Elizabeth vehemently denies the implication she had anything to do with the Wyatt Rebellion that took place in order to overthrow her older half-sister Queen Mary I of England. In a heart-wrenching letter, Elizabeth pleads her innocence on all the charges.
The Wyatt Rebellion against England’s reigning Queen had a lot to do with Mary’s relentless reversal of England’s religion. She was turning the nation back to Catholicism and outlawing Protestantism. Mary I’s pending marriage to Phillip of Spain also did little to settle reservations because a “Spanish” king influencing England was simply unacceptable.
Elizabeth’s time in the Tower has regularly been romanticized but surely it was a horrifying point in time for the princess whose own mother had been sent to the towers prior to execution. The letter is loaded with oversights and was clearly made in flurry and with tremendous fear. The letter additionally had another impact – when she had completed the letter the tide was high to the point that she couldn’t be taken to the Tower by vessel. The following tide happened at midnight and it was viewed as too risky to even think about sending her at that point. So the letter Provide Elizabeth with very valuable hours before her excursion to the Tower.
The Wyatt Rebellion was a resistance driven by nobles – primarily Sir Thomas Wyatt from Kent, Sir Peter Carew from Devon, Sir James Croft from Herefordshire, and the Duke of Suffolk from Leicestershire. The plan had one noteworthy shortcoming – it didn’t have support from the general population and was destined to be a disappointment. The set-up itself included too much uncertainties if it somehow happened to succeed. The plotters wanted to oust Mary, instate Elizabeth as Queen and organize her to wed Edward Courtenay – a man Mary had effectively dismissed as a spouse already.
The arrangement was for three uprisings to happen in isolated pieces of the nation. They would happen in the Midlands, the West Country and Kent. The plan was that the administration would not know which one to put down first and each would bloom because of their individual achievements locally and bring forth an increasing number of new supporters among citizens. This the conspirators felt was certain to be effective.
[Mary I of England and her husband Prince Phillip of Spain]
Thomas Wyatt had kept in touch with Elizabeth during the rebellion telling her that he proposed to topple Mary yet his letter was captured, His writing inferred that Elizabeth knew about the revolt ahead of time, and rehashed gossipy tidbits that she was off get-together protestant supporters.The council could locate no genuine proof that Elizabeth’s supposed involvement was accurate and truthful: however, Mary chose to bring Elizabeth back to London for addressing. She was justifiably terrified and sick; she sent word that she couldn’t travel. Two of Mary’s own doctors were sent to assess her condition.
They analyzed Elizabeth’s condition and determined it was probable that she had aggravated kidneys. She was sick, they announced, yet not very sick to venture to London on the Queen Mary’s own demand. Elizabeth voyaged gradually, covering only six miles every day all while being escorted to London by three of Mary’s trusted councilors – Howard, Hastings, and Cornwallis. Every one of whom knew and liked Elizabeth.
Elizabeth kept the window ornaments of the carriage opened as she entered the city. All the people in the streets could see her pale and terrified face as she rode past. The horror was probably due to the fact the heads of Thomas Wyatt and his supporters were pushed onto spikes all through the city as Elizabeth made her way to Whitehall where her half-sister the queen waited. The suspense of this meeting was dreadful to Elizabeth.
Elizabeth was alarmed. The simple notion she might be sent to the Tower was terrifying. She asked to for the opportunity to plea with her sister, and the men agreed to allow her to write a letter to the Queen.
LETTER WRITTEN BY ELIZABETH I :
March 16TH, I554,
If any ever did try this old saying, ‘that a king’s word was more than another man’s oath,’ I most humbly beseech your Majesty to verify it to me, and to remember your last promise and my last demand, that I be not not condemned without answer and due proof, which it seems that I now am; for without cause proved, I am by your council from you commanded to go to the Tower, a place more wanted for a false traitor than a true subject, which though I know I desire it not, yet in the face of all this realm it appears proved. I pray to God I may die the shamefullest death that any ever died, if I may mean any such thing; and to this present hour I protest before God (Who shall judge my truth, whatsoever malice shall devise), that I never practised, counselled, nor consented to anything that might be prejudicial to your person anyway, or dangerous to the state by any means. And therefore I humbly beseech your Majesty to let me answer afore yourself, and not suffer me to trust to your Councillors, yea, and that afore I go to the Tower, if it be possible; if not, before I be further condemned.
Howbeit, I trust assuredly your Highness will give me leave to do it afore I go, that thus shamefully I may not be cried out on, as I now shall be; yea, and that without cause. Let conscience move your Highness to pardon this my boldness, which innocency procures me to do, together with hope of your natural kindness, which I trust will not see me cast away without desert, which what it is I would desire no more of God but that you truly knew, but which thing I think and believe you shall never by report know, unless by yourself you hear. I have heard of many in my time cast away for want of coming to the presence of their Prince; and in late days I heard my Lord of Somerset say that if his brother had been suffered to speak with him he had never suffered; but persuasions were made to him so great that he was brought in belief that he could not live safely if the Admiral lived, and that made him give consent to his death.
Though these persons are not to be compared to your Majesty, yet I pray to God the like evil persuasions persuade not one sister against the other, and all for that they have heard false report, and the truth not known. Therefore, once again, kneeling with humbleness of heart, because I am not suffered to bow the knees of my body, I humbly crave to speak with your Highness, which I would not be so bold as to desire if I knew not myself most clear, as I know myself most true. And as for the traitor Wyatt, he might peradventure write me a letter, but on my faith I never received any from him. And as for the copy of the letter sent to the French King, I pray God confound me eternally if ever I sent him word, message, token, or letter, by any means, and to this truth I will stand in till my death.Your Highness’s most faithful subject, that hath been from the beginning, and will be to my end,
I humbly crave but only one word of answer from yourself.
BOOK PICK OF THE DAY
Today’s book pick for the day is Elizabeth I: Collected Works edited by authors Leah S. Marcus, Janel Mueller, and Mary Beth Rose. This long-awaited and masterfully edited volume contains nearly all of the writings of Queen Elizabeth I: the clumsy letters of childhood, the early speeches of a fledgling queen, and the prayers and poetry of the monarch’s later years. The first collection of its kind, Elizabeth I reveals brilliance on two counts: that of the Queen, a dazzling writer and a leading intellect of the English Renaissance, and that of the editors, whose copious annotations make the book not only essential to scholars but accessible to general readers as well.
FOR FURTHER READING:
- Tudor History: A Captivating Guide to the Tudors, the Wars of the Roses, the Six Wives of Henry VIII and the Life of Elizabeth I
- Tudors: The History of England from Henry VIII to Elizabeth I by Peter Ackroyd
- Elizabeth I: The Making of a Queen by Laura Brennan
- Elizabeth I and Her Age (Norton Critical Editions) by W. W. Norton & Company
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- The Letters of Queen Elizabeth. To Queen Mary. 1554. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.luminarium.org/renlit/elizlet4.htm
- Imprisonment of Elizabeth I Tower of London on 18th March 1554 and release. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://elizabethanenglandlife.com/imprisonment-of-elizabeth.html
- The Tudor Monarchs – Elizabeth I. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://tudorhistory.org/elizabeth/
- Eve, K. (2012, March 18). The Imprisonment of Princess Elizabeth. Retrieved from https://kimberlyevemusings.blogspot.com/2011/03/imprisonment-of-princess-elizabeth.html