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The Reign of Queen Mary


Lady Jane Grey proclaimed - Mary raises her Standard at Framlingham - Her triumphant Progress to London - Arrival at the Tower - Execution o-f Northumberland - Religious Contests - Lady Jane Grey's Letter to Mary - Mary's behaviour to Elizabeth - Her Engagement to Philip of Spain - Wishes to resign Church Supremacy - Restores the Duke of Norfolk - Procession through the City - Coronation - Repeals the Religious Laws of Edward VI., and those regarding Life and Property of Henry VIII. - Marriage Treaty with Philip - Insurrections - Wyatt's Battle in London - Death of Lady Jane Grey and Lord Guildford Dudley - The Conspiracy of Elizabeth and Courtenay - Parliament securing England against the claims of Philip as King Consort - Wyatt Executed - Arrival of Philip in England.
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The ascension of Mary to the throne of England was a remarkable event. She was the first English queen in her own right since the Norman conquest; nor even in the Saxon times had a woman reigned over these islands.

The ancient Britons admitted the right of females to rule as sovereigns, and there were amongst them queens-regnant in their own right; but since then, though the common law recognised the claim, the fierce martial spirit of Europe had generally passed over women in the fullest hereditary descent, and placed the sceptre in a male hand. The Empress Matilda could not obtain the throne due to her by her birth, and the same custom had made itself felt in the cases of Eleanor of Brittany and Elizabeth of York. But the ferocious wars of England, and the bloody spirit induced by them, had destroyed almost all Royal male descent in England at this time. There were Mary and her sister Elizabeth, Mary the Queen of Scots, the great-niece of Henry VIII., and Lady Jane Grey and her sisters, whose claims we have stated. It was, therefore, a most interesting epoch, which was to place a woman on the throne, and set the example of female reigns, destined to be so remarkable. But if Mary's position as a woman was novel, it was peculiarly critical, as it regarded the new spirit and new institutions which had developed themselves in the country. She was firmly attached to the old spirit and the old institutions; and both at home and abroad men were anxiously watching what would be the result of her becoming queen.

Especially was the question of deep interest to the Pope, and the sovereigns of France, Spain, and the Netherlands. If Mary brought back the old religion, how greatly would the union betwixt her and her relatives of Spain and the Netherlands be augmented. It was an event which opened up wonderful scenes to the imagination of Charles, and in his old age gave new impetus to his thirst for universal dominion. The King of France had secured the Queen of Scotland for his son, but what was that advantage compared with the opportunity of his own son securing the heiress of England? He had seen, with fearful pangs of political jealousy, the prospect of the union of France and Scotland under one Crown; but now, what was to prevent the Crowns of Spain, of the Netherlands, and of England being blended into one glorious imperial diadem? All that Charles hoped of course Henry feared, and therefore each monarch had long been keeping a close and absorbing watch on the sinking powers of the late king. Renard, the ambassador of the emperor, and Noailles, the ambassador of the King of France, had kept close to the throne of the dying youth, watching with breathless interest every symptom of the advancing disease, and preparing by every diplomatic art for the coming crisis.

As Mary pursued her flight on the 7th of July, after learning the death of her brother, she arrived in the ensuing evening at the gates of Saws-ton Hall, near Cambridge, the seat of a Mr. Huddlestone, a zealous Romanist, a kinsman of whose was a gentleman of Mary's retinue. There she passed the night, but was compelled to resume her journey early in the morning, the Protestant party in Cambridge haying heard of her arrival, and being on the march to attack her. She and her followers were obliged to make the best of their way thence in different disguises, and turning on the Gog-magog Hills to take a look at the hall, she saw it in flames: her night's sojourn had cost her entertainer the home of his ancestors. On seeing this, she exclaimed, as quite certain of her fortunes, " Well, let it burn, I will build him a better;" and she kept her word. She passed through Bury St. Edmunds, and the next night reached the seat of Kenninghall, in Norfolk. Thence without delay she dispatched a messenger to the Privy Council, commanding them to desist from the treasonable scheme which she knew that they were attempting, and ordering them to proclaim her their rightful sovereign, in which case all that was past should be pardoned. The messenger arrived just in time to see the rival queen proclaimed on the 10th, and to bring back a reply peculiarly insulting for its gross language, asserting her illegitimacy, and calling upon her to submit to her sovereign, Queen Jane, Mary on this occasion displayed the strong spirit of the Tudor. Though Northumberland had all the powers of the Government, the military strength, the influence of party, and the support of the nobility of the nation apparently under his hand, and possessed the reputation of being an able and most successful general, and though she had nobody with her but Sir Thomas Wharton, the steward of her household, Andrew Huddlestone, and her ladies; though she had neither troops nor money, she did not hesitate. Kenninghall was but a defenceless house in an open country; she therefore rode forward to Framlingham Castle, not far from the Suffolk coast, where, in a strong fortress, she could await the result of an appeal to her subjects, and, were she forced to fly, could easily escape across to Holland and put herself under the protection of her imperial kinsman.

Once within the lofty walls of Framlingham, she commanded the standard of England to be cast loose to the winds, and caused herself to be proclaimed Queen-regnant of England and Ireland. The effect was soon seen. Sir Henry Jerningham and Sir Henry Bedingfeld had joined her with a few followers before she quitted Kenninghall, and had served her as a guard in her ride of twenty miles to Framlingham. Sir John Sulyard now arrived, and was appointed captain of her guards. He was speedily followed by the tenants of Sir Henry Bedingfeld, to the number of 140. By the influence of Sir Henry Jerningham, Yarmouth declared for her; and soon after flocked in, with more or less of followers, Lord Thomas Howard, a grandson of the old Duke of Norfolk; Sir William Drury, Sir Thomas Cornwallis, High Sheriff of Suffolk; Sir John Skelton, and Sir John Tyrrel. These were all zealous Papists; and the people of Norfolk and Suffolk hurried to her standard, impelled by the memory of Northumberland's sanguinary extinction of Ket's rebellion, the horrors of which still kept alive a deep detestation of him in those counties. In a very short time she beheld herself surrounded by an army of 13,000 men, all serving without pay, but all confidently calculating on the certain recompense which, as queen, she would soon be able to award them.

In the lofty fortress of Framlingham, whence she could see over the woods the German Ocean, and near to the seaport of Aldborough, she remained, as is supposed, till the end of the month, but meantime her cause had grown rapidly and spread far and wide. On the 12th, only two days after her arrival there, she was proclaimed queen at Norwich. On the loth, or thereabouts, a fleet was seen off the coast bearing for Yarmouth. It consisted of six ships of war, and was carrying artillery and ammunition for the siege of Framlingham Castle; and having effected that service, it was to cruise about to intercept her flight to the Continent. Sir Henry Jerningham put out from Yarmouth as these vessels drew near, to hail them. The sailors demanding what he wanted, he replied, "Your captains, who are rebels to their lawful Queen Mary," "If they are," said the men, "we will throw them into the sea, for we are her true subjects;" upon which the captains surrendered, and Sir Henry conveyed them into Yarmouth.

On the 16th, Mr. Smith, clerk of the Council at Framlingham, announced a despatch from Mr. Brande, stating that Sir Edward Hastings, on the 15th, at Dray ton, the seat of Lord Paget, had mustered 10,000 of the militia of Oxford, Bucks, Berkshire, and Middlesex, with the intention of marching to seize the palace of Westminster for the queen. Before leaving Kenninghall, Mary had written to Sir Edward Hastings claiming his allegiance. Sir Edward was brother to the Earl of Huntingdon, who was closely allied by marriage with Northumberland, but he was at the same time great-nephew to Cardinal Pole, and otherwise connected with his family. Sir Edward had been commissioned to raise this force by Northumberland, and the news of his defection coming simultaneously with that of the defection of the fleet at Yarmouth, must have thunderstruck Northumberland. On the same day, the 16th, a placard was found affixed to the door of Queenhithe Church, asserting that Mary had been proclaimed queen in every town of England except London; and so rapidly was the spirit of adhesion to Mary spreading, that that very day the Earls of Sussex and Bath deserted the Council, and took their way to Framlingham, at the head of their armed vassals.

The same day all the vessels in the harbour of Harwich declared for Mary, dismissing Sir Eichard Broke and other uncomplying officers from their commands; John Hughes, the Comptroller of the Customs at Yarmouth, went over, and John Grice, the captain of a ship of war. Mary ordered artillery and ammunition to be provided from Grice's ship and from Aldborough, to be forwarded for the defence of Framlingham; and on the 18th, seeing the zealous support which was every day manifesting itself, she issued a proclamation, offering 1,000 in land to any noble, 500 to any gentleman, and 100 to any yeoman, who should bring Northumberland prisoner to the queen. At the same time she maintained a guard of 500 men over her own person; and, no doubt, receiving information that the prisoners who crowded the gaols of Suffolk and Norfolk were chiefly those who had suffered for their opposition to the innovations of the reign of Edward, and especially under the more recent measure of Northumberland, she ordered them to be all set at liberty.

Meantime Northumberland, with all his planning, was but ill prepared for the execution of his design when the king's death took place. It was the part of a clever diplomatist to have in good time secured in his hands the two next heirs to the throne. This not being done, and other matters being equally unsettled, he kept the death of the king concealed for two days, during which time he was deep in consultation with the Council. An exception, however, was made in favour of the lord mayor and aldermen of London, who were invited to Greenwich, where the Council was sitting, the death of the king revealed to them, and the fact that by Edward's will the Lady Jane Grey was appointed his successor. They were bound under a severe penalty not to divulge these secrets till they should receive orders from the Council, but to be prepared to preserve order in the city. The officers of the guard? and of the household, and twelve eminent citizens were at the same time admitted to the knowledge of the king's decease, and sworn to I their allegiance.

Lady Jane Grey, the innocent object of these hazardous plans, had obtained a short leave of absence from Court, and was indulging her love of quiet and of books, when she was suddenly summoned by the Lady Sydney, the sister of her husband, to return to Sion House, and there to await the commands of the king, of whose death she was yet ignorant. On the morning of the 10th she was surprised by a deputation, consisting of the Duke of Northumberland, the Marquis of Northampton, and the Earls of Arundel, Huntingdon, and Pembroke. Soon after entered the Duchesses of Northumberland and Suffolk, and the Marchioness of Northampton. Her mother-in-law, the Duchess of Northumberland, had already dropped some mysterious hints of some wonderful fortune awaiting her, and now the serious aspect of her visitors filled her with alarm. The Duke of Northumberland then informed her that the king, her cousin, was dead; that he had felt great concern for the continuance of the Church in the form and spirit in which it now was; and that on this account, and also to preserve the kingdom from the disorders which the illegitimacy of his sisters might occasion, he had in his will passed them over, and bequeathed the Crown to her, as the true legitimate heir, and, moreover, holding the true faith.

He had, therefore, in the will, ordered the Council to proclaim, her queen, and in default of her issue, her sisters Catherine and Mary. The attendant nobles on this fell on their knees, declared her their queen, and vowed to defend her right with their blood, if necessary. One of them, Arundel, as we have seen, was already in communication with Mary, and warned her of what was being done.

At this surprising revelation the Lady Jane swooned, and fell with a shriek on the floor. On recovering, she was overwhelmed with grief and terror, and declared herself a most unfit person for a sovereign. She was but a girl of sixteen, and was especially fond of retirement and study.

That afternoon she was conveyed by water to the Tower, according to the usual custom on the accession of a new sovereign, and preparatory to the coronation. She arrived there in state about three o'clock. On her entrance, her mother, the Duchess of Suffolk, bore her train. The Lord Treasurer presented to her the Crown, and her assembled relatives saluted her on their knees. The unhappy victim of this fatal enterprise had opposed the prosecution of the plan with all her energy in private, and amid many tears and fears. She was far from thinking it either just or likely to succeed, but all her efforts were fruitless against her aspiring connections. Her old schoolmaster, Roger Ascham, describes her as a most amiable and excellent young woman, pleasing in her person, if not regularly beautiful, fond of domestic life and literature, and accustomed to read Plato in Greek.

At six o'clock that evening, proclamation was made in London of the death of King Edward, and the succession of Queen Jane by his will; and a long announcement of the reasons which had led to this, signed by the new queen, was made public. Those reasons were of the most flimsy and superficial kind. They admitted that the succession was settled by the 35th of Henry VIII. in favour of Mary and Elizabeth, but pleaded that that was rendered void by a previous statute, which declared their illegitimacy, being unrepealed. It asserted that even had they been born in lawful wedlock, they could not inherit from the late king, being only his sisters in half-blood, as though they did not already inherit from their father, Henry, or as though Edward, their brother, supposing them legitimate, could not bequeath the Crown just as fully to them as to the Lady Jane. Various other reasons, all as frivolous, were added, the only valid one being the danger of the realm, in case of the succession of Mary, being brought again under the Papal dominion. To this proclamation there was no cordial response, the people listening in ominous silence.

On the following morning, whilst Lady Jane's party were feeling the chill of this inauspicious beginning, the messenger of Mary arrived, commanding the Council to see that she was duly proclaimed, and warning them to desist from their treasonable purposes. Scarcely had they returned their uncourteous refusal, when news came pouring in that Mary had taken possession of the castle of Framlingham, and that the nobility, gentry, and people of Suffolk were flocking to her standard.

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Pictures for The Reign of Queen Mary

Queen Mary I
Queen Mary I >>>>
The Crown of England offered to Lady Jane Grey.
The Crown of England offered to Lady Jane Grey. >>>>
Lady Jane Grey and Roger Ascham
Lady Jane Grey and Roger Ascham >>>>
Execution of the Duke of Northumberland on Tower Hill.
Execution of the Duke of Northumberland on Tower Hill. >>>>
Philip of Spain
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Allington Castle
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Great Seal of Queen Mary
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Autograph of Queen Mary
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Queen Mary in her Private Oratory
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Wyatt
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Lady Jane Grey
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Carving ascribed to John Dudley
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Inscription cut by the Husband of Lady Jane Grey on the wall of his prison
Inscription cut by the Husband of Lady Jane Grey on the wall of his prison >>>>
The Princess Elizabeth
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Reception of the First Russian Embassy in England
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Lord Guildford Dudleys room
Lord Guildford Dudleys room >>>>
The Burning of Archbishop Cranmer
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The Recantation of Archbishop Cranmer
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Place of Execution, Smithfield
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Martyrs Stone at Hadleigh
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Siege of Calais
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Queen Elizabeth
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Queen Elizabeth acknowledged by the Bishops
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