Manual Elizabeth I and Religion 1558-1603 (Lancaster Pamphlets)

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The presence of the real in these allegorical circumstances is a defining moment, not least because it is not only a symbolic presence. Sir John Perrot was no doubt chosen to play a central role in this display because of the fact that he had sheltered Protestants during the reign of Mary, an act that had seen him spend a short time in prison. However, according to Hiram Morgan, "Perrot is best known Morgan stresses that "Perrot was popularly held to be his [Henry's] son, being large in frame, choleric in temper, tyrannical in government and a lady's man by inclination" As proof, Morgan informs us that there exist a number of records that show he was the son of Henry, and he even floats the idea which he finally rejects that Perrot's parentage and thus claim on the throne may well have been the reason for his execution towards the end of Elizabeth's reign.

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Given his bastard status, his appearance in the pre-coronation procession could have cast a rather dim light on the tenuous nature of Elizabeth's claim to the throne, as she had been disinherited by her and Sir John's father. A contemporary audience would have been aware of Perrot's ambiguous position, both in terms of such claims to legitimacy, and as a bearer of Truth. The presence of Perrot thus compromises this particular dramatic climax and could be interpreted as encouraging the production of an alternative message for a contemporary audience than that desired.

Indeed, the hypocrisy of the ruling elite could have been an entirely understandable and relevant reading. Furthermore, such a reading produced in this allegorical moment undermines the entire ideological project of the procession.

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If we recall that, according to the Venetian Ambassador, one of the vices that Elizabeth was to crush underfoot was indeed "Hypocrisy," and that Mulcaster, in his official interpretation of the event did not delineate such a vice, there emerges a counter-force in terms of interpretation that problematises Mulcaster's official reading.

Perrot's presence demonstrates the hypocrisy that the ruling elite personified, and clarifies Mulcaster's desire to avoid the use of this term. The impact of the above examples on the truth-value of Mulcaster's record of events extends to the most apparent aspect of his project, the spontaneous adulation of the audience for their Queen.

As stated earlier, Mulcaster constantly emphasises this point, observing the "earnest love of subjectes, so evidently declared even to her Grace's owne person," and the "common rejoysing of all lookers on," so that "there was nothing but gladnes" Such emphasis continues throughout his pamphlet, the crowd being won over by the obvious virtue of the Queen. The other eye-witness accounts of the procession cast doubt on Mulcaster's observations in this respect however, when it is realised that of the three accounts it is only Mulcaster who mentions the crowd at all.

In both the account of Il Schifanoya, and that which appears in Henry Machyn's Diary , there is not a single mention of the audience that defines the content and tone of Mulcaster's report and that in many ways constitutes the ideological thrust of his whole project. For Mulcaster, the presence of the audience is determining, emphasising the mutual love that circulated between population and sovereign, defining for us a unified population, content in its certainty of a rigid, secure and natural hierarchy.

The absence articulated by these two eye-witness accounts obviously needs to be considered and negotiated. What they fail to record is not proof that the audience described by Mulcaster was in fact absent. Perhaps they suggest rather something similar to what Glynne Wickham has observed with regard to medieval processions:.

The starting point [of a ruler's claim to rule] was the physical manifestation of the ruler's person to the subjects assembled within the capital city. This could most conveniently be achieved by a procession through the streets which were lined for the occasion with beholders. I say ' lined' rather than 'thronged' because the fullest discipline that medieval civic administration could achieve was enforced on these occasions.

The early modern period had a much more sophisticated system of communication and coercion , but Wickham's observation is relevant. It should be remembered that the decoration and gravelling of the streets, as well as the actual presence of the members of the Guilds had been ordered by the Lord Mayor. Thus the "City was at very great charge to express their love and joy" Nichols, Elizabeth , an order that the Guilds were careful to adhere to for, as contemporary evidence demonstrates, their failure to do so would have consequences: "Not failinge hereof, as you will answere the contraire at your perill" folio Such information concerning the presence of the Guilds compromises the notion of the implicit agreement of all sections of Elizabethan London to play their part in the event.

Furthermore, it questions the idea of the spontaneity of the celebration that is said to have characterised the procession. The Guilds were simply ordered to follow certain instructions. Returning to the theme of audience, perhaps because it would have generally been constituted by common people, they are absent in Machyn's and Il Schifanoya's accounts.

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These recorders of the event, members of the higher orders of society, perhaps viewed the procession in such a way as to remain blind to the presence of the mob. It is possible that the crowds of "adoring subjects" were simply not seen, or not recorded, because it was felt that they were not important.

Alternatively, perhaps they were not recorded because they were, in fact, rather quiet, rather un-celebratory, as the crowd had apparently been in for the entry of Anne Boleyn Smuts Whatever we wish to surmise regarding this absence, the reading of these documents compromises Mulcaster's text, especially in terms of what it actually makes out of the status of the audience. The emphatic manner with which Mulcaster represents that presence is particularly apparent in certain sections of the procession where Elizabeth continually has difficulty in hearing and requests the crowd to be silent to enable her to hear what is being said to her at the pageant devices.

Elizabeth is shown to be interested in listening to the lessons that were being enacted, thus giving her the impression of being a good and obedient sovereign, one who takes the views of her subjects into account. Her ability as an effective actress is also stressed in this context, as is her skill in manipulating the crowd.

Finally, the fact that there was so much cheering is interpreted as an indication of the love felt for her by her subjects. However, not only are the crowds absent in the other accounts of the procession, there is also no mention of the Queen having to halt and quieten anybody, or having to send a messenger forward to request silence at each pageant device as she approached, as it appears in Mulcaster:.


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And ere the Quenes Majestie came wythin hearing of thys Pageaunt, she sent certaine, as also at all the other Pageauntes, to require the People to be silent. For her Majestie was disposed to heare all that shoulde be sayde unto her. The final section of Mulcaster's pamphlet is particularly interesting in this context, and reveals in its textual form the constructed nature of his undertaking.

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This section takes the form of an addenda or an appendix and is entitled "Certain notes of the Queenes Majesties great mercie, clemencie, and wisdom, used in this passage" This appendix contains a number of examples of the Queen's interchanges with certain members of the crowd during the procession, and lists her responses to certain situations and comments she had overheard.

Among other things, she cheers up a crying man, smiles at the mention of the name of her own father and confirms the authority of the city. These various examples attempt to personalise the Queen, to underline her caring nature, and to instil a sense of her integrity through communicating the nobility of her thought even when expressed spontaneously. The fact that they are tacked on to the end of the record of the procession induces the perception that they could, in fact, have been invented events. They appear almost as an afterthought, as though her humanity and approachability had not been made apparent enough in the main body of the text.

Yet again however, none of these events are present in the other eye-witness accounts of the procession, neither in the main texts nor in the form of appendices. This is another example of that absence noted above, but now with an added dimension. For stress should be laid upon the fact that the report of Il Schifanoya is a very full description of the procession and the pageants performed for the Queen.

As such, it is relevant that, within the context of such a full description, certain defining moments and events for Mulcaster are entirely absent. At hir entring the citie, she was of the people receiued maruellous intierlie, as appeared by the assemblies, praiers, wishes, welcommings, cries, tender words, and all other signes which argued a wonderfull earnest love of most obedient subiects towards their souereigne.

The text continues in this manner, mutual love obviously once more being the overriding theme. Holinshed commissioned his Chronicle in , and it finally appeared in , and was for many years regarded as historically accurate. The propagandist nature of this work is underlined however by the fact that it merely reproduces Mulcaster's report. It is important also in the way that, through this reproduction, it initiates the construction of a credibility around the truth-value of the events as produced by Mulcaster.

An incremental integrity is apparent in the casting as "truth" of the initial "truth" of an earlier text, a reality that is visible in the further transmission of those "truths" to our own day. Black demonstrates precisely this process of transmission, whereby assumed knowledge is passed off as fact. Regarding the pre-coronation procession he writes: "From the first day of her arrival in the capital The popular rejoicing reached a climax on the eve of the coronation This is typical of the sort of statement regarding the record of events that has traditionally appeared in historical writings, as is clear from the influential works of J.

Neale, E. Wilson, Frances Yates, and Roy Strong. This is further evidenced by that most highly regarded examination of processions to date, David Bergeron's English Civic Pageantry , where, despite the disclaimer that Mulcaster's pamphlet is indeed "a marvellous piece of propaganda" in which "Elizabeth is seen in an extremely favourable light" 13 he writes that from "Fenchurch to Temple Bar the sovereign has moved through the city amid the shouts and acclamations of London's citizens" This behaviour demonstrates "a give-and-take This account of an exchange of reciprocal love has been reproduced at some length in order to show how Mulcaster delineates for the reader an occasion characterised by its unproblematic and implicit acknowledgement of degree, indeed its effusive celebration of hierarchy.

In this account, the Queen has already been successful in gaining the support and love of her subjects, has already won them over, is already the fulfilment of their desire to be justly and nobly ruled. However, while this excerpt articulates both the skill with which Elizabeth presented herself publicly, and the sense in which this presentation took place in a theatrical setting, it is the question of Mulcaster's accuracy that I wish to focus upon. This accuracy is compromised when his version is juxtaposed with the two other eye-witness accounts of the event.

The letters of the Venetian Ambassador to England of the time, Il Schifanoya, to the Castellan of Mantua, and a two page entry which appears in Henry Machyn's Diary constitute these accounts, and they enable us to gain a more coherent picture of the entire procession. Machyn's short entry in his Diary describes the spectacular impression made by the procession, as well as giving some detail about the pageants that took place.


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  • Particularly useful in this context, however, is the account of Il Schifanoya, which allows us to determine the approximate size of the procession, the number of horses preceding the Queen being, in the Ambassador's opinion, one thousand. He goes on to write that the houses along the route were decorated in the Queen's honour, and that lining this route were "merchants and artisans of every trade Each participant in the procession also displayed their symbols of office; keys, chains, pennants, and various uniforms of status and affluence.


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    The Queen's ceremonial guards were all dressed in crimson silk, and there was also much satin, velvet, and fur in evidence. The Queen herself, he says, appeared in "an open litter, trimmed down to the ground with gold brocade" 12 , and that she was "dressed in a royal robe of very rich cloth of gold, with a double-raised stiff pile, and on her head over a coif of cloth of gold, beneath which was her hair, a plain gold crown without lace The importance of Il Schifanoya's account in this present study, however, lies in his observation of one particular pageant device and its difference from the same pageant as reported by Mulcaster.

    The device in question is that which showed certain virtues defeating their opposing vices, and the two accounts bear close examination. According to Mulcaster, after enjoying the first major pageant device, entitled "The uniting of the two Howses of Lancastre and Yorke" 42 , the Queen proceeded to the Conduit in Cornhill, where she found a child "representing her Majesties person, placed in a seate of Governement, supported by certyne vertues, which suppressed their contrarie vyces under their feete The Queen's name and title were displayed, as was the name of the pageant, "The Seate of worthie Governance" The figure representing Elizabeth sat in a chair that was held by four "lively personages," each of whom in turn represented a virtue, and each having "a table to expresse their effectes Each of these, according to Mulcaster, had their name clearly displayed, and were also "aptly and properly apparelled," so as to "expresse the same person that in title he represented" Every empty space was "furnished with proper sentences," each "commendyng the seate supported by Vertues, and defacing the Vices The Queen is seen as the embodiment of all of these virtues and thus the enemy to those vices.

    The use of these allegorical figures from the medieval morality plays also has a further ideological effect here, virtue being seen to reside in the Protestantism supplanting the Catholicism associated with Mary's reign. While the drama of the pageant device, along with the spoken verses and the posted explanations clarify the overall ideological thrust of this representation, Mulcaster ensures that the message is quite clear by informing us further:. The ground of thys Pageant was, that like as by Vertues whych does aboundantly appere in her Grace the Quenes Majestie was established in the seate of Governement; so she should sette fast in the same so long as she embraced Vertue For if Vice once gotte up the head, it would put the seate of Governement in peryll of falling.

    Here various virtues, physically represented though, as the pageant explanation tells us, embodied in Elizabeth, are shown to tread upon and defeat their opposing vices. The observations of Il Schifanoya are interesting in this respect, as he reports that this particular pageant showed slightly different figures to those outlined by Mulcaster. According to the Ambassador, the vices presented were named "Ignorance, Superstition, Hypocrisy, Vain Glory, Simulation, Rebellion and Idolatry," concluding that the general message of the pageant was "that hitherto religion had been misunderstood and misdirected, and that now it will proceed on a better footing" This religious interpretation of the device differs from Mulcaster's political interpretation, and reveals allegory's inherent plenitude of meaning.

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    The Spanish Ambassador interprets the allegorical device in his own way and according to his own religious concerns. This plenitude is increased when it becomes clear that the Ambassador actually read the name of one of the vices - "Hypocrisy" - differently from Mulcaster. This could, no doubt, be a problem of translation rather than mis-reading by either of the observers. However, this is doubtful in that, of the vices named by Mulcaster, only "Bribery" both resembles "Hypocrisy" and does not appear on the Ambassador's list. Yet "Bribery" "corruzione" does not translate as anything like "Hypocrisy" "ipocrisia" , the two being in no way commensurate, but delineating rather different vices.

    While it is possible that no deception was intended by either the Ambassador or Mulcaster unfortunately Machyn does not note the names given to the allegorical figures , the latter may have wished to avoid using the term "Hypocrisy" because of something which occurred later in the procession and which gives the Ambassador's naming of it a much deeper significance.

    Jean Wilson calls it the "crucial show" 6 , David Bergeron the "dramatic climax" English 21 , Sydney Anglo a "critical juncture" , and Helen Hackett the pageant that generated the "greatest excitement" Indeed, the centrality of this particular device is clear given that it is described in some detail in Machyn's Diary.

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    The perceived importance of this particular pageant is predominantly due to the fact that Elizabeth made what is for many critics a crucial interjection in the proceedings that demonstrated her ability both as an actress and a wily political manipulator. The crucial moment, which has so impressed critics throughout the ages, actually occurred before the allegorical display had begun. Mulcaster writes that as Elizabeth reached the pageant stages, she inquired what the pageant was meant to signify.

    On being told that it represented "Time," Elizabeth felt compelled to respond: "'Tyme? The importance of this interjection, where Elizabeth associates herself with Time, is fully realised when it becomes clear that in the action that then proceeded to unfold upon the pageant stage, an allegorical figure representing Time brings forth a further allegorical figure, the latter representing Truth. Thus Elizabeth clearly associates herself directly with the embodiment of truth itself. While this may indeed demonstrate Elizabeth's awareness of what would be contained in this particular performance, for many critics this represents a master-stroke in terms of self-representation.

    Thus Bergeron tells us that here "the queen rises triumphantly to the dramatic occasion" English 20 , while Anglo believes she "played her part to perfection," demonstrating that she "was a true heir to her father in crowd-pleasing showmanship" However, these plaudits are not based on Elizabeth associating herself with Truth alone, but upon a further piece of showmanship that occurred later in the action of the performance. The pageant device itself was made up of the representation of two hills or mountains, the one on the north side being "cragged, barreyn, and stonye; in whiche was erected one tree, artificiallye made, all withered and deadde Under the tree sat a mourning figure in rags, over whose head was written his name, "whiche was, ' Ruinosa Respublica ,' 'A decayed Commonweale'" Upon the tree hung sentences "expressing the causes of the decaye of a Common weale" The southern hill in contrast was "fayre, freshe, grene, and beawtifull, the grounde thereof full of flowers and beawtie," upon which stood a healthy tree, and under whom stood an "uprighte" figure named "' Respublica bene instituta ,' 'A florishyng Commonweale'" Between the two hills stood a cave out of which, as the Queen arrived, "issued one personage, whose name was Tyme, apparaylled as an olde man, with a sythe in his hande These two figures then proceeded to the flourishing southern hill, the latter figure with her true name, " Veritas " Truth written upon her breast.