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First publiihtd by Messrs. lioussod, Valadon & Co.

in July, 1896, with numerous illustrations.
Reprinted March, 1899 ; June, 1899, January, 1900.

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The object which I had before me in writing
the following pages was to sketch the life of
Elizabeth as plainly as possible. I have en-
deavoured to illustrate a character rather than
to write the history of a time. But Elizabeth's
life was so closely interwoven with the history
of England that it is impossible to separate her
actions from public affairs, and I have been
drawn into general history more often than I
wished. I can only say that I have endeav-
oured not to wander into any matters which
were not necessary for an explanation of Eliza-
beth's conduct, and that I have only enlarged
the stage to find room for the actor.

It was impossible within my limits to do
more than sketch a rough outline of a very
complex personality, which reflected only too



faithfully the perplexities of a very difficult
time. Such an attempt was only possible
owing to the amount of detailed work which
has already been done by others. But it
seemed to me that the outline must be clearly
drawn before the amazing varieties of expres-
sion could be understood. Bewildering as they
were in any particular matter, they all had
reference to certain central conceptions. It
is these which I tried to discover and exhibit.


February, 1899.




The Youth of Elizabeth i

Problems of the Reign ... 44

Elizabeth and Mary Stuart 91

The Excommunication of Elizabeth ... ... 124

The ALEN90N Marriage ... 164

The Crisis


The New England 238

Last Years of Elizabeth .вАЮ ... 281





The Princess Elizabeth of England was born at
Greenwich, between three and four of the afternoon
of September 7, 1533. Her birth was a matter of
small rejoicing to her parents, who were sorely
disappointed that their first-born was not a boy.
Seldom had greater issues depended on the sex of a
child than were now at stake. Henry VIII. pined
for a male heir to succeed to the English throne. He
had wearied of his Spanish wife, Catherine ; he had
made the hand of his sole daughter, Mary, the bait
of many an alliance, which had come to nought.
He had wasted England's resources on foreign
wars, which had brought no return. He had found
Catherine, with her devotion to Spain and her nephew,
Charles V., an obstacle to his political plans, and had
wearied of her person. He had lost his heart to
Anne Boleyn, and determined to make her Queen at


all costs. For this purpose he had waded deeply in
the mire, had broken through all the conventions of
propriety, had quarrelled with Pope and Emperor,
and had filled Europe with his clamorous assertions
of the right of a King of England to have his own
way in matters matrimonial. When he failed of
immediate success, he had set on foot a revolutionary
change in England itself, the end of which he could
not foresee. He had stubbornly declared his inten-
tion to be divorced from Catherine and to marry
Anne ; he was bent on discovering some means of
effecting his object.

The death of Archbishop Warham in August,
1532, opened up a way. Warham had refused to con-
sider the question of granting a divorce in England ;
but Henry might secure a successor to Warham
who would be amenable to his wishes. So sure was
Henry of this result that on September 1 he created
Anne Marchioness of Pembroke, and presented her
with jewels taken from the Queen. This was re-
garded as an announcement that Anne had consented
to become the King's mistress, which was probably
the fact. Pope Clement VII. thought that such an
arrangement would end the question of the King's
divorce, and accepted the royal nomination of Thomas
Cranmer as Archbishop of Canterbury in Warham's
stead. But before the bulls for his confirmation had
arrived, Anne was with child, and it was necessary

the youth op Elizabeth. 3

for her offspring to be born in lawful wedlock. She
was privately married to Henry sometime in January,
I 533- Cranmer was consecrated Archbishop on
March 30. On May 10, he opened his court to in-
quire into the validity of the King's marriage with
Catherine. Before the end of the month he pro-
nounced the marriage with Catherine to have been
null and void from the beginning, and the marriage
with Anne to be good and valid. On June 1, Anne
was crowned in Westminster.

These were not creditable proceedings to submit
to the judgment of the English people. They were
not attached to Catherine, and they ardently wished
for a male successor to the throne. They had not
sympathised with the King's foreign policy, and they
longed to be free from its complications, and manage
their national concerns in peace. They had no love
for the Pope, and wished priests and monks to be
reduced to their due place in the new society which
was slowly coming into existence. They were
desirous of more common-sense and simplicity in
religious matters, and had little sympathy with the
old-fashioned pretentiousness of the Churchmen.
They were quite willing that the King should
manage his personal matters as he thought best,
provided he left them in peace. But still, when all
had been done and settled, they shook their heads,
and felt that there had been at work an amount of


trickery and injustice which they could not approve.
They were not critics of the King's proceedings, and
they were ready to wait ; but their sympathy was
more with the degraded Queen than with her upstart
and brazen successor. The birth of a male heir to
the throne would have gone far to reconcile them
with what had been done. It would have satisfied
the general desire that there should be no difficulties
about the succession, that England should not have
to face domestic discord and foreign intrigue. But
another girl was a hindrance rather than a help to
future prospects. If the choice was to lie between
her and Mary, the claims of Mary would stand
higher. yp& /^

So the birth of Elizabeth was a disappointment
to her parents, and was the beginning of a cooling of
Henry's affections towards the wife whom he had
braved so much to gain. There was not much
heartiness in the rejoicings which announced her
coming into the world, or in the magnificence which
attended her baptism on September 10, when her
godparents were Archbishop Cranmer, the Dowager-
Duchess of Norfolk, and the Dowager- Marchioness
of Dorset. Three months after this a separate
establishment was assigned to the child at Hatfield,
where she was joined by her unfortunate sister
Mary. The child saw little of her mother. Once
only do we find her mentioned at Court. It was on


January 9, 1536, when the news of the death of
Queen Catherine had just arrived. Henry appeared
dressed all in yellow, save for a white plume in his
cap. After dinner he carried Elizabeth in his arms
round the room, and showed her with triumph to
the assembled courtiers. Anne joined in Henry's
triumph, but her joy was of short duration. Henry
was weary of Anne, and her failure to bear other
children made her useless. So' long as Catherine
lived he was bound to endure her vanity, her bad
temper, and her want of tact and personal dignity.
After Catherine's death he resolved to rid himself
of her ; and Cromwell thought it better to ruin her
entirely rather than divorce her on some technical
plea. Anne was accused of repeated acts of adultery
and incest, throughout all the period of her married
life. She was found guilty and was executed on
May 19, 1536. Two days before her death her
marriage was declared invalid from the beginning, and
Elizabeth was thus pronounced to be illegitimate.

This was a tragic beginning of the life of one of
the greatest of the rulers of England, and it is tempt-
ing to consider the influence of heredity on Elizabeth's
character. In her great qualities of caution and
prudence she reverted to her grandfather, Henry
VII., while from her father she inherited the royal
imperiousness and personal charm which always
secured his popularity. To her mother she owed


her vanity, her unscrupulousness, her relentless and
overbearing temper. Anne Boleyn has been hardly
judged. Indeed her position was impossible from
the beginning; and none but a coarse, ambitious
and self-seeking woman would have struggled so
desperately as she did for a prize which was sure to
be fatal. Her hardness and coarseness passed to
her daughter, in whom they were modified by finer
qualities, and were curbed by a sense of duty. But
Elizabeth always remained more truly the daughter
of Anne Boleyn than of Henry VIII., though she
never took any steps to clear the character of her
mother, whom indeed she was anxious to forget.

The day after Anne's execution Henry married
Jane Seymour, and Elizabeth was banished from her
father's sight. She was committed to the care of
Lady Bryan, a relative of her mother, and was
assigned as a residence, Hunsdon House, in Hert-
fordshire, pleasantly situated on a hill overlooking
the Stort river. With her was her half-sister Mary,
now twenty years of age, devoted to the memory of
her mother, and vainly endeavouring to soften the
inhumanity of the King.

At first, Elizabeth was entirely neglected by her
father. Lady Bryan was driven to write to Cromwell
that the child was almost without clothes; she
begged that provision should be made for her needs.
JKr remonstrance seems to have had some effect;


and she did her best to discharge her duty to the
child intrusted to her care. Elizabeth was well
brought up. She was taught to behave with de-
corum. She learnt to sew, and at the age of six
presented her brother Edward with a shirt of cambric
of her own working. Edward was also committed
to the charge of Lady Bryan, and for some time the
two children were educated together. They were
willing pupils, for the Tudors were fond of learning.
They rose early and devoted the first part of the day
to religious instruction. Then they studied "lan-
guages, or some of the liberal sciences, or moral
learning collected out of such authors as did best
conduce to the instruction of Princes". When
Edward went to exercise in the open air, Eliza-
beth, " in her private chamber, betook herself to
her lute or viol, and, wearied with that, to practise
her needle ".

Their teachers were carefully chosen from the best
scholars of the time. First came Richard Cox, who
had been trained in Wolsey's new College at Oxford,
and whom Elizabeth afterwards made Bishop of Ely,
in remembrance of her Latin lessons. After Cox
came the great Cambridge scholar, Sir John Cheke,
who carried on their education in the Classics. With
him was Roger Ascham, who did not disdain to teach
them writing, and formed that bold handwriting
which characterises them both, and was a product of


a time when writing was still considered as a fine art.
Besides them were learned masters in French and
Italian. Elizabeth showed such proficiency in these
languages that, at the age of eleven, she wrote an
Italian letter to Queen Catherine Parr, and also sent
a translation of a book of devotions, Le Miroir de
I'Ame pecheresse, written by Margaret of Valois,
sister of Francis I.

While she was thus carefully educated in mind
and body, Elizabeth had no education of her affec-
tions. Her father seldom saw her and took no
interest in her. She was separated from her brother
Edward, and was settled by herself at Enfield. As
soon as she could think for herself, she must have
felt that she was surrounded by an atmosphere of
suspicion, and was alone and friendless in the world.
The death of Henry, in 1547, did not remove this
isolation. The young Edward was separated from
his sisters ; and they were carefully kept apart. In
fact, the accession of Edward VI. opened the way
for deep laid political intrigues. The boy was sickly,
and was not likely to come to years of discretion.
It is true that Henry VIII. had, by his will, made
tardy reparation to the daughters whom he had so
deeply wronged, and recognised their right of suc-
cession. But Henry's will was not of much value.
The Council which he had provided was set aside
by the influence of Edward's uncle, Edward Seymour,


who took the rank of Duke of Somerset and the
title of Lord Protector. Others, however, were not
likely to acquiesce in his supremacy ; and Mary and
Elizabeth might be instruments in their hands.

Elizabeth was committed to the care of the Queen-
Dowager, Catherine Parr; but she had a house of
her own and a retinue of a hundred and twenty
attendants. Her governess was a relative by her
mother's side, Catherine Ashley, a foolish and im-
prudent woman, little capable of guiding the pre-
cocious girl amid the dangers which beset her.
Elizabeth was soon to learn the lessons of life in a
way which indelibly impressed them upon her mind,
We may pity a girl exposed to such temptations ;
but we must admit that there was little intuitive
modesty in a character which could not resist their

The matrimonial proceedings of Henry VIII. had
necessarily lowered the tone of morality amongst
his courtiers. The coarse gossip which was pre-
valent was degrading and removed all sense of
restraint. The great social revolution through which
England was passing gave scope to unlimited covet-
ousness. Men were low-minded, sensual, self-seek-
ing, hypocritical and unscrupulous. There was a
feeling that they were sharing in a general scramble,
and that he was cleverest who gained most. There
was little sense of honour, or of family affection.


The fact that Somerset had won the first place was
resented by his brother Thomas, Lord Seymour of
Sudeley, who was made Lord High Admiral. His
first plan was to marry Elizabeth ; but this required
the consent of the King and Council, and he knew
that their consent would not be given. He then
approached the Queen-Dowager, whose lover he had
been before her marriage with Henry VIII., and
secretly married her within a few months after Henry's
death. The marriage was reluctantly sanctioned in
June, 1547. Lord Seymour was now brought nearer
to the young King, and had the guardianship of
Elizabeth. He was a tall, handsome man ; and
Catherine was devoted to him. At first, she thought
no harm of the familiarity with which he began to
treat the young girl who was now thrown in his way.
But it soon became evident, even to her, that Seymour
was making love to Elizabeth in a corrupting way,
and that Elizabeth showed no displeasure at his
revolting attentions. Catherine Ashley was an
accomplice, discussed with Elizabeth the attentions
of her admirer, and connived at water-parties by
night on the Thames. Things went so far that,
at last, the Queen-Dowager could endure Elizabeth's
presence no longer, but dismissed her from her
house in May, 1548. This was done without any
open scandal ; the cause was kept a profound secret.
Elizabeth was established at Cheshunt, and friendly


correspondence continued between her and her
former friends. Everything was done to repair
past indiscretion and let it sink into oblivion.

Catherine, however, was deeply wounded and could
not forget. On August 30 she bore a daughter,
and died a week afterwards. On her deathbed, she
said sadly: "Those that be about me care not for
me, but stand laughing at my grief; and the more
good I will to them the less good they will to me ".
Seymour answered: " Why, sweetheart, I could you
no hurt ". The dying woman said aloud: " No, my
Lord, I think so;" then she added in a whisper,
" but, my Lord, you have given me many shrewd
taunts ".

Seymour, however, felt no remorse for his
treatment of a wife who bequeathed him all that
she possessed. Scarcely was she buried before he
resumed his intrigues for gaining power by a new
combination. He had bought from her father the
wardship of the Lady Jane Grey, whom he kept in
his house and designed to marry to the young King,
while he himself married Elizabeth. He opened
communications through Catherine Ashley, who told
Elizabeth that Seymour, who would fain have married
her before he married the Queen, would soon come
to woo. Elizabeth was certainly pleased at the pro-
spect, and encouraged the proposal. But Seymour,
ambitious as he was, could not conceal his projects,


and Somerset was resolved to rid himself of his
audacious brother. In January, 1549, Lord Seymour
was arrested on a charge of high treason. Eliza-
beth's governess, Catherine Ashley, and her steward,
Thomas Parry, were carried away and imprisoned in
the Tower. Elizabeth herself was confined to her
house at Hatfield, under the guardianship of Sir
Robert Tyrwhit, who was charged by the Council to
examine her and discover evidence against Seymour.
It was a terrible position for a young girl who
was not yet sixteen. Deprived of her only friends,
not knowing what they might reveal, left alone to
the mercy of an astute official, whose duty it was to
examine her from day to day, and make her admit
her guilt, she well might quail. Her honour, even
her life, was at stake. She was at the mercy of
her servants. She had not the unconsciousness of
absolute innocence ; and could only confide in the
fidelity of her imprisoned attendants and in her own
dexterity. At first, she burst into a flood of tears,
and Tyrwhit thought that his task would be easy.
He advised her to confess everything ; the evil and
shame would be ascribed to Catherine Ashley ; she
would be forgiven on the score of her youth. But
Elizabeth soon regained her self-command in the
face of danger. He could get nothing from her:
" and yet," he writes, " I can see from her face that
she is guilty, but she will abide more storms before


she accuse Mrs. Ashley". The next day he suc-
ceeded no better, and could only repeat, " I do assure
your Grace she hath a very good wit, and nothing is
gotten of her but by great policy ". Elizabeth would
not commit herself, and in a week's time felt suffi-
ciently secure of the reticence of her servants to
write in a dignified strain to the Protector, defending
her reputation and protesting her innocence. " My
conscience," she wrote, " beareth me witness, which I
would not for all earthly things offend in anything,
for I know I have a soul to save, as well as other
folks have, wherefore I will above all things have
respect unto this same."

As nothing could be discovered from Elizabeth,
Tyrwhit turned his attention to her imprisoned
steward, Parry, and extracted from him an account
of the unseemly familiarities between his mistress
and Lord Seymour. Catherine Ashley could not
deny her knowledge of them, and furnished a few
more particulars. Then Tyrwhit returned to Eliza-
beth and put the two confessions into her hand. She
read them abashed and breathless. But when
Tyrwhit told her that Catherine Ashley would say
nothing till she was confronted with Parry, the
Tudor rage broke forth. " False wretch," she cried,
" he promised not to confess to death ; how could he
make such a promise and break it ? " Yet, downcast
as she was at reading the record of her indiscretion,


she soon recovered her presence of mind. She saw
that on the main points her servants had stood firm.
They sacrificed Elizabeth's private character to
maintain her political innocence. She had been a
shameless flirt, but had never contemplated marry-
ing Seymour without the consent of the Council.
Elizabeth took her cue accordingly. Tyrwhit could
extract nothing from her except scraps of foolish
conversation about the possibility of such a marriage,
in answer to which suggestions she always reserved
the Council's assent. "They all sing the same
song," said Tyrwhit wearily, " and so I think they
would not do unless they had got the note before."
After all his efforts, the girl of sixteen baffled the
experienced man of affairs.

The Council proceeded against Seymour on other
grounds, but administered a rebuke to Elizabeth in
a letter which informed her: "Catherine Ashley,
who hithertofore hath had the special charge to see
to the good education and government of your person,
hath shown herself far unmeet to occupy any such
place longer about your Grace. Being informed
that she hath not shewed herself so much attendant
to her office in this past as we looked for at her
hands, we have thought good somewhat to say
roundly to her in that behalf." Elizabeth was
informed that Lady Tyrwhit had been appointed
in Catherine Ashley's stead, and was recommended



to follow her good advice. At first, Elizabeth was
furious. She would have no mistress save Catherine
Ashley ; she had not behaved so as to deserve the
change. She wept all night, and sulked all the
following day. Her mood was changed by a letter
from the Protector, which told her that Seymour's
household was broken up, and enabled her to see
that his ruin was imminent. Then Elizabeth's
spirit began to droop, though she vigorously de-
fended Seymour if anything was said against him.
She wrote to the Protector, remonstrating at the
removal of Catherine Ashley as likely to corroborate
the rumours which were current about her conduct.
She asked that these rumours might be contradicted
by a proclamation. This last request was gratified.
But one of the articles against Seymour was that he
had " attempted and gone about to marry the King's
Majesty's sister, the Lady Elizabeth, second inheritor
in remainder to the Crown ". On March 20, 1549,
Seymour's head fell on the scaffold.

This was a crushing experience for a girl of
sixteen. It was undoubtedly the great crisis of
Elizabeth's life, and did more than anything else to
form her character. She learned, and she never
forgot the lesson, that it was dangerous to follow her
inclinations and indulge her affections. She dearly
loved Seymour, with the ardour of a passionate girl.
She was on the brink of a secret marriage with

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him, though she knew his coarse character and
had been witness of the unhappiness of his former
wife. She had a strong feeling of attachment for
Catherine Ashley, and had trusted to her discretion.
She learned the limitations of human trustworthi-
ness, the inevitableness of personal responsibility.
All this was an unwelcome revelation of life and its
issues to herself. She must trust in herself and
in herself only. Rigorous self-repression and self-
restraint could alone enable her to stand securely.
Love, trust, confidence were all beset with dangers.
In the quietness which followed this period of trial
she thought out the meaning of what she had endured.
She had loved, and her lover had perished. She
could ask herself what that love had meant to her.
Was it more than a temporary stirring of the senses ?
Was it worth the risk which she had run, the im-
prudence which she had committed ? What would
have been her future had she married Seymour?
Was he capable of loving her in return, or was
she merely a puppet in his hands, a piece in his
game of political self-seeking? She must have re-
called his treatment of the Queen-Dowager, whose
tears she had seen flow, whose dying words of dis-
appointment had been repeated to her. At the time,
secure in her own youthful charms, she had thought
disdainfully of the middle-aged queen. If she had
become Seymour's wife, would she have been any the


happier ? Would not she too have been abandoned
when her usefulness was past ? She had seen the
Lady Jane Grey, an inmate of Seymour's house,
another girl whose hand was of value for an intriguer
to dispose of. What place had love in such matters
as these ? It was possible for a village maiden : it
was an impossible luxury for one who had a shred
of claim to the throne of England.
>J We know how thoroughly Elizabeth understood

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Online LibraryM. (Mandell) CreightonQueen Elizabeth → online text (page 1 of 18)