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Les femmes témoins de l’histoire

1603 through the Eyes of Women Historians

Armel Dubois-Nayt

Résumés

Cet article se propose de comparer les récits historiques que des femmes ont laissés sur l’année 1603 à ceux d’hommes. Il s’appuie sur les écrits de quatre femmes de la période moderne, Arbella Stuart, Anne Clifford, Elizabeth Southwell et Margaret Hoby et se concentre sur trois événements majeurs : la mort d’Elisabeth Tudor, le début du règne de Jacques VI et l’épidémie de peste. Il étudie les spécificités de ces voix féminines sur des sujets d’histoire aussi bien en terme de ton que de contenu tout en essayant de les expliquer en rendant compte des conditions spécifiques d’écriture de ces femmes. Il met aussi en évidence les interprétations de l’histoire immédiates que ces femmes partageaient avec leurs contemporains masculins.

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Texte intégral

  • 1 Christopher Lee, 1603 : A Turning Point in British History, London, Review, 2004.
  • 2 Thomas Dekker, The Wonderful Year, 1603, London, Thomas Creede, sig. C1.

1Historians have argued as to whether we should consider 1603 as a turning point in British History. In 1955, G.R. Elton claimed in his book England under the Tudors that it was inconsequential. In 2003, Christopher Lee devoted an entire book1 to demonstrate that the twelve months between March 1603 and March 1604, the year being dated from March 25, were actually one of the most pivotal years in British History. The obvious reason for thinking so is that it was the end not only of the 45-year-long reign of the first Protestant Queen in England but also of the Tudor line on the English throne. My paper does not propose to discuss this matter further. The judgment of the Poet Thomas Dekker who bestowed upon that year the title of « wonderfull » is proof enough that contemporaries considered 1603 as both singular and cardinal for three reasons : « As first, to begin with the Queenes death, then the Kingdomes falling into an Ague vpon that. Next, follows the curing of that feauer by the holesome receipt of a proclaymed King.[…] And last of all (if that wonder be the last and shut vp the yeare) a most dreadfull plague »2.

  • 3 By the end of the sixteenth century, methods for the study of history were widely read at the Unive (...)

2But what did early modern women authors have to say on what happened at and after the death of the Queen which occurred, by almost deliberate coincidence, on 24 March 1602, the last day of the calendar year. As one might expect, there is neither chronicle nor diurnal of occurrences for that year by any « trained »3 female historian but one can easily glean testimonies on this eventful year from the diaries, memoirs and letters which some women wrote at the time. This paper is therefore based on the writings of four women who have drawn my attention for their strong personalities and their confidence to fight for their interests despite of their young age for some of them. Elizabeth Southwell was sixteen or seventeen in 1603 when she wrote her testimony, Anne Clifford thirteen or fourteen, Arbella Stuart was in her mid-twenties, and the oldest Margaret Hoby was thirty-three or thirty-four. The last three battled for their property rights and lifestyle, as for the first she braved danger for the man she loved. Three of them even dared face the king’s disapproval, Anne Clifford by refusing to abandon her lawsuits to recover her father’s estates, Elizabeth Southwell by disobeying his order to return to England, and Arbella Stuart by attempting to escape to France.

3The accounts of such prominent women have not gone completely unnoticed so far but by interweaving their narratives of the three major events of 1603, viz. the death of the Queen, the succession of James VI of Scotland to the throne of England and the plague epidemics, I intend to draw a picture of 1603 through the female eyes that might contradict in some respects the testimonies of male witnesses.

  • 4 Jayne Steen (ed.), The Letters of Lady Arbella Stuart, Oxford, Oxford UP, 1994, p. 126.

4Unsurprisingly, all the women I have selected belonged to the upper privileged class. The first, Arbella Stuart was the daughter of Charles Stuart, the brother of Mary Stuart’s second husband, Lord Darnley. She was next in line after James VI and as she put it in a letter to Elizabeth, she was « a branch » « from the most renowned stocke »4. The second, Anne Clifford, was the daughter of the two wealthiest people in England. The third Margaret Hoby, was the daughter of a rich landowner Arthur Dakins but it is through her three marriages that her social status is most blatantly perceived. In less than five years, she married successively the brother of Robert, Earl of Essex, Queen Elizabeth’s favorite, the brother of Sir Philip Sidney, the poet, and finally the nephew of William Cecil, Elizabeth’s private secretary. As for the last member of our foursome, Elizabeth Southwell, as a member of the powerful Howard family, she was a maid of honour to Queen Elizabeth and Queen Anne before eloping to France with Robert Dudley, the son of the earl of Leicester.

  • 5 A. Stuart, op. cit., p. 185.
  • 6 Ibid., p. 204-205.

5Yet, they all wrote for very different reasons, which, to a large extent, define their positions as « historians ». Arbella Stuart wrote informal letters from James’s court mostly to her god-parents, of whom she was very fond. Therefore she never writes in these letters from the point of view of someone who has to prove what she states. On the contrary, she is repeatedly warned by her godmother to be cautious in her letters as they might fall into hostile hands. On the surface, she accepts the « caveat […] to write no more than How [she does], and [her] desire to understand [her godparents’] health »5. She even claims self-deprecatingly that her « weak paper » cannot contain « serious matters » and she leaves (apparently with no regrets) to others the task of writing about « great news » : « And I shall as willingly play the foole for your recreation as ever. I assure my selfe to my Lord Cecill, my Lord of Pembrok, your honorable new ally, and divers of y[our] old acquaintance write your Lordship all the newes of [cour] that is stirring, so that I will only impart s[omm] trifles to your Lordship at this time as concerne m[y] selfe »6.

  • 7 Joanna Moody (ed.), The Private Life of an Elizabethan Lady : The Diary of Lady Margaret Hoby, 1599 (...)

6Margaret Hoby had even less ambition as a would-be historian. This puritan Yorkshire woman had no idea that one day her diary would be published and read as one of the most important journals of an Elizabethan woman. Her aim in keeping that diary was merely to please God and her personal chaplain, Richard Rhodes. Initially, she simply recorded her religious activities and readings, daily prayers and attendance at church but in the process, and almost inadvertently, she began recording historical events that diverted and maybe distracted her from her self-examination exercises. As soon as Richard Rhodes left the Hackness household and her discipline lapsed, however, she gave up writing her spiritual autobiography. The woman who had claimed in April 1605 « they are vnwothye of godes benefittes and especiall favours that Can finde no time to make a thankfull recorde of them »7, was in fact too snowed under as a manager of a large estate to continue scribbling about the incidents that made up her daily life or with national matters.

  • 8 Anne Clifford, The Memoir of 1603 and the Diary of 1616-1619, Katherine O. Acheson (ed.), Peterboro (...)
  • 9 Megan Matchinske, Women Writing History in Early Modern England, Cambridge, Cambridge UP, 2009, p. (...)
  • 10 Isaiah 58.12, quoted in Lady Anne Clifford, The Diaries of Lady Anne Clifford, D.J.H. Clifford (ed. (...)

7The last two female writers in my study wrote their historical accounts with more self-awareness and self-confidence. Anne Clifford for one clearly defines herself, later in life, as a « historian » and calls her manner of keeping an annual account of events a « chronicle »8. As Megan Matchinske has shown, she also « repeatedly returns to her favorite text from Isaiah to imagine her role »9 : « And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places », she promises, « [T]hou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations, and thou shall be called the repairer or the breach, the restorer of paths to dwell therein »10. As for Elizabeth Southwell, who wrote or dictated A True Relation of What Succeeded at the Sickness and Death of the Queen in April 1607, she is adamant, as the very title of her testimony suggests, that her narrative is the accurate account of what actually happened. This implies that she was indeed attempting to contradict other versions that had been previously circulated. She does not mention their titles or authors point-blank but she hints throughout her text at the unreliability of what senior witnesses of the scene such as the Vice-Chamberlain, John Stanhope and Robert Cecil said. John Stanhope is accused of duping the Queen into taking a bewitched amulet, the council of ignoring her silent disapproval when they named the King of Scots as her successor, and finally Robert Cecil of disregarding Elizabeth’s instruction not to have « her body opened », i.e. embalmed. Conversely, Southwell constantly reasserts the truth of what she and other trusted members of her family – namely her great aunt Lady Scrope and her grand-father, Charles Howard, Earl of Nottingham – reported.

The death of the Queen

  • 11 A. Clifford, op. cit., p. 43.
  • 12 M. Hoby, op. cit., p. 186.
  • 13 Robert Cary and Sir Robert Nortaun, Memoirs of Sir Robert Cary and Fragmenta Regalia, Edinburgh, Ja (...)
  • 14 As Catherine Loomis pointed out, Southwell speaks of Stanhope as Cecil’s « familiar », a word that (...)
  • 15 Elizabeth Southwell, A True Relation of What Succeeded at the Sickness and Death of Queen Elizabeth (...)
  • 16 J.E. Neale, « The Sayings of Queen Elizabeth », History, 10, October 1925, p. 231.
  • 17 Ibid.
  • 18 J.E. Neale, art. cit., p. 232.

8As stated in my introduction, historical accounts of 1603 by women start with the Queen growing sickly which happened « a little after [she] removed to Richmond »11 and « wrought great sorrow and dread in all good subiectes hartes »12. One of these accounts, however, goes further than recording when the sickness and the popular reaction it triggered started. Elizabeth Southwell, like her great-aunt, « wondered at [the sickness’] cause », suggesting it was witchcraft, not divine Providence. Whilst later accounts (among which that of her cousin Robert Carey) would ascribe the Queen’s death to her « melancholy humour »13 and turn it into a consequence of her own volition, Southwell depicts on the contrary an old Queen desperate to escape death to the point of accepting to wear « upon her body » an amulet from Wales that had supposedly protected the 129 year-old lady that had bequeathed it to her. Furthermore, she suggests that her closest counselors used black magic14 to get rid of their Queen hiding « in the bottom of her chair the Queen of hearts with a nail of iron knocked through her forehead of it »15. These fanciful statements did not help her text to be taken seriously either by her contemporaries or by historians of the early modern period. J.E. Neale for instance debunked the validity of what he termed the « most vivid of all the accounts of Elizabeth’s ground »16 because it was written four years after the events by « a romantic young woman who had turned Catholic »17 and « it is reasonably certain that part of [it] is false »18.

  • 19 E. Southwell, op. cit., p. 525.
  • 20 C. Loomis, art. cit., p. 224.
  • 21 Besides, Elizabeth is known for using the image of the yoke around her neck on her own initiative. (...)
  • 22 Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, Thomas P. Roch Jr. (ed.), London, 1978, V.IX.33.6. quoted in E. (...)
  • 23 C. Loomis, art. cit., p. 225.

9In a recent paper, Catherine Loomis has also pointed out the theatricality of Southwell’s narrative, which creates a mysterious atmosphere around the Queen’s death and echoes both the tragedy of Hamlet when it depicts its royal protagonist seeing « in her bed her body exceeding lean and fearful in a light of fire »19 and the « everlasting fyre » associated with the torments of hell in Matthew 25.4120. Loomis sees a similar double intertextuality in Elizabeth’s complaint about a sore throat to Southwell’s grand-father21 : « My Lord, I am tied with a chain of iron about my neck »22 which calls to mind both the biblical image of the chains of darkness by which sinners are to be kept « unto damnation » (2 Peter 2.4) and the icon of melancholy, a bear, that like Mercilla’s rebellious lion in The Faerie Queen, is « with a strong yron chaine and coller bound »23.

10Both Neale and Loomis’s comments raise the question of the reliability of Southwell’s historical account but whilst the first takes the age and gender of the writer as elements of proof of her delusions, the second attributes some form of literary knowledge and subtlety to Southwell. This discrepancy requires further investigation to assess whether Southwell can be considered as a « historian » in early-modern terms.

11To begin with, it seems unfair to dismiss Southwell’s historical account simply on the basis of its poetic license ; and this for two reasons. First, Southwell is not the only early-modern historian to introduce magic, night-time visions and dreams in her story of events happening at the time of a King’s death. George Buchanan, among others, does exactly the same when he narrates the last day of Henry Darnley in his History of Scotland ; yet this text has been used as a standard source for history books of the period until very recently :

  • 24 George Buchanan, The History of Scotland, James Aikman, Glasgow (ed.), 1845, vol. II, p. 440-441.

12Two incidents which occurred at this time, I think worth relating, the one which happened a little before the murder. James Loudon, a gentleman of Fife, who had long been ill of a fever, on the day before the king died, about noon raised himself up in his bed, as if amazed, and besought all present, with a loud voice, to assist the king, for already the parricides were killing him. Then shortly after, in a mournful tone he exclaimed, Your assistance is too late, he is now killed ; and after this saying, he himself survived a very short time. The other occurred almost at the moment of the murder. Three intimate friends of the duke of Athol, relations of the king, men of virtue and high rank, lodged not far from the king’s dwelling. They were sleeping together in the same apartment, when, in the middle of the night some one appeared to approach Dugald Stuart, who lay next the wall, and drawing his hand gently across his beard and his cheek, awoke him, and said, Arise, they bring violence to you. He suddenly started and while he was thinking with himself on his vision, another immediately exclaimed, from another bed, Who kicks me ? and when Dugald replied, - Perhaps the cat, who walks as usual in the night ; then the third, who had not been awakened, who struck him on the ear ? And while yet, speaking, a figure appeared to go out at the door with a considerable noise. As they conversed on what they had seen and heard, the sound of the explosion of the king’s house struck them all with consternation24.

  • 25 Julia M. Walker, Dissing Elizabeth : Negative Representations of Gloriana, Durham and London, Duke (...)

13Second, one could contend that what repelled most historians in Southwell’s account of the Queen’s death until the 1980s had less to do with its fabled contents than with its disparagement of Elizabeth. As Julia M. Walker has shown « the tacit assumption in both popular and scholarly studies of the queen was that it was both inappropriate and in distinctively bad taste to speak (very) ill of one who forged such a glorious legend in the face of such great odds »25.

  • 26 Louis A. Montrose, The Subject of Elizabeth Authority, Gender and Representation, Chicago, Universi (...)
  • 27 E. Southwell, op.cit., p. 525.
  • 28 John Clapham, Elizabeth of England : Certain Observations Concerning the Life and Reign of Queen El (...)
  • 29 Godfrey Goodman, The Court of King James the First, John S. Brewer (ed.), London, R. Bentley, 1839, (...)
  • 30 Helen Hackett, Virgin Mother, Maiden Queen : Elizabeth I and the Cult of the Virgin Mary, Basingsto (...)
  • 31 E. Southwell, op. cit., p. 525.

14What is particularly striking in Southwell’s account is indeed a portrayal of Elizabeth that stands in stark contrast with the « bejeweled and painted image »26 of the Queen set up at court and circulated across England throughout her reign. This departure from convention and political correctness has been from the beginning equated with slander, but we could contend, on the contrary, that by adopting a matter-of-fact and realistic perspective in her narrative, Southwell was simply complying with the Queen’s demand at the time that she should be shown through a « true looking glass »27, a request that is confirmed by two other accounts, one by John Clapham28, the other by Godfrey Goodman29. Southwell indeed insists on the fact that a few days before she died, the Queen no longer wanted the people around her to create « images of [her] which stressed her sanctity and perfection »30 as she protested to « all those which had so much commended her and took it so offensively that all those which had before flattered her durst not come in her sight »31.

  • 32 Ibid.
  • 33 John Harington, Nugae Antiquae, Londres, 1804, II, p. 220.
  • 34 J. Clapham, op. cit., p. 98. « The bishops who then attended at the Court, seeing that she would no (...)

15An open-minded reader of Southwell could therefore consider that he/she is being presented with a narrative that does not attempt to « deceive [his or her] sight »32, and might revel in this unique portrayal of the dying queen. Can we doubt indeed that the Tudor Queen resented seeing herself diminished and no longer physically capable of impersonating the body politic, that she might have resisted her ambitious counselors when they tried to abuse of her weakness and patronize her, that she might have feared death like any other human being and hallucinated because of fever, that she might still have been quick-tempered, a shortcoming for which she was famous33, and finally that she might have had her last fight over religious supremacy with the Bishop of Canterbury and other prelates when they came to recommend her soul to God. Southwell is not the only witness to describe all this but she does not bowdlerize her account as others, like John Clapham34, do and I would be tempted to argue that this is the reason why her contribution to history has been so long neglected.

  • 35 He was himself the author of a Conference about the Next Succession (1594) in which he argued for t (...)

16To be fair to her critics, one must however acknowledge that her account would not have been printed without the help of the Jesuit priest Robert Parsons, who after masterminding Catholic resistance in England with Edmund Campion in the early 1580s, took part wholeheartedly in the anti-Elizabethan propaganda35 orchestrated from the Continent in the 1580s and 1590s. There is little doubt therefore that he was eager to use Southwell’s memories to disparage the Protestant queen, and to cast a shadow on the Protestant succession, in the very year when Catholic Ulster was colonized by Protestant settlers from Scotland and England.

  • 36 E. Southwell, op. cit., p. 526.

17In addition, it is likely that Southwell’s own religious bias might have discouraged her from making her narrative a conventional art of dying as her male counterparts produced in order to create the image of the Protestant queen as a repentant sinner who died gladly after overcoming the conventional temptations. Her prejudice and resentment towards Elizabeth can also account for the graphic description she gives of the Queen’s corpse exploding during the wake and breaking through the coffin, which can be interpreted as an attempt to ridicule the late queen. She writes : « the body […] was fast nailed up in a board coffin with leaves of lead covered with velvet, her body and head break with such a crack that spleeted the wood, lead, and cerecloth. Whereupon the next day she was fain to be new trimmed up »36. This anecdote might have been true and in this case, this passage should simply be read as a testimony from a woman who was not trying to solemnize the demise of the Queen and who recorded the crude hazards of embalming at the time.

18Southwell might also have been more informed than the derogatory label of « romantic young lady » with which she has been stuck suggests. On the basis of what she dictated to Parsons, we can speculate that she might have been familiar with the conventional arguments used by Elizabeth’s opponents in their diatribes. The explosions of the coffin and of the royal corpse recall, in fact, the prophecy of the Puritan Peter Wentworth who warned the Queen against the mistreatment that would be inflicted to her scorned body at her death if she did not settle the succession. In A Pithie Exhortation to her Majestie for establishing her successor to the crowne (1598), he implored her :

  • 37 Peter Wentworth, A Pithie Exhortation to her Majestie for Establishing her Successor to the Crowne, (...)

[…] to consider, whither your noble person is like to come to that honorable burial, that your honourable progenitours have had […] . We do assure ourselves that the breath shall be no sooner out of your body […] but that all your nobility, counselors, and whole people will be up in armes […] and then it is so to be feared, yea, undoubtedlie to be judged, that your noble person shall lye upon the earth unburied, as a doleful spectacle to the worlde.37

19Southwell’s account, which emphasizes the disrespectful handling of the remains of the Queen, seems to suggest therefore that she suffered the fate Wentworth predicted for refusing to the very end to name her successor, a point Southwell also stresses heavily. It would not be the first time opponents on opposite sides of the religious spectrum had borrowed from one another.

  • 38 R. Cary, op. cit., p. 59 ; Thomas Birch, Memoirs of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth, 1754, p. 508 ; J. (...)
  • 39 J. Clapham, op. cit., p. 99.

20What should be underlined here is Southwell’s highly daring break from the orthodox story of Elizabeth’s designation of her heir. Her narrative is in fact one of the few in which the English Queen does not designate James VI of Scotland as her heir either by words or by gestures38. Yet should we ignore it on the simple ground that it is tainted by religious bias or should we consider, as the clerk to Elizabeth’s Lord Treasurer does, that all reports on the question are open to doubt ? In a text written for the instruction of his children, he commented : « whether [these other reports] were true indeed or given out of purpose by such as would have them so to be believed, it is hard to say »39. In the light of such perceptive contemporary insights, I believe it is presumptuous and gender-biased to cast aspersions exclusively on Southwell’s narrative whilst retaining all the others, particularly those commissioned by Robert Cecil. There is in actual fact no clear and irrefutable indication that they depict what really happened.

  • 40 Note 77.
  • 41 E. Southwell, op. cit., p. 526.

21Granted Southwell was safe in Rome when she delivered her testimony a few years after the event. This distance, both spatial and temporal, makes her account very different from those produced by other male and female witnesses of the event, who were mainly petrified by Robert Cecil’s censorship. But this does not make her account less valuable than texts written almost under duress. As John Chamberlain put it : The other witnesses « were held in suspense and knew not how nor what to write, the passages being stopt, and all conveyance so dangerous and suspitious »40. In Italy, Southwell was no longer afraid of « displeasing Secretary Cecil » and she « durst […] speak publicly »41.

  • 42 Lady Hoby only mentions in her diary that she left Hackness for the funeral of the Queen on April 1 (...)
  • 43 A. Clifford, op. cit., p. 43.
  • 44 D. R. Woolf, « A Feminine Past ? Gender, Genre and Historical Knowledge in England, 1500-1800 », Am (...)
  • 45 A. Clifford, op. cit., p. 45.
  • 46 From an account of Queen Elizabeth’s reign said to have been written by one of Burgley’s retainers, (...)

22None of the three other female witnesses I have selected42 experienced this unrestrained freedom of expression. This explains why they either remained silent on the matter or stuck to Cecil’s line. Anne Clifford who accompanied her mother to Richmond in the weeks preceding Queen Elizabeth’s death and waited « in the coffer chamber »43 does not let any improper news filter through her memoir of 1603. As Daniel Woolf contended about early modern women writing history in general, « the family lies […] at the heart of [her] understanding »44 of the Queen’s death, wake and burial. She is mostly interested in recording that her mother attended the Queen’s corpse in the drawing chamber at Whitehall, « sitting up with it two or three nights »45, before taking part in the funeral procession along with her aunt of Warwick. The only negative element that is to be found in her report is her personal resentment at being kept away from the ceremonies because of her young age. Conversely, Lady Arbella, who was still bitter at being excluded from court under Elizabeth and imprisoned at Hardwick Hall under the supervision of her grand-mother Bess, refused to attend Elizabeth’s funeral, although she had been invited to be the principal mourner. According to an account supposedly written by one of Robert Cecil’s retainers, she « commented that since she had not been permitted access during Elizabeth’s life, she would not now be brought on stage as public spectacle »46.

The new reign

  • 47 Calendar of State Papers Venetian, 1592-1603, IX, p. 541-542.

23Arbella Stuart’s irreverent absence and the three-month-interruption in her correspondence between March 17 and 14 June 1603, can also be ascribed to the danger she must have sensed as second in line to the English throne. This was spotted by the Italian ambassador Scaramelli, who wrote around the time of Elizabeth’s death : « [The Queen] has very quietly increased the guards round the castle, fifty miles out of London, where the unhappy lady has lived so many years buried, as one may say, not perforce but of her own will. The ministers are anxious on the subject. […] It is however a fixed opinion that the ministers […] are resolved among themselves not to be governed by a woman again. »47.

  • 48 See note 101.
  • 49 A. Clifford, op. cit., p. 187.
  • 50 Edmund Howes in expanded version of John Stow’s, Annales or Chronicle, quoted in C. Lee, op. cit., (...)
  • 51 A. Clifford, op. cit., p. 43.

24Arbella Stuart, however, was not the only one to be afraid of what would happen once the Queen was gone. She shared with other female witnesses the prevailing impression that on the Queen’s death, a struggle was inevitable. Margaret Hoby for instance shows some anxiety when she writes in her diary that she accompanied her husband to York to assess the situation there, and « returned from Linten the 19 day to Hacknes, where we found all quiatt, god be praised »48. She also recorded that after the arrival of James Stuart in London on May 7, « the court removed from the Chaterhouse to the Tower »49 on May 19 – which for a sixteenth-century English person meant that the would-be-King was seeking protection in the « chief House of Safety », as the seventeenth-century historian Edmund Howes explained in his expanded version of John Stow’s Annales or Chronicle50. Finally she recorded the remembrance of the failed conspiracy of Goweres on August 5, in memory of which King James ordered that a holiday should be kept, which again makes us measure her awareness of possible disorder. In the same perspective, Anne Clifford marvels in her memoir at « the peaceable coming in of the King [which] was unexpected of all sorts of people »51.

  • 52 CSP, Venetian, X, p. 70.
  • 53 A. Stuart, op. cit., p. 194.
  • 54 Barbara K. Lewalski, « Writing Resistance in Letters : Arbella Stuart and the Rhetoric of Disguise (...)
  • 55 A. Stuart, op. cit., p. 195.

25With time, the fear of tumult and disorder melted away, resurfacing here and there as in the letters of Arbella Stuart who was indirectly involved in the first major plot to overthrow the King known as the Main Plot. Hatched by Lord Cobham and Sir Walter Ralegh and uncovered in July 1603, this conspiracy aimed at putting Arbella on the throne in the hope that she would be more favorable to Catholicism than her cousin and « secure freedom of conscience »52. In the letters to her god-parents, Arbella claims her innocence and declares : « when any great matter comes into question rest secure, I beseech you, that I am not interressed in it as an Actour »53. Yet she might have been hiding her true intentions as Barbara Kiefer Lewalski contends54. However, her reader is simply left frustrated as she keeps her lips sealed on the matter beside two tributes she writes on the occasion, one to « the Royall and wise manner of the King’s proceeding » who granted « pardon of [life] to the not-executed traitours », the other to Robert Cecil’s chivalry for « the defending a wronged Lady [and] the clearing of an innocent knight »55 in the person of her uncle Henry Cavendish, a knight of Derbyshire.

  • 56 The Journal of Sir Robert Wilbraham 1593-1616, H. S. Scott (ed.), Camden Miscellany, vol. X, [s.l.] (...)

26Compared to men’s journals and letters, women’s writings on the period, however, do not include any extravagant praise of the new king. They certainly do not draw a comparison between Elizabeth Tudor and James Stuart as bluntly as Robert Wilbraham does56. In contrast to the male diarist who regarded the Scottish king as wise, knowledgeable, skillful, benevolent, generous, and disinterested, female witnesses even express criticism towards the new royal style and pass derogatory comments on court life. This is the case of the well-read Arbella Stuart who felt awkward at the court of a king who scorned learned women and encouraged ladies to play childish games instead of dealing with political matters. On 8 December 1603, she wrote, irritated by such a waste of her time :

  • 57 A. Stuart, op. cit., p. 193.

The Duke of Savoyes Imbassage is dayly expected But out of this confusion of Imbassages will you know how we spend our time on the Queenes side[.] Whilest I was at Winchester theare weare certein childeplayes remembred by the fayre ladies. Viz. I pray my Lord give me a Course in your highly in request as ever cracking of nuts was. so I was by the mistresse of the Revelles not onely compelled to play at I knew not what for till that day I never heard of a play called Fier. but even perswaded by the princely example I saw to play the childe again. This exercice is most used from .10. of the clocke at night till .2. or .3. in the morning but that day I made one it beganne at twilight and ended at suppertime57.

  • 58 Ibid., p. 186.

27Arbella Stuart who had longed to return to court for years, was sorely disappointed by what she came back to it. This is obvious in a letter dated 16 September 1603 where she vehemently objects to the lack of courtesy at the new court ; and elsewhere she criticizes the king’s « everlasting hunting »58 :

  • 59 Ibid., p. 184.

If ever theare weare such a Vertu as courtesy at the Court I marvell what is becomm of it ? For I protest I see little or none of it but in the Queen who ever since hir comming to Newbury hath spoken to the people as she passeth and receiveth theyr prayers with thanckes and thanckfull countenance barefaced to the great contentment of natifue and foreign people for I would not have you thinck the French Imbassador would leave that attractive vertu of our Late Queen Elizabeth unremembered or uncommended when he saw it imitated by our most gratious Queene, least you should thinck we infect even our neighbours with incivility59.

  • 60 Ibid., p. 181.
  • 61 Ibid., p. 197.

28Despite a tense and frustrating relationship with the former English Queen, Arbella is most offended by the lack of respect to her memory both by « great and gratious ladies », who « leave not gesture nor fault of the late Queen unremembered »60 and by Queen Anne herself who uses Elizabeth’s splendid dresses, designed to dramatize her authority as Queen, in her masques. On 18 December 1603, she alludes to this disrespectful behaviour : « the queen intendeth to make a mask this Christmas, to which end my Lady of Suffolk and my Lady of Walsingham have warrants to take of the last queen’s best apparel out of the Tower at their discretion »61.

  • 62 A. Clifford, op. cit., p. 47
  • 63 Ibid., p. 51-53.
  • 64 Ibid., p. 53.
  • 65 Ibid., p. 59.
  • 66 Ibid., p. 47.

29Anne Clifford shared the general impression the court left on Arbella Stuart but she discredits it in fewer words. First she repeatedly intimates that it is increasing in size as a result of the creation of « innumerable »62 titles. She recalls for instance that on June 29, the Queen went to Hatton Fermers « where there were an infinite company of Lords and Ladies and other people that the county could scarce lodge them »63. Later, when describing the reception organized by the King and Queen for the ambassador of Austria in the Great Hall, she comments : « There was such an infinite company of Lords and Ladies and so great a court as I think I shall never see the like »64. This slant attack at the new king’s prodigality is however mild compared with her harsh criticisms of the low standards of behavior at James Stuart’s court. Talking about Christmas 1603, she writes : « Now there was much talk of a masque which the Queen had at Winchester and how all the ladies about the court had gotten such ill-names that it was grown a scandalous place, and the Queen herself much fall from her former greatness and reputations she had in the world »65. This kind of behaviour put her off just as much as the physical filth she noticed at royal palaces and remembered when she wrote later : « We all saw a great change between the fashion of the court as it is now, and of that in the Queen’s, for we were all lousy by sitting in Sir Thomas Erskine’s chamber »66.

  • 67 Ibid., p. 45.

30Yet, despite all these women’s negative comments, they shared with most of their upper-class contemporaries the urge to be part of the new royal circle. Even the less titled of them, Margaret Hoby, is pleased to write that she kissed the Queen’s hand at Ashby-de-la-Zouche on June 22 in the course of a two-month journey to approach the new sovereigns. As for Anne Clifford, she is the most open about the hopes and opportunities offered by the new reign. She explains : « At this time we used to go very much to Whitehall and walked much in the garden which was much frequented with Lords and Ladies, being all full of several hopes, every man expecting mountains and finding molehills »67. She admits with disarming honesty that she was among those who jockeyed for position and power, drawing a vivid picture of herself and her mother riding north to meet up with the travelling court of Queen Anne and killing three horses in the process :

  • 68 Ibid., p. 49.

31About this time my aunt of Warwick went to meet the Queen, having Mrs Bridges with her and my cousin Anne Vavasour. My mother and I should have gone with them, but that her horses, which she borrowed of Mr Elmers, and old Mr Hickly, were not ready ; yet I went the same night and overtook my aunt at tyttenhanger, my Lady Blount’s house, where my mother came the next day to me about noon, my aunt being gone before. Then my mother and I went on our journey to overtake her, and killed three horses that day with extreme of heat68.

  • 69 Ibid., p. 43.
  • 70 Nadine Kuperty-Tsur, Se Dire à la Renaissance. Les Mémoires au xvie , Paris, J. Vrin, 1997, p. 19.

32She also expresses the feeling that her future would have been much brighter if Elizabeth had not died. She comments : « If [she] had lived, she intended to have preferred me to be of the privy Chamber for anytime there was as much hope and expectation of me both for my person and my fortunes as of any other young lady whatsoever »69. This confirms that journal writing in the early modern period was often an activity motivated by a feeling of injustice, as Nadine Kuperty-Tsur70 has claimed and which, therefore, often looks at events through the prism of personal disgruntlement.

  • 71 A. Clifford, op. cit., p. 47.
  • 72 Quoted by C. Lee who does not state his source, op. cit., p. 136. I have been unable to trace this (...)

33Anne Clifford who wrote her story for reasons of self-promotion and family-promotion, the two being interconnected, is also particularly keen to tell about the jostling for honours and recognition that involved members of her family, especially when it casts light on her own hereditary rights. She recalls at one point the strife between her father (who was the Lord Mayor of York) and Lord Burghley over who should carry the Sword of his Majesty the King. She writes : « it was adjuged on my father’s side because it was his office of inheritance, and so is lineally descended on me »71. Another witness, however, indicates that Anne Clifford’s father was granted this honour on account of his military prowess, not because of his lineage. This testimony reads : « His highness delivered the Sword to one, that knew wel how to use a sword, having bene tried both at Sea and on Shoare, the thrice honoured Earle of Cumberland, who bare it before his Majestie ; ryding in great State to the Minister »72.

  • 73 A. Clifford, op. cit., p. 45.
  • 74 Ibid., p. 50.

34Even when Anne Clifford mentions people outside her family circle finding or falling out of favour, it is often because they have some connection with the Clifford family, even if it is negative. This is the case for instance with the Cecils and the Howards who « hated [her] mother and did not much love [her] aunt of Warwick »73, and whom she considered partly responsible for their being cast out from court although she also blames the Queen herself for she « showed no favour to the elderly ladies but to my Lady Rich and such-like company »74.

  • 75 Ibid., p. 49.
  • 76 Ibid., p. 57.
  • 77 Ann Clifford is critical of this change however. She writes : « At Windsor there was such infinite (...)
  • 78 Anne Laurence, Women in England 1500-1760. A Social History, London, Phoenix Giant, 1994, p. 250.

35In the end, resentment turned out to be a powerful source of inspiration for Clifford who kept track of those who found and lost favour with the Queen and described the atmosphere that prevailed at Anne and James’s courts in the early days of their reign. Through her memoirs, we learn for instance that Lady Bedford, who had been « so great a woman with the Queen as everybody much respected her, she having attended the Queen from out of Scotland »75, was deserted for Lady Rich : « Now was my Lady Rich grown great with the Queen in so much as my Lady of Bedford was something out with her and when she came to Hampton Court was entertained but even indifferently, and yet continued to be of the bedchamber »76. This anecdotal piece of gossip is in fact a precious yet subtle indicator of the change that Anne of Denmark brought about in the lives of English noblewomen, for it was the first time a Stuart Queen Consort had her own court77. This court offered her attendants both extra opportunities to assume some importance as clients and patrons78 and to fight for court influence.

  • 79 A. Stuart, op. cit., Letters 18, 19, 20, 23 and 24.

36Arbella Stuart, left interesting testimonies on the unseen side of court life and patronage that help fill in some of the blanks left by Clifford’s sometimes elusive memories. Several of Arbella Stuart’s letters illustrate for instance the way people lobbied79 and were wooed at the beginning of King James’s new reign, and in this regard, they tell the minute details of history that went on behind the political scene. They also let us see how women acted as mediators of patronage between men and in doing so they reinstate women in history. Like most early modern women and despite her rank, Arbella Stuart who was in dire straits most of her life, was not in a position to act as a patron herself but she could be a purveyor of influence through someone else and in all cases a provider of strategic advice.

  • 80 Ibid., Letter 35.
  • 81 Nathalie Zemon Davis, The Gift in Sixteenth Century France, University of Wisconsin press, 2000, p. (...)
  • 82 Ibid., p. 34.
  • 83 Ibid., p. 9.
  • 84 A. Stuart, op. cit., p. 191-192. « If it be not an unexcusable presumption in me to tell you my min (...)
  • 85 Ibid., p. 194-195. « I asked hir advise for a newyearesguifte for the Queene, both for my selfe who (...)

37The best case in point is the counsel she gives her godparents on New Year gifts80 that helps clarify the complex patronage machinery in the early modern period. First, they remind us that New Year’s day was the most important public gift day of the year81, and second, that gifts « were part of the complicated history of obligations and expectations between persons and households »82. As early modern « people were evaluating gifts all the time »83 and as gifts could easily go wrong, advice on the matter was highly valuable. They also allow us to see the overspending that went on at the King’s and Queen’s new extravagant courts. In one of her letters, Lady Arbella tries to decipher the Jacobean decorum around gift-giving for her god-father84, whilst in another, she illustrates how noblemen and noblewomen were encouraged to overspend to remain at court85.

The plague

  • 86 D. Wilbraham, op. cit., p. 61.

38Life at court constitutes an important subject in women’s testimonies on the year 1603 because of the position of the women who left such testimonies. It is therefore not surprising to see that it is through their history of the royal circle that the plague enters their narratives. This terrible event first appears in the background of a more important one, the coronation of the new king, which it spoiled. According to a male witness, D. Wilbraham, « it was at Westminster : when ther died of the plague 1500 a weeke in London, the suburbs and tounes next adioining : & a proclamation to restraine accesse of people, & the feast usuall at coronation forborne, the King & Queen coming from Whitehall to Westminster private, made the number of people and the pompe much lesse »86.

  • 87 CSP, Venetian, 1603-1607, X, p. 74.
  • 88 M. Hoby, op. cit., p. 55.

39This is confirmed by the Venetian envoy Giovanni Carlo who also mentions the proclamation that was issued from Windsor Castle on July 11 « so as to prevent the presence of any of the dwellers in London, whereby people are dying by the thousand every week »87. Anne Clifford’s recollection is in line with this general feeling of disappointment but there is unsurprisingly a touch of self-centredness in the account of the thirteen-year old who recalls : « Upon the 25th of July the King and Queen were crowned at Westminster, my father and my mother both attending them in their robes, my aunt of Bath and my uncle Russel, which solemn sight my mother would not let me see because the plague was hot in London »88. She does not seem to have realized that her mother was simply abiding by the proclamation drafted by Cecil which stated :

  • 89 C. Lee, op. cit., p. 167.

To avoid over great resort to our Cities of London and Westminster at that time, for the cause of our Coronation, we have thought good to limit the Traines of Noblemen and Gentlemen, having necessarie Service of attendance there, to a number certain, Viz. Earles to fifteen, Bishops and Barons to ten, Knights to five, and Gentlemen to foure : which numbers We require each of them to observe, and not to exceed, as they tender our favour.89

  • 90 See for instance Megan Matchinske, « For Here to ‘Henceforth’ : History, Gender and Identity in the (...)
  • 91 A. Clifford, op. cit., p. 191.
  • 92 Ibid., p. 192.
  • 93 Id.
  • 94 A. Clifford, op. cit., p. 55.
  • 95 M. Hoby, op. cit., p. 196.

40As an underlying theme in their journals, the plague is also the reason for the moves of the court and of individuals90. Both Anne Clifford and Margaret Hoby chart the details of their own travels and those of the mightier in the midst of the epidemic. Margaret Hoby for instance records the journey of the King to Wales to avoid the plague on June 2491. Through these comings and goings, these witnesses capture how people were warned against the plague and how they attempted to avoid it. The Hobys were amongst those who first « removed from London into Kent » on June 7 then « fearing the worst »92, to Newton to her mother’s on 8 and 18 September « wher [they] remaine until god shall please, in mercie, to deal wt us »93. But the day-to-day accounts of life in the midst of the plague put this fear in perspective in so far as they demonstrate that people kept their doors open to visitors who brought them news or medicine. Anne Clifford for instance recalls that when the plague was rife, « [her] aunt of Warwick send [them] medicine from a little house near Hampton court »94. As for Margaret Hobby, several entries in her diary between April and November 1603 testify to the continuation of her social activities from suppers to public prayers. At the end of October, whilst people in Whitby, about a dozen miles away from Hobby’s home in Hackness, were « shutting themselves up » because of the plague, she had guests over for diner four days on a row95.

  • 96 Elisabeth Bourcier, Les journaux privés en Angleterre de 1600 à 1660, Paris, Publications de la Sor (...)
  • 97 M. Hoby, op. cit., p. 191.
  • 98 Ibid., p. 197.
  • 99 Ibid., p. 193.
  • 100 Ibid., p. 195.
  • 101 Ibid., p. 196.

41But the plague soon becomes an event in its own right, the progress of which female witnesses undertook to delineate. To do so, they kept track of the dead in the area where they lived precisely and regularly, as the diarist Walter Yonge would do in 162596. This was a way to demonstrate the virulence of the illness. Margaret Hoby’s count starts on August 24 when « came Robert Netelton from York, and tould us that the number of those that died of the plague at London : 124 ; that Newcastill was greously veseted wt a sore plaug, likewise Hull »97 and ends on November 15 with her being shown by visiting acquaintances, « the printed pater of those that died at and about London this sommer, wch were 31 967 : from July to October »98. In the meantime, her daily entries read like a thriller that builds its dramatic tension on gloomy hearsay about the fortune of some and the misfortune of others. On September 27, she recorded « this day we hard from Hackness that all there was well, but that the sickness was freared to be at Roben Hood Bay, not far off »99. One month later : « This day I hard the plague was so great at Whitbie that those wch were cleare shut themselves vp, and the infected that escaped did go abroad : Likewise it was reported that, at London, the number was taken of the Livinge and of the deed »100. And again on October 27, she noted : « we hard the sicknis was still great at whibie »101.

42Anne Clifford’s morbid calculation is less dramatic both in scope and pathos as it centers mostly on her immediate circumstances. She mentions the plague at Hampton court « round about which were tents, where they died two or three in a day of the plague », an incident she seems to have chronicled because her own life was felt to be at risk at the time. She writes, « There I fell extremely sick of a fever so as my mother was in doubt it might turn to the plague but within two or three days I grew reasonable well, and was sent to my Cousin Stidall’s at Norbury, Mrs Carniston going with me, for Mrs Taylor was newly put away from me, her husband dying of the plague shortly after ». Yet, just like Margaret Hoby’s diary, Anne Clifford’s self-interested narrative encapsulates « the great fear and amazement » her family experienced when the plague struck their household ; but also her own relief at having been spared, when she tells the anecdote of her riding with Mr Menerell without her mother’s permission and his dying probably of the plague the following day.

  • 102 Ibid., p. 186.

43Beneath the exultation of cheating death conveyed by this passage of Clifford’s Memoir lies part of the interpretation people gave to this ordeal at the time. This interpretation was utterly shaped by the Reformation and the idea of predestination it entailed. Like all her Protestant contemporaries, Anne Clifford saw the hand of God in everything and she understood history both as a rewriting of biblical events and as a new way for God to express his ways. She scrutinized the immediate past therefore to decipher the divine plan for herself just like Protestants, in general, studied the recent past to make sense of God’s messages to His true Church. The plague was a major signifier to those who lived in the agonizing uncertainty of not knowing whether or not they were one of the elect. Surviving it was a sign of success, of favorable providence towards oneself and one’s family. In this respect, writing about the plague was still a means of self-promotion, and as such it was no different from Margaret Hoby’s recording a miraculous shipwreck that made her family richer on 25 January 1603 – without expressing sympathy for the poor sailors who perished in it or their bereaved families. « The 25 day it was tould Mr Hoby that a ship was wreced up at Burnestone upon his land : and thus, at all times, God bestowed benefittes upon us : God make us thank »102.

  • 103 Ibid., p. xlii.
  • 104 Ibid., p. 7.
  • 105 Ibid., p. 195.

44Writing about the plague was also very similar to writing about ordinary ailments, which is one of the outstanding features of both Margaret Hoby’s diary and Anne Clifford’s memoir, but also of Lady Arbella’s letters or even of Elizabeth Southwell’s True Relation. All four texts reveal an attitude to illness that was typical of early modern women’s religious beliefs, as Joanna Moody contends about Margaret Hoby : « In the Scriptures a sinner was frequently compared to a sick person, and the figure of Christ the physician, the healer of the body as well as the soul, was an important image in the New Testament »103. As a result, early modern women, whether Catholic or Protestant, equated the curing of illness with the curing of sin. They tended to see sickness as divine retribution and their body as the instrument of their soul. This spiritualized vision of bodily pain led to the same explanation for all diseases, as is illustrated by Margaret Hoby, who considered that God sent her « febelnis of stomak and paine of [her] head » « for a Iust punishment to corricte my sinnes »104 and the plague to England in the hope that it « may cause England wt speed to tourne to the Lord »105.

  • 106 C. Lee, op. cit., p. 188.
  • 107 Henoch Clapham, An Epistle Discoursing upon the Pestilence, London, Thomas Creed, 1603, sig. B. 2v.
  • 108 Lancelot Andrewes, A Sermon of the Pestilence Preached at Chiswick, 1603, London, Richard Badger, 1 (...)
  • 109 A. Clifford, op. cit., p. 57.
  • 110 M. Hoby, op. cit., p. 194.

45This was the standard reading of the plague sustained by texts like A New Treatise of the Pestilence that claimed that « the first & chiefest cause is supernaturall, as being immediately sent from God for the punishment of sinne and disobedience, of mankind as doth appear in Deut. 2.15 »106 or by Henoch Clapham’s tract, An Epistle Discoursing upon the Pestilence, that argued : « Famine, sword and pestilence, are a trinitie of punishments prepared of the Lord, for consuming a people that have sinned against him »107. This thesis was also circulated by preachers like Lancelot Andrewes, Bishop of Winchester, who delivered a sermon at Chiswick in which he demonstrated from Psalm CVI, 29-30 that it was god’s doing because the people were disobedient108. It was also backed up by the King himself who ordered a fast to quench the divine wrath, a decision that both Anne Clifford109 and Margaret Hoby110 reported.

  • 111 C. Lee, op. cit., p. 186.
  • 112 The Diary of the Rev. Ralph Josselin 1644-1681, E. Hockliffe (ed.), Camden Society Publications, 3r (...)

46Yet this interpretation of the plague was very much debated by clerics, as Christopher Lee explains : « On the one hand, there were those preachers who saw it as an opportunity to make certain that people understood that the plague was a natural punishment. On the other hand, there were the preachers who believed that if this were God’s work, then rather than repent, the people would curse God »111. There were also those who started developing scientific theories about the outbreak of the plague. Two men for instance, D. Josselin and D. Whiteway, surmise in their diaries that the wet weather and excessive rains triggered the disease112.

  • 113 M. Hoby, op. cit., p. 194.
  • 114 Ibid., p. 196.

47Interestingly enough, women witnesses do not report either the religious debate around the origins of the plague nor the scientific explanation to what they considered as a spiritual and historical event. They kept out of the controversy around the cause of the pestilence although there is strong evidence in their writings that they were aware for instance of unusual weather conditions. Margaret Hoby is the best case in point in that matter. She mentions twice in her diary the impact of the prolonged heat on the vegetation. On October 5, she notices : « We had in our Gardens a second sommer, for Hartechokes bare twisse, whitt Rosses, Read Rosses : and we, hauinge sett a musk Rose the winter before, it bare flowers now. I thinke the like hath seldom binnseene : it is a great frute yeare all over »113. On November 1st, she adds : « at this time we had in our gardens Rasberes faire sett againe, and almost euerie Hearbe and flower bare twiss »114. She also notices that the plague first hit seaports, such as Hull, Robin Hood’s Bay and Whitby but she does not mention the link between the rats that came off the ships and the epidemic disease. As a matter of fact, although she was one of those wise women who provided medical care to their servants and households, she does not feel entitled to pass medical judgment on the plague and limits herself to see its meaning through her faith. As a result, her historical account of the plague sticks to what was expected from a woman’s pen : modesty and empiricism.

  • 115 M. Matchinske, « Moral, method and history in Anne Dowriche’s The French Historie » in her Early Mo (...)
  • 116 Robert Carey, The Memoirs of Robert Carey, Earl of Monmouth, Edinburgh, A. Constable and Co., 1808, (...)

48In this essay, I have tried to approach the three wonders of 1603 through the eyes of women. The first conclusion I wish to draw after this brief review of their testimonies, is that it has proved that contrary to what is often argued, diaries and letters do not merely « speak the past […] in private terms, within local and domestic settings »115. They can also speak the past in general terms through familiar settings. Second, it has shown that the women who left these testimonies unexpectedly showed much more freedom of speech than would have been possible if women had been writing « official » chronicles of that year. In some instances, they wrote more boldly than men did. Anne Clifford and Elizabeth Southwell for example attacked Robert Cecil whom they call fearlessly by his name whilst Robert Carey, Southwell’s cousin, who, like Clifford, felt Cecil had masterminded his downfall, never felt that secure and was timid in his memoirs, referring to Burghley as « some that wished me little good »116. This suggests that women’s audacity cannot simply be ascribed to the sense of security provided by private genres like diaries and journals, but that it might have been a positive repercussion of their political invisibility.

49Besides, their main incentive to record the past was clearly to preserve a truth that they felt endangered and sometimes, as in the case of the death of Queen Elizabeth, to set the record straight. Whatever the romanticized elements in Southwell’s narrative of Elizabeth’s sickness and « manner of death », it is valuable as it questions whether Elizabeth officially named James as her heir even as she lay on her deathbed. Men’s accounts, on the contrary, claimed to disclose what the Queen had « so long concealed » or perhaps what they wished her to disclose.

50Women’s voices in 1603 are not however systematically contradictory with men’s voices. The picture they draw of the fear that trouble might flare up in England after the death of the Queen is confirmed by men’s diaries and letters. Some of these sources also support women’s testimonies on the general rush to meet the new King and Queen to secure one’s position at court, and the feelings of disappointment and disapproval expressed by Anne Clifford are perfectly consonant with Robert Carey’s diary.

  • 117 M. Matchinske, art. cit., p. 26.

51Finally, when it comes to the plague, providentialism underlies their accounts, leading the two Protestant women who dealt with it, Margaret Hoby and Anne Clifford, to consider their own survival as a sign of their election. However, they shared with their Catholic contemporary, Elizabeth Southwell, the belief that « God was the ground of all historical causation »117, speaking to men and women through the sufferings to which He was submitting them. In this retributive perspective on history, neither the sickness of Queen Elizabeth nor the bubonic plague were fortuitous events ; and writing about them, as these women did, was simply recording God’s truth as they perceived it.

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Notes

1 Christopher Lee, 1603 : A Turning Point in British History, London, Review, 2004.

2 Thomas Dekker, The Wonderful Year, 1603, London, Thomas Creede, sig. C1.

3 By the end of the sixteenth century, methods for the study of history were widely read at the Universities. This was the case for instance with Jean Bodin’s Method for the Easy Comprehension of History (Daniel R. Woolf, « From Hystories to the Historical : Five Transitions in Thinking about the Past, 1500-1700 », The Huntington Library Quarterly, 68, 1/2, 2005, p. 61). Women obviously did not have access to this academic training. They were also excluded from the learned societies that were of the greatest importance for historical scholarship in the seventeenth century. The Elizabethan college of Antiquaries for example, founded about 1586, was composed exclusively of men (see F. Smith Fussner, The Historical Revolution : English Historical Writing and Thought, 1580-1640, London, Routledge, 1st ed. 1962, 2010, p. 68).

4 Jayne Steen (ed.), The Letters of Lady Arbella Stuart, Oxford, Oxford UP, 1994, p. 126.

5 A. Stuart, op. cit., p. 185.

6 Ibid., p. 204-205.

7 Joanna Moody (ed.), The Private Life of an Elizabethan Lady : The Diary of Lady Margaret Hoby, 1599-1605, Stroud, Sutton Publishing Ltd, New Edition, 2001, p. 211.

8 Anne Clifford, The Memoir of 1603 and the Diary of 1616-1619, Katherine O. Acheson (ed.), Peterborough, Ont, Broadview Editions, 2007, p. 15.

9 Megan Matchinske, Women Writing History in Early Modern England, Cambridge, Cambridge UP, 2009, p. 7.

10 Isaiah 58.12, quoted in Lady Anne Clifford, The Diaries of Lady Anne Clifford, D.J.H. Clifford (ed.), Wolefeboro Falls, NH, Alan Sutton, 1990, p. 101.

11 A. Clifford, op. cit., p. 43.

12 M. Hoby, op. cit., p. 186.

13 Robert Cary and Sir Robert Nortaun, Memoirs of Sir Robert Cary and Fragmenta Regalia, Edinburgh, James Ballantyne and co, 1808, p. 117.

14 As Catherine Loomis pointed out, Southwell speaks of Stanhope as Cecil’s « familiar », a word that was at the time used to refer to « the animal that serves a conjurer or witch ». Catherine Loomis, « Elizabeth Southwell’s Manuscript Account of the Death of Queen Elizabeth [with text] », in The Mysteries of Elizabeth I, Kirby Farrell and Kathleen Swain (eds.), Amherst & London, University of Massachusetts Press, 2003, p. 223.

15 Elizabeth Southwell, A True Relation of What Succeeded at the Sickness and Death of Queen Elizabeth (1607), in Donald V. Shump & Susan M. Felch, Elizabeth I and Her Age : Authoritative Texts, Commentary and Criticism, New York and London, WW. Norton, 2009, p. 525.

16 J.E. Neale, « The Sayings of Queen Elizabeth », History, 10, October 1925, p. 231.

17 Ibid.

18 J.E. Neale, art. cit., p. 232.

19 E. Southwell, op. cit., p. 525.

20 C. Loomis, art. cit., p. 224.

21 Besides, Elizabeth is known for using the image of the yoke around her neck on her own initiative. Note 39.

22 Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, Thomas P. Roch Jr. (ed.), London, 1978, V.IX.33.6. quoted in E. Southwell, op.cit., p. 525.

23 C. Loomis, art. cit., p. 225.

24 George Buchanan, The History of Scotland, James Aikman, Glasgow (ed.), 1845, vol. II, p. 440-441.

25 Julia M. Walker, Dissing Elizabeth : Negative Representations of Gloriana, Durham and London, Duke University Press, 1998, p. 2.

26 Louis A. Montrose, The Subject of Elizabeth Authority, Gender and Representation, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 2006, p. 81.

27 E. Southwell, op.cit., p. 525.

28 John Clapham, Elizabeth of England : Certain Observations Concerning the Life and Reign of Queen Elizabeth, Evelyne Plummer Read and Conyers Read (eds.), Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press,1951, p. 96. « It is credibly reported that, not long before her death, she had a great apprehension of her own age and declination by seeing her face, then lean and full of wrinkles, truly represented to her in a glass ; which she had a good while very earnestly beheld, perceiving thereby how often she had been abused by flatterers whom she held in too great estimation, that had informed her the contrary ».

29 Godfrey Goodman, The Court of King James the First, John S. Brewer (ed.), London, R. Bentley, 1839, I, p. 164.

30 Helen Hackett, Virgin Mother, Maiden Queen : Elizabeth I and the Cult of the Virgin Mary, Basingstoke, Macmillan, 1995, p. 10.

31 E. Southwell, op. cit., p. 525.

32 Ibid.

33 John Harington, Nugae Antiquae, Londres, 1804, II, p. 220.

34 J. Clapham, op. cit., p. 98. « The bishops who then attended at the Court, seeing that she would not harken to advice for the recovery of her bodily health, desired her to provide for her spiritual safety and to recommend her soul to God, whereto she mildly answered : « That Have I done long ago ».

35 He was himself the author of a Conference about the Next Succession (1594) in which he argued for the right of the English Catholic community to depose their heretic queen.

36 E. Southwell, op. cit., p. 526.

37 Peter Wentworth, A Pithie Exhortation to her Majestie for Establishing her Successor to the Crowne, Edinburgh, R. Waldegrave, 1598, p. 101-103.

38 R. Cary, op. cit., p. 59 ; Thomas Birch, Memoirs of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth, 1754, p. 508 ; J. Clapham, op. cit., p. 99.

39 J. Clapham, op. cit., p. 99.

40 Note 77.

41 E. Southwell, op. cit., p. 526.

42 Lady Hoby only mentions in her diary that she left Hackness for the funeral of the Queen on April 11 and reached London on April 17 in time for the Queen’s burial on April 28 : p. 187-189.

43 A. Clifford, op. cit., p. 43.

44 D. R. Woolf, « A Feminine Past ? Gender, Genre and Historical Knowledge in England, 1500-1800 », American Historical Review, 102.3, June 1997, p. 655.

45 A. Clifford, op. cit., p. 45.

46 From an account of Queen Elizabeth’s reign said to have been written by one of Burgley’s retainers, BL. Sloane MS 718, f. 39 quoted in S. Jayne Steen, op. cit., p. 43.

47 Calendar of State Papers Venetian, 1592-1603, IX, p. 541-542.

48 See note 101.

49 A. Clifford, op. cit., p. 187.

50 Edmund Howes in expanded version of John Stow’s, Annales or Chronicle, quoted in C. Lee, op. cit., p. 156.

51 A. Clifford, op. cit., p. 43.

52 CSP, Venetian, X, p. 70.

53 A. Stuart, op. cit., p. 194.

54 Barbara K. Lewalski, « Writing Resistance in Letters : Arbella Stuart and the Rhetoric of Disguise and Defiance », in her Writing Women in Jacobean England, Cambridge, Harvard UP, 1993, p. 71-77.

55 A. Stuart, op. cit., p. 195.

56 The Journal of Sir Robert Wilbraham 1593-1616, H. S. Scott (ed.), Camden Miscellany, vol. X, [s.l.], Royal Historical Society,1902, p. 58-60. « The King hath a magnanimous spirite, venturous to hazard his owne bodie in hunting especiallie & most patient of labour cold & heate. So was the Queen farre above all other of her sex & yeres. Both them most mercifull in disposition : & they sone angry, yet without bitternes or stinging revenge. In prudence iustice & temperance, they are both the admiracion to princes in ther severall sexes. The King most bountifull, seldom denying any sute : the Quene strict in gevin, which age & her sex inclined her unto : the one often complained of for sparinge : th’other so benign, that his people feare his over redines in gevinge ».

57 A. Stuart, op. cit., p. 193.

58 Ibid., p. 186.

59 Ibid., p. 184.

60 Ibid., p. 181.

61 Ibid., p. 197.

62 A. Clifford, op. cit., p. 47

63 Ibid., p. 51-53.

64 Ibid., p. 53.

65 Ibid., p. 59.

66 Ibid., p. 47.

67 Ibid., p. 45.

68 Ibid., p. 49.

69 Ibid., p. 43.

70 Nadine Kuperty-Tsur, Se Dire à la Renaissance. Les Mémoires au xvie , Paris, J. Vrin, 1997, p. 19.

71 A. Clifford, op. cit., p. 47.

72 Quoted by C. Lee who does not state his source, op. cit., p. 136. I have been unable to trace this quote back to its author.

73 A. Clifford, op. cit., p. 45.

74 Ibid., p. 50.

75 Ibid., p. 49.

76 Ibid., p. 57.

77 Ann Clifford is critical of this change however. She writes : « At Windsor there was such infinite number of Ladies sworn of the Queen’s Privy Chamber as made the place of no esteem or credit ». p. 52.

78 Anne Laurence, Women in England 1500-1760. A Social History, London, Phoenix Giant, 1994, p. 250.

79 A. Stuart, op. cit., Letters 18, 19, 20, 23 and 24.

80 Ibid., Letter 35.

81 Nathalie Zemon Davis, The Gift in Sixteenth Century France, University of Wisconsin press, 2000, p. 23.

82 Ibid., p. 34.

83 Ibid., p. 9.

84 A. Stuart, op. cit., p. 191-192. « If it be not an unexcusable presumption in me to tell you my mind unaskt as if I would advise you what to do pardon me if I tell you I thincke your thanckes will comm very unseasonably so neare Newyearestide. especially those with which you send any gratuity. thearfore consider if it weare not better to give your newyearsguift first (to the Queene) and your thancks after, and keepe m.r Fowlers till after that good time[.] Newyearstide will comm. every yeare, and be a yearly tribute to them you begine with ».

85 Ibid., p. 194-195. « I asked hir advise for a newyearesguifte for the Queene, both for my selfe who am altogether unprovided, and a great Lady a frend of mine that was in my case for that matter, and hir answer was the Queene regarded no the valew but the devise [,] [she] (the gentlewoman) neither liked gowne, nor peticoate so well, as somm little bunch of Rubies to hang in hire are, or somm much daft toy. I meane to give hir Majesty 2. paire of silk stockins lined with plush and 2. Paire of gloves lined if London afford me not somm daft toy I like better whearof I cannot bethinck me ».

86 D. Wilbraham, op. cit., p. 61.

87 CSP, Venetian, 1603-1607, X, p. 74.

88 M. Hoby, op. cit., p. 55.

89 C. Lee, op. cit., p. 167.

90 See for instance Megan Matchinske, « For Here to ‘Henceforth’ : History, Gender and Identity in the Diary Writings of Lady Anne Clifford », in Women Writing History in Early Modern England, Cambridge, Cambridge UP , 2009, p. 74-172.

91 A. Clifford, op. cit., p. 191.

92 Ibid., p. 192.

93 Id.

94 A. Clifford, op. cit., p. 55.

95 M. Hoby, op. cit., p. 196.

96 Elisabeth Bourcier, Les journaux privés en Angleterre de 1600 à 1660, Paris, Publications de la Sorbonne, 1976, p. 306.

97 M. Hoby, op. cit., p. 191.

98 Ibid., p. 197.

99 Ibid., p. 193.

100 Ibid., p. 195.

101 Ibid., p. 196.

102 Ibid., p. 186.

103 Ibid., p. xlii.

104 Ibid., p. 7.

105 Ibid., p. 195.

106 C. Lee, op. cit., p. 188.

107 Henoch Clapham, An Epistle Discoursing upon the Pestilence, London, Thomas Creed, 1603, sig. B. 2v.

108 Lancelot Andrewes, A Sermon of the Pestilence Preached at Chiswick, 1603, London, Richard Badger, 1636 in C. Lee, op. cit., p. 194-195.

109 A. Clifford, op. cit., p. 57.

110 M. Hoby, op. cit., p. 194.

111 C. Lee, op. cit., p. 186.

112 The Diary of the Rev. Ralph Josselin 1644-1681, E. Hockliffe (ed.), Camden Society Publications, 3rd series, XV, London, 1908, p. 45 ; The Diary of William Whiteway, 1618-1634, MS., B.M. Egerton, 784, « 1630, Aprill 10 … » quoted in E. Bourcier, op. cit., p. 306.

113 M. Hoby, op. cit., p. 194.

114 Ibid., p. 196.

115 M. Matchinske, « Moral, method and history in Anne Dowriche’s The French Historie » in her Early Modern Women, op. cit., p. 55.

116 Robert Carey, The Memoirs of Robert Carey, Earl of Monmouth, Edinburgh, A. Constable and Co., 1808, p. 132.

117 M. Matchinske, art. cit., p. 26.

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Armel Dubois-Nayt, « 1603 through the Eyes of Women Historians », Études Épistémè [En ligne], 19 | 2011, mis en ligne le 01 avril 2011, consulté le 23 mai 2017. URL : http://episteme.revues.org/625 ; DOI : 10.4000/episteme.625

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Armel Dubois-Nayt

Armel Dubois-Nayt est Maîtresse de conférences à l’Université de Versailles-Saint-Quentin. Elle travaille sur les théories autour du pouvoir des femmes à la période moderne en Écosse et en Angleterre. Elle a publié avec Pascal Caillet et Jean-Claude Mailhol, L’Écriture et les femmes en Grande-Bretagne (1540-1640) – Le Mythe et la Plume (PUV, 2008) et avec Emmanuelle Santinelli- Folz, Femmes de pouvoir et pouvoir de femmes dans l’occident médiéval et moderne (PUV, 2009). Elle a signé plusieurs articles sur John Knox, Marie Stuart et George Buchanan.

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