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)

Posters for 'Bloody Mary' attraction in London have been banned

This month I have been posting a day to day account of Mary’s accession to the throne and later on today I will be adding my latest post on this subject. But I wanted to mention briefly something that I have raised on this blog previously. Around six or so months back I mentioned that The London Dungeons is holding an attraction entitled, ‘Bloody Mary: Killer Queen’, in which visitors will be able to:

Enter Bloody Mary’s private chapel and witness the fanatically Catholic Queen pass judgment on petrified heretics.”

Experience the horrifying sights, screams, smells of the most painful method of execution known to man – being slowly burnt alive.”

Living in London, I have come across several posters for this including one video advert I spotted on the underground. Historian Leanda de Lisle, who I had the pleasure of hearing speak at the National Portrait Gallery a few months back, has labelled the posters as “an example of England’s knee-jerk anti-Catholicism and how our history of the Tudor period has been distorted by post-Reformation propaganda.”

Apparently now the posters have been banned. The video advert depicted Mary turning to the viewer and her face distorting to something beastly which lead to several children being terrified and their parents contacting the Advertising Standards Authority.

For more information on the story, see this article from The Guardian :

I will say though that for all my distaste for this tacky exhibit – which basically seeks to profit from and trivialise such tragic events – I did have a little chuckle when I saw this comment:

• Lonelysven
14 Jul 2010, 11:04AM

‘It was good of Amy Winehouse to give up her time to boost London tourism'

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Saturday, 15 July 1553 – The turning point?

Very early the next day Jerningham, accompanied by Tyrrell and Glemham, rode up to inspect the ships thus brought to the haven by a lucky tide and wind, as they say. When they had reached the haven he ordered Sir Richard Brooke, the squadron’s commander, a diligent man and skilled in seamanship, to be called to him, and took him to Framlingham castle to bring news of this happy and unexpected arrival to the queen”.

(Wingfield, The Vita Mariae Angliae Reginae, 1554)

No sooner had Edward VI died then the captains of several royal ships were given their orders to guard the east coast on behalf of Queen Jane. It was their understanding that Jane was Edward’s rightful successor so like dutiful subjects they carried out the commands. Unfortunately they received no pay for their men and as a consequence war had broken out onboard. Now, on the morning of the 15th, Sir Henry Jerningham and his men paid these ships a visit. The previous evening Jerningham had been told that several royal fleets were stationed in Orwell haven, having docked there owing to poor weather. They took a small boat and sailed to the ships and demanded that the crews called for Mary. Do you wish for the loyalty of our captains, asked the crew? ‘Yea’ was the obvious response from Jerningham. “Ye shall have theym or els we shall throwe theym to the bottom of the sea” they promised. The captains, none too fond of the notion of being plonked unceremoniously into the water, suddenly decided that they liked the sound of a ‘Queen Mary’. The overall commander, Richard Brooke, was subsequently ordered to go to Framlingham and offer the ships to Mary. Once the duke had hoped to trap Mary by providing her with no viable route out of England. Now he no longer controlled both land and sea.

In London, confusion was rife. The Imperial ambassadors reported that ‘there was trouble coming’ and ‘good men’ are ‘disgusted’ by the situation, including some members of the Privy Council. Sir Edmund Peckham, the Treasurer of the Mint had fled the city to pay homage to Mary. Lord Windsor and Sir Edward Hastings had also abandoned Jane, even though Hastings was the brother of the earl of Huntington who was then heading an army in Jane’s honour. Apparently Hastings fled to Mary after having a private conversation with his brother who revealed to him the duke’s plans to assassinate Mary. Once provided with the information he needed, he met with Peckham and the pair agreed they would desert the duke and Hastings and tell Mary of their plans. So much for brotherly love. Now men were starting to remember past grievances, however real or perceived, between themselves and Northumberland. He was a tyrant; he was a traitor. They had supported him out of fear though they had always been for Mary. They were disturbed by his ambition which, they argued, was far more significant than their own. Their only concern was for, as the earl of Arundel would argue, 'the public weal and the freedom of this Kingdom' not for the advancement of themselves and their family.

The duke, unaware of the changing attitude and such betrayal, entered Cambridge in the afternoon of the 15th. Despite the devastating loss of royal ships he still had an impressive force. So notable was the army that one contemporary in London heard that he had ‘great guns’ and ‘gunstones a great number’. Desertions by this point were small in number and the duke had taken artillery from the Tower. He was also expecting more men and would station his army in Cambridge for three days whilst his son, Robert, was in nearby King’s Lynn. Despite having a significant army it seems that Mary’s supporters were encouraging, even devising, rumours that she possessed huge forces – larger than she actually had. How influential these rumours were in persuading individuals give up on Jane and go to Framlingham offering their loyalty to Mary is debatable. Though clearly many were becoming uneasy by reports of her success and prepared to switch sides.

Mary’s standing in Norfolk and Suffolk was excellent and now Northamptonshire was showing signs of distaste for Jane’s accession. Sir Robert Tyrwhitt had raised troops for the duke there but Sir Thomas Tresham, described as ‘notable for his courage and his decent’, decided to defy his orders. At Northampton he proclaimed Mary queen and was aided by the citizens. Her position in Oxfordshire was also improving. John de Vere, sixteenth earl of Oxford came over to her cause. The story of his conversion is intriguing for, according to Wingfield’s account, the earl was won over by his servants. He had some days previously imprisoned a lawyer named Clement Tusser because the man proclaimed Mary queen and denounced Jane. The earl’s servants were ‘fully convinced that it was their duty to urge the earl to espouse and embrace Mary’s cause with all his might’. Still he had his doubts, which were enhanced when several of the duke’s allies arrived at his home to convince him to stay committed. In the end his servants adopted some zealous methods. They ‘crowded into the ample space of the castle hall and sent up deafening shouts that they recognised no other queen but Mary’. And if he would not change his mind they would ‘throw off their liveries’, thus renounce him as a master, and set out for Framlingham. We are told that the earl was ‘moved’ by such words; most likely he felt absolute horror over this defiance to his authority. The incident indicates that Mary not only held the devotion of her own servants but, remarkably, the loyalty of others.

(Image - Portrait of Edward Hastings, Baron Hastings of Loughborough by unknown artist, c.1540-43. NPG, London)

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Friday, 14 July 1553 – Intrigues in an Ipswich inn

“...he [Henry Jerningham] had learnt in conversation that a squadron of five ships of the late King Edward VI, laden with soldiers and weaponry, had been forced into the safety of Orwell haven by bad weather and was lying there, by some extraordinary chance, or rather, by a gale sent from heaven. The crews were in a state of great disturbance and had most courageously mutinied against their officers because of the disowning of Princess Mary; the officers were staying in this haven against their will because of the unrest among the men.”

(Wingfield, The Vita Mariae Angliae Reginae, 1554)

In a small tavern in Ipswich, at the dead of night, a group of men sat with drinks discussing current events. Henry Jerningham had been fighting passionately for Mary from day one and had been trying to secure support for her in the south-east. He had his eyes set on a particular prize. Since the death of Edward VI several royal ships was stationed around the east coast prepared to prevent attempts made by Mary to flee. Jane and her allies were still ‘strong on land and sea’, as the Imperial ambassadors put it, but what a glorious victory it would be for Mary if she won the royal fleets. But this was a difficult task. If the captains and sailors of these ships were for Jane what could Jerningham do to convince them?

Drinking with his men in this inn, Jerningham began a conversation with the owner, a Welsh man named Philip Williams. Described by Robert Wingfield as possessing ‘complete and remarkable bravery’, Williams was utterly sympathetic for Mary. But he had a greater gift than sympathy for her. Williams told Jerningham that amongst his guests was a sailor from one of the ships. The sailor told Jerningham that five ships ‘laden with soldiers and weaponry’ had been forced to station nearby in Orwell haven (another, the Greyhound, sought refuge at Lowestoft). As per usual the English summer was proving to be troublesome and the storms had forced the ships to seek shelter. Not only were they nearby and liable for a visit by Jerningham and his men but it was reported that the crew onboard were rather discontent. The rejection of Mary had not gone down well and a mutiny had occurred.

Jerningham, we are told, was not easily convinced by this news at first. After all it was too good to be true. We can’t blame him for his scepticism. For despite Wingfield’s account of the affair, namely his claims that the sailors felt sympathy for Mary and that is why they rebelled, the crew probably were more incensed about not being paid. Queen Jane or Queen Mary, it didn’t matter as long as they would receive their wages and quickly. The sailor went away leaving Jerningham to talk it over with Williams. By the morning Jerningham made up his mind and decided to credit the sailor’s words. His decision to advance – his luck in picking that tavern and at that time – would lead to a decisive point in this whole affair. Ironically on the same date, the Imperial ambassadors were writing to Charles V, telling him that Mary would likely be caught by the duke in four days time ‘unless she had sufficient force to resist’, something they thought unlikely. ‘We therefore believe she is weak’, they told Charles, and will be ruined unless you assist her.

Meanwhile Lord Wentworth had decided to back Mary after she sent two servants his way with a letter that she hoped would convince him. The earl of Sussex, whose son had been kidnapped by Sir John Huddleston, was now at Framlingham. His captured son also backed Mary and had been awarded a friendly reception upon his arrival some days back. The 14th to the 16th marked the most arrivals at Framlingham; clearly news that the duke was advancing into Cambridgeshire and other peers operating elsewhere with large forces, did not curtail the loyalty of certain supporters. The gain of Wentworth meant Mary’s hold over Suffolk was significant; she now had the lord lieutenant and the sheriff of the county (Sir Thomas Cornwallis). Many years later John Foxe claimed Mary had promised the men of Suffolk (many of whom were favourable to reform) that she would not alter the religious policies of her brother’s reign if they supported her. How truthful is this? It has been supported by some historians, including Anna Whitelock and Diarmaid MacCulloch who argue that Mary was making a pragmatic statement. If true it is an indication that Mary was fully able to be deceptive and was rather shrewd in knowing what it took to gain support. She knew that Jane’s supporters were using her Catholicism against her; now she rendered their words ineffective. Before her accession, Mary had many associates who favoured reform. Not only did she rely upon these connections for favours, whether for herself or her servants (as was mostly the case), but she regarded certain of these individuals as genuine confidants. Such was the case with Anne, Lady Bacon and Anne Seymour, duchess of Somerset. In short, despite her faith which the duke and his allies attempted to publicise and use against her, Mary was known to engage in diverse networks. Later writers like Foxe may have looked upon her promises as obviously untrue but by this time she had cultivated for herself a reputation that made such things appear possible. And simultaneously she was able to receive support from Catholics in large numbers with many believing the restoration of the ‘true religion’ would certainly come about with her accession. So the theory of Mary being the most Catholic of Catholics supported only by Catholics in July 1553 is but partly true. The story of her victory was one of connections and deceptions; of support not always based along religious lines. And, as the case of Jerningham in the Ipswich inn shows, it is a story that contains a generous amount of sheer luck.

(Image - River Otwell. Photo taken from:

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Thursday, 13 July 1553 – Doubts about ‘Queen Jane’?

By this tyme newes was brought that sir John Williams was also proclamyng quene Mary in Oxfordeshire. From that tyme forwarde certayne of the counsayll, that is, the erle of Penbroke and the lorde warden sought to go out of the Tower to consult in London, but could not as yet.”

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

A week had passed since Edward VI’s death and Mary still did not have the throne. But things were looking up. John Williams, sheriff of Oxfordshire and Berkshire, had declared Mary queen in Oxfordshire and had amassed a significant force. Despite this, the duke of Northumberland, the marquess of Northampton and the earl of Huntington had raised troops and were setting off from London. The duke would be heading for Cambridgeshire, reaching Cambridge around the 15th. He would arrive with an impressive force and with the upper hand, yet leave a captured traitor awaiting a grim fate.

The loss of the duke from the capital was exploited by Mary’s supporters near London. Several men had connections in the Thames Valley and were operating in this area. Jane was not alone in London; the duke ensured he left behind many prominent allies to guard the city against possible attack. His kinsman, Sir Francis Jobson, was handed control of Westminster Palace and Jane was still lodged in the Tower. Yet despite his efforts, the duke was taking a gamble in leaving. As an able commander and someone so attached to the current events it seems fitting he engaged in the field. But his departure meant the loss of authority. Jane may be queen and may have taken on her role with dedication but the duke had the ability to persuade other peers. Would they prove so loyal in his absence?

The same day the Imperial ambassadors were granted an audience at the earl of Pembroke’s London residence. Also attending were three other earls – John Russell, first earl of Bedford, Henry Fitzalan, twelfth earl of Arundel and George Talbot, sixth earl of Shrewsbury – along with William Brooke, tenth Baron Cobham, Sir John Mason and Sir William Petre. They were to discuss the princess’s fate and whether Anglo-Imperial relations could still prevail despite Jane’s queenship. But some of these men were started to have their doubts. William Herbert, earl of Pembroke was becoming incredibly anxious. He was tied to this affair almost as securely as the duke, for his son and heir had married Jane’s sister, Katherine. The earl of Arundel shared his worries; whilst waving off the duke from London and wishing him well – exhorting him to die for their cause – he was considering deserting Jane for Mary. Why did these men have a change of heart? Did some doubt the legitimacy of Edward’s changes to the succession despite being involved in the process? Did some have sympathy for Mary all along? The earl of Bedford had welcomed Mary’s return to court and the destruction of Anne Boleyn in 1536 indicating a degree of admiration for her. Was the news of the growing support for Mary enough to make them see her cause as righteousness? As a young man, Arundel was described as being ‘of good wit, and likely to do well’. He was not going to be destroyed by this affair; if switching allegiances would save him, then needs must be done. His religious principals may have also affected his sympathies for Arundel was inclined to conservative practices.

Mary did not know of these doubts amongst the chief councillors and her sights were set on another prize – Thomas Wentworth. Only two days previously he had proclaimed Jane queen in Ipswich along with Sir John Cornwallis who quickly recanted his position on the matter and joined Mary. Wentworth was lord lieutenant of Suffolk – a perfect prize for Mary. Thus pressure was exerted upon him to renounce his position. Persuasive letters were devised and would be dispatched the next day, delivered by two trusted servants. It would not take Wentworth long to decide what course of action to take next. His ‘inner conscience constantly proclaimed that Mary had a greater right to the throne’, Robert Wingfield alleged, though Wentworth may have been wracked more with worry over the growing support for Mary. He would then make a journey to Framlingham with supplies. Soon Suffolk would be Mary’s county.

(Images. Left: Portrait of William Herbert, first earl of Pembroke by an unknown artist, c.1565. National Museum Wales. Right: Portrait of Henry Fitzalan, twelfth earl of Arundel, after Steven Van der Meulen, 1565. NPG, London).

Monday, 12 July 2010

Wednesday, 12 July, 1553 – Mary arrives at Framlingham

“...she [Mary] hurried on to reach Framlingham castle about eight-o-clock in the evening, where as many as possible of the local gentry and justices, together with a crowd of country folk, awaited her highness’s arrival in the deerpark lying below the castle.”

(Wingfield, The Vita Mariae Angliae Reginae, 1554)

Sir Richard Southwell was a survivor from Henry VIII’s court. His ability to adapt to the times had won him offices and land; he was even one of the assistant executors of Henry VIII’s will. In 1549 he had supported the duke of Northumberland (then the earl of Warwick) against the Lord Protector and had even been made a member of the Privy Council for a short space of time. Subsequently imprisoned in the Tower in 1551 for allegedly writing seditious bills, he was released and led a quieter existence. The events of July 1553 drew him back into political life. Evidently he had no reason to love the duke and his cause thus on the 12th he marched to Framlingham with ‘reinforcements of men, a store of provisions and moreover money’ along with ‘his own skills in counsel and long experience’.

Mary's decision to make Framlingham Castle her base and to move there on this date was motivated by several factors. Space was one, plus Framlingham was better fortified than Kenninghall. Framlingham had been the principal seat of Thomas Howard, third duke of Norfolk, who was currently lodged in the Tower. Upon his arrest in 1546 his properties were seized and after plans extending back to December 1552, Mary received Framlingham from the Crown around two months before Edward VI died. It was an impressive estate and Mary was certainly keen to move to such a place to hold her early court. But she took a risk in moving there. For all its advantages the property was located nearer to London than Kenninghall. Furthermore as she moved there the duke, the marquess of Northampton and the earl of Huntingdon, were preparing their forces to leave London. As mentioned in the last post several dates have been proposed for the duke’s decision to depart from London though on this date letters announced that the men ‘and other personages of estate is presently in the field with our said sovereign’s power for the repression of the rebellion’. So Mary was taken a risk in advancing to Framlingham whilst the duke was preparing to progress northwards. She was relying on the hope that supporters would be coming in significant numbers to the castle. The arrival of Southwell with men on the same day as her own arrival there – he probably arrived before her as she reached the castle at eight o’clock in the evening – must have been incredibly reassuring.

And it was not just Southwell who rushed to his queen. Sir John Mordaunt of Bedfordshire offered his allegiance at this time. His wife, Joan, had once been one of Mary’s ladies; perhaps this was a factor behind Mordaunt’s support. He was also another religious conservative and was evidently trusted by Mary that she would later rely upon him to carry out several important tasks including escorting the the marquess of Northampton to the Tower. He would later be involved in the controversial heresy trials of her reign. Simultaneously Edward Mone, Edward VI’s tax collector, rode to Framlingham with money that he had collected. Jane’s supporters controlled the treasury but Mone regarded the royal finances in his control as the rightful property of Queen Mary. As satisfying as Mone’s actions were to her, the knowledge that she had support from various ordinary people was also pleasing. For as she rode into Framlingham she was greeted not only by ‘the local gentry and justices’ but by a ‘crowd of country folk’.

As Mary presided over her household, the duke was preparing to set out into Cambridgeshire. Frustration and anger must have overcome him and his allies with every report reaching them that Mary’s support base was growing by the day. It was time to teach them a lesson – to show them what happens to men who abandon Queen Jane to support that ‘incestuous bastard’ (Marquis of Winchester’s alleged words). Thus the duke ordered the destruction of Sir John Huddleston’s house, where Mary had previously been offered refuge. His home may now be partly destroyed but Huddleston continued to fight and was en route to Framlingham with a prisoner – the earl of Sussex’s son. Mary would never forget Huddleston’s ardour despite his troubles. Immediately into her reign he would be awarded numerous estates and offices.

Some sources allege that the duke’s decision to enact the role of general was based on Jane’s reluctance to send her father, the duke of Suffolk, away to head an army. Instead he was to stay in London with her and ensure that members of the Council did not start to have second doubts about Jane’s claim to the throne. This decision has been attacked – by contemporaries and subsequent historians – owing to the duke of Suffolk’s allegedly weak character. As Commendone would phrase it, Suffolk ‘was not a man of great valour and therefore lacked authority’. Suffolk was not a stupid man as he has sometimes been portrayed including in the film, Lady Jane (1986). He was a cultivated nobleman, educated and interested in learning though clearly outshone in this regard by his precocious child. But he did not exude the confidence and ability that the duke did. By this date Mary’s cause had yet to reach a turning point. Jane’s hold on the throne was still secure; she still had the support of nearly all the highest peers in the land and of the church, and her armies were more significant than Mary’s. But with every desertion, her situation weakened. And the loss of the duke from the capital would prompt dissension in the ranks. In contrast Mary’s persuasive methods, which now entailed kidnapping, only sought to strengthen her position.

(Image - Framlingham Castle).

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Tuesday, 11 July 1553 – Confusion in Ipswich and an earl’s support is secured

Non aliena putes homini, quæ obtingere possunt:
Sora hodierna mihi, tunc erit illa tibi

Do never think it strange,
Though now I have misfortune,
For if that fortune change,
The same to thee may happen.

(Verse written by Jane Grey during her imprisonment in the Tower)

Whilst Mary was preparing to move to Framlingham, Thomas Wentworth, Baron Wentworth and his cousin Sir Thomas Cornwallis, sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk, received instructions from the Council to proclaim Jane queen in Ipswich. This they duly did though they soon learnt that Thomas Poley, a servant of Mary’s, had come to the town and announced her accession there. Standing in the market place, he boldly declared that Mary was the rightful queen and then gathered his men and fled. Poley had succeeded in not only alerting the people of Ipswich to Mary’s stand but in disturbing Cornwallis. Now he ‘had reached the crossroads’, as one contemporary put it. Clearly his heart was not fully with Jane’s cause and he had taken note of the sympathy for Mary amongst the people. Perhaps more importantly, his wife was a relation of Henry Jerningham, one of Mary’s most loyal allies. Quickly making up his mind he rode to Framlingham, reaching it the next day, and paid homage to Mary. It would take Wentworth another three days to come to the same conclusion.

Meanwhile in London men were called to assemble on Tothill Fields and ordered to guard the city against possible attack. The duke and fellow conspirators realised that Mary could be drawing upon significant support and prepared for the possibility that she may advance to London. This was the worst case scenario and not one the duke was prepared to happen. Hence he, along with the William Parr, marquess of Northampton and Francis Hastings, second earl of Huntingdon (whose son was married to Northumberland’s daughter) would ride out with armies to suppress Mary’s supporters. There is ambiguity about the exact date of the duke’s departure – the 12the to the 14th has been given – but it is clear that by this date he was preparing to muster forces and leave. Given that letters written on the 12th indicated that the men were ‘presently in the field’, it seems the 12th is the more likely date. Clearly the duke wanted to deal with Mary sooner than later.

In Spain, English diplomat Sir Richard Shelley had the hapless task of informing Mary’s cousin, Charles V, of the accession of Jane Grey and the unsuitability of Mary as a claimant. If Charles or Mary begrudged Shelley for completing this task they never showed it. He would remain in his position and two years later granted an annual income of £50 for life.

Mary had won the support of various gentlemen of the counties she was strongly affiliated to, including men of her household. Yet she had yet to secure the support of a prominent peer. All this was about to change. Sir John Huddleston, the same man who had housed Mary as early as the 4th, was busy recruiting support for his queen in local areas. He had heard that Robert Dudley was still operating with an army nearby, making him vigilant of individuals he encountered on the roads. Along the way he came across a young man of about twenty. The man was carrying letters to the Council in London detailing Mary’s activities. So far so good; Huddleston had acquired an excellent prize. But he quickly learnt that the man was more valuable than that. For he was none other than Henry, second son of Henry Radcliffe, second earl of Sussex. As Robert Wingfield would put it, ‘fortune was beginning to smile on scared Mary’s righteous undertaken’. Young Henry was quickly captured and a letter dispatched to his father detailing what would happen if he persisted in his support for Jane. Now the earl had to decide: his son or Queen Jane. For the earl it was not a particularly hard decision to make. Whilst the anxious earl wrote to his son’s captors and preparing to ride to Framlingham, young Henry was taken to Mary who was ‘thoroughly delighted with his arrival’. She had every reason to be.

(Image – Medal of Sir Richard Shelley by Bernardo Rantvic, 1577)

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Monday, 10 July 1553 - Jane is proclaimed Queen

And she [Jane Grey] left Sion, a palace of the Duke on the river Thames, in front of which is a palace of the Duke of Suffolk, both 7 miles distant from London. With a great retinue of Noblemen she was brought to the Tower and was received at the door by the Duke who, kneeling, put the keys in her hands. And although the number of people assisting to the ceremony was very big, no cheering was heard.”

(Commendone, Successi d’ Inghilterra, 1554)

Hungate, I am truly sorry that it was your lot to be so immature and thus rashly to throw yourself away in this embassy.”

(John Dudley’s words to Thomas Hungate, 10 July 1553)

Poor Thomas Hungate. Having confronted the Council in London with Mary’s letter demanding they recognise her as queen or face the consequences, he was duly arrested and sent to the Tower. His ‘immature’ actions, as the duke of Northumberland put it, cost him his liberty but only for a matter of days. Hungate backed the right cause though by the 10th there was no certainty Mary would become queen. Particularly as, whilst Hungate was being transported by water to the gloomy fortress, the King’s death was being announced in London and Jane declared queen.

Jane was taken from Syon to the Tower, a fortress held by her supporters. This was bad news for Mary. As the papal envoy Commendone later explained,

Any one who has to succeed to the English Crown, before his coronation, must forcibly dwell there [the Tower] 10 days and the reason if it is, as they say, that owing to its outstanding importance, he will be proved with certainty to be the rightful successor to the Crown once master of the Tower; otherwise the Council would refuse to grant its consent.”

Jane, beautifully attired in a gown of green velvet embroidered with gold and with her train bore by her mother, arrived at the Tower by around three o’clock in the afternoon. Some two or three hours later, Edward VI’s death was officially announced in London. It was common knowledge already that he was dead; the official announcement came as no surprise. If Londoners had got used to the news of Edward’s death they had not come to terms with the idea of ‘Queen Jane’. Few showed joy. Twenty years earlier, Londoners were said to have kept their caps firmly on their heads and the tongues still in their mouths when Anne Boleyn had been presented to them as their queen in her coronation procession. Uncomfortably for the Council, the vast majority of whom had been present at the same procession, the crowds repeated the same antics. It was time for the propaganda. Do you not know that the Lady Mary and the Lady Elizabeth are mere royal bastards and thus unfit to rule, they told the people? Do you all not know that the Lady Mary was born from a most offensive union to God – that her mother, Katherine of Aragon had first married Prince Arthur and then engaged in an incestuous union with his brother? (The Marquis of Winchester allegedly exclaimed, “Bastard, bastard, incestuous bastard Mary shall never reign over us!”) Do you not know that the Lady Mary was a follower of that religion which sought to suppress the English and take their rights – the religion which was governed by foreigners and not by the English sovereign, the natural ruler of these dominions? Their arguments were repeated continuously and with much zeal but proved ineffective. The Londoners remained silent.

Whilst Jane was dressed in the gowns and jewels that had one adorned Henry VIII’s ill-fated queens, Mary’s mother included, her men were rushing to various corners of the realm to proclaim her publicly. The council were issuing letters to local officers warning them to act against any disturbances they encountered and to ensure Jane’s accession was public knowledge. But Mary had still not been caught – for all his efforts, Robert Dudley had failed – and this was of deep concern to the duke and his allies. News reached London that Mary was calling for support and, worse still, receiving it in respectable numbers. Very shortly the duke would realise that if a job needs doing it is best done yourself, and thus joined the fight.

At Kenninghall where Mary was still residing, a number of supporters arrived having received their summons. Amongst them was Sir Henry Bedingfield and his brothers. A man once recommended to the duke, Bedingfield was also a Catholic and connected to the Howard family, the head of which was currently imprisoned in the Tower. Bedingfield would prove to be a man Mary could depend upon; in 1554 she appointed him as Princess Elizabeth’s jailor. Frustratingly the first list of men who supported Mary was drawn up on the 14th making it hard to indicate who were first to reach Kenninghall. But Sir Henry undoubtedly was there in the early days and was remembered for this in an account of the whole affair written by Robert Wingfield in 1554. Kenninghall was now getting rather cramped. A larger, better fortified household was needed and one which was more magnificent – a suitable place for a queen to conduct her affairs from. Fortunately Mary possessed such an establishment; a place which had been awarded to her just that year. Ironically Mary would win the throne of England from a castle which her brother had given her. Edward must have been turning in his freshly made grave.

(Image - ‘Jane by the grace of God Quene’, The Proclamation of 10 July 1553.)

Friday, 9 July 2010

Sunday, 9 July 1553 – Jane Grey learns of her accession

She [Mary] wrote to the members of the Council and to the Principals of the Realm expressing her astonishment at their not coming unto her to do homage as to their true and lawful Queen and successor to the Reign. In the meantime she started levying a few men, calling to her support many Nobles of that Kingdom, to protect her against the force of the Duke.”

(Giovanni Francesco Commendone, Successi d’ Inghilterra, 1554)

Declaring to them my insufficiency, I greatly bewailed myself for the death of so noble a prince, and at the same time, turned myself to God, humbly praying and beseeching him, that if what was given to me was rightly and lawfully mine, his divine Majesty would grant me such grace and spirit that I might govern it to his glory and service and to the advantage of this realm.”

(Jane Grey’s account of learning the news of Edward VI’s death and her own accession)

Reports that the duke had dispatched an army headed by his son Robert to capture Mary and stop her supporters from getting to her, must now have been known to the lady in question. Thomas Hungate, her servant who had volunteered to deliver to the Council a letter declaring her accession and warning them against supporting Jane, understood the possibility of being captured en route. Fortunately he would succeed in his mission. But his joy would be tempered by his consequent imprisonment. In twenty-four hours time, Hungate would be arrested and taken to the Tower. Later the Council threatened to have various Catholic prisoners in the same facility, amongst them Stephen Gardiner and Edward Courtenay, earl of Devon, executed if Mary persisted in her defiance of Edward VI’s wishes. Mary ignored them.

Letters calling for support were dispatched to allies. The peers of the realm were also advised to cast aside Jane and join Mary, a decision which most did not immediately take. One man, Henry Ratcliffe, second earl of Sussex, was uncertain of what course of action to follow. A conservative in religion, he felt sympathy for Mary’s position. But it was one thing to pity the princess and quite another to support her and oppose the Council who controlled the treasury, the royal fleets, numerous strongholds and of course the capital itself. He later claimed that Robert Dudley, the same man searching out Norfolk for Mary, told him the king was still alive and that Mary was a traitoress attempting to usurp her brother’s throne and deceiving others into aiding her. Understanding Sussex’s reluctance, Mary would soon force his hand by taking as hostage an individual whose welfare Sussex was utterly concerned for.

For some men, Mary’s letters requesting support were unnecessary. They rushed to Kenninghall and offered their assistance unreservedly. They brought arms and had called upon the support of neighbours. Such was the case with Sir Edward Hastings who was described by opponents as a ‘hardened and detestable papist’. Having received his summons from Mary on this date, he proceeded to raise troops in the Thames Valley. Soon he, Lord Windsor and Sir Edmund Peckham would be proclaiming Mary queen in Buckinghamshire, securing the county for her. Generally, Norfolk proved to be Mary’s county. Indeed it seems the whole of East Anglia was sympathetic towards the princess’s cause. This may seem odd at first given that Protestantism had entrenched itself in these parts. Most of the Protestant martyrs of Mary’s reign derived from the east of the kingdom and the rebels of Kett’s uprising of 1549 had made it clear their point of discontent was with Edwardian economic policies, not religious. Yet these same individuals had not forgotten the way they had been dealt with by the government during the events of 1549. The rebels had been utterly suppressed and this persecution, committed only four years previously, was still fresh in the minds of all. Additionally and perhaps most importantly, the man who had been instrumental in destroying the rebellion – the man whose army had defeated the rebels at the battle of Dussindale and caused around 2000 casualties – was none other than John Dudley, duke of Northumberland.

So far in this account of Mary’s course to the throne, one individual important to the events has not been mentioned. The lady in question was just as affected by Edward’s ‘Devise’ as Mary but her name is often overlooked in accounts of this episode. Elizabeth, daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn was once again declared unfit to rule owing to her illegitimacy. Elizabeth had never known a time in her life when she was considered the King’s lawful issue, having been only two when her mother was executed and her father declared her to be his second bastard daughter – the product of another union that was allegedly offensive to God. But like her sister, she was observant and protective of her rights awarded to her in the 1544 Act of Succession and her father’s will. By July 1553 she, along with Mary, was the richest woman in the realm and owned a mass of properties. Like Mary she had been present at one of her own manors when Edward died and like her sister she headed a household devoted to her. But aside from voicing indignation about her brother’s plans, Elizabeth could do very little. She stayed in her household at Hatfield and waited – waited for her sister to succeed; waited for her to fail. As queen, Elizabeth would display unbelievable courage and temerity which matched that exuded by her brilliant parents. But she was indecisive and often reluctant to take a firm stance on certain issues out of fear of the consequences. Only a year later she would take a similar position whilst the rebels of Wyatt’s revolt acted against Mary. Elizabeth was not made of the stuff of martyrs and had her own survival in mind. Her concern was hardly unreasonable or cowardly. Mary too had known times when she would balk in the face of adversity and she would conform, even if it defied her principals, so she could persevere. When Jane’s cause had finally been crushed and the sisters met outside the gates of London, Mary would show no anger or hurt over her sister’s decision to remain quiet in the early days of this troublesome time. But maybe a tiny thread of doubt crept into her mind; a thread which would be spun into something more substantial with every real or supposed act of discontent Elizabeth would later make.

Meanwhile nearer to London, the hapless Jane Grey was finally informed that she was now queen. She had been residing at Chelsea Manor when, on this date, her sister in-law, Mary Sidney (the wife of one of the men present at Edward’s deathbed), told her the news of the King’s death and that she must now go with her to the former abbey at Syon where she would be attended by the duke and other peers. Yet when she got there the men were not present, fuelling Jane’s confusion. Before long, the duke of Northumberland, the marquis of Northampton, the earl of Arundel, the earl of Huntingdon and the earl of Pembroke walked in and informed her of the king’s demise and her own accession. “Which things, as soon as I had heard, with infinite grief of mind, how I was beside myself stupified and troubled”, she later told Mary. After displaying concern about Edward’s changes to the succession and her own ability to govern, she accepted the Crown. If God had called her for this task who was she to question His plans? It was nearly time for her to be taken to London and displayed in public as the queen. She would go from Syon to the Tower, a route also taken by Henry VIII’s fifth wife, Katherine Howard, some eleven years before her. Unfortunately the similarities between the pair do not end there.

(Image - Engraving entitled, "Lady Jane Grey Declining The Crown" by Robert Smirke, 1860).

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Saturday, 8 July 1553 – Mary declares herself as queen

With her usual wisdom the lady now perfectly judged the peril of her situation, but nothing daunted by her limited resources, she placed her hopes in God alone, committing, as they say, the whole ship of her safety, bows, stems, sails and all, to the winds of fortune, and firstly decided to claim the kingdom of her father and her ancestors, which was owed to her as much by hereditary right as by her father’s will.”

(Wingfield, The Vita Mariae Angliae Reginae, 1554)

The most prominent men of Mary Tudor’s household were called for a meeting at Kenninghall. Their mistress had finally reached her Norfolk household and was quick to assemble her advisors. Earlier that day her physician Thomas Hughes, a man described as ‘worthy of belief’, had arrived at Kenninghall to conform the news of her brother’s death. Mary had previously been told this information by her goldsmith whilst at Euston Hall but she remained sceptical. Now she was sure and determined to declare her accession. Like the goldsmith, Hughes would not be forgotten for his loyal service. By October of the same year he would be appointed as one of the queen’s physicians.

The men who sat around the table and formed Mary’s first council were fervent in their loyalty to their new queen. Unsurprisingly given that this was Mary’s household most of these individuals were ardent Catholics. The comptroller of her household, Robert Rochester, had a brother, John, who had been one of the Carthusian monks martyred during Henry VIII’s reign. Edward Waldegrave, a gentleman of the household, was the son-in-law of Sir Edward Neville, who had been executed in 1538 for allegedly conspiring against Henry VIII along with the Pole family. He was also the nephew of Robert Rochester and thus another relation of John Rochester, the Catholic martyr. Like his uncle he would spend sometime in the Tower of London. In 1561 Waldegrave was accused of harbouring priests and having the Catholic mass administered in his household; he died imprisoned in the Tower the same year. Steward George Bacon had been the brother-in-law of Thomas Abell, Katherine of Aragon’s chaplain who had been hanged, drawn and quartered in 1540 for refusing to recognise the Royal Supremacy. Henry Jerningham’s parents had both served Katherine of Aragon; his mother, Lady Kingston had also served Mary. The Tyrrell brothers, Edmund, Richard and George, were ardent Catholics and utterly committed to Mary’s cause. When Mary died in 1558, George would uproot his family and move to the Spanish Netherlands in order to avoid living in Elizabeth’s Protestant England.

The exact details of the meeting were not recorded though they can be revealed by Mary’s subsequent actions. Clearly there was absolute agreement on the issue of Mary’s right to hold the throne. It was also decided that Mary needed to assert her claim as soon as possible by informing her household of the king’s death and her accession and by sending proclamations of her accession, including one to the Council (that was to be sent the following day). The Council were to be offered a chance to desist in their support for Jane. Any man who chose not to listen would be a traitor. Despite such strong words it must have been obvious to Mary and her advisers that the government would not be scared so easily. The man who would have to deliver the proclamation to the Council would be risking much by handing over such a powerful message. Despite the precarious nature of this task one servant, Thomas Hungate, offered his services immediately. Hungate, we are told, was an elderly man, ‘yet second to none in his obedience and diligence’. The duke might later rebuke Hungate for being ‘so immature and thus rash’ in carrying out this mission but Mary was highly grateful for his willingness. Like the goldsmith, the physician and the men who attended her first meeting providing advice, Hungate would be rewarded.

Having consulted with her advisors, it was time for the rest of the household to learn of her accession. It was a moment many had been waiting for. She summoned everyone ‘and told them all of the death of her brother Edward VI; the right to the Crown England and therefore descended to her by divine and by human law and after her brother’s death, through God’s high providence, and she was most anxious to inaugurate her reign with the aid of her most faithful servants, as partners in her fortunes’. Then all in her household, from Beatrice ap Rice, her laundress who had served her since she was a baby to her young loyal lady-in-waiting Jane Dormer, proclaimed Mary queen and rejoiced greatly.

Whilst Kenninghall celebrated and devised plans, the Imperial envoys in London were reporting that three or four warships were seen sailing towards the mouth of the Thames. In the same city, the king’s death was being widely circulated despite the lack of an official announcement. It was not just the ordinary people who were being informed that the king was still alive. On the 8th local magistrates were sent letters from the council detailing the king’s wishes regarding the succession and demanding they publicise such information. But the letters were worded in such a manner as to give the impression that Edward was still living. The duke and his allies were still finalising the plans for Jane’s accession; the time was not right for Edward’s death to be made known. They would have around forty-eight hours to set the ground work before informing the young lady in question of her own accession – a piece of news that would, Jane later told Mary, cause her to be ‘beside myself stupefied and troubled’.

(Image - a map indicating the properties granted to Mary in 1547. The location of Kenninghall is provided. The map is from David Loades, Mary Tudor: A Life, p. xi.)

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Friday, 7 July 1553 – Mary learns of Edward’s death

“...she was told of the king’s death by her goldsmith, a citizen of London, newly returned from the City, but the cautious princess would not put complete confidence in the messenger and would not let the news be spread abroad. On this account she stayed there no longer, but hurried on to her house at Kenninghall....”

(Wingfield, The Vita Mariae Angliae Reginae, 1554)

As mentioned in the last post, there is some ambiguity concerning Mary’s exact route around the 6th but we know that by the 7th she was at Euston Hall near Thetford (near the Suffolk/Norfolk border) with Lady Burgh as her host. For it was there, sometime in the evening, that goldsmith Robert Reyns reached the residence and told Mary of her brother’s death and her own accession. Mary was at first cautious and would only accept the truth the following day when another individual repeated the same news. Her stay at Euston Hall was cut short; either the same evening or in the early hours of the next day, she would arrive at her Norfolk manor, Kenninghall. Once in her own household, surrounded by her loyal servants, she could publicly proclaim her accession and despatch letters to that effect. As Eric Ives recently argued, ‘Mary’s victory was won at the writing desks of Kenninghall’ (Lady Jane Grey: A Tudor Mystery, p. 228).

How organised was Mary during this time? There is also some uncertainty regarding this. Clearly she knew something of what was to come and this is credited in contemporary reports. In 1554 Giovanni Francesco Commendone recorded in Successi d’ Inghilterra that Mary and her household had ‘been secretly informed by some Members of the Council itself of the machinations of the Duke, of the progress of the illness of the King and finally of his death’. This is odd given the lack of outright support for Mary from members of the Council in the beginning. Furthermore she was not told of Edward’s death by individuals that high up in office. A much later report by William Camden states that before Edward’s death, Mary was pressurised into renouncing her title for money and lands. Recently, Jeri McIntosh argued that in late March/early April 1553, when Edward had then decided to remove Mary from the succession, the government informed Mary of the plans and granted her Framlingham and Hertford Castle in compensation. This Mary agreed to only to later renounce her position on the matter whilst still holding the properties, including Framlingham which she used as her base. If this version of events is correct, Mary had successfully deceived the Privy Council. She had placated them by residing so close to London till the 4th making it seem that she was waiting obediently near them. But she chose well when she selected Hunsdon as her residence. Close to London but also outside giving her a head start when she moved into Cambridgeshire. She had successfully eluded the government and had managed, by this date, to reach her own household and pick up support along the way.

In London the duke had, in the words of Charles V’s diplomats, ‘seized the treasury and money-reserves of the kingdom, has appointed his own men to the command of fortresses, has raised a force of artillery, fitted out warships for service, and has men ready to go on board as soon as he shall issue the order’. But he still did not have Mary. So that morning he dispatched his son, Robert, with an army of 300 retainers to capture her. Handsome, ambitious and with military experience, Robert Dudley is known to many today as the famous favourite of Elizabeth I. But in the days of July 1553 he was committed to ousting his future lover and her sister from the line of succession. His father, the duke, is often supposed to have been a cold man who advanced his family without a thought of their welfare. Yet his letters to his children reveal that by the standards of the age and his class, he was an indulgent and loving father. The duke did not so much as demand respect from his family as was the natural recipient of such loyalty and affections. His sons were aware that Jane’s cause was the Dudley cause and were just as determined as their father to see Mary’s destruction. But Robert was in for an unpleasant shock. Hurrying to Hunsdon he discovered that she had ‘suddenly departed with her train and family towards the sea cost of Norfolk’. Now he would not only try to find her but he would also guard the roads, make it incredibly difficult for her supporters trying to reach her. The method of patrolling of the roads was not one practised by Robert alone though. It was a tactic that Mary’s supporters would quickly rely upon and proved to be rather beneficial to their cause.

(Image - Portrait of Robert Dudley, First Earl of Leicester, attributed to Steven Van der Meulen, c.1564. Waddesdon Manor)

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Thursday, 6 July 1553 – The King is dead

“... I have been with my lord prince, whose life I pray God long to prosper and continue; for his grace is the goodliest babe that ever I set mine eyes upon. I pray God make him an old man, for I think I should never be weary of looking on him.”

(Letter from Honor Plantagenet, Lady Lisle to her husband discussing her visit to the infant Prince Edward’s household, 1538)

I am faint: Lord have mercy upon me, and take my spirit.

(The alleged last words of Edward VI, 6 July 1553)

On the night of 12 October 1537, London was the scene of magnificent celebrations. Bonfires were lit, feasts were held and the Tower’s guns were fired continuously. For at 2am that same day the kingdom was blessed with a male heir – the Tudor dynastic line was secure. After three marriages, two ending in tragic fashions, Henry VIII had his healthy legitimate son. When the baby was christened three days later and brought back from the chapel to be handed over to his parents, his father was recorded to have wept for joy whilst holding his son.

Now, nearly sixteen years later, the boy was dead. His end was a prolonged and undignified one. His hair and nails had fallen out; the constant vomiting had led to extreme weight loss. The smell of the vile fluid he coughed up was as potent as the puss that had seeped from his aged father’s famous leg wound. In March 1553 the Venetian ambassador had reported that the boy, though ill, was still handsome. Now he was barely recognisable. Edward made one last confession, and between eight and nine o’clock in the evening he died in the arms of Sir Thomas Worth and long-term friend Sir Henry Sidney at the palace of Greenwich. He was fifteen years old.

It was popularly claimed that he had been poisoned but then almost any time a prominent individual died, especially at a young age, foul play was cited. Despite these accusations Edward alive was far more valuable to the duke of Northumberland and his men than otherwise. There were still things to do – Mary had not yet been captured – and the conspirators needed to act fast. The same day the duke ordered provisions for the royal ships sent to patrol the waters. Unaware of her brother’s death Mary continued to press on. It has been argued by Diarmaid MacCulloch and Anna Whitelock that she arrived at Bury St. Edmunds and was welcomed by John Bourchier, the second earl of Bath at his family seat of Hengrave Hall. When Robert Wingfield recorded the events of Mary’s accession only a year later he neglected to mention her stay at Hengrave but instead infers that she travelled to the residence of Lady Burgh where she was certainly present by the 7th. Whether we accept the Hengrave story or not, the role of the earl of Bath in Mary’s cause should not be ignored. The earl had notably been absent from London at this time which meant that, rather conveniently, he could not sign in person the final version of Edward’s alterations to the succession. He was also a religious conservative and had a wife who Mary may have been familiar with for her previous husband had been Sir Richard Long, a courtier highly favoured by Henry VIII. Mary’s accession to the throne is in essence a story of the importance of ‘connections’ in Tudor political life. Whether the earl of Bath entertained her or not on the 6th, he was one the first peers to support her claim.

Northumberland’s efficiency and enthusiasm was matched by another individual in London. Robert Reyns, a goldsmith, was preparing for an important journey. His discovery of Edward's death proved valuable to Mary’s cause. For Reyns was not any simple goldsmith but one who had been previously engaged by Mary, a great lover of jewels. Evidently it did not take Reyns long to decide which queen to back. Quickly fleeing the city and probably riding at breakneck speed with few rests, he rushed to be the first to tell Mary the news of her brother’s death and her own accession. Reyns was taking a gamble; if Jane’s cause prevailed, his end would shortly come. But Reyns’s story has a happy ending. Eight months later he was appointed as the royal goldsmith by a gratified Queen Mary. He would be kept rather busy over the next five years.

(Image - detail of a portrait of Edward VI, by an unknown artist, after William Scrots, c.1547. NPG, London.)