Monday, 19 July 2010

Wednesday, 19 July 1553 – Victory

“.. the xix. day of the same monyth, was st Margarettes evyne, at iiij. of clocke at after-none was proclamyd lady Ma[ry to] be qwene of Ynglond at the crose in Cheppe with the erle of Shrewsbery, the earle [of Arundel], the erle of Pembroke, with the mayer of London, and dyvers other lordes, and many of the ald[dermen] and the kynges schrffe master Garrand, with dyvers haroldes and trompettes. And from thens cam to Powlles alle, and there the qwere sange Te Deum with the organs goynge, with the belles ryngynge, the most parte alle [London], and that same nyght had the [most] parte of London Te Deum, with bone-fyers in every strete in London, with good chere at every bone [fyer], the belles ryngynge in every parych cherch, and for the most parte alle nyght tyll the nexte daye to none.”

(The Chronicle of the Grey Friars of London, 1553).

We your most humble, faithful and obedient subjects having always (God we take to witness) remained your Highness’s true and humble subjects in our hearts ever since the death of our late sovereign lord and master, your highness’s brother whom God pardon; and seeing hitherto no possibility to utter our determination herein without great destruction and bloodshed both of ourselves and others till this time, have this day proclaimed in your city of London your majesty to be our true, natural sovereign liege lady and queen, most humbly beseeching your majesty to pardon and remit our former infirmities and most graciously to accept our meanings which have been ever to serve your highness truly.”

(Council’s message to Mary, 19 July 1553)

Sometime in the late morning of the 19th the earls of Arundel and Pembroke, standing before the rest of the Privy Council, managed to convince the same body of men to abandon Jane and proclaim Mary queen. It was not a particularly difficult task given that many of these men congregated in Baynard’s Castle were quite willing to switch sides. Days earlier some had tried to flee the Tower to rush to Mary and offer their allegiance but had been prevented from doing so. Now they discussed terms. They would submit completely to Mary’s will, profess themselves her true subjects and attribute Jane’s accession to the ambition of the Lord President of the Council – the duke of Northumberland.

The earl of Pembroke’s desperation in securing the council’s approval for Mary was evident. “If the arguments of my lord Arundel do not persuade you, this sword shall make [her] queen, or I will die in her quarrel”, he threatened. The earl of Arundel was equally assertive in his desire to present himself as one of Mary’s most ardent supporters and in a speech before the Council he explained away his previous loyalty to Jane as a product of fear caused by the duke’s threats. Both men were now committed supporters of Mary and were determined to protect their lands, positions and lives. One contemporary noted on the same day that he saw ‘the earl of Pembroke threw away his cap full of angellettes [jewels]’ in the street after Mary had been professed queen.

The reaction of the populace was positive. Mary’s accession was announced by the earl of Pembroke in the late afternoon and there were scenes of wild rejoicing. Merchant Henry Machyn recorded in his diary that ‘all the belles ryngyng thrugh London, and bone-fyres, and tabuls in evere strett, and wyne and bere and alle, and evere strett full of bonfyres, and ther was money cast a-way.’ At Leadenhall Street, one of the sites in London where Mary’s accession was proclaimed, the ‘people started running in all directions and crying out’. On the same street Sir John York, a loyal supporter of Jane’s, allegedly ‘cried out to the people that it was not true’ and was met with fierce hostility. ‘Though he was on horse-back he escaped alive with difficulty and was taken into the house of Sheriff Garrett’, it was remarked.

Before the announcement was made the imperial ambassadors were informed by the earl of Shrewsbury and John Mason of the Council's decision to support Mary. Throughout the events of the past two weeks, the ambassadors had assumed that Mary’s cause was a hopeless one if her cousin, Charles V, would not intervene on her behalf. Now they were being told of her victory accomplished without their aid. Shortly afterwards the mayor of London was summoned to Baynard’s castle and also informed of the decision so he could quickly prepare the festivities. The drinking, the banquets and the ringing of the bells would go on through the night, only calming down midday on the 20th.

Mary would not know till the following day that her claim to the throne was now recognised by the Council and she had the capital. The possibility that she would have to take the Crown by force – that she would need to enact the role of warrior queen – was one she believed she now faced. Her maternal grandmother, another queen regnant, had faced her own succession crisis and emerged victorious. Isabella of Castile had been married at the point of her accession and her husband had played a role in securing her throne. In contrast Mary was unmarried though she did have male associates whose loyalty was unquestionable and she trusted to lead her forces. As a woman, Mary could not lead her troops into battle though like her grandmother she still had a role to play. She organised an inspection of her troops that would take place the next day and consulted with her commanders. According to Robert Wingfield she would spend several hours speaking to and inspecting her troops which won her much admiration. All this was entirely new to Mary; her education as a young girl, when she was still heir to the throne, had not entailed lessons in warfare and she was certainly not taught this after Henry VIII had disinherited her. But Mary knew how to make use of the sentiments of loyalty many felt for her and in all things she was meticulous, a habit she inherited from her paternal grandfather, a Tudor who also battled his way to the throne. With the temerity of Isabella of Castile and Henry VII, Mary planned her military campaign. Fortunately she would face no battle but she would make show of her forces when she marched to London to be received as queen.

The other woman at the centre of this succession crisis was told in the evening that she was no longer queen. Her father, the duke of Suffolk, did the honours. He ripped down the cloth of estate and announced that she was no longer ‘Queen Jane’. She responded that this was a wise decision and allegedly asked if she could go home. There was no anger over the decision to recognise Mary nor did she breakdown. Jane had accepted the throne graciously and admitted defeat in the same fashion. As various men who once served her rushed off to Framlingham to pay homage to Mary and beg for their lives, Jane waited in the Tower, her royal residence now turned her prison. Now all waited to see whether Mary would prove merciful or whether she was truly her father’s daughter.

(Image - Queen Mary I enthroned and flanked by angels with the destruction of the duke of Northumberland and the rebels depicted in the background to the right. Coram Rege Rolls, 1553. KB 27/1168/2)

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