| In the Days of Queen Elizabeth|
|by Eva March Tappan|
|Story of the life of Queen Elizabeth, the famous English sovereign who guided the ship of state with consummate skill through the troubled waters of the latter half of the sixteenth century. Includes stories of English voyages of exploration and the defeat of the Spanish armada. Ages 11-15 |
A BOY KING
HE queen did all in her power for the little offender,
but it was a whole year before she was again allowed to
come to court. There was war in France, and the king
sailed away in his ship with its sails of cloth of
gold, apparently forgetting all about the little
daughter whom he had left without a word of farewell.
The child dared not write him, but she wrote the queen
a grateful little Italian letter. "I feel bound not
only to be obedient to you," she said, "but also to look
up to you with filial love, and chiefly because I
learn that you, most illustrious Highness, never forget
me in your letters to his Majesty, the king." Then she
begged the queen when writing the king, always to speak
of her. "Commend me to him with my continual prayer
that he will give me his kind blessing," pleaded the
 After keeping his anger for a whole year, the king
finally deigned to send his blessing to "all" his
children. The poor little girl was comforted, and made
so happy by this tardy forgiveness that she cast
gratefully about her to see what she could do to show
her gratitude to the kind stepmother who had done so
much to appease his wrath. She knew of a little French
book that was a favorite of the queen's, and this she
translated into English and sent to her. The cover was
embroidered in blue and silver, and there was a quaint
little dedication saying that she knew nothing in it
"was done as it should have been." It is no wonder that
the grateful child became a great favorite with her
Henry was successful in France; England had been well
governed by the queen during his absence; he was on
good terms with all his family; and although there had
been a visitation of the plague, his children were
safe. It was probably at this happy time that a large
picture was painted of Henry, his three children, and
the mother of Edward. The king sits on a kind of dais
with Jane Seymour beside him. He is gorgeous in scarlet
and gold brocade, and his two daughters
 equally dazzling in their crimson velvet and cloth of
gold. The precious little prince stands at his father's
right hand, and the king's arm is thrown around the
child's neck. Both king and prince wear velvet caps;
each with a long white plume. Gold chains and rubies
and pearls are everywhere.
Queen Katherine does not appear in the picture, but she
had a strong hold on the daily lives of the royal
family. She saw to it that so far as lay in her power
the neglected elder daughter should have the position
that belonged to her. Princess as she was, Mary never
had after her mother's divorce an allowance half large
enough to do what was expected of her, but now she was
helped in many ways by the thoughtful stepmother. The
queen would send a handsome gown or a generous gift of
money, or she would arrange to pension off some some
aged, helpless servant of Mary's, and so lessen the
demands upon the girl's slender purse. She was little
older than the princess, but she showed a motherly
watchfulness of Mary's interests.
No less thoughtful was she of the training of her
younger stepchildren. It was the fashion
 for young people of rank to be highly educated,
especially in the languages, and if half the reports of
the knowledge acquired by the two children are true,
they must have been
wonderfully industrious students.
One who knew them well declared that they called for
their books as soon as it was light. First came the
reading of the Scriptures, then breakfast, and after
that the study of various languages. When the long
hours of work were over, the little prince was allowed
to exercise in the open air, while Elizabeth "betook
herself to her lute or viol, and when wearied with
these, employed her time in needle-work." Four or five
modern languages this industrious princess learned to
speak and write. She had some knowledge of Greek, and
she spoke Latin almost as easily as English. A little
book in which she wrote her Italian exercises is still
in existence. They are well written, but there are
mistakes enough to show that even a princess does not
learn a language without hard work.
Both children had a great admiration for Queen
Katherine, and whatever she did was right in their
eyes. Edward seems to have had as hard a time learning
to write as any child of to-day,
 and he sent a letter to the queen about his troubles.
"When I see your beautiful handwriting," says the
discouraged little boy, "I am sick of writing. But then
I think how kind your nature is, and that whatever
proceeds from a good mind and intention will be
acceptable, and so I write you this letter."
The gentle boy, not yet nine years old, was soon to be
put forward to represent the king. Henry had grown so
enormously stout that he could not climb the stairs.
After a while he could no longer even walk about his
room, and he had to be moved in a rolling chair.
Commissioners from the king of France were coming to
England to arrange terms of peace. The king ordered his
son to take his place.
"Your Majesty," reported the officer in whose charge
the child had been, "truly, never was there a prince of
such courtesy and amiability. His Grace rode on the
charger most gallantly, and led the two thousand
knights and nobles with as much of ease and stateliness
of demeanor as if he had been forty years of age."
"And did he speak as he was taught?" asked the king.
 "Surely, your Majesty, and with such grace and
sovereignty in his manner that men were affected even
"And what said the admiral?"
"I verily believe, your Highness, that he would have
caught up the prince's Grace and clasped him to his
breast had it not been for the dignity of his Grace's
manner and bearing. He put his arm about the neck of
his Grace, but it was a kiss of affection and not of
state that he gave."
"And after that?"
"After the speech of welcome, my lord prince again took
the head of the cavalcade. Never before the time of
your Majesty have they been handled by such a leader.
He led the French away from the Heath to meet your
Highness's gracious welcome at the palace."
The boy was not spoiled by all this honor and praise,
but went willingly away from the glories of the court
to stay with his beloved sister Elizabeth. Less than a
year were they together, and then it was thought best
for them to be separated. Edward was but a lonely
little child in spite of his stateliness when on the
great charger, and he grieved so for his sister that
she wrote to him
 suggesting that they write frequent letters to each
other. The boy caught eagerly at the idea. "Nothing can
now occur to me more grateful than your letters," he
wrote in the prim, stilted fashion of the day, and he
added, "It is a comfort to my regret that I hope
shortly to see you again if no accident intervenes." He
did see her again before many weeks had passed, for
there was news to tell which the councilors wished both
children to hear.
King Henry had been growing more and more feeble. For
some time before his death, it was so difficult for him
to sign his name that three men, acting together, were
given the right to do it for him. Two made an
impression of his signature with a dry stamp, and the
third traced the letters with ink. Henry grew no less
bitter in his enmity to all who opposed him, and one of
his last acts was to order the execution of his aunt's
One winter day two men galloped swiftly over the road
to the palace which was then the home of Edward.
"Inform his Highness that the Duke of Somerset and Sir
Anthony Brown await his pleasure,"
 was the message brought to the prince. The Duke of
Somerset was Edward's mother's brother, and he went
eagerly to meet his guests.
"I rejoice that you bring me word of his Majesty," said
the boy. "Is it not yet his will that I should come to
"Your Grace," answered the Duke, "his Majesty sent no
such message, but he would that you go with us to the
home of her Grace, the Lady Elizabeth." The prince did
not question a command that was so in accordance with
his wishes, and they set off on horseback.
When the children were together, the duke bowed low
before the boy of ten years, his own nephew, and said:—
"Your Majesty, graciously permit your faithful
servants to kiss your hand and to promise you their
humblest obedience both now and ever. A grievous duty
is it, indeed, to declare to you that our illustrious
king, Henry VIII., no more governs this realm of
England. There is comfort for his sorrowing subjects in
the thought that he has left us so noble and gracious a
prince to rule us in his stead."
Edward had known nothing but kindness from
 his father, and now that the king was dead, Elizabeth
no longer remembered what he had made her suffer.
Edward forgot that he was a king, and the children
threw themselves into each other's arms and sobbed and
cried until those who were about them wept for
Now the king had died three days before, but lest there
should be some insurrection or an attempt to put Mary
on the throne, the Duke of Somerset and others who
meant to be the real rulers of the reign of Edward kept
the news of his death a secret until they could get the
young king safely into their hands and could establish
the government in his name. Edward was conducted to the
royal apartments in the Tower of London with an
honorable escort of troops and nobles. There was
great blowing of trumpets and waving of banners, and
the boy was proclaimed king of England, France, and
Ireland, and supreme head of the church in England and
Ireland. A few weeks later the coronation took place,
and then there was a rejoicing indeed. The streets
through which the young king rode were hung with
tapestry and banners. Here and there booths, or stages
had been built, and in
 them all sorts of games and plays were carried on to
amuse the people. A rope was stretched from the steeple
of St. Paul's church and fastened firmly to a great
anchor lying on the ground. An acrobat contrived to
creep halfway up this rope, "aided neither by hand nor
by foot," the old account says. Then he performed many
feats in mid-air, "whereat," as the story puts it,
"king and nobles had good pastime."
There was no longer a cruel king on the throne, but a
child who is described as a marvel of goodness and
learning. He is praised not only for his ability to
speak different languages, but for his knowledge of
geography. One of the historians of the day said that
he could recite all the harbors and creeks in England,
France, and Scotland, and could tell what kind of
entrance there was in each for ships, and even which
tides and winds were most favorable. It was claimed,
too, that he knew the names of all the men of authority
in his kingdom, where their homes were, and what their
This matter of religion was dividing the kingdom. Henry
had called himself a Catholic, but he would not admit
the Pope's authority.
Ed-  ward and Elizabeth had been brought up in their father's
belief. The Duke of Somerset was one of the men chosen
to carry out Henry's will, and he was so decided a
Protestant that he was almost as determined to make
every one accept the Protestant faith as Henry had been
to make all his people agree with himself. In spite of
all King Henry's declarations that neither Mary nor
Elizabeth should ever wear the crown, he had finally
willed that it should descend first to Edward, then to
Mary and then to Elizabeth. The Catholics were eager to
have Mary come to the throne, because she was of their
own faith; but the Duke of Somerset had been chosen
Protector, that is, he was really to govern the kingdom
until Edward was old enough to rule, and he meant to
oblige the people to become Protestants.
There was even more scheming going on around the boy
king, for his councilors were already planning for his
marriage. A little five-year-old girl in Scotland was
the one whose hand they meant to secure for their
sovereign. Her name was Mary, and she was the Queen of
Scots. This plan had been one of King Henry's favorite
schemes, but it had never pleased the Scotch. The
 Protector led an army against them, a most remarkable
fashion of winning a bride for the young king, but the
Scotch would not yield.
"What greater honor do you expect for the queen?"
demanded the English council.
"How can Scotland gain
more sure protection than that of the king of England?"
The Scotch knew very well that if Edward married Mary,
it would be for the purpose of gaining a surer control
of Scotland, and they refused in spite of the Duke of
Somerset and all his army. They betrothed the little
queen to the son of the French king, and sent her to
France to be educated. "The Scotch are a perverse and
wilful people," then said the English.
Besides the difficulty in gaining a wife for the king
and the religious persecutions, there was trouble from
other causes, especially among the poor. Part of this
arose from what was called "enclosing." On every great
estate there had always been land that the poor people
living on the estate could use as a common pasture for
their cows. The rich landowners were beginning to
"enclose," or fence in these tracts of land and to use
them either for private parks or for sheep pastures.
 The poor had no longer any way to feed their animals,
and they were in great distress. Somerset tried to
forbid this enclosing, but the owners of land were too
powerful for him, and the enclosing went on in spite of
the strictest laws against it. Indeed, the laws caused
a new difficulty, for now that the poor people had a
decree in their favor, they revolted in several
districts and tried to seize the land. A writer who
lived in those times says, "The poor people swarmed in
Of course when there were revolts, Somerset was obliged
to suppress them, no matter how much he sympathized
with the revolters, and often accused men were punished
with little effort to make sure of their guilt. It is
said that a miller who had been a revolter suspected
that he was in danger, and said to his servant, "I must
go away on business. If anyone asks for me say that
you are the miller and have owned the mill these three
years. The king's officer came as the miller feared.
"Are you the miller?" he demanded. "Surely," replied
the servant proudly. "The mill has been mine for three
full years." You have been a busy rebel," declared
 the officer, "and now you shall be hanged to the
nearest tree." "Indeed, I'm not the miller, but only
his man," cried the frightened servant. "The man tells
two tales, hang him up," bade the officer. A little
later one who knew the miller said, "Truly, he was not
the miller, he was but the miller's man." "Then has he
proved a good servant," declared the officer
contentedly, "for how could he have done his master
better service than by hanging for him?"
The nobles were angry at Somerset's attempt to prevent
enclosing, and they were indignant that he should have
so much power. The result was that he was accused of
treason and the Duke of Northumberland became
Although all these acts were done in the name of
Edward, the boy king had really very little freedom.
"He is not alone half a quarter of an hour," said one
who knew of his life. When he first became king, he
wrote to Mary, "I will be to you a dearest brother and
overflowing with all kindness;" but he was taught by
Somerset and others that it was a danger to the kingdom
to allow his sister to remain a Catholic. When
 he had been on the throne for about three years, she
was summoned to court.
"Your Highness," said the chamberlain to Edward, "I
have to announce the arrival of her Grace, the Princess
"Give welcome to her and her train," said the young
monarch, "and say that it is my will and that of my
councilors to receive her straightway." This visit was
not for the pleasure of meeting her brother, though
they greeted each other most cordially. The royal
council was sitting in another room and there she was
"Your Grace," said the councilors, "is it true that,
contrary to the wishes of his Majesty the king, mass is
still said daily in your house?"
"It is true," answered Mary, "that the worship of God
is carried on in my house in such wise as I do firmly
believe is most pleasing to him."
"There is then no hope of your Grace's amendment
"None, my lord."
"It is the will of his Majesty, who is supreme head of
the church in England, that the mass should be no
longer celebrated in his realm.
 It becomes the duty of all that owe him allegiance to
obey. It is his Majesty's command that you obey as a
subject, attempting not to rule as a sovereign."
"I will neither change my faith nor conceal that which
is my true opinion," declared the princess, "and in
testimony of my belief I am ready to lay my head upon
the block for the truth, though I am unworthy to suffer
death in so good a cause."
Mary soon left the palace. Letters bidding her give up
her religion came from the king, but the elder sister
"They may be signed with your own name, but they cannot
be really your own, for it is not possible that your
Highness can at these years be a judge in matters of
religion, and by the doings of certain of your
councilors I mean not to rule my conscience."
With his councilors telling him how dangerous it was
to the peace of the kingdom for Mary to be allowed to
practise a form of religion that was contrary to the
law, the brother and sister can hardly have been very
happy together, and their meetings grew further apart.
 Elizabeth was living quietly in her own house, spending
most of her time in study. The boy king was hardly more
than a toy in the hands of his councilors. Somerset was
finally condemned to death, but when he wrote to
Elizabeth and begged her to appeal to the king and save
his life, Elizabeth was obliged to answer:—
"The king is surrounded by those who take good care to
keep me away from him, and I can no more gain access to
his Majesty than you can."
The one who was keeping Elizabeth from her brother was
the new Protector, the Duke of Northumberland. Edward
became ill, and everyone knew that his life would be
short. Elizabeth tried to visit him, but was
prevented. Then she wrote him a letter, but it is not
probable that he ever saw it. Northumberland was in
power, and he did not mean that either Mary or
Elizabeth should wear the English crown; he had quite
another plan in his mind.
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