| 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 QUEEN'S TROUBLES
EVER had a queen a greater variety of difficulties to
meet. If she favored the Catholics, the Protestants
would not support her; the Puritans were beginning to
be of some importance, and they were eager to have
every trace of Catholicism destroyed; but if she
introduced Protestant changes too rapidly, the
Catholics might revolt. She wished, it is probable, to
refuse her numerous suitors, but she needed to keep on
friendly terms with each as far as possible. The royal
treasury was low, and among the nations of Europe there
was not one upon whose assistance England could count
in case of need.
Such were Elizabeth's troubles at the beginning of her
reign, and as the months passed, the difficulties
became even more complicated.
Scot-  land was ruled by Mary's mother, who acted as regent
for her daughter. She was French and a Catholic, and as
more and more of the Scotch became Protestants, they
were determined to have freedom for Protestant worship.
Persecution followed, imprisonment, torture, and
burning at the stake. Then came a fierce revolt. By the
aid of France this was suppressed, but the Protestants
appealed to Elizabeth.
"No war, my lords, no war," declared she to her
council. "A queen does not lend aid to rebels."
"The rebels are in a fair way to become the
government," suggested one councilor.
"England cannot afford war," declared another. "We have
no money to spend on fleets and armies."
"The French are already in Scotland," said one. "More
will follow, and their next step will be across the
border. If they are once in England, we shall have to
raise armies whether we can or not."
"True," agreed another, "and surely it is better to
fight them in Scotland than on our own soil."
 "If we attack the French, Philip will aid them and try
to put Mary on our throne."
"No, no," shouted three or four voices. "To unite
France, Scotland, and England under one ruler would
weaken his own power. He'll not do that."
"This is a question of religion as well as policy,"
said another. "Shall not the government of the church
of England aid the Protestants of Scotland?"
This last argument did not count for very much with
Elizabeth, but there was another one that did. She left
the council and thought over the matter carefully and
anxiously. "If I can get power in Scotland," she said
to herself, "I can induce the Scotch government to
agree that Mary shall never claim the title of queen of
England." Money was borrowed from Antwerp, and England
began to prepare for fighting.
France became uneasy and sent word to Elizabeth:—
"We do protest and remonstrate against the ruler of a
neighboring kingdom giving aid to rebels and
revolters." The French well knew how sorely aggrieved
the English felt at the loss
 of Calais, and as a bribe to the queen they offered to
give her back the town and citadel if she would agree
not to aid the Scotch Protestants.
Elizabeth knew then that the French feared her, and she
"So long as the Queen of Scots doth falsely claim to be
also queen of this my realm, then so long must I guard
myself in the way that seems to me wisest and best. To
free my throne from the attacks of false claimants and
so secure peace and safety for my people is worth far
more to me than any little fishing village in a foreign
The French were driven from Scotland, and a treaty was
made agreeing that Mary should give up all claim to the
throne of England. Mary had empowered her agents to
make whatever terms they thought best, but when she saw
this provision she refused to sign the treaty.
One year later a beautiful young woman stood at the
stern of a vessel, looking back with tearful eyes at
the shore from which she had sailed. The twilight
deepened, and night settled around her. She turned
away. "Adieu, my beloved France," she whispered,
 Thus it was that a queen returned to her kingdom, for
the fair young woman was Mary, Queen of Scots. Her
husband had died, and there was no longer any place in
France for her. Scotland asked her to return to the
throne that had been her own ever since she was a few
days old. She was only nineteen, and she was leaving
the gay, merry court in which nearly all her life had
been spent; she was leaving her friends and
companions, and for what? Scotland was the land of her
birth, but it was a foreign country to her. It was not
like her sunny France, it was a land of mist and of
cold, of plain habits and stern morals. The queen was
coming to her own, but her own was strange to her.
Mary had asked Elizabeth's permission to shorten the
voyage by passing through England. "That must not be,"
thought the English queen. "Her presence here would be
the signal for all the discontented Catholics in the
kingdom to follow her banner." Permission was refused,
unless Mary would agree beforehand to give up all claim
to the English crown.
"I ask but Elizabeth's friendship," said Mary. "I do
not trouble her state nor try to win over
 her subjects, though I do know there be some in her
realm that are not unready to hear offers"—but she
would not promise to give up her claim to the crown.
She was fully as independent as Elizabeth, and she
added regretfully, "I grieve that I so far forgot
myself as to ask a favor that I needed not. Surely, I
may go home into my own realm without her passport or
license. I came hither safely, and I may have means to
Scotland rejoiced that the queen had come, and welcomed
her with bonfires and music and speeches of welcome.
The Scotch supposed that they were pleasing her, but
Mary wrote to her friends:—
"In Edinburgh when I would have slept, five or six
hundred ragamuffins saluted me with wretched fiddles
and little rebecks, and then they sang psalms loudly
and discordantly; but one must have patience."
No one can help feeling sympathy with the lonely girl
of nineteen who had left all that she loved to come and
rule over a country that seemed to her almost barbarous
in contrast with her beloved France. She was a
Catholic; most of her
 people were Protestants. She won many friends and
admirers, but she never gained the confidence and
steady affection of her people that made Elizabeth
strong. The queen and her subjects grew further apart.
Mary had been brought up to believe that the marriage
of Anne Boleyn was not lawful, and that therefore she
herself and not Elizabeth was the rightful queen of
England. The French king had taught her to sign herself
"Queen of Scotland and England." Now that she had
returned to Scotland, she dropped the latter part of
the title, but demanded that Elizabeth should declare
her heir to the throne, as she certainly was by all
laws of the hereditary descent of the crown. Elizabeth
It was probable that Mary would marry, and it was a
matter of importance to Elizabeth that the husband
should not be one who could strengthen the Scotch claim
to the throne. Mary consulted Elizabeth about one or
two of her suitors, and suddenly the English queen
surprised all Europe by offering to Mary the unwilling
hand of her own favorite, the Earl of Leicester, and
hinted, though in her usual equivocal fashion, that if
 Mary would marry the earl, she would be recognized as
the next heir to the crown. "I would marry Robin
myself," declared the queen to Mary's commissioner, Sir
James Melville, "save that I am determined to wed no
Elizabeth talked with Sir James most familiarly, and
this woman who was so shrewdly guiding her millions of
Englishmen and guarding her throne from Mary of
Scotland, often seemed to think of nothing but whether
she or her rival had the prettier face.
"Which is the fairer?" she demanded, "I or the queen of
"Your Majesty is the fairest queen in England, and
ours is the fairest queen in Scotland," replied Sir
"That is not an answer," declared Elizabeth. "Which of
us two is the fairer?"
"Your Majesty is whiter, but our queen is very
"Which is of greater stature?"
"Our queen," replied Sir James.
"Your queen is over high then," said Elizabeth, "for I
am neither too high nor too low. But tell me, how does
she amuse herself?"
 "She hunts and reads and sometimes she plays on the
lute and the virginals."
"Does she play well?"
"Reasonably well for a queen," declared Sir James
"I wish I could see her," said Elizabeth.
"If your Grace should command me, I could convey you to
Scotland in the dress of a page, and none be the
wiser," suggested Sir James gravely, and Elizabeth did
not seem at all displeased with the familiarity.
When the commissioner was again in Scotland, Mary asked
what he thought of Elizabeth. "She has neither plain
dealing nor upright meaning," said he, "and she is much
afraid that your Highness's princely qualities will
drive her from her kingdom."
Leicester was refused. Mary was now twenty-three, but
she chose for her husband Lord Darnley, a handsome,
spoiled child of nineteen. He was a Catholic and after
herself the next heir to the English throne. Elizabeth
was angry, but she was helpless.
A year later Sir James made a journey from Scotland to
London in four days, as rapid
travel-  ing as was possible at that time. He called upon Lord
Burleigh and gave him an important message. It was
evening, and the queen was dancing merrily with her
ladies and nobles when Cecil whispered a word in her
ear. No more mirth did she show. She sat down, resting
her head on her hand. The ladies pressed around her.
Suddenly she burst out, "The Queen of Scots has a fair
young son, and I am but a barren stock."
When Elizabeth found that it was impossible to have her
own way, she usually accepted the situation gracefully.
Sir James came to see her in the morning. She met him
with a "volt," a bit of an old Italian dance, and
declared the news was so welcome that it had cured her
of a fifteen-days' illness. She agreed to be godmother
to Mary's son, and as a christening gift she sent a
font of pure gold.
The next news from Scotland was that Lord Darnley had
been murdered, and that there was reason for believing
the Earl of Bothwell, a bold, reckless adventurer, to
have been the murderer. Mary had soon tired of the
silly, arbitrary boy and had kept her dislike no
secret. Two months later she married Bothwell, and
there were so
 many reasons for thinking that she had helped to plan
the murder that the Scotch nobles took up arms against
her, and imprisoned her in Lochleven Castle, until she
could be tried. She was forced to sign a paper giving
up all claim to the Scotch throne, and her baby son
James, only one year old, was crowned king of Scotland.
Elizabeth raged that mere subjects should venture to
accuse a queen as if she were an ordinary person. "How
dare they call their sovereign to account?" demanded
the angry ruler of England. She declared that Mary's
throne should be restored to her and that the rebels
should be punished. Indeed, in her wrath she made all
sorts of wild vows and threats which she had no power
This support, however, encouraged Mary's friends to
attempt her rescue. She escaped from Lochleven; her
followers fought an unsuccessful battle; she rode on
horseback, sixty miles in a single day; she was taken
in a fishing boat to the English side of Solway Frith;
and then the deposed queen was safe in England, in the
realm of the sovereign from whom she believed she might
 Elizabeth and her council considered the matter long
"Let us return her to Scotland."
"Then she will be put to death, and the Catholics of
Scotland and England will be aroused against Queen
"Shall we place her back upon the Scotch throne?"
"We could not without war with Scotland and probably
"Shall we invite her to remain in England as the guest
of the queen?"
"And offer her as a head for every conspiracy that may
be formed against her Majesty? No."
"There is something else. We have a right to know
whether we are protecting an innocent young woman who
had fled to us for help, or a
criminal who has aided in the murder of her husband."
So the question was discussed, and it was finally
decided that Mary should be kept as a prisoner and
tried before special commissioners appointed for the
purpose. At the end of this investigation Elizabeth
declared that she had been proved neither innocent nor
ques-  tion was dropped, but in spite of her angry protest and her
demands to be set free, the queen of Scotland was kept
in England for eighteen years, treated in many respects
with the deference due to a sovereign, but guarded as
closely as any prisoner.
In the midst of these complications that required the
keenest acumen of the most vigorous intellect,
Elizabeth did not lay aside her whims and vanities. One
of her favorite customs was that of wearing an
"impress," a device somewhat like a coat of arms, which
was changed as often as the wearer chose. Each
"impress" had a motto, and the queen used a different
one almost every day. One of her mottoes was, "I see
and am silent;" another was, "Always the same."
At one time she devoted herself to the works of the
early Christian writers, but she found leisure to
complain of the poor portraits that people were making
of her. They were not nearly so handsome as she thought
they ought to be, and she actually had a proclamation
drawn up forbidding all persons to attempt her picture
until "some special cunning painter" should
pro-  duce a satisfactory likeness. Her "loving subjects" were
then to be permitted to "follow the said pattern."
For even the most "cunning artist" to satisfy both her
Majesty and himself must have been a difficult matter,
for she positively forbade having any shade given to
her features. "By nature there is no shade in a face,"
said the queen, "it is only an accident."
Another of her foibles was that of wearing the dress of
different countries on different days, one day Italian,
the next day French, and so on. It seems not to have
been easy to have these gowns made in England, and
Elizabeth sent to the continent for a dressmaker. The
secretary of state had been the one ordered to draw up
the proclamation restraining all save the "cunning
artist" yet to be discovered from making her picture,
and now we find him ordering the English ambassador to
France to "cause" his wife to find the queen "a tailor
that hath skill to make her apparel both after the
French and the Italian manner." This command was given
only a few days after the murder of Lord Darnley which
aroused all England.
 Elizabeth always enjoyed going about among her
subjects, and one of her early visits was to the
University of Cambridge. She entered the town on
horseback in a habit of black velvet. Her hat was
heaped up with feathers, and under it she wore a sort
of net, or head-dress, that was all ablaze with
precious stones. The beadles of the university gave her
their staffs, signifying that all power was in her
hands. She could not hold them all, and she gave them
back, saying jestingly, "See that you minister justice
uprightly, or I will take them into mine hands again."
According to ancient custom at a royal visit, she was
presented with two pairs of gloves, two sugarloaves,
and some confectionery. Long orations were made to her.
She was praised as showing forth all the virtues, and
although she sometimes interrupted the orators by
saying, "That is not true," she commended them at the
end so warmly that they had no fear of having offended
She did not hesitate to break in upon any speaker, and
the next day, when the minister was preaching, she sent
a noble lord to tell him to put his cap on. Another
high official was
 despatched to him before he left the pulpit to inform
him that the queen liked his sermon. This was on Sunday
morning. That evening the chapel was made into a
theatre, and an old Latin play was acted for her
Elizabeth went from college to college, and at each she
listened to an oration in her praise and received the
usual gift of gloves, sugarloaves, and confectionery.
Cambridge had long expected the honor of this visit,
and the members of the various learned societies had
made preparations for it by composing poems of welcome
and praise in Greek, Hebrew, and several other
languages. Copies of these verses had been richly
bound, and the volume was presented to her as a
memorial of her welcome.
All the sermons and speeches and plays were in Latin,
and near the close of the queen's stay, a humble
petition was made to her that she would speak to her
hosts in that language.
"I am but a poor scholar," said she, "but if I might
speak my mind in English, I would not stick at the
Then answered the chancellor of the university:—
 "Your Highness, in the university nothing English may
be said in public."
"Then speak you for me," bade the queen. "The
chancellor is the queen's mouth."
"True, your Majesty," he responded, "but I am merely
the chancellor of the university; I have not the honor
to be the chancellor of your Grace."
After a little more urging, the queen delivered an
excellent Latin speech, which she had evidently
composed beforehand, and gave the authorities to
understand that she should make the university a
generous gift either during her life or at her death.
This manner of arousing the expectations of her
subjects was one of her ways of securing their
faithfulness. She used to keep long lists of men of
ability and worth, and a man, knowing that his name was
on that list, would not fail to be true to her,
expecting every day a pension or some other reward of
Robert Dudley was high steward of Cambridge, and
Elizabeth seems to have exhausted her generous
intentions toward the university by presenting him with
Kenilworth Castle and manor and other lands. Then it
was that she made him
 Lord Leicester, and when in the ceremony he was
kneeling gravely before her with bowed head, this queen
of magnificence and barbarism, of subtlety of intellect
and coarseness of manner, thought it a brilliant jest
to stretch out the royal forefinger to tickle the back
of his neck and arouse him from his unwonted
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