and underneath the Rode Loft was there ii trauerses made, one for the quenes Matie. on the right hand an other for the Prince on the left side. The which places served very well for that purpose. The quier was aloft hung with rich cloath of gold, and on eche side the high Aulter was there a rich Trauers one for the queen on the right side another for the Prince on the left Side.’

None of the rich cloth that adorned the cathedral has survived. Yet, if you go into the Triforium Gallery (in the South Transept) you will see ‘Mary Tudor’s Chair’. This sixteenth-century seat was allegedly the one used by Mary during her wedding.

Remarkably, throughout the ceremony Mary was placed on the right and Philip on the left, a reversal of the traditional situation. Mary presented herself as the active monarch with Philip as her consort. Naturally this caused some murmurs though, on the whole, both English and Spanish commentators explained away this situation and presented it as perfectly normal.

Bishop Gardiner began with a sermon, then asked the congregation whether anyone knew of any lawful impendent why the pair could not marry which, thankfully, no one decided to provide. Mary had no father to give her away and in theory she was to be given on behalf of the whole realm. The Marquis of Winchester and the earls of Arundel, Derby, Bedford and Pembroke, represented the people and answered Gardiner’s request as to who was to give the lady away. When they replied that they represented the whole realm, the crowd gave a cheer and acknowledged their acceptance of the marriage. Rings were then exchanged – Mary famously asking for a plain band – and Philip gave Mary gold coins which she handed over to Margaret Clifford (her first cousin once removed), who was attending upon her. They then celebrated mass at the High Altar. The ceremony was over; now it was time for ‘triumphing, bankating, singing, masking, and daunsing, as was never seen in Englande heretofore’.

Whilst in the cathedral make sure to check out Stephen Gardiner’s tomb. Unfortunately his effigy was spoiled by parliamentary troops in the seventeenth-century. The magnificent tomb of Cardinal Henry Beaufort, is relatively intact. Beaufort was the son of John of Gaunt by his mistress, then wife, Katherine Swynford. He was the great-uncle of Margaret Beaufort, Mary’s great-grandmother. Mary’s paternal grandmother, Elizabeth of York, is represented in a stained glass window in the beautiful Lady Chapel (which also features some amazing sixteenth-century murals).

Bishop Gardiner's tomb

Bishop Gardiner’s effigy which has been beheaded

The cathedral charges a small fee for entrance and photography is free (though prohibited in the library). It was one of the friendliest cathedrals I have ever been to and it is easy to spend hours in there. Jane Austen, one of my favourite authors, is buried in the Nave. Austen once remarked of Mary:

‘This woman had the good luck of being advanced to the throne of England, inspite of the superior pretensions, Merit & Beauty of her Cousins Mary Queen of Scotland & Jane Grey. Nor can I pity the Kingdom for the misfortunes they experienced during her Reign, since they fully deserved them, for having allowed her to succeed her Brother — which was a double piece of folly, since they might have foreseen that as she died without Children, she would be succeeded by that disgrace to humanity, that pest of society, Elizabeth. Many were the people who fell martyrs to the protestant Religion during her reign; I suppose not fewer than a dozen. She married Philip King of Spain who in her Sister's reign for [sic] famous for building the Armadas. She died without issue, & then the dreadful moment came in which the destroyer of all comfort, the deceitful Betrayer of trust reposed in her, & the Murderess of her Cousin succeeded to the Throne – '

Wolvesey Palace (aka ‘Wolvesey Castle’ and the ‘Old Bishop’s Palace’)

Wolvesey Palace is a short walk from the cathedral. Only ruins are left, but it is still worth exploring. For it was here, on the 23 July 1554, that Mary and Philip met for the first time. Philip arrived in Winchester on the same date, and moved into the dean’s house. Mary had only recently settled in the palace. Dressed in a ‘cloke of blacke cloth embrodred with silver, and a paire of white hose’, Philip proceeded to the palace with a huge retinue. Mary was waiting on the constructed platform which she ‘descended, and amiably receaving him, did kisse him in presence of all the people’. After what must have been a somewhat uncomfortable first meeting, witnessed by a large crowd, the couple retired to the presence chamber with prominent lords and ladies in attendance. One of the first challenges was figuring out how to communicate. As a young girl, Mary had been fluent in her mother’s native tongue. Now, she was no longer confident in her Spanish. So Mary spoke French whilst Philip replied in Spanish. They talked for some fifteen minutes after which Philip returned to his apartments. Before retiring he turned to the noblemen present and declared “Good night my Lords all”. It was the first and last time he spoke English. One of his companions alleged that he returned to the palace at ten at night, where the pair met once more, this time with fewer witnesses.[1]

The East Hall (the audience chamber). The wedding banquet was held here.

The palace was also the scene of the banquet and celebrations that commenced after the marriage service. Mary spent the first days of married life in seclusion (as was seen appropriate) and it is probable that she remained within the palace.

The palace is now owned by English Heritage and is free to enter. The presence chamber is clearly marked; walking through the main archway, it is situated in front of you.

Great Hall and Round Table

In 1522, Charles V visited England for six weeks. During the course of his stay, a betrothal was arranged between himself and the six-year-old Mary. As his arrival was celebrated in London, Henry VIII decided to take Charles to Winchester so he may see ‘King Arthur’s round table’. The table was constructed in the thirteenth-century by Edward III and painted in c.1516-7 (hence why King Arthur looks so like Henry!). Mary and Philip stayed in Winchester for several days after their wedding, and it is unknown whether Philip was show the table. However whilst Mary remained in seclusion following the wedding, Philip toured Winchester and it seems highly likely that he saw the town’s star attraction. The Great Hall remains a popular tourist site. Free to enter, it contains a magnificent set of nineteenth-century stained glass windows depicting the arms of individuals of importance to Winchester. Mary and Philip’s are included.

The Great Hall is free to enter and photography is permitted.

Westgate Museum

Westgate, one of the two surviving medieval fortified gateways in the city, is now a small museum and holds some interesting items. John White, Warden of Winchester College from 1542 to 1554, commissioned a splendid painted ceiling for his apartments that may have been ordered to celebrate Mary’s marriage. Mary and Philip visited the College after their wedding though it is unknown whether they saw the ceiling, or if it was specially made for the occasion.

Following conservation, the panels were given to the museum. Westgate also holds a portrait of Ralph Lamb, a wealthy resident of Winchester, who attended the wedding. The portrait is by an unknown Spanish artist and dates to c.1554, thus was commissioned to mark the event. He is probably depicted in the attire he wore for the occasion.

The museum is free to enter provides spectacular views of the city from the open rooftop.

[1] It is often stated that only one meeting took place. However one of Philip’s companions, Juan de Figueroa, mentioned another meeting at night.

(I have been working on the content for the Mary bibliography site, mentioned in my last post. I am not particularly computer savvy, so if anyone could give me some tips about which site I should use to create the website, I would be very grateful. Preferably something that I will find easy to use!)

Monday, 23 August 2010

Some updates

Apologies for the lack of updates. I am currently writing my dissertation (due in less than a month!) and the last weeks have been dedicated to this alone. When I have [finally] finished it, I will discuss some of my findings here as I came across some intriguing information.

Giles Tremlett, The Guardian's Spain correspondent, has written a biography on Katherine of Aragon. He will be attending the Cheltenham Literature Festival (16th October), which I attend annually so I should be able to go. If you can’t make it to Cheltenham, don’t fear – Mr Tremlett will also be speaking at Hampton Court Palace on 11th November. Fellow HRP members, we can get a bit of discount on tickets.

Its early days yet, but I have decided to start a new site which will, hopefully, be of use to students and nonstudents alike. It will basically be a bibliography of works on Mary, cataloguing books, articles, PhD and MA theses. I will divide studies up into sections (so a list of biographies, of works relating to the Marian Church, Marian government, art under Mary, music, etc...). I may even develop this further by adding primary sources as this summer I have worked extensively in the British Library and the National Archive and have become familiar with documents relating to Mary between the years c.1533-1553 (a little give away about the time frame of my dissertation!). I would love feedback about this. If you feel such a site would be useful, please say; if you think it is pointless, tell me. I have got lists of works saved on my computer for my own use but if this will prove useful to anyone else, student and other Mary enthusiasts, then I will gladly post them. I also have a number of magazine articles that I could post there. I will provide links to journal articles, including those that do not require subscriptions to see (which are, admittedly, just a handful!). So please tell me what you think. In the meantime, if someone is working on a Mary related project now and needs some guidance with reading materials, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

A Mary themed tour of London!

I moved to London last September and sadly will be leaving this lovely city in two months time when my degree finishes. But I have made great use of my time here, visiting all those spots which I failed to before. Fortunately I grew up less than two hours away from London and visiting frequently allowed me to become familiar with the capital before I decided to study here. But there were still places I failed to visit, including those associated with Mary. Many visitors to London wish to spend their time at the famous landmarks and with a limited time in the capital this is entirely understandable. But there are other areas which are rather neglected and worth a visit too – some are even free to enter (a rarity in London!). So here is a brief list. Just to point out some were not part of London in Mary’s day but are now, so I’m counting places that constitute today’s city.

1. Greenwich

As the place of Mary’s birth, Greenwich fully deserves it places on this list of Mary related London sites. The palace where she was born (also the birthplace of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I) and the adjoining Church of the Observant Friars where she was christened are long gone. But Greenwich is still a great tourist hotspot. The Discover Greenwich centre has recently opened and various sixteenth-century artefacts are on display (though the focus is very much on Henrician and Elizabethan Greenwich). The park, where Henry VIII often went hunting, was a familiar site to Mary. Be sure to check out St Alfege Church which is about 5 minutes from Cutty Sark tube station. Though much amended since Mary’s day it is the burial place of the great sixteenth-century composer, Thomas Tallis, who served in the Chapel Royal under Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary and Elizabeth. The church also holds the ‘Tallis keyboard’ which contains several sixteenth-century keys that were allegedly played by Tallis and the princesses Mary and Elizabeth.

The 'Tallis Keyboard'

2. St Margaret’s Church, Westminster

Located right by the abbey, this church admittedly has little in connection to Mary. But it is worth going in to see the stained glass window depicting a young Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon. The window was commissioned by Henry VIII in the 1520s and was given as a gift to Waltham abbey, but shortly after the break from Rome it was confiscated by the King and placed in the chapel at Beaulieu. Beaulieu, otherwise known as New Hall, was one of the properties Mary inherited from her father and was one of her favourite residences. So the window was once her property and something she would have known well. It was relocated to St Margaret’s in the eighteenth-century. Entrance is free but photography is not allowed.

Detail of Katherine of Aragon in the stained glass window in St Margaret's

3. The National Portrait Gallery

Though small, the Tudor galleries in the NPG are a delight. See the c.1544 portrait of Mary – the first portrait she commissioned of herself, to mark her re-inclusion in the succession. There is also a miniature of Mary by Lucas Horenbout which depicts her wearing a brooch with her then betrothed’s name on it (Emperor Charles V). Room one is a collection of portraits of Mary’s family – a posthumous portrait of her mother can be found here, along with a fabulous painting of Katherine Parr that was misidentified as Lady Jane Grey for many years. But no Tudor gallery would be complete without a portrait of Henry VIII and by Holbein no less. Holbein’s preparatory drawing of the King for the Whitehall Mural is one of the first items you see when you enter the room. Ironically the portrait of Mary is almost directly opposite one of her victims – Thomas Cranmer, archbishop of Canterbury. Entrance is free. Make sure to go next door into The National Gallery (also free) and see the Holbein portrait of Christina of Denmark, Mary’s cousin once removed and at one point a possible stepmother when Henry attempted to negotiate a marriage with the widowed Christina in the late 1530s. Luckily Christina eluded him.

4. All Hallows by the Tower

The oldest church in the City of London, All Hallows name partly derives from its proximity to the Tower of London. Fortunately it is one of the only churches in the city that survived the ghastly fire of 1666 primarily because it was so close to the Tower (which was full to the brim of ammunition which meant the authorities did everything they could to keep the fire away). Mary had no direct connection with the place but it is believed that one of the most ardent defenders of her parents’ marriage, John Fisher, bishop of Rochester (St John Fisher), was buried there following his execution in 1535. The chapel of St Peter ad Vincula within the Tower is well known as the burial ground of condemned traitors but All Hallows served as an alternative resting place. Who else connected to Mary was buried here remains a mystery; perhaps various individuals she sent to their deaths? The church is also worth visiting for its connections to William Penn (who was baptised here), and John Quincy Adams who married here in 1797. The church is free to enter and photography is permitted.

Alleged site of Bishop Fisher's resting place.

5. Old Chelsea Church, London

Chelsea Manor, a grand house owned by various prominent individuals including Sir Thomas More, is long gone though the church remains. Most of the church was destroyed by bombing in WWII yet the More chapel remained. Jane Dudley, duchess of Northumberland who, ironically, Mary was close to and was godmother to at least one of her children, is buried here. It was at Chelsea Manor that Jane Grey was told of Edward VI’s death; Anne of Cleves, Mary’s stepmother, died here in July 1557. The property was also owned by Katherine Parr who settled here after Henry VIII’s death with her stepdaughter and Mary’s sister, Elizabeth, in her care. The church is free to enter and photography is permitted.

Image of Jane Dudley, duchess of Northumberland on her tomb

6. Whitehall

Virtually nothing remains of the impressive palace Henry constructed. It was the grandest palace he owned and special lodgings for Mary were constructed there in the 1540s. Henry died here in January 1547 and in 1554 it was the scene of Cardinal Reginald Pole’s public reception by Mary and her husband Philip; Pole’s arrival signified the official proceedings that reunited England with the Catholic Church. ‘Henry VIII’s wine cellar’, the last remnant of his palace, is located in the basement of the Ministry of Defence.

7. Guildhall

A definite must see. It was here, in 1554, that Mary rallied the citizens of London against the rebels of Wyatt’s uprising that attempted to take the city. Jane Grey was condemned to death here in 1554 along with her husband Guilford Dudley, his brothers Henry and Ambrose, and the archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer (though Cranmer would later be tried for heresy and sentenced to death on these charges). The present Guildhall was built between 1411 and 1430 though was affected by both the fire of 1666 and bombing in WWII. One single window survived the blast – when entering the hall it is on the immediate right. There is a plaque in the hall commemorating notable trials that took place, listing several that occurred during Mary’s reign. Make sure to go into the crypts to check out the medieval foundations and a nineteenth-century stained glass window depicting Sir Thomas More.


8. Westminster Hall

The oldest part of the Palace of Westminster, the hall was built in 1097 intending to be a place for banquets. The hall later served several functions, including becoming the scene of many famous trials. In 1553 Mary’s opponent, John Dudley, duke of Northumberland, was tried for treason here and a year later the duke of Suffolk, father to Lady Jane Grey, was condemned to death for his involvement in Wyatt’s rebellion. On 1st October, Mary proceeded into the hall in full regalia shortly after her coronation ceremony. She subsequently presided over her magnificent coronation banquet which lasted for some hours. It goes without saying that security is tight and queues long. Photography is permitted in only the hall.

Westminster Hall

9. The Tower of London

The Tower of London is one of those places which everyone has to visit at least once. Well maybe twice. Or three times; or even four, and maybe.... well, lets just say that despite the absurdly high entrance fee it must be seen. Mary’s allies and enemies spent time in this gloomy fortress and she resided her briefly before her coronation as was the custom. Most of these condemned individuals were executed outside on Tower Hill (right by the tube station of the same name), though of the few executed within, on Tower Green, Mary could claim connections. Two of her stepmothers lost their lives here (Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard) as well as her long-term governess, supporter and relation, Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury. It was also the site of an execution carried out on her orders – the beheading of Lady Jane Grey. Elizabeth, Mary’s sister, would famously spend time here, after she was accused of complicity in Wyatt’s rebellion. As mentioned, entrances prices are high and if you are thinking of visiting on a frequent basis I recommend applying for membership. For £41 a year you can visit the Tower (and Hampton Court Palace) to your heart’s content.

The Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula

10. Southwark Cathedral and Winchester Palace

During Mary’s reign, trials for heresy were held in the Retro-Choir, the oldest part of the cathedral. The trials were overseen by Stephen Gardiner bishop of Winchester, for the cathedral was then under his authority. The first individual burnt for heresy during Mary’s reign – John Rogers – was condemned here, as was Bishop John Hooper who was sent back to his diocese of Gloucester to die. There is no entrance fee but if you wish to take photos there is a very small charge.

Though only a few ruins remain, Winchester Palace is still a place to visit. It located less than 10 minutes from Southwark Cathedral so it is best to see both during one trip. It was the seat of Stephen Gardiner, who was also Lord Chancellor under Mary. According to one contemporary, Gardiner entertained Henry VIII and Katherine Howard at this residence during Henry’s attempts to annul his marriage to Anne of Cleves, facilitating his union with Katherine (Mary’s fourth stepmother).

Southwark Cathedral

11. Smithfield

Today known for the meat market, Smithfield was once a notorious place of execution. In Mary’s day it was a cattle and horse market, which also served as a venue for public burnings of heretics. During Mary’s reign, seven Protestants were sent to their deaths here including John Rogers, John Cardmaker, John Bradford, John Philpot, Thomas Tompkins, John Warne and John Leafe. Rogers was the first Protestant to die on charges of heresy during Mary’s reign and his courageous example was regarded as inspirational by supporters. Offered a pardon at the execution, Rogers refused, told the crowd to be unwavering in their faith, was tied to the stake and the fire lit. Whilst the flames consumed his body he ‘washed his hands in the flame’ (Foxe, Acts and Monuments) until it covered his whole body; a symbolic act of washing away the sins. A plaque commemorating the Marian martyrs can be found on the site. When in the area be sure to go into the Priory Church of St Bartholomew the Great which contains one of only two pre-Reformation fonts in London. From 1539 the Lady Chapel served as a printing house. Benjamin Franklin once worked here (when it was Samuel Palmer's printing shop). Fans of films set in the Tudor period may find the place familiar; scenes from Shakespeare in Love and The Other Boleyn Girl were filmed here. There is a small entrance fee and photography is permitted.

Plaque for the Smithfield martyrs

12. Museum of London

A museum which, as the name suggests, charts the history of the city. The galleries of interest to Tudor enthusiasts were recently renovated. There isn’t much on Mary aside from a very small section on the London Protestant Martyrs and the Reformation, but it is still worth seeing. They also house artefacts from the long gone Nonsuch palace, which was built by Henry VIII in the 1530s. Evidently Mary knew the palace well. The museum is free to enter.

13. The Victoria and Albert Museum

The V&A does hold objects relating to the Tudors but not a vast collection. However its new renaissance wing, which provides context on the age Mary lived through, is outstanding. There are some interesting objects connected to her relatives, including a stained glass window of her aunt and her husband’s grandmother, Juana of Castile. In the British gallery there are different objects connected to the Tudors, including Henry VIII’s writing desk. Entrance is free.

Stained glass window depicting Juana of Castile commissioned for the Chapel of the Holy Blood in Bruges, c.1496

14. Westminster Abbey

No tour of places connected to Mary is complete without a visit to her resting place. Mary requested burial in the abbey and intended to have her mother’s body brought here where the two would share a grand tomb. In the end Mary did end up sharing a tomb with a female relative but not one she would have been happy to be situated next to. The grand monument to Elizabeth marks the spot of Mary’s burial. A plaque in front of the tomb reads, ‘Partners both in throne and grave, here rests we two sisters, Mary and Elizabeth, in the hope of one resurrection’. Aside from Mary and Elizabeth, two other Tudor monarchs can be found in the abbey, Henry VII and Edward VI, along with Mary’s grandmother, Elizabeth of York and her stepmother, Anne of Cleves. Cousin Frances Grey, duchess of Suffolk (Jane Grey’s mother) was also buried here as was Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox who Mary was rumoured to favour as her successor. Be sure to check out the abbey’s museum (entrance fee included with the ticket for the abbey) that houses Mary’s funeral effigy. It goes without saying that the ticket price is absurdly high but like the Tower it just is one of those places you have to go to. Get there early to avoid the queues!

The head of Mary's funeral effigy

Enjoy the Mary tour!

(Though I’ve stated that some places allow photography, always ask beforehand. I have not included Hampton Court Palace as that was not part of London then nor is it now, though it is located a short train ride away and is lovely to look around in summer. Eltham Palace, the childhood home of Henry VIII, is also worth a trip. Take the DLR all the way to Lewisham and from there board a train to Eltham which is about 10 minutes away).

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

New Year’s Gift List of 1534 & the possible portrait of Mary

Yesterday, whilst working on my dissertation in the National Archives, I consulted one document which relates somewhat to my previous post on the possible portrait of Mary. The portrait allegedly dates to c.1535 a time which, I argued, would not make sense given Mary was in disgrace. To emphasise this further here is the New Year’s Gift list of 1534 which details gifts granted to and from the King. You will notice a blatant omission. Mary was clearly out of favour owing to her stance against Henry’s new marriage, behaviour which Henry regarded as dangerous and unruly. She was given nothing and no gift from her was accepted by him (not that she was in a sufficient financial position to get her father a gift in the first place).

(Notice Henry VIII’s signature on the top of the list. His signature can also be found at the end of the document).

The question of who would commission the portrait remains. Certainly Henry would not have ordered it. As for Mary’s supporters, would they have risked the King’s wrath by having a portrait of Mary commissioned? There is certainly no evidence of Mary sitting for a portrait from late 1533 to the summer of 1536. Could supporters have produced portraits without requiring a sitting? This idea is undermined not only by the lack of evidence of any supporter actually having such a portrait produced, but also by the French ambassador’s claims in 1541 that no image of Mary could be made without the King’s consent. Explaining why he had failed to obtain a portrait of Mary he explained, ‘no painter dare attempt it without the King’s command’. Mary would only commission her own portrait in 1544, immediately after she had been reinstated in the succession. The painting in question is one of the most familiar images of Mary.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Research into a possible portrait of Mary

Back in the 1920s a portrait of a young woman was sold to Jules S. Bache in New York as 'English Princess', with the implication that the sitter was Mary. The portrait is by a unidentified Netherlandish artist and has been dated to about 1535.

The portrait is currently being examined by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, who have labelled this as ‘Portrait of a Young Woman’ whilst they look into the credibility of the claim that it is of Mary.

If the dating of the portrait is correct – so 1535 – the implication that this is of Mary is problematic. Mary was still in disgrace by that date and thus not in a position to have her portrait taken (nor is there evidence of her sitting for such a portrait between late 1533 to mid 1536). There is a Holbein sketch dated c.1536 in the Royal Collection that is believed to be of Mary, a date which is more logical given that by the summer of that year Mary was back in her father’s favour upon her decision to recognise her demoted status and her father’s headship of the church. The situation was markedly different in 1535. Furthermore the girl appears younger than nineteen, the age Mary was throughout most of 1535.

Previous analysis of this portrait was insufficient to prove that it was of Mary. Hopefully the current investigation will determine the identity.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Thursday, 20 July 1553 – Judith and Holofernes

When the battle-line seemed fully drawn up, sacred Mary rode out from Framlingham castle about four o’clock (the day was a Thursday), to muster and inspect this most splendid and loyal army. While her majesty was approaching, the white horse which she was riding became rather more frisky at the unaccustomed sight of such an army drawn up in formation than her womanly hesitancy was prepared to risk, so she ordered her foot-soldiers, active and dutiful men, to lift up their hands to help their sovereign until she got ready to get down; obedient to their gentle mistress’s request, they brought the queen down to the ground. Once she had got down from her horse, the good princess first gave warning in an order that no harquebusier should fire his gun, nor any archer release his arrows until her majesty had inspected her army. When this order was given, such was the respect that everyone felt for their sovereign that no harquebusier nor archer fired after her command; but the soldiers bowed low to the ground and awaited their beloved mistress’s arrival with as great an obeisance as they could manage. When she came along, they offered her such reverence that I had serious doubts whether they could have given greater adoration to God if he had come down from Heaven.”

(Wingfield, The Vita Mariae Angliae Reginae, 1554)

But be you assured, you shall never escape death; for if she [Mary] would save you those that now shall rule will kill you.”

(Edwin Sandys to the duke of Northumberland, 20 July 1553)

In her coronation procession, Mary was likened to courageous Judith who had brought about the demise of her peoples enemy, Holofernes. Fortunately Mary did not have to resort to seducing the duke of Northumberland in order to destroy him. But she procured the same result – the severed head of her opponent.

The duke had long been unpopular in certain parts of the kingdom but at least he had allies who had stood alongside him in the early days of Jane’s reign. Now, like his daughter-in-law, he had been abandoned by almost everyone. Aside from his wife and sons, few would mourn his death. Fellow members of the Privy Council were attempting to distance themselves from him and to indicate that he was responsible for Mary being denied the throne. They had decided the previous day to proclaim Mary queen in London and shortly after the announcement the earl of Arundel and Lord Paget rode to Framlingham to deliver the news to their new monarch. They would declare themselves her ‘most humble, faithful and obedient subjects’ and would beg ‘your majesty to pardon and remit our former infirmities’.

However the men did not arrive till the evening and before then Mary believed she would need to take the capital by force. Her soldiers were called for an inspection. Evidently she had been able to gather an impressive display of arms. ‘The infantry made ready their pikes, the cavalry brandished lances, the archer bent his bow, and girded on his quiver, the harquebusier filled his weapon with powder’, and all men stood in place not moving ‘a finger’s breadth from position’. At four o’clock she rode out though a restless horse lead her to inspect her troops on foot. She spoke to the men for some time, treating them ‘with exceptional kindness’. But perhaps most importantly she was recorded as adopting a relaxed approach, investing in her men a sense of confidence they would prove victorious. As soon as she got back on her horse to ride away, a large section of the cavalry ‘suddenly streamed forth and beat and trod the ground with such a thunderous noise and spread so widely through the field that it seemed like one enemy in pursuit of another’.

The day would only prove to get better. Arriving back in the castle she was told that the Privy Council had declared her queen and London was the scene of much rejoicing. This was confirmed in the same evening when Arundel and Paget arrived and begged for her clemency. Then came others equally remorseful. Amongst them were two men from the duke’s army, Sir John Clere and Lord Clinton. Richard Rich, the man infamous for his involvement in the downfall of Sir Thomas More and his ability to change allegiance without much concern, also arrived later that evening.

The duke was also informed on this date of the turn of events. Along with his son, John Dudley, Sir John Gates and the earl of Huntington he went to the marketplace in Cambridge, threw his cap in the air, scattered coins in celebration, and called for Queen Mary. Having done his duty he told Edwin Sandys, one of the few men who hadn’t deserted him, that he hoped Mary would prove merciful and spare him as she would the other councillors. When the earl of Arundel came to arrest him only a few days later, he posed the same question and asked the earl to intervene for him. “My Lord, you should have sought for mercy sooner”, was the only response he was met with.

(Top image - Reenactment of Mary’s inspection of her troops at Framlingham. Photo taken by Malcolm R Bell and posted on his Flickr account)

(Bottom image – Judith with the Head of Holofernes by Massimo Stanzione, c.1630-35. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY)

Monday, 19 July 2010

Wednesday, 19 July 1553 – Victory

“.. the xix. day of the same monyth, was st Margarettes evyne, at iiij. of clocke at after-none was proclamyd lady Ma[ry to] be qwene of Ynglond at the crose in Cheppe with the erle of Shrewsbery, the earle [of Arundel], the erle of Pembroke, with the mayer of London, and dyvers other lordes, and many of the ald[dermen] and the kynges schrffe master Garrand, with dyvers haroldes and trompettes. And from thens cam to Powlles alle, and there the qwere sange Te Deum with the organs goynge, with the belles ryngynge, the most parte alle [London], and that same nyght had the [most] parte of London Te Deum, with bone-fyers in every strete in London, with good chere at every bone [fyer], the belles ryngynge in every parych cherch, and for the most parte alle nyght tyll the nexte daye to none.”

(The Chronicle of the Grey Friars of London, 1553).

We your most humble, faithful and obedient subjects having always (God we take to witness) remained your Highness’s true and humble subjects in our hearts ever since the death of our late sovereign lord and master, your highness’s brother whom God pardon; and seeing hitherto no possibility to utter our determination herein without great destruction and bloodshed both of ourselves and others till this time, have this day proclaimed in your city of London your majesty to be our true, natural sovereign liege lady and queen, most humbly beseeching your majesty to pardon and remit our former infirmities and most graciously to accept our meanings which have been ever to serve your highness truly.”

(Council’s message to Mary, 19 July 1553)

Sometime in the late morning of the 19th the earls of Arundel and Pembroke, standing before the rest of the Privy Council, managed to convince the same body of men to abandon Jane and proclaim Mary queen. It was not a particularly difficult task given that many of these men congregated in Baynard’s Castle were quite willing to switch sides. Days earlier some had tried to flee the Tower to rush to Mary and offer their allegiance but had been prevented from doing so. Now they discussed terms. They would submit completely to Mary’s will, profess themselves her true subjects and attribute Jane’s accession to the ambition of the Lord President of the Council – the duke of Northumberland.

The earl of Pembroke’s desperation in securing the council’s approval for Mary was evident. “If the arguments of my lord Arundel do not persuade you, this sword shall make [her] queen, or I will die in her quarrel”, he threatened. The earl of Arundel was equally assertive in his desire to present himself as one of Mary’s most ardent supporters and in a speech before the Council he explained away his previous loyalty to Jane as a product of fear caused by the duke’s threats. Both men were now committed supporters of Mary and were determined to protect their lands, positions and lives. One contemporary noted on the same day that he saw ‘the earl of Pembroke threw away his cap full of angellettes [jewels]’ in the street after Mary had been professed queen.

The reaction of the populace was positive. Mary’s accession was announced by the earl of Pembroke in the late afternoon and there were scenes of wild rejoicing. Merchant Henry Machyn recorded in his diary that ‘all the belles ryngyng thrugh London, and bone-fyres, and tabuls in evere strett, and wyne and bere and alle, and evere strett full of bonfyres, and ther was money cast a-way.’ At Leadenhall Street, one of the sites in London where Mary’s accession was proclaimed, the ‘people started running in all directions and crying out’. On the same street Sir John York, a loyal supporter of Jane’s, allegedly ‘cried out to the people that it was not true’ and was met with fierce hostility. ‘Though he was on horse-back he escaped alive with difficulty and was taken into the house of Sheriff Garrett’, it was remarked.

Before the announcement was made the imperial ambassadors were informed by the earl of Shrewsbury and John Mason of the Council's decision to support Mary. Throughout the events of the past two weeks, the ambassadors had assumed that Mary’s cause was a hopeless one if her cousin, Charles V, would not intervene on her behalf. Now they were being told of her victory accomplished without their aid. Shortly afterwards the mayor of London was summoned to Baynard’s castle and also informed of the decision so he could quickly prepare the festivities. The drinking, the banquets and the ringing of the bells would go on through the night, only calming down midday on the 20th.

Mary would not know till the following day that her claim to the throne was now recognised by the Council and she had the capital. The possibility that she would have to take the Crown by force – that she would need to enact the role of warrior queen – was one she believed she now faced. Her maternal grandmother, another queen regnant, had faced her own succession crisis and emerged victorious. Isabella of Castile had been married at the point of her accession and her husband had played a role in securing her throne. In contrast Mary was unmarried though she did have male associates whose loyalty was unquestionable and she trusted to lead her forces. As a woman, Mary could not lead her troops into battle though like her grandmother she still had a role to play. She organised an inspection of her troops that would take place the next day and consulted with her commanders. According to Robert Wingfield she would spend several hours speaking to and inspecting her troops which won her much admiration. All this was entirely new to Mary; her education as a young girl, when she was still heir to the throne, had not entailed lessons in warfare and she was certainly not taught this after Henry VIII had disinherited her. But Mary knew how to make use of the sentiments of loyalty many felt for her and in all things she was meticulous, a habit she inherited from her paternal grandfather, a Tudor who also battled his way to the throne. With the temerity of Isabella of Castile and Henry VII, Mary planned her military campaign. Fortunately she would face no battle but she would make show of her forces when she marched to London to be received as queen.

The other woman at the centre of this succession crisis was told in the evening that she was no longer queen. Her father, the duke of Suffolk, did the honours. He ripped down the cloth of estate and announced that she was no longer ‘Queen Jane’. She responded that this was a wise decision and allegedly asked if she could go home. There was no anger over the decision to recognise Mary nor did she breakdown. Jane had accepted the throne graciously and admitted defeat in the same fashion. As various men who once served her rushed off to Framlingham to pay homage to Mary and beg for their lives, Jane waited in the Tower, her royal residence now turned her prison. Now all waited to see whether Mary would prove merciful or whether she was truly her father’s daughter.

(Image - Queen Mary I enthroned and flanked by angels with the destruction of the duke of Northumberland and the rebels depicted in the background to the right. Coram Rege Rolls, 1553. KB 27/1168/2)

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Tuesday, 18 July 1553 – Et tu, Brute?

And if you will ponder all these matters without passion of selfishness, you will recognise that they are unbearable and blameworthy. I believe that you know well enough the ways and means that the Duke is using to reduce to subjection this Kingdom and that he is not moved either by zeal of the public welfare nor of the Religion, but only by the ambition to rule because to enslave a free Kingdom cannot be regarded as caring for the public welfare, nor can he be called religious who has violated the faith due to his King.”

(Earl of Arundel’s speech to the Privy Council convincing them to abandon Jane Grey and blame the affair on the duke of Northumberland, 19 July 1553)

And consider that I have done nothing but by the consents of you and all the whole council.”

(The duke of Northumberland’s remarks to the earl of Arundel upon his arrest on 20 July 1553)

As the duke of Northumberland left Cambridge for Bury St Edmunds on the morning of the 18th, his colleagues back in London were preparing to betray him. It now seemed obvious that Jane’s cause was all but lost and they had their properties, positions and their lives to consider. Regardless of this understandable desire to safeguard all they held dear, there is something distinctly unpleasant about this whole affair. Even Mary’s most ardent admirers, pleased as they were by this abandonment of Jane, were uncomfortable with this treachery. As Robert Wingfield reported, the duke was ‘so ill-served by his followers’. The men in question chose not only to reject Jane’s cause but also to find someone to blame for this all mess – a scapegoat who could easily be discarded. And that was of course the duke.

The earls of Arundel and Pembroke were now residing in Baynard’s Tower and were joined by others including William Paget. Despite discussions about switching to Mary’s side, the Council itself was still, officially at least, for Jane and were sending letters urging local gentry to suppress Mary’s forces. Robert Dudley called again for Jane at King’s Lynn on this date and even Jane wrote to some, including John Brydges and Sir Nicholas Poyntz of Gloucestershire, requiring them to continue to fight in her name. But their efforts were in vain. Now the men who helped to place Jane on the throne were busy discussing a way to negotiate with Mary and save themselves in the process. They were entirely innocent, they claimed. They had supported Jane not out of their own free will, succumbing instead to the duke’s threats and lies. They were merely the victims of the wicked duke’s ambition. No longer was Edward VI responsible for the alterations to the succession. It was the vile, tyrannical and traitorous duke who wished to see the advancement of his own line. They had always loved Mary and were now taking a stand. Conveniently this demonstration of loyalty took place after Mary had won the royal fleets, commanded numerous forces and won the support of various counties.

The following day the earl of Arundel would make a speech calling on the Council to proclaim Mary queen in London. Though made on the 19th, the ideas within the speech were evidently formed in the last days of Jane’s days. The earl had been one of the duke’s closest allies and had offered felicitous words when the duke left London to face Mary’s supporters. How quickly he now changed his views. He felt compelled to “speak against the Duke of Northumberland, a man of supreme authority and who disposes of all our armies, and also desirous of bloodshed as vell as unhampered by scruples.”
This man, he claimed,

endeavoured to put me to death with such perverse wickedness, as your goodselves have witnessed, but only the concern for the public weal and the freedom of this Kingdom, to which it is our duty to attend more than to our own welfare. At the same time my conscience was burdened with remorse considering how the rights of My Lady Mary, true heir to this Crown, were usurped and that we have been robbed of that liberty which we have enjoyed so long under the rule of our legitimate Kings. And if you will ponder all these matters without passion of selfishness, you will recognise that they are unbearable and blameworthy. I believe that you know well enough the ways and means that the Duke is using to reduce to subjection this Kingdom and that he is not moved either by zeal of the public welfare nor of the Religion, but only by the ambition to rule because to enslave a free Kingdom cannot be regarded as caring for the public welfare, nor can he be called religious who has violated the faith due to his King.”

The duke would learn of the Council’s decision to call for Mary on the 20th – the day after the Council proclaimed her queen and the same day Mary learnt of the news. When she heard she was naturally delighted and she would send the earl of Arundel to arrest the duke and take him to the Tower. It was a calculated choice. Now the betrayer faced the man he deserted – a brilliant act deemed to test the earl’s loyalty to herself whilst making him face the consequences of his actions. And, of course, to taunt him with an example of what she would do to those who were the subject of her displeasure.

(Image - Portrait of Henry Fitzalan, 12th Earl of Arundel by unknown artist, 1560s. NPG, London)

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Monday, 17 July 1553 – Dying days of Jane’s reign

O ye counsellors, why did ye me advance,
To a queen’s estate, full sore against my mind,
Assuring me it was my just inheritance.
Now, contrary to your suggestion, I perceive and find
All was in vain, your wits were too blind
Me to delude against the form of law;
Forsooth, you were to blame, and all not worth a straw.

Your creeping and kneeling to me, poor innocent
Brought me to weening with your persuasions
That all was truth which you untruly meant.
Such were your arguments, such were your reasons
Made to me sundry times and seasons
Your subtle dealing deceived hath both you and me.
Dissimulation will not serve, now may you see

(George Cavendish’s tragical poem from the perspective of Jane Grey, c.1553)

After Mary was declared queen, William Cecil – the future Lord Burghley and renowned Elizabethan minister – claimed that he held doubts regarding the legitimacy of Edward VI’s alterations to the succession but was convinced to support Jane. Though he did not flee London on this date to pay homage to her, he started to entertain ideas of escape. His man, Richard Troughton, was ordered to have horses ready for him at Royston. When he felt the time was right, namely when the council in London completely abandoned Jane, he would flee and beg Mary to forgive him. Fortunately his sister-in-law, Lady Anne Bacon, was one of Mary’s former ladies and would become a gentlewoman of her Privy Chamber. A pardon was secured.

His decision to contemplate abandoning Jane was not unique. The earls of Arundel and Pembroke had fled the Tower to Pembroke’s residence, Baynard’s Tower, and were now discussing whether to support Mary. It was from this location that two days later they would agree with the rest of the Council that Jane’s cause was lost.

In France, the duke’s kinsman, Henry Dudley, was at the French court attempting to convince King Henri II to recognise Jane as queen and promise military aid if Mary’s cousin, Charles V, chose to intervene on her behalf. Talks with the French had extended back to before Edward VI’s death, but the duke needed to ensure that Henri would not advance his daughter-in-law, Mary, Queen of Scots as a rival candidate or show indifference to the idea of Charles invading England. In fact Charles had no aspirations to do this; he was far more preoccupied with other affairs including his war with France which lead, on this date, to his troops capturing the town of Hesdin. Still Jane’s supporters needed to know that they had an ally in case the worst occurred. The duke was also vigilant of appearing too needy. Henry Dudley was to make it clear that England didn’t need France’s help unless Charles made a move. Henry Dudley was still talking over terms with King Henri by the 19th, the day Mary was proclaimed queen in London.

Sometime in the last days of Jane’s reign, various parts of Devonshire called for Mary. At first this may not seem that surprising given that areas of the south-west remained attached to conservative religious practices. In 1549 Edward’s government had faced a rebellion in the south-west against the changes in the Church, an uprising which some accused Mary of being complicit in. The Council asked her plainly whether certain of her servants had left her household to join her rebellion. She staunchly denied that she or her household had anything to do with this and though the Council believed her they retorted that her blatant Catholicism had meant she was a natural figurehead for the rebels. Yet in these past days, Mary’s support base had been focused predominately in the areas where she held most estates and where she was based – the south-east of the country. Now support for Mary was proclaimed elsewhere. Sir Peter Carew of Mohun's Ottery, Devon felt ‘allegaunce to his naturall Prince [Mary]’ and ‘dyd cause the sayd Lady Marye to be proclaymed Queene in too markett townes neere to the place where he then dwelled – the one in Dartemouthe, and th’other at Newton Abbot’. With most of the south-west and now areas of the south-east calling for Mary, the capital was the next target. Mary believed that London would need to be taken by force and as late as the 20th she was preparing her troops for battle. Fortunately her precautions were unnecessary; it would not take a battle to cause London to call for Mary.

(Image - Portrait of Sir Peter Carew by Gerlach Flicke. National Gallery of Scotland)

Friday, 16 July 2010

Sunday, 16 July 1553 – Mary’s forces ‘mershe forth towards’ Westminster

The xvjth daye of July the lorde highe treasurer was going to his howse in London at night, and about vij. of the clocke the gates of the Tower upon a sudden was shut, and the keyes caryed upp to the quene Jane; but what the cause was I knowe not. The noyes in the Tower was that ther was a seale lacking; but many men thought they surmysed that but the truthe was she feared some packinge in the lorde treasurer, and so they dyd fetch him at xvj. of the clocke in the night from his house in London into the Tower.”

(Nichols, The Chronicle of Queen Jane, and of Two Years of Queen Mary)

Mary now had the loyalty of the royal fleets and reports circulated London that she controlled a sizeable force. News had reached Mary that an army of 10,000, lead by her ally Sir Edmund Peckham and complied of men ‘of the shyres of Oxforde, Buckyngham, Berks, Myddlesex’ were planning ‘to mershe forth towards the Palaice of Westminster’ in her name. The number may have been an exaggeration but if she was told of this then her enemies in London were bound to have heard this alarming piece of information. Unsurprisingly panic broke out amongst Jane’s supporters. Were they backing someone doomed to fail? Were their lands, their titles – their lives – at risk? Could Mary’s troops easily conquer London? Some men decided to go out amongst the people to understand their sentiments. Evidently those still loyal to Jane were not too happy about such early signs of desertion and attempted to prevent some from testing the public mood. The lord treasurer and lord lieutenant of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, William Paulet, marquess of Winchester, tried to escape from the Tower where Jane and the Privy Council were stationed, to his London residence. However Jane’s men discovered what he was up to and ‘dyd fetch him at xij of the clocke in the night’. The earl of Arundel and earl of Pembroke would later prove more successful. The same day Jane’s father, the duke of Suffolk, whom the duke of Northumberland had left in charge during his absence, ordered Sir Thomas Cawarden to supply tents for the troops that had been brought in to guard the Tower where the queen dwelt. Letters proclaiming Mary as a wicked subject who was leading others into rebellion and spreading such ‘traitorous sundry untrue reports’ about Jane were drawn up by the Council and sent off to all the counties. It was a last-ditch effort that was simply ignored in various areas.

The duke still had the majority of the peers in the realm on his side. He also still commanded a large army and his son, Robert, was successful in securing the loyalty of King’s Lynn where he was stationed with his troops. He had also secured Thetford for Jane. But Mary was gaining support in a number of counties. The report concerning Peckham’s army of 10,000 indicates that he had men from Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Middlesex. Mary also received significant support in Norfolk and Suffolk, and she had allies operating in the Thames Valley. Now there was uneasy in London – in the heart of what was supposed to be Jane’s territory.

From the time Jane was proclaimed queen in London her supporters had been busy presenting arguments to the people about the righteousness of her rule and the unsuitability of Mary. Despite events developing in Mary’s favour, the most ardent of Jane’s supporters continued to uphold her claim. On this day in London, the bishop of the city, Nicholas Ridley, preached at Paul’s Cross and told the citizens that Mary was ‘not lawfully begotten in the estate of good matrimony according to God’s law’ and thus had no right to become queen. Once again the matter of her religion was raised and yet again the people were not convinced. They were, we all told, ‘sore annoyed with his words’ and thought him uncharitable. But they also may have been scared for they heard that a great force was heading their way and though they had not shown rapturous support for Jane, they had also not rebelled in Mary’s name. True a letter proclaiming Mary as queen was left anonymously in St Paul’s on this date, but this was not akin to an outright uprising. When Mary’s accession was announced in London three days later, the people were said to be overjoyed. Contemporary Ralph Starkey recorded that 'the bonfires were without number and what with shouting and crying of the people, and ringing of the bells, there could no one hear almost what another said, besides banqueting and singing in the streets for joy'. Perhaps for most this joy was genuine though their fervour may have been partly motivated by a sense of concern that their actions before had bordered on indifference.

For those interested in Jane Grey be sure to check out this fantastic site: Lady Jane Grey Reference Guide Blog.

(Image - Portrait of William Paulet, first marquess of Winchester by unknown artist, 1560s. NPG, London)