Friday, April 29, 2016

Today in 1066 William the Conqueror invades England


Claiming his right to the English throne, William, duke of Normandy, invades England at Pevensey on Britain’s southeast coast. His subsequent defeat of King Harold II at the Battle of Hastings marked the beginning of a new era in British history.


William the Conqueror (1027-28–1087) - King William I, reigned 1066–87 Unknown Artist painted about 1590s-1620

William was the illegitimate son of Robert I, duke of Normandy, by his lover Arlette, a tanner’s daughter from the town of Falaise. As the love child of an affair between Robert I, duke of Normandy, & his lover, William was said to be known to his contemporaries, mostly envious enemies, as William the Bastard for much of his life. His critics continued to use this moniker (behind his back) even after he defeated the English at the Battle of Hastings & earned a more formal title upgrade to William the Conqueror.

Duke Robert I, who had no other sons, designated William his heir, & with his death in 1035, William became duke of Normandy at age seven.  

Though he spoke a dialect of French & grew up in Normandy, a fiefdom loyal to the French kingdom, William & most other Normans descended from Scandinavian invaders. William’s great-great-great-grandfather, Rollo, pillaged northern France with fellow Viking raiders in the late 9C & early 10C, eventually accepting his own territory (Normandy, named for the Norsemen who controlled it) in exchange for peace.

Rebellions were epidemic during the early years of William's reign, & on several occasions the young duke narrowly escaped death. Many of his advisers did not. By the time he was 20, William had become an able ruler backed by King Henry I of France. Henry later turned against him, but William survived the opposition, & in 1063, he expanded the borders of his duchy into the region of Maine.

During William’s siege of Alençon, a disputed town on the border of Normandy, in the late 1040s or early 1050s, residents are said to have hung animal hides on their walls. They mocked him for being the grandson of a tanner, referring to the occupation of his mother’s father. To avenge her honor, he had their hands & feet cut off.

William the Conqueror (1027-28–1087) Unknown Artist painted about 1580 

When William asked for the hand of Matilda of Flanders, a granddaughter of France’s King Robert II, she initially demurred. According to legend, the snubbed duke tackled Matilda in the street, pulling her off her horse by her long braids. In any event, she consented to marry him & bore him 10 children before her death in 1083, which plunged William into a deep depression.

In 1051, William is believed to have visited England & met with his cousin Edward the Confessor, the childless English king. According to Norman historians, cousin Edward promised to make William his heir. On his deathbed, however, Edward granted the kingdom to Harold Godwine, head of the leading noble family in England more powerful than the king himself.

In January 1066, King Edward died, & Harold Godwine was proclaimed King Harold II. William immediately disputed his claim. In addition, King Harald III Hardraade of Norway had designs on England, as did Tostig, brother of Harold. King Harold rallied his forces for an expected invasion by William, but Tostig launched a series of raids instead, forcing the king to leave the English Channel unprotected. In September, Tostig joined forces with King Harald III & invaded England from Scotland. On September 25, King Harold II met them at Stamford Bridge & defeated killing them both. Three days later, William landed in England at Pevensey.

With approximately 7,000 troops & cavalry, William seized Pevensey & marched to Hastings, where he paused to organize his forces. On October 13, King Harold II arrived near Hastings with his army, & the next day William led his forces out to give battle. William’s jester rode beside him during the invasion of England, lifting the troops’ spirits by singing about heroic deeds. When they reached enemy lines, he taunted the English by juggling his sword & was promptly killed, initiating the historic skirmish. At the end of a bloody, all-day battle, King Harold II was killed (shot in the eye with an arrow, according to legend), & his forces were defeated.


William the Conqueror (1027-28–1087) Unknown Artist painted about 1618 

William then marched on London & received the city’s submission. On Christmas Day, 1066, William the Conqueror was crowned the 1st Norman king of England, in Westminster Abbey, & the Anglo-Saxon phase of English history came to an end. 

William spoke no English when he ascended the throne, & he failed to master it despite his efforts. (Like most nobles of his time, he also happened to be illiterate.) Thanks to the Norman invasion, French was spoken in England’s courts for centuries & completely transformed the English language, infusing it with new words. French became the language of the king’s court & gradually blended with the Anglo-Saxon tongue to give birth to modern English. 

Described as strapping & healthy in his earlier years, William apparently ballooned later in life. It is said that King Philip of France likened him to a pregnant woman about to give birth. According to some accounts, the corpulent conqueror became so dismayed with his size; that he devised his own version of a fad diet, consuming only wine & spirits for a period of time. It didn’t work, he remained overweight, but he could more easily forget about it.

Despite his worries about his size, William I proved an effective king of England, and the “Domesday Book,” a great census of the lands and people of England, was among his notable achievements. Upon the death of William I in 1087, his son, William Rufus, became William II, the 2nd Norman king of England.

See History.com

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

1675 The Gentlewoman's Companion: or, A Guide to the Female Sex. -On the Gait or Gesture of the Proper Gentlewoman


Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born English artist, 1607-1677) Young woman with scarf on her head, after Bonsignori. 1645


Hannah Woolley. The Gentlewoman's Companion: or, A Guide to the Female Sex. London, A Maxwell for Edward Thomas, Bookseller. 1675.


Of the Gait or Gesture

It is an easie matter to gather the disposition of our heart, by the dimension of our Gait. A light carriage most commonly discovers a loose inclination; as jetting and strutting, shew haughtiness and self-conceit. Were your bodies transparent, you could not more perspicuously display your levity than by wanton Gesticulations.


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Monday, April 25, 2016

1675 The Gentlewoman's Companion: or, A Guide to the Female Sex.- Instructions for Absolute Cookmaids including How to make both handsome and toothsome Dishes

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Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born English artist, 1607-1677) Head of a woman, after Lorenzo de Credi. 1646

Hannah Woolley. The Gentlewoman's Companion: or, A Guide to the Female Sex. London, A Maxwell for Edward Thomas, Bookseller. 1675.

Instructions for Absolute Cookmaids

Your skill will chiefly consist in dressing all sorts of Meat, both Fish, flesh and Fowl, all manner of Baked-meats, all kind of Sawces, and which are most proper for every sort of Dish, and be curious in garnishing your Dishes, and making all manner of Pickles...

And as you must know how to dress Meat well, so you must know how to save what is left of that you have dressed, of which you may make both handsome and toothsome Dishes again, to the saving of your Masters purse, and the credit of his Table.


Be as saving as you can, and cleanly about every thing; see also that your Kitchen be kept clean, and all thigns scoured in due time; your Larders also and Cupboards, that there be no bits or meat or bread lye about them to spoil and stink.


That your Meat taint not for want of good Salting.



Saturday, April 23, 2016

1675 The Gentlewoman's Companion: or, A Guide to the Female Sex - Beware of Licentious Amorists or a Gentlewomans Civil Behaviour to All Sorts of People in All Places


Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born English artist, 1607-1677) Young woman with a cap and feather. 1647
Hannah Woolley. The Gentlewoman's Companion: or, A Guide to the Female Sex. London, A Maxwell for Edward Thomas, Bookseller. 1675.

Of a Gentlewomans civil Behaviour to all sorts of people in all places.

Be not easily induc'd to enter into discourse with strangers, for nothing argueth levity and indicretion more than that. Confort your self with your betters as near as you can, yet do not despise your equals, but in a most especial manner avoid all familiarity with your inferiors; if Female, in a little time they will thereby be drawn to slight you; if Male, they will be incouraged to attack your honour unlwfully, or subtilly insinuate themselves into affection, whereby though you are as high in fortune, as honourable in birth, you may stoop to so low a contract, that forgetting your self by the incessant importunities of their over-blown desires, you are overcome, & so become a grief to your friends, a shame to your selves, and a lamentable spectacle of reproach and sorrow to that worthy Family, from whence you had your Original.

Affect not the vanity of some, in being seen in publick too frequently. Thus many excellent Ladies have exposed themselves to the mercy of the Tempter, who otherwise had stood impregnable in the defence of their Chastities. You think, it may be, and intend no harm in your Promenades or walks; but by so doing, you give too often occasion for licentious Amorists to meet with you, and may thereby be perswaded to throw off the vail of circumspection, to give attention to some wanton smutty story...


Be not guilty of the unpardonable faulty of some, who never thing they do better than when they speak most; uttering an Ocean of words, without one drop of reason; talking much, expressing little...


As I would not advise you to be over-reserv'd, so give not too loose reins to liberty, making pleasure your vocation...


Shun all affectation in your behaviour; for Vertue admits of no such thing in her gesture or habit, but that which is proper, and not enforced; native or decent, and not what is apishly introduced. Therefore since nothing better befits you than what is your own, make known by your dress, how much you hate formality. To this end play not the Hypocrite with your Creator, in pretending to go to Church to serve him, whereas it is to serve your selves in the imitation of some new fashion. That which becometh another well, may ill become you...


Affectation cannot be conceal'd, and the indecency of your deportment will quickly bne discovered in publick Societies; wherefore behave your self so discreetly abroad, that you may confer no less a benefit on such as see your behaviour, than you profit such as shall observe your carriage at home: Express in publick such a well-becoming Garb, that every action may deserve the applause & imitation of all that are in your company. Let your conceits be nimble and ready, and not temper'd or mixt with lightness; let your jests be innocent and seasonable, without the least capriciousness; let your discourse be free without niceness; your whole carriage delightful, and agreeable, and flowing with a seeming carelessness.



Thursday, April 21, 2016

1675 The Gentlewoman's Companion: or, A Guide to the Female Sex - Instructions for Dairy-Maids


Hannah Woolley. The Gentlewoman's Companion: or, A Guide to the Female Sex. London, A Maxwell for Edward Thomas, Bookseller. 1675.



Instructions for Dairy-Maids

Have a care that all your Vessels be scalded well, and kept very clean; that you milk your Cattel in due time; for your Kine by custom, will expect it, though you neglect it, which will tend much to their detriment.

Waste not your Cream by giving it away to liquorish persons; keep certain days for your Churning, and be sure to make up your Butter neatly and cleanly, washing it well from the Butter-milk, and then salt it well.

Be careful to make your Cheeses good and tender, by well ordering them; and see that your Hogs have the whey, and that it be not given away to idle or gossipping people, who live meerly upon what they can get from servants: That you provide your Winter-Butter and Cheese in the Summer, as in May; and when your Rowens come in, be sparing of your Fire; and do not lavish away your Milk-butter or Cheese.

If you have any Fowls to fat, or Pigs, look to them that it may be your credit, and not your shame, when they come to the Table.

When you milk your Cattel, stroke them well, and in the Summer-time save those strokings by themselves, to put into your morning-Milk-cheese.
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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

1675 The Gentlewoman's Companion: or, A Guide to the Female Sex -On the Governance of the Eye by Gentlewomen


Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born English artist, 1607-1677) Woman with a turban, after Schongauer.

Hannah Woolley. The Gentlewoman's Companion: or, A Guide to the Female Sex. London, A Maxwell for Edward Thomas, Bookseller. 1675.

Of the Government of the Eye.

As prudence is the eye of the Soul, so Discretion is the apple of that Eye but as for the natural Eyes, they are the Casements of the Soul, the Windows of Reason: As they are the inlets of Understanding, so they are the outlets or discoverers of many inward corruptions.


A wanton Eye is the truest evidence of a wandring and distracted mind. As by them you ought not to betray to others view, your imperfections within; so be not betray'd by their means, by vain objects without: This made the Princely Prophet pray so earnestly, Lord turn away my eyes from vanity. And hence appears our misery, that those eyes which should be the Cisterns of sorrow, Limbecks of contrition, should become the lodges of lust, and portals of our perdition...


An unclean Eye, is the messenger of an unclean Heart; wherefore confine the one, and it will be a means to rectifie the other. There are many Objects a wandring Eye finds out, whereon to vent the disposition of her corrupt heart.


The ambitious Eye makes Honour her object wherewith she torments her self, both in aspiring to what she cannot enjoy; as likewise, in seeing another enjoy that whereto her self did aspire.


The covetous Eye makes Wealth her object; which she obtains with toil, enjoys with fear, forgoes with grief; for being got, they load her; lov'd they soil her; lost, they gall her.


The envious Eye makes her Neighbours flourishing condition her object; she cannot but look on it; looking, pine and repine at it; and by repining, with envy, murders her quiet and contentment.


The loose or lascivious Eye makes Beauty her object; and with a leering look, or wanton glance, while she throweth out her lure to catch others, she becomes catcht her self.


Gentlewomen, I am not insensible, that you frequent places of eminency for resort, which cannot but offer to your view variety of pleasing Objects. Nay, there where nothing but chast thoughts, staid looks, and modest desires, should harbour, are too commonly loose thought, light looks, and licentious desires in especial honour...


Be assured, there is no one sense that more distempers the harmony of the mind, nor prospect of the Soul, than this window of the body...Do not then depress your Eyes as if Earth were the Center of their happiness, but on Heaven the Haven of their bliss after Earth. To conclude, so order and dispose your looks, that censure may not tax them with lightness, nor an amorous glance impeach you of wantonness...

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Sunday, April 17, 2016

Biography - Mary Hill, Lady Killigrew 1615-1686


Wenceslaus Hollar (Czech artist, 1607-1677) Mrs Killigrew.  She was the daughter of John Hill. She married Sir William Killigrew, son of Sir Robert Killigrew & Mary Wodehouse, in 1626. William was 10 years older than his new bride.  He was immersed in politics & wrote 4 dramas, while she produced 7 children. Only 2 survived into adulthood.

Van Dyke's depiction of Mrs Killigrew survives.


Anthony Van Dyck (1599-1641) Mary Hill, Lady Killigrew (1615-1686)  She is depicted here holding roses, the symbol of a happily married lady.


Artist unknown, Mary Hill, Lady Killigrew (1615-1686)


Anthony Van Dyck (1599-1641) William Killigrew (1605-1695)



Friday, April 15, 2016

Biography - Margaret Lemon, Anthony van Dyke's 1599-1641 model & mistress



Wenceslaus Hollar (Czech artist, 1607-1677) Margaret Lemon

Margaret Lemon was Van Dyck’s mistress and is known today only through contemporary gossip. A fellow artist of Sir Anthony Van Dyck (1599-1641), Wenceslaus Hollar described her as violently jealous, even on one occasion attempting to bite Van Dyck’s thumb off.

A few other portraits of Margaret Lemon remain.  Two show her as the model for Queen Henrietta Maria.


Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641) Portrait of Margaret Lemon 



 Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641) Portrait of Margaret Lemon 

When Sophia, Electoress of Hanover, met Queen Henrietta Maria, in exile in Holland in 1641, she wrote: "Van Dyck's handsome portraits had given me so fine an idea of the beauty of all English ladies, that I was surprised to find that the Queen, who looked so fine in painting, was a small woman raised up on her chair, with long skinny arms and teeth like defence works projecting from her mouth...”


 Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641) Queen Henrietta Maria (1609-1669) Model said to be Margaret Lemon 



Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641) Queen Henrietta Maria (1609-1669) Model said to be Margaret Lemon 


1632 Anthony Van Dyck (1599-1641) Self Portrait with Sunflower


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Biography - Catheine Howard Queen of England (1522-1542) - 5th Wife of Henry VIII


King Henry VIII's 5th wife was Catherine Howard.  Catherine was a daughter of Lord Edmund Howard (1478–1539) & Joyce Culpeper (1480–1531). Her father's sister Elizabeth Howard, was the mother of Anne Boleyn. Catherine Howard & Anne Boleyn were 1st cousins.  Catherine would be beheaded after less than 2 years of marriage to Henry for committing adultery while married to the King.


Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born English artist, 1607-1677) Catherine Howard

Catherine came to court at about the age of 19 as a lady in waiting to Anne of Cleves & caught Henry's attentions. Catherine's uncle, Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, (1473-1554),  probably encouraged the girl to respond to the King's attentions as a way to increase his own influence over the monarch. The Duke of Norfolk also took advantage of the debacle of the Anne of Cleves marriage as a chance to discredit his enemy, Thomas Cromwell, who was executed shortly after the royal marriage was nullified. Sixteen days after he was free of Anne, Henry took his 5th wife, Catherine Howard, on July 28, 1540. Henry was 49, & his bride was 19.



King Henry VIII was no longer a happy, young man. An unhealed wound in his leg remained an open, oozing sore.  Apparently the ambitious Catherine needed more. Before her marriage Catherine had several lovers - among them a musician, Henry Mannock, or Manox; her cousin Thomas Culpepper; & Francis Dereham, to whom she had been betrothed.  After becoming queen, she occasionally arranged to meet with Dereham & Culpepper.



By November 1541, Archbishop Cranmer informed the King of Kathryn's misconduct. At first Henry did not believe the accusations, but he agreed to allow further investigations into the matter. Evidence was gathered that the Queen had been promiscuous before her marriage & may have had liaisons after marrying Henry. She was executed on the Tower Green on February 13, 1542, and laid to rest near her cousin Anne Boleyn in the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula at the Tower of London.




"...Catherine had a number of romances, which, though fairly well-known at the time, were kept from Henry VIII. Her most famous relationship was with Thomas Culpepper, a member of Henry VIII's privy chamber. This romance would have repercussions, since Catherine & Culpepper would rekindle it during her marriage to Henry VIII... Catherine, a young woman in her late teens or twenties, turned to her former lover, Thomas Culpepper, for comfort. While touring northern England with Henry VIII, Catherine & Thomas carried on a fairly public love affair. When Henry learned of Catherine's conduct both before & during their marriage, he had her former & current lovers arrested & tortured in the Tower of London. Catherine was found guilty of adultery & treason. She was executed on 13 February 1542." (Robin, et. al., 2007, pp. 185-186)


Monday, April 11, 2016

1675 The Gentlewoman's Companion: or, A Guide to the Female Sex. - Instructions for Chambermaids


Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born English artist, 1607-1677) Woman with bonnet with serrated edge. 1645

Hannah Woolley. The Gentlewoman's Companion: or, A Guide to the Female Sex. London, A Maxwell for Edward Thomas, Bookseller. 1675.

Instructions for Chambermaids


It will be required of you, that you Dress well that you may be able to supply the place of the waiting-woman, should the chance to fall sick, or be absent from your Lady; you must wash fine Linnen well and starch Tiffanies, Lawns Points, and Laces, mend them neatly; and wash white Sarcenets, with such like things.

You must make your Ladies bed; lay up, and lay out her Night-clothes; see that her Chamber be kept clean, and nothing wanting which she desires or requires to be done. Be modest in your deportment, ready at her call, always diligent, answering not again when reprov'd, but with pacifying words; loving & courteous to your fellow-servants not gigling or idling out your time, nor wantoning in the society of men; you will find the benefit thereof; for an honest and sober man will sooner make that woman his Wife whom he seeth continually imployed about her business, than one who makes it her business to trifle away her own and others time; neither will a virtuous and understanding Mistress long entertain such a servant whom she finds of such a temper.

Be not subject to change, For a rouling stone gathers no moss; and as you will gain but little money, so if you ramble up and down you will lose your credit.

It may be a fellow-servant may court you; but before you entertain the motion, consider how you must live; by inconsiderately marrying you may have one joyful meeting, and ever after a sorrowful living, and have time to repent of your rash matching.


Saturday, April 9, 2016

Queen Elizabeth I - 1603 With Father Time, Death, & Cherubs or Putti ?


In 1610, a very tired, old Queen Elizabeth was portrayed in an posthumous allegorical painting with 2 putti lifting the heavy weight of the crown of England from her exhausted body as sleepy, ancient Father Time waited on her right & gruesome, eager Death hovered on her left.


An Allegorical Painting of 1610 Queen Elizabeth I (1538-1603) in Old Age, c.1610 at Corsham Court, Wiltshire

Elizabeth I refused to follow royal custom of designing her own tomb. And so, she now she rests in Westminster Abbey beneath a an unfortunate effigy ordered by James VI & I, which compares badly to the tomb of James’s mother, Mary, Queen of Scots, whom Elizabeth had executed.

And about those winged toddlers over her head in the painting clutching her crown, are they religious cherubs or secular putti?  A putto (pl. putti) is a figure of a human toddler, usually male, often naked with wings, depicted especially in Italian Renaissance & Baroque art. The Latin word "putus" means boy or child. During the early modern period, artist Donatello revived & popularized putti figures in Florence during the 1420s.

Neroccio De' Landi (1447-1500) Two Putti, 1490-1510

In the European culture of the 1400s & 1500s, Cherubs & Putti had distinctly different roles. Biblically, Cherubs & Seraphs (Cherubim & Seraphim) were sacred angels in heaven closest to God. Putti, arose from Greco-Roman classical myths, not the Christian tradition, and were associated with Eros or Cupid as well as with the Muse Erato of lyric & love poetry.

Raphael Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino (1483–1520), Sistine Cherubs


Thursday, April 7, 2016

Queen Elizabeth I - 1601 England's Economic Woes


1600 Queen Elizabeth I 1533-1603  Unknown Artist

Much like today, near the end of Queen Elizabeth's reign England's economic situation was weakening.  On November 30th, 1601, Queen Elizabeth I addressed the House of Commons, about the problem.  It was her final speech to Parliament. 

“Mr Speaker, We have heard your declaration and perceive your care of our estate. I do assure you there is no prince that loves his subjects better, or whose love can countervail our love. There is no jewel, be it of never so rich a price, which I set before this jewel: I mean your love. For I do esteem it more than any treasure or riches; for that we know how to prize, but love and thanks I count invaluable. And, though God hath raised me high, yet this I count the glory of my Crown, that I have reigned with your loves. This makes me that I do not so much rejoice that God hath made me to be a Queen, as to be a Queen over so thankful a people. Therefore I have cause to wish nothing more than to content the subject and that is a duty which I owe. Neither do I desire to live longer days than I may see your prosperity and that is my only desire. And as I am that person still yet, under God, hath delivered you and so I trust by the almighty power of God that I shall be his instrument to preserve you from every peril, dishonour, shame, tyranny and oppression, partly by means of your intended helps which we take very acceptably because it manifesteth the largeness of your good loves and loyalties unto your sovereign.

"Of myself I must say this: I never was any greedy, scraping grasper, nor a strait fast-holding Prince, nor yet a waster. My heart was never set on any worldly goods. What you bestow on me, I will not hoard it up, but receive it to bestow on you again. Therefore render unto them I beseech you Mr Speaker, such thanks as you imagine my heart yieldeth, but my tongue cannot express. Mr Speaker, I would wish you and the rest to stand up for I shall yet trouble you with longer speech. Mr Speaker, you give me thanks but I doubt me I have greater cause to give you thanks, than you me, and I charge you to thank them of the Lower House from me. For had I not received a knowledge from you, I might have fallen into the lapse of an error, only for lack of true information.

"Since I was Queen, yet did I never put my pen to any grant, but that upon pretext and semblance made unto me, it was both good and beneficial to the subject in general though a private profit to some of my ancient servants, who had deserved well at my hands. But the contrary being found by experience, I am exceedingly beholden to such subjects as would move the same at first. And I am not so simple to suppose but that there be some of the Lower House whom these grievances never touched. I think they spake out of zeal to their countries and not out of spleen or malevolent affection as being parties grieved. That my grants should be grievous to my people and oppressions to be privileged under colour of our patents, our kingly dignity shall not suffer it. Yea, when I heard it, I could give no rest unto my thoughts until I had reformed it. Shall they, think you, escape unpunished that have oppressed you, and have been respectless of their duty and regardless our honour? No, I assure you, Mr Speaker, were it not more for conscience’ sake than for any glory or increase of love that I desire, these errors, troubles, vexations and oppressions done by these varlets and lewd persons not worthy of the name of subjects should not escape without condign punishment. But I perceive they dealt with me like physicians who, ministering a drug, make it more acceptable by giving it a good aromatical savour, or when they give pills do gild them all over.

"I have ever used to set the Last Judgement Day before mine eyes and so to rule as I shall be judged to answer before a higher judge, and now if my kingly bounties have been abused and my grants turned to the hurt of my people contrary to my will and meaning, and if any in authority under me have neglected or perverted what I have committed to them, I hope God will not lay their culps and offenses in my charge. I know the title of a King is a glorious title, but assure yourself that the shining glory of princely authority hath not so dazzled the eyes of our understanding, but that we well know and remember that we also are to yield an account of our actions before the great judge. To be a king and wear a crown is a thing more glorious to them that see it than it is pleasant to them that bear it. For myself I was never so much enticed with the glorious name of a King or royal authority of a Queen as delighted that God hath made me his instrument to maintain his truth and glory and to defend his kingdom as I said from peril, dishonour, tyranny and oppression. There will never Queen sit in my seat with more zeal to my country, care to my subjects and that will sooner with willingness venture her life for your good and safety than myself. For it is my desire to live nor reign no longer than my life and reign shall be for your good. And though you have had, and may have, many princes more mighty and wise sitting in this seat, yet you never had nor shall have, any that will be more careful and loving."  Elizabeth I

The speech was recorded by diarist Hayward Townshend. (Heyward (Hayward, Heywood) Townshend (c 1577- c 1602) was Member of Parliament for Bishop's Castle, Shropshire, England, in 1597–1598 & 1601. His parliamentary diary, published in 1680, covers both of these Parliaments & is one of the fullest available records of proceedings in the 1601 Parliament.)


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Queen Elizabeth I - 1598 Eyewitness Account



c 1563 Queen Elizabeth I 1533-1603 The Hampden Portrait by Steven Van Der Meulen. This is reportedly the earliest portrait of the queen, after her coronation, with her bosom uncovered as was appropriate for unmarried women at that time. Here the queen is portrayed as an approachable young woman, no longer the stern, studious young queen of her earlier portraits. She is made an even more feminine Elizabeth by wearing a red rose on her shoulder & holding a gillyflower in her hand. Here she is the unmarried young English woman, before she became the untouchable, infallible goddess of later portraits.

In 1596, German lawyer Paul Hentzner (1558-1623) at age 38, became tutor to a young Silesian nobleman, with whom he set out in 1597, on a 3 years' tour through Switzerland, France, England, & Italy. After his return to Germany in 1600, he published, at Nuremberg in 1612, a description of this journey, written in Latin, as Itinerarium Germaniae, Galliae, Angliae, Italiae, cum Indice Locorum, Rerum atque Verborum.


1592-99 Queen Elizabeth I 1533-1603 The Hardwick Portrait by Nicholas Hilliard and his workshop. By the 1590s, the tightly controlled ruff had begun to morph into a stiff collar which allowed more of the bosom to be exposed. This may be what Hentzner refers to here.

Hentzner wrote the following account of his encounter with Queen Elizabeth I...

"We arrived next at the royal palace of Greenwich...

"It was here Elizabeth, the present Queen, was born, and her she generally resides, particularly in summer, for the delightfulness of its situation.

"We were admitted, by an order Mr. Rogers had procured from the Lord Chamberlain, into the presence chamber, hung with rich tapestry, and the floor, after the English fashion, strewed with hay, & through which the Queen commonly passes on her way to chapel.
"At the door stood a gentleman dressed in velvet, with a gold chain, whose office was to introduce to the Queen any person of distinction that came to wait on her; it was Sunday, when there is usually the greatest attendance of nobility. In the same hall were the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of London, a great number of Councillors of State, officers of the Crown, and gentlemen, who waited the Queen's coming out; which she did from her own apartment when it was time to go to prayers, attended in the following manner:

"First went gentlemen, barons, earls, Knights of the Garter, all richly dressed and bareheaded; next came the Chancellor, bearing the seals in a red silk purse, between two, one of whom carried the Royal sceptre, the other the sword of state, in a red scabbard, studded with golden Fleurs de Lis, the point upwards:

"Next came the Queen, in the sixty-fifth year of her age, as we were told, very majestic; her face oblong, fair, but wrinkled; her eyes small, yet black and pleasant; her nose a little hooked; her lips narrow, and her teeth black (a defect the English seem subject to, from their too great use of sugar); she had in her ears two pearls, with very rich drops; she wore false hair, and that red; upon her head she had a small crown, reported to be made of some of the gold of the celebrated Lunebourg table; her bosom was uncovered, as all the English ladies have it till they marry; and she had on a necklace of exceeding fine jewels; her hands were small, her fingers long, and her stature neither tall nor low; her air was stately, her manner of speaking mild and obliging.


1600s Queen Elizabeth I 1533-1603 Palazzo Pitti Florence

"That day she was dressed in white silk, bordered with pearls of the size of beans, and over it a mantle of black silk, shot with silver threads; her train was very long, the end of it borne by a marchioness; instead of a chain, she had an oblong collar of gold and jewels.


Late 1500s Queen Elizabeth I 1533-1603 Miniature Elisabeth

"As she went along in all this state and magnificence, she spoke very graciously, first to one, then to another, whether foreign Ministers, or those who attended for different reasons, in English, French, and Italian; for, besides being well skilled in Greek, Latin, and the languages I have mentioned, she is mistress of Spanish, Scotch, and Dutch. Whoever speaks to her, it is kneeling; now and then she raises some with her hand.

"While we were there, W. Slawata, a Bohemian baron, had letters to present to her; and she, after pulling off her glove, gave him her right hand to kiss, sparkling with rings and jewels, a mark of particular favour.


1595-1600 Queen Elizabeth I 1533-1603 Miniature att Nicholas Hilliard

"Wherever she turned her face, as she was going along, everybody fell down on their knees. The ladies of the court followed next to her, very handsome and well-shaped, and for the most part dressed in white.


1660 Queen Elizabeth I 1533-1603 by Isaac Oliver The Rainbow Portrait

"She was guarded on each side by the gentlemen pensioners, fifty in number, with gilt battle-axes. In the ante-chapel, next the hall where we were, petitions were presented to her, and she received them most graciously, which occasioned the acclamation of 'Long Live Queen Elizabeth!'

"She answered it with "I thank you, my good people." In the chapel was excellent music; as soon as it and the service were over, which scarce exceeded half an hour, the Queen returned in the same state and order, and prepared to go to dinner. But while she was still at prayers, we saw her table set out with the following solemnity:


1595-1600 Queen Elizabeth I 1533-1603 Miniature att Nicholas Hilliard

"A gentleman entered the room bearing a rod, and along with him another who had a table-cloth which, after they had both kneeled three times with the utmost veneration, he spread upon the table, and, after kneeling again, they both retired. Then came two others, one with the rod again, the other with a salt-cellar, a plate, and bread; when they had kneeled as the others had done, and placed what was brought upon the table, they too retired with the same ceremonies performed by the first.

"At last came an unmarried lady (we were told she was a countess), and along with her a married one, bearing a tasting-knife; the former was dressed in white silk, who, when she had prostrated herself three times in the most graceful manner, approached the table and rubbed the plates with bread and salt with as much awe as if the Queen had been present.

"When they had waited there a little while, the yeomen of the guards entered, bareheaded, clothed in scarlet, with a golden rose upon their backs, bringing in at each turn a course of twenty-four dishes, served in plate, most of it gilt; these dishes were received by a gentleman in the same order they were brought, and placed upon the table, while the lady taster gave to each of the guard a mouthful to eat of the particular dish he had brought, for fear of any poison.

"During the time that this guard, which consists of the tallest and stoutest men that can be found in all England, being carefully selected for this service, were bringing dinner, twelve trumpets and two kettledrums made the hall ring for half an hour together.


1600 Queen Elizabeth 1533-1603 Detail from the Procession Portrait attr Robert Peake the Elder See full painting below

"At the end of all this ceremonial, a number of unmarried ladies appeared, who, with particular solemnity, lifted the meat off the table, and conveyed it into the Queen's inner and more private chamber, where, after she had chosen for herself, the rest goes to the ladies of the Court.

"The Queen dines and sups alone with very few attendants, and it is very seldom that anybody, foreigner or native, is admitted at that time, and then only at the intercession of somebody in power."




Sunday, April 3, 2016

Queen Elizabeth I - 1597 meets the French ambassador



1595 Queen Elizabeth I 1533-1603 Unknown Artist English School

"On the 8th of December I did not think to be given an audience for that day and was resolved to make my complaint; but about one hour after noon there came a gentleman from the Queen who said to me that her Majesty was much grieved that she had not given me audience sooner, and that she prayed me to come to her that very hour. He brought me in a coach to take me down to the river where one of the barges awaited me, and we went thence to the gate of the Queen's palace. At our landing there came to seek me a gentleman who spoke very good Italian, called Monsieur Wotton, who told me that her Majesty sent word that I should be very welcome and that she was awaiting me. He had four or five other gentlemen with him. As he led me along he told me that the whole Court was well satisfied to see me, and that they knew well how greatly I loved their nation, and that in Italy I had done all that I could for them. I told him that I was very sorry that I had not done more; and that what had been done was by the command of the King, who wished me in all that concerned the Queen of England to busy myself as much as in his own affairs.

"He led me across a chamber of moderate size wherein were the guards of the Queen, and thence into the Presence Chamber, as they call it, in which all present, even though the Queen be absent, remain uncovered. He then conducted me to a place on one side, where there was a cushion made ready for me. I waited there some time, and the Lord Chamberlain, who has the charge of the Queen's household (not as maitre d'hotel, but to arrange audiences and to escort those who demand them and especially ambassadors), came to seek me where I was seated. He led me along a passage somewhat dark, into a chamber that they call the Privy Chamber, at the head of which was the Queen seated in a low chair, by herself, and withdrawn from all the Lords and Ladies that were present, they being in one place and she in another. After I had made her my reverence at the entry of the chamber, she rose and came five or six paces towards me, almost into the middle of the chamber. I kissed the fringe of her robe and she embraced me with both hands. She looked at me kindly, and began to excuse herself that she had not sooner given me audience, saying that the day before she had been very ill with a gathering on the right side of her face, which I should never have thought seeing her eyes and face: but she did not remember ever to have been so ill before. She excused herself because I found her attired in her nightgown, and began to rebuke those of her Council who were present, saying, 'What will these gentlemen say' - speaking of those who accompanied me - 'to see me so attired? I am much disturbed that they should see me in this state.'

"Then I answered her that there was no need to make excuse on my account, for that I had come to do her service and honour, and not to give her inconvenience. She replied that I gave her none, and that she saw me willingly. I told her that the King had commanded me to visit her and to kiss her hands on his behalf, and charged me to learn the news of her well-being and health, which (thanks be to God) I saw to be such as her servants and friends would desire; and which I prayed God might continue for long years, and in all prosperity and dignity. She stood up while I was speaking, but then she returned to her chair when she saw that I was only speaking of general matters. I drew nearer to her chair and began to deal with her in that wherewithal I had been charged; and because I was uncovered, from time to time she signed to me with her hand to be covered, which I did. Soon after she caused a stool to be brought, whereon I sat and began to talk to her.

"She was strangely attired in a dress of silver cloth, white and crimson, or silver 'gauze', as they call it. This dress had slashed sleeves lined with red taffeta, and was girt about with other little sleeves that hung down to the ground, which she was for ever twisting and untwisting. She kept the front of her dress open, and one could see the whole of her bosom, and passing low, and often she would open the front of this robe with her hands as if she was too hot. The collar of the robe was very high, and the lining of the inner part all adorned with little pendants of rubies and pearls, very many, but quite small. She had also a chain of rubies and pearls about her neck. On her head she wore a garland of the same material and beneath it a great reddish-coloured wig, with a great number of spangles of gold and silver, and hanging down over her forehead some pearls, but of no great worth. On either side of her ears hung two great curls of hair, almost down to her shoulders and within the collar of her robe, spangled as the top of her head. Her bosom is somewhat wrinkled as well as one can see for the collar that she wears round her neck, but lower down her flesh is exceeding white and delicate, so far as one could see.

"As for her face, it is and appears to be very aged. It is long and thin, and her teeth are very yellow and unequal, compared with what they were formerly, so they say, and on the left side less than on the right. Many of them are missing so that one cannot understand her easily when she speaks quickly. Her figure is fair and tall and graceful in whatever she does; so far as may be she keeps her dignity, yet humbly and graciously withal.

"All the time she spoke she would often rise from her chair, and appear to be very impatient with what I was saying. She would complain that the fire was hurting her eyes, though there was a great screen before it and she six or seven feet away; yet did she give orders to have it extinguished, making them bring water to pour upon it. She told me that she was well pleased to stand up, and that she used to speak thus with the ambassadors who came to seek her, and used sometimes to tire them, of which they would on occasion complain. I begged her not to overtire herself in any way, and I rose when she did; and then she sat down again, and so did I. At my departure she rose and conducted me to that same place where she had come to receive me, and again began to say that she was grieved that all the gentlemen I had brought should see her in that condition, and she called to see them. They made their reverence before her, one after the other, and she embraced them all with great charm and smiling countenance."

Recorded by Andre Hurault, the French Ambassador


Friday, April 1, 2016

Queen Elizabeth I 1588 speaks to her army at Tilbury

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1588 Queen Elizabeth I 1533-1603 The Armada Portrait Attributed to George Gower

The English forces were gathered to fight the Spanish Armada; their unlikely victory was one of the great highlights of Elizabeth's reign.

"I remember in '88 waiting upon the Earl of Leicester at Tilbury camp, and in '89, going into Portugal with my noble master, the Earl of Essex, I learned somewhat fit to be imparted to your grace.

"The queen lying in the camp one night, guarded with her army, the old treasurer, Burleigh, came thither and delivered to the earl the examination of Don Pedro, who was taken and brought in by Sir Francis Drake, which examination the earl of Leicester delivered unto me to publish to the army in my next sermon. The sum of it was this.

"Don Pedro, being asked what was the intent of their coming, stoutly answered the lords: What, but to subdue your nation and root it out.

"Good, said the lords, and what meant you then to do with the catholics? He answered, We meant to send them (good men) directly unto heaven, as all that are heretics to hell. Yea, but, said the lords, what meant you to do with your whips of cord and wire? (Whereof they had great store in their ships.) What? said he, we meant to whip you heretics to death that hare assisted my master's rebels and done such dishonour to our catholic king and people. Yea, but what would you have done, said they, with their young children? They, said he, which were above seven years old should hare gone the way their fathers went, the rest should have lived, branded in the forehead with the letter L for Lutheran, to perpetual bondage.

"This, I take God to witness, I received of those great lords upon examination taken by the council, and by commandment delivered it to the army.

"The queen the next morning rode through all the squadrons of her army, as armed Pallas, attended by noble footmen, Leicester, Essex, and Norris, then lord marshall, and divers other great lords. Where she made an excellent oration to her army, which the next day after her departure, I was commanded to re-deliver to all the army together, to keep a public fast.

"Her words were these.

"My loving people, we have been persuaded by some that are careful of our safety to take heed how we commit ourself to armed multitudes for fear of treachery; but I assure you, I do not desire to live to distrust my faithful and loving people. Let tyrants fear. I have always so behaved myself that, under God, I have placed my chiefest strength and safe guard in the loyal hearts and good will of my subjects, and therefore I am come amongst you, as you see, at this time, not for my recreation and disport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live or die amongst you all, to lay down my life for my God and for my kingdom and for my people, my honour, and my blood, even in the dust. I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and a king of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe should dare to invade the borders of my realm; the which, rather than any dishonour shall grow by me, I myself will take up arms, I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field. I know, already for your forwardness, you have deserved rewards and crowns; and we do assure you, in the word of a prince, they shall be duly paid you. In the meantime my lieutenant-general shall be in my stead, than whom never prince commanded a more noble or worthy subject, not doubting but by your obedience to my general, by your concord in the camp, and your valour in the field, we shall shortly have a famous victory over those enemies of my God, of my kingdom, and of my people."

From a letter by Dr. Leonel Sharp to the Duke of Buckingham after 1623 (spelling & grammar somewhat updated)