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day of September, being Sunday, between three and four o'clock in the afternoon, the queen was delivered of a faire ladye, on which day the duke of Norfolk came home to the christening.”—“The lady Elizabeth,” says Heywood, “was born on the eve of the Virgin's Nativity, and died on the eve of the Virgin's Annunciation. Even she that is now in heaven with all those blessed virgins that had oil in their lamps."
Notwithstanding the bitter disappointment felt by king Henry at the sex of the infant, a solemn Te Deum was sung in honour of her birth, and the preparations for her christening were made with no less magnificence than if his hopes had been gratified by the birth of a male heir to the crown. The solemnization of that sacred rite was appointed to take place on Wednesday, 10th September, the fourth day after the birth of the infant princess. On that day the lord mayor, with the aldermen and council of the city of London, dined together at one o'clock, and then, in obedience to their summons, took boat in their chains and robes, and rowed to Greenwich, where many lords, knights, and gentlemen were assembled to witness the royal ceremonial. All the walls between Greenwich-palace and the convent of the Grey Friars were hung with arras, and the way strewn with green rushes: the church was likewise hung with arras. Gentlemen with aprons and towels about their necks guarded the font, which stood in the middle of the church: it was of silver, and raised to the height of three steps, and over it was a square canopy of crimson satin fringed with gold; about it, a space railed in, covered with red say. Between the choir and chancel, a closet with a fire had been prepared, lest the infant should take cold in being disrobed for the font. When all these things were ready, the child was brought into the hall of the palace, and the procession set out to the neighbouring church of the Grey Friars, of which building no vestige now remains at Greenwich.
The procession began with the lowest rank: the citizens two and two led the way, then gentlemen, esquires, and chaplains, a gradation of precedence rather decidedly marked
of the first three ranks, whose distinction is by no means definite in the present times. After them the aldermen, and the lord mayor by himself; then the privy council in robes ; then the peers and prelates, followed by the earl of Essex, who bore the gilt covered basons; then the marquess of Exeter, with the taper of virgin wax; next the marquess of Dorset, bearing the salt, and the lady Mary of Norfolk, (the betrothed of the young duke of Richmond,) carrying the chrysom, which was very rich with pearls and gems; lastly came the royal infant, in the arms of her great-grandmother, the dowager-duchess of Norfolk, under a stately canopy, which was supported by George Boleyn, lord Rochford, the lords William and Thomas Howard, the maternal kindred of the mother, and lord Hussey, a newly made lord of the Boleyn blood. The babe was wrapped in a mantle of purple velvet, with a train of regal length, furred with ermine, which was supported by the countess of Kent, assisted by the earl of Wiltshire, the queen's father, and the earl of Derby. On the right of the infant marched its great uncle, the duke of Norfolk, with his marshal's staff'; on the other, the duke of Suffolk. Cranmer, in a letter to a friend, exultingly observes, "I myself was godfather; the old duchess of Northfolke' and my lady marques Dorset, were godmothers." The bishop of London, who performed the ceremony, received the infant at the church-door of the Grey Friars, assisted by a grand company of bishops and mitred abbots. With all the rites of the church of Rome this future great Protestant queen received the name of her grandmother, Elizabeth of York: then Garter king-at-arms cried aloud, “God, of his infinite goodness, send a prosperous life and long, to the high and mighty princess of England, Elizabeth!”
A flourish of trumpets sounded, and the royal child was borne to the altar; the gospel was read over her, and she was confirmed by Cranmer, who with the other sponsors presented the christening gifts. He gave her a standing cup of gold, the duchess of Norfolk a cup of gold fretted with pearls, unconscious of the chemical antipathy between the acidity of wine and those gems. The marchioness of Dorset gave three
gilt bowls, pounced, with a cover; and the marchioness of Exeter three standing bowls, graven and gilt, with covers. Then were brought in wafers, comfits, and ipocras in such abundance, that the company had as much as could be desired. The homeward procession was lighted on its way to the palace with five hundred staff torches, which were carried by the yeomen of the guard and the king's servants, but the infant herself was surrounded by gentlemen bearing wax-flambeaux. The procession returned in the same order that it went out, save that four noble gentlemen carried the sponsors' gifts before the child, with trumpets flourishing all the way preceding them, till they came to the door of the queen's chamber. The king commanded the duke of Norfolk to thank the
and citizens heartily in his name for their attendance, and after they had powerfully refreshed themselves in the royal cellar, they betook themselves to their barges.
The lady Margaret Bryan, whose husband, sir Thomas Bryan, was a kinsman of queen Anne Boleyn, was preferred to the office of governess in ordinary to Elizabeth, as she had formerly been to the princess Mary: she was called “the lady mistress.” Elizabeth passed the first two months of her life at Greenwich-palace with the queen her mother, and during that period she was frequently taken for an airing to Eltham, for the benefit of her health. On the 2nd of December she was the subject of the following order in council :
“ The king's highness hath appointed that the lady princess Elizabeth (almost three months old) shall be taken from hence towards Hatfield upon Wednesday next week; that on Wednesday night she is to lie and repose at the house of the earl of Rutland at Enfield, and the next day to be conveyed to Hatfield ; and there to remain with such household as the king's highness has established for the same."
In virtue of the act of parliament which settled the succession, in default of heirs-male to Henry VIII., on the female issue of that monarch by Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth was treated as the heiress-presumptive to the throne, and her disinherited sister, the princess Mary, was compelled to yield precedency to her. Soon after this change in the prospects of the unconscious babe, she was removed to the palace of the bishop of
· Strype, vol. i. p. 236.
Winchester, at Chelsea,' on whom the charge of herself and her extensive nursery appointments were thrust. When she was thirteen months old, she was weaned, and the preliminaries for this important business were arranged, between the officers of her household and the cabinet ministers of her august sire, with as much solemnity as if the fate of empires had been involved in the matter. The following passages are extracted from a letter from sir William Powlet to Cromwell, on this subject
“The king's grace, well considering the letter directed to you from my lady Bryan, and other my lady princess' officers, his grace, with the assent of the queen’s grace, hath fully determined the weaning of my lady princess to be done with all diligence.” He proceeds to state that the little princess is to have the whole of any one of the royal residences thought best for her, and that consequently he has given orders for Langley to be put in order for her and her suite; which orders, he adds,
“ This messenger hath, withal, a letter from the queen's grace to my lady Bryan, and that his grace and the queen's grace doth well and be merry,
and all theirs, thanks be to God.- From Sarum, Oct. 9th.”2
Scarcely was this nursery affair of state accomplished, before Henry exerted his paternal care in seeking to provide the royal weanling with a suitable consort, by entering into a negotiation with Francis I. of France for a union between this infant princess and the duke of Angoulême, the third son of that monarch. Henry proposed that the young duke should be educated in England, and should hold the duchy of Angoulêmel independently of the French crown, in the event of his coming to the crown of England through his marriage with Elizabeth. The project of educating the young French prince, who was selected for the husband of the presumptiveheiress of England, according to the manners and customs of the realm of which she might hereafter become the sovereign, was a sagacious idea; but Henry clogged the matrimonial treaty with conditions which it was out of the power of the king of France to ratify, and it proved abortive.
1 The air of this beautiful village agreed so well with the royal infant, that Henry VIII, built a palace there, of which the husband of her governess, lady Bryan, was given the post of keeper; and so lately as the time of Charles II., one room in the Manor-house, as it was afterwards called, was known by the name of 'queen Elizabeth's nursery.' An old mulberry-tree in the gardens is said to have been planted by her hand. The king also erected a conduit at Kensington, for supplying the nursery palace with spring water, which was lately entire, and called Henry VIII.'s conduit ; likewise a bath-house within her majesty's forcing-grounds, on the west side of Kensington palace-green. It was a low building, with walls of great thickness, the roof covered with bricks instead of tiles ; the roof was groined with rude arches, and the water poured copiously into a square reservoir. Tradition declares that it was used by queen Elizabeth, when a child, as a bathing-house: it was therefore regarded with peculiar interest.–Faulkner's Kensington, p. 26.
2 The letter occurs in 1534. State-papers, Cromwell's correspondence, in the Chapter-house : bundle P.
The tragic events which rendered Elizabeth motherless in her third year, and degraded her from the lofty position in which she had been placed by the unjust but short-lived paternal fondness of her capricious father, have been fully detailed in the memoir of her unhappy mother, Anne Boleyn. By the sentence which Cranmer had passed on the marriage of her parents and her own birth, Elizabeth was branded with the stigma of illegitimacy; and that she was for a time exposed to the sort of neglect and contempt which is too often the lot of children to whom that reproach applies, is evidenced by the following letter from lady Bryan to Cromwell, imploring for a supply of necessary raiment for the innocent babe who had been so cruelly involved in her mother's fall :
“ MY LORD, “After my most bounden duty I recommend me to your good lordship, beseeching you to be good lord to me, now in the greatest need that ever was; for it hath pleased God to take from me hem (them) that was my greatest comfort in this world, to my great heaviness. Jesu have mercy on her soul! and now I am succourless, and as a redles (without redress] creature but only from the great trust which I have in the king's grace and your good lordship, for now in you I put all my whole trust of comfort in this world. My lord, when your lordship was last here, it pleased you to say that I should not mistrust the king's grace nor your lordship, which
1 Herbert. Hall. Rapin. ? This condition bears decidedly upon the now important question, whether the husband of a queen-regnant of England be entitled to the style of king-consort. It was Henry VIII.'s opinion that the husband of his daughter, in the event of her succeeding to the crown, might, by her favour, bear that title. Mary I., as we have seen, overstepped the constitutional boundary, by actually associating Philip of Spain in the executive power of the crown ; but the law of nature and of reason decides that the husband of a queen-regnant of England ought not to occupy an inferior position in the state to the wife of a king of England, who derives a regal title from her marriage.