Afterwards

B y the middle of that afternoon, all the church bells in London were ringing for joy at Elizabeth's accession, and that night, wrote Machyn, the people made 'bonfires and set tables in the street, and made merry for the new Queen'. Already, it was being said that her accession day should ever afterwards be a public holiday, and it was indeed celebrated as such for more than a century.

Lying in his sick-bed at Lambeth Palace, Cardinal Pole heard the bells pealing and asked his attendants what they signified, but they were reluctant to break the news of Mary's death to him in case he suffered a relapse. He could, however, tell by their mournful faces that something was wrong, and insisted that they tell him. As they had feared, he took this 'final catastrophe' badly and died at seven o'clock that evening, exactly twelve hours after Mary. His death left the See of Canterbury vacant and the way clear for a new Anglican religious settlement.

When the Pope was informed of the deaths of Queen Mary and Cardinal Pole, he expressed conventional regrets, but was inwardly relieved, and did not try to hide the fact that he preferred the Protestant Elizabeth to the devoutly Catholic but obstinate Queen Mary.

King Philip was informed of his wife's death by Viscount Montague, who had ridden post haste to Brussels as soon as the news was made public. To his sister Juana, his chief confidante at this time, the King wrote, 'The Queen my wife is dead. May God have received her in His glory. I felt a reasonable regret for her death. I shall miss her.' We have no means of knowing how deeply these feelings were felt by Philip, for they were the standard sentiments of grief used on several occasions by a devout man who believed that it was wrong to display an excess of grief for one who had, after all, achieved eternal bliss.

The dead Queen's body was embalmed and then left at St James's Palace for a month before being buried in one of the side chapels of the Henry VII Chapel in Westminster Abbey with full Roman Catholic ceremonial on 14 December. The chief mourner was Margaret, Countess ofLennox. John White, Bishop of Winchester, preached the funeral sermon, saying, 'She was a king's daughter, she was a king's sister, she was a king's wife; she was a queen, and by the same tide a king also. What she suffered in each of these degrees I will not chronicle. Only this I say: howsoever it pleased God to will her patience to be exercised in the world, she had in all estates the fear of God in her heart.' The requiem masses said for Mary and, a few days later, Charles V, were the last ever to be sung in the Abbey.

The lavish ceremonies, which took place over two days, cost the Exchequer £7763, and Queen Elizabeth must have felt that this was quite sufficient, for she did not go to the expense of raising a tomb over the unmarked vault where her sister lay. In fact, during her reign, stones from broken-up altars were heaped on top of it. All that remained as a memorial was the wax effigy that had been carried at the Queen's funeral, of which only the head, much altered, survives today. It was only when James I built a magnificent tomb for Elizabeth I in the same chapel that Mary, whose coffin rests below that of her sister within it, was remembered in an epitaph:

Consorts both in throne and grave, here rest we two sisters,

Elizabeth and Mary, in the hope of one resurrection.

Queen Elizabeth ignored the provisions of Mary's will. She did not, as Mary had requested, bring the body of Katherine of Aragon from Peterborough to rest beside her daughter in Westminster Abbey, nor did she return Philip's jewels to him, nor honour any of the other bequests.

Within days of her death, according to Feria, the late Queen's policies were being scathingly criticised, and there was little pretence of mourning. Most of her former subjects were profoundly relieved to hear of her death, and to learn that, on the day of her accession, Elizabeth had ordered the persecution of heretics to cease. In fact, for generations to come, thanks to her own reputation and to anti-Catholic propaganda disseminated in the reigns of her successors, Mary's name would be remembered with horror and revulsion. After Elizabeth had re-established the Church of England, those who had suffered persecution under Mary were revered as martyrs, and John Foxe's book, Acts and Monuments of the Church, which recounted their deaths and became popularly known as 'Foxe's Book of Martyrs', was by order of the Queen placed in every church in the land alongside Thomas Cranmer's revived Book of Common Prayer. Foxe spoke for multitudes when he wrote, 'We shall never find any reign of any prince in this land or any other which did ever show in it so many great arguments of God's wrath and displeasure as were to be seen in the reign of this Queen Mary, whether we behold the shortness of her time or the unfortunate event of all her purposes.'

Time had not been on Mary's side, and the misfortunes she suffered were not all of her own making. It was not her fault that her reign had seen a succession of bad harvests, nor that she had failed to produce an heir. Yet these calamities were seen by her contemporaries as a judgement of God upon a ruler who had forced her own faith upon an unwilling people, given the realm over into the hands of foreigners, and unleashed the worst religious persecution ever seen in England. Her reign was remembered as a dark, tumultuous period in English history, and Raphael Holinshed, writing in the 1570-5, picturesquely evoked the feelings of his countrymen at the time of her death when he wrote, 'After all the stormy, tempestuous and blustery windy weather of Queen Mary was overblown, the darksome clouds of discomfort dispersed, the palpable fogs and mists of most intolerable misery consumed, and the dashing showers of persecution overpast, it pleased God to send England a calm and quiet season, a clear and lovely sunshine, a quietus from former broils, and a world of blessings by good Queen Elizabeth.'

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