Tag Archives: Elizabeth I

On this day in 1557 – Anne of Cleves died

Anne of Cleves was born 22nd September 1515 in Düsseldorf to John III, Duke of Cleves and his wife Maria, Duchess of Julich-Berg. Anne grew up on the edge of Solingen.

At the age of 11 in 1527 Anne was betrothed to Francis, the 10 year old son of the Duke of Lorraine. Due to his age in 1535 the betrothal was broken off and considered unofficial.

Anne’s brother succeeded his father as the Duke of Cleves and due to his support of the Reformation and his ongoing dispute with the Holy Roman Emperor, Cleves was considered by Thomas Cromwell as a convenient ally.

Following the death of his third wife, Jane Seymour, King Henry VIII was beginning to consider remarrying for the fourth time and began to seek out his options. Hans Holbein the Younger was sent to Cleves to paint both Anne and her younger sister, Amalia, Henry was considering either of the sisters as his wife. Holbein was instructed to be as accurate as possible in his painting and not to flatter the sisters. The paintings were brought back to Henry who chose Anne based on her portrait.Anne_of_Cleves,_by_Hans_Holbein_the_Younger

Anne of Cleves portrait painted by Hans Holbein the younger

Negotiators were sent to Cleves to begin talks regarding a marriage between Anne and Henry. Thomas Cromwell oversaw the talks himself and a marriage treaty was signed on 4th October 1539. With the treaty signed Anne set off for England.

The Spanish Ambassador Eustace Chapuys wrote about Anne’s arrival in England;

“This year on St John’s Day, 27 Dec, Lady Anne, daughter of the Duke of Cleves in Germany, landed at Dover at 5 o’clock at night, and there was honourably received by the Duke of Suffolk and other great lords, and so lodged in the castle. And on the following Monday she rode to Canterbury where she was honourably received by the Archbishop of Canterbury and other great men, and lodged at the King’s palace at St Austin’s, and there highly feasted. On Tuesday she came to Sittingbourne.

On New Year’s Eve the Duke of Norfolk with other knights and the barons of the exchequer received her grace on the heath, two miles beyond Rochester; and so brought her to the abbey of Rochester where she stayed that night and all New Years Day. And on New Years Day in the afternoon the king’s grace with five of his privy chamber, being disguised with mottled cloaks with hoods so that they should not be recognised, came secretly to Rochester, and so went up into the chamber where the said Lady Anne was looking out of a window to see the bull-baiting which was going on in the courtyard, and suddenly he embraced and kissed her, and showed her a token which the King had sent her for New Year’s gift, and she being abashed and not knowing who it was thanked him and so he spoke with her. But she regarded him little, but always looked out the window… and when the King saw that she took so little notice of his coming he went into another chamber and took off his cloak and came in again in a coat of purple velvet. And when the lords and knights saw his grace they did reverence… and then her grace humbled herself lowly to the king’s majesty, and his grace saluted her again, and they talked together lovingly, and afterwards he took her by the hand and led her to another chamber where their graces amused themselves that night and on Friday until the afternoon.

…So she came to Greenwich that night, and was received as Queen. And the next day, being Sunday, the King’s grace kept a great court at Greenwich, where his grace with the Queen offered at mass, richly dressed. And on Twelfth Night, which was a Tuesday, the King’s majesty was married to the said Queen Anne solemnly, in her closet at Greenwich, and his grace and she went publicly in procession that day, she having a rich coronet of stone and pearls set with rosemary on her hair, and a gown of rich cloth of silver, richly hung with stones and pearls, with all her ladies and gentlewomen following her, which was a goodly sight to behold.”

Although Chapuys report shows the happy display the couple put on, away from public eyes Henry was unhappy with his new bride after she first failed to impress at their meeting in Rochester. Anne was expected to recognise her masked suitor as her new husband as per the rules of courtly love but she did not understand what was being played out in front of her. Henry urged Thomas Cromwell and his councillors to find a way out of the marriage

Despite Henry’s protestations and no solution to his request the marriage went ahead on 6th January 1540 at Greenwich Palace, presided over by Archbishop Cranmer. The couple then spent an unsuccessful wedding night together. Henry complained further about Anne in particular he described Anne as having bad odour and saggy breasts amongst other complaints, he also stated that Anne was unprepared for married life and what was expected of her on her wedding night. It was known that Henry reported to Cromwell ‘I liked her before not well, but now I like her much worse’.

By 24th June 1540 Anne was commanded to leave the court and was moved to Richmond Palace, while Anne remained in the dark as to what was happening back at Greenwich Stephen Gardiner was investigating the pre-contract Anne had with the Duke of Lorraine’s son. On 6th July 1540 Anne was informed that Henry was worried that their marriage was not lawful and her consent was sought for the marriage to be investigated. Anne gave her consent probably fearful of her life if she did not.

The marriage between Henry and Anne was declared invalid on 9th July 1540 due to three factors; Anne’s pre-contract with the Duke of Lorriane, Henry’s lack of consent to the marriage and the lack of consummation after the wedding. In exchange for a quick and easy annulment Henry granted Anne an income of £4000 a year, houses at Richmond Palace, Bletchingley and Lewes along with jewels, furniture, hangings as well as Hever Castle, the former home of Henry’s second wife, Anne Boleyn. Anne was also given the title of King’s sister and allowed to attend court.

Although the marriage did not work out between the couple Henry and Anne would go on to have a good relationship when Henry married his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, Henry visited Anne to inform her personally of the marriage. After the fall of Catherine Howard Anne’s brother, the Duke of Cleves, pushed her case for the King to remarry Anne, a suggestion that was quickly refused instead marrying Catherine Parr, a woman that Anne appeared to dislike.

After King Henry VIII’s death Anne remained in England and in March 1547 the new King Edward VI’s Privy Council asked Anne to vacate her home at Bletchingley Palace and relocate to Penshurst Palace in order for Thomas Cawarden, the new Master of Revels to live in Bletchingley.

Anne lived quietly away from court during Edward’s reign. When Edward’s eldest sister took the throne after his death Anne wrote to Mary on 4th August 1553 to congratulate her former step-daughter on her marriage to Philip of Spain. The following month on 28th September Anne accompanied Mary from St James’s Palace to Whitehall, Elizabeth also accompanied the pair.

With the country reverting back to Catholicism Anne changed her religion to please the new Queen and despite the few appearances at the beginning of Mary’s reign, including her coronation Anne remained away from court. That is until Wyatt’s Rebellion in 1554 when Anne’s relationship with Elizabeth caused Mary to question Anne’s motives and Mary was convinced that “the Lady (Anne) of Cleves was of the plot and intrigued with the Duke of Cleves to obtain help for Elizabeth: matters in which the king of France was the prime mover.”

After falling under Mary’s suspicion Anne did not attend court again and chose to live quietly on her estates until her health began to deteriorate when Mary permitted Anne to relocate to Chelsea Old Manor, the former home of Henry’s final wife Catherine Parr. In July 1557 Anne dictated her final will, she remembers her family as well as the Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Suffolk and Countess of Arundel. Anne also left money for her servants and asked Mary and Elizabeth to find employment for them within their households.

Anne died on 16th July 1557; aged 41, the cause of death is unconfirmed. Anne was buried in Westminster Abbey, the only one of Henry’s wives that was buried there. Her tomb is opposite the shrine for Edward the Confessor.

Annes tomb Westminster AbbeyAnne of Cleves tomb in Westminster Abbey

On this day in 1612 – Edward Seymour died

Edward Seymour was born on 21st September 1561 in the Tower of London to Edward Seymour, 1st Earl of Hertford and Lady Catherine Grey, sister to Lady Jane Grey. The marriage of Seymour’s parents was questionable as they kept their marriage a secret until Catherine became pregnant. A law had been passed stating that as Catherine was a potential claimant to the English throne she was unable to marry without Queen Elizabeth’s consent. Therefore when it was discovered the Earl of Hertford and Catherine had married they were taken to the Tower of London and questioned regarding the marriage. As neither could remember the date of their wedding and the priest could not be located their son was declared illegitimate and eventually she was separated from her husband and children until her death.

Seymour married Honora Rogers at some point during 1582 and they would go on to have six children; Edward, William, Francis, Honora, Anne and Mary. William Seymour would later go on to secretly marry his cousin Arbella Stuart and be imprisoned in the Tower of London like his grandparents were.

As the son of Lady Catherine Grey, Edward Seymour had a strong claim to the throne of England through Mary Tudor, King Henry VIII’s younger sister. However, Elizabeth chose to select King James VI of Scotland as her successor who had a claim through Margaret Tudor, Henry’s eldest sister. It is believed that James was chosen over Edward due to his illegitimacy.

Seymour died on 13th July 1612 at Great Bedwyn and was buried at Bedwyn Magna before being reinterred at Salisbury Cathedral.

Catherine Grey and Edward Seymour

An infant Edward Seymour and his mother, Lady Catherine Grey

On this day in 1575 – Queen Elizabeth I began a 19 day stay at Kenilworth Castle

The 9th July 1575 saw a royal visit like no other when Queen Elizabeth I arrived at Kenilworth Castle, home of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester and the Queen’s favourite. Elizabeth would stay here for the next 19 days, the longest she stayed anywhere during her progresses. The relationship between Elizabeth and Dudley went back to their childhood and remained throughout.

With the visit of the Queen ahead of him Robert Dudley spared no expense in renovating his home in order to impress the Queen, some rumours at the time also claimed that it was Dudley’s last chance to try and win Elizabeth’s hand in marriage.

Elizabeth arrived with four hundred staff, 31 barons and on a daily basis at least 20 horseman arrived and left delivering messages to the court.

Leicesters buildingLeicester’s Building – a series of state rooms specifically built for Elizabeth’s visit

According to records at the time Dudley did the following to his home;

  • A new tower block called Leicester’s Building that was built that would provide state accommodation to the Queen and her staff, it was originally built for Elizabeth’s visit in 1572 but Dudley improved it further for the 1575 visit.
  • A grand entrance to the castle was created in 1572 called Leicester’s Gatehouse
  • The castle’s landscape was vastly improved with new flowers and trees planted as well a bridge that was built to connect the gatehouse with the chase
  • A privy garden was created for the Queen’s personal use

Robert Langham, a member of Dudley’s staff wrote about the privy garden he said;

“a garden so appointed to feel the pleasant whisking wind above, or delectable coolness of the fountain-spring beneath; to taste of delicious strawberries, cherries and other fruits, even from their stalks, to smell such fragrancy of sweet odours, breathing from the plants, herbs and flowers; to hear such natural melodious music and tunes of birds.”

Alongside the renovations to the castle Dudley put on a wide range of entertainment including;

  • A magnificent firework display
  • Many plays one of which included Triton riding on an 18 foot mermaid in a lake alongside the Lady of the Lake and her nymphs. This play was said to inspire a scene in William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
  • Dudley ensured his grounds were well stocked for daily hunts
  • A masque was written but cancelled due to bad weather that was called ‘Zabeta’.

Robert Langham also wrote;

In the centre, as it were, of this goodly garden, was there placed a very fair fountain, cast into an eight-square, reared four feet high; from the midst whereof, a column upright, in the shape of two Athlants, joined together a back half; the one looking east, the other west, with their hands upholding a fair-formed boll of three feet over; from whence sun-dry fine pipes did lively distil continual streams into the reservoir of the fountain, maintained still two feet deep by the same fresh falling water; wherein pleasantly playing to and fro, and round about, carp, tench, bream, and for variety, pearch and eel, fish fair-liking all, and large: In the top, the ragged staff; which, with the bowl, the pillar, and eight sides beneath, were all hewn out of rich and hard white marble. One one side, Neptune with his tridental fuskin triumphing in his throne, trailed into the deep by his marine horses. On another, Thetis in her chariot drawn by her dolphins. Then Triton by his fishes. Here Proteus herding his sea-bulls. There Doris and her daughters solacing on sea and sands. The waves surging with froth and foam, intermingled in place, with whales, whirlpools, sturgeons, tunneys, conches, and wealks, all engraven by exquisite device and skill, so as I may think this not much inferior unti Phoebus’ gates, which Ovid says, and per-adventure a pattern to this, that Vulcan himself did cut: whereof such was the excellency of art, that the work in value surmounted the stuff, and yet were the gates all of clean massy silver.”

Elizabethan gardenThe current Elizabethan Garden

During her time at Kenilworth Castle the Queen also continued to work and knighted five men, including Thomas Cecil and she also received nine people who were ill so she could touch them as it was believed that one touch from the monarch could cure any illness.

Elizabeth’s stay cost Dudley a rumoured £1000 a day, which he suffered the effects of for the rest of his life.

How Kenilworth would have looked in 1575How Kenilworth Castle looked in 1575

On this day in 1578 – William Bradbridge died

William Bradbridge was born in London in 1501, very little is known about his early life. On 15th July 1528 he was awarded his B.A. at Magdalen College, Oxford with his M.A. following on 6th June 1532 and finally his B.D. on 17th June 1539.

Raised as a Protestant, in 1555 Bradbridge was appointed prebendary of Lyme and Holstock Sarum, he was also granted the post of canon of Chichester in 1561 a dispensation was issued regarding a term of residence at Salisbury.

On 28th April 1562 Bradbridge was appointed to chancellor of Chichester and he was able to hold the chancellorship with his bishopric. On Low Sunday 1563 he preached the annual Spittal sermon and in the same June he was elected to dean of Salisbury via letters from Queen Elizabeth I.

On 1st March 1571 Bradbridge was elected to the bishop of Exeter. After a declaration regarding the Queen’s supremacy the temporalities of the see were restored to Bradbridge two weeks later on 14th March. He was officially consecrated at Lambeth on 18th March by Archbishop Matthew Parker and Bishops Robert Horne and Nicholas Bullingham. Alongside being made bishop he was also granted two benefices in commendam, in Newton Ferrers, Devon and Lezante, Cornwall. It was not as promising as he would hope and would leave him financially ruined. It was documented

He was far indebted to the Queen’s Majesty for the monies received of the clergy for tenths and subsidies, so that immediately upon his death, all his goods were seized for her use”

In 1572 Bradbridge was given the Pentateuch to translate for the new Bishop’s Bible. Despite holding a high position within the church Bradbridge he still had trouble with Catholics and dissenters. In 1578 Bradbridge asked Lord Burghley if he could return to Salisbury following trouble in his diocese.

Bradbridge died suddenly on 27th June 1578, aged 77, at his home in Newton Ferrers and was buried in Exeter Cathedral.

Upon his death it was noted that;

he died £1400 in debt to Queen Elizabeth, and had not wherewith to bury him”

Exeter CathedralExeter Cathedral

On this day in 1585 – Henry Percy, 8th Earl of Northumberland died.

Henry Percy, 8th Earl of Northumberland was born in 1532 at Newburn Manor, he was the second son of Sir Thomas Percy and his wife Eleanor Harbottle. Percy and his brother, Thomas, were brought up in Northumberland and therefore were close to the Scottish borders and were likely to have witnessed battles between the English and Scottish.

During the reign of Queen Mary I Henry Percy was appointed governor of Tynemouth Castle, where in his later life Percy’s wife would give birth to their son, also Henry, here in 1564. Percy was also a Member of Parliament for Morpeth in 1554, knighted in 1557 and was also appointed as deputy warden of the east and middle marches.

With the accession of Queen Elizabeth I Percy was kept in his chief offices with the excpetion of having to transfer his governship of Tynemouth Castle in order to become captain of Norham Castle. However, he was reappointed back to Tynemouth in 1561.

With war against Scotland breaking out in 1560 Percy was given command of a body of light horse and led a troop in battle. With the French defeat at Leith, the commander of the French army D’Oyzelle asked if he could surrender his sword to Percy and not the commander-in-chief, Lord Grey.

Percy was commissioned in 1561 along with the Thomas Young, Archbishop of York, to administer the Oath of Supremacy to the clergy in the north. Percy’s position in the north was strengthened at the end of the year when he married Catherine Neville, daughter and co-heiress of John Neville, 4th Baron Latimer, they went on to have 11 children. After his marriage he was appointed Sheriff of Northumberland in 1562.

In late 1569 the Rising of the North occurred in which Henry Percy’s elder brother, Thomas was a chief leader. Henry Percy however, remained loyal to the Queen and the government and he joined the royal army in the fight against the rebels. With his brother captured and imprisoned in Scotland Percy wrote to him to urge him to confess his guilt and appeal to the Queen’s mercy. Instead Thomas Percy was executed in York in 1572. Henry Percy was awarded the title of Earl of Northumberland.

However, Percy was not as loyal as he seemed. On 15th November 1571 he was arrested and sent to the Tower of London. He had been found communicating with John Lesley, bishop of Ross, offering his help to free Mary, Queen of Scots from Tutbury. On 23rd February 1572 Percy wrote to the Queen begging to be released, however, he was left in the Tower for the next 18 months until he was brought to trial charged with treason. Once again begging the Queen’s mercy he was fined 5000 marks and ordered to remain under house arrest at his home at Petworth. It wasn’t until 12th July 1573 when he was summoned to London and given his freedom.

On 8th February 1576 he took his seat in the House of Lords for the first time and he was appointed as one of the royal commissioners to prorogue parliament in November.

In 1582, Percy was once again brought into the plots surrounding Mary, Queen of Scots when he met with M.de Bex, a French agent, and looked at Throckmorton’s plot to free the Scottish Queen. He was once again arrested along with Lord Henry Howard and Francis Throckmorton. Percy was sent to the Tower again, unlike his previous stay he was only here for a few weeks and was not charged although he was stripped of his governship of Tynemouth Castle. Once released Percy was still keen to release Mary and the following September he met Charles Paget and his brother at his home, Petworth to discuss the matter fully. Percy offered advice as to where the French troops could land to launch their rescue mission. One of Percy’s aides was also present at this meeting, William Shelley. Shelley was arrested and tortured and confessed all about Percy’s meeting but claimed that it was Percy’s mission to not only rescue Mary but to also extort from the Queen full toleration towards Roman Catholics.

Henry Percy found himself, for a third time, in the Tower of London where he continued to protest his innocence and beg for the Queen’s mercy. On 20th June 1585 six months after being imprisoned Percy was found dead in his cell. He had been shot through the heart, it was declared.

Percy’s death has always been suspicious the day before his death he was placed under the care of a new warden by the Lieutenant of the Tower on orders of Sir Christopher Hatton. Rumours spread that Hatton was responsible for Percy’s death and many years later Sir Walter Raleigh wrote to Sir Robert Cecil referring the Hatton’s guilt. Percy was buried in the church of St. Peter ad Vincula within the grounds of the Tower of London.

Interior of St Peter ad VinculaThe interior of St. Peter ad Vincula

On this day in 1536 – Second Act of Succession passed by Parliament

The Second Act of Succession was passed by the English Parliament on 8th June 1536. It had two names at the time ‘An Act concerning the Succession of the Crown’ and ‘Succession to the Crown: Marriage Act 1536’.

The Act was introduced to Parliament following the execution of Anne Boleyn and the new marriage of King Henry VIII to Jane Seymour that had all happened within the previous month.

The new act replaced the First Act of Succession, which was passed in March 1534. In this act as well as Mary still being illegitimate it also declared Elizabeth to now be illegitimate and both were ruled out of the succession. Both girls lost the right to be called Princess and had to be referred to as Lady. Any children that Henry would have with his new Queen, Jane would be the rightful heir to the throne.

The Act however, left Henry with no legitimate children for the time and therefore no heir to the throne. The Act did cover this by declaring that it gave Henry ‘full and plenary power and authority’, which meant that if he still had no legitimate child when the time came to write his will then he could name his successor in letters patent or in his last will and testament.

As well as dealing with the line of succession it also made it an offence to any person who said that either of Henry’s first two marriages to Katherine of Aragon or Anne Boleyn were valid or even if someone said Mary or Elizabeth were legitimate. It was also punishable if anyone criticised the sentence passed on Sir Thomas More who was executed for refusing to take the previous oath regarding the succession. If an offense was committed then that person could be charged with high treason and punished.

The Act also required subjects to take an oath to uphold the Act and again it was treason to refuse. Any one accused of treason was not able to seek sanctuary and therefore had nowhere to hide. If accused and convicted of treason then the death penalty could be passed.

Henry and Jane were delivered a son, Edward, in October 1537 and this act meant that he was, from birth, the rightful heir to the English throne.

Henry VIII and familyKing Henry VIII surrounded by his children.

Is this Shakespeare or a case of false identity?

On 19th May 2015 at the Rose Theatre, London, it was announced by botanist and historian Mark Griffiths that he had discovered a new likeness of William Shakespeare that had been hidden in plain sight on the pages of John Gerard’s The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes for over 400 years.

Shakespeare country lifeA new image of William Shakespeare as discovered by Mark Griffiths

The image Griffiths believes is now the only portrait that exists of Shakespeare that was made whilst he was still alive and he ages Shakespeare at approximately 33 years old. It all seems quite straightforward so far, the next part of the story feels like it has come straight out of ‘The Da Vinci Code’, Griffiths discovered who the portrait was of only after cracking a Tudor cipher!

Griffiths has shared his story exclusively with Country Life. He explains just how he came to the conclusion that the unidentified man on the page is Shakespeare and how he deciphered the hidden code. It was a midsummer’s night when the lightbulb or should I say candle sparked for Griffiths!

Botiny bookJohn Gerard’s The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

Firstly, Griffiths identifies the other three men on the page as John Gerard, the author, Rembert Dodoens and Lord Burghley, Gerard’s patron.

Cipher Country LifeFrom the cipher Griffiths worked out that the 4 at the top of the cipher can be translated as the Latin ‘quarter’ but if you add the E that is positioned next to it that makes quatere, which is Latin ‘to shake’. If you add the diagonal line into the equation to link the 4 and E together it creates a spear so all together Griffiths claims that this clearly means ‘Shakespeare’. However, it doesn’t end there Griffiths states that at the bottom of the cipher is a W which clearly stands for William. Finally, in the centre is OR, which is the heraldic word for the colour Gold, the colour of John Shakespeare’s coat of arms. With all these added together Griffiths claims that the man stood on the fourth plinth is without a doubt William Shakespeare.

The most obvious objection to all this is that the man in the image is wearing Roman attire, why would William Shakespeare be wearing a Roman toga, holding an ear of corn and wearing a laurel wreath around his head? Well, Griffiths claims that it is homage to Apollo.

Why do all four men from different backgrounds appear on the front page of a botany book? Well according to Griffiths Lord Burghley was not only the patron of John Gerard but also William Shakespeare. He claims that it was Burghley who commissioned Shakespeare’s early poems, such as Venus and Adonis and not the Earl of Southampton. This is purely down to the fact that Burghley was Southampton’s guardian and controlled his finances until Southampton turned 21 in 1594. Therefore Burghley paid Shakespeare to write these poems and dedicate them to his ward urging him to marry, preferably his granddaughter, Elizabeth Vere. By claiming that Burghley was Shakespeare’s patron it disproves any theories that the Earl of Oxford was in fact the play writer as Burghley and his son in law Oxford openly disliked each other.

With revelation after revelation being divulged in this issue of Country Life there is still time for one more that armed with all this new information about Shakespeare Griffiths has been able to identify a new play that he now credits Shakespeare as the author of.

Not everybody has backed these new claims. Professor Michael Dobson, director of the Shakespeare Institute at the University of Birmingham said;

“I haven’t seen the detailed arguments but Country Life is certainly not the first publication to make this sort of claim. One has seen so many claims on Shakespeare based on somebody claiming to crack a code. And nobody else has apparently been able to decipher this for 400 years. There’s no evidence that anybody thought that this was Shakespeare at the time.”

So if it is not William Shakespeare on the page then just who could it be? Firstly, it could be an entirely fictional character made up by the artist who designed the page. It could even be Dioscorides, a Greek physician and herbalist who served the Roman Legions. His book of herbal knowledge dated 1500 years prior to Gerard’s work.

DioscoridesDioscorides

However one suggestion is that the cipher is in fact the ‘sign of four’, a mark that was used by various merchants in the Elizabethan era and in this case by the printer. The sign of four is clearly seen at the top of the cipher but it is what’s below that relates to who it belongs to. In this case it could be William and John Norton. This is further backed up by Joseph Ames in Typographical Antiquities, 1749;

“This curious folio has the mark of William and John Norton together in a cypher”

What about the two images of William Shakespeare thaShakespeare first foliot we know for certain are of the man himself? The engraving that accompanies the first folio and the effigy of Shakespeare that overlooks his grave in Stratford upon Avon were both commissioned by friends and family after his death. So they must be a true likeness otherwise they surely would not have allowed them into the public domain to accompany not only his work but his final resting place. The121refore you must assume that if it was Shakespeare on the page of Gerard’s book then someone somewhere would have documented this and as Professor Dobson said why has no one else deciphered the code in 400 years!

Above – Shakespeare’s image in the first folio

Right – Shakespeare’s effigy, Holy Trinity Church, Stratford upon Avon

What about the play that Griffiths is claiming is Shakespeare’s work? It is not so much a play but a piece of Elizabethan political propaganda. Queen Elizabeth I visited Lord Burghley at his home Theobalds, Herfordshire on 10th May 1591. It was widely believed that Burghley, now aged 70, would be retiring from his duties as Lord Treasurer and chief minister. Burghley put on a spectacular display, which Elizabeth was a part of. First she was told that Burghley would not permit her entrance unless she handed over a decree that would allow Burghley to continue in his work. This was all via an unnamed actor who was hired for his role in the entertainment.

TheobaldsLord Burghley’s home, Theobalds

During the ten day visit the actor and a colleague appeared to perform in front of the Queen. This according to Griffiths was not only written by but also performed by Shakespeare. The performance consisted of an argument between a mole catcher and a gardener and the possession of a jewelled box. They were both to put their case in front of the Queen over the ownership of the box.

Griffiths believes that this short play was designed around promoting Burghley’s son, Robert Cecil and his suitability to be Sir Francis Walsingham’s replacement as Principal Secretary. The play uses the gardener as a metaphor for Cecil and the garden as England. The mole catcher is a representation of both Burghley and Cecil and the darker side of their roles in terms of espionage. Therefore the play is telling Elizabeth that her country is safe in the hands of the Cecils.

Whether William Shakespeare actually wrote this is unknown, certainly some aspects crop up in later work but as this took place during Shakespeare’s ‘lost years’ we will never know for certain unless some concrete proof is unearthed and not all based around a 400 year old cipher.

On this day in 1588 – Anne de Vere died

Anne de Vere nee Cecil, was born on 5th December 1556 to William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley and his wife Mildred Cooke. Anne would grow up to be well educated and was well versed in French, Latin and potentially Italian, she was tutored by William Lewin. It is no surprise that Anne was a woman of many languages when her mother was well noted from her translations from the Greek.

In 1569 Anne was engaged to Sir Philip Sidney but the marriage negotiations failed and instead she married Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford on 19th December 1571 at Westminster Abbey. Edward was the ward of William Cecil and so the two grew up in the same household.

Following the marriage Anne continued living at home and son fell pregnant and on 2nd July 1575 she gave birth to a daughter, Elizabeth. Edward was abroad touring Europe and upon his return accused Anne of adultery and declared the child illegitimate. In April 1576 he officially separated from Anne and refused to recognise her at court.

During the separation in 1581 Edward was imprisoned in the Tower of London at the Queen’s command for having an illegitimate child with one of her Lady’s of the Bedchamber. Edward was quickly released and in December 1581 Anne had begun corresponding with her husband once more and they reconciled the following month, with Edward accepting that Anne’s daughter was his.

With the marriage reconciled the de Vere’s went on to have a further four children taking the total to five, four girls and a boy. Unfortunately Lord Bulbecke died in his early infancy. It was believed that Anne wrote a handful of poems about her son that were published in Pandora (1584), however these are potentially written by someone else using her viewpoint.

Anne died on 5th June 1588 at the age of 31 from unknown causes. She is buried at Westminster Abbey where her mother and daughters were later buried.

Lower part of the monument to Mildred, Lady Burghley and her dauThe tomb of Anne de Vere in Westminster Abbey

On this day in 1572 – Thomas Howard is executed

Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk was born on 10th March 1536 to Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey and was second cousin to Queen Elizabeth I through their grandmother, Lady Elizabeth Howard.

Although Howard was brought up to be a Protestant he had leanings towards Catholism and was well well rewarded during the reign of Queen Mary I. Howard played a key role in her coronation and served Mary’s husband, Philip as his first gentleman of the chamber. Philip was also the godfather to Howard’s son, Philip, whom he had with his first wife, Mary FitzAlan.

Thomas Howard’s first marriage was short lived as she died a year after they married giving birth to their only son, Philip. Howard married again to the Margaret Audley, daughter of the 1st Baron Audley of Walden in 1558. They went on to have four children together; Thomas, William, Elizabeth and Margaret.

In 1559 Elizabeth inducted Howard into the Knight of the Garter and soon created him Earl Marshal of England and Queen’s Lieutenant in the North and from February to July 1560 Howard was the commander of the English army in Scotland where he was tasked with defeating the French army who were stationed there under their regent, Mary of Guise. Initially Howard refused as he believed that there was a better way to protect England from France and that was if Elizabeth married Charles, Archduke of Austria. Howard eventually obeyed his orders and set off for Scotland and his job to provide supplies for the defence of Berwick and to begin negotiations. Few locals actually negotiated with Howard and documents showed that it was Sir Ralph Sadler and Sir James Croft that dealt with the negotiations and reported back to the Privy Council.

Howard was still in Scotland for the siege of Leith but instead of leading the army he was placed in charge of the reserves and eventually William Cecil arrived to negotiate the Treaty of Edinburgh. With Cecil’s arrival Howard returned home disgruntled at the fact he had not been more involved.

Despite his anger towards the queen he was bestowed many honours in the 1560s; he was sworn in as a member of the Privy Council, became a member of Gray’s Inn and even travelled with Elizabeth to Cambridge University. Despite the many honours Howard was still angry that Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, was receiving more honours than him and he let everyone know of his dislike of the Queen’s favourite.

Howard married for a third time to Elizabeth Leyburne, widow to Thomas Dacre, 4th Baron Dacre. Howard’s three sons from his first two marriages; Philip, Thomas and William married Elizabeth’s daughters from her marriage to Thomas Dacre.

In 1568 Howard as one of the only Duke’s in England was appointed as one of the three commissioners that heard evidence against Mary, Queen of Scots at York. On 11th October 1568 the commission were handed the Casket Letters by Regent Moray. These letters were private correspondence between Mary and the Ear of Bothwell and heavily implied that Mary was involved in the murder of her first husband, Lord Darnley. Howard believed that if Elizabeth would not recognise Mary’s claim to the English throne then the next best thing would be if she married an English peer. With Howard as the only Duke in England at the time and one of the most powerful men in the country he naturally elected himself. He believed that if Mary was Elizabeth’s successor he could guide Mary through the English government and help her rule the country, as King.

Despite a guilty verdict being passed on Mary for her involvement in her husband’s murder Howard began communicating with the Scottish Lords to propose marriage between Mary and him. He even suggested that Scotland sent an envoy to Elizabeth to propose the match, pitching it that Mary would be kept under control and under the radar. The match received some backing from Dudley and the Earls of Pembroke and Arundel as the succession was still a highly discussed topic within the realm. All the negotiations were secretive and Howard never formally declared himself as a candidate to marry Mary even after Westminster thought it was a good idea to keep an eye on Mary, instead he relied on pushing others to argue his case and gain support.

Towards the end of 1569 Howard had left court when the eye of suspicion fell on him and upon his return home he wrote two letters one to the Earl of Northumberland saying to not support any attempt to free Mary and the other was to Elizabeth to declare his loyalty to her. A cunning ploy to keep all sides happy, however, Elizabeth was already doubtful of his intentions she ordered Howard to return to court. Howard feigned illness to delay his return but on 2nd October he was placed under house arrest at Burnham.

Six days later on 8th October, Howard was removed from his home and taken to the Tower of London whilst his household staff and friends were questioned by the council. From the Tower Howard wrote to both Queens declaring his loyalty to each. Mary believed every word he said, Elizabeth did not. After 10 months in the Tower Howard eventually declared that he had been wrong in plotting to marry Mary and as a result Elizabeth allowed him to return to his home at Charterhouse to remain under house arrest.

Howard, not knowing when to give up, continued his negotiations with Mary and her supporters looked to King Philip of Spain to assist in a rebellion against Elizabeth to place Mary on the throne. Howard hired an Italian banker to act as negotiator between himself and King Philip and the he became the lead conspirator in what is now know as the Ridolfi Plot. The plot was discovered after Howard’s secretary was caught with a ciphered letter. The secretary was arrested and he revealed enough of the plot for Howard to once again be placed in the Tower.

Howard tried to protest against the charges against him by claiming that he had never wanted to marry Mary, he claimed that he did not trust her as she was an adulterer and a murderer. However, the evidence against Howard was too much and on 16th January 1572 it was announced that Howard would be placed on trial charged with high treason.

Howard was found guilty of plotting to marry with the queen’s permission, arranging a plot to gain Spanish help to invade England and place Mary on the throne. He was sentenced to death but with Elizabeth always reluctant to send people to the gallows she delayed. Eventually though on 2nd June 1572 Thomas Howard was executed.

Thomas Howard

On this day in 1555 – George Carew was born

George Carew was born on 29th May 1555 to the Dean of Windsor, Dr George Carew and his wife Anne. Carew attended Broadgates Hall, Oxford and later Pembroke College between 1564 an 1573.

Carew entered into the service of the crown’s base in Ireland in 1574 and served under his cousin, Sir Peter Carew. The following year saw Carew volunteer to join the army of Sir Henry Sidney and in 1576 Carew for a few months fulfilled the role of Captain of the Garrison at Leighlin and was also appointed the Lieutenant Governor of County Carlow as well as the Vice Constable of Leighlin Castle.

With a successful career in the army in 1578 Carew was made Captain in the Royal Navy and began a voyage with Sir Humphrey Gilbert. Carew successfully helped put down the Baltinglas and Desmond rebellions and was later appointed Constable of Leighlin Castle after the death of his brother.

In 1580 Carew married Joyce Clopton, daughter of William Clopton from Stratford upon Avon. The couple had no children although he had one illegitimate child, Sir Thomas Stafford.

Carew’s success meant that Queen Elizabeth I held him in high regard, as did Sir William Cecil and his son, Robert. Carew began receiving many posts with the court starting in 1582 when he was appointed a gentleman pensioner to the Queen and the following year High Sheriff of Carlow.

Carew was knighted in Christ Church, Dublin on 24th February 1586 by Lord Deputy, Sir John Perrot and petitioned the court on many government issues from Ireland. Carew returned to Ireland in 1588 to become Master of the Ordnance, after turning down an ambassadorship to France. Carew would hold the role of Master of the Ordnance until 1592 when he became Lieutenant General of Ordnance.

In May 1596 Carew was part of the expedition to Cadiz and in 1597 to Azores. In March 1599 Carew was appointed Treasurer at War to the Earl of Essex during his Irish campaign but when Essex abandoned his post to return to England, leaving Ireland undefended, Carew was appointed Lord Justice.

At the tip of the nine year war Carew was granted the post of President of Munster on 27th January 1600 and landed at Howth Head in February with Lord Mountjoy. In his role of President and he was able to impose martial law. In his role Carew was involved in many events including when the Earl of Ormond was seized and Carew and the Earl of Thomond escaped under the rain of daggers.

When Queen Elizabeth died in 1603 Carew was faced with with civil disorder as towns that fell under his jurisdiction refused to accept King James I as the new King of England. In Cork riots broke out and Carew had to send troops to restore order to the town.

In 1604, under the reign of King James I, Carew was elected as a Member of Parliament for Hastings and on 4th June 1605 he was created Baron Carew of Clopton. Carew was able to leave Ireland behind for a while but regularly checked in with the progress of the country, he was pleased to see that Ireland was improving and offered suggestions on how to keep it moving forward as a Protestant country.

In 1616 Carew was appointed a Privy Councillor and in 1618 he pleaded to King James I for the life of Sir Walter Raleigh, who was accused of being a Spanish spy and denouncing the rule of King James I.

Carew remained at court when King Charles I took the throne and was appointed Treasurer to Queen Consort Henrietta Maria of France and on 5th February 1626 he was created Earl of Totnes.

Carew died on 27th March 1629 at The Savoy and he was buried at Holy Trinity Church, Stratford upon Avon on 2nd May.

George Carew