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Authors: Josephine Ross

The Men Who Would Be King

BOOK: The Men Who Would Be King
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T H E   M E N
W H O
W O U L D
B E   K I N G

T h e   C o u r t s h i p s   o f
Q u e e n   E l i z a b e t h   I

J
O S E P H I N E
  R
O S S

D E D I C A T I O N

  F O R   J A M E S  

C O N T E N T S

Dedication

1
 
The Early Years

2
 
“The Matter of the Admiral”

3
 
“The Question of the Day”

4
 
“A Great Resort of Wooers”

5
 
The Queen in Love

6
 
“The Weal of the Kingdom”

7
 
The Brothers of France

8
 
A Frog He Would A-Wooing Go

9
 
Mistress of England

Illustrations

Index

Acknowledgments

Credits

Copyright

About the Publisher

I L L U S T R A T I O N S

  
1
Elizabeth, c. 1546 (
by gracious permission of HM the Queen
)
  
2
Emmanuel Philibert of Savoy (
Radio Times Hulton Picture Library
)
  
3
Edward Courtenay, Earl of Devonshire (
Radio Times Hulton Picture Library
)
  
4
Thomas, Lord Seymour of Sudeley (
National Portrait Gallery
)
  
5
Henry Fitzalan, Earl of Arundel (
National Portrait Gallery
)
  
6
Eric XIV of Sweden (
SPA Nationalmuseum Stockholm
)
  
7
Philip II of Spain (
National Portrait Gallery
)
  
8
Charles, Archduke of Austria (
Mary Evans Picture Library
)
  
9
Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester (
National Portrait Gallery
)
10
Charles IX of France (
Private collection
)
11
Henry, Duke of Anjou (
Radio Times Hulton Picture Library
)
12
Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex (
National Portrait Gallery
)
13
Francis, Duke of Alençon (
Private collection
)
14
Elizabeth I, c. 1575 (
National Portrait Gallery
)

1

The Early Years

Whoso list to hunt, I know where is a hind

But as for me, alas, I may no more.

The vain travail hath wearied me so sore,

I am of those that farthest come behind.

Yet may by no means my wearied mind

Draw from the deer, but as she fleeth afore,

Fainting I follow. I leave off therefore,

Since in a net I seek to hold the wind.

Who lists her hunt, I put him out of doubt,

As well as I may spend his time in vain;

And graven with diamonds, in letters plain,

There is written her fair neck round about,

Noli me tangere,
for Caesar's I am,

And wild for to hold, though I seem tame.

T
he pursuit of Elizabeth Tudor was the greatest hunt in history. For more than half a century, kings, princes, nobles, and knights, Frenchmen, Austrians, Spaniards, Swedes, and “mere English” joined the chase, lured by the magnificent quarry who pranced before them, leaping away, doubling back, sometimes halting and seeming to yield, but always at last disappearing over the horizon. Instinct and experience taught Elizabeth not to surrender, but political expediency, emotional cravings, and the exhilaration of the sport combined in her head and heart to keep the great hunt going. From her babyhood into her old age, in spite of her avowals of perpetual virginity, in spite of rich rumors to the contrary, the most splendid men in Europe succeeded one another in the field as suitors to the queen.

Noli me tangere
—do not touch me; it would have been a fitting motto for Elizabeth, but she was not born when Sir Thomas Wyatt wrote the sonnet, bitter with love for her mother, Anne Boleyn. Giddy, seductive Anne had no need of lesser lovers such as Wyatt while Henry VIII, England's mighty Caesar, courted her with exuberant tenderness, drawing hearts and initials on his love letters like a schoolboy, disrupting the religious and social orders to make her his wife. She was not a classic beauty, but she had the luscious dark eyes and nervy delicacy of a doe, and she dressed with sophisticated, expensive taste; above all, she knew how to make men ache with desire. Women in the London crowds shouted abuse at her and the imperial ambassador Chapuys sneered knowingly and referred to her as “the Concubine” in his dispatches. After the birth of Elizabeth, in September 1533, he wrote, “The christening has been like her mother's coronation, very cold and disagreeable both to the court and to the city.” It was a serious blow to Henry VIII that the baby, born seven months after his marriage to Anne, was not a boy; however, the new queen's ability to bear children was now proved, and the all-important male heir to the throne would no doubt follow. The baby Elizabeth was healthy and indeed had a certain value as bait for a future foreign marriage alliance. But the king's passion for his wife faded as the months paced on and no son was born. Anne's brittle charm cracked into neurosis, her peals of inappropriate laughter sounded hysterical, her shrewishness vented itself in orders to threaten and bully the king's disgraced elder daughter, Mary. More than ever Anne seemed “wild for to hold,” carelessly coquettish with any man from the common musician Mark Smeaton to her own brother Viscount Rochford, flirting and teasing and fishing for compliments, seeking reassurance that she was still desirable. Then, in January 1536, she gave birth prematurely to a stillborn boy, and Henry had no more tolerance.

BOOK: The Men Who Would Be King
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