| 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 |
FROM PRISON TO THRONE
HILE one sister was in prison, the sister on the
throne had not found life altogether happy. The more
she gazed upon Philip's picture, the more she longed to
meet him but he made no haste in coming. Two months had
passed since Mary put on the betrothal ring, and never
yet had he even written to her. Philip had begged his
father to choose a young wife for him, but to the
emperor the fact that Mary was ten years older than his
son was a small matter if only he could secure for
Philip a possibility of ruling England.
The marriage was to take place at Winchester, and as
the time drew near, Mary set out with her retinue. She
was borne in the royal litter, and if all the vehicles
were as gorgeous as the one provided for her maids of
honor, the procession must have been a dazzling sight.
This one was a "wagon of timber work with wheels,
 and benches." It was painted red, lined with red
buckram, and covered with red cloth. This covering was
adorned with heavy fringe of red silk.
Not at all agreeable was Philip's journey to
Winchester. When he landed in England, he found a great
company of nobles waiting to do him honor, and he was
escorted to a palace in which most beautiful rooms had
been prepared for him. This was pleasant, but when he
set off for Winchester, the wind blew and the rain came
down in floods, and the four or five thousand riders in
the procession were thoroughly drenched.
Before they had ridden many minutes, a swift messenger
drew rein in front of the prince, presented him a
ring, and said:—
"Her Majesty the queen doth send your Grace this ring
as a token that she would pray you to advance no
Philip did not understand English perfectly. "There is
danger," said he to his officers. "Little welcome have
I from these English." It was explained to him that the
queen's message only meant that she begged him not to
expose himself to the storm, and he went on.
 That evening the prince, all in black velvet and
diamonds, made his first call on the woman whom he was
to marry two days later. They talked together in
Spanish for half an hour, and the next day they had
another meeting, and Philip—now in black velvet and
silver—stood with the queen under the canopy of state.
She kissed him in greeting, and they talked together
before the hundreds of ladies and nobles in the great
On the following day came the marriage, and then there
was such gleaming of pearls and blazing of rubies and
flashing of diamonds as one might see in a splendid
"Who giveth this woman to be married to this man?"
asked the archbishop, and four great nobles of the
kingdom came forward and answered, "We do give her in
the name of the whole realm of England." A plain gold
ring was put on the queen's finger, for "I will marry
with a plain hoop of gold, like any other maiden," she
had said. The people shouted, "God save our Queen! God
send them joy!" and Mary of England had become the wife
of Philip of Spain.
While the wedding rejoicings were going on,
 Elizabeth was a prisoner at Woodstock. What was to be
done with her was the question. There was some reason
to think that she had known of the plot to dethrone the
queen, and in any case, if she was free, any leader of
an insurrection could have an opportunity to try to win
her support. Mary did not wish to keep her in the
Tower, and she thought of sending her to some of her
own Spanish relatives on the continent, but the royal
marriage helped to decide the question, for Prince
Philip expressed himself very decidedly to his royal
wife that it would be best to set Elizabeth free.
"I would do it most gladly," said Mary, "could I be
sure of her innocence."
"Does not your English law claim that one is innocent
till he is proved guilty?"
"True," replied Mary, "but there is proof and there is
no proof. My councilors declare that to set her free
will be to say that she has been unjustly imprisoned."
"Can she not be induced to confess that she has done
wrong and throw herself on your mercy?"
"Never," answered the queen quickly. "I
 have known her since she was a little child. When she
storms and rages, she will yield, but when she quietly
persists, she stands firm. I will see her. Nothing do I
long for more than to believe that she is guiltless."
Elizabeth was sent for, and late one evening she had an
audience with the queen. The younger sister knelt with
her eyes full of tears and sobbed:—
"I beg your Majesty to believe in my truth and loyalty,
no matter who shall say to the contrary."
"Then you will not confess," returned Mary. "You
persist in declaring that you are innocent."
"If I am not innocent," said Elizabeth solemnly, "never
again will I ask favor or kindness from the hands of
"God knows," murmered the queen half turning away. A
minute later she said, "Elizabeth, will you swear by
all that you do hold sacred that you have no guilt in
"I will," answered Elizabeth without a moment's
"Then do I forgive you—be you innocent or be you
guilty," she said to herself—"and in token
 of my pardon I restore to you the ring, pledge of my
sisterly affection. May the time never come when you
will have need to send it to me again."
At Christmas there was a grand round of festivities at
court. The Pope had sent a representative to receive
from Mary the humble submission of the kingdom, and the
rejoicings were looked upon not only as celebrating
this reconciliation but as in some measure continuing
those of the queen's marriage. Elizabeth was made
prominent in everything. She sat at the queen's table
and was treated as heir to the throne. Nevertheless,
Mary did not fully trust her, and when the princess
was about to return to her own home, the queen
presented a nobleman and said that henceforth he would
abide in Elizabeth's house, charged with the duty of
guarding her safety and comfort. This nobleman was a
learned and upright man of most perfect courtesy, and
his presence can hardly have failed to give her
pleasure, even though Elizabeth well knew that he was
sent to make sure that she had no connection with any
of the plots which were to be feared.
It is no wonder that a close watch needed to be kept
for conspiracies, for several were formed
 against the queen. A story was spread abroad that
Edward VI. was not dead, but was living in France and
was about to return to regain his throne. There were
rumors that certain men in the land had the power of
magic, and had stuck pins into waxen images of the
queen, thereby causing her intense suffering. The king
of France was ready to encourage any rumor, however
absurd, and to aid any conspiracy that would better the
chances of Mary of Scotland to wear the crown of
England. If Elizabeth was dead or shut out of the
succession, these chances would be greatly increased,
and probably this is why Philip had now become the
friend of Elizabeth, for if France and Scotland and
England were united, his own power and that of his
father would be much less. Several foreign husbands
were proposed for the princess, one of them the son of
Philip by a former marriage, a boy of ten years.
Elizabeth refused them all, and the queen declared that
she should not be forced to marry against her will.
Mary's reign was shamed and disgraced by the burning of
a large number of persons, two hundred at least,
because their religious belief
dif-  fered from that which she thought right. She is called
"Bloody Mary" because this took place in her reign, but
just how far she was in fault no one knows. Neither
Henry VIII. nor Edward nor Mary ever showed the least
regard for the physical sufferings of others, but Mary
had never manifested the least vindictiveness of
disposition. Indeed, she had often been more inclined
than her councilors thought best to pardon and overlook
deeds that most rulers of the time would have punished.
Moreover, during some of the worst persecutions Mary
was so ill that it was said "she lay for weeks without
speaking." One of the reasons why the English had
feared to have Philip marry their queen, was because he
was known to approve of torture, if by its means the
sufferers could be induced to give up beliefs that he
thought false. He now wrote to his sister, "We have
made a law, I and the most illustrious queen, for the
punishment of heretics and all enemies of Holy Church;
or rather, we have revived the old ordinances of the
realm, which will serve this purpose very well." It
must not be forgotten, however, that this burning at
the stake was done with the consent of Parliament, and
 that, as Philip said, it was in accordance with the old
A hard life was Mary's. She had no child, and she was
not sure of the faithfulness of her sister and heir. It
was chiefly by her determination to marry Philip that
she had lost the love of her people, and after all that
she had sacrificed for his sake and all her affection
for him, he cared nothing whatever for her. An old
ballad says that he liked
"The baker's daughter in her russet gown
Better than Queen Mary without her crown."
The crown of England was all that he cared for, and about a year
after their marriage, he left very willingly for the
continent. Mary controlled her sorrow at the public
farewell, but as soon as that was over, she went to a
window from which she could see Philip's barge, and
there she sat with her head resting on her hands and
wept bitterly till he was out of sight.
There was good reason why he should go, for his father
wished to give him the sovereignty of the Low
Countries; and there were some difficult questions that
arose and prevented his
immedi-  ate return. As months passed, Mary became more and more
lonely. Her thoughts turned toward Elizabeth. Another
plot had been discovered. Some of Elizabeth's own
attendants were involved in it, and declarations were
made that it was not unknown to the princess herself.
Mary wrote her at once:—
"I pray that it may not seem to you amiss that it has
been necessary to remove from your household certain
dangerous persons, not the least of whose crimes it was
that their confessions were but an attempt to involve
your Grace in their evil designs. Rest assured that you
are neither scorned nor hated, but rather loved and
valued by me." With the letter went the gift of a
After being away for nineteen months, Philip returned
to England. Mary was so happy that she was ready to
grant whatever he asked, though it was so great a boon
as the aid of England in a war with France. Philip left
in three or four months to carry on the war, and never
again did his wife look upon the man whom she loved so
 The war went on, and Calais, which had long been held
by England, was taken by the French. The English were
wrathful. Five hundred years earlier the kings of
England had ruled wide-spreading lands in France. One
had lost, another won, but never before had England
been left without a foot of ground on the farther side
of the Channel. Mary was crushed. "When I die," she
said, "look upon my heart, and there you will see
written the word 'Calais.' "
The summer of 1558 had come. Mary's thoughts turned
more and more toward her sister. She left her palace
and went to visit Elizabeth. She arranged a visit from
Elizabeth to herself which was conducted with the
greatest state. The princess made the journey in the
queen's own barge with its awning of green silk
beautifully embroidered. The queen's ladies followed
her in six boats whose gorgeousness was almost
dazzling, for the ladies were dressed in scarlet
damask, in blue satin, and in cloth of silver, with
many feathers and jewels. In the royal garden a
pavilion had been built. It was in the shape of a
strong castle, only the material was not gray
 stone, but crimson velvet and cloth of gold. The court
feasted, the minstrels played, and the long, bright day
came to its close.
Mary had never been well, almost every autumn she had
suffered severely from sickness, and now a fever
seized upon her. There was little hope of her recovery,
but Philip sent her a ring and a message instead of
coming to her. Parliament and the will of Henry VIII.
had decided that Elizabeth should follow Mary as queen,
but Philip begged Mary to name her sister as her heir
in order to make the succession especially sure, and
this was done. Mary grew weaker every day, the end must
be near. The courtiers did not wait for it to come,
crowds thronged the house of Elizabeth, every one eager
to be among the first to pay his respects to her who
would soon become their sovereign, and to assure her
that, however others might have felt, he had never been
otherwise than faithful to her and her alone.
Among these visitors was Count de Feria, one of
Philip's train, who was in his master's confidence.
"My lord sends your Grace assurances of his
 most distinguished friendship," said the count. "He
would have me say that his good will is as strong and
his interest in your Grace's welfare so sincere as it
was when by his influence, so gladly exerted, her
Majesty was graciously pleased to release your Grace
from imprisonment. He would also have me say that he
has ever to the utmost of his power urged upon her
Majesty that she should not fail to bequeath the crown
to her only sister and rightful heir, and he rejoices
that his words have had weight in her intentions."
"Most gracious thanks do I return to the king of
Spain," answered Elizabeth, "and fully do I hold in my
remembrance the favors shown to me in the time of my
captivity. For all his efforts that I might be the heir
of her Majesty, my sister, I return due gratitude,
though verily I have ever thought myself entitled to
the crown by the will of my father, the decree of
Parliament, and the affection of the people."
Three or four days later Mary sent Elizabeth a casket
containing jewels belonging to the crown and with it
another casket of jewels belonging to Philip which he
had given orders to have presented to her. Elizabeth
well knew that
 the end of her sister's life could not be long
delayed, and soon the word came that Mary was dead.
"It may be a plot," thought the wary princess, "to
induce me to claim the crown while the queen lives, and
so give my enemies a hold upon me. Sir Nicholas," she
bade a faithful nobleman who she well knew had ever
been true to her cause, "go you to the palace to one of
the ladies of the bedchamber, the one in whom I do put
most trust, and beg her that, if the queen is really
dead, she will send me the ring of black enamel that
her Majesty wore night and day, the one that King
Philip gave her on their marriage."
Sir Nicholas set out on the short journey. The rumor
had, indeed, preceded the death of the queen, but she
died just as he reached the palace. Before he returned,
several of Queen Mary's councilors made a hurried
journey to Elizabeth's house at Hatfield.
"Your Highness," said they, "it is with the deepest
sadness that we perform our duty to announce the death
of her Majesty, Queen Mary. To your Grace, as our
rightful sovereign, do we now proffer our homage, and
promise to obey
 your Highness as the true and lawful ruler into whose
hands the government of the realm has fallen."
Elizabeth sank upon her knees and repeated in Latin a
sentence that was on the gold coins of the country, "It
is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes."
Queen Mary died in the twilight of a November morning,
but her death was not known at once in the city.
Parliament was in session, and before noon the lord
chancellor called the two houses together and said:—
"God this morning hath called to his mercy our late
sovereign lady, Queen Mary; which hap, as it is most
heavy and grievous to us, so have we no less cause,
otherwise, to rejoice with praise to almighty God for
leaving to us a true, lawful, and right inheritrix to
the crown of this realm, which is the Lady Elizabeth,
second daughter to our late sovereign of noble memory,
For an instant there was silence, then the house rang
with the cry, "God save Queen Elizabeth! Long may Queen
Elizabeth reign over us!" The proclamation of her
accession was now made in
 front of the palace of Westminster with many soundings
of trumpets, and later, in the city of London.
"Did anyone ever see such a time?" said a Londoner to
his friend at night. "No one would think that a queen
had died since the day began; there has been nothing
but bonfires and bell-ringing and feasting and
"When people are glad, their joy will reveal itself,"
answered his friend.
"There might well be reason for me to rejoice, but you
are a Catholic, why should you welcome the Lady
"Is she Catholic or Protestant?" asked the other with a
smile. "Who knows? There's one thing sure, she'll have
a merry court, trade will be the gainer, and she'll
marry no foreign prince."
"Perhaps having a new queen will also prevent another
season of the plague and give us greater crops,"
laughed the first; and then he added more seriously,
"Catholic or Protestant, I believe that there be few in
the land who will not rejoice to see the death-fires no
longer blaze at Smithfield."
A week later the queen rode from Hatfield to London.
Hundreds of noble lords and ladies
 were in her retinue, and the number increased with
every mile. The road was lined with people who shouted,
"Queen Elizabeth! Queen Elizabeth! Long may she reign!
God save the queen!" Children gazed at her eagerly,
while their mothers wept tears of joy, and young men
knelt and cried out their vows of loyalty and devotion.
Many of the bishops of the realm came in a procession
to greet her and begged to kiss her hand.
"Did you see that?" whispered a woman to her neighbor.
"The queen wouldn't give her hand to the cruel bishop
of London. She knows well it's because of him that more
than one good man's been burned at the stake. Oh, but
she'll be a good queen, God bless her!"
The lord mayor and the aldermen came in their scarlet
robes to escort her to the palace, and a few days later
she went in state to the Tower of London. The streets
were strewn with fine gravel, rich tapestries adorned
the walls, banners waved, trumpets sounded, boys from
St. Paul's school made Latin speeches in her praise,
and great companies of children sang joyful songs of
Elizabeth looked very handsome as she rode
 into the city on horseback, wearing a habit of the
richest purple velvet. She replied to everyone's
greeting, and made little Latin speeches in answer to
those of the schoolboys. At last she came to the Tower,
and this time she entered, not at the Traitors' Gate,
but through the royal entrance, and passed between long
lines of soldiers, drawn up, not to keep watch over a
prisoner, but to do honor to a queen.
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