| 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 PRINCESS IN PRISON
ARY did not forget to show gratitude to those who had
aided her in gaining possession of her crown. To some
she gave high positions, and for the one whose house
had been burned she built a much finer residence.
"And now, my well-beloved cousin and councilor," she
said to the Earl of Sussex, "we would gladly show to
you our hearty appreciation of your loyalty in a
troublous time. Ask what you will of us, and it shall
The only way of heating houses in those days was by
means of fireplaces, and therefore, even the royal
palaces were full of chills and drafts. Whenever the
earl came to court, he took cold. A thought struck him
and he said:—
"If your Grace is really of intent to bestow upon me
the gift that will give me most of
com-  fort and peace of mind and body, I would beg humbly for the
royal permission that I need no longer uncover my head
before man or woman."
Mary was greatly amused. "Either cap or coif or
nightcap [skullcap] may you wear," said she, "and woe
to the one that dares to dispute your privilege." The
next morning a parchment bearing the royal arms was
presented to the earl with all formality. It read:—
"Know ye that we do give to our well-beloved and trusty
councilor, Henry, Earl of Sussex, license and pardon
to wear his cap, coif, or night-cap, or any two of
them, at his pleasure, as well in our presence as in
the presence of any other person within this our
Not all the questions of the day were settled as
easily. One of the most important ones was who should
succeed Mary on the throne. If she married and had
children, they would be her heirs, but if not, the
Princess Elizabeth would probably follow her as ruler
of England. Now Mary was a strong and sincere Catholic,
and her dearest wish was to lead England back to the
old faith and have the Pope acknowledged as the head of
the English church. She hoped to be
 able to bring this to pass, but she was not well, she
had little reason to look for a long life, and when
Elizabeth became queen, all Mary's work would be
undone, the land would be again Protestant. Elizabeth
was to Mary still the little sister whom she had so
often led by the hand. Would it not be possible to
persuade her to become a Catholic? Elizabeth had loved
Edward, would she not go with Mary to hear a mass for
the repose of his soul? Elizabeth refused. Again Mary
asked, and again Elizabeth said no.
"She would not dare be so bold if stronger than herself
were not behind her," declared Mary's councilors.
"There is danger to life and throne in this audacity."
Others too were to be feared, those Protestants who did
not believe in the right of Elizabeth to the crown.
They were not sorry to see disagreement between the two
sisters, for if the younger should be shut out from the
successsion, Lady Jane, prisoner in the Tower as she
was, would be accepted as Mary's heir. Evidently
Elizabeth must be induced to become a Catholic if it
was possible. Mary begged and then she threatened. She
had sermons preached before Elizabeth, and she sent the
coun-  cilors to talk with her, but in vain. At last the princess was
made to understand that she must yield or withdraw from
court. More than this, it was said to her, "There are
suspicions that you are bold in resisting the queen
because you have support from without."
Elizabeth was alarmed, and she sent a message to the
"I pray you, let us meet, there is much that I would
say." Soon the meeting came to pass. Mary entered the
room attended by only one lady, who followed her at a
greater distance than was customary. Elizabeth threw
herself at Mary's feet and said with many tears:—
"Most gracious queen and sister, I have ever looked up
to you with love and respect, and since I have had the
use of my reason, I have been interested in everything
that concerns your greatness and glory. It grieves me
to the heart to feel that for some reason unknown to
myself I am no longer as dear to your Majesty as I have
believed myself to be."
"My well-beloved sister," answered the queen, "gladly
would I show to you all affection if I were but sure
that your heart was turned toward
 me and toward that which is not only my dearest wish
but is for the salvation of your own soul."
"I have but followed the belief in which I was brought
up," said Elizabeth. "Such books as my father approved
have been my reading. I will study others if you will,
and it may be that my mind will be opened to perceive
truth in doctrines wherein I had not thought it to
"It will be a pleasure to my chaplain to choose for you
those that are of such quality as to lead a truly
inquiring heart into the way of right."
"Yet another kindness do I beg of you, my queen and
sister," said Elizabeth. "I have listened to those whom
I was told to hear. Will your Grace send to me some
well-taught preacher to instruct me in the way wherein
you would have me to walk? Never have I heard any
learned doctor discourse in such wise as to show me
where lay my error." Mary agreed, and a few days
later the two sisters attended mass together.
Elizabeth even wrote to the German emperor that she
intended to have a Catholic chapel opened in her own
house, and asked his permission to purchase in
Flanders a cross, chalice, and such ornaments as would
 No one had much confidence in her sudden change of
creed. Those Protestants who were discontented went on
with their plots to make her queen, convinced none the
less that once on the throne, she would restore the
Protestant form of worship. The German emperor, who was
Mary's chief adviser, urged that to insure the queen's
safety Elizabeth ought to be imprisoned, or at any
rate, so strictly guarded that she could do no harm.
There was reason for his fears. Mary, Queen of Scots,
would soon become the daughter-in-law of the French
king, and while he was pretending to be a true friend
to Elizabeth, he was in reality doing all in his power
to make trouble between her and Mary. If Elizabeth
could be led into some plot that would anger Mary and
so could be shut out from the succession, his
daughter-in-law might easily become queen of England as
well as of Scotland. Vague rumors of discontent and
plots came to the ears of Mary, and for some time she
refused Elizabeth's request to be allowed to go to her
The German emperor was Mary's cousin, Charles V., to
whom she had been betrothed
 when she was a child. He was seventeen years older than
she, and was the most powerful sovereign in Europe.
To him she went for counsel concerning the difficult
questions that pressed upon her. The most urgent one
was that of her proposed marriage. She was to marry,
that was settled, but the bridegroom had not yet been
selected. No fewer than four foreign princes were
suggested, but the English hoped most earnestly that
she would marry an Englishman. Charles V. seemed to
favor first one and then another, but he could always
give good reasons why no one of them should be the
chosen one. At last he named his own son Philip. Mary
made many objections.
"The emperor is also king of Spain," said she to
Charles's ambassador, "and when Philip succeeds him on
the Spanish throne, how can he come and rule in
"That matter would not be difficult to arrange,"
answered the ambassador. "The prince could rule in
Spain and dwell in England, even as his father is able
to rule both Spain and Germany."
"He is very young," said she.
 "He is a staid man," declared the ambassador. "He has
often had to stand in responsible positions, and
indeed in appearance he is already many years older
than your Majesty."
"When I marry, I shall marry as a woman, not as a
queen," said Mary, "and I shall promise to obey my
husband, but it will be my right to rule my kingdom. No
foreigner may have part or lot in that. The English
people would not bear it, nor would they endure to have
places of honor or of power given to foreigners."
Still, she did not reject Philip.
It was soon whispered about that there was a
possibility of a Spanish marriage. The chancellor came
to the queen and begged her to make no such alliance.
"No other nation is so disliked as the Spaniards," said
he, "and Philip's haughtiness and arrogance have
disgusted his own subjects. Philip will rule the Low
Countries, and the king of France will never endure it
to have the Netherlands fall into the hands of
In spite of her objections Mary really favored the
marriage with Philip, He was her cousin, of her own
faith, and of her mother's nation. With Philip to
support her, she could bring
Eng-  land back to the old faith. She allowed Charles's ambassador
to discuss the matter again.
"Your Highness," said he, "never was a sovereign in a
more difficult position. You stand alone without an
honest adviser in the land. See how easily your
councilors who were Protestants one year ago have now
become Catholics. Will they not as readily become
Protestants again, if they have good hope of farther
advancement under the Princess Elizabeth? You are
surrounded by enemies. There are those who do not love
the true church, and there are the rebels who followed
Northumberland; Lady Jane and the Princess Elizabeth
stand ready for their hand. Then there are France and
Scotland; the Scotch queen would willingly add England
to her domain. In Spain lies your only hope."
"Even if what you say is true," she responded, "I am
not a young girl whose hand is to be disposed of at the
will of her father, I must see the prince before I
"Pardon, your Majesty," said the ambassador, "but the
emperor will never permit that his son and heir should
be exhibited before the court as a candidate for your
Majesty's hand, and
per-  chance be rejected before the eyes of Europe. A man's face is
a token of the man, shall a portrait of the prince be
The queen agreed, and the picture was sent. It
portrayed a young man with blue eyes, yellow hair and
beard, and a rather gloomy expression; but the face
must have pleased the queen, for when Parliament again
begged her to marry none but an Englishman, it was too
late. Two days earlier she had in the presence of the
Spanish ambassador taken a solemn oath that she would
wed no other man than Prince Philip of Spain.
Nothing was talked of in the kingdom but the Spanish
"It is a poor business," said one. "King Henry is but
seven years dead, and his kingdom will soon be only a
province of Spain."
"Not so fast," rejoined the other. "Spain is the
richest country in Europe. I wish I had but the
twentieth part of the gold that comes from the New
World in one of those high-decked galleons of hers."
"For the queen to marry Philip will bring it no nearer
to us," retorted the first.
"Why not, my friend? Will not freedom to
 trade help to fill our empty treasury? Spain is a
strong ally. Let France and Scotland attack us, and it
will be well to have a helper with ships and treasure."
"Ships and treasure will not give us freedom," declared
the first. "Better be poor than be ruled by Spain. I'm
as true a Catholic as you, but no wish have I to see
the torture chamber of Spain brought into England.
Philip's own subjects detest him."
Mary's councilors soon ceased to oppose what she so
plainly wanted, though it was whispered about that they
were convinced by bribes rather than by arguments. An
ambassador came from Spain to bring the engagement ring
and to draw up the marriage treaty. The English people
were angry and indignant and the children played a game
called "English and Spaniards." Philip was one of the
characters in this play, and there was always a
pretence of hanging him. Nevertheless, the treaty was
drawn up. It was agreed that no Spaniards should hold
office in England. If the queen should have children,
they must not be carried out of the land without the
consent of the nobles, and they should inherit not only
 England but the lands of Holland and Flanders to which
Philip was heir.
In spite of all these careful arrangements, the English
became more and more enraged, and there were
insurrections in various parts of the country. One was
headed by the Duke of Suffolk, Lady Jane's father.
Mary had supposed that if Suffolk was forgiven and his
daughter allowed to live, he would be loyal from
gratitude, but this was not the case. He went from one
place to another, raising troops and proclaiming Lady
Jane queen of the realm.
Another insurrection was headed by a young poet named
Wyatt. His forces came so near London that the queen
was in great danger. Lawyers wore armor under their
robes when they pleaded in court, and clergymen wore
armor under their vestments when they preached. The
insurgents came nearer, and there was hot fighting.
"Flee, my queen, flee!" called one after another, but
Mary was perfectly calm and answered, "I warrant we
shall hear better news anon."
When it became clear that there would be bloodshed,
Mary had written to Elizabeth,
tell-  ing her of the danger and urging her to come where she would be
protected. "Assuring you that you will be most heartily
welcome," the letter ends. Elizabeth sent word that she
was ill and not able to travel. Many days passed, and
they were days full of events. The Duke of Suffolk was
"You have pardoned him once," said Mary's councilors,
"and his gratitude is but another attempt to thrust you
from the throne. This time there can be no pardon."
Mary agreed. "There is one thing more," said they.
"There will be neither peace nor quiet nor safety in
the land so long as Lady Jane lives."
"I can never sign the death-warrant of my cousin,"
declared Mary, "not even to save my own life."
"Have you a right to shed the blood of your subjects?"
they demanded. "The ground about us is wet with their
blood. Shall such scenes come to pass a second time?"
Mary yielded, and Lady Jane was beheaded.
A question even more difficult than this had arisen.
When Wyatt was examined, he declared that the Princess
Elizabeth had known of the plot.
 Now Mary sent, not an affectionate invitation, but a
command for her sister's presence. Two physicians
accompanied the commissioners. They agreed that the
princess was able to travel, and the company set out
for the court. One hundred of her attendants escorted
her, and one hundred more of Mary's guards followed.
Elizabeth was greatly loved by the masses of the
people. She was fine-looking, well educated, and witty,
and they were proud of their princess.
"Draw aside the curtains," she commanded. "Let the
people see me if they will." The people saw her indeed.
Crowds lined the road as the procession moved slowly
"Alas, poor young lady," sobbed one kind-hearted woman.
"I mind me well when her own mother went to the block."
"She's over young to be facing the cruel axe," declared
another. "She's but the age of my own girl, only one
and twenty, if she is a princess."
"Mayhap it will all be well," said a third. "See her
sitting there in the fair white gown, and her face as
white as the stuff itself. She's
 not the one to plot and plan to take the life of the
Elizabeth came to the palace, but Mary refused to meet
"Bear this ring to her Majesty," commanded the
princess. It was much the custom in those days for one
friend to give another a ring whose sight should renew
their friendship if misunderstanding had arisen
between them, and Elizabeth wore one that had been
given her by Mary long before. The pledge had lost its
power, for Mary sent only the message, "Before we can
meet, you must show your innocence of that of which you
Day after day it was debated what should be done with
the princess. Although just before Wyatt's death he had
taken back his words of accusation, the royal council
still suspected her. Charles V. was more than willing
that she should put to death, and the Spanish
ambassador told Mary that until the punishment of the
rebels had made the realm safe for Philip, he could not
land on English soil. "It is most important," said he,
"that the trial and execution of the Lady
 Elizabeth should take place before the arrival of the
One morning ten of the royal commissioners demanded
audience of Elizabeth.
"Your Grace," said the leader, "a grievous charge is
made against you, that you were knowing to an evil and
felonious attempt to overthrow the government and take
the life of our most gracious queen. It is the
pleasure of her Highness that you be at once removed to
"I am an innocent woman," Elizabeth answered, "and I
trust that her Majesty will be far more gracious than
to commit to the Tower one who has never offended her
in thought, word, or deed. I beg you to intercede fro
me with the queen."
The intercession was of no avail. Elizabeth sent a
letter to Mary denying all charges and begging that
they might meet, but the only reply was the order,
"Your Grace must away to the Tower."
"I am content, inasmuch as it is the queen's pleasure,"
Elizabeth replied, and the carefully guarded boat set
off. It drew up, not at the door which led to the
royal apartments of the Tower,
 but at the one called the Traitors' Gate, where many a
prisoner had been landed in the past troublous times.
"I am no traitor," said she, "nor will I go in at the
"Madam, there is no choice," answered sternly one of
the commissioners, but he added kindly, "The rain falls
in torrents, will your Grace honor me by making use of
my cloak?" Elizabeth flung it down angrily, and put
her foot on the step, covered with water as it was.
"Her lands as true a subject as ever landed on these
steps," she declared solemnly. Up the stairs she was
taken, and to the room that was to become her prison.
The doors were locked and bolted.
She was not without friends even within the walls of
the Tower. Both Mary and Elizabeth were fond of
children, and Elizabeth especially could always win
their hearts. She had not been long a prisoner before
one little girl, the child of an officer, began to
watch for her when she walked in the garden.
"Lady," asked the child, "do you like to be in the
 "No, I do not," answered Elizabeth, "but the doors are
locked and I have no key, so I cannot go out." In a few
days the little girl came to her with a beaming face. "I
want to tell you something," she whispered. "I want to
tell it right into your ear." She threw her arms around
the princess's neck and whispered: "I've brought you
some keys so you needn't always stay here. Now you can
open the gates and go out as you will, can't you?" and
the child pulled from the bosom of her frock some
little keys that she had found.
A boy of four years was one of her pets, and used to
bring her flowers every day. The council suspected that
he was bringing messages to her from another prisoner
in the Tower and ordered his father to forbid his
speaking to the princess. Nevertheless, the little
fellow watched at the bolted door for a chance to say
good-by, and called softly, "Lady, I can't bring you
any flowers, and I can't come to see you any more."
In those times executions followed accusations so
easily that Elizabeth was alarmed at every little
commotion, and one day she asked anxiously whether the
scaffold was still standing on which
 Lady Jane had been executed. The princess, was indeed,
very near death at one time, for the queen's chancellor
sent to the Tower an order for her execution. Mary was
very ill and not expected to recover, and the
chancellor may have thought that only the death of
Elizabeth could save England for the Catholic church.
The order was delivered to the keeper of the Tower.
"Where is the signature of the queen?" he demanded.
"The queen is too ill to sign the paper, but it is sent
in her name."
"Then in her name will I wait until by the blessing of
God her Majesty shall be well again, and can speak for
herself," returned the keeper.
When Mary had recovered, she was exceedingly angry
that the life of Elizabeth had been so nearly taken. It
was soon decided that the princess should stay no
longer in the Tower, but should be taken to the palace
Elizabeth expected to be put to death. "Pray for me,"
she said to one of her servants, "for this night I
think I must die." All along the way to Woodstock the
people flocked to gaze upon her. They filled her litter
with cakes and flowers and
 sweet-smelling herbs. Every one saluted her. "God save
your Grace!" cried the crowds, and in one little
village the bells rang a hearty welcome as she passed
through. Nevertheless, she was a prisoner and as
closely guarded as she had been in the Tower.
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