On This Day 6th February 1587
On 6th February 1587, in the Great Hall at Fotheringhay Castle, the warrant for her execution was read aloud to Mary, Queen of Scots. It bore the flamboyant signature of her cousin, Elizabeth I, Queen of England, and was the culmination of nearly 20 years of captivity. Mary had come to England as a supplicant, following the defeat of her forces at the Battle of Langside in 1568. She hoped the English Queen would support her in regaining the throne that she had lost following the tumult that erupted after the assassination of her husband. Elizabeth, strongly influenced by her Secretary, Sir William Cecil, who had an implacable distrust of the Catholic Mary, had held her captive in a series of locations across the north and midlands of England. Numerous plots to free her and put her on the English throne, some undoubtedly with Mary’s support, had finally culminated in a trial that Mary refused to recognise and a death sentence.
On this day, 14th of January 1526 in Tudor time:
On 14th January 1526, François I of France and Emperor Charles V signed the Treaty of Madrid. François claimed later it was done under duress, and, in fact, he had little choice. His forces had been completely defeated by Charles at the Battle of Pavia, and François himself captured. In summary, the terms of the Treaty were that François would cede his claim to the Duchy of Milan, and to the Burgundian territories which had been denied to Charles’ grandmother, Mary of Burgundy, because French law would not recognise female succession. Francois was obliged to offer up his two sons as hostages, and agree to marry Charles’s sister, Eleonor, the widowed Queen of Portugal. As soon as he was safe in France, François repudiated the treaty.
On This Day 31st December 1580
On 31st December 1580, James Douglas, 4th Earl of Morton was arrested for complicity in the murder of Lord Darnley. Morton was the fourth of the regents who had been appointed during the minority of James VI, after the deposition of his mother, Mary, Queen of Scots. Of the other three, two had been assassinated (Moray and Lennox) and one had died, probably of natural causes. Morton was a more successful regent than his predecessors, in that he finally overcame the Queen’s Party, and he also had the backing of the Queen of England. However, he had many enemies, and lost control of the government for a period in 1578, before regaining his position. By 1580, he was on exceptionally bad terms with James Stewart, Earl of Arran – cousin and close friend of 14 year old James VI. Arran accused him in Council of involvement in the murder of Darnley, the King’s father, and he was tried and executed.
On This Day 19th December 1521
On 19th December 1521, Henry VIII wrote in his own hand to his nephew-by-marriage, the Emperor Charles V. Henry, notorious for disliking writing, excused the shortness of his note by saying he was suffering from catarrh and headache. The letter was full of the usual compliments – thanks to Charles for receiving Cardinal Wolsey, and writing to Henry, and confirmation that any injury done to Charles would be considered an injury to Henry himself.
On This Day 8th November 1576
On 8th November 1576, the provinces of the Netherlands, regardless of their religious affiliations, signed an agreement whereby the whole of the Netherlands agreed to mutiny against the rule of Philip II of Spain, their hereditary duke. Philip’s great-grandmother, Mary of Burgundy, had inherited the lands from her father, Charles the Bold (or Rash, as he was sometimes termed). Mary had died young, falling from a horse, to be succeeded by her son, Philip, then her grandson, the Emperor Charles V. Charles had been brought up largely in Ghent and was therefore accepted as overlord, even though the day to day running of the Netherlands had been left first to his aunt, Marguerite, daughter of Mary, and then to his sister, Mary of Hungary. By the time Philip, born and brought up in Spain, succeeded, the familial link seemed very tenuous. By the 1570s around half the territories had converted to the Calvinist Reformed faith, whilst the southern areas remained largely Catholic. Whilst Philip came to terms with the leaders of the various provinces, peace did not last long.
In the picture, Anne is shown third from left, her older sister Mary, having died before the window was made for Canterbury Cathedral
This Day 2nd November 1475
On 2nd November 1475, a daughter named Anne was born to Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. She was their sixth child, and fourth daughter. During her childhood, Anne was betrothed to Philip of Burgundy, son of the Emperor Maximilian and his wife, Mary of Burgundy, but her father died before the marriage could take place. Anne was just eight when Edward IV died, and her brother, who was never crowned, disappeared to be replaced by her uncle, Richard III. Anne remained in the sanctuary of Westminster with her mother and sisters, until they were persuaded to emerge on receiving promises that, despite having been branded as illegitimate, they would be treated honourably by their uncle.
Richard III arranged a marriage for Anne with Thomas Howard, the grandson of Richard’s close supporter, John Howard, Duke of Norfolk. The marriage had not taken place by the time of Richard’s death at Bosworth in 1485, but was eventually solemnised in 1495 when Anne was twenty, and her husband a couple of years older. Anne and Thomas had several children, but none survived childhood. Anne was frequently in attendance on her sister, Elizabeth of York, and took part in the christenings of Elizabeth’s children. Anne died in 1511, and was buried in the Howard chapel at Thetford Priory, although, following the Dissolution of the Monasteries implemented by her nephew, Henry VIII, her remains were moved to the church at Framlingham.
On This Day 30th October 1600
On 30th October, 1600 Elizabeth I refused to renew Essex’s monopoly on sweet wine with the words ‘an unruly horse must be abated of is provender that he may be the better brought to managing’. Monopolies were a common way for the Crown to give grants to favored courtiers. As the name suggests, all imports and exports of the product in question were routed through the monopolist’s hands, who was then free to take a percentage of the profits. During the 1590s, the practice of granting monopolies was heavily criticised by the House of Commons as being in restraint of trade. In Elizabeth’s last Parliament she promised to look into the matter, but no changes were made. For Essex, the loss of the monopoly effectively bankrupted him and was a contributing factor in his descent into open rebellion.
On This Day 27th October 1485
On 27th October 1485, Jasper Tudor, uncle of the new king, Henry VII, was created Duke of Bedford, and Henry’s step-father, Thomas Stanley, was given the title of Earl of Derby. The two men had been instrumental in Henry’s victory at Bosworth. Jasper, in particular, had devoted his whole life to Henry’s welfare and had shared his exile in Brittany. Jasper was the second son of Owain Tudor and Catherine de Valois (whose relationship had created a furore in the 1420s – more on that here). He had been created Earl of Pembroke by his half-brother, Henry VI, and on the death of his brother, Edmund, had stepped into the role of protector of Edmund’s widow and child.
Preoccupied with the intermittent warfare of the Wars of the Roses, Jasper had not married, but, not long after being elevated to a Dukedom, he was given the hand of Katherine Woodville, sister of Queen Elizabeth Woodville. This was all part of Henry VII’s plan to bind the Yorkists to his new Tudor dynasty. Katherine had previously been married (very unhappily) to the Duke of Buckingham, whose rebellion against Richard III had cost him his life. Jasper and Katherine had no children, and Jasper died in 1495.