Read Agnes Strickland's Queens of England Online

Authors: 1796-1874 Agnes Strickland,1794-1875 Elizabeth Strickland,Rosalie Kaufman

Tags: #Queens -- Great Britain

Agnes Strickland's Queens of England (2 page)

BOOK: Agnes Strickland's Queens of England
3.42Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

[A.D. 1538.] The year 1538 was filled with horrors on account of the serious insurrections of the Catholics, who in every case of disturbance demanded that the Princess Mary should be restored to her royal rank. This certainly placed her in a dangerous position, and it is rather surprising'that she did not have her head chopped off in consequence, for the most dreadful executions took place; people were burnt alive or butchered in cold blood, and members of some of the noblest families in England perished on the scaffold.

The aged Countess of Salisbury, Mary's beloved friend, was locked up in the Tower, and all her property taken from her. She was not spared sufficient means to purchase warm clothing to shelter her infirm limbs, and the Marchioness of Exeter, with her little son, shared the same fate, though the boy was too young to have committed any offence.

The chief crime of these ladies was their friendship for Reginald Pole, who was accused of supporting the claims of Katherine of Arragon, Mary's mother. The existence of the young princess was rendered miserable by the wretched fate of those she loved, yet she was powerless to render them the slightest assistance.

Towards the close of the following year, Wriothesley, the privy-councillor, was sent to inform her that her father desired her to receive Duke Philip of Bavaria as a suitor. But Mary declined because she did not desire to marry at all, and would on no account ally herself to a Protestant.

[A.D. 1539.] The day after Anne of Cleves made her public entry into England, Henry appointed Philip Knight of the Garter on account of his defence of Vienna against the Turks, and he was the first Protestant who ever received that honor. Before he returned to Germany he presented Mary with a diamond cross, and expressed his intention of coming to claim her as his bride. She was spared the hardship of a struggle in opposing him because Henry's ill treatment of Anne of Cleves prevented the return of the brave German, who lived and died a bachelor.

[A.D. 1540.] In 1540 Mary was very ill at her brother's residence; the cause of it was probably the dreadful events that took place in England during that and the following year; for it was then that all her early friends, including Dr. Fetherstone and the Countess of Salisbury, were so shamefully butchered. It must be remembered that these were people whose lives were in every respect honorable and virtuous, but they were firmly attached to Queen Katherine and opposed to Henry in religious matters, and that was the head and front of their offending.

[A.D. 1543.] In 1543 Mary was present at the marriage of her father with Katherine Parr, and accompanied the royal couple when they made their summer trip through

several counties in England. But she was seized with an attack of her former illness, when she was sent to Ashbridge, where, with her brother arid sister, she spent the autumn. While there she worked a chain as a New-year's gift for her father, and it had to be so large for that corpulent personage that the materials for it cost twenty pounds.

By the close of the year a delightful change took place in her life; she was restored to her rightful succession after Edward VI. by an act of parliament, and took up her residence at court.

[A.D. 1547.] Having made friends with her father once more, she continued in favor till the end of his life, and when he was dying he said to her : " I know well, my daughter, that fortune has been most adverse to you, that I have caused you infinite sorrow, and that I have not given you in marriage as I intended to do ; this was, however, according to the will of God, or to the unhappy state of my affairs, or to your own ill-luck ; but I pray you to take it all in good part, and promise me to be a kind and loving mother to your brother, whom I shall leave a little helpless child."

In his will he bequeathed to her the sum of ten thousand pounds towards her marriage portion, and an income of three thousand pounds a year so long as she remained unmarried.

He requested that his son should be brought up in the Catholic faith, which was a serious impediment to the Protestant church in England, and proved the cause of a great deal of strife among his subjects.

Before parliament met, after King Henry's death, the Protestant protector, Somerset, had, with Cranmer's assistance, taken decided steps for the establishment of the Reformed faith, and Bishop Gardiner was locked up in the Fleet Prison.

Mary was very anxious that her brother should be brought up a Catholic, and had a long controversy in writing with Somerset on that subject. It seems strange that her pen should have done any work for the Protestant church when she always opposed it, yet so it was, and her name appeared in the preface of the Gospel of St. John as translator.

[A.D. 1548.] Though Mary seldom attended her brother's court, she spent the following Christmas with him, and at that time they were on the most affectionate terms. She visited him again at St. James' Palace in 1548, and had a regular suite of reception rooms for her own use, where she entertained a number of friends in the most sumptuous style.

Two years later she was so ill that her death was generally expected. Had she died then how differently would her name have appeared in history ! The hatred between Catholics and Protestants would have been less, and the horrible persecutions in Great Britain for religion's sake would never have taken place. But it was destined otherwise.

[A.D. 1550.] During this severe illness Mary had a long correspondence with Somerset, who urged her to join the Protestant faith, but she remained firm until, by a sudden turn of events, the protector was deposed by Dudley, Cranmer, and Northampton, who did not rest until they had brought about his execution. But she had further struggles to make for her religion ; for when Dudley succeeded Somerset he had her chaplains arrested, and wanted to prevent her from having church service at all. She made an appeal to Charles V., whose ambassador espoused her cause, and demanded that the Princess Mary should have her mass. It was refused, whereupon the Emperor threatened war with England if Mary were not permitted


to worship as she pleased. Several persons, women as well as men, were burned to death at this period for adhering to the Catholic faith, and the Emperor Charles V. had several ships off the east coast of England to receive Mary and convey her to his sister, the Queen of Hungary, for protection, if necessary. King Edward gave orders that his sister should be carefully watched lest she might be stolen away, then invited her to visit him, saying that the air of Essex was bad for her health, but she refused to leave.

Throughout the winter the controversy continued with regard to the form of worship in her chapel, the chief complaint against her being that she permitted all her neighbors to flock there in crowds, and that she had mass celebrated at the parish churches by her chaplains. At last she was so persecuted that she resolved to appeal, in person, to her brother for relief from the interruption his ministers were causing to her worship. She mounted her horse, and attended by a train of ladies and gentlemen, each wearing a black rosary and cross hanging at the side, rode through Fleet street to Westminster. This display was very irritating to the Protestant court, but Mary had a two hours' interview with her brother, with whom she dined, and with his permission returned to Newhall in Essex the next day, after taking a most affectionate leave of him. He treated her very kindly, and made no objection when she assured him " that her soul was God's, and her faith she would not change."

King Edward always felt somewhat hurt because she refused to make long visits at his court; but even had there been no difference in religious opinions, the forms and ceremonies imposed on everybody would have been irksome to one in Mary's poor health.

After the princess had seen her brother she was left

undisturbed for awhile, and then, without the slightesi warning, Francis Mallet, her head chaplain, was seized and confined in the Tower, with a person in the same cell to watch what he said and did. Mallet was a learned man, and one whom Mary esteemed so highly that when he was dragged off to prison she wrote to her brother and his council, complaining of the injustice ; but they took no notice of her whatever, and she continued to have her religious service celebrated by her remaining chaplains.

This went on for a few months, when the king and his council summoned the chief officers of Mary's household before them, among whom was Rochester, her comptroller, and charged them to inform their mistress that she must immediately stop having mass at her court. When they


delivered their message, which they did most unwillingly, the princess forbade them to repeat it to her chaplains or to anybody else in her service, and told them that if they failed to obey her they must cease to consider her their mistress ; moreover, she would leave the house at once. She was so much excited during this interview that the

messengers begged her to take a few days to consider the matter. She did so, but at the end of the specified time she was firm as ever, and wrote her brother humbly but decidedly that she would sacrifice her life rather than what she conceived to be her religious duties,

Edward VI. sent for her officers again, and bade them to use their influence with Mary's whole household in order that she might be prevented by them from continuing the Catholic service. They refused absolutely to interfere, saying that it was against their consciences, and were locked up in the Tower forthwith.

Having failed with Mary's officers, the king now decided to try what his own could accomplish. Accordingly three of them were sent to her, accompanied by a gentleman who was to perform the Protestant service for her, whether she consented or not.

When they informed Mary of their errand she said that her health was poor and she did not wish to be troubled with a long interview, particularly as she had already informed the king by letter of her intention.

They wanted to read her the list of councillors who had voted that she should not have private mass in her house, but she would not hear it, and replied, " Rather than use any other service than that ordained during the life of my father I will lay my head on the block; but I am unworthy to suffer death in so good a cause. And though the good, sweet king have more knowledge than others of his years, yet it is not possible for him t£L be^4"

When they told her how her officers had refused to return to her with the second message, she was highly gratified, and said, " It was not the wisest of councils that sent her own servants to control her in her own house, for she was least likely to obey those who had always been used to obey her," Then she added, " If they refused to do your message, they are the honestest men I know."

These officers were kept in prison as long as Edward VI. reigned, but Mary remembered and rewarded their fidelity afterwards.

After some more useless urging on the part of the king's councillors, Mary gave them a ring to carry to her brother, kneeling as she did so, and saying, " that she would die his true subject and sister, and obey him in all things except matters of religion;" then she departed into her bedchamber.

But the messengers were not satisfied, so they summoned the chaplains of Mary's household and threatened them with condign punishment if they performed any service but that contained in the Common Prayer Book.

The chaplains objected at first, but afterwards promised to obey. Mary was not baffled yet, for she had hidden away one of them and he could not be found. While search was made for him high and low, the king's messengers waited in the courtyard ; and the princess threw open her window, and laughingly called out to them, " I pray you ask the lords of the castle that Rochester may shortly return ; for since his departing I keep the accounts myself, and lo, I have learned how many loaves of bread be made of a bushel of wheat! My father and mother never brought me up to brewing and baking! and to be plain with you, I am a-weary of mine office. If my lords will send my officer home again, they will do me a pleasure; otherwise, if they will send him to prison, beshrew me, if he go not to it mer-

BOOK: Agnes Strickland's Queens of England
3.42Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

The Promise by Kate Benson
Cianuro espumoso by Agatha Christie
First and Only by Dan Abnett
After the Circus by Patrick Modiano
The Casting Couch by Amarinda Jones
The Goodbye Look by Ross Macdonald
Cowboy Valentine by Mia Hopkins
Destiny Lies Waiting by Diana Rubino
Overtime by David Skuy