Tag Archives: Queen Elizabeth I

Elizabethan Greenwich (Paul Hentzner, 1596)

Plaque marking site of Greenwich Palace

Another in the occasional series on contemporary accounts and descriptions of the historic City of  London, this one written by another German visitor, Paul Hentzner,  in 1596

 

“Elizabeth, the reigning Queen of England, was born at the royal palace of Greenwich, and here she generally resides, particularly in summer, for the delightfulness of its location.  We were admitted by an order … procured from the Lord Chamberlain, into the presence-chamber hung with rich tapestry, and the floor, after the English fashion, strewed with hay, through which the Queen … passes on her way to chapel.  At the door stood a gentleman dressed in velvet, with a gold chain, whose office was to introduce to the Queen any person of distinction that came to … her.  It was Sunday, when there is usually the greatest attendance of nobility.  In the same hall were the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of London, a great number of counsellors of state, officers of the crown, and gentlemen, who waited the Queen’s coming out, …  when it was time to go to prayers, attended in the following manner:-

Portrait of Elizabeth I

First went gentlemen, barons, earls, knights of the Garter … ; next … the Lord High Chancellor … , … between two, one of whom carried the royal sceptre, the other the sword of state … ; next the Queen, … very majestic; her face oblong, fair but wrinkled; her eyes small, yet … pleasant; her nose a little hooked, her lips narrow, and her teeth black (a defect the English seem subject to, from their too great use of sugar);… her hair of an auburn colour, but false; upon her head … a small crown … ;  her bosom … uncovered, as all the English ladies have it until they marry; … her hands … slender, her fingers … long, and her stature neither tall now low; her air … stately, her manner of speaking mild and obliging.  That day she was dressed in white silk, bordered with pearls … , and …  a mantle of black silk shot with silver threads; her train … very long, the end … borne by a marchioness … .  As she went along in all this state and magnificence, she spoke very graciously, first to one, then to another … , in English, French and Italian … .  Whoever speaks to her, it is kneeling; now and then she raises some with her hand.  While we were there, … a Bohemian baron had letters to present to her; and she, after pulling off her glove, gave him her right hand to kiss, sparkling with rings and jewels – a mark of particular favour.  Wherever she turned her face as she was going along, everybody fell down on their knees.  …  In the ante-chapel, … petitions were presented to her, and she received them most graciously … .  In the chapel was excellent music; as soon as it and the service were over, … the Queen returned in the same state and order … ”.

Plaque marking site of Greenwich Palace

Plaque marking site of Greenwich Palace

The Oath of the Free Man in Elizabethan London (1580)

Statue of Elizabeth I, church of St Dunstan in the West

Statue of Elizabeth I, church of St Dunstan in the West

“Ye shall swear that ye shall be good and true to our sovereign Lady, Queen Elizabeth, …  and to the heirs of our said sovereign Lady … .  Obeisant and  obedient ye shall be to the Mayor and to the ministers of the City.  The franchises and customs thereof ye shall maintain and this City keep harmless … .

Ye shall be contributory to all manner of charges within this City, as summons, watches, contributions, tasks, tallages, lot and scot, … bearing your part as a freeman ought … .

Ye shall colour no foreign’s goods whereby the Queen might lose her custom or advantages.

Ye shall know no foreign to buy or sell any merchandise within the City … , but ye shall warn the Chamberlain thereof, or some minister … .

Ye shall emplead or sue no free man out of this City whiles ye may have right and law within this same City.

Ye shall take none apprentice but if he be free born, … and for no less than seven years … . [A]t his term’s end ye shall make him free of this City, if he have well and truly served you

Ye shall … keep the Queen’s peace in your person; ye shall know no gatherings, conventicles, nor conspiracies made against the Queen’s peace, but ye shall warn the Mayor thereof … .

All these points and articles ye shall well and truly keep, according to the laws and custom of the City … .  So God you help, and by the holy contents of this Book”.

The Braun & Hogenberg map of Tudor London (1572)

The Braun & Hogenberg map of Tudor London (1572)

Elizabethan London (Frederick of Mompelgard, 1592)

Frederick, Duke of Wurttemberg

Another in the occasional series on contemporary accounts and descriptions of the historic City of  London, this one written by a German visitor, Frederick of Mompelgard, in 1592

“It is a very populous city, so that one can scarcely pass along its streets, on account of the throng.

The inhabitants are magnificently apparelled, and are extremely proud and overbearing: and because the greater part, especially the trades people, seldom go into other countries, but always remain … in the city attending to their business, they care little for foreigners, but scoff and laugh at them; and … one dare not oppose them, else the street-boys and apprentices collect together … and strike … unmercifully without regard to person; and because they are the strongest, one is obliged to put up with the insult as well as the injury.

The women have much more liberty than perhaps in any other place; they also know well how to make use of it, for they go dressed … in exceedingly fine clothes, and give all attention to their ruffs and stuffs … whilst at home perhaps they have not a piece of dry bread”.

Frederick, Duke of Wurttemberg

Frederick, Duke of Wurttemberg

During his  visit to England in 1592, Frederick  made representations to Queen Elizabeth to be made a Knight of the Garter, contrary to diplomatic protocol.  He was eventually admitted to the Order after being made Duke of Wurttemberg in 1597, but in a perceived deliberate slight was not informed of his admission until it was too late for him to attend in person the investiture.  His absence from the investiture was the subject of a  joke at his expense in Shakespeare’s “The Merry Wives of Windsor”, which was written for the event.