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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Apologies Everywhere

Okay, so I have been probably the worst blogger ever for neglecting this for so long. Apologies all around. I've realized that something like a blog can only continue when you really establish it as a routine, but unfortunately my routine kind of fell apart at the end of March and it's taken a while to get it back. But, I do promise to be posting more, and I am well on my way to new research to make this blog even more in depthand interesting. So bare with me...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ides of March

Today, March 15, is known historically as the Ides of March. This is because, as legend has it, Julius Caesar was warned by a soothsayer to "beware the Ides of March." It was this day that Julius Caesar was stabbed 23 times by the entire Roman senate. To commemorate this day, it would seem most appropriate to talk about Shakespeare's Julius Caesar play.
Interestingly enough, Julius Caesar (despite being the title of the play), is not the main character. In fact he only appears in three scenes and is killed in the beginning of the third act. The real central character of the play is Marcus Brutus, who was a great friend of Caesar but whom ultimately betrayed him.
Many of Shakespeare's historical plays correlate with some sort of Elizabethan sentiment or topic of the time. In this case it is a clear reflection of the anxiety within England over the succession of the crown since Elizabeth had refused to name a successor which had people worried that England might break out into Civil War similar to the one in Rome, after her death. The play was most likely premiered in 1599.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

She Was Fond of Nicknames

Good Queen Bess, The Virgin Queen, Belphoebe, Gloriana, these are many of the nicknames given to Elizabeth during her lifetime and she if often refered to by them even today. But what people may not realize is that Elizabeth not only received nicknames but also gave them to her favorite courtiers.

Elizabeth called Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester her "Eyes"

William Cecil was her "Spirit"

Robert Cecil was her "pigmy" or "elf"

Sir Christopher Hatton was her "mutton" or "lids"

Francis Walsingham was her "Moor"

Francis, Duke of Alencon, (her French suiter) her "frog"

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Elizabeth's Poems

Elizabeth was a very educated woman, and took great pleasure in reading and writing poetry. While imprisoned in the Tower of London and other places such as Woodstock during Mary's tumultous reign, she spent a great deal of time not only worrying about her fate (as her poems reveal), but also writing. Below are few of her poems written during her imprisonment:

Much suspected by me,
Nothing proved can be,
Quoth E
LIZABETH prisoner.

The above couplet was written on the window in Elizabeth's jail/bedroom at Woodstock. She wrote on the window by engraving it with a diamond ring she was wearing. Elizabeth was questioned often about her feelings toward Mary, Catholicism, and whether Elizabeth had taken part in any of the plots against Mary. However, Elizabeth was always successful at indirectly answering questions and so Mary and her supporters were never able to find Elizabeth guilty of any wrongdoing. The one below was also written at Woodstock, but on a wall.

O FORTUNE! how thy restless wavering State
Hath fraught with Cares my troubled Wit!
Witness this present Prison whither Fate
Hath borne me, and the Joys I quit.
Thou causedest the Guilty to be loosed
From Bands, wherewith are Innocents inclosed;
Causing the Guiltless to be strait reserved,
And freeing those that Death had well deserved:
But by her Envy can be nothing wrought,
So God send to my Foes all they have thought.
A.D. M.D.LV.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

An Elizabethan Courtier

Sir Thomas Gresham (1517/18–79) served as Elizabeth's chief financial adviser, negotiating loans on the Crown's behalf and advising Elizabeth on the necessity of recoinage.

A very successful businessman, Gresham paid for the establishment of an exchange in London, the precursor to the London Stock Exchange, which was completed in 1569. After Elizabeth visited 1571 it became known as the Royal Exchange.

The Exchange was very successful with merchants from England and Europe. It provided a valuable symbol of the nation's increasing wealth as well as of its changing status from an 'island nation' isolated from power to one that was a seat of power and commerce, independent of the problems in continental Europe.

Gresham died suddenly, apparently of apoplexy, on 21 November 1579. His only son had predeceased him.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Going on Progress

From Saturday February 19 until Saturday February 26th I will be going on Progress. What is a Progress you ask? Well, during the spring and summer, accompanied by her court, Elizabeth toured southern England, the Midlands, and parts of the West Country, staying with private and civic hosts, and at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. The progresses provided hosts with unique opportunities to impress and influence the Queen, and became occasions for magnificent and ingenious entertainments and pageants, drawing on the skills of architects, artists, and craftsmen, as well as dramatic performances, formal orations, poetic recitations, parades, masques, dances, and bear baiting.

The most expensive "honour" of all was that of housing Queen Elizabeth and her household. Elizabeth hit on the clever scheme of going on constant "progresses" about the country. Aside from the benefit of bringing her into closer contact with her subjects, she saved a great deal of money by making the nobles with whom she stayed foot the bill for her visit. Many nobles begged off the honour of her stay for fear of bankruptcy.

My Progress is much less ornate, as I am only visiting family in California, but I'd like to think of it as an Elizabethan Progress!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Walter Raleigh Myth

As the myth goes, the explorer (and sometimes pirate) Sir Walter Raleigh once stepped forth from a crowd, gallantly doffed his cloak, and threw it over a mud puddle to protect the feet of the passing queen. This is unfortunately pure fiction, and Sir Walter Scott repeats this old legend in his famous novel "Kenilworth"

'Accordingly, she fixed her keen glance on the youth, as she approached the place where he stood, with a look in which surprise at his boldness seemed to be unmingled with resentment, while a trifling accident happened which attracted her attention towards him yet more strongly. The night had been rainy, and just where the young gentleman stood a small quantity of mud interrupted the Queen's passage. As she hesitated to pass on, the gallant, throwing his cloak from his shoulders, laid it on the miry spot, so as to ensure her stepping over it dry-shod. Elizabeth looked at the young man, who accompanied this act of devoted courtesy with a profound reverence, and a blush that overspread his whole countenance. The Queen was confused, and blushed in her turn, nodded her head, hastily passed on, and embarked in her barge without saying a word."

Or as Thomas Fuller puts the story:

Captain Raleigh found the queen walking , till, meeting with a plashy place, she seemed to scruple going thereon. Presently Raleigh cast and spread his new plush cloak on the ground; whereon the queen trod gently, rewarding him afterwards with many suits.
Thomas Fuller's 'Worthies'.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Portrait Crisis

At the very first glance, one can tell the portaits on the left and on the right are vastly different in color, attire, and symbolism. The portrait on the right is Elizabeth "in blacke with a hoode and cornet", titled the Clopton Portrait, (c. 1558-60). The portrait on the right is called The Hampden Portrait, by Van Der Meulen, (1560s). Apparently, the The Hampden Portrait was produced in response to a crisis over the production of the royal image, one which was reflected in the words of a draft proclamation dated 1563. The draft proclamation (though never published) was a response to the circulation of poorly-made portraits in which Elizabeth is shown "in blacke with a hoode and cornet", a style she no longer wore. The Hampden Portrait is also a full length portrait, which highlights the seriousness of the matter, since it is clear that the painter and Elizabeth's people were trying to emphasize that Elizabeth was no longer wearing the 'hoode and cornet.' The symbolism of the Clopton Portrait shows Elizabeth holding a book (possibly a prayer book) suggesting either studiousness or piety. In the The Hampden Portrait, Elizabeth wears a red rose on her shoulder, a symbol of the Tudor dynasty and of maidenly chastity, and holds a gillyflower in her hand. From these two portraits we can see that Elizabeth is in a transition from a recognisable human to a goddess, as she is for the most part unadorned in symbolism.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Let's Talk About Snoods

Snood. What? Yes, a snood. Snoods are a kind of women's headgear which resemble a close-fitting net worn over the back of the head. They were extremely popular during the Elizabethan time, though they did not originate there. The word was first recorded in Old English from sometime around 725. It was widely used in the Middle Ages for a variety of cloth or net head coverings, including what we would today call hairbands, as well as versions similar to a modern net snood.

During the Elizabethan age they went through a period of creativity in which women wore snoods adorned with beads, pears and other jewels matching with their dress-up. They also served a practical purpose for the women with long hair who went horseback riding, or for the average Subject who saving their hair from the possibilities of getting captured while working [on the farm].

Snoods can still be seen today, albeit rarely, but using a sheer/fishnet snood can be very pretty especially for formal occassions if you use the delicate silk type or if you go Elizabethan and wear one with pearls and jewels adorned.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Happy Anniversary *cough cough*

In 1533 on January 25th, Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn secretly wed in London. Anne was the daughter of Thomas Boleyn, later Earl of Wiltshire and Earl of Ormond, and his wife, Lady Elizabeth Howard. As was customary for young women of Noble birth, they would attend a foreign court as a Lady-in-Waiting or Maid of Honour to another Noble woman (typically one of a higher station than the young lady) as a sort of finishing school. Anne completed her education in the Netherlands, and then spent some time as a maid of honour to Queen Mary, and then to 15-year-old Queen Claude of France, with whom she stayed nearly seven years. In the Queen's household, she completed her study of French and developed interests in fashion and religious philosophy. She also acquired knowledge of French culture and etiquette.

Anne was recalled to marry her Irish cousin, James Butler, a young man who was several years older than her and who was living at the English court, in an attempt to settle a dispute over the title and estates of the Earldom of Ormond.
Anne's sister, Mary, had formally made a splash at the French and English courts for her numerous affairs with the gentry, including later Henry VIII himself and may have birthed some of his children.

Anne made her début at the Chateau Vert (Green Castle) pageant in honour of the imperial ambassadors on 4 March 1522, playing "Perseverance." There she took part in an elaborate dance accompanying Henry's younger sister Mary, several other ladies of the court, and her sister. All wore gowns of white satin embroidered with gold thread. She quickly established herself as one of the most stylish and accomplished women at the court, and soon a number of young men were competing for her.

Some say that Anne resisted the King's attempts to seduce her, refusing to become his mistress, often leaving court for the seclusion of Hever Castle. But within a year, he proposed marriage to her, and she accepted. Both assumed an annulment could be obtained within a matter of months. There is no evidence to suggest that they engaged in a sexual relationship until very shortly before their marriage, if at all; in fact, Henry's love letters to Anne seem to suggest that their love affair remained unconsummated for much of their seven year courtship.

Catherine was formally stripped of her title as Queen and Anne was consequently crowned queen consort on 1 June 1533 in a magnificent ceremony at Westminster Abbey with a sumptuous banquet afterwards.After her coronation, Anne settled into a quiet routine at the King's favorite residence, Greenwich Palace, to prepare for the birth of her baby. The child was born slightly premature on 7 September 1533. Between three and four in the afternoon, Anne gave birth to a girl, who was christened Elizabeth, probably in honour of Henry's mother, Elizabeth of York.
Anne had further complications with pregnancy, being unable to bare Henry a son, let alone another healthy child. Henry declared that he had been seduced into the marriage by means of "sortilege"—a French term indicating either "deception" or "spells". His new mistress, Jane Seymour, was quickly moved into royal quarters.

On 2 May 1536, Anne was arrested and taken to the Tower of London. In the Tower, she collapsed, demanding to know the location of her father and "swete broder", as well as the charges against her. She was accused of adultery, incest, and high treason and sent to the Tower of London.Although the evidence against them was unconvincing, the accused were found guilty under the law and condemned to death by a jury of their peers. George Boleyn and the other accused men were executed on 17 May 1536. Anthony Kingston, the keeper of the Tower, reported Anne seemed very happy and ready to be done with life. The King commuted Anne's sentence from burning to beheading and employed a swordsman from St Omer for the execution, rather than having a queen beheaded with the common axe.
On the morning of Friday 19 May, Anne Boleyn was judicially executed, not upon Tower Green, but rather, a scaffold erected on the north side of the White Tower, in front of what is now the Waterloo Barracks. She wore a red petticoat under a loose, dark grey gown of damask trimmed in fur and a mantle of ermine. Accompanied by two female attendants, Anne made her final walk from the Queen's House to the scaffold and she showed a "devilish spirit" and looked "as gay as if she was not going to die". After a short speech she then knelt upright, in the French style of executions. Her final prayer consisted of her repeating continually, "To Jesus Christ I commend my soul; Lord Jesus receive my soul." Her ladies removed her headdress and necklaces, and then tied a blindfold over her eyes. Anne Boleyn was executed by French expert swordsman Jean Rombaud.
Despite the effort put into Anne's execution, Henry failed to have organised any kind of funeral or even provide a proper coffin for her. Her body lay on the scaffold for some time before a man (believed to be working inside the Tower) found an empty arrow chest and placed her head and body inside. She was then buried in an unmarked grave in the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula. Her skeleton was identified during renovations of the chapel in the reign of Queen Victoria and Anne's resting place is now marked in the marble floor.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Coronation Day

Today, or should I says 452 years ago today, Elizabeth I was officially celebrated her coronation. Mary had died and Elizabeth acceeded to the thrown on November 17th 1558, but did not become officially coronated until Sunday, January 15th 1559. Elizabeth was only 25 and her place as Queen was in great jeopardy, either by accusations of being a bastard child of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII and thus not eligible for the thrown, or threats of assassination which would continue throughout her reign.

On the day before, when she rode in state from the Tower of London to Whitehall Palace, she gave her subjects their first taste of the arts by which she was to win and retain their adoration. It was snowing a little, but the jewels and gilded clothes of those riding in the royal cortege made the day seem almost bright. The Queen herself was carried in an open litter, decked with gold brocade, with a sea of crimson and silver gentlemen-at-arms about her. “slight and somewhat delicate, her long red hair flowing unbound and maidenly (a symbol of virginity) below the circlet of a princess.”

A pageant, brief concert or a recitation occurred at stopping points along the route. These displays represented Elizabeth’s genealogical descent, the virtues of good government and the triumph of Time which brought the realm out of darkness and idolatry into the light of divine truth.

The first pageant laid out Elizabeth's genealogy, stressing her 'Englishness' (as opposed to the 'Spanishness' of Mary, who was half Spanish, and Philip, who was Spanish), and her descent from Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, whose marriage had put an end to years of civil war. The pageant made clear the implication that the granddaughter of those who ended the War of Roses would herself reunify England and bring peace to it. The second pageant showed Elizabeth's government characterized by the four virtues of True Religion, Love of Subjects, Wisdom and Justice trampling their opposite vices, including Superstition and Ignorance. During the third pageant the Lord Mayor presented Elizabeth with a gift of gold, symbolically demonstrating the interdependence of the City and the Crown.

In the fourth pageant, a decaying commonwealth (Mary's) was contrasted with a thriving one (Elizabeth's). It featured the figure of Truth, who was carrying a Bible written in English and entitled the Word of Truth. Truth presented the Bible to the Queen, who kissed it and laid it on her breast to the cheers of the crowd. The task ahead of her was presented in the final pageant, with Elizabeth portrayed as Deborah, the Old Testament prophet, who rescued the House of Israel and then went on to rule for 40 years.

The actual coronation took place the following day, Sunday 15 January 1559, in Westminster Abbey. Elizabeth and her court walked in procession to Westminster Abbey on a purple carpet which disappeared once she passed by. (Crowds cut off parts of the carpet as souvenirs.) Church bells rang upon her arrival at the Abbey.

The ritual itself was a clever compromise between the Catholic practices that existed and the Protestant ones that she intended to introduce. She was crowned in Latin by a Catholic bishop but parts of the service that followed were read twice – in Latin and English. The changes in the service were a portent of the religious settlement to come and symbolic of her 'make-haste-slowly' approach to introducing change. Elizabeth also complained the special anointing oil was “grease and smelled ill”
She emerged from the ceremony to greet her adoring fans wearing a big smile, her crown and carrying the orb and sceptre of her new office.The crowds greeted their Queen enthusiastically, as music played and church bells rang.

Elizabeth changed into a violet velvet dress for her coronation banquet in Westminster Hall. The Queen’s Champion, Sir Edward Dymoke, rode into the Hall, fully armed, to throw down the gauntlet and challenge anyone who disputed Elizabeth’s claim to the throne.The celebrations at court continued for another ten days.

(Elizabeth's Coronation Procession)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Today in History

January 6th, 1540 was the day that Henry VIII married his fourth wife Anne of Cleves. Their marriage was not a happy one and ended with an annulment on July 9, 1540. Anne was born at Düsseldorf, the daughter of John III, ruler of the Duchy of Cleves, who died in 1538. After John's death, her brother William became Duke of Jülich-Cleves-Berg. The family's politics made them suitable allies for England's King Henry VIII in the aftermath of the Reformation, and a match with Anne was urged on the king by his chancellor, Thomas Cromwell after the death of Henry's third wife, Jane Seymour.

The artist Hans Holbein the Younger was dispatched to paint portraits of Anne and her sister Amelia, whom Henry was considering for the role of his fourth wife. Henry hired the artist to be as accurate as possible, not to flatter these sisters. Holbein was a superb portrait painter, and there is reason to believe his attractive portrayal of Anne was true.

Henry valued education and cultural sophistication in women, but Anne lacked these in her upbringing. She received no formal education as a child; and instead of being taught to sing or play an instrument, she was skilled in needlework. She had learned to read and write, but in German only. Nevertheless, Anne was considered gentle, virtuous, and docile, qualities that made her a realistic candidate for Henry.

The king reportedly took an immediate dislike to her and announced: "I like her not." Henry urged Cromwell to find a legal way to avoid the marriage but, by this point, such an outcome was impossible without offending the Germans.

Henry was frustrated, and he took out his feelings on Anne. He was described as trying repeatedly to upset her by sending away her personal ladies-in-waiting from Cleves and replacing them with Englishwomen instead. However, Anne made friends quickly and soon enjoyed the lively company of the English maids of honor who attended her. Henry also ordered that she put aside her traditional and cumbersome Germanic clothing and adopt more streamlined English styles. She liked this idea and immediately ordered a large, lavish wardrobe, straining Henry's finances. He commanded that she speak only English and arranged for her to be tutored intensively. She learned English with amazing speed, so much so that the king was reportedly shocked.

Anne adamantly desired to stay in England after her annulment. She thus fully cooperated with Henry, supporting his claims, and probably testified that her marriage had never been consummated, as well as that her previous betrothal to the son of the Duke of Lorraine had never been legally broken. She gratefully accepted Henry's offer of several houses, a princely income, and the honorary title of "the King's Beloved Sister." The former queen received a generous settlement, including Richmond Palace, and Hever Castle (see right), home of Henry's former in-laws, the Boleyns. Anne of Cleves House, in Lewes, Sussex, is just one of many properties she owned but she never lived there. Henry and Anne became good friends—she was an honorary member of the King's family and was referred to as "the King's Beloved Sister". She was invited to court often and, out of gratitude for her not contesting the annulment, Henry decreed that she would be given precedence over all women in England save his own wife and daughters.

The was one matter, however, on which she insisted. Anne consented to the annulment only after the king allowed her to have access to the royal children. She had formed strong attachments to all three of them, particularly Elizabeth. As she could never remarry and was thus denied the chance to have children of her own, Henry agreed. As a tribute to her prudence and good sense, even allowed Prince Edward, the royal heir, to visit her on occasion.

In 1553, when Henry's daughters Mary and Elizabeth rode into London with Mary as the new monarch, Anne was there to greet them. She was also present at Mary I's coronation at Westminster. That was her last public appearance. As the new Queen was a strict Catholic, Anne yet again converted her religion, now to becoming a Roman Catholic.

Of all of Henry's wives, Anne of Cleaves was probably the most fortunate. Though a failure as a wife, she earned the king's respect and affection, and was able to live out her life in relative happiness. Anne died at age 41 on July 16th, 1557 and is the only wife of Henry's to be buried at Westminster Abbey.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Twelfth Night

January 5th is the Twelfth and Final night of Christmas, as well as one of Shakespeare's best known works.

Twelfth Night marked the end of a winter festival that started on All Hallows Eve and The Lord of Misrule symbolizes the world turning upside down. On this day the King (or in this case, Queen) and all those who were upper-class would become the peasants and vice versa. At the beginning of the Twelfth Night festival, a cake that contained a bean was eaten. The person who found the bean would rule the feast. Midnight signaled the end of his rule and the world would return to normal. The common theme was that the normal order of things was reversed. s.

Food and drink were the center of the celebrations with a punch called wassail consumed especially on Twelfth Night. Special pastries, such as the tortell and king cake were baked on Twelfth Night, and eaten the following day for the Feast of the Epiphany celebrations. In English and French custom, the Twelfth-cake contained the bean and pea, so that those who received the slices containing them should be designated king and queen of the night's festivities.

Shakespeare's play Twelfth Night, or What You Will was written to be performed as a Twelfth Night entertainment. The earliest known performance took place at Middle Temple Hall, one of the Inns of Court , on Candlemass night, 2 February 1602. The play has many elements that are reversed, in the tradition of Twelfth Night, such as a woman Viola dressing as a man, and a servant Malvolio imagining that he can become a nobleman.

Mad as a Hatter

bed⋅lam [bed-luhm]
1. a scene or state of wild uproar and confusion.
2. Archaic. an insane asylum or madhouse.

In 1247 the Sisters of the Order of the Star of Bethlehem founded a priory on the site of what is now London Liverpool Street Station. The hospital was refered to as Bedlam which turned into a word to mean [see above] and that's exactly how the old Bethlam was. The screaming and noise that came from the building was said to drive anyone who heard, "so hideous, so great; that they are more than able to drive a man that hath his writs rather out of them."

Because insanity or mental illness were misunderstood throughout much of history the people who suffered from these conditions were usually mistreated. This also meant those with mental handicaps were thought to be "mad" as well. These unfortunate souls would be put in madhouses, hidden away from public view where they spent their lives being beaten or even killed.

As a means of generating more funding, you could pay a penny and view the "lunatics." Crowds peered through iron bars hoping to get a glimpse of the patients unusal looks and behavior, especially if their antics included anything of a sexual nature or violence. They were even allowed sticks to prod the poor patients. Asylum conditions were improving but they still had a long way to go. It was a Royal hospital, but controlled by the City of London after 1557, and managed by the Governors of Bridewell.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year

The Elizabethan did in fact celabrate the New Year with gifts and celebration, especially since it took place during Christmastide. Queen Elizabeth recieved many gifts, but also gave gifts too. Here are some she recieved:

-Gold coins in embroidered pouches
-Garments (sleeves, partlets, ruffs, forparts)
-Sweet bags (scented, usually stuffed into pillows or pomade balls to cary around)

A few notable gifts include an chess board and pieces made entirely out of marzipan, a small watch encased in a bracelet-the first wrist watch ever-given by Elizabeth's favorite courtier the Earl of Leicester, perfumed gloves, and gold toothpicks!

The Queen in return would give a silver cover cup of a particular weight, delivered by messenger, or picked up on a voucher.

Among ordinary folk, gifts may include oranges, a bunch of rosemary, brooches, marzipan, and wine.

Prosperous citizens may send gifts of fowl or rabbits to the mayor, who will provide a feast in return. In one account, the earl of Northumberland was awakened on New Year's morning by minstrels, followed by a fanfare of trumpets. He received his gifts, and then gave gifts to his household. He held a feast at noon, processing into the Hall in great state. He then watched a play followed by a bergomask, interspersed with pageants.