Queen Mary I of England and Ireland’s Last Will and Testament

Mary I of England holding the Tudor rose portrait

On the 30th of March 1558, believing se may still be pregnant, Queen Mary I of England and Ireland made her last will.

It goes as follows:

“MARY THE QUENE.

In the name of God, Amen. I Marye by the Grace of God Quene of Englond, Spayne, France, both Sicelles, Jerusalem and Ireland, Defender of the Faythe, Archduchesse of Austriche, Duchesse of Burgundy, Millayne and Brabant, Countesse of Hapsburg, Flanders and Tyroll, and lawful wife to the most noble and virtuous Prince Philippe, by the same Grace of God Kynge of the said Realms and Domynions of Engand, &c. Thinking myself to be with child in lawful marriage between my said dearly beloved husband and Lord, altho’ I be at this present (thankes be unto Almighty God) otherwise in good helthe, yet foreseeing the great danger which by Godd’s ordynance remaine to all whomen in ther travel of children, have thought good, both for discharge of my conscience and continewance of good order within my Realmes and domynions to declare my last will and testament; and by these presents revoking all other testaments and last Wills by me at onny time heretofore made or devised by wryting or otherwise, doe with the full consent, agreement and good contentment of my sayd most Dere Ld and Husband, ordeyn and make my sayd last will and testament in manner and forme following.

Fyrste I do commend my Soulle to the mercye of Almighty God the maker and Redeemer thereof, and to the good prayers and helpe of the most puer and blessed Virgin our Lady St. Mary, and of all the Holy Companye of Heven. My body I will to be buried at the discression of my executors: the interment of my sayd body to be made in such order and with such godly prayers, Suffrages and Ceremonies as with consideracyon of my estate and the laudable usage of Christ’s Church shall seme to my executors most decent and convenient. Also my mynde and will ys, that during the tyme of my interrment, and within oon moneth after my decesse owte of this transitory lyfe, ther be distributed in almes, the summe of oon thousand pownds, the same to be given to the relefe of pore prysoners, and other pore men and whomen by the discression of my executors. And further I will that the body of the vertuous Lady and my most dere and well-beloved mother of happy memory, Quene Kateryn, whych lyeth now buried at Peterborowh, shall within as short tyme as conveniently yt may after my burial, be removed, brought and layde nye the place of my sepulture, In wch place I will my Executors to cawse to be made honorable tombs or monuments for a decent memory of us. And whereas the Howses of Shene and Sion, the which were erected by my most noble Progenitor K. Henry the Fyfte for places of Religion and prayer, the oon of Monks of th’ order of Carthusians and th’ other of Nunns Ordines Stae Brigittae wer in the tyme of the late Scisme within this Realme clerly dissolv’d and defac’d, which sayde howses are lately by my said dere Lord and husband and by me reviv’d and newly erected accordynge to the severall ancyent foundacyons, order and Statutes, and we have restor’d and endow’d them severally with diverse Mannors, londs, tenements and hereditaments, sometyme parcell of ther severall possessions. For a further increase of their lyvyng, and to thentent the said Religious persons may be the more hable to reedifye some part of ther necessary howses that were so subverted and defac’d, and furnish themselves with ornaments and other thyngs mete for Godd’s servyce, I will and give unto ether of the said Religious howses of Shene and Sion, the summe of fyve hundred pownds of lawfull money of Englond, and I further will and give unto the Pryor and Covent of the said house of Shene, and to ther Successours, Mannours, londs, tenements, sometyme parcell of the possessions belongyng to the same howse before the dissolucyon thereof and remayning in our possession, to the clere yerly valewe of one hundred pownds. And lykewyse I will and give unto the Abbesse and Covent of the said house of Sion, and to ther Successors, Mannours, lands, tenements and hereditaments sometyme parcell of the possessions of the said house of Sion, and remayning in our hands at the tyme of our decesse or of some other late Spirituall possessions to the clere yerly valewe of one hundred pownds, the which summe of 100li to ether of the said houses and the said Mannours, londs, tenements and hereditaments to the said yerly valewe of Cli to ether of the said houses I will shall be pay’d, convey’d and assur’d to ether of the said houses within oon yere next after my decesse; requyring and chargyng the Religious persons, the which shall from tyme to tyme remayne and be in the said severall houses, to praye for my Soulle and the Soulle of my said most Dere and well-beloved husband the King’s Majty when God shall call hym to hys mercye owt of this transitory lyfe, and for the Soulle of the said good and vertuous Quene my Mother, and for the Soulles of all other our Progenitours, and namely the said Kynge Henry 5 as they were bounden by the ancyente Statuts and ordyenances of ther Severall foundacyons. Item, I will and geve to the Warden and Convent of the Observante Fryers of Greenwiche the summe of five hundred pownds. Item, I will and geve to the Pryor and Convent of the black fryers at St. Bartholomews within the suburbs of London, the sum of 400 Marks. And likewise unto the Fryers of the said Observante order beyng at Southampton, the summe of 200 pownds. Item, I will and geve unto the pore Nunns of Langley the Summe of 200li pounds. All which said severall legacies unto the said Fryers and Nunns, I will that my Executors shall cawse to be payd to ther severall uses within oon yere next after my decesse, as well for the relefe and comfort, as towards the reparacyons and amendments of ther necessary howses, and to provyde them some more ornaments for their Churches, for the better service of Almighty God. Also I will and geve unto the Abbot and Covent of the said Monastery of Westminster the summe of 200li pownds or else as many ornaments for ther Church ther, as shall amounte unto the Saide Summe of CCli to be pay’d and deliver’d unto them within oon yere next after my decesse by my said Executors. And I will, charge and requyre the said Abbot and Covent, and all others the Fryers and Nunns and ther Covents above remembred, to pray for my Soulle, and for the Soulle of my said most Dere and well beloved Lord and husband, the King’s Highnesse, by whose specyall goodnesse they have been the rather erected, and for the Soulle of my said most dere beloved mother the Quene, and for the Soulles of all our Progenitos with dayly Masses, Suffrages and prayers. Also I will and geve for and to the relefe of the pore Scolers in ether of the Universities of Oxinford and Cambridge the Summe of 500li pownds, that ys to say, to ether of the said Universities the Summe of 500li the which summe I will that my Executors shall delyver within oon yere next after my decesse unto the Chancellors and others of the most grave & wisest men of the same Universities, to be distributed and geven amongst the said pore Scolers, from tyme to tyme as they shall thynke expedient for ther relefe and comfort, and specyally to such as intend by Godds grace to be Religious persons and Priests. And whereas I have by my warrant under my Signe Manuell assigned and appoynted londs, tenements, and hereditaments of the yerly valewe of 200li and somewhat more to be assur’d unto the Master and Brotherne of the Hospitall of Savoy, fyrste erected and founded by my Grandfather of most worthy memory Kynge Henry 7, my mynde will and intent ys, and I charge my Executors that yf the said londs be not assur’s unto the said howse of Savoy in my lyfetime, that yt be done as shortly as maye be after my decesse, or else some other londs, tenements & hereditaments, sometyme parcell of the possessions of the said howse, to the said yerely valewe of 200li and as muche other londs, tenements and hereditaments, late parcell of the possessions of the said howse, or of some other the late spirituall londs, as shall make up together with the londs I have before this tyme assur’d unto the said howse, and the which the said Master and his Brotherne doth by vertue of our former grant enjoye, the summe of 500li of clere yerely valewe, which is agreeable with thendowment my said Grandfather indow’d the same howse with, at the first erection thereof. Willynge and chargynge the said Mr and his Brotherne and ther successors, not only to keep and observe the anciente rewles and statuts of the said howse accordynge to the foundacyon of the said Kynge my Grandfather, but also to praye for the Soulles of me, and of my said most dere Lord and Husband, when God shall call hym out of this transitory lyfe, and of the said Quene my Mother, and of all others our Progenitors Soulles. And forasmuch as presently there ys no howse or hospitall specyally ordeyn’d and provyded for the relefe and helpe of pore and old Soldiers, and namely of such as have been or shall be hurt or maymed in the warres and servys of this Realme, the which we thynke both honour, conscyence and charyte willeth should be provided for. And therefore my mynde and wyll ys, that my Executors shall, as shortly as they may after my decesse, provide some convenient howse within or nye the Suburbs of the Cite of London, the which howse I would have founded and erected of oon Master and two Brotherne, and these three to be Priests. And I will that the said howse or Hospitall shall be indow’d with Mannours, londs tenements and hereditaments some tyme parcell of the Spirituall londs and possessions, to the clere yerly valewe of 400 Markes whereof I will, that the said Mr shall have 30 pownds by the yere, and ether of the said two brotherne 20li by the yere, and the rest of the revenewe of the said londs, I will that my Executors shall limyt and appoynt by good ordynances and statuts, to be made and stablyshed upon the erection of the said Hospitall, how the same shall be us’d and imployed, wherein specyally I would have them respect the relefe succour and helpe of pore, impotent and aged Souldiers, and chefely those that be fallen into exstreme poverte, havyng no pencyon or other pretence of lyvyng, or are become hurt or maym’d in the warres of this Realme, or in onny servyce for the defence and suerte of ther Prince and of ther Countrey, or of the Domynions thereunto belongyng. Also I will and specyally charge the executors of this my present testament and last Will, that yf I have injuried or done wrong to onny person (as to my remembrance willingly I have not) yet yf onnly such may be proved, and lykewyse all such detts as I owe to onny person sens they tyme I have been Quene of this Realme, and specyally the lone money (the which diverse of my lovyng subjects have lately advanced and lent unto me) that the same injuries (yf onny be) and the said detts and lone money above all thyngs, as shortly as may be after my decesse be recompenced, restor’d and pay’d, and that doon, my mynde and will ys, that all such detts as were owing by my later Father, King Henry 8th or by my later Brother K. Edward the 6th, shall likewyse, as they conveniently may, be satisfyed and payd. And for as much as yt hath pleased Almighty God of hys infenyte marcye & goodnesse, to reduce this Realme unto the unyte of Christ’s Church, from the which yt declyned, and during the tyme thereof diverse londes and other hereditaments, goods and possessions geven and dispos’d, as well by sondry of my Progenitors as by other good and vertuous people to sondrye places and Monasteries of Religion, and to other Ecclesiastical howses and persons, for the mayntenance of Godds servyce, and for continuall prayer to be made for the relefe both of the lyvyng and of the dedde, were taken away and committeed to other uses; I have before this tyme thought yt good, for some part of satisfaction thereof, and to be a piece of the dewtie I owe unto God, that some porcyon of the londs and hereditaments that were sometyme the goods of the said Church shold be restor’d ageyne unto good and Godly uses, and for the accomplyshing thereof I have, with the consent of my said most Dere Lord and Husband the Kyng’s Majesty, and by the authority of Parliament, and with the advyce and counsell of the Most Rev. Father in God and my right intierly beloved Cousyne Cardynall Poole, Archbp. of Cant. and Primate of Englond, who hath specyally travelled as a good Mynister and Legate sent from the Apostolique See to reduce this Realme unto the Unyte of the said See, Renounc’d and geven over as well diverse parsonages Impropriate, tythes and other Spirituall hereditaments, as also divers other profits and hereditaments some tyme belongyng to the said Ecclesiasticall and Spirituall persons and howses of Religion, to be ordered, and imploy’d by the said most Reverend Father in God, in such manner and forme as ys prescribed and lymitted by the said Statute, and as to hys godly wysdome shall be thowght mete and convenyent. My mynde, will and pleasure ys, that such ordynances and devyses as the said most Revd Father in God hath made and devised, or shall hereafter make and devise, for and concerning the said parsonages, tithes and other Spirituall hereditaments (the which I have committed to his order and disposition) shall be inviolably observ’d. Requyryng my said Cousyne and most Revd Father in God, as he hath begun a good work in this Realme, soe he will (cheifly for God’s sake and glory, and for the good will he beareth unto me, and to this my Realme, beynge his native Countrey) doe, as much as he maye, by Godd’s grace, to fynishe the same. And Specyally to dispose and order the said Parsonages, tithes, and other Spirituall possessions and hereditaments commytted to his order, with as much speed as he convenyently may, accordynge to the trust and confidence that my most Dere Lord and Husband and I, and the whole Realme have repos’d in hym, and yn hys virtue and wysdome, for the which God shall rewarde hym, and this hys Countrey honour and love hym. And for hys better assistance in the execution thereof, I will, charge and requyre my Executors, and all others of my Counsell, and the rest of my good and faythfull Subjects, that they to the uttermost of ther power be aydynge and assistynge unto my said Cousyne, as they tender the benefit of ther Countrey and ther own Commodyte. Furthermore I will and charge my said Executors, that yf onny person or persons have pay’d unto my use onny Summe of money for the purchase of onny londs, tenements and hereditaments the assurances whereof to them in my lyfe tyme ys not perfitted, that the said Person or Persons be, within such short tyme after my decesse as may be, either repay’d ther mony, or else have good assurances of the said londs, or of others of the like valewe, made unto them accordynge to the laws of this Realme. Also I will that my Executors shall within oon quarter of a year next after my decesse, destribute amongst my pore Servants that be ordinary, and have most nede, the Summe of 2000li. willyng them in the destribution thereof to have a specyall regarde unto such as have serv’d me longest and have no certainty of lyvyng of my gifte to lyve by after my decesse. And as towchyng the dispocyon of this my Imperiall Crowne of England, and the Crowne of Ireland, with my title to France, and all the dependances, of the same, whereof by the mere provydence of Almighty God I am the lawful Inheritor and Quene: my will, mynde, and entent ys, that the sd Imperiall Crowne of Englond and Ireland, and my Title to France, and all the dependances, and all other my Honours, Castells, fortresses, mannours, londs, tenements, prerogatyves and hereditaments whatsoever, shall wholly and entirely descend remayne & be unto the heyres, issewe and frewte of my bodye, accordyng to the laws of this Realme. Neverthelesse the order, Government and Rewle of my said issewe, and of my said Imperiall Crowne, and the dependances thereof, during the Minoryte of my said heyre and Issewe, I specyally recommend unto my said most Dere and well beloved Husband, accordynge to the laws of this my said Realme for the same provided. Willing, charging, and most hertily requyryng all and singular my lovyng, obedient and naturall subjects, by that profession and-dewtye of allegiance that by God’s commandment they owe unto me, beyng ther naturall Sovereigne Lady & Quene; And also desyryng them (per viscera Misericordiae Dei) that sens yt hath pleased hys devyne Majesty, far above my merits to shew me so great favour in this world, as to appoynte me so noble, vertuous, and worthy a Prince to be my husband, as my said most Dere and intirely beloved Husband the King’s Majesty ys, whose endeavour, care and stodie hath ben, and chefely ys, to reduce this Realme unto the Unyte of Christ’s Church and trewe Religion, and to the anncyente and honourable fame and honor that yt hath ben of, and to conserve the same therein; And not dowting but accordyng to the trust that ys repos’d in hys Majty, by the laws of this Realme, made concernyng the Government of my Issewe, that hys Highnesse will discharge the same to the glory of God, to hys own honour, to the suerty of my said Issewe, and to the profit of all my Subjects; that they therefore will use themselves in such humble and obedient sort and order, that hys Majesty may be the rather incoraged and provoked to continewe hys good and gracious disposition towards them and this Realme. And for as much as I have no Legacy or jewell that I covet more to leve unto hys Majesty to reqyte the nobility of hys harte towards me and this Realme, nor he more desirous to have, than the love of my Subjects, I doe therefore once agayne reqyre them to bere and owe unto his Highnesse the same dewtie and love that they naturally doe and should owe unto me, and in hope they will not forget the same, I do specyally recommend the same dewtye and love unto hys Highnesse, as a legacye, the which I trust he shall enjoye. Also I will and geve unto my said issewe all my jewells, ships, municyons of warre, and artillery, and after my detts (and the detts of my said later Father and brother, King Henry 8, and King Edward 6.) satisfied and pay’d, and this my present testament and last will perform’d, I geve and bequethe unto my said issewe all the rest of my treasure, plate, goods and Chattells whatsoever they be. And callynge to my Remembrance the good and dewtyfull service to me doon by diverse of my lovyng Servants and faythfull Subjects, to whom, as yet, I have not given onny condigne recompence for the same, therefore I am fully resolv’d and determyn’d to geve to every of them whose names are hereafter mention’d such legacies and gifts as particularly ensueth.

[Then follow in the Will several particular Legacies to her women and other Servants about her, which in all amount to 3400li among which she gives Dr. Malet her Almoner and Confessor, to praye for her the summe of 200li and to the poor fryers of the Order of St. Dominick, erected and placed within the University of Oxford, to pray for her soul, her Husband’s, Mother’s, and all other her progenitours the summe of 200li; besides all this she gives 20li a year apiece to Father Westweek and Father Mecalfe and then it follows in her Will.]

And to thentente this my last will and testament may be the more inviolably observ’d, fulfil’d and executed, I will the Issewe of my bodye that shall succede me in the’ Imperiall Crowne of this Realme upon my blessing, that he or she be no Impedyment thereof, but that to the uttermost of his or her power, they do permytt and suffer my said Executors to performe the same, and to ayd them in the execution thereof. And yf ther shall be any imperfection in the assurances of the londes that I have devis’d and appoynted to the howses of Religion or to Savoye, or to the hospitall I mynde to have erected for the pore and maymed Souldiers, or onny negligence be in my Executors in the performance and execucyon of this my testament and last will, that then I will and charge my said Issewe on my blessing, to supply and accomplyshe all such defects and imperfections. And I charge my said Executors, as they will answer before God at the dredfull day of Judgement, and as they will avoyde such commynacyons, threatnyngs, and the severe justice of God pronounc’d and executed against such as are brekers and violaters of wills and testaments, that they to the uttermost of ther powers and wyttes, shall see this my present Testament & last will perform’d and executed, for the which I trust, God shall reward them, and the world commend them. And as yt hath stood with the good contentment and pleasure of my said most dere beloved Lord and husband the King’s Majesty, that I should thus devise my Testament and last will, so I dowte not, but that his most noble harte desyreth and wysheth that the same should accordyngly take effect after yt shall please God to call me out of this transytory lyfe to his marcye. And havyng such exsperience of his gracyus faveure, zeale and love towards me as I have, I am fully perswaded that no person either can or will more honorably and ernestly travell in the [e]xecution of this my Testamt and last will, then his Majesty will doo. Therefore I most humbly beseech his Highnesse that he will vouchsafe and be pleas’d to take upon hym the pryncipall and the chefest care of the [e]xecutyon of this my present Testament and last will, and to be a patron to the rest of my Executors of the same in the [e]xecutyon thereof.

And I do humbly beseeche my saide most dearest lorde and husbande to accepte of my bequeste, and to kepe for a memory of me one jewell, being a table dyamond which the [e]mperours Majesty, his and my most honourable Father, sent unto me by the Cont degment, at the insurance of my sayde lorde and husbande, and also one other table dyamonde whiche his Majesty sent unto me by the marques de les Nanes, and the Coler of golde set with nyne dyamonds, the whiche his Majestye gave me the Epiphanie after our Maryage, also the rubie now sett in a Golde ryng which his Highnesse sent me by the Cont of Feria, all which things I require his Majestye to dispose at his pleasure, and if his Highness thynck mete, to the Issue betwene us.

Also I reqyre the said most Reverend Father in God and my said most dere beloved Cosyn the Lord Cardynall Poole, to be oon of my Executors, to whom I geve for the paynes he shall take aboute the [e]xecucyon of this my present Testament the summe of one thousande powndes. And for the specyall truste and good service that I have alweyes had and founde in the most Revd Father in God, and my right trustye and right well beloved Councellour Nicholas Abp of Yorke, my Chancellor of Englonde, and in my right trusty and right wel beloved Cosyns William, Marques of Wynchester, Ld Treasorer of Englonde, Henry Erle of Arundel, Henry Erle of Westmorland, Francis Erle of Shrewsbury, Edward Erle of Derbye, Thomas Erle of Sussex, Wm Erle of Pembroke, and in my right trusty and well belovcd Councellors Visc, Mountague, Edward Lord Clynton, highe Admyrall of Englonde, and in the Revd Father in God and my right trusty and well beloved Councellors Thomas Bishop of Elye, Edward Lord Hastings of Lowtheborowghe, Lorde Chamberlayne of my Howsehold, Sr Wm Cordell Kt Mr of the Rowlles of my Court of Chancerye. I ordeyne and constitute them also Executors of this my present Testament and last Will, and I geve unto every of the said Ld Chancellor, Lord Tresorer, etc., for their paynes and travell therein to be taken, the Summe of fyve hundred powndes. And unto every of the said Visc Montague, Lord Admyrall, etc., for their paynes likewise to be taken fyve hundred marckes.

And for the greate experyence I have had of the trothe fidelite and good servyce of my trustye and righte well beloved Servants and Councellors, Sr Tho. Cornwallis Kt Comptroller of my howsehold, S. Henry Jernegan Kt Master of my horses, Mr Boxall, my Chefe Secretary, Sr Edward Waldegrave Kt Chancellor of my Duchy of Lancaster, Sr Francis Englefield Kt Master of my Court of Wards and lyveries, and Sr John Baker Kt Chancellor of my Exchequer I geve unto every of them for ther paynes and good servyce to be taken, as assistants to this my said testament, and to be of Council with my said Issewe, the Summe of two hundred powndes. I do appoynte, name and ordeyne them to be Assistants unto my said Executors in the [e]xecucyon of this my said Testament, and to be with them of the Council to my said issewe. And I geve unto every of my said Servants and Councellors last before remembered whom I have appoynted to be assistants to my said Executors, as ys aforesaid, for ther good servyce and paynes to be taken and doon with my said Executors for the [e]xecucyon of this my present Testament and last Will, the Summe of two hundred powndes, before geven unto ether of them.

Nevertheless my playne Will, mynde and entent ys, that yf onny of my said Councillors whom I have appoynted before by this my Testament to be my Executors of the same, shall at the tyme of my decesse be indetted unto me in onny Summes of money, or ought to be and stond charged unto me or to my heirs or Successors for onny Accts or summes of money by hym or them receyved, whereof at the tyme of my decesse he ys not lawfully discharged. That the said Executor or Executors, who shall be so indetted or ought to be charg’d with onny such Accts shall not, for that he or they be named & appoynted onny of my Executars, be exonerate and discharged of the said detts or accts, but thereof shall remayne charged, as tho’ he or they had not been named of my said Executors, and in that respect only shall be excepted to all intents as none of my said Executors, to take any benefit or discharge of the said dette or accts.

And in wytnesse that this ys my present Testament and last Will, I have sign’d diverse parts of the same with my Signe Manuell, and thereunto also have cawsed my prevye Signett to be put, the Thirtieth day of Marche, in the yere of our Lorde God a Thousande fyve hundred fyfty and eight, and in the fourth yere of the Reigne of my said most dere lorde and husband, and in the fyfte yere of the Reigne of me the said Quene. These beynge called to be wytnesses, whose names hereafter followythe

HENRY BEDINGFELD

THOMAS WHARTON

JOHN THROKMORTON

R. WILBRAHM

MARYE THE QUENE

[Codicil]

MARYE THE QUENE.

This Codicell made by me Marye by the Grace of God Quene of Engld &c., & lawful wyfe to the most noble and vertuous Prynce Philippe, by the same grace of God, Kynge of the said Realmes and Domynions of Englond, &c., the twenty-eighth day of October, in the yere of our Lord God 1558, and in the 5th yere of the reign of my said most dere Lord and husbande, and in the Sixth yere of the reigne of me the said Quene. The which Codicell I will and ordeyne shall be added and annexed unto my last Will and Testament heretofore by me made and declared. And my mynd and will ys, that the said Codicell shall be accepted, taken and receyved as a part and parcell of my said last will and testament, and as tho’ it were incorporate with the same to all entents and purposes, in manner and forme followynge.

Fyrste, whereas I the said Quene have with the good contentment and pleasure of my said most dere belov’d Lorde and husbande the Kyng’s Majesty devis’d & made my said last will and testament, beryng date the 30th day of Marche last past, and by the same, for that as I then thowght myself to be with childe did devise and dispose the Imperiall Crowne of this Realme of Englond and the Crowne of Ireland, with my title to France and all the dependances thereof, and all other honours, Castells, Fortresses, Prerogatives and hereditaments, of what nature, kynde or qualitie soever they be, belongyng to this crowne, unto the heires, Issewe and frewte of my body begotten, & the government, order, and rewle of the said heire and Issewe I recommended unto my said most dere Lord and husband duryng the mynoryte of the said heire, accordynge to the lawes of this Realme in that case provided.

Forasmuch as God hath hitherto sent me no frewte nor heire of my bodie, yt ys onlye in his most devyne providence whether I shall have onny or noo, Therefore both for the discharge of my conscyence and dewtie towards God and this Realme, and for the better satisfaction of all good people, and to thentent my said last will and Testament (the which I trust, is agreeable to God’s law and to the laws of this Realme) may be dewly performed, and my dettes (pryncipally those I owe to many of my good subjects, and the which they most lovyngly lent unto me) trewly and justly answered payed, I have thought it good, fealynge myself presently sicke and week in bodye (and yet of hole and perfytt remembrance, our Lord be thanked) to adde this unto my said testament and last will, viz. Yf yt shall please Almighty God to call me to his mercye owte of this transytory lyfe without issewe and heire of my bodye lawfully begotten, Then I most instantly desire et per viscera misericordiae Dei, requyre my next heire & Successour, by the Laws and Statutes of this Realme, not only to permytt and suffer the executors of my said Testament and last will and the Survivours of them to performe the same, and to appoynte unto them such porcyon of treasure & other thynges as shall be suffycient for the execution of my said testament and last will, and to ayd them in the performance of the same, but also yf such assurance and conveyance as the Law requyreth for the State of the londs which I have devysed and appoynted to the howses of Religion, and to the Savoye, and to the Hospitall I would have erected, be not suffycyent and good in Lawe by my said Will, then I most hertily also requyre both for God’s sake, and for the honour and love my said heyre and Successour bereth unto me, that my said heyre and Successour will supplye the Imperfection of my said will and testament therein, & accomplyshe and fynishe the same accordynge to my trew mynde and intente, for the dooyng whereof my said heire and Successour shall, I dowte not, be rewarded of God, and avoyde thereby his severe justice pronounced and executed agt all such as be violaters and brekers of wills and testaments, and be the better assisted with his specyall grace and favour in the mynistracyon of ther Regall function and office, And the more honored of the world and loved of ther subjects, whose natural zeale and love (as a most precious jewell unto every Prynce) I leve and bequeathe unto my said heire and Successour for a specyall Legacye and bequeste, the which I most humbly beseech our Lord, the same may enjoye and possesse (as I trust they shall) chefely to the advancement of God’s glorye & honor, and to the good quyetnesse and Government of this Realme, the which two thynges I most tender. And albeit my said most Dere Lord and Husband shall for defawte of heyre of my bodye have no further government, order and rewle within this Realme and the domynions thereunto belongynge, but the same doth and must remayne, descend, and goo unto my next heyre and Successour, accordyng to the Lawes and Statuts of this Realme, yet I most humbly beseech his Majesty, in recompence of the great love and humble dewtye that I have allwayes born and am bounden to bere unto his Majesty, and for the great zeale and care the which his Highness hath always sens our marriage professed and shew’d unto this Realme, and the Subjects of the same, and for the ancyente amyte sake that hath always ben betwene our most Noble Progenitours and betwene this my Realme and the Low countries, whereof his Majesty is now the enheritour, And finally, as God shall reward hym, and I praye (I hope among the elect servants of God) that yt may please his Majesty to shew hymself as a Father in his care, as a Brother or member of this Realme in his love and favour, and as a most assured and undowted frend in his powre and strengthe to my said heire and Successour, and to this my Country and the Subjects of the same, the which I trust his Highnesse shall have just cause to thynke well bestowed, for that I dowte not, but they will answer yt unto his Majesty with the like benevolence and good will, the which I most hertily requyre them to doo, bothe for my sake, and for the honour and suerty of this Realme. And in witnesse that I have cawsed this Codicell to be made, and that my will & entent ys, that the same shall be annexed and added unto my said former testament & last will, the which my full mynde and will ys shall stonde and remayne in perfytte force and effect, to all intents and purposes, and this Codicell to be accepted taken and declared only as a part and parcell of my said testament and last Will, I have sign’d this Codicell with my Signe Manuell, and have also cawsed my privy Signet to be put thereunto, the day and yere fyrste in this Codicell above written. These beying called to be my wytnesses as well to my said testament and last will as to this Codicell whose names followeth.

MARYE THE QUENE

EDMOND PECKHAM

THOMAS WENDYE

JOHN WILLIS

BARNARD HAMPTON”

Holding on to the hope that she was still with child, she made provisions for her unborn child until it became evident that it was another phantom pregnancy and that she was dying from a tumor. While there were rumors that she would do what her half-brother (Edward VI) did and make a new will that would exclude her half-sister (Elizabeth) from the line of succession, in the end, she didn’t.

To ensure that Elizabeth would continue with her sister’s policies, regarding her alliance with Spain, the Count de Feria, one of Philip II’s most trusted courtiers visited Elizabeth in Windsor, shortly before Mary’s death. Elizabeth was told of her half-sister’s actions and instead of showing gratitude, she told him and everyone else present that she didn’t owe her sister everything as it was her birthright, to be her sister’s heir, and after everything she had been through, Mary I should be the one feeling grateful that Elizabeth didn’t bare her any ill will. Elizabeth was referring to her time in the tower of London, when she was put in the same rooms as her mother when she was awaiting her execution. Mary suspected her of being complicit in Wyatt’s Rebellion and it was thanks to her husband’s intervention that Elizabeth was released and placed under house arrest instead.

0Tudor tombs elizabeth mary

Mary I died in November of that year. Hours later, her ring of state was given to Elizabeth who quoted on of the psalms saying that this was “the Lord’s doing” and it “is marvelous before our eyes.” Mary was laid to rest in December and Elizabeth was crowned Queen of England in January of 1559.

Elizabeth and Mary

Mary’s wishes for her mother to be reburied from St. Peterborough Cathedral at Westminster Abbey in the Lady Chapel so the two of them could lay together for eternity were never met. Instead, half a century later, King James I of England and VI of Scotland, decided to rebury his predecessors together in a marvelous tomb whose only mention or any indication of Mary was in a plaque that read the following:
“Consorts in realm and tomb, we, sisters Elizabeth and Mary, here lie down to sleep in hope of resurrection.”

Due to Protestant propaganda and the political climate in England, she went down in history as “Bloody Mary”. Queen Mary I of England and Ireland was no saint, but neither was she the worst English monarch of the most bloodthirsty one. Twentieth century historians such as H.F.M Prescott, David Loades tried to approach her reign from an objective view, arguing that while some of the criticism towards her reign is merited, other isn’t. 21st century historians like Anna Whitelock, Leanda de Lisle and Anna Whitelock have done an even better job by taking a factual look at her reign, without sugarcoating or whitewashing any of its cruelest aspects.

Sources:

  • Whitelock, Anna. Mary Tudor: Princess, Bastard, Queen. Random House. 2010.
  • Porter, Linda. The Myth of Bloody Mary. St. Martin Press. 2008.
  • Tudor History article.
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The Protestant Jezebel: Friar Peto’s Vicious Attack against Anne Boleyn

Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn
Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn

On Easter Sunday 31st March 1532, Friar William Peto, Princess Mary’s confessor, preached a controversial sermon at the Franciscan Chapel of Greenwich Palace. The sermon was aimed at the King and his intended bride Anne Boleyn. The Friar, being the Princess’ confessor and head of the Franciscan Observants, was a staunch supporter of the Princess and her mother. In his sermon he compared the King of England to the biblical King Ahab whose refusal to listen to Elijah’s prophecies led to his divine punishment, dying in agony from the wounds inflicted to him during a battle. In addition, the King had sinned by marrying the pagan Jezebel who brought with her, her pagan priests and the adoration of her many gods.

Johnathan Rhys Meyers (Henry VIII) and Natalie Dormer (Anne Boleyn) in "The Tudors". The series effectively captures this moment when the friar preaches against the King's intended union comparing it to the doomed couple Ahab and Jezebel.
Johnathan Rhys Meyers (Henry VIII) and Natalie Dormer (Anne Boleyn) in “The Tudors”. The series effectively captures this moment when the friar preaches against the King’s intended union comparing it to the doomed couple Ahab and Jezebel.

“The King” Peto said, “was brought to Samaria” to be buried. When the chariot carrying his body broke down and “the dogs licked up his blood, as the word of the Lord had declared.”

King Ahab
King Ahab


If Henry didn’t listen to Friar Peto’s prophecy, or the holy mother church, he would suffer the same fate as King Ahab and have his blood licked by dogs. This was enough for Henry. He ordered Friar Peto to be put under house arrest. The Venetian Ambassador hinted with irony that for every time Anne was insulted, “the more incensed the King” became in his pursuit of her.

Henry VIII wasn’t the only one under attack by the Friar’s vicious words. The Tudor era was no different than the medieval world, where women were the scapegoats of all the country’s problems. In this case the scapegoat was Anne Boleyn. Perhaps in what Peto was unique was that his sermon included the King, instead of focusing solely on Anne. Kings were after all anointed figures, ordained by the Catholic heads of their countries; they were seen as infallible. If anyone had a complaint against the King, they would not point fingers at him; instead, they would blame his councilors, his mistress or in this case his intended bride. Peto’s attack to Henry, while brutal, where no more brutal than those to Anne whom he compared (ironically) the Jezebel, Ahab’s wife. I say this ironically because Jezebel was an idolater in her adoptive country’s eyes. Their priests worshipped great figures, statues, and had sumptuous rituals which were unlike those of the Jewish tradition who forbid images. Anne, while advocating for a different religion, was no pagan and records show that she was a strict mistress who kept her household in order. When she became Queen, she ordered an English translation of the bible and told her servants and guests, that everyone was welcome to borrow it or read from it. She was the one who introduced Henry to religious reform by giving him her copy of Tyndale’s Obedience of a Christian Man and Fish’s The Supplication of Beggars. While much has been said about Anne’s religion, it is likely that she and her father were not “more Lutheran than Luther himself” like Chapuys described. It is very likely that Anne agreed with some of Luther’s ideas, but was more influenced by the Swiss and French thinkers whom her previous mistress’ sister-in-law (Marguerite of Navarre) admired. Perhaps it was this that made her in the eyes of her many a purely ambitious, amoral, irreligious persona who like Jezebel would bring doom to her kingdom.

But nothing could be farther than the truth. While Anne was certainly ambitious; Henry VIII’s future consort was the complete opposite of Jezebel. Strict, devout and an advocate of the new religion; Anne was no pagan Queen.

Jezebel meeting her tragic fate (pushed out from a window by her adoptive people).
Jezebel meeting her tragic fate (pushed out from a window by her adoptive people).

Anne was not the first to be compared to this pagan Queen (whose fate was equally tragic) and nor she would be the last. In a strange twist of fate, the religion that Anne cherished very dearly, and had given her comfort during her last days in the Tower while she awaited her execution, played the same trick on her stepdaughter [Mary I Tudor] when she became Queen. In 1554, a year after Mary’s coronation, John Knox published a pamphlet calling Mary Jezebel and comparing her to the whore of Babylon for bringing back idolatry to the British Isles and stirring the faithful away from the true faith.

Sources:

  • On this day in Tudor History by Claire Ridgway
  • The Wives of Henry VIII by Antonia Fraser
  • Anne Boleyn by Eric Ives
  • Six Wives of Henry VIII by David Starkey
  • Boleyn Women by Elizabeth Norton

Thomas Cranmer becomes Archbishop of Canterbury

Thomas Cranmer young at his life

Thomas Cranmer, former chaplain to the Boleyn family, and Archdeacon of Tauton was invested on Passion Sunday as Archbishop of Canterbury in St. Stephen’s College at Westminster Abbey on the 30th of March 1533. Once he was consecrated, he set about working to dissolve the King’s first marriage, declaring it null three months later, making the King’s union with Anne valid. Ironically, he would also be the one to pronounce this union invalid when her trial began. Thomas Cranmer was one of the most influential figures in the English Reformation and thanks to him, the two versions of the Book of Common prayer were issued during Edward VI’s time. Unlike many other radical reformer, Thomas Cranmer became more pragmatic with age. He was still a religious devotee, but after seeing the kingdom being torn down by the wars of the religion, he agreed that there had to be room for some sort of middle ground. He was good friends with the Lord Protector and not very good friends with his ally, John Knox whom Cranmer thought too radical and fanatical.

When Mary I became Queen, trumping the Protestant’s plans to install Jane in her place, he accepted her as his new monarch, however he put certain conditions which he later insisted more upon. One of these were that he condemned the returned of the Mass, and also he started to encourage religious upheaval which led to his incarceration, the loss of his Archbishopric and his death (at the stake) on March 21st, 1555.

Sources:

  • On this day in Tudor History by Claire Ridgway
  • Anne Boleyn Collection by Claire Ridgway
  • Tudor by Leanda de Lisle
  • Ordeal by Ambition by William Seymour
  • Tudor Age by Jasper Ridley

Queen Mary I’s last will.

Mary I played by Sarah Bolger
Mary I played by Sarah Bolger

On the 30th of March 1558, Queen Mary I made her will believing she was still pregnant and would soon give birth. Bringing a (male) heir would solve many of her problems regarding her religious establishment –which maintained her father’s establishment and differed very little from it. One of her wishes was that her mother’s remains would be moved from St. Peterborough Cathedral to Westminster. After Mary became Queen, she legitimized her status as her parents’ true daughter and her mother’s status as Henry VIII’s true Queen. While this has been criticized by many biographers as proof of her fanaticism, in fact, the decision was a smart one and one she needed to do. Her grandfather, the first Tudor monarch, Henry VII, legitimized his future wife’s (Elizabeth of York) family, therefore making his union to her the following year more symbolic, as a true union of the Houses of Lancaster and York.
Furthermore, before the year was over, in November 7, 1485 during his first Parliament he reaffirmed the Beauforts legitimacy, re-enacting the statue of 1397 by Richard II and overturning the one of 1407 which had barred them from the succession.
Mary’s decision to rebury her mother at Westminster was not so much a religious one as a dynastic one, if she would indeed bear a son, her son needed to have all taint of illegitimacy gone from him and also bare the prestige of a great lineage. And possibly, a personal one, based on how her mother had been humiliated in her later years and buried as a ‘Princess Dowager’; Mary wanted to give her mother the justice she never had in her last years.

This never happened. Mary died months later in November and she was not buried until December. Neither of her wishes to be buried next to her mother or her mother reburied in Westminster were carried out. Instead, Catherine remained buried at Peterborough and she would not be joined by another Queen until decades later by none other than Mary Stewart, Queen of Scotland. Mary lies buried in Westminster Abbey under her sister in a large golden sarcophagus where only her sister Elizabeth’s effigy is visible.
The pregnancy that Mary experienced was another phantom pregnancy

Sources:

  • The Myth of Bloody Mary by Linda Porter
  • Mary Tudor: England’s First Queen by Anna Whitelock
  • Tudor by Leanda de Lisle
  • On this day in Tudor history by Claire Ridgway
  • Mary I: England’s Catholic Queen by John Edwards

Glorianna: The Death of Queen Elizabeth I & the End of an Era

Elizabeth I's most iconic portrait, the "Rainbow" portrait.
Elizabeth I’s most iconic portrait, the “Rainbow” portrait.

On the 24th of March 1603, Queen Elizabeth I died at Richmond Palace at the age of sixty nine. She had ruled England for forty five years, the longest reigning monarch in Tudor history and the third longest ruling female monarch in English history. Elizabeth I was the daughter of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII. She was born on September 7th, 1533, she was bastardized less than three years later in 1536, following the execution of her mother. It is not known whether Elizabeth remembered her mother, likely she did not. However, she spent a lot of time with people who did, namely her maternal family. Through them, she probably got to know the woman who gave birth to her. She had one ring with her picture on it, and while she didn’t renew the validity of her parents’ marriage as her sister had done with hers; she made them an important part of her coronation celebrations, showcasing them together along with their sigils, the Tudor rose and the glorious white falcon crowned. Elizabeth also made an important point of showcasing her paternal grandparents, Henry VII and Elizabeth of York and what their union represented: The end of the wars later known as the wars of the roses, and the bringing of peace. Elizabeth I’s reign was not an easy one and she was always plagued by conspiracy, betrayal and suspicion. As she got older the Queen saw enemies everywhere, and as her predecessors she became more ruthless. While her religious establishment was more conciliatory than any of her ancestors (especially her father, sister and brother) had been, she still burned heretics, namely Anabaptists, and persecuted many Catholics who resisted her rule.

Out of all the monarchs, Elizabeth was unique in the sense that she never married. She refused to be tied to anyone; not so much because she feared love but because as a woman in a country that was not used to female rule, she knew that being married would mean submitting to her husband’s rule, or worse. If she married into another House, that House would expect more favor than the others and that could disrupt the whole order of things. Elizabeth I had many favorites nonetheless, but it is unlikely she had any sexual relations with any of them. They were more of platonic love interests, who gave the Queen companionship and who (like Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester) also served as faithful advisors.

News of the Queen’s death spread like wildfire, also reaching her preferred successor, James VI of Scotland. Weeks before, on March 9th, Robert Cecil, the son of her most trusted adviser, William Cecil (Lord Burghley) wrote to George Nicholson, the English Ambassador in Edinburgh, informing him that the Queen was ailing and that “her mouth and tongue” were “dry and her chest hot” and that she couldn’t sleep anymore. This is somewhat false. Elizabeth was deathly ill, but she was far from helpless as Cecil’s report suggests. She was in fact, walking back and forth in her chambers, perhaps pondering of what the future would bring once she was gone. Less than a week later, she became worse and was no longer able to move so freely. On the 19th of March she gave a last audience to Sir Robert Carey (Mary Boleyn’s youngest grandson). She held Carey’s hand and confessed to him that she was not well. Her cousin tried to cheer her but it was clear to everyone that their beloved Queen wouldn’t live for much longer.

On Tuesday, the twenty-second she was brought to her bed where she stayed until her death. Her councilors visited her and insisted that she dictate her will, but she refused. Like before, Elizabeth refused to name an heir. All those who had been potential heirs, had suffered tragic fates. Katherine Grey had been punished for marrying without royal permission, and with her only witness to her wedding, dead, she had been incarcerated and forced to give birth (twice) in prison. Then she died from depression. Her youngest sister, Mary Grey was forbidden from having intimate contact from her husband who was of lower rank, with no royal ties whatsoever. She was later forgiven and became one of Elizabeth’s most loyal subjects. Her other cousin, Mary Queen of Scots, suffered the worse penalty by being executed for plotting against her. Her son, James VI, was Elizabeth I’s councilors favored heir.

According to one story, on the day before her death, the Privy Council seeing that she was unable to speak, suggested that she raised her finger to the successor she’d like. Supposedly, she raised her head when they mentioned James, giving her approval to her late enemy’s son. Others who were present, said that she never moved.

It didn’t matter in the end. Everyone was set on James and probably Elizabeth knew it, and that could have been the reason she refused to move, knowing that as the sun was setting on the Tudor dynasty, nothing she did, would have changed her soon-to-be former subjects’ minds.

Elizabeth-I-Allegorical-Po

“This morning Her Majesty departed from this life, mildly like a lamb, easily like a ripe apple from a tree … Dr. Parry told me he was present, and sent his prayers before her soul; and I doubt not but she is amongst the royal saints in heaven in eternal joys.” –John Manningham

She died on the next day, between two and three o’clock in the morning.

Eight hours later, her cousin, Sir Robert Carey with whom she had an audience days before, was given the order to go North to Scotland to carry the ring his sister had taken from the Queen’s finger and deliver it to James as confirmation of his new future as King of England.

It was the end of the Tudor Dynasty and the beginning of the Stuart Dynasty.

Some historians today dispute the image of Elizabeth as Glorianna, and while their reasons are well-founded, no one can deny that Elizabeth I was unique in many ways, and that as her sister; she fixed the coinage that had been debased during their father’s and brother’s reigns. And while her “idiosyncratic attitude to marriage left her equally isolated … she was saved, once again, by divided counsel” writes Starkey. Therefore, after nearly forty five years of rule, Starkey adds, “she handed over to her Stuart successor something that was recognizable as the inheritance of Henry VIII”. And yet she continues to divide public opinion. Some want to portray her in a negative light, overturning previous propaganda, and this is equally bad because it is doing the same, only in another extreme. In reality, Elizabeth was as Leanda de Lisle, Tudor biographer, writes in her latest book, neither heroine nor villain. Both she and her sister, ruling England, a country which had a negative perception of female rule, were both “rulers of their time”. Both had to take on the role of mother. Mary had shown herself as a mother to her children in her speech during the Wyatt Rebellion. Elizabeth I had done the same, and gone a step further by presenting herself as the defendress of the faith, as a new Deborah, defending the precepts of the holy tenant, a reluctant warrior who would be mother and protector to her people. It was an image that put everyone at ease, and by doing little to change the social order, she earned the acceptance of most of her subjects. Truly, as Claire Ridgway says in her book “On this day in Tudor History”:

“Elizabeth I’s death was the end of an era in so many ways: the end of England’s “Golden Age”, the end of a long reign and the end of the Tudor dynasty.”

After people grew tired of James’ extravaganza, they began to look back and think differently of their late queen. And so, the legend of Glorianna began, a legend that has endured since then.

Elizabeth I tomb

Elizabeth is buried at Westminster Abbey, on top of her half’s sister, in a magnificent tomb which has the next inscription:  “Consorts in realm and tomb, here we sleep, Elizabeth and Mary, sisters, in hope of resurrection.”

Sources:

  • Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne by David Starkey
  • On This Day in Tudor History by Claire Ridgway
  • Tudor Age by Jasper Ridley
  • Tudor. Passion. Manipulation. Murder: The Story of England’s Most Notorious Royal Family by Leanda de Lisle.
  • Anne Boleyn Collection by Claire Ridgway
  • Sisters who would be Queen by Leanda de Lisle.

First Act of Succession is passed by Parliament

Henry Parliament

On the twenty third of March 1534, the First Act of Succession was passed by Parliament.
This act recognized the validity of Henry VIII’s union with Anne Boleyn and the legitimacy of their daughter, the (then) Princess of Elizabeth and any future issue, as well as their right to inherit the throne. It also proclaimed that subjects had to swear an oath of allegiance to the king, recognizing his marriage and his supremacy.
The full text reads:

“In their most humble wise shown unto your majesty your most humble and obedient subjects, the lords spiritual and temporal and the Commons in this present Parliament succession assembled, that since it is the natural inclination of every man, gladly and willingly to provide for the surety of both his title and succession, although it touch only his private cause; we therefore, most rightful and dreadful sovereign lord, reckon ourselves much more bound to beseech and instant your highness (although we doubt not of your princely heart and wisdom, mixed with a natural affection to the same) to foresee and provide for the perfect surety of both you, and of your most lawful succession and heirs, upon which depends all our joy and wealth, in whom also is united and knit the only mere true inheritance and title of this realm, without any contradiction;
 Wherefore we your said most humble and obedient subjects, in this present Parliament assembled, calling to our remembrance the great divisions which in times past have been in this realm, by reason of several titles pretended to the imperial crown of the same, which sometimes, and for the most part ensued, by occasion of ambiguity and doubts, then not so perfectly declared, but that men might, upon forward intents, expound them to every man’s sinister appetite and affection, after their sense, contrary to the right legality of the succession and posterity of the lawful kings and emperors of this realm; whereof hath ensued great effusion and destruction of man’s blood, as well of a great number of the nobles, as of other the subjects, and especially inheritors in the same; and the greatest occasion thereof hath been because no perfect and substantial provision by law hath been made within this realm of itself, when doubts and questions have been moved and proponed, of the certainty and legality of the succession and posterity of the crown; by reason whereof the Bishop of Rome, and see apostolic, contrary to the great and inviolable grants of jurisdictions given by God immediately to emperors, kings and princes, in succession to their heirs, has presumed, in times past, to invest who should please them, to inherit in other men’s kingdoms and dominions, which thing we, your most humble subjects, both spiritual and temporal, do most abhor and detest; and sometimes other foreign princes and potentates of sundry degrees, minding rather dissension and discord to continue in the realm, to the utter desolation thereof, than charity, equity, or unity, have many times supported wrong titles, whereby they might the more easily and facilely aspire to the superiority of the same; the continuance and sufferance whereof deeply considered and pondered, were too dangerous and perilous to be suffered any longer within this realm, and too much contrary to the unity, peace, and tranquility of the same, being greatly reproachable and dishonourable to the whole realm:
 In consideration whereof, your said most humble and obedient subjects, the nobles and Commons of this realm, calling further to their remembrance that the good unity, peace and wealth of this realm, and the succession of the subjects of the same, most especially and principally above all worldly things consists and rests in the certainty and surety of the procreation and posterity of your highness, in whose most royal person, at this present time, is no manner of doubt nor question; do therefore most humbly beseech your highness, that it may please your majesty, that it may be enacted by your highness, with the assent of the lords spiritual and temporal, and the Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, that the marriage heretofore solemnized between your highness and the Lady Katherine, being before lawful wife to Prince Arthur, your elder brother, which by him was carnally known, as does duly appear by sufficient proof in a lawful process had and made before Thomas, by the sufferance of God, now archbishop of Canterbury and metropolitan and primate of all this realm, shall be, by authority of this present Parliament, definitively, clearly, and absolutely declared, deemed, and adjudged to be against the laws of Almighty God, and also accepted, reputed, and taken of no value nor effect, but utterly void and annulled, and the separation thereof, made by the said archbishop, shall be good and effectual to all intents and purposes; any license, dispensation, or any other act or acts going afore, or ensuing the same, or to the contrary thereof, in any wise notwithstanding; and that every such license, dispensation, act or acts, thing or things heretofore had, made, done, or to be done to the contrary thereof, shall be void and of none effect; and that the said Lady Katherine shall be from henceforth called and reputed only dowager to Prince Arthur, and not queen of this realm; and that the lawful matrimony had and solemnized between your highness and your most dear and entirely beloved wife Queen Anne, shall be established, and taken for without any doubt, true, sincere, and perfect ever hereafter, according to the just judgment of the said Thomas, archbishop of Canterbury, metropolitan and primate of all this realm, whose grounds of judgment have been confirmed, as well by the whole clergy of this realm in both the Convocations, and by both the universities thereof, as by the universities of Bologna, Padua, Paris, Orleans, Toulouse, Anjou, and divers others, and also by the private writings of many right excellent well-learned men; which grounds so confirmed, and judgment of the said archbishop ensuing the same, together with your marriage solemnized between your highness and your said lawful wife Queen Anne, we your said subjects, both spiritual and temporal, do purely, plainly, constantly, and firmly accept, approve, and ratify for good and consonant to the laws of Almighty God, without error or default, most humbly beseeching your majesty, that it may be so established for ever by your most gracious and royal assent.
 And furthermore, since many inconveniences have fallen, as well within this realm as in others, by reason of marrying within degrees of marriage prohibited by God’s laws, that is to say, the son to marry the mother, or the stepmother, the brother the sister, the father his son’s daughter, or his daughter’s daughter, or the son to marry the daughter of his father procreate and born by his stepmother, or the son to marry his aunt, being his father’s or mother’s sister, or to marry his uncle’s wife, or the father to marry his son’s wife, or the brother to marry his brother’s wife, or any man to marry his wife’s daughter, or his wife’s son’s daughter, or his wife’s daughter’s daughter, or his wife’s sister; which marriages, although they be plainly prohibited and detested by the laws of God, yet nevertheless at some times they have proceeded under colours of dispensations by man’s power, which is but usurped, and of right ought not to be granted, admitted, nor allowed; for no man, of what estate, degree, or condition so ever he be, has power to dispense with God’s laws, as all the clergy of this realm in the said Convocations, and the most part of all the famous universities of Christendom, and we also, do affirm and think.
 Be it therefore enacted by authority aforesaid, that no person or persons, subjects or residents of this realm, or in any your dominions, of what estate, degree, or dignity so ever they be, shall from henceforth marry within the said degrees afore rehearsed, what pretense so ever shall be made to the contrary thereof.
 And in case any person or persons, of what estate, dignity, degree, or condition so ever they be, has been heretofore married within this realm, or in any the king’s dominions, within any the degrees above expressed, and by any the archbishops, bishops, or ministers of the Church of England, be separated from the bonds of such unlawful marriage, that every such separation shall be good, lawful, firm, and permanent for ever, and not by any power, authority, or means to be revoked or undone hereafter, and that the children proceeding and procreated under such unlawful marriage, shall not be lawful nor legitimate; any foreign laws, licenses, dispensations, or other thing or things to the contrary thereof notwithstanding.
 And in case there be any person or persons within this realm, or in any the king’s dominions, already married within any the said degrees above specified, and not yet separated from the bonds of such unlawful marriage, that then every such person so unlawfully married shall be separate by the definitive sentence and judgments of the archbishops, bishops, and other ministers of the Church of England, and in other your dominions, within the limits of their jurisdictions and authorities, and by none other power or authority; and that all sentences and judgments given and to be given by any archbishop, bishop, or other minister of the Church of England, or in other the king’s dominions, within the limits of their jurisdictions and authorities, shall be definitive, firm, good, and effectual, to all intents, and be observed and obeyed, without suing any provocations, appeals, prohibitions, or other process from the Court of Rome, to the derogation thereof, or contrary to the Act, made since the beginning of this present Parliament, for restraint of such provocations, appeals, prohibitions, and other processes.
 And also be it enacted by authority aforesaid, that all the issue had and procreated, or hereafter to be had and procreated, between your highness and your said most dear and entirely beloved wife Queen Anne, shall be your lawful children, and be inheritable, and inherit, according to the course of inheritance and laws of this realm, the imperial crown of the same, with all dignities, honours, pre-eminences, prerogatives, authorities, and jurisdictions to the same annexed or belonging, in as large and ample manner as your highness at this present time has the same as king of this realm; the inheritance thereof to be and remain to your said children and right heirs in manner and form as hereafter shall be declared, that is to say:
  First the said imperial crown, and other the premises, shall be to your majesty, and to your heirs of your body lawfully begotten, that is to say: to the first son of your body, between your highness and your said lawful wife, Queen Anne, begotten, and to the heirs of the body of the same first son lawfully begotten, and for default of such heirs, then to the second son of your body and of the body of the said Queen Anne begotten, and to the heirs of the body of the said second son lawfully begotten, and so to every son of your body and of the body of the said Queen Anne begotten, and to the heirs of the body of every such son begotten, according to the course of inheritance in that behalf; and if it shall happen your said dear and entirely beloved wife Queen Anne to decease without issue male of the body of your highness to be begotten (which God defend), then the same imperial crown, and all other the premises, to be to your majesty, as is aforesaid, and to the son and heir male of your body lawfully begotten, and to the heirs of the body of the same son and heir male lawfully begotten; and for default of such issue, then to your second son of your body lawfully begotten, and to the heirs of the body of the same second son lawfully begotten, and so from son and heir male to son and heir male, and to the heirs of the several bodies of every such son and heir male to be begotten, according to the course of inheritance, in like manner and form as is above said.
 And for default of such sons of your body begotten, and of the heirs of the several bodies of every such sons lawfully begotten, that then the said imperial crown, and other the premises, shall be to the issue female between your majesty and your said most dear and entirely beloved wife, Queen Anne, begotten, that is to say: first to the eldest issue female, which is the Lady Elizabeth, now princess, and to the heirs of her body lawfully begotten, and for default of such issue, then to the second issue female, and to the heirs of her body lawfully begotten, and so from issue female to issue female, and to the heirs of their bodies one after another, by course of inheritance, according to their ages, as the crown of England has been accustomed, and ought to go, in cases where there be heirs females to the same; and for default of such issue, then the said imperial crown, and all other the premises, shall be in the right heirs of your highness for ever.
 And be it further enacted by authority aforesaid, that on this side the first day of May next coming, proclamation shall be made in all shires within this realm, of the tenor and contents of this Act.
 And if any person or persons, of what estate, dignity, or condition so ever they be, subject or resident within this realm, or elsewhere within any the king’s dominions, after the said first day of May, by writing or imprinting, or by any exterior act or deed, maliciously procure or do, or cause to be procured or done, any thing or things to the peril of your most royal person, or maliciously give occasion by writing, print, deed, or act, whereby your highness might be disturbed or interrupted of the crown of this realm, or by writing, print, deed, or act, procure or do, or cause to be procured or done, any thing or things to the prejudice, slander, disturbance, or derogation of the said lawful matrimony solemnized between your majesty and the said Queen Anne, or to the peril, slander, or disherison of any the issues and heirs of your highness, being limited by this Act to inherit and to be inheritable to the crown of this realm, in such form as is aforesaid, whereby any such issues or heirs of your highness might be destroyed, disturbed, or interrupted in body or title of inheritance to the crown of this realm, as to them is limited in this Act in form above rehearsed; that then every such person and persons, of what estate, degree, or condition they be of, subject or resident within this realm, and their aiders, counsellors, maintainers, and abettors, and every of them, for every such offence shall be adjudged high traitors, and every such offence shall be adjudged high treason, and the offenders and their aiders, counsellors, maintainers, and abettors, and every of them, being lawfully convicted of such offence by presentment, verdict, confession, or process, according to the customs and laws of this realm, shall suffer pains of death, as in cases of high treason; and that also every such offender, being convicted as is aforesaid, shall lose and forfeit to your highness, and to your heirs, kings of this realm, all such manors, lands, tenements, rents, annuities, and hereditaments, which they had in possession as owners, or were sole seized of by or in any right, title, or means, or any other person or persons had to their use, of any estate of inheritance, at the day of such treasons and offences by them committed and done; and shall also lose and forfeit to your highness, and to your said heirs, as well all manner such estates of freehold and interests for years of lands and rents, as all their goods, chattels, and debts, which they had at the time of conviction or attainder of any such offence; saving always to every person and persons, and bodies politic, to their heirs, assigns, and successors, and every of them, other than such persons as shall be so convicted, and their heirs and successors, and all other claiming to their uses, all such right, title, use, interest, possession, condition, rents, fees, offices, annuities, and commons, which they or any of them shall happen to have in, to, or upon any such manors, lands, tenements, rents, annuities, or hereditaments, that shall so happen to be lost and forfeited by reason of attainder for any the treasons and offences above rehearsed, at any time before the said treasons and offences committed.
  And be it further enacted by authority aforesaid, that if any person or persons, after the said first day of May, by any words, without writing, or any exterior deed or act, maliciously and obstinately shall publish, divulge, or utter any thing or things to the peril of your highness, or to the slander or prejudice of the said matrimony solemnized between your highness and the said Queen Anne, or to the slander or disherison of the issue and heirs of your body begotten and to be begotten of the said Queen Anne, or any other your lawful heirs, which shall be inheritable to the crown of this realm, as is before limited by this Act; that then every such offence shall be taken and adjudged for misprision of treason ; and that every person and persons, of what estate, degree, or condition so ever they be, subject or resident within this realm, or in any the king’s dominions, so doing and offending, and being thereof lawfully convicted by presentment, verdict, process, or confession, shall suffer imprisonment of their bodies at the king’s will, and shall lose as well all their goods, chattels, and debts, as all such interests and estates of freehold or for years, which any such offenders shall have of or in any lands, rents, or hereditaments whatsoever, at the time of conviction and attainder of such offence.
  And be it also enacted by the authority aforesaid, that no person nor persons offending in any of the treasons and misprisions contained and limited by this Act, shall in any wise have or enjoy the privilege and immunity of any manner of sanctuaries within this realm, or elsewhere within any of the king’s dominions, but shall utterly lose and be excluded of the same; any use, custom, grant, prescription, confirmation, or any other thing or things to the contrary thereof in any wise notwithstanding.
 And be it also enacted by authority aforesaid, that if your majesty should happen to decease before any such your issue and heir male which should inherit the crown of this realm, shall be of his age of eighteen years, or before such your issue and heir female which should inherit the crown of this realm, shall be married, or be of the age of sixteen years, which Almighty God defend, that then your said issue and heir male to the crown, so being within the said age of eighteen years, or your said issue and heir female to the crown, unmarried, or within the said age of sixteen years, shall be and remain unto such time as such issues and heirs shall come to their said several ages afore limited, at and in the governance of their natural mother, she living, with such others, counsellors of your realm, as your majesty in your lifetime shall depute and assign by your will, or otherwise, for the same, without contradiction of any person or persons to the contrary thereof.
And if any person and persons by writing, or exterior deed or act, procure or do, or cause to be procured or done any thing or things to the let or disturbance of the same; that then every such offence shall be high treason, and the offenders, being thereof convicted, shall suffer such pains of death and losses of inheritance, freeholds, interests for years, goods, chattels and debts, in such manner and form as is above specified in cases of treason afore mentioned.
 And for the more sure establishment of the succession of your most royal majesty, according to the tenor and form of this Act, be it further enacted by authority aforesaid, that as well as the nobles of your realm spiritual and temporal, as all other your subjects now living and being, or that hereafter shall be, at their full ages, by the commandment of your majesty or of your heirs, at all times hereafter from time to time, when it shall please your highness or your heirs to appoint, shall make a corporal oath in the presence of your highness or your heirs, or before such others as your majesty or your heirs will depute for the same, that they shall truly, firmly, and constantly, without fraud or guile, observe, fulfil, maintain, defend, and keep, to their cunning, wit, and uttermost of their powers, the whole effects and contents of this present Act. And that all manner your subjects, as well spiritual as temporal, suing livery, restitutions, or ouster le main out of the hands of your highness or of your heirs, or doing any fealty to your highness or to your heirs, by reason of tenure of their lands, shall swear a like corporal oath, that they and every of them, without fraud or guile, to their cunning, wit, and uttermost of their powers, shall truly, firmly, and constantly observe, fulfil, maintain, defend, and keep the effects and contents contained and specified in this Act, or in any part thereof; and that they, nor any of them, shall hereafter have any liveries, ouster le main, or restitution out of your hands, nor out of the hands of your heirs, till they have made the said corporal oath in form above rehearsed.
 And if any person or persons, being commanded by authority of this Act to take the said oath afore limited, obstinately refuse that to do, in contempt of this Act, that then every such person so doing, to be taken and accepted for offender in misprision of high treason; and that every such refusal shall be deemed and adjudged misprision of high treason; and the offender therein to suffer such pains and imprisonment, losses and forfeitures, and also lose privileges of sanctuaries, in like manner and form as is above mentioned for the misprisions of treasons afore limited by this Act.
Provided always, that the article in this Act contained concerning prohibitions of marriages within the degrees afore mentioned in this Act, shall always be taken, interpreted, and expounded of such marriages, where marriages were solemnized and carnal knowledge was had.”

The Act was overridden by the Second Act of Succession issued in 1536, following the execution of Anne Boleyn and the King’s marriage to his third wife, Jane Seymour. What stayed the same however, was the clause that forced everyone to recognize Henry as Supreme Head of the Church.

Sources:

  • Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne by David Starkey
  • On this day in Tudor History by Claire Ridgway
  • Luminarium.org

The Execution of Thomas Seymour 1st Baron of Sudeley

Thomas Seymour. Brash, impatient, he aspired everything too soon and that led to his death.
Thomas Seymour. Brash, impatient, he aspired everything too soon and that led to his death.

On the twentieth of March 1549, Thomas Seymour, Edward VI’s uncle and younger brother of the Lord Protector, Ned Seymour, was executed at Tower Hill. Thomas Seymour is famous for marrying the late King’s last consort, Katherine Parr. While the couple had only one child, Thomas was very protective of her. He grew paranoid after the death of his wife and saw enemies everywhere and urged his ally, Henry Grey, Marques of Dorset to return his eldest and favorite daughter, Jane Grey, into his custody. Something Henry reluctantly agreed. Nonetheless, in spite of his assurances, Thomas began to scheme with him and other members of court who were dissatisfied with his eldest brother.  When they had agreed to elect Edward Seymour as Protector, they had all been promised key positions in the government. Most of them had been rewarded for their loyalty by being elevated to Marques or in Thomas’ case, Barons. But they were not content. Something was missing and that something was more favor. Edward Seymour showed more favor to the commons and his attitude against the nobility and rising gentry who had brought him to where he was, angered them.

During his wife’s pregnancy, the Lady Elizabeth, his nephew’s second older sister resided with them. Very soon it became clear to Lady Sudeley that her husband’s attentions towards the pre-teen were overly affectionate and she had Elizabeth banished. Thomas Seymour tried to make it up to her by being at her side at all times but this wasn’t enough. According to one source, in her delirium she berated him and accused him of never loving her. He tried calming her down but sickened with grief and possibly puerperal fever, she died days later.

His brother didn’t allow him to inherit on his daughter’s behalf, or to have his daughter inherit, his wife’s states. If the rift between brothers’ was not worse already, this made it even more.
In spite of his many allies, Thomas Seymour was too brash and paranoid and it was this brashness and impatience that brought about his doom.

According to a much later account, when Elizabeth heard the news she said "A man of much with and very little judgment" but in reality what she said is found in her book of psalm and prayers which is currently held at Elton Hall; it reads "Vanity of Vanities; and the height of Vanity. T. Seymour".
According to a much later account, when Elizabeth heard the news she said “A man of much with and very little judgment” but in reality what she said is found in her book of psalm and prayers which is currently held at Elton Hall; it reads “Vanity of Vanities; and the height of Vanity. T. Seymour”.

Elizabeth Tudor who was later sent to the Tower during her sister, Queen Mary I’s, regime appealed to her by invoking the example of Thomas Seymour, saying that if his eldest brother -the Duke of Somerset- hadn’t been prevented from seeing him, then he wouldn’t have condemned his little brother. This is true. Ned Seymour wasn’t allowed to see or speak with Thomas. Thomas Seymour was a master of rhetoric and ingenuity, and he could have convince his brother or at the very least, get him to give him a royal pardon.

Despite this shortcoming, Thomas Seymour entertained himself by trying all sorts of things to appeal to the good conscience of other people. He tried smuggling a letter written in orange juice with a hook “plucked from his hose” to Lady Mary but it was soon discovered. Before he died, he wrote one last poem:

“Forgetting God to love a king
Hath been my rod or else nothing:
In this real life being a blast of care and strife
till be in the past.
Yet God did call me in my pride
lest I should fall and from him slide
for whom loves he
and not correct that they may be of his elect.
The death haste thee
thou shalt me gain
Immortally with him to reign
Who send the King
Like years as new in governing his realm with joy
And after this frail life such grace
As in his bliss
he may have place.”

Like his brother who would meet the same fate three years layer, his execution would prove highly unpopular. While his supporters had abandoned him, the resentment that had been between them and the Lord Protector was still there and it only got worse after this.

As with all men and women condemned to death, he was allowed to give one last speech before the executioner swung his axe. He was executed at Tower Hill and while we know very little of what he said, according to one account, when he was about to lay his head on the block he said “speed of what you are to do”. Then came the blow that ended his life.

Sources:

  • Ordeal by Ambition by William Seymour
  • Sisters Who Would be Queen by Leanda de Lisle
  • Tudor by Leanda de Lisle
  • On this day in Tudor History by Claire Ridgway

Lady Elizabeth’s daunting experience:

Elizabeth and Bess real one
18 March 1554: Elizabeth Tudor was arrested for her alleged involvement in the Wyatt Rebellion. Though nothing was ever proven, and Bess never gave her support to them as bluntly as others had done, she still came under her sister’s radar. She was twenty one years old. The young princess wrote a frantic letter to her sister, Queen Mary, appealing to her good conscience and reminding her of the bond they shared together as sisters and begging her not to believe any rumors regarding her involvement.

Elizabeth‘I humbly crave but one word of answer from yourself. Your Highness, most faithful subject that hath been from the beginning and will be to my end, Elizabeth.’
Elizabeth was desperate and afraid that the same fate that had befallen on her mother, would now fall on her. After all, while she was lodged in the Bell Tower and had more comfortable surroundings than other prisoners, the royal apartments she was in, were none other than the same Anne Boleyn had been in.
Sources:
  • Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne by David Starkey
  • Tudor. Passion. Murder. Manipulation by Leanda de Lisle
  • Mary Tudor by Anna Whitelock
  • Elizabeth I by Jasper Ridley