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The Monuments of Elizabeth Tudor and Mary Stuart: King James and the Manipulation of Memory

  • Peter Sherlock
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1 See; I take the concept of a “site of memory” from Nora, Pierre, “Between Memory and History: Les Lieux de Mémoire,” Representations, no. 26 (1989): 724.

2 Patterson, W. Brown, King James VI and I and the Reunion of Christendom (Cambridge, 1997); Richards, Judith, “The English Accession of James VI: ‘National’ Identity, Gender and the Personal Monarchy of England,” English Historical Review 117, no. 472 (2002): 514–35; Woolf, Daniel, The Idea of History in Early Stuart England: Erudition, Ideology, and the “Light of Truth” from the Accession of James I to the Civil War (Toronto, 1998); Collinson, Patrick, “William Camden and the Anti-Myth of Elizabeth: Setting the Mould?” in The Myth of Elizabeth, ed. Doran, Susan and Freeman, Thomas (London, 2003), 79–98; Lewis, Jayne, Mary Queen of Scots: Romance and Nation (London, 1998); Parry, Graham, The Golden Age Restor’d: The Culture of the Stuart Court, 1603–42 (Manchester, 1981).

3 Sharpe, Kevin, Remapping Early Modern England: The Culture of Seventeenth-Century Politics (Cambridge, 2000), 415–59.

4 Llewellyn, Nigel, “The Royal Body: Monuments to the Dead, for the Living,” in Renaissance Bodies: The Human Figure in English Culture, c. 1540–1660, ed. Gent, Lucy and Llewellyn, Nigel (London, 1990), 218–40. For a fuller exposition of this approach to monuments in general, see Llewellyn, Nigel, Funeral Monuments in Post-Reformation England (Cambridge, 2000).

5 Howarth, David, Images of Rule: Art and Politics in the English Renaissance, 1485–1649 (London, 1997), 153–90.

6 Cocke, Thomas, “Henry VII Chapel: The Royal Connection,” in Westminster Abbey: The Lady Chapel of Henry VII, ed. Tatton-Brown, Tim and Mortimer, Richard (Woodbridge, 2003), 315–25.

7 White, Adam, “A Biographical Dictionary of London Tomb Sculptors, c. 1560–c. 1660,” Walpole Society 61 (1999): 1162. For an important account of the impact of these and other tombs on English monumental sculpture, see White, Adam, “Westminster Abbey in the Early Seventeenth Century: A Powerhouse of Ideas,” Church Monuments 4 (1989): 1653.

8 Howarth, Images of Rule, 170; Walker, Julia, “Reading the Tombs of Elizabeth I,” English Literary Renaissance 26, no. 3 (1996): 510–30. This claim is restated more forcefully in Walker, Julia, The Elizabethan Icon, 1603–2003 (London, 2004), 2537.

9 On early modern ideals of the “good death,” see Houlbrooke, Ralph, Death, Religion and the Family in England, 1480–1750 (Oxford, 1998), 183219; Cressy, David, Birth, Marriage and Death: Ritual, Religion and the Life-Cycle in Tudor and Stuart England (Oxford, 1997), 389–93.

10 Copy of Queen Elizabeth's speech before parliament, 10 February 1558/9, Lansdowne MS 94, fol. 29, British Library (BL); Elizabeth I: Collected Works, ed. Marcus, Leah S., Mueller, Janel, and Rose, Mary Beth (Chicago, 2000), 58.

11 Richards, “English Accesion.”

12 On the day of the funeral, the king was staying with Sir Oliver Cromwell at Hinchingbrook, Huntingdonshire. He reached Theobalds on 3 May and then proceeded into London; see Stow, John, Annales, or, a Generall Chronicle of England, continued by Edmund Howes (London, 1615), 822.

13 Robert Cecil to the Council, 18 April 1603, Cecil Papers, vol. 99, 125, Hatfield House, Hertfordshire, available in Calendar of the Manuscripts of the Most Honourable the Marquess of Salisbury … preserved at the Hatfield House, Hertfordshire (hereafter HMC Salisbury), Historical Manuscripts Commission (series) 9 (London, n.d), pt. 15, 53.

14 Woodward, Jennifer, The Theatre of Death: The Ritual Management of Royal Funerals in Renaissance England, 1570–1625 (Woodbridge, 1997), 98–99; Giovanni Carlo Scaramelli to the Doge of Venice, 15 May 1603, The National Archives: Public Record Office (TNA: PRO); Calendar of State Papers, Venetian (CSPV), 1603–7, 24–25; Woolf, Daniel, “Two Elizabeths? James I and the Late Queen's Famous Memory,” Canadian Journal of History 20, no. 2 (1985): 173.

15 Meikle, Maureen and Payne, Helen, “Anne (1574–1619),” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (ODNB), ed. Matthew, H. Colin G. and Harrison, Brian (Oxford, 2004),

16 Giovanni Carlo Scaramelli to the Doge of Venice, 8 May 1603, CSPV, 1603–7, 22; Woodward, Theatre of Death, 129.

17 Walker takes an unsustainable position in arguing that everyone expected Elizabeth to be buried in Henry VII's crypt in “Reading the Tombs,” 521–22; Camden, William, Reges, Reginae et alii in Ecclesia Collegiata B. Petri Westmonasterii Sepulti ad Annum … 1603, 2nd ed. (London, 1603), sig. D3; Stow, Annales (1615), 818.

18 Colvin, Howard, ed, History of the King's Works, vol. 3, pt. 1 (London, 1975); Howarth, Images of Rule, 158.

19 Nichols, John G., ed., The Chronicle of Queen Jane and of Two Years of Queen Mary and especially of the rebellion of Sir Thomas Wyat, written by a resident in the Tower of London, Camden Old Series, vol. 48 (1850), 101–2.

20 John G. Nichols, ed., The diary of Henry Machyn, citizen and merchant-taylor of London, from A.D. 1550 to A.D. 1563, Camden Old Series, vol. 42 (1848), 256.

21 Howarth, Images of Rule, 169–70.

22 Morgan, Nigel, “The Scala Coeli Indulgence and the Royal Chapels,” in The Reign of Henry VII: Proceedings of the 1993 Harlaxton Symposium, ed. Thompson, Benjamin (Stamford, 1995), 82103.

23 A copy of Mary's will is at Harley MS 6949, BL.

24 Pitcairn, Robert, ed., Collections relative to the Funerals of Mary Queen of Scots (Edinburgh, 1822), vvi.

25 Allan J. Crosby and John Bruce, eds., Accounts and Papers Relating to Mary Queen of Scots, Camden Old Series, vol. 93 (1867), 28–63.

26 Gunton, Simon, History of the Church of Peterburgh (London, 1686), 80.

27 Blackwood, Adam, Martyre de la Royne d’Escosse (Paris, 1587). Blackwood provides a tantalizing clue as to the identity of the author or patron of the epitaph in the addition of the phrase “P. C. posuit.” I have been unable to identify a person with the initials P. C. who might have placed the epitaph at the grave.

28 This English translation is taken from Camden, William, The Historie of the Life and Death of Mary Stuart Queene of Scotland (London, 1624), 293. The Latin version appears in Camden, William, Annales rerum Anglicarum, et Hibernicarum, Regnante Elizabetha (London, 1615), 459: “Novum et inauditum tumuli genus, in quo cum vivis mortui includuntur, hic extat: cum sacris enim divae Mariae cineribus omnium regum atque principum violatam, atque prostratam maiestatem hic iacere scito; et quia tacitum regale satis superque reges sui officii monet, plura non addo viator.”

29 William Camden blames Mary's fate on her “ungrate and ambitious subiects,” her absent secretaries, and those “desiring much to restore the Roman Religion” in Mary Stuart (London, 1624), 291.

30 Stow, Annales (1615), 828; Woodward, Theatre of Death, 138; Lewis, Mary Queen of Scots, 65–85.

31 Cecil Papers, vol. 188, fol. 79, available in HMC Salisbury, pt. 17, 79.

32 Viscount Cranborne to Sir Thomas Lake, 4 March 1604/5, TNA: PRO, SP 14/13/8, partially available in the printed Calendar of State Papers, Domestic (CSPD), 1603–10, 201.

33 TNA: PRO, SP 14/13/9, and a second copy at SP 14/13/10. It is not clear whether the Italian stone mentioned in Cranborne's letter ever arrived or if it may be identified with the Whitehall stockpile.

34 TNA: PRO, SP 14/13/8.

35 Talbot Papers, MS 3202, fol. 9, Lambeth Palace Library, London.

36 Michael Howard, “‘The holie companie of heven’: Henry VII's Chapel,” History Today, February 1986, 36–41; Walker, Elizabethan Icon, 29.

37 The payments are recorded in several sources: Lansdowne MS 164, fols. 402v, 412v, BL; TNA: PRO, E 403/2726, fol. 157v; Devon, Frederick, Issues of the Exchequer (London, 1836), 21–22, 27, 50.

38 White, “Biographical Dictionary,” 29–36; A. White, “Colt, Maximilian (fl. 1595–1645),” in ODNB,

39 Devon, Issues, 60.

40 List of payments out of the King's receipt at Westminster, 1606, Lansdowne MS 164, fol. 430v, BL.

41 Nicholas Hilliard to Robert Cecil, n.d., 1606, Cecil Papers, vol. 119, piece 8, partially available in HMC Salisbury, pt. 18, 409.

42 Complete accounts for both the funeral and the tomb are at the Folger Library, Washington, DC, MS X.d.541, an image of which is available in Elizabeth I: Then and Now, ed. Ziegler, Georgianna (Seattle, 2003), 124. See also Shirley, Evelyn P., “Funeral and tomb of queen Elizabeth,” Notes and Queries, 3rd ser., 5 (28 May 1864), 434.

43 The King to the Treasurer and Chamberlain, 19 April 1606, Cecil Papers, vol. 121, piece 1, available in HMC Salisbury, pt. 19, 100. The contract was dated 19 April iv James I, mistakenly calendared as 19 April 1607, when in fact it is 19 April 1606; see White, “Biographical Dictionary,” 40, n. 20. The original warrant for the tomb was seen in 1840 amid a bundle of Exchequer papers earmarked for destruction; Notes and Queries, 2nd ser., 1 (12 April 1856), 285.

44 Cecil Papers, vol. 206, piece 1, available in HMC Salisbury, pt. 15, 347.

45 Adam White, “Cure family (per. c. 1540–c. 1620),” in ODNB,

46 Devon, Issues, 35, 50, 75; Lansdowne MS 164, fols. 402v, 430v, BL.

47 Stow, Annales (1615), 886. Woodward's claim that Christian could view a “double set of images of Elizabeth” at this date cannot be substantiated, although if her funeral monument was not finished it would have been nearing completion; Jennifer Woodward, “Images of a Dead Queen,” History Today, November 1997, 18–23.

48 Mortimer, Richard, “The History of the Collection,” in The Funeral Effigies of Westminster Abbey, ed. Harvey, Anthony and Mortimer, Richard (Woodbridge, 1994), 2128. Devon, Issues, 51, records the payment to Neile, dated 29 November 1606.

49 Abbey Treasurer's Accounts for 1606, Westminster Abbey Muniments (hereafter WAM), 33659; Brayley, Edward W. and Neale, John P., The History and Antiquities of the Abbey Church of St Peter Westminster, 2 vols. (London, 1812), 2:281. The tomb bore no images but only the Cleves coat of arms and the initials A. C.

50 Merritt, Julia F., “The Cradle of Laudianism? Westminster Abbey, 1558–1630,” Journal of Ecclesiastical History 52, no. 4 (2001): 623–46.

51 Devon, Issues, 100, 168–9; White, “Biographical Dictionary,” 40 n. 1, 44.

52 Devon, Issues, 190; Llewellyn, “Royal Body,” 277 n. 31; White, “Biographical Dictionary,” 40 n. 22.

53 The total cost of the four tombs built by James for his mother, predecessor, and two daughters was £3,500. See the 1617 statement of revenues and disbursements since James's accession at ADD MS 58833, fol. 19v, BL. This statement was probably the source for the same reckoning given in An Abstract of Brief Declaration of the Present State of his Majesties Revenew (London, 1651), 15.

54 Walker, “Reading the Tombs,” 523.

55 Howarth, Images of Rule, 169.

56 This and all subsequent quotations from epitaphs in the Henry VII chapel are taken from the typescript inventory of abbey tombs compiled by John Physick and available for consultation at Westminster Abbey Library. Reliable transcriptions may also be found in Sandford, Francis, A Genealogical History of the Kings of England and Monarchs of Great Britain, 2nd ed. (London, 1707), or Brayley and Neale, History and Antiquities. English translations are my own unless otherwise stated.

57 For the translation of Mary Stuart's epitaph I have relied heavily upon the version provided by Margaret Stephenson in the Westminster Abbey inventory of tombs. Any errors here are my own.

58 Howard's authorship is alluded to at the base of the elegy by the phrase “H. N. gemens” and confirmed by the multiple drafts of the epitaph found in his papers at Cotton MS Titus C VI, fols. 207–11, BL. See also Pauline Croft, “Howard, Henry, earl of Northampton (1540–1614),” in ODNB,

59 Fuller, Thomas, The Church History of Britain, ed. Brewer, John S., vol. 5 (1655; Oxford, 1845), 104. For the original see Chibnall, Marjorie, The Empress Matilda: Queen Consort, Queen Mother and Lady of the English (Oxford, 1991), 191.

60 This element may well have been added at the king's direction, for it was not present in Northampton's draft versions of the epitaph which included far more limited claims, such as “nearest heir by the law of succession to the English crown” (iure successionis Anglicani regni haeredes proximae); Cotton MS Titus C VI, fols. 207–11, BL.

61 John H. Pollen, “Mary Queen of Scots,” in Catholic Encyclopedia,

62 Contrary to the assertion of several writers (e.g., Llewellyn, Funeral Monuments, 155), the Lennox tomb was neither erected nor paid for by James. The tomb originally bore an inscription “Absolutu: cura Thomae Fowleri, huius d[omi]nae executoris: Octobr. 24, 1578”; see Sandford, Genealogical History, 525. On the Lennox tomb, see Sherlock, Peter, “Henry VII's ‘miraculum orbis’: Royal Commemoration at Westminster Abbey, 1500–1700,” in Rituals, Images, and Words: Varieties of Cultural Expression in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe, ed. Kent, F. William and Zika, Charles (Turnhout, 2005), 189–91.

63 Charles Scott-Giles describes the heraldry as it was restored in the 1950s in Heraldry in Westminster Abbey (1954; rev. ed., London, 1961), 46; more contemporary descriptions include Crull, Jodocus, The Antiquities of St Peter’s, or the Abbey Church of Westminster (London, 1711), 9192.

64 Brayley and Neale, History and Antiquities, 1:69.

65 This last coat is unusual as it shows not Anne Boleyn's paternal arms as she would have borne them but a pastiche of six quarters representing her most noble lines of descent. For the heraldry on Elizabeth's tomb, see Ibid., 64–66.

66 Scott-Giles (Heraldry, 26) appears to be the only modern commentator to observe the presence of the Stuart arms on Elizabeth's tomb, which he describes as “curious,” underestimating the bravado James here exhibits.

67 Compare the description of the proceedings at Elizabeth's funeral at TNA: PRO, SP 14/1/54.

68 Walker, “Reading the Tombs”; account sheet of building works undertaken for the Dean and Chapter, 1606, WAM 41095.

69 Abbey Treasurer's Accounts for 1606, WAM 33659.

70 Walker, “Reading the Tombs,” 510, 521–22; Walker, Julia, “Bones of Contention: Posthumous Images of Elizabeth and Stuart Politics,” in her Dissing Elizabeth: Negative Representations of Gloriana (London, 1998), 252–76.

71 The coffins of the two queens were viewed by Dean Stanley when he opened their vault during his search for the remains of King James in 1869; Stanley, Arthur P., Historical Memorials of Westminster Abbey, 3rd ed. (London, 1869), 668–70. The virtual obliteration of Mary's existence by the tomb is paralleled in the treatment of her mother; the only sign of Henry's marriage to Catherine of Aragon once appeared on the heraldic bearings on Margaret Beaufort's monument, as noted in Sandford, Genealogical History, 329. It is only in recent decades, especially since the placement of an inscription commemorating the martyrs of the Reformation that Elizabeth's tomb has come to be more closely identified with her sister Mary as well.

72 A seventeenth-century copy of the letter is preserved in the Ashmole MS 836, 277, Bodleian Library, Oxford. Transcriptions of the Peterborough copy of the letter can be found in Gunton, Peterburgh, 81, and in Stanley, Historical Memorials, 618–19. The pall was presumably the same one James had sent to Peterborough nine years earlier.

73 Davys, Owen, Guide to the Cathedral and Abbey of Peterborough, 6th ed. (London, 1886), 28. A modern copy is still displayed in Westminster Abbey next to Mary's monument.

74 Neile's bill was dated 21 October 1612, and payment made on 3 November 1612, according to Devon, Issues, 151; Nichols, John, The Progresses, Processions, and Magnificent Festivities of King James the First, vol. 2 (London, 1828), 463 n. 3. There does not appear to be an entry in the abbey accounts relating to the body's interment in Henry VII's chapel.

75 Stow, Annales (1631), 913. See also Northampton's relation of the journey to Rochester, TNA: PRO, SP 14/71/5, partially available in the printed CSPD, 1611–18, 150–51.

76 TNA: PRO, SP 14/71/16, partially available in the printed CSPD, 1611–18, 152.

77 TNA: PRO, SP 14/71/16. It seems Northampton here refers to the space between the monuments of Margaret Beaufort and Mary Stuart, as they were clearly buried in separate vaults, and to the size of the entrance to the crypt under Mary's memorial.

78 Woodward, Theatre of Death, 140.

79 Account of Lewis Lewkenor, Master of Ceremonies, 1612, Report on the Laing Manuscripts preserved in the University of Edinburgh (hereafter HMC Laing), Historical Manuscripts Commission (Series) 72 (London, 1914).

80 Charles Cornwallis notes that the prince's effigy, hearse, and coffin remained on display until 19 December 1612, when the effigy was removed to join the other royal statues on display in the abbey in The Life and Death of … Henry Prince of Wales (London, 1641), 93. The Venetian ambassador thought that a “rich tomb of marble and porphyry” was being prepared for the Prince of Wales, which could be a reference to the incomplete monument of Henry VIII, originally commissioned by Cardinal Wolsey; CSPV, 1610–13, 469.

81 Devon, Issues, 60; HMC Laing, pt. 1, 109; HMC Salisbury, pt. 20, 108. A copy of the latter is available in Lodge, Edward, Illustrations of British History, Biography and Manners, vol. 3 (London, 1791), 319–20. De Critz and Patrick were again employed to paint, gild, and provide a grille for the tomb for a further £60.

82 White, “Westminster Abbey,” 29. White's point stands in contrast to Howarth's description of the tomb as “ghoulish”; Howarth, Images of Rule, 171.

83 Fuller, Thomas, The History of the Worthies of England, vol. 2, ed. Nuttall, Peter A. (London, 1840), 129.

84 Stow, Annales (1615), 862, 892; Lodge, Illustrations, 323–24, 327; Devon, Issues, 72–73. Fuller records how the king had been prone to quip in reference to his daughter that “he would not pray to the Virgin Mary, but he would pray for the Virgin Mary” in Worthies, 129.

85 List of extraordinary payments, 17 August 1609, TNA: PRO, SP 14/47/84; Devon, Issues, 51, 60, 88. The date of death on Mary's epitaph as engraved on her monument is incorrectly given as 16 December 1607 instead of 16 September 1607.

86 In Genealogical History, Sandford provides careful accounts of the burials of many royal children in the 1660s, suggesting that he attended their funerals in his role as a herald. See also Stanley, Historical Memorials, 665–68, and Lewis, Mary Queen of Scots, 73.

87 Weever, John, Ancient Funerall Monuments (London, 1631), 852–53.

88 Fuller, Church History, 528.

89 “Audio ossa, ad regum Anglorum sepulturam Westmonasterium translata, miraculis clarere”; see Dempster, Thomas, Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Scotorum [1627], Bannatyne Club, vol. 2 (Edinburgh, 1829), 464.

90 Walker, “Bones of Contention,” 252–76.

91 Howarth, Images of Rule, 164–65.

92 Devon, Issues, 240.

93 Stow, John, Survey of London, ed. Munday, John Anthony (London, 1633), 518.

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