“Her Majesty departed this life” (John Manningham, 1603)

death-mask-of-elizabeth-i

On this day in 1603, John Manningham wrote:

“This morning about three at clock her Majesty [Elizabeth I] departed this life, mildly like a lamb, easily like a ripe apple from the tree … .  About ten at clock the Council and divers noblemen having been awhile in consultation, proclaimed James VI, King of Scots, the King of England, France and Ireland, beginning at Whitehall gates, where Sir Robert Cecil read the proclamation which he carried in his hand, and after read again in Cheapside.  Many noblemen, lords spiritual and temporal, knights, five trumpets, many heralds.  The gates at Ludgate and portcullis were shut and down, by the Lord Mayor [Robert Lee]’s command, who was there present, with the Aldermen, etc., and until he had a …  promise … that they would proclaim the King of Scots King of England, he would not open.  Upon the death of a king or queen in London the Lord Mayor of London is the greatest magistrate in England”.

Elizabeth’s reign was  widely, although by no means universally,  regarded as some sort of “Golden Age” of – comparative – stability, peace and prosperity, of exploration and discovery, and of the arts, in particular the performing arts, bringing “Melody and joy and comfort to all true Englishmen and women”.

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