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Elizabeth I (1533-1603)


1. Written with a Diamond on her Window at Woodstock

1Much suspected by me,

2Nothing proved can be,
3Quoth Elizabeth prisoner.

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto

Original text: John Foxe, Acts and Monuments (London, 1563): 1714. Cf. Poems, ed. Leicester Bradner
(Providence, R.I., Brown University Press, 1964): 3, 71.
First publication date: 1563
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 1996-2000.
Recent editing: 1:2002/4/18
Composition date: 1554 - 1555
Rhyme: aab

2. Written on a Wall at Woodstock

1Oh Fortune, thy wresting wavering state

2Hath fraught with cares my troubled wit,
3Whose witness this present prison late
4Could bear, where once was joy's loan quit.
5Thou causedst the guilty to be loosed
6From bands where innocents were inclosed,
7And caused the guiltless to be reserved,
8And freed those that death had well deserved.
9But all herein can be nothing wrought,
10So God send to my foes all they have thought.

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto

Original text: Paul Hentzner, Itinerarium Germaniae, Galliae, Angliae, Italiae (Noribergae, 1612). B-10
5833 Fisher Rare Book Library [1629 edn.]
First publication date: 1612
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 1996-2000.
Recent editing: 1:2002/4/18

Composition date: 1554 - 1555

Rhyme: ababccddee

3. Written in her French Psalter

1No crooked leg, no bleared eye,
2No part deformed out of kind,
3Nor yet so ugly half can be
4As is the inward suspicious mind.

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto

Original text: Poetry Book Society Bulletin (Nov. 1958); Poems, ed. Leicester Bradner (Providence, R.I.,
Brown University Press, 1964): 4, 71-72.
First publication date: 1612
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 1996-2000.
Recent editing: 1:2002/4/18

Composition date: 1554 - 1555

Form: quatrain
Rhyme: abab

All contents copyright © RPO Editors, Department of English, and University of Toronto Press 1994-2002
RPO is hosted by the University of Toronto Libraries.

4. In Defiance of Fortune

1Never think you fortune can bear the sway

2Where virtue's force can cause her to obey.

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto

Original text: George Puttenham, The Arte of English Poesie. (1589); facs. edn. (Amsterdam: Theatrum
Orbis Terrarum, 1971) . PN 1031 P88 1589AB Robarts Library. Poems, ed. Leicester Bradner (Providence,
R.I., Brown University Press, 1964): 5, 73.
First publication date: 1589
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 1996-2000.
Recent editing: 1:2002/4/18

Composition date: 1568 - 1570

Form: couplet


by Elizabeth I, Queen of England

The doubt of future foes exiles my present joy,

And wit me warns to shun such snares as threaten mine annoy;
For falsehood now doth flow, and subjects' faith doth ebb,
Which should not be if reason ruled or wisdom weaved the web.
But clouds of joys untried do cloak aspiring minds,
Which turn to rain of late repent by changèd course of winds.
The top of hope supposed the root upreared shall be,
And fruitless all their grafted guile, as shortly ye shall see.
The dazzled eyes with pride, which great ambition blinds,
Shall be unsealed by worthy wights whose foresight falsehood finds.
The daughter of debate that discord aye doth sow
Shall reap no gain where former rule still peace hath taught to know.
No foreign banished wight shall anchor in this port;
Our realm brooks not seditious sects, let them elsewhere resort.
My rusty sword through rest shall first his edge employ
To poll their tops that seek such change or gape for future joy.

[AJ Notes:

wights - fellows
still - always
poll their tops - cut off their heads]

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Created by Anniina Jokinen on August 26, 1999. Last updated May 18, 2004.

by Elizabeth I, Queen of England

I grieve and dare not show my discontent,

I love and yet am forced to seem to hate,
I do, yet dare not say I ever meant,
I seem stark mute but inwardly do prate.
I am and not, I freeze and yet am burned,
Since from myself another self I turned.
My care is like my shadow in the sun,
Follows me flying, flies when I pursue it,
Stands and lies by me, doth what I have done.
His too familiar care doth make me rue it.
No means I find to rid him from my breast,
Till by the end of things it be supprest.
Some gentler passion slide into my mind,
For I am soft and made of melting snow;
Or be more cruel, love, and so be kind.
Let me or float or sink, be high or low.
Or let me live with some more sweet content,
Or die and so forget what love ere meant.


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Created by Anniina Jokinen on August 26, 1999.

9. FROM Boethius' The Consolation of Philosophy

[All human kind on earth]

ALL human kind on earth

From like beginning comes:
One father is of all,
One only all doth guide.
He gave to sun the beams
And horns on moon bestowed;
He men to earth did give
And signs to heaven.
He closed in limbs our soul
Fetched from the highest seat.
A noble seed therefore
Brought forth all mortal folk.
What crake you of your stock
Or forefathers old?
If your first spring and author
God you view,
No man bastard be,
Unless with vice the worst he feed
And leaveth so his birth.

Wr. 1593; pub. 1899)

The New Oxford Book of Sixteenth Century Verse. Emrys Jones, Ed.
New York: Oxford University Press, 1992. 184.
Site copyright ©1996-2001 Anniina Jokinen. All Rights Reserved.
Created by Anniina Jokinen on October 11, 2001.
Last updated September 23, 2003.
©2003 Anniina Jokinen

10 Verse Translations by Elizabeth I


Fools that true faith yet never had

Saith in their hearts, there is no God.
Filthy they are in their practice,
Of them not one is godly wise.
From heaven the Lord on man did look
To know what ways he undertook.
All they were vain and went astray,
Not one he found in the right way.
In heart and tongue have they deceit,
Their lips throw forth a poisoned bait.
Their minds are mad, their mouths are wode,
And swift they be in shedding blood.
So blind they are, no truth they know,
No fear of God in them will grow.
How can that cruel sort be good,
Of God's dear flock which suck the blood?
On him rightly shall they not call,
Despair will so their hearts appall.
At all times God is with the just,
Because they put in him their trust.
Who shall therefore from Sion give
That health which hangeth in our belief?
When God shall take from his the smart,
Then will Jacob rejoice in heart.
Praise to God
Elizabeth, Queen of England. The Poems of Queen Elizabeth I.
Leicester Bradner, ed. Providence, Rhode Island: Brown
University Press, 1964. 13.
Site copyright ©1996-2000 Anniina Jokinen. All rights reserved.
Created by Anniina Jokinen on January 31, 1997. Last updated on April 9, 2000.
B. Elizabeth I: ACTA

1. Charter to Sir Walter Raleigh : 1584

ELIZABETH by the Grace of God of England, Fraunce and Ireland Queene, defender of the faith, &c. To
all people to whome these presents shall come, greeting.

Knowe yee that of our especial grace, certaine science, and meere motion, we haue given and graunted, and
by these presents for us, our heires and successors, we giue and graunt to our trustie and welbeloued
seruant Walter Ralegh, Esquire, and to his heires assignee for euer, free libertie and licence from time to
time, and at all times for ever hereafter, to discover, search, finde out, and view such remote, heathen and
barbarous lands, countries, and territories, not actually possessed of any Christian Prince, nor inhabited by
Christian People, as to him, his heires and assignee, and to every or any of them shall seeme good, and the
same to haue, horde, occupie and enjoy to him, his heires and assignee for euer, with all prerogatives,
commodities, jurisdictions, royalties, privileges, franchises, and preheminences, thereto or thereabouts both
by sea and land, whatsoever we by our letters patents may graunt, and as we or any of our noble
progenitors haue heretofore graunted to any person or persons, bodies politique.or corporate: and the said
Walter Ralegh, his heires and assignee, and all such as from time to time, by licence of us, our heires and
successors, shall goe or trauaile thither to inhabite or remaine, there to build and fortifie, at the discretion of
the said Walter Ralegh, his heires and assignee, the statutes or acte of Parliament made against fugitives, or
against such as shall depart, romaine or continue out of our Realme of England without licence, or any
other statute, acte, lawe, or any ordinance whatsoever to the contrary in anywise notwithstanding.

And we do likewise by these presents, of our especial grace, meere motion, and certain knowledge, for us,
our heires and successors, giue and graunt full authoritie, libertie and power to the said Walter Salem, his
heires and assignee, and every of them, that he and they, and euery or any of them, shall and may at all and
euery time, and times hereafter, haue, take, and leade in the saide voyage, and trauaile thitherward, or to
inhabit there with him, or them, and euery or any of them, such and so many of our subjects as shall
willingly accompanie him or them, and euery or any of them to whom also we doe by these presents, giue
full libertie and authority in that behalfe, and also to hare, take, and employ, and vse suflicient shipping and
furniture for the Transportations and Nauigations in that behalfe, so that none of the same persons or any of
them, be such as hereafter shall be restrained by us, our heires, or successors.

And further that the said Walter Ralegh, his heires and assignee, and euery of them, shall haue holde,
occupie, and enioye to him, his heires and assignee, and euery of them for euer, all the soile of all such
lands, territories, and Countreis, so to bee discovered and possessed as aforesaide, and of all such Cities,
castles, townes, villages, and places in the same, with the right, royalties, franchises, and iurisdictions, as
well marine as other within the saide lances, or Countreis, or the seas thereunto adioyning, to be had, or
used, with full power to dispose thereof, and of euery part in fee-simple or otherwise, according to the order
of the lawes of England, as neere as the same conveniently may bee, at his, and their will and pleasure, to
any persons then being, or that shall romaine within the allegiance of us, our heires, and successors:
resewing always to us our heires, and successors, for all services, duties, and demaundes, the lift part of all
the oare of golde and siluer, that from time to time, and at all times after such discouerie, subduing and
possessing, shal be there gotten and obtained: All which lances, Countreis, and territories, shall for ever be
holden of the said Walter Ralegh, his heires and assignee, of us, our heirs and successors, by homage, and
by the said paiment of the said fift part, resewed onely for all services.

And moreover, we doe by these presents, for us, our heires and. successors, giue and graunt licence to the
said Walter Ralegh, his heirs, and assignee, and euery of them, that he, and they, and euery or any of them,
shall and may from time to time, and at all times for euer hereafter, for his and their defence, encounter and
expulse, repell and resist as well by sea as by lance, and by all other wayes whatsoever, all, and every such
person and persons whatsoever, as without the especiall liking and licence of the saide Walter Ralegh, and
of his heires and assignee, shall attempt to inhabite within the said Countreis, or any of them, or within the
space of two hundreth leagues neere to the place or places within such Countreis as aforesaide (if they shall
not bee before planted or inhabited within the limits as aforesaide with the subjects of any Christian Prince
being in amitie with us) where the saide Walter Ralegh, his heires, or assignee, or any of them, or his, or
their or any of their associates or company, shall within sine yeeres (next ensuing) make their dwellings or
abidings, or that shall enterprise or attempt at any time hereafter unlawfully to annoy, either by sea or lance,
the saide Walter Ralegh, his heirs or assignee. or any of them, or his or their, or any of his or their
companies giuing, and graunting by these presents further power and authoritie, to the said Walter Ralegh,
his heirs and assignee, and euery of them from time to time, and at all times for euer hereafter, to take and
surprise by all maner of meanes whatsoever, all and euery those person or persons, with their shipper,
vessels, and other goods and furniture, which without the licence of the saide Walter Ralegh, or his heires,
or assignee, as aforesaide, shalbe founde trafiquing into any harbour or harbors, creeke, or creekes, within
the limits aforesaide, (the subjects of our Realms and Dominions, and all other persons in amitie with us,
trading to the Newfound land for fishing as heretofore they haue commonly used, or being driven by force
of a tempest, or shipwracke onely excepted:) and those persons, and euery of them, with their shippes,
vessels, goods and furniture to deteine and possesse as of good and lawfull prize, according to the
discretion of him the saide Walter Ralegh, his heires, and assignee, and euery, or any of them. And for
uniting in more perfect league and amitie, of such Countreis, lances, and territories so to bee possessed and
inhabited as aforesaide with our Realmes of Englande, and Ireland, and the better incouragement of men to
these enterprises: we do by these presents, graunt and declare that all such Countreis, so hereafter to be
possessed and inhabited as is aforesaide, from thencefoorth shall bee of the allegiance of vs. our heires and
successours. And wee doe graunt to the saide Walter Ralegh, his heires, and assignee, and to all, and euery
of them, and to all and euery other person, and persons being of our allegiance, whose names shall be noted
or entred in some of our Courtes of recorde within our Realme of Englande, that with the assentof the saide
Walter Ralegh,his heires or assignes, shall in his journeis for discouerie, or in the iourneis for conquest,
hereafter trauelle to such lands, countreis and territories, as aforesaide, and to their, and to euery of their
heires, that they, and every or any of them, being either borne within our saide Realmes of Englande, or
Irelande or in any other place within our allegiance, and which hereafter shall be inliabiting within any the
lands, Countreis, and territories, with such licence (as aforesaide) shall and may haue all the priniledges of
free Denizens, and persons native of England, and within our allegiance in such like ample manor and
fourme, as if they were borne and personally resident within our saide Realme of England, any lawe,
custome, or vsage to the contrary notwithstanding

And for asmuch as upon the finding out, discovering, or inhabiting of such remote lands, countreis, and
territories as aforesaid, it shal be necessary for the safetie of al men, that shal aduenture them selues in
those murnies or voyages, to determine to line together in Christian peace, and ciuil quietnes ech with
other, whereby euery one may with snore pleasure and profit enjoy that whereunto they shall attaine with
great Paine and perill, we for vs. our heires and successors, are likewise pleased and contented, and by
these presents do giue and graunt to the said Walter Ralegh, his heires and assignee for ever, that tree and
they, and euery or any of them, shall and may from time to time for euer hereafter, within the said
mentioned remote lances and Countreis in the way by the seas thither, and from thence, inane full and
meere power and authoritie to correct, punish, pardon, gouerne, and rule by their and euery or any of their
good discretions and pollicies, as well in causes capital, or criminal!, as ciuil, both marine and other all
such our subjects as shall from time to time aduenture themselves in the said iournies or voyages, or that
shall at any time hereafter inhabite any such lances, countreis, or territories as aforesaide, or shall abide
within 200. leagues of any of the saide place or places, where the saide Walter Raleqh, his heires or
assignee, or any of them, or any of his or their associates or companies, shall inhabits within 6. yeeres next
ensuing the date hereof, according to such statutes, lawes and ordinances, as shall bee by him the saide
Walter Raleqh his heires and assignee, and euery or any of them deuised, or established, for the better
government of the said people as aforesaid. So always as the said statutes, lawes, and ordinances may be as
neere as conveniently may be, agreeable to the forme of the lawes, statutes, governement, or pollicie of
England, and also so as they be not against the true Christian faith, nowe professed in the Church of
England, nor in any wise to withdraws any of the subjects or people of those lances or places from the
allegiance of vs. our heires and successours, as their immediate Soueraigne vnder God.

And further, wee doe bv these presents for vs. our heires and successors, giue and graunt full power and
authoritie to our trustie and welbeloued counsailer sir William Cicill knight, Lorde Burghley, our high
Treasourer of England, and to the Lorde Treasourer of England, for vs. our heires and successors for the
time being, and to the priuie Counsell, of us, our heirs and successours, or any foure or more o f them for
the time being, that tree, they, or any fours or more of them, shall and may from time to time, and at all
times hereafter, under his or their handes or scales by vertue of these presents, authorise and licence the
saide Walter Ralegh, his heires and assignee. and euery or any of them by him, and by themselves, or by
their, of any of their sufficient Atturnies, deputies, officers, ministers, factors. and servants, to imbarke and
transport out of our Realme of England and Ireland, and the Dominions thereof all, or any of his, or their
goods, and all or any the goods of his and their associate and companies, and euery or any of them, with
such other necessaries and commodities of any our Realmes, as to the saide Lorde Treasourer, or foure or
more of the priuie Counsaile, of vs. our heires and successors for the time being (as aforesaide) shalbe from
time to time by his or their wisdomes, or discretions thought meete and convenient, for the better reliefe
and supportation of him the saide Walter Ralegh, his heires, and assignee, and euery or any of them, and of
his or their or any of their associate and companies, any acte, statute, lawe, or other thing to the contrary in
any wise notwithstanding.

Provided alwayes, and our will and pleasure is, and wee do hereby declare to all Christian kings, princes
and states, that if the saide Walter Ralegh, his heires or assignee, or any of them, or any other lay their
licence or appointment, shall at any time or times hereafter. robbe or spoile by sea or by lance, or do any
acte of unjust or unlawful hostilitie, to any of the subjects of vs. our heires or successors, or to any of the
subjects of any the kings, princes, rulers, governors, or estates, being then in perfect league and amitie with
us, our heires and successors, and that upon such injury, or upon lust complaint of any such prince, ruler,
governoir, or estate, or their subjects, wee, our heires and successours, shall make open proclamation
within any the Fortes of our Realme of England, that the saide Walter Ralegh, his heires and assignee, and
adherents, or any to whome these our letters patents may extende, shall within the termes to be Emitted, by
such proclamation, make full restitution, and satisfaction of all such inJuries done, so as both we and the
said princes, or other so complayning, may horde vs and themselves fully contented. And that if the saide
Walter Ralegh, his heires and assignee, shall not make or cause to be made satisfaction accordingly, within
such time so to be limitted, that then it shall be lawfull to us our heires and successors, to put the saide
Walter Ralegh, his heires and assignee and adherents, and all the inhabitants of the said places to be
discovered (as is aforesaide) or any of them out of our allegiance and protection, and that from and after
such time of putting out of protection the said Walter Rategh, his heires, assignee and adherents, and others
so to be put out, and the said places within their habitation, possession and rule, shaL be out of our
allegeance and protection, and free for all princes and others, to pursue with hostilitie, as being not our
subjects, nor by vs any way to be avouched, maintained or defended, nor to be holden as any of ours, nor to
our protection or dominion, or allegiance any way belonging, for that expresse mention of the cleer yeerely
value of tile certaintie of the premisses, or any part thereof, or of any other gift, or grant by vs. or any our
progenitors, or predecessors to the said Walter Ralegh, before this time made in these presents be not
expressed, or any other grant, ordinance, provision, proclamation, or restraint to the contrarye thereof,
before this time giuen, ordained, or provided, or any other thing, cause, or matter whatsoever, in any wise
notwithstanding. In witness whereof, we haue caused these our letters to be made patents. Witnesse our
selues, at Westminster, the 25. day of March, in the sixe and twentieth yeere of our Raigne.

The Federal and State Constitutions Colonial Charters, and Other Organic Laws of the States, Territories,
and Colonies Now or Heretofore Forming the United States of America
Compiled and Edited Under the Act of Congress of June 30, 1906 by Francis Newton Thorpe
Washington, DC : Government Printing Office, 1909.
Pre18th Century Page Avalon Home Page Colonial Charters Page
© 1997 The Avalon Project.
The Avalon Project : Charter to Sir Walter Raleigh : 1584 was last modified on: 01/15/2001 02:18:42
Modern History Sourcebook:
Queen Elizabeth I of England (b. 1533, r. 1558-1603)
Selected Writing and Speeches

Behind these texts is the difficulty Elizabeth I had in ensuring stability in the present, and security for the
future. The problem for the Tudor Dynasty, which had come to power through Henry VII's 1485 triumph in
Wars of the Roses, was in ensuring the succession. The key to peace was to have an undisputed heir.
Elizabeth's father, Henry VIII, had had three children survive him. Two, Mary and Elizabeth, were female,
and so on his death, Henry VIII was succeeded by his ten-year old son, Edward VI in 1547.

Edward died six years later, and even though they were women, England preferred to crown Mary as a
legitimate heir rather than to search for a suitable male. Mary, though, not only revealed herself to be a
Catholic who persecuted Protestants, but she married Philip II, King of Spain, one of the most aggressive
and devout foes of Protestantism. Mary jailed her sister on suspicion of fomenting a revolt. Five years later,
Mary died, and so in 1558, twenty-five year old Elizabeth became Queen of England.

From: Modern History Sourcebook

1. Response to a Parliamentary Delegation on Her Marriage 1559
2. On Religion 1559
3. Response to Erik of Sweden's Proposal 1560
4. Response to Parliamentary Delegation on Her Marriage, 1566
5. On Religion, 1583
6. Response to Ambassador of Poland
7. The Farewell Speech, 1601

From The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 6th Edition. Vol 1.

New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1993. 999.
©2003 Anniina Jokinen Site ©Copyright 1996-2003 Anniina Jokinen. All Rights Reserved. Created by
Anniina Jokinen on August 8, 1996.
8. The Tilbury Speech,

1. Response to a Parliamentary Delegation on Her Marriage, 1559

Elizabeth's response to a delegation from Parliament who petitioned her to marry soon, and not to marry a
foreigner. The delegation wanted to be sure of the succession by her having a male child, and they wanted
it to be English through and through, so that no foreigner would have a claim to the throne (she was under
pressure to marry her sister's widower, Philip of Spain).

As I have good cause, so do I give you all my hearty thanks for the good zeal and loving care you seem to
have, as well towards me as to the whole state of your country. Your petition I perceive consisteth of three
parts and my answer to the same shall depend of two.

And to the first part I may say unto you that from my years of understanding since I first had consideration
of myself to be born a servitor of almighty God, I happily chose this kind of life in which I yet live, which I
assure you for my own part hath hitherto best contented myself and I trust hath been most acceptable to
God. From the which, if either ambition of high estate offered to me in marriage by the pleasure and
appointment of my prince whereof I have some records in this presence (as you our Lord Treasurer well
know); or if the eschewing of the danger of my enemies or the avoiding of the peril of death, whose
messenger or rather continual watchman, the prince's indignation, was not a little time daily before my eyes
(by whose means although I know or justly may suspect, yet I will not now utter, or if the whole cause were
in my sister herself, I will not now burden her therewith, because I will not charge the dead); if any of
these, I say, could have drawn or dissuaded me from this kind of life, I had not now remained in this estate
wherein you see me. But so constant have I always continued in this determination, although my youth and
words may seem to some hardly to agree together, yet is it most true that at this day I stand free from any
other meaning that either I have had in times past or have at this present; with which trade of life I am so
thoroughly acquainted that I trust God, who hath hitherto therein preserved and led me by the hand, will not
now of his goodness suffer me to go alone.

For the other part, the manner of your petition I do well like of and take in good part, because that it is
simple and containeth no limitation of place or person. If it had been otherwise, I must needs have misliked
it very much and thought it in you a very great presumption, being unfitting and altogether unmeet for you
to require them that may command or those to appoint whose parts are to desire, or such to bind and limit
whose duties are to obey, or to take upon you to draw my love to your likings or frame my will to your
fantasies; for a guerdon constrained and a gift freely given can never agree together. Nevertheless if any of
you be in suspect, that whensoever it may please God to incline my heart to another kind of life, you may
well assure yourselves my meaning is not to do or determine anything wherewith the realm may or shall
have just cause to be discontented. And therefore put that clean out of your heads. For I assure you--what
credit my assurances may have with you I cannot tell, but what credit it shall deserve to have the sequel
shall declare--I will never in that matter conclude anything that shall be prejudicial to the realm, for the
weal, good and safety whereof I will never shun to spend my life. And whomsoever my chance shall be to
light upon, I trust he shall be as careful for the realm and you--I will not say as myself, because I cannot so
certainly determine of any other; but at the least ways, by my goodwill and desire he shall be such as shall
be as careful for the preservation of the realm and you as myself. And albeit it might please almighty God
to continue me still in this mind to live out of the state of marriage, yet it is not to be feared but He will so
work in my heart and in your wisdom as good provision by his help may be made in convenient time,
whereby the realm shall not remain destitute of an heir. That may be a fit governor, and peradventure more
beneficial to the realm than such offspring as may come of me. For although I be never so careful of your
well doings and mind ever so to be, yet may my issue grow out of kind and become perhaps ungracious.
And in the end this shall be for me sufficient, that a marble stone shall declare that a Queen, having reigned
such a time, lived and died a virgin.

And here I end, and take your coming unto me in good part, and give unto you all eftsoons my hearty
thanks, more yet for your zeal and good meaning than for your petition.

2. On Religion, 1559

The next document, also from 1559, is a reply to some English Bishops who wanted to continue Mary's
pro-Catholic policies. They maintained that her father, Henry VIII had been influenced by heretics to
quarrel with the Pope.


As to your entreaty for us to listen to you we waive it; yet do return you this our answer. Our realm and
subjects have been long wanderers, walking astray, whilst they were under the tuition of Romish pastors,
who advised them to own a wolf for their head (in lieu of a careful shepherd) whose inventions, heresies
and schisms be so numerous, that the flock of Christ have fed on poisonous shrubs for want of wholesome
pastures. And whereas you hit us and our subjects in the teeth that the Romish Church first planted the
Catholic within our realm, the records and chronicles of our realm testify the contrary; and your own
Romish idolatry maketh you liars; witness the ancient monument of Gildas unto which both foreign and
domestic have gone in pilgrimage there to offer. This author testifieth Joseph of Arimathea to be the first
preacher of the word of God within our realms. Long after that, when Austin came from Rome, this our
realm had bishops and priests therein, as is well known to the learned of our realm by woeful experience,
how your church entered therein by blood; they being martyrs for Christ and put to death because they
denied Rome's usurped authority.

As for our father being withdrawn from the supremacy of Rome by schismatical and heretical counsels and
advisers; who we pray advised him more or flattered him than you good Mr Heath, when you were Bishop
of Rochester? And than you Mr Bonner when you were archdeacon? And you Mr Turberville? Nay further,
who was more an adviser of our father than your great Stephen Gardiner, when he lived? Are ye not then
those schismatics and heretics? If so, suspend your evil censures. Recollect, was it our sister's conscience
made her so averse to our father and brother's actions as to undo what they had perfected? Or was it not
you, or such like advisers that dissuaded her and stirred her up against us and other of the subjects?

3. Response to Erik of Sweden's Proposal, 1560

Elizabeth had dozens of suitors during her life, none so ardent as King Erik of Sweden, who had proposed
to her when she was only the "Lady Elizabeth." In 1560, he tried to come to England, but was thwarted by
storms, so he sent his brother as a proxy groom. Here is Elizabeth's reply:

Most Serene Prince Our Very Dear Cousin,

A letter truly yours both in the writing and sentiment was given us on 30 December by your very dear
brother, the Duke of Finland. And while we perceive there from that the zeal and love of your mind
towards us is not diminished, yet in part we are grieved that we cannot gratify your Serene Highness with
the same kind of affection. And that indeed does not happen because we doubt in any way of your love and
honour, but, as often we have testified both in words and writing, that we have never yet conceived a
feeling of that kind of affection towards anyone.

We therefore beg your Serene Highness again and again that you be pleased to set a limit to your love, that
it advance not beyond the laws of friendship for the present nor disregard them in the future. And we in our
turn shall take care that whatever can be required for the holy preservation of friendship between Princes
we will always perform towards your Serene Highness. It seems strange for your Serene Highness to write
that you understand from your brother and your ambassadors that we have entirely determined not to marry
an absent husband; and that we shall give you no certain reply until we shall have seen your person.

We certainly think that if God ever direct our hearts to consideration of marriage we shall never accept or
choose any absent husband how powerful and wealthy a Prince soever. But that we are not to give you an
answer until we have seen your person is so far from the thing itself that we never even considered such a
thing. But I have always given both to your brother, who is certainly a most excellent prince and deservedly
very dear to us, and also to your ambassador likewise the same answer with scarcely any variation of the
words, that we do not conceive in our heart to take a husband, but highly commend this single life, and
hope that your Serene Highness will no longer spend time in waiting for us.

God keep your Serene Highness for many years in good health and safety. From our Palace at Westminster,
25 February.

Your Serene Highness' sister and cousin,


4. Response to Parliamentary Delegation on Her Marriage, 1566

In 1566, Parliament was still nagging Elizabeth to marry. A delegation from both houses came to petition
her. Here is part of the angry dressing-down she gave them:

'Was I not born in the realm? Were my parents born in any foreign country? Is not my kingdom here?
Whom have I oppressed? Whom have I enriched to other's harm? What turmoil have I made in this
commonwealth that I should be suspected to have no regard to the same? How have I governed since my
reign? I will be tried by envy itself. I need not to use many words, for my deeds do try me.

'Well, the matter whereof they would have made their petition (as I am informed) consisteth in two points:
in my marriage, and in the limitations of the succession of the crown, wherein my marriage was first
placed, as for manners' sake. I did send them answer by my council, I would marry (although of mine own
disposition I was not inclined thereunto) but that was not accepted nor credited, although spoken by their
'I will never break the word of a prince spoken in a public place, for my honour's sake. And therefore I say
again, I will marry as soon as I can conveniently, if God take not him away with whom I mind to marry, or
myself, or else some other great let happen. I can say no more except the party were present. And I hope to
have children, otherwise I would never marry. A strange order of petitioners that will make a request and
cannot be otherwise assured but by the prince's word, and yet will not believe it when it is spoken.

'The second point was for the limitation of the succession of the crown, wherein was nothing said for my
safety, but only for themselves. A strange thing that the foot should direct the head in so weighty a cause', a
cause, she pointed out, to which she had give careful consideration since it concerned her more nearly than
it concerned them.

'I am sure there was not one of them that ever was a second person, as I have been and have tasted of the
practices against my sister, who I would to God were alive again. I had great occasion to hearken to their
motions for whom some of them are of the common house.'

She forbore to name those who had plotted against the Crown in Mary's reign, contenting herself with:

'And were it not for my honour, their knavery should be known. There were occasions in me at that time, I
stood in danger of my life, my sister was so incensed against me. I did differ from her in religion and I was
sought for divers ways. And so shall never be my successor. I have conferred with those that are well
learned, and have asked their opinions touching the limitation of succession.'

The lawyers, she said, had been silent; they understood the legal complications but 'they could not tell what
to say considering the great peril to the realm.'

As for those who thought they knew better:

'They would have twelve or fourteen limited in succession and the more the better. And those shall be of
such uprightness and so divine, as in them shall be divinity itself. Kings were wont to honour philosophers,
but if I had such I would honour them as angels that should have such piety in them that they would not
seek where they are the second to be the first, and where the third to be the second and so forth. It is said I
am no divine. Indeed I studied nothing else but divinity till I came to the crown; and then I gave myself to
the study of that which was meet for government, and am not ignorant of stories wherein appeareth what
hath fallen out for ambition of kingdoms--as in Spain, Naples, Portugal and at home; and what cocking hath
been between the father and the son for the same. You would have a limitation of succession. Truly if
reason did not subdue will in me, I would cause you to deal in it, so pleasant a thing it should be unto me.
But I stay it for your benefit. For if you should have liberty to treat of it, there be so many competitors--
some kinsfolk, some servants, and some tenants; some would speak for their master, and some for their
mistress, and every man for his friend--that it would be an occasion of a greater charge than a subsidy. And
if my will did not yield to reason, it should be that thing I would gladliest desire to see you deal in it.'

And still she had not finished. She accused them of errors; she accused them of 'lack of good foresight'; and
then she turned on the bishops with withering scorn:

'I do not marvel, though Domini Doctores, with you my Lords, did so use themselves therein, since after
my brother's death they openly preached and set forth that my sister and I were bastards. Well, I wish not
the death of any man, but only this I desire, that they which have been the practisers herein may before
their deaths repent the same, and show some open confession of their fault, whereby the scabbed sheep may
be known from the whole. As for my own part I care not for death, for all men are mortal; and though I be a
woman yet I have as good a courage answerable to my place as ever my father had. I am your anointed
Queen. I will never be by violence constrained to do anything. I thank God I am indeed endowed with such
qualities that if I were turned out of the realm in my petticoat I were able to live in any place in

'Your petition is to deal in the limitation of the succession. At this present it is not convenient, nor never
shall be without some peril unto you, and certain danger unto me. But as soon as there may be a convenient
time and that it may be done with least peril unto you, although never without great danger unto me, I will
deal therein for your safety and offer it unto you as your prince and head without requests. For it is
monstrous that the feet should direct the head.'

She told the Lord Chief justice to deliver this message to the House of Lords, and Cecil to inform the
Commons. It took Cecil three drafts to word the matter diplomatically enough for it to bear repeating.

5. On Religion, 1583

In 1583, Elizabeth addressed Parliament and took time to discuss religion. There were still "Romish"
factions, but also many upstart Protestant sects, like Puritans, Baptists etc. (In here, as in many of her
statements, she uses the words "Prince", "King", and "Queen" interchangeably).

One matter touches me so near as I may not overskip [she told them]; religion is the ground on which all
other matters ought to take root, and being corrupted may mar all the tree; and that there be some fault
finders with the order of the clergy, which so may make a slander to myself and the Church whose
overruler God hath made me, whose negligence cannot be excused if any schisms or errors heretical were

Thus much I must say that some faults and negligence may grow and be, as in all other great charges it
happeneth; and what vocation without? All which if you, my Lords of the clergy, do not amend, I mean to
depose you. Look ye therefore well to your charges.

I am supposed to have many studies [she reminded them) but most philosophical. I must yield this to be
true, that I suppose few that be no professors have read more. And I need not tell you that I am so simple
that I understand not, nor so forgetful that I remember not. And yet amidst so many volumes I hope God's
book hath not been my seldomest lectures; in which we find that which by reason, for my part, we ought to
believe--that seeing so great wickedness and griefs in the world in which we live but as wayfaring pilgrims,
we must suppose that God would never have made us but for a better place and of more comfort than we
find here. I know no creature that breatheth whose life standeth hourly in more peril for it than mine own;
who entered not into my state without sight of manifold dangers of life and crown, as one that had the
mightiest and the greatest to wrestle with. Then it followeth that I regarded it so much as I left myself
behind my care. And so you see that you wrong me too much if any such there be as doubt my coldness in
that behalf. For if I were not persuaded that mine were the true way of God's will, God forbid I should live
to prescribe it to you. Take you heed lest Ecclesiastes say not too true; they that fear the hoary frost the
snow shall fall upon them.

I see many overbold with God Almighty making too many subtle scannings of His blessed will, as lawyers
do with human testaments. The presumption is so great, as I may not suffer it. Yet mind I not hereby to
animate Romanists (which what adversaries they be to mine estate is sufficiently well known) nor tolerate
newfangledness. I mean to guide them both by God's holy true rule. In both parts be perils. And of the latter
I must pronounce them dangerous to a kingly rule: to have every man according to his own censure, to
make a doom of a validity and privity of his Prince's government with a common veil and cover of God's
word, whose followers must not be judged, but by private men's exposition. God defend you from such a
ruler that so evil will guide you. Now I conclude that your love and care neither is nor shall be bestowed
upon a careless Prince, but such as for your good will passeth as little for this world as who careth least.
With thanks for your free subsidy, a manifest show of the abundance of your good wills, the which I assure
you, but to be employed to your weal, I could be better pleased to return than receive.

6. Response to Ambassador of Poland

In the above piece, Elizabeth reveals how thorough was her humanistic education, here is another example
(intro by Maria Perry)
The Court was at Greenwich when an ambassador from the kingdom of Poland arrived. He was the son of
the Duke of Finland, who had wooed Elizabeth almost forty years earlier as the proxy of Erik of Sweden.
Robert Cecil, now firmly established in the Secretary's post which Elizabeth had granted him while Essex
was at Cadiz, wrote to the earl aboard ship, describing the ambassador as 'a gentleman of excellent fashion,
wit, discourse, language and person'. Elizabeth was struck by his appearance and evident intelligence. She
decided to receive him publicly in the Presence Chamber. He wore a long robe of black velvet covered with
jewels, and came to kiss Elizabeth's hand as she stood under her canopy of estate. Then he backed away to
begin his speech. As the Latin phrases resounded through the Presence Chamber, astonishment covered the
faces of the assembled courtiers. The quarrel between the Queen of England and the King of Spain was
affecting the King of Poland's merchants, disrupting his trade routes and violating the law of nature and of
nations. Elizabeth had been expecting a complimentary address. She paused for a few seconds then, turning
on the young man, she began her reply in flawless extempore Latin:

O quam decepta fui [rasped the indignant voice] expectavi legationem mihi vero querelam adduxisti. How I
have been deceived! I was expecting a diplomatic mission, but you have brought me a quarrel! By virtue of
your testimonials I have received you as an ambassador, but I have found you instead a challenger. Never
in my life have I heard such audacity. I marvel, indeed I marvel at so great and such unprecedented
impertinence in public. Nor can I believe that had your King been here he would have spoken in such
words. But if he had, indeed, happened, which I can scarcely credit, to entrust some such matter to your
hands, even though the King is young and a King not by birth but by election--and newly elected at that--he
would show himself as having a very imperfect understanding of the manner in which such matters are
handled between Princes, a manner observed towards us by his betters and which he will perhaps observe
in future. As for yourself, you give me the impression of having studied many books, but not yet of having
graduated to the books of Princes, rather remaining ignorant of the dealings between Kings. As to the law
of nature and of nations of which you make so much mention, know that the law of nature and of nations is
thus: when war is declared between Kings, either may cut the other's lines of supply, no matter where they
run from and neither may they make it a precondition of their losses that these be made good. This, I say, is
the law of nature and of nations. And as for your alliance with the House of Austria by which you set so
much store, let it not escape your memory that there was one of that house, who attempted to wrest the
kingdom of Poland from your King. For the other matters which are too numerous to be dealt with here and
now, you shall wait until you hear what is considered by certain of my counsellors appointed to consider
them. Meanwhile farewell and hold your Peace.

'It was one of the best answers in extempore Latin that ever I heard,' wrote Cecil to the absent Essex.
Tradition has it that Elizabeth, conscious of her success, turned her back on the unfortunate young
diplomat, remarking loudly to her courtiers, 'My lords, I have been forced this day to scour up my rusty old

7. The Farewell Speech, 1601

Version I
The "farewell" Golden Speech to parliament. It is worth comparing her views with those of Machiavelli.

On the afternoon of 30 November, 140 Members of the Commons, 141 with the Speaker, crowded into the
Presence Chamber and fell on their knees as their sovereign entered the room. She was sixty-eight and in
excellent health, but perhaps some guessed that this would be her last Parliament. She had come to deliver
what should have been a rasping harangue on finance, but she turned it into 'golden words', which were to
be reprinted time and time again up to the eighteenth century, whenever England was in danger, as the
Golden Speech of Queen Elizabeth.

Several versions survive, including a printed pamphlet which it is thought Elizabeth may have checked and
corrected, but its text is inferior to the moving account by the diarist, Hayward Townshend, who was
among those kneeling before her that November afternoon in the Presence Chamber.
Mr Speaker,

We have heard your declaration and perceive your care of our estate. I do assure you there is no prince that
loves his subjects better, or whose love can countervail our love. There is no jewel, be it of never so rich a
price, which I set before this jewel: I mean your love. For I do esteem it more than any treasure or riches;
for that we know how to prize, but love and thanks I count invaluable. And, though God hath raised me
high, yet this I count the glory of my Crown, that I have reigned with your loves. This makes me that I do
not so much rejoice that God hath made me to be a Queen, as to be a Queen over so thankful a people.
Therefore I have cause to wish nothing more than to content the subject and that is a duty which I owe.
Neither do I desire to live longer days than I may see your prosperity and that is my only desire. And as I
am that person still yet, under God, hath delivered you and so I trust by the almighty power of God that I
shall be his instrument to preserve you from every peril, dishonour, shame, tyranny and oppression, partly
by means of your intended helps which we take very acceptably because it manifesteth the largeness of
your good loves and loyalties unto your sovereign.

Of myself I must say this: I never was any greedy, scraping grasper, nor a strait fast-holding Prince, nor yet
a waster. My heart was never set on any worldly goods. What you bestow on me, I will not hoard it up, but
receive it to bestow on you again. Therefore render unto them I beseech you Mr Speaker, such thanks as
you imagine my heart yieldeth, but my tongue cannot express. Mr Speaker, I would wish you and the rest
to stand up for I shall yet trouble you with longer speech. Mr Speaker, you give me thanks but I doubt me I
have greater cause to give you thanks, than you me, and I charge you to thank them of the Lower House
from me. For had I not received a knowledge from you, I might have fallen into the lapse of an error, only
for lack of true information.

Since I was Queen, yet did I never put my pen to any grant, but that upon pretext and semblance made unto
me, it was both good and beneficial to the subject in general though a private profit to some of my ancient
servants, who had deserved well at my hands. But the contrary being found by experience, I am
exceedingly beholden to such subjects as would move the same at first. And I am not so simple to suppose
but that there be some of the Lower House whom these grievances never touched. I think they spake out of
zeal to their countries and not out of spleen or malevolent affection as being parties grieved. That my grants
should be grievous to my people and oppressions to be privileged under colour of our patents, our kingly
dignity shall not suffer it. Yea, when I heard it, I could give no rest unto my thoughts until I had reformed
it. Shall they, think you, escape unpunished that have oppressed you, and have been respectless of their
duty and regardless our honour? No, I assure you, Mr Speaker, were it not more for conscience' sake than
for any glory or increase of love that I desire, these errors, troubles, vexations and oppressions done by
these varlets and lewd persons not worthy of the name of subjects should not escape without condign
punishment. But I perceive they dealt with me like physicians who, ministering a drug, make it more
acceptable by giving it a good aromatical savour, or when they give pills do gild them all over.

I have ever used to set the Last Judgement Day before mine eyes and so to rule as I shall be judged to
answer before a higher judge, and now if my kingly bounties have been abused and my grants turned to the
hurt of my people contrary to my will and meaning, and if any in authority under me have neglected or
perverted what I have committed to them, I hope God will not lay their culps and offenses in my charge. I
know the title of a King is a glorious title, but assure yourself that the shining glory of princely authority
hath not so dazzled the eyes of our understanding, but that we well know and remember that we also are to
yield an account of our actions before the great judge. To be a king and wear a crown is a thing more
glorious to them that see it than it is pleasant to them that bear it. For myself I was never so much enticed
with the glorious name of a King or royal authority of a Queen as delighted that God hath made me his
instrument to maintain his truth and glory and to defend his kingdom as I said from peril, dishonour,
tyranny and oppression. There will never Queen sit in my seat with more zeal to my country, care to my
subjects and that will sooner with willingness venture her life for your good and safety than myself. For it
is my desire to live nor reign no longer than my life and reign shall be for your good. And though you have
had, and may have, many princes more mighty and wise sitting in this seat, yet you never had nor shall
have, any that will be more careful and loving.

'For I, oh Lord, what am I, whom practices and perils past should not fear? Or what can I do? That I should
speak for any glory, God forbid.' And turning to the Speaker and her councilors she said, 'And I pray to you
Mr Comptroller, Mr Secretary and you of my Council, that before these gentlemen go into their countries,
you bring them all to kiss my hand.'

Source: This text is part of the Internet Modern History Sourcebook. The Sourcebook is a collection of
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Sourcebook. © Paul Halsall, July 1998

Version II
Elizabeth I's Speech to her Last Parliament (The Golden Speech).

P A R L I A M E N T.

The 30 of November 1601; her Maiestie being set vnder State in the Councell Chamber at Whitehall, the
Speaker, accompanied with Privy Councellours, besides Knights and Burgesses of the lower House to the
number of eight-score, presenting themselves at her Maeisties feet, for that so graciously and speedily shee
had heard and yeelded to her Subiects desires, and proclaimed the same in their hearing as followeth.
Mr. Speaker,


EE perceiue your comming is to present thankes vnto Vs; Know I accept them with no lesse ioy then your
loues can haue desire to offer such a Present, and doe more esteeme it then any Treasure of Riches, for
those Wee know how to prize, but Loyaltie, Loue, and Thankes, I account them invaluable, and though
God hath raysed Mee high, yet this I account the glorie of my Crowne, that I haue reigned with your Loues.
This makes that I doe not so much reioyce that God hath made Mee to bee a Queene, as to bee a Queene
ouer so thankfull a People, and to bee the meane vnder God to conserue you in safety, and preserue you
from danger, yea to bee the Instrument to deliuer you from dishounour, from shame, and from infamie; to
keepe you from out of seruitude, and from slaverie vnder our Enemies; and cruell tyranny, and vilde
oppression intended against Vs: for the better withstanding wherof, Wee take very acceptably your
intended helpes, and chiefely in that it manifesteth your loues and largenesse of heart to your Soveraigne.
Of My selfe I must say this, I neuer was any greedy scraping grasper, nor a strict fast holding Prince, nor
yet a waster. My heart was neuer set vpon any worldly goods, but onely for my Subiects good. What you
doe bestow on Me, I will not hoard vp, but receiue it to bestow on you againe; yea Mine owne Properties I
account yours to bee expended for your good, and your eyes shall see the bestowing of it for your wellfare.
Mr. Speaker, I would wish you and the rest to stand vp, for I feare I shall yet trouble you with longer
Mr. Speaker, you give me thankes, but I am more to thank you, and I charge you, thanke them of the
Lower-House from Me, for had I not received knowledge from you, I might a fallen into the lapse of an
Error, onely for want of true information.
Since I was Queene yet did I neuer put my Pen to any Grant but vpon pretext and semblance made Me,
that it was for the good and availe of my Subiects generally, though a private profit to some of my ancient
Servants who had deserved well: But that my Grants shall be made Grievances to my People, and
Oppressions, to bee priviledged vnder colour of Our Patents, Our Princely Dignitie shall not suffer it.
When I heard it, I could give no rest vnto my thoughts vntill I had reformed it, & those Varlets, lewd
persons, abusers of my bountie, shall know I will not suffer it. And Mr. Speaker, tell the House from mee, I
take it exceeding gratefull, that the knowledge of these things are come vnto mee from them. And though
amongst them the principall Members are such as are not touched in private, and therefore need not speake
from any feeling of the griefe, yet We haue heard that other Gentlemen also of the House, who stand as
free, haue spoken as freely in it, which giues Vs to know that no respects or intrests haue moved them other
then the mindes they beare to suffer no diminution of our Honour, and our Subiects loue vnto Vs. The zeale
of which affection tending to ease my People, & knit their hearts vnto vs, I embrace with a Princely care
farre aboue all earthly Treasures. I esteeme my Peoples loue, more then which I desire not to merit: And
God that gaue me here to sit, and placed me ouer you, knowes that I neuer respected my selfe, but as your
good was conserued in mee; yet what dangers, what practices, and what perills I have passed, some, if not
all of you know: but none of these things doe mooue mee, or euer made mee feare, but it is God that hath
delivered me.
And in my gouerning this Land, I haue euer set the last Iudgement day before mine eyes, and so to rule,
as I shall be Iudged and answer before a higher Iudge, to whose Iudgement Seat I doe appeale in that neuer
thought was cherished in my heart that tended not to my Peoples good.
And if my Princely bountie haue beene abused, and my Grants turned to the hurt of my People contrary
to my will and meaning, or if any in Authoritie vnder mee haue neglected, or converted what I haue
committed vnto them, I hope God they will not lay their culps to my charge.
To be a King, and weare a Crown, is a thing more glorious to them that see it, then it is pleasant to them
that beare it: for my selfe, I neuer was so much inticed with the glorious name of a King, or the royall
authoritie of a Queene, as delighted that god hath made me His Instrument to maintaine His Truth and
Glorie, and to defend this Kingdome from dishonour, dammage, tyrannie, and oppresion; But should I
ascribe any of these things vnto my selfe, or my sexly weaknesse, I were not worthy to liue, and of all most
vnworthy of the mercies I haue receiued at Gods hands but to God onely and wholly all is giuen and
The cares and trouble of a Crowne I cannnot more fitly resemble then to the Drugges of a learned
Physitian, perfumed with some Aromaticall sauour, or to bitter Pils guilded ouer, by which they are made
more exceeptable or lesse offensiue, which indeed are bitter and vnpleasant to take; and for my owne part,
were it not for Conscience sake to discharge the dutie that God hath layd vpon me, and to maintaine his
glorie, and keepe you in safetie; in mine owne disposition I should be willing to resigne the place I hold to
any other, and glad to be freed of the Glory with the Labors, for it is not my desire to liue nor to reign
longer then my life and reigne shall bee for your good. And though you haue had and may haue many
mightier and wiser Princes sitting in this Seat, yet you neuer had nor shall haue any that will loue you
Thus Mr. Speaker, I commend mee to your loyall Loues, and yours to my best
care and your further Councels, & I pray you Mr. Controullor,
& Mr. Secretary, and you of my councell, that before
these Gentlemen depart into their Countreys
you bring them all to kisse my
F I N I S.

Note on the e-text: this Renascence Editions text was transcribed in March 1999 by R.S. Bear, University
of Oregon Library, from the original (1602? n.d.) edition. Content unique to this presentation is copyright
© 1999 The University of Oregon. For nonprofit and educational uses only. Send comments and
corrections to the Publisher, rbear[at]

8. Speech to the Troops at Tilbury 1

My loving people,
We have been persuaded by some that are careful of our safety, to take heed how we commit our selves
to armed multitudes, for fear of treachery; but I assure you I do not desire to live to distrust my faithful and
loving people. Let tyrants fear, I have always so behaved myself that, under God, I have placed my chiefest
strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and good-will of my subjects; and therefore I am come amongst
you, as you see, at this time, not for my recreation and disport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of
the battle, to live and die amongst you all; to lay down for my God, and for my kingdom, and my people,
my honour and my blood, even in the dust. I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman; but I
have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or
Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm; to which rather than any
dishonour shall grow by me, I myself will take up arms, I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder
of every one of your virtues in the field. I know already, for your forwardness you have deserved rewards
and crowns; and We do assure you in the word of a prince, they shall be duly paid you. In the mean time,
my lieutenant general2 shall be in my stead, than whom never prince commanded a more noble or worthy
subject; not doubting but by your obedience to my general, by your concord in the camp, and your valour in
the field, we shall shortly have a famous victory over those enemies of my God, of my kingdom, and of my

1. Delivered by Elizabeth to the land forces assembled at Tilbury
(Essex) to repel the anticipated invasion of the Spanish Armada.
2. Robert Dudley, earl of Leicester; he was the queen's favorite,
once rumored to be her lover.

The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 6th Edition. Vol 1.
New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1993. 999.
©2003 Anniina Jokinen Site ©Copyright 1996-2003 Anniina Jokinen. All Rights Reserved. Created by
Anniina Jokinen on August 8, 1996.
Last updated September 23, 2003.

1. Excerpt from a letter by Elizabeth to King James


I hope you
wyl beare w/ my molesting
you to long with my skratching
hand, as prociding from a hart
that shal ever be filled with the

sure affection of your

loving and frendily
Elizabeth R.

Site Copyright ©1996-2001 Anniina Jokinen. All Rights Reserved.

Created by Anniina Jokinen on January 22, 2001.

2. Letter of Princess Elizabeth to Katherine Parr


vertuous quene KATHERIN, Eliza-

beth her humble daughter wisheth

perpetuall felicitie and everlasting joye

NOT ONELY knowing the affe-

ctuous wille and fervent zeale the

wich your highnes hath towardes

all godly lerning as also my duetie

towardes you (most gracious and

souverayne princes) but knowing also that

pusilanimite and ydlenes are most

repugnante unto a reasonable crea-

ture and that (as the philosopher

sayeth) even as an instrument of yron

[2r] (192K)

or of other metayle waxeth soone

rusty onles it be continualy occupied.

Even so shall the witte of a man, or

woman waxe dull and unapte to

do or understand any thing perfittely

oneles it be alwayes occupied upon

some maner of study, wiche thinges

consydered hath moved so small a

portion as god hath lente me to

prove what i could do. And therfore

have i (as for aseye or beginninge fo-

lowinge the right notable sayeing of the

proverb aforesayd) translated this

lytell boke out of french ryme in to

englishe prose joyning the sentences

[2v] (182K)

together as well as the capacitie of

my symple witte and small lerning

coulde extende themselves. The wich

booke is intytled, or named the miroir

or glasse, of the synnefull soule where

in is conteyned how she (beholdig

and contempling what she is) doth

perceyve how, of herselfe, and of her

owne strenght, she can do nothing

that good is, or prevayleth for her

salvacioun: onles it be through the

grace of god: whose mother, daugh-

ter, syster, and wife, by the scriptures

she proveth herselfe to be. Trusting

also that through his incoprehen-

[3r] (199K)

ible love, grace and mercy she (be-

ynge called frome synne to repen-

taunce) doth faythfully hope to be

saved. And althoughe i knowe that

as for my parte, wich i have wrought

in it (as well spirituall as manuall)

there is nothinge done as ut shulde

be nor els worthy to come in youre

graces handes, but rather all unper-

fycte and uncorecte: yet do i truste

also that oubeit it is like a worke wich

is but newe begonne and shapen, that

the syle of youre excellent witte and

godly lerninge in the reding of it (if

so it vouchesafe your highnes to do)

[3v] (173K)

shall rubbe out, polishe, and mende

(or els cause to mende) the wordes (or

rather the order of my writing) the

wich i knowe in many places to ne

rude, and nothinge done as it shuld

be. But i hope, that after to have ben

in youre graces handes there shall

be nothinge in it worthy of reprehen-

sion and that in the meane whyle

no other (but your highnes onely) shal

rede it or se it, lesse me faultes be

knowen of many. Than shall they be

better excused (as my confidence is in

youre graces accoustumed benevolece)

that if i shuld bestowe a whole yere

[4r] (188K)

in writtinge, or inventinge wayes for

to excuse them. Prayeng god almigh-

ty the maker and creatoure of all

thinges to garaunte unto youre high-

nes the sam newe yeres daye, a lucky

and a prosperous yere with prospe-

rous yssuem and contunuance of many

yeres in good helthe and contynuall

joye and all to his honnoure, praise, and

glory. Frome assherige, the laste daye

of the year of our lord

god, 1544.

[4v] (191K)

Tudor Letters Index


This was written after Princess Elizabeth had been established in her own household, and as the time of
Queen Catherine's confinement drew near. The Queen died a few weeks later.
July 3I, I548.

Although your Higness's letters be most joyful to me in absence, yet, considering what pain it is for you
to write, your Grace being so sickly, your commendations were enough in my Lord's letter. I much rejoice
at your health, with the well liking of the country, with my humble thanks that your Grace wished me with
you till you were weary of that country. Your Highness were like to be cumbered, if I should not depart till
I were weary of being with you; although it were the worst soil in the world, your presence would make it
pleasant. I cannot reprove my Lord for not doing your commendations in his letter, for he did it; and
although he had not, yet I will not complain on him; for he shall be diligent to give me knowledge from
time to time how his busy child doth; and if I were at his birth, no doubt I would see him beaten, for the
trouble he hath put you to. Master Denny and my lady, with humble thanks, prayeth most entirely for your
Grace, praying the Almighty God to send you a most lucky deliverance, and my mistress wisheth no less,
giving your Highness most humble thanks for her commendations.
Written with very little leisure this last day of July.
Your humble daughter,

From Harrison, G. B., ed. The Letters of Queen Elizabeth I.

New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1968, pp 8-9.
Created by Anniina Jokinen on November 9, 1996.


Sent with a present of her portrait.

May I5, I5[ ? ].

Like as the rich man daily gathereth riches to riches, and one bag of money layeth a great sort till it
come to infinite, so methinks your Majesty, not being sufficed with many benefits and gentleness showed
to me afore this time, doth now increase them in asking and desiring where you may bid and command,
requiring a thing not worthy the desiring for itself, but made worthy for your Highness's request. My
picture, I mean, in which if the inward good mind toward your Grace might as well be declared as the
outward face and countenance shall be seen, I would not have tarried the commandment but prevent it, nor
have been the last to grant but the first to offer it. For the face, I grant, I might well blush to offer, but the
mind I shall never be ashamed to present. For though from the grace of the picture the colours may fade by
time, may give you weather, may be spotted by chance; yet the other nor time with her swift wings shall
overtake, nor the misty clouds with their lowerings may darken, nor chance with her slippery foot may
overthrow. Of this although yet the proof could not be great because the occasion hath been but small,
notwithstanding as a dog hath a day, so may I perchance have time to declare it in deeds where now I do
write them in words. And further I shall most humbly beseech your Majesty that when you shall look on
my picture, you will vouchsafe to think that as you have but the outward shadow of the body before you, so
my inward mind wisheth that the body itself were oftener in your presence; howbeit because both my so
being I think could do your Majesty little pleasure, though myself great good; and again because I see as
yet not the time agreeing thereunto, I shall learn to follow this saying of Horace, ' Feras non culpes quod
vitari non potest.' And thus I will (troubling your Majesty I fear) end with my most humble thanks.
Beseeching God long to preserve you to His Honour, to your comfort, to the Realm's profit, and to my joy.
From Hatfield this I5 day of May.
Your Majesty's most humbly sister and servant,

©2003 Anniina Jokinen

from Harrison, G. B., ed. The Letters of Queen Elizabeth I.
New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1968, p. 15.
Created by Anniina Jokinen on November 9, 1996.
Last updated September 23, 2003.


Written when the order came that she was to be sent to the Tower, on suspicion that she was implicated
by Wyatt's rebellion. Wyatt's correspondence with Elizabeth was seized, and amongst the evidence
produced was an alleged copy of a letter written by Elizabeth to Henri II; this was apparently a forgery.
March I6, I554.

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 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. I pray
to God I may die the shamefullest death that any ever died, if I may mean any such thing; and to this
present hour I protest before God (Who shall judge my truth, whatsoever malice shall devise), that I never
practised, counselled, nor consented to anything that might be prejudicial to your person anyway, or
dangerous to the state by any means. And therefore I humbly beseech your Majesty to let me answer afore
yourself, and not suffer me to trust to your Councillors, yea, and that afore I go to the Tower, if it be
possible; if not, before I be further condemned. Howbeit, I trust assuredly your Highness will give me leave
to do it afore I go, that thus shamefully I may not be cried out on, as I now shall be; yea, and that without
cause. 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, but which thing I think and believe
you shall never by report know, unless by yourself you hear. I have heard of many in my time 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 to 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 bow 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,

I humbly crave but only one word of answer from yourself.

From Harrison, G. B., ed. The Letters of Queen Elizabeth I.

New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1968, pp 19-21.
Created by Anniina Jokinen on November 9, 1996.

October 27, [ ? ].

Good Sister, as to hear of your sickness is unpleasant to me, so is it nothing fearful; for that I
understand it is your old guest that is wont oft to visit you, whose coming though it be oft, yet is it never
welcome, but notwithstanding it is comfortable for that iacula præuisa minus feriunt. And as I do
understand your need of Jane Russel's service, so am I sorry that it is by my man's occasion letted, which if
I had known afore, I would have caused his will give place to need of her service. For as it is her duty to
obey his commandment, so is it his part to attend your pleasure; and, as I confess, it were meeter for him to
go to her, since she attends upon you, so indeed he required the same, but for that divers of his fellows had
business abroad that made his tarrying at home.
Good Sister, though I have good cause to thank you for your oft sending to me, yet I have more
occasion to render hearty thanks for your gentle writing, which how painful it is to you, I may well guess
by myself; and you may well see by my writing so oft, how pleasant it is to me. And thus I end to trouble
you, desiring God to send you as well to do, as you can think and wish, or I desire or pray. From Ashridge,
scribbled this 27th of October.
Your loving sister,

From Harrison, G. B., ed. The Letters of Queen Elizabeth I.

New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1968, pp 16-17.
Created by Anniina Jokinen on November 9, 1996.