Tuesday, March 25, 2014

On This Day in Elizabethan History: Sir Walter Ralegh Receives a Patent

A map of Ralegh's colony in Virginia, founded in 1585. British Library. Image from Lara E. Eakins.

On this day in Elizabethan history in 1584, Sir Walter Ralegh (modern spelling 'Raleigh') was granted a patent by Queen Elizabeth I to colonize land in the New World. This settlement would become known as Virginia, in honor of Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen.

View and follow our Sir Walter Ralegh and Sir Francis Drake Pinterest board here.

Monday, March 24, 2014

On This Day in Elizabethan History: Queen Elizabeth I Dies

The Funeral Procession of Queen Elizabeth I, 1603. Elizabeth's funeral effigy is now part of the Westminster Abbey effigy collection.
"If you knew what awaited me in my bed, you would not go and lie down, either"

On this day in Elizabethan history in 1603, after 44 effective years on the throne, Queen Elizabeth I, the last of the Tudor dynasty, died at the age of 69 at Richmond Palace. Her reign of peace, prosperity, and pageantry became known as The Golden Age, and she herself was affectionately known as Good Queen Bess. As historian Garrett Mattingly observed, never had their been a love affair like the one between Elizabeth Tudor and her subjects.

To read about Elizabeth's final days before her death, and to revisit the highlights of her illustrious reign, please read our BeingBess article here.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Henry VIII Passes an Act of Succession in Favor of Elizabeth

Another significant legal document passed around this time was the Oath of Allegiance,  shown above,  which English subjects were required to sign, thus declaring that they believed in the validity of King Henry VIII and Queen Anne Boleyn's marriage. People were executed for refusing to swear the oath. Picture acquired through Wikimedia Commons. Image public domain.

On this day in 1533 (sometimes written as 1534), Henry VIII passed the Act of Succession, which would be revised several times before his death in 1547. The Act declared that only Henry VIII's children by his second wife, Anne Boleyn, could inherit the throne of England. The Act also stated that, were he to die before his wife, Queen Anne would become regent. Also significant, "slander or derogation of the lawful matrimony [with] his most dear and entirely loving wife, Queen Anne," would be considered treason.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Birth of Katherine Willoughby

A sketch by Holbein, identified as Katherine Willoughby, Duchess of Suffolk, dated between 1534-36. Picture acquired through Wikimedia Commons. Image public domain.

On this day in 1519, Katherine Willoughby, eventual Duchess of Suffolk, was born to Baron William Willoughby and his Spanish wife, Maria de Salinas. As the only surviving child of the couple, Katherine was a wealthy heiress who became 12th Baroness Willoughby de Eresby in her own right.

Katherine Willoughby was an extraordinary woman who used her education and position to promote religious reform in England. Her beliefs and actions made her a target of the Marian government, and she and her second husband and their household fled abroad, only returning upon the accession of the Protestant Elizabeth Tudor.

To learn about the accomplishments of this fearless early-modern woman, please read our BeingBess article about her life.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

On This Day in Elizabethan History: Thomas Seymour is Executed

A portrait of Thomas Seymour, Lord High Admiral of England and 1st Baron Sudeley. Picture acquired through Wikimedia Commons. Image public domain.

On this day in Elizabethan history in 1549, Lord High Admiral Thomas Seymour was executed for a variety of reasons, including the attempted kidnapping of his nephew, King Edward VI, and the production of counterfeit money. In all, he was found guilty of 33 counts of treason. Princess Elizabeth was said to have remarked upon receiving news of his death, 'this day died a man of much wit, and very little judgement.' The young Princess had endured a very complicated relationship with her brother's uncle, who had also been her deceased stepmother's last husband.

A portrait of Princess Elizabeth from 1546. Attributed to William Scrots. The Royal Collection, Windsor Castle. Picture acquired through Wikimedia Commons. Image public domain.

While Princess Elizabeth was living in the household of her stepmother, Katherine Parr, and Thomas Seymour, Thomas began abusing Elizabeth, his ward, by behaving inappropriately with her. It is my opinion, evaluating the sources, that Seymour's attentions were sinister in nature and that he probably molested her. Katherine Parr, although a highly educated and perceptive woman, was conflicted as to how to handle the situation. Torn between her husband and the stepchild she regarded as her own daughter, Katherine began participating in her husband's escapades. Because of Thomas Seymour's actions toward Elizabeth, she was accessed of planning to marry him without her brother Edward VI's consent, and she was put under interrogation at the age of 15.  When Elizabeth Tudor was questioned about the longstanding unscrupulous activity of Thomas Seymour, she eventually earned the respect of her interrogator. You can read about her remarkable composure under pressure and the statement she wrote in 1549 addressing the nature of her relationship with Thomas Seymour in here.

Princess Elizabeth Tudor's signature, taken from a letter she wrote to Edward Seymour, the Lord Protector, who was Thomas Seymour's brother.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

On This Day in Elizabethan History: The Fall of the City of Le Havre

An engraving of Ambrose Dudley, Earl of Warwick. Picture acquired through Wikimedia Commons. Image public domain.

On this day in Elizabethan history in 1563, the city of Le Havre fell. Le Havre was known both as as Franciscopolis and The Harbor of Grace in the 16th century. Queen Elizabeth I had sent troops to the city, led by Ambrose Dudley,Earl of Warwick, brother of her favorite, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. After the siege, the Elizabeth I paid a key role in negotiating the Treaty of Troyes, which was signed in 1564. To read more about the siege of Le Havre and the Treaty of Troyes, please read our article here.