The Coronation of the Last Tudor King: Edward VI

Edward VI. The last Tudor King.
Edward VI. The last Tudor King.

Edward VI was the last Tudor King and the first true Protestant King of England. On the eve of his coronation, Edward made his procession from the Tower of London to Westminster. There were many pageants that greeted the boy-king as he rode horseback dressed in a jerkin of white velvet decorated with diamonds, rubies and pearls.

“His gown was a fine mesh of gold with a cape of sable, whilst the horse he rode upon was draped in crimson satin beaded with pearls.” (Skidmore)

The Imperial Ambassador Francois Van der Defelt was not impressed and when he met the king, he spoke to him in French to which his uncle, the Lord Protector and now Duke of Somerset, reproached him and told him he should speak in Latin instead because the king “understood better than French.” Defelt had no more good things to say about the King or the Archbishop of Canterbury who refused to speak to him because of his Catholic beliefs.

edwards-coronation-procession-1547

As for the pageantry itself, it was nothing short of glorious. Everything went according to plan. Protocol was followed. The Marquis of Dorset [Henry Grey, husband to Frances Brandon and father to Jane Grey] carried the sword of justice in his role as Constable of England and Edward was flanked by John Dudley and his uncle [Somerset]. Next came the Gentlemen of the Privy Chamber, the pensioners and the other guard.

Pageants greeted the young king. These were not rehearsed and many had to be improvised. Of these was one of children who each represented one of the four virtues: Grace, Fortune, Nature and Charity.

Another had a huge fountain topped with a “crown of imperial gold” garnished with pearls and other precious stones and sprayed jets of wine through pipes into the street. And there was one which had a stage where a scaffold had been erected. Beneath its roof was brilliant iconography with the sun, stars and clouds. On one of these clouds was none other than the image of a phoenix descending on to a mount, covered in red and white roses and hawthorn bushes.

Like with his first Tudor ancestors, Edward VI’s procession on the eve of his coronation served to leave its mark on history. The Tudors knew the importance of imagery and how powerful it was to manipulate or rewrite history. At the same time, it evoked the tales they themselves kept perpetuating of their legitimacy. For example the phoenix was his mother’s badge, standing on a golden tower with its wings spread up and nature flourishing as a result. Edward was making a powerful statement, and his uncle helped too perhaps, about his parents’ marriage as lawful and true. And also establishing his legitimacy. His sisters would do the same for their coronations [especially Elizabeth whose glorious pageantries marked the contrast between her future reign and her sister’s]; emphasizing on their legitimacy and lineage through their parents. The female consort played an important role here. Although she was not physically present, she could still be seen [and remembered] through her insignia. Secondly, the red and white roses were powerful symbols and reminders of the legitimacy of the Tudor line, or what they called their right to inherit the throne. It reminded everyone of the wars fought between brothers and cousins, that ended with the destruction of Houses Lancaster and York (represented by the red and white rose) and the ascension of the Tudors who brought about peace when their first monarch, Henry VII (considered the heir to the Lancastrians) married the beautiful Elizabeth, Princess of York.
The truth we now know is very different but it was a tale that worked very well for the Tudors and it simplified the conflict, and it gave their line legitimacy.

The Coronation of Edward VI, Shrove Sunday

Along the road he encountered more pageants, one which glorified his namesake and one of England’s most celebrated Kings: Edward the Confessor and another his country’s patron saint, Saint George. After he passed these, he encountered other ones that probably made a greater impression for the boy who was a committed Reformer. On Fleet Street a child representing ‘Truth’ epitomized the cause of the English Reformation and he said a few lines:

“Then Shall England, Committed To Your Guard, Rejoice in God, Which Hath Given Her Nation, After an Old David, A young King Salomon.”

David as everyone remembers was the legendary biblical King, father of the wise Solomon who succeeded him after his death. This told Edward that although his father started the break from Rome, it would be up to Edward like a new Solomon, to follow his work and improve it by carrying on with Reforms to ‘purify’ the church.

The procession had lasted nearly five hours and ended at six o’ clock.

The following day, the real show began when Edward was taken by barge to Whitehall where he was received by the guard and pensioners. Passing them into the chamber of Court of Augmentations, he donned the Parliamentary robes he was wearing and put on a robe of crimson velvet ‘furred with powdered ermines’. From there he went to Westminster Abbey under a canopy borne by the barons of the Cinque Ports. At his right and left was the Earl of Shrewsbury and Cuthbert Tunstall, Bishop of Durham. John Dudley, the Marquis of Northampton –Catherine Parr’s brother, William Parr- and his other uncle, Thomas Seymour bore his train.

At his entrance into the Abbey, Cranmer began the address, asking the congregation “Will ye sirs at this time, and give your wills and assents to the same consecration, enunction, and coronation?” To which they responded “Yes, ye, ye, God save King Edward!”

In spite of the great response it received, the coronation had been altered significantly from the precepts set in the Liber Regalis (c.1375) and certain ceremony and addresses cut down not to wear the King, but more than that, because it was against the new tradition that Cranmer and the Reformers wanted to impose for their “new era”. The crowd who was aware of the changes, was explained by Cranmer the reason for this changes in a sermon to the King. He said that the alteration was due to the fact that before, Kings had atone for their actions to the clergy or somebody else, including their people. This time Kings were infallible. They were demi-gods of a sort. Edward as the Reformist king would account to no one and the clergy had no right “to hit Your Majesty in the teeth”. Nevertheless, he reminded that as God’s anointed sovereign he still had to have certain virtues for he was a messenger of Jesus and his representative on Earth.

“Your Majesty is God’s vice-regent and Christ’s vicar within your own dominions, and to see, with your predecessor Josiah, God truly worshiped, and idolatry destroyed, the tyranny of the bishops of Rome banished from your subjects, and images removed. These acts be signs of a second virtue, to revenge sin, to justify the innocent, to relieve the poor, to procure peace, to repress violence, and to execute justice throughout your realms. For precedents, on those kings who performed not these things, the old law shows how the Lord revenged his quarrel; and on those kings who fulfilled these things, he poured forth his blessings in abundance. For example, it is written of Josiah in the book of Kings thus: Like unto him there was no King before him that turned to the Lord with all his heart, according to the Law of Moses, neither after him arose there any like him.
This was to the prince a perpetual fame of dignity, to remain to the end of days.”

After the Mass was finished, Edward took his place on the throne and was first crowned with the St. Edward’s crown then the Imperial crown and finally his own which was made for the occasion and was lighter than the previous two. Then he was given the orb and scepter to hold on each hand. His most prominent uncle [Somerset] knelt before him and swore an oath of loyalty. He was followed by Cranmer and the rest of the nobility.

With this done, they followed their newly anointed King to the Great Hall of Westminster to take part in a sumptuous feast. The reign of Edward VI had begun.

Sources:

  • Edward VI: The Lost King of England by Chris Skidmore
  • Ordeal by Ambition by William Seymour
  • Tudor by Leanda de Lisle
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A Royal Princess’ Christening

Maria Red Gown

20 FEBRUARY 1516 -Mary I was Christened at the Church of the Observant Friars.
Her Godparents were Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, the Duchess of Norfolk, her grand-aunt Katherine of York Countess of Devon and Margaret Pole. After she was baptized she was returned to her mother who was waiting for her at the Queen’s Chamber in Greenwich.

Henry whispered to the Venetian Ambassador that he and Katherine were still young and they could have more children. Ironically, these were the same words he whispered to his second wife when she gave him another daughter seventeen years later.
Mary was named after the Virgin Mary and her aunt the Princess Mary Tudor, Duchess of Suffolk and Queen Dowager of France.

A Princess is Born!

A Very Happy Birthday to Queen Mary I of England who was born on this day in 1516!
Mary I Birthday

Mary Tudor was the eldest surviving daughter of Henry VIII and the only offspring of Katherine of Aragon. She was born at the palace of Greenwich, Placentia at four o’ clock on February 18. Although Henry expected a male heir, he told the Venetian Ambassador, Sebastian Guistiniani, after he congratulated him for his newborn daughter that he and the Queen were both young and “If it was a daughter this time, by the grace of God, sons will follow.” Given Katherine’s age that was highly unlikely but he remained positive, his daughter was the first healthy child they had in six years since the birth of their short-lived son in 1511.


Mary was baptized two days later at the Church of the Observant Friars.

Her godparents were Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, her father’s chief minister, her great-aunt Katherine of York Countess of Devon (Elizabeth of York’s younger sister), the Duchess of Norfolk and Margaret Pole who had the honor of carrying the baby at the end of the ceremony. She was named after paternal aunt Mary Brandon nee Tudor, Duchess of Suffolk and Queen Dowager of France. Afterwards, she was plunged three times into the basin containing the holy water, anointed with holy oil, dried, and swaddled in her baptismal robe. As was customary, Te Deums were sung and she was taken to the high altar where once the rites were concluded, a proclamation was made:

“God send and give good life and long unto the right high, right noble and excellent Princess Mary, Princess of England and daughter of our most dread sovereign lord the King’s Highness.”

Mary would become Queen after  the death of her brother in 1553, and following her victory over the usurpation of her throne from the Grey/Dudley camp, she would be crowned three months later. Her reign would be short and to this day, controversial.
Sources:
  • Mary Tudor: England’s First Queen by Anna Whitelock 
  • Mary Tudor by David Loades
  • The Myth of Bloody Mary by Linda Porter.

Lady Jane Dudley nee Grey’s Execution.

"This famous nineteenth-century painting of Jane Grey's execution encapsulates the myth of Jane as an innocent virgin, sacrificed on the altar of adult political ambition. In reality, Jane was a religious leader and no mere victim" -Leanda de Lisle
“This famous nineteenth-century painting of Jane Grey’s execution encapsulates the myth of Jane as an innocent virgin, sacrificed on the altar of adult political ambition. In reality, Jane was a religious leader and no mere victim” -Leanda de Lisle

On Monday 12th of February 1554, both Lady Jane Dudley [nee Grey] and her husband [Guildford] were executed. The latter was the first one to be executed following by his wife who continued to sign her letters as Jane Dudley, rather than Jane Grey, giving no credence to the later myths that she resented Dudley or had been forced to marry him.

Jane was dressed in the same black gown she had worn to her trial, which was a statement of her religious piety and her intense devotion to God, as well as her belief that her faith would shelter her as it had sheltered others through their last hours. Jane had called on the people to rise against the Mass, days before, she had called the people “Return, return to Christ’s war”. This was a religious war and only one religion could come on top. Jane, closer to her father than her mother, wrote to him and told him to be cheerful for she had made her peace with God. She could have -in theory- written to her mother and her youngest sister Mary, but no letters survive so we must assume that she didn’t. Her letter to Katherine was more hostile and she told her if she accepted this material world and accepted the Catholic Faith, even if it was for survival, that she would burn in hell. She asked Katherine if she were to die or live, to die instead for there was nothing better than that.

Jane learned a lot from one of her favorite women and tutors, the late Queen Dowager and Baroness Sudeley, Catherine Parr.  Catherine was seen a role model to many young Protestant women and Jane sought to emulate her.
Jane learned a lot from one of her favorite women and tutors, the late Queen Dowager and Baroness Sudeley, Catherine Parr. Catherine was seen a role model to many young Protestant women and Jane sought to emulate her.
Jane’s other tutors and Protestant admirers like Ulm, Bullinger abroad praised her for her good dress as well as for her intellectuality. But as she had grown up, this fame had gotten to her head, and she saw herself as the leader of the Protestant Faith in England and believing that God was on her side, she wanted to look her best on her execution. So she dressed humbly to state her religious devotion and humility.

Jane’s last words were:

“Good people I am come hither to die, and by a law I am condemned to the same. The fact, indeed, against the Queen’s Highness was unlawful, and the consenting thereunto by me: but touching the procurement and desire thereof by me or on my behalf, I do wash my hands thereof in innocence, before God, and the face of you, good Christian people this day.
I pray you all, good Christian people, to bear me witness that I die a true Christian woman, and that I look to be saved by none other means, but only by the mercy of God in the merits of his only son, Jesus Christ and I confess when I did know the Word of God I neglected the same, loved myself and the world, and therefore this plague or punishment is happily and worthily happened unto me for my sins; and yet I thank God for his goodness that he has thus given me time and respect to repent. While I am alive I pay you to assist me with your prayers.”


Before she walked to the block, she gave one message to the Lieutenant of the Tower where she told him as she had told Mary I’s chaplain that he should look to his conscience and see that death was much better than life: “There is a time to be born, and a time to die; and the day of death is better than the day of our birth. Yours, as the Lord knows, as a friend, Jane Dudley.”

Then she was blindfolded and nervously knelt down to the block but she could not find it and got frightened and said “What shall I do? Where is it?” Eventually someone stepped forward and guided her to it. As she laid her head there she said one last prayer “Lord, into thy hands I commend my spirit!” And then the axe was swung, and as one eye-witness recorded “she ended”.

Sources:

  • Lady Jane Grey: A Tudor Mystery by Eric Ives
  • Tudor by Leanda de Lisle
  • Sisters who would be Queen by Leanda de Lisle
  • On his day in Tudor History by Claire Ridgway
  • Inglorious Royal Marriages by Leslie Caroll

Guildford Dudley’s Execution

Cary Elwes as Guildford Dudley in "Lady Jane".
Cary Elwes as Guildford Dudley in “Lady Jane”.
Guildford Dudley was the first one to die on the morning of Monday, 12th of February 1554. He was escorted to the Main Gate by Sir Anthony Browne and Jane saw him being led from the Tower to the block. Guildford asked his jailor to pray for him. Before dying, he had sent a message to his wife where he said “he wished to kiss her for the last time”. Jane however said that she did not want any distractions from her prayers and they both had to be strong for what was coming. Guildford, equally religious as her, was inspired by her courage and refused to have a priest with him which was a testament of his strong belief in the new faith. Jane would have seen his execution from her window. 

Elizabeth of York: York and Lancaster

Her union with Henry would seal the fate of a nation. Her parents' marriage had been controversial, though it might not have been his father's initial intention. Her significance in the dynastic conflict proved vital and helped Henry legitimize and validate his claim, as well as validate the claim of his future heirs.
Her union with Henry would seal the fate of a nation. Her parents’ marriage had been controversial, though it might not have been his father’s initial intention. Her significance in the dynastic conflict proved vital and helped Henry legitimize and validate his claim, as well as validate the claim of his future heirs.

Elizabeth of York was born on 11 February 1466. After her parents marriage in 1464, there had been an urgent need for a male heir. Her father’s marriage placed his dynasty in great peril. His cousin, the Earl of Warwick (Richard Neville) had secured a French marriage for him with Bona of Savoy who was Louis XI’s cousin. But when his marriage to the impoverished Grey widow changed everything. Elizabeth brought no dowry and no alliance, but she brought him a large brood of family which some scholars believe Edward took advantage as a means to securing the nobles’ loyalty.

“It would be foolish to totally disregard love as an important factor … But it is also possible, with hindsight, to detect a line of political thinking that may well have allowed Edward to convince himself that his love match was also a tool of useful public policy.” (Jones)

This makes perfect sense as, as soon as he made it known that he had married Elizabeth, he started marrying off her large brood of siblings, uncles, aunts and cousins. But not all was flowers and sunshine. Most of the nobility disapproved of this match. Edward could be a merciful king but he could also be very cruel. This was very common, keeping in with the attitudes of the period. Edward came into the throne with a conciliatory mood, pardoning most of the Lancastrians -including his in-laws three years before he married Elizabeth. Over two decades later, her daughter would marry the last Lancastrian scion, in a ceremony symbolizing the union of both Houses, and creating a new motif that would became the official symbol of the Tudor House: The double rose. Edward IV might have tried the same when he married the Lancastrian widow. Not since the Norman Conquest had an English King married a commoner. While it is highly possible love was involved, it is not implausible that Edward had other strong motives for pursuing this match. For decades to come the match would be criticized and it would be used as a cautionary tale, with writers saying “take heed of what love may do!”.

Edward IV to the end of his life. Edward was handsome, wielding a war hammer in battle, and a cultured man. He was every woman's dream and his intention to marry Elizabeth might have been both romantic as well as political.
Edward IV to the end of his life. Edward was handsome, wielding a war hammer in battle, and a cultured man. He was every woman’s dream and his intention to marry Elizabeth might have been both romantic as well as political.

Given that Edward had to placate Lancastrian insurrections while wining their support at the same time, and on top of that, make it known to everyone, especially his cousin and his maternal relations that he was his own man, it’s not surprising that he did what did. At the time it must have looked like the perfect thing to do. A marriage to an impoverished widow, and from a staunch Lancastrian family at that, would have made him look very popular. A King who did not care for sides and had even taken one of the enemy as his bride -and used her family to form his own party, and force the nobility to its knees. And if that was not enough, he also sent a clear message that he was going to be master of his realm, unbound to anyone, and by marrying into a local house, he was also forcing that house’s loyalty to him because their fortunes would depend entirely on him.
The Woodvilles didn’t disappoint him. Though entirely nepotistic; they never failed to do their jobs, and Anthony Woodville, his brother in law became one of the first patrons of the printer William Caxton and he was a well known poet, warrior, jouster, and on top of that, a highly devout man as his sister and younger brother Edward Woodville (who served Isabella and Ferdinand, and was highly commended by them who regarded him as one of the most Christian knights in Western Europe). Furthermore, Queen’s College which was founded by Elizabeth Woodville’s predecessor, Marguerite of Anjou, was continuously founded by her. And she became widely loved by the commons after she refused to call them to arms when Warwick and the Lancastrian forces retook the city in October of 1470. She received many charity from them when she went into charity, in her pregnant state, at Westminster Abbey. And before she died, she made her will asking that she be buried with very little ceremony. England as Castile (Katherine of Aragon’s mother’s realm) was highly religious and this could have been one of the many reasons why Elizabeth and her daughter, Elizabeth of York, were more accepted consorts than their Lancastrian predecessor.

Elizabeth’s birth was highly anticipated. Although she was not the Prince that everyone was hoping for, the fact she was healthy and her mother had previously given birth to two perfectly healthy boys, gave the King hope.

“Like all babies in those days, the infant princess was swaddled in tight bands with a close-fitting cap on her head, and she would have remained swaddled for the first eight or nine months of her life to ensure that her limbs grew straight. She was assigned a stately household that included a nurse and a wet nurse.” (Weir).

The future for Elizabeth of York, looked bright. As the eldest of the King’s daughters, she was betrothed several times, the best known betrothal is to the Dauphin and to Henry Tudor who was in exile at the time in Brittany with his uncle. Edward IV, writes Lisle, might have no intention on fulfilling his promise. Margaret Beaufort, possessing more experienced and wary of the Yorkist King (though he had issued a pardon for her son), decided to do a will in which she would leave everything to her son, so he would not be left penniless.

There were many rumors after the death of Richard III’s son that he intended to leave Anne so he could marry Elizabeth. To this day, no one can say for certain what Richard truly intended. Herstorian Amy Licence says it best. Richard might have truly loved his wife, and there is no doubt that his actions from 1472 at the time he married Anne to 1483 show that he was a doting husband and father, and she a doting wife and mother. But he was King now, and as King he had to put personal feelings aside and think of the future of his House. It was not just his life that was on the line after all, it was his family, his mother, his de la Pole nephews, Margaret and Edward, his brother George’s children, and so many more. And then there the future of the Plantagenety dynasty. The dynasty had ruled England for more than three hundred years. He was not going to be known as the King who let it all go to hell. But we all know, that is what happened. When he publicly stated that he had never had any intentions to marrying his niece, and later planned to marry a descendant of John of Gaunt via his second marriage to Constance of Castile, to represent a union between the Houses of Lancaster and York that would have ruined Henry Tudor’s plans of his own with Elizabeth; his allies turned against him; he lost, he died and effectively more than three hundred years of Plantagenet rule was over.

Through their union, a new symbol was created: The Tudor Rose symbolizing the union of the (previously) warring houses of York and Lancaster.
Through their union, a new symbol was created: The Tudor Rose symbolizing the union of the (previously) warring houses of York and Lancaster.

Elizabeth went on to become the Consort of Henry VII, and the mother of the Tudor Dynasty. Elizabeth was always conscious of her position. She had been trained to think that it was her destiny to marry a prince or a king. She was not going to go for less; Henry’s actions re-legitimizing her parents’ union and herself and her siblings; restoring their status. would have seemed to Elizabeth like a godsend and acceptable as she was now going to be Queen. And she had the benefit of knowing her husband before the marriage. Most royal couples did not have that benefit. Another couple that did was her aunt and uncle, Anne Neville and Richard III who had grown up together, when Richard had been sent as his cousin’s ward to Warwick Castle.
Elizabeth gave birth many times but only four survived childhood: Arthur (1486), Margaret (1489), Henry (1491), and Mary (1494). Out of those four, only three lived to adulthood and it was Margaret’s descendants from her first two marriages whose descendants still sit on the English Throne today.

Henry VII and Elizabeth of York tomb at the Lady Chapel located in Westminster Abbey.
Henry VII and Elizabeth of York tomb at the Lady Chapel located in Westminster Abbey.

When Elizabeth died, also on February 11, on her thirty seventh birthday, she was widely mourned. Out of all the Tudor Consorts, he was the only to be safe from suspicion and this was largely in part due to her religious devotion, and what her union with Henry represented. Henry mourned her death deeply, but like Richard he thought of remarrying but he never did in the end. He is buried next to her in the Lady Chapel he ordered to be constructed for both of them at Westminster Abbey. At the time of their marriage, their union was widely praised, the pope himself praised it. The new motif is still known today, and it also served as a new tool to give a new interpretation to the wars that had plagued England for most of the fifteenth century (known today as the wars of the roses).

Sources:

  • Elizabeth of York: The Forgotten Tudor Queen by Amy Licence
  • Elizabeth of York: A Tudor Queen and her World by Alison Weir
  • Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses and the Rise of the Tudors by Dan Jones
  • Tudor by Leanda de Lisle
  • Richard III: The Road to Leicester by Amy Licence
  • Richard III by David Baldwin

Jane Grey’s Farewell to her family

6804,Lady Jane Dudley (née Grey),by Unknown artist

On the eve of Jane’s execution she drafted her last letter to her father and sister, stressing that they were to advertise their innocence over the whole matter and they had been pushed by ‘others’ to accept the crown.

“Although it pleases God to hasten my death by one by whom my life should rather have been lengthened; yet can I so patiently take it, that I yield God more heartly thanks for shortening my woeful days, than if all the world had been given into my possession, with life lengthened at my own will. And albeit I am assured of your impatient dolours redoubled manifold ways, both in bewailing your own woe, and especially, as I hear, my unfortunate state; yet, my dear father (if I may without offence rejoice in my own mishaps), herein I may account myself blessed, that washing my hands with the innocence of my fact, my guiltless blood may cry before the Lord: Mercy to the Innocent!”

To her sister, she was more hostile, warning her against accepting the Catholic Faith and that she would burn in Hell if she would:

“I have sent you, good sister Katherine, a book, which though it be not outwardly trimmed with gold, yet inwardly it is of more worth than precious stones. It will teach you to live it will learn you to die … Trust not that the tenderness of your age shall lengthen your life for as soon as God will goeth the young as the old. Labour always and learn to die. Deny the world, defy the devil, and despise the flesh.”

Jane had been prepared to die. She was a fierce believer in martyrdom,, idealism over pragmatism. Katherine on the other hand, likely convinced by her mother, accepted the Catholic Faith as the remaining members of her family.

Sources:

  • Jane Grey: A Tudor Mystery by Eric Ives
  • Tudor by Leanda de Lisle
  • Sisters Who Would be Queen by Leanda de Lisle

A Rueful Lamentation on the Death of Queen Elizabeth by Sir Thomas More

EOY WQ y Verdadera
Thomas More was a young lawyer at the time of the Queen’s death. He wrote a beautiful eulogy for her titled “A Rueful Lamentation on the Death of Queen Elizabeth” which commemorates Elizabeth for her union with Henry, her offspring, her piety, and most of all her great lineage:

“Oh ye that put your trust and confidence
in worldly joy and frail prosperity,
That so live here as ye should never hence,
Remember death and look here on me.
Example I think there may no better be.
Yourself worth well that in this realm was I,
Your Queen but late, and lo, now here I lie.
Was I not born of old worthy lineage?
Was not my mother Queen, my father King?
Was I not a King’s fierce companion in marriage?
Had I not plenty of every pleasant thing?
Merciful God, this is a strange reckoning:
Riches, honour, wealth, and ancestry
hath me forsaken, and lo, now here I lie.

If worship worth, honour, renown
might have kept me, I had not gone;
If wit, intelligence might have me
saved, I needed not fear;
If money might have hold, I lacked none;
But oh, good God, what veiled all this gear?

When Death is come,
Thy mighty messenger, Obey we must
there is no remedy;
Me hath he summoned, and lo, now here I lie.

Yet was I late promised otherwise,
This year to life in wealth and delice.
Lo! Whereto cometh thy blandishing promise
Of false astrology and divination,
Of God’s secrets, making thyself so wise?
How true is for this year thy prophecy?
The year yet last, and lo, now here I lie.

O, brittle wealth, aye full of bitterness,
Thy single pleasure doubled is with pain.
Account my sorrow first, and my distress
In sundry wise, and reckon there again
The joy that I have had, and I dare say,
For all my honour, endured there have I
More woe than wealth, and lo, now here I lie.
Where are our castles now, where are our towers?
Goodly Richmond, soon art thou gone from me;
At Westminster, that costly work of yours,
Mine own dear lord, now shall I never see.
Almighty God vouchsafe to grant that these
For you and your children may well edify.
My palace built is, and lo now here I lie.
Adieu, mine own spouse, my worthy lord!
The faithful love, that did us both combine
In marriage peaceable concord,
Into your hands here I do clear resign,
To be bestowed on your children and mine;
Erst were ye father, now must ye supply
The mother’s part also, for here I lie.
Farewell my daughter, Lady Margaret,
God wot full of it grieved hath my mind
That ye should go where we might seldom meet;
Now I am gone, and have left you behind.
O mortal folk, but we be very blind:
What we at least fear full oft it is most nigh
From you depart I first, for lo, now here I lie.

Farewell, Madam, my lord’s worthy mother;
Comfort your son, and be of good cheer!
Take all at worth, for it will be no other.
Farwell my daughter Katherine, late the companion
Unto Prince Arthur, late my child so dear.
It booteth not for me to wail and cry;
Pray for my soul, for lo now here I lie.

Adieu Lord Henry, Loving Son, Adieu!
Our Lord increase your honour and estate!
Adieu my daughter Mary, bright and hue,
God make you virtuous, wise, and fortunate.
Adieu, sweetheart, my little daughter Kate!
Thou shalt, sweet babe, such is thy destiny,
Thy mother never know, for lo, now here I lie.

Lady Cecily, Lady Anne, and Lady Katherine,
Farewell, my well-beloved sisters three.
O Lady Bridget, other sister mine,
Lo, here the end of worldly vanity!
Now are you well who earthly folly flee
And heavenly things do praise and magnify.
Farewell and pray for me, for lo, now here I lie.

Adieu my lords, adieu my ladies all,
Adieu my faithful servants every one,
Adieu my commons, whom I never shall see in this world:
wherefore to Thee alone,
Immortal God, verily Three in One,
I me commend thy infinity mercy show to thy servant,
for lo, now here I lie.”

The Birth and Death of a Tudor Queen: Elizabeth of York

"In child-bed lost she her sweet Life;  Her life esteemed so dear  Which had been England's loving Queen   Full many a happy year." ~Anonymous 17th c. Ballad.
“In child-bed lost she her sweet Life;
Her life esteemed so dear
Which had been England’s loving Queen
Full many a happy year.” ~Anonymous 17th c. Ballad.

Elizabeth of York was born on the 11th of February at Westminster Palace on 1466, and died thirty seven years later at the Tower of London. This was days after she had given birth to a daughter, Princess Catherine, who followed her mother’s sad fate a day later.
Elizabeth probably the victim of puerperal or childbed fever. Some authors like Alison Weir have contested this theory saying it was possibly anemia, whatever the case she was deeply mourned by the people and her husband. Her death Henry VIII later wrote was “the worst news” he had ever received.

"Here lieth the fresh flower of Plantagenet,   Here lieth the White Rose in the Red Set  God grand her now Heaven to increase  And our own King Harry long life and peace."  -From one of the epitaphs hung near her tomb.
“Here lieth the fresh flower of Plantagenet,
Here lieth the White Rose in the Red Set
God grand her now Heaven to increase
And our own King Harry long life and peace.”
-From one of the epitaphs hung near her tomb.

Elizabeth was the eldest daughter of Elizabeth Woodville and Edward IV, the first King of the York dynasty. Her marriage to Henry VII was seen by many as the union between the previous warring factions of House Lancaster and House York which she represented. By this time she had born Henry many children, only three had survived, Margaret, Henry, and Mary. When she received the news of her eldest son’s death she consoled her husband and reminded him of his duty then went to her chambers and broke in tears and according to contemporaries, Henry then went to console her. The death of her firstborn weighed heavily on the Queen, she was thirty six at the time and like her husband believed she could secure the succession once more giving Henry another son.
Before she went into labor she broke her confinement to attend the celebration of Candlemas with her husband. They both wore customarily robes of state and went in procession to mass to celebrate the feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary. She made an offer at the high altar that morning and later during the day while in the Tower, she went into a difficult labor.
She gave birth to a small girl who was named Catherine but like her mother she did not live long.
A messenger (James Nattres) was dispatched to Doctor Hallysworth in Kent to aid in her recovery but he never made it in time and nine days after she was dead. (Baby Catherine had died the day before).

 

"The study of her life illuminates a woman of complex emotions, whose difficult life had taught her the essential qualities of compassion and diplomacy that marked her duration as royal wife and mother. The advent of her son Henry was made possible by the strength of his parents as survivors. Together, Elizabeth and her husband had established, defended and founded the most famous dynasty in English History... In her role as patron of religion and arts, in her piety and compassion and as a figurehead for motherhood correlative with the Virgin Mary, Elizabeth fulfilled her role as Queen and her motto of 'humble and reverent'. In 1972 SB Chrimes described her as 'a very handsome woman of great ability, as beloved, as a woman of the greatest charity and humanity ... good reason to supposed she was an admirable spouse in the King's eyes'. A decade later, Anne Crawford supposed she was 'probably everything a fifteenth-century Englishman could have hoped for in his Queen'. Subsequent chroniclers, and most historians, have idealized Elizabeth as shadowy figure, with quasi-divine status; in Hall's words, she was 'virtuous and gracious', in the eyes of others, beautiful and submissive. The real Elizabeth remains comparatively inaccessible through the lack of surviving records but her success as a wife, mother and queen cannot be called into doubt. She set the standard of queenship for her contemporaries and possibly also for her son, the future Henry VIIII, by which all other consorts could be measured. As the daughter, sister, wife, mother and grandmother of kings and queens, her offspring would inherit the English throne for the next century, after which they would also claim it as the Stuart line and unite the kingdom for another 100 years. In very real terms, Elizabeth was responsible for delivering the future and her lacy long outlived her. " -Amy Licence, Elizabeth of York: The Forgotten Tudor Queen.
“The study of her life illuminates a woman of complex emotions, whose difficult life had taught her the essential qualities of compassion and diplomacy that marked her duration as royal wife and mother. The advent of her son Henry was made possible by the strength of his parents as survivors. Together, Elizabeth and her husband had established, defended and founded the most famous dynasty in English History. ” -Amy Licence, Elizabeth of York: The Forgotten Tudor Queen.

Henry gave his wife a dignified funeral. White banners were laid across the corners of her coffin, signifying the manner of her death, while her body was draped with black velvet surmounted by a cross of white cloth of gold.
The coffin was topped by a wax effigy of the Queen, dressed in robes of state, her hair loose under a rich crown, a sceptre in her hand and fingers adorned with fine rings. Her coffin was placed in St. Peter Vincula on February 12 and ten days later followed a funeral route to Westminster. Before the final burial, the effigy with its crown and robes were removed and stored in the shrine of Edward the Confessor where the image of the Queen was absorbed into a collection of holy relics and icons. As with every figure in this period, there was an emergence, almost on a holy scale, of Elizabeth as the good mother, the good wife, and the charitable woman.
Things would never be the same for her family. Henry went into a deep depression, locking himself in Richmond for six weeks following her funeral and while other brides were proposed to him, he would remain a widower. Yet, it was her son Harry who was most affected by her death.
At the impressionable age of 11, he could find no other female role model. Although his grandmother was there for him, the image that his mother crafted for herself was one that Henry came to worship more and one that his wives would be very affected by, as they would all fail to live to Henry’s expectation of the ideal consort.

Sources:

  • Elizabeth of York: A Tudor Queen and her World by Alison Weir
  • Elizabeth of York: The Forgotten Tudor Queen by Amy Licence
  • Tudor by Leanda de Lisle
  • Henry VII by SB Chrimes
  • In Bed with the Tudors by Amy Licence

An Execution Delayed

Jane Grey Victorian Portrait

On Friday, the ninth of February 1554, both Guildford and his wife, Jane Dudley nee Grey, were sentenced to die. However the sentence was delayed after Mary I had been convinced by her personal chaplain John Feckenham, that if Jane were to accept the Catholic Mass she would no longer be a threat. Mary, to the Spanish ambassadors’ view, had been deliberating on this matter for far too long, and she needed to act now if she wanted to remain on the throne. But Mary was indecisive. She finally agreed to her chaplain’s request. Feckenham arrived to the Tower and tried to convince Jane to accept the Mass and recognize Mary’s authority. She claimed as she had done before, that she and her parents had been nothing but tools in others’ schemes (aka John Dudley who had been abandoned by his friends as soon as the going got tougher); and that she recognized Mary as Queen, but she would not submit to her authority as long as she kept the Mass. Feckenahm and her disagreed over many other things but Mary’s chaplain recognized a great thinker in Jane and was sad to see hear of her death three days later.

Jane Grey HBC1

One of the many prayers that Jane had written down and probably said before Feckenham visited her, to give her courage, not to relinquish her beliefs: “Lord, though God and father of my life be merciful unto me lest I being brought too low should despair and blaspheme thee arm me, I beseech thee, with thy armor, that I may stand fast.” She told Feckenham that she welcomed her execution, because she gladly welcomed martyrdom and it was an opportunity to repent from her sins. And told Feckenham that she would be received into Heaven while he, although a great company, would go to hell unless he changed his opinions, but that nevertheless she prayed for him so that God “in the bowed of his mercy to send you his Holy Spirit for he has given you his great gift of utterance, if it pleased him also to open the eyes of your heart.”
Sources:
  • Lady Jane Grey: A Tudor Mystery by Eric Ives
  • Tudor by Leanda de Lisle
  • Sisters Who Would be Queen by Leanda de Lisle
  • On this day in Tudor History by Claire Ridgway