Tag Archives: Tower of London

Elizabeth I: In and Out of Prison

Eliz YoungThe Princess Elizabeth with six ladies entered the Tower of London through the Traitor’s Gate by barge on March 18th, 1554. At first, she refused to enter the Tower. Eventually, the rain forced her to enter the Tower where she was lodged near the rooms of the Lieutenant of the Tower, Sir John Brydges.

Elizabeth genuinely feared that she would never leave the Tower alive. She remained in the succession after Mary because Mary couldn’t get Parliament to remove her. Even though she was innocent of a crime, Mary’s Privy Council wanted to be rid of her, either by legal execution or poisoning. They were determined to remove a Protestant from the succession. Although Mary refused to sign Elizabeth’s death warrant, some of her advisors sent a death warrant to the Tower. Fortunately, Brydges realized it had not been signed and refused to carry out the execution.

Elizabeth was eventually denied exercise in the yard, confined to the Tower, and interrogated. She lost weight and became ill. When Sir Henry Bedingfield, a staunch Catholic and supporter of Mary, took over as Constable of the Tower, Elizabeth was even more at risk. Fortunately, she had an ally in Philip of Spain. Mary’s new husband, advised her to spare Elizabeth. Perhaps he felt he would be blamed and wanted to maintain good  relations with the English people. Elizabeth was released from the Tower after two months and lived at Court and in confinement at Woodstock.

After two false pregnancies, Queen Mary died childless in 1558. Elizabeth became Queen of England and ruled until she also died unmarried and childless in 1603. In her long reign, she refused to marry King Philip, her half-sister’s widower and England defeated the Philip’s Spanish Armada.

Tomorrow, A Key to Writing Success. Rita Bay

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The Tides Letter of Princess Elizabeth

imagesCAY67U87Since her mother had been imprisoned and executed there, Princess Elizabeth was terrified of entering The Tower.  Her cousin, Lady Jane Grey, and Lady Jane’s husband, Guilford Dudley, lost their heads there after her rule of nine days. The Duke of Somerset condemned his own brother to death, a man who was the third husband of the widow of Henry VIII and rumored to have been too friendly with Elizabeth. Her letter, written on March 17, 1554–the day before she was taken be boat to the TOwer through the Traitor’s Gate (See Pic), reflects her fear. Queen Mary’s response? She refused to read it.  Here are excerpts of The Tides Letter:

“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 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.

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. Which thing I think and believe you shall never by report know, unless by yourself you hear. I have heard in my time of many 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 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 blow 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, Elizabeth I humbly crave but only one word of answer from yourself.”

Tomorrow, The Tower Of London prison. Rita Bay

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Elizabeth’s Journey to the Tower

ElizyoungWhen Sir Thomas Wyatt led a rebellion in January 1554, he implicated Princess Elizabeth by writing a letter to her about overthrowing Queen Mary and place the Princess Elizabeth on the throne of England. The letter from Wyatt to Elizabeth and another one from an ambassador to the King of France were intercepted by Queen Mary’s people. Elizabeth who was probably innocent  but she was no fool.

Queen Mary summoned Elizabeth the thirty miles to London for questioning. Elizabeth became ill, probably from a recurring kidney disease, but Mary’s physicians pronounced her well enough to travel. Traveling only five miles per day, she was escorted to London by three of the queen’s councilors who were known to her. Elizabeth traveled in a litter with the curtains wide open, so that the people of London could see her innocent and frightened.face. She also had been reported to be pregnant, another rumor she wished to dispel. Her pallor was real. Besides being ill,  the route into London took her past the heads of Sir Thomas Wyatt and his accomplices which hung from spikes over London Bridge.

Although Queen Mary was in London, Elizabeth was not allowed to see her. Her household was dismissed and Elizabeth who was interrogated by Bishop Stephen Gardiner. When the interrogation was finished, Gardiner had Elizabeth sent to the Tower of London. Elizabeth, in her early twenties, was terrified because her own mother, Queen Anne Boleyn, had been imprisoned in the Tower and beheaded and buried there. Elizabeth was allowed to write her half-sister. The letter has survived and is known as The Tides Letter. Check out a pic of the young Elizabeth.

Tomorrow, Bits and pieces of the Tides Letter,  Rita Bay

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Elizabeth in the Tower of London

HolbeinThomasWyattAfter the Wyatt Rebellion in 1554, Princess Elizabeth Tudor was imprisoned in The Bell Tower at The Tower of London by order of her half-sister , Queen Mary I of England. When their father, King Henry VIII, died, he-was succeeded by their Protestant half-brother, Edward, the son of Henry’s third wife, Jane Seymour. After Queen Jane’s death, Henry acquired three more wives, but no additional children.
Edward, a staunch Protestant, was nine years old when he became king. He was brilliant but sickly and died from tuberculosis in 1553 when he was only seventeen years old. Although he had named his cousin, Lady Jane Grey as his successor, she reigned for only nine days before Princess Mary Tudor put her aside. She and her husband, Guildford Dudley, were later beheaded for treason.
Queen Mary I, a staunch Catholic in the now Protestant England, was thirty-four when she succeeded to the throne. Her father had divorced her mother to marry his pregnant mistress, Anne Boleyn. She had been declared a bastard, removed from the succession, and forced to play nursemaid to her sister. Her mother had died in relative poverty which she often shared.

When Mary succeeded to the throne, she did so with the support of both Catholic and Protestant supporters. Thomas Wyatt the Younger, the son of one of Anne Boleyn’s accused lovers, rose up in rebellion when it was announced that Mary would marry King Phillip of Spain. Having seen the Inquisition first hand, he wished to spare England. He wrote a letter to Elizabeth pledging his support. When Thomas was captured as he prepared to attack the Queen in London, Elizabeth was suspected of treason and almost lost her head. Wyatt was beheaded and later, hung, drawn and quartered. (Portrait of Thomas the Younger c. 1540 by Holbein)

Tomorrow, Elizabeth’s Fate. Rita Bay

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Castle Constuction

     After the Norman Conquest in 1066, King William the Conqueror granted his supporters land to hold for him.  In return for the land, it was their responsibility to insure peace in the area granted to them and to answer the call to war when it came.  The new nobility built motte and bailey castles to defend their territory.  The early castles were constructed of wood usually on high ground or on river bends land using forced labour.

     The motte and bailey castles could be built quickly and provided protection against rebellion. Being constructed of wood, they were only temporary and susceptible to fire.  Construction began by digging a motte large mound of earth with a flat top.  Then, they built a keep (tower house) surrounded by a fence that would serve as the Norman lord’s home. Next, the bailey was constructed at the foot of the motte. This included the buildings where the workers and soldiers lived and worked. It was surrounded both by a fence and, where possible, a moat of water with a drawbridge.

Dover Castle Restoration

     After the Normans established themselves, they began to build in stone.  Although the stone structures took a long time to build, they were extremely well made, very strong and well protected making them difficult to destroy or capture. Some of these castles still stand almost 1,000 years later.  The castle was also a residence with different rooms for the Lord and his family.  The Tower keep was reached by a wooden bridge from the bailey. The tower keep generally had two or three stories. The kitchen and storeroom were on the ground floor.  The Great Hall was located on the first floor and the lord’s apartments on the top floor. 

White Castle

      Outside the keep was the ‘bailey’ which contained stables and outbuildings. Surrounding the bailey was a stone wall which itself had built into it many guard towers for extra protection.  A moat was then dug around the wall.  A spiral staircase would lead up to the battlements on the roof, which was guarded by soldiers.

     A good example of an early castle is the White Tower.  It is part of the Tower of London which is situated on north bank of theThames River.  William the Conqueror began work on the castle in 1078. It is the most famous Castle Keep in Great Britain.  The original structure on the site was a motte and bailey castle. The White Tower is 90 feet high. The thickness of the walls ranged from 15 feet at the base to almost 11 feet in the upper stories. Above the battlements four turrets were built.  The East and South sides of the White Tower were protected to the by the old Roman London City walls. The entrance to the Tower was on the first floor accessed via a removable staircase, designed to make invasion of the White Tower more difficult. 

Tomorrow, Oath of Fealty    Rita Bay

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