Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics
THE BABY PRINCESS
WO ladies of the train of the Princess Elizabeth were
talking softly together in an upper room of Hunsdon
"Never has such a thing happened in England before,"
said the first.
"True," whispered the second, "and to think of a
swordsman being sent for across the water to Calais!
That never happened before."
"Surely no good can come to the land when the head of
her who has worn the English crown rolls in the dust at
the stroke of a French executioner," murmured the
first lady, looking half fearfully over her shoulder.
"But if a queen is false to the king, if she plots
against the peace of the throne, even against the
king's very life, why should she not meet the
 same punishment that the wife of a tradesman would
suffer if she strove to bring death to her husband? The
court declared that Queen Anne was guilty."
"Yes, the court, the court," retorted the first, "and
what a court! If King Henry should say, 'Cranmer, cut
off your father's head,' and 'Cromwell, cut off your
mother's head,' they would bow humbly before him and
answer, 'Yes, sire,' provided only that they could have
wealth in one hand and power in the other. A court,
"Oh, well, I'm to be in the train of the Princess
Elizabeth, and I'm not the one to sit on the judges'
bench and say whether the death that her mother died
yesterday was just or unjust," said the second lady
with a little yawn. "But bend your head a bit nearer,"
she went on, "and I'll tell you what the lord mayor of
London whispered to a kinsman of my own. He said there
was neither word nor sign of proof against her that was
the queen, and that he who had but one eye could have
seen that King Henry wished to get rid of her. But
isn't that your brother coming up the way?"
 "Yes, it is Ralph. He is much in the king's favor of
late because he can play the lute so well and can troll
a poem better than any other man about the court. He
will tell us of the day in London."
Ralph had already dismounted when his sister came to
the hall, too eager to welcome him to wait for any
formal announcement of his arrival.
"Greeting, sister Clarice," said he as he kissed her
cheek lightly. "How peaceful it all is on this quiet
hill with trees and flowers about, and breezes that
bring the echoes of bird-notes rather than the noise
and tumult of the city."
"But I am sure that I heard one sound of the city
yesterday, Ralph. It was the firing of a cannon just at
twelve. Was not that the hour when the stroke of the
French ruffian beheaded the queen? Were there no
murderers in England that one must needs be sent for
across the water?"
"I had hardly thought you could hear the sound so far,"
said her brother, "but it was as you say. The cannon
was the signal that the deed was done."
 "And where was King Henry? Was he within the Tower? Did
he look on to make sure that the swordsman had done his
"Not he. No fear has King Henry that his servants will
not obey him. He was in Epping Forest on a hunt. I
never saw him more full of jest, and the higher the sun
rose, the merrier he became. We went out early in the
morning, and the king bade us stop under an oak tree to
picnic. The wine was poured out, and we stood with our
cups raised to drink his health. It was an uproarious
time, for while the foes of the Boleyns rejoiced, their
friends dared not be otherwise than wildly merry, lest
the wrath of the king be visited upon them. He has the
eye of an eagle to pierce the heart of him who thinks
the royal way is not the way of right."
"The wine would have choked me," said Clarice, "but go
on, Ralph. What next?"
"One of the party slipped on the root of the oak, and
his glass fell on a rock at his feet. The jesting
stopped for an instant, and just at that moment came
the boom of a cannon from the Tower. King Henry had
forbidden the hour of the execution to be told, but
every one guessed that the
 cannon was the signal that the head of Queen Anne had
been struck off by the foreign swordsman. The king
turned white and then red. I was nearest him, and I saw
him tremble. I followed his eye, and he looked over
the shoulder of the master of the hunt far away to the
eastward. There was London, and up the spire of St.
Paul's a flag was slowly rising. It looked very small
from that distance, but it was another signal that the
stroke of the executioner had been a true one."
"It is an awful thing to take the life of one who has
worn the crown," murmured Clarice. "Did the king
"He half opened his lips and again closed them. Then he
gave a laugh that made me shiver, and he said, 'One
would think that the royal pantry could afford no extra
glass. That business is finished. Unloose the dogs, and
let us follow the boar.' Greeting, Lady Margaret,"
said Ralph to a lady who just then entered the room. He
bowed before her with deep respect, and said in a low,
"May you find comfort and courage in every trouble that
comes to you."
 Lady Margaret's eyes filled with tears as she said:—
"I thank you. Trouble has, indeed, come to me in these
last few years. Where was the king yesterday—at the
hour of noon, I mean? Had he the heart to stay in
"He had the heart to go on a hunt, but it was a short
one, and almost as soon as the cannon was fired, he set
off on the hardest gallop that ever took man over the
road from Epping Forest to Wiltshire."
"To the home of Sir John Seymour?"
"The same. Know you not that this morning before the
bells rang for noon Jane Seymour had taken the place of
Anne Boleyn and become the wife of King Henry?"
"No, I knew it not," answered Lady Margaret, "but what
matters a day sooner or later when a man goes from the
murder of one wife to the wedding of another?"
"True," said Ralph. Clarice was sobbing softly, and
Lady Margaret went on, half to Ralph and half to
"It was just two years ago yesterday when
 Lady Anne set out for London to be crowned. I never saw
the Thames so brilliant. Every boat was decked with
flags and streamers, edged with tiny bells that swung
and tinkled in the breeze. The boats were so close
together that it was hard to clear a way for the lord
mayor's barge. All the greatest men of London were with
him. They wore scarlet gowns and heavy golden chains.
On one side of the lord mayor was a boat full of young
men who had sworn to defend Queen Anne to the death.
Just ahead was a barge loaded with cannon, and their
mouths pointed in every direction that the wind blows.
There was a great dragon, too, so cunningly devised
that it would twist and turn one way and then another,
and wherever it turned, it spit red fire and green and
blue into the river. There was another boat full of the
fairest maidens in London town, and they all sang songs
in praise of the Queen."
"They say that Queen Anne, too, could make songs," said
Ralph, "and that she made one in prison that begins:—
'Oh, Death, rock me asleep.
Bring on my quiet rest.' "
 "When Anne Boleyn went to France with the sister of
King Henry, she was a merry, innocent child. At his
door lies the sin of whatever of wrong she has done,"
said Lady Margaret solemnly, half turning away from
Clarice and her brother and looking absently out of the
open window. The lawn lay before her, fresh and green.
Here and there were daisies, gleaming in the May
sunshine. "I know the very place," said she with a
shudder. "It is the green within the Tower. The grass
is fresh and bright there, too, but the daisies will be
red to-day with the blood of our own crowned queen. It
is terrible to think of the daisies."
"Pretty daisies," said a clear, childish voice under
"Let us go out on the lawn," said Clarice, "it stifles
"Remember," bade Lady Margaret hastily, "to say 'Lady,'
not 'Princess.' "
The young man fell upon one knee before a tiny maiden,
not yet three years old. The child gravely extended her
hand for him to kiss. He kissed it and said:—
"Good morrow, my Lady Elizabeth."
"Princess 'Lizbeth," corrected the mite.
"No," said Lady Margaret, "not 'Princess' but 'Lady.' "
"Princess 'Lizbeth," insisted the child with a stamp of
her baby foot on the soft turf and a positive little
shake of her red gold curls. "Princess brought you
some daisies," and with a winning smile she held out
the handful of flowers to Lady Margaret and put up her
face to be kissed.
"I'll give you one," said the child to the young man,
and again she extended her hand to him.
"Princess 'Lizbeth wants to go to hear the birds sing.
Take me," she bade the attendant. She made the
quaintest little courtesy that can be imagined, and
left the three standing under the great beech tree.
"That is our Lady Elizabeth," said Lady Margaret, "the
most wilful, winsome little lassie in all the world."
"But why may she not be called 'Princess' as has been
the custom?" asked Ralph.
"It is but three days, indeed, since the king's order
was given," answered Lady Margaret. "When Archbishop
Cranmer decided that Anne
 Boleyn was not the lawful wife of Henry, the king
declared that Princess Elizabeth should no longer be
the heir to the throne, and so should be called 'Lady'
instead of 'Princess.' It is many months since he has
done aught for her save to provide for her safe keeping
here at Hunsdon. The child lacks many things that every
child of quality should have, let alone that she be the
daughter of a king. I dare not tell the king her needs,
lest he be angry, and both the little one and myself
feel his wrath."
The little daughter of the king seems to have been
entirely neglected, and at last Lady Margaret ventured
to write, not to the king, but to Chancellor Cromwell,
to lay before him her difficulties. Here is part of
"Now it is so, my Lady Elizabeth is put from that
degree she was afore, and what degree she is at now, I
know not but by hearsay. Therefore I know not how to
order her myself, nor none of hers that I have the rule
of, that is, her women and grooms, beseeching you to be
good Lord to my good Lady and to all hers, and that she
may have some raiment." The letter goes on to say that
she has neither gown, nor slip, nor
petti-  coat, nor kerchiefs, nor neckerchiefs, nor nightcaps, "nor
no manner of linen," and ends, "All these her Grace
must have. I have driven off as long as I can, that by
my troth I can drive it off no longer. Beseeching ye,
mine own good Lord, that ye will see that her Grace may
have that which is needful for her, as my trust is that
ye will do."
The little princess had a good friend in Lady Margaret
Bryan, the "lady mistress" whom Queen Anne had put over
her when, as the custom was, the royal baby was taken
from her mother to dwell in another house with her own
retinue of attendants and ladies in waiting. In this
same letter the kind lady mistress ventured to praise
the neglected child. She wrote of her:—
"She is as toward a child and as gentle of condition as
ever I knew any in my life. I trust the king's Grace
shall have great comfort in her Grace." Lady Margaret
told the chancellor that the little one was having
"great pain with her great teeth." Probably the last
thing that King Henry thought of was showing his
daughter to the public or making her prominent in any
way, but the lady mistress sturdily suggested that if
 he should wish it, the Lady Elizabeth would be so
taught that she would be an honor to the king, but she
must not be kept too long before the public, she must
have her freedom again in a day or two.
A small difficulty arose in the house itself. The
steward of the castle wished the child to dine at the
state table instead of at her own more simple board.
"It is only fitting," said he, "for her to dine at the
great table, since she is at the head of the house."
"Master Steward," declared Lady Margaret, "at the state
table there would be various meats and fruits and wines
that would not be for her good. It would be a hard
matter for me to keep them from her when she saw them
at every meal."
"Teach her that she may not have all that she sees,"
said the steward.
"The table of state is no place for the correcting of
children," retorted Lady Margaret, and she wrote to the
chancellor about this matter also. "I know well," said
she, "if she [Elizabeth] be at the table of state, I
shall never bring her up to the king's Grace's honor
nor hers, nor to her
 health. Wherefore I beseech you, my Lord, that my Lady
may have a mess of meat to her own lodging, with a good
dish or two that is meet for her Grace to eat of."
Besides the Lady Elizabeth and her household, the lady
mistress, the steward, the ladies of her train, and the
servants, there was one other dweller in this royal
nursery, and that was the Lady Mary, a half-sister of
the little Elizabeth. Mary's mother had been treated
very cruelly and unfairly by King Henry, and had
finally been put away from him that he might marry Anne
As a child Mary was shown more honor than had ever been
given to an English princess before. The palace
provided for her residence was carried on at an
enormous expense. She had her own ladies in waiting,
her chamberlain, treasurer, and chaplain, as if she
were already queen. Even greater than this was her
glory when on one occasion her father and mother were
absent in France, for she was taken to her father's
palace, and there the royal baby of but three or four
years represented all the majesty of the throne. The
king's councilors reported to him that when
 some gentlemen of note went to pay their respects at
the English court, they found this little child in the
presence chamber with her guards and attendants, and
many noble ladies most handsomely apparelled. The
councilors said that she welcomed her guests and
entertained them with all propriety, and that finally
she condescended to play for them on the virginals, an
instrument with keys like those of a piano. If half
this story is true, it is no wonder that the delighted
courtiers told the king they "greatly marvelled and
The following Christmas she spent with her father and
mother. She had most valuable presents of all sorts of
articles made of gold and silver; cups, saltcellars,
flagons, and—strangest of all gifts for a little
child—a pair of silver snuffers. One part of the
Christmas celebration must have pleased her, and that
was the acting of several plays by a company of
children who had been carefully trained to entertain
the little princess.
When Mary was but six years old, it was arranged that
she should marry the German emperor, Charles V. He
came to England for the
 betrothal, and remained several weeks. Charles ruled
over more territory than any other sovereign of the
times, and he was a young man of great talent and
ability. The child must be educated to become an
empress. Being a princess was no longer all play. A
learned Spaniard wrote a profound treatise on the
proper method of training the little girl. He would
allow her to read the writings of some of the Latin
poets and orators and philosophers, and she might read
history, but no romances. A Latin grammar was written
expressly for her, and she must also study French and
music. There seems to have been little thought of her
recreation save that it was decreed that she might "use
moderate exercise at seasons convenient."
So it was that the pretty, merry little maiden was
trained to become an empress. When she was ten years
old, she sent Charles an emerald ring, asking him
whether his love was still true to her. He returned a
tender message that he would wear the ring for her
sake; and yet, the little girl to whom he had been
betrothed never became the bride of the emperor.
Charles heard that King Henry meant to put
 away his wife, and if that was done, it was probable
that Mary would no longer be "Princess of Wales," and
would never inherit her father's kingdom. The emperor
was angry, and the little girl in the great, luxurious
palace was hurt and grieved.
This was the beginning of the hard life that lay before
her. King Henry was determined to be free from his wife
that he might make Anne Boleyn his queen. Mary loved
her mother with all her heart, but the king refused to
allow them to see each other. The mother wrote most
tenderly to her child, bidding her be cheerful and
obey the king in everything that was not wrong. Mary's
seventeenth birthday came and went. The king had
accomplished his wish to put away his wife, and had
made Anne Boleyn his queen. One September day their
child Elizabeth was born. So far Mary had lived in the
greatest state, surrounded by attendants who delighted
in showing deference to her wishes, and her only
unhappiness had been caused by the separation from her
mother and sympathy with her mother's sufferings. One
morning the chamberlain, John Hussey, came to her with
 "Your Grace," said he, "it is but an hour ago that a
message came from his Majesty, the king, and——" His
voice trembled, and he could say no more.
"Speak on, my good friend," said Mary. "I can, indeed,
hardly expect words of cheer from the court that is
ruled by her who was once my mother's maid of honor,
but tell me to what purport is the message?"
"No choice have I but to speak boldly and far more
harshly than is my wish," replied the chamberlain,
"and I crave your pardon for saying what I would so
gladly leave unsaid. I would that the king had named
some other agent."
"But what is the message, my good chamberlain? Must I
command it to be told to me? My mother's daughter knows
no fear. I am strong to meet whatever is to come."
"The king commands through his council," said the
chamberlain in a choking voice, "that your Grace shall
no longer bear the title of 'Princess,' for that
belongs henceforth to the child of himself and Queen
Anne. He bids that you shall order your servants to
address you as 'Lady Mary,' and that you shall remove
 to Hunsdon, the palace of the Princess Elizabeth, for
she it is who is to be his heir and is to inherit the
"I thank you," said Mary calmly, "for the courtesy with
which you have delivered the message; but I am the
daughter of the king, and without his own letter I
refuse to believe that he would be minded to diminish
the state and rank of his eldest child."
A few days later there came a letter from an officer of
the king's household bidding her remove to the palace
of the child Elizabeth.
"I will not accept the letter as the word of my
father," declared Mary. "It names me as 'Lady Mary'
and not as 'Princess';" and she straightway wrote, not
to the council, but directly to the king:—
"I will obey you as I ought, and go whereever you bid
me, but I cannot believe that your Grace knew of this
letter, since therein I am addressed as 'Lady Mary.'
To accept this title would be to declare that I am not
your eldest child, and this my conscience will not
permit." She signs herself, "Your most humble daughter,
 King Henry was angry, and when Queen Anne came to him
in tears and told him a fortune-teller had predicted
that Mary should rule after her father, he declared
that he would execute her rather than allow such a
thing to happen. Parliament did just what he commanded,
and now he bade that an act be passed settling the
crown upon the child of Queen Anne. Mary's luxurious
household of more than eightscore attendants was broken
up, and she herself was sent to Hunsdon. Many of her
attendants accompanied her, but they were bidden to
look no longer upon her as their supreme mistress.
They were to treat the child Elizabeth as Princess of
Wales and heir to the throne of England.