Keeping the Faith

A fter Christmas, Elizabeth, fully restored to favour, returned to Hatfield. Within days a letter arrived from her brother, requesting her portrait, which she dispatched to him with a graceful letter:

The face, I grant, I might well blush to offer, but the mind I shall never be ashamed to present. For though from the face of the picture the colours may fade, yet the other nor time with her swift wings shall overtake. And further, I shall most humbly beseech Your Majesty, that when you shall look on my picture, you will witsafe to think that, as you have but the outward show of my body afore you, so my inward mind wisheth that the body itself were oftener in your presence.

In March she again visited the King, attended by a large retinue, and that spring she came into possession of her inheritance from Henry VIII, acquiring also the palace at Hatfield, Ashridge House and Enfield Palace. She was now a landed magnate like her sister, and of great consequence in the kingdom. In order to ensure the efficient administration of her estates, she appointed William Cecil as her surveyor at a salary of £20 per annum. It was a wise choice, for he carried out his duties with skill and sound business sense. It may have been in response to his advice that Elizabeth started saving money at this time against an uncertain future.

By April, Roger Ascham was forgiven and back in her service, not as her tutor but as a friend with whom she could share her intellectual pursuits. That month he sang her praises as loudly as ever in a letter to Johann Sturm, rector of the Protestant University of Strasbourg:

My illustrious mistress the Lady Elizabeth shines like a star. So much solidity of understanding, so much courtesy united with dignity, have never been observed at so early an age. She hath the most ardent love of the true religion and of the best kind of literature. No apprehension can be quicker than hers, no memory more retentive. Nothing is more beautiful than her handwriting. She is as much delighted with music as she is skilful in the art.

After praising his mistress's skill at languages, Ascham concluded: 'I am not inventing anything, my dear Sturm. It is all true, but I only seek to give you an outline of her excellence.'

Basking in royal favour and her newly-acquired financial independence and reconciled with Ascham, with whom she now read the classics daily, Elizabeth began to enjoy life again.

Not so her sister Mary, who was still planning to escape from a situation that was fast becoming intolerable. Her hopes of marrying Dom Luis of Portugal faded that spring when it became clear that Warwick was unwilling to meet the expense of her dowry.

She was still celebrating mass in her own houses, employing up to six chaplains at any one time for the purpose. Her steadfastness to her faith was no secret, and the Catholic nobility and gentry looked to her as an inspirational figurehead for their cause, and sent their daughters to serve her. Jane Dormer recalled that 'In those days this house of the princess was the only harbour for honourable young gentlewomen given any way to piety and devotion. It was a true school of virtuous demeanour, and the greatest lords in the kingdom were suitors to her to receive their daughters into her service.'

The Emperor, who had banned the Book of Common Prayer throughout Spain and the Empire, did not cease to demand that the Council allow Mary the freedom to continue practising her faith. Van der Delft was instructed to remind them that Somerset had assured her of this. However, they would only concede that his promises applied to Mary herself and two or three serving women hearing mass in her private chamber. Even this pandering to her ignorance and incapacity was conditional upon her not causing a scandal by permitting her entire household to be present at the services, and it was only to be permitted for a limited period 'to succour her imbecility'. When she learned to embrace the Protestant faith, the concession would be withdrawn.

'She can never be brought to burden her conscience by forsaking the ancient religion,' van der Delft replied with spirit.

'You talk a great deal about the Lady Mary's conscience,' retorted

Warwick with passion. 'You should consider that the King's conscience would receive a stain if he allowed her to live in error.' So saying, he rose in fury, and would have done the ambassador some harm had not his colleagues restrained him. He would not sanction the issue of letters assuring Mary of freedom of worship, even on a temporary basis. Other councillors told van der Delft that he had no right to interfere in the domestic affairs of the kingdom.

The future looked ominous for Mary. On 29 March, the Treaty of Boulogne brought peace between England and France. Warwick made it clear he had no intention of pursuing a similar alliance with the Emperor, not only because Somerset had advocated it, but also because of Charles's support for Mary. Already England's reputation and standing throughout the rest of Christendom were waning because of her internal political and religious dissensions, and she would remain a third-rate power for as long as Dudley remained in the ascendant. Already he had begun to realise he was building a house of cards that might topple at any moment, but all he cared about was the continuance of his power, by whatever means. That spring, taking advantage of the fact that the soldiers arrayed for the war with France were no longer needed, he created his own standing army under the command of men he could trust, and paid for by funds appropriated from the royal treasury. After that, he felt stronger and safer.

In April, Mary learned through van der Delft of the Council's inflexible attitude, but paid no heed to their censures. Her conscience told her that it was her duty to allow faithful Catholics to come to her house to hear mass, even if she had to defy the Council to do so. There were official complaints about this, and before long Warwick was contemplating firmer action against the princess. Mary protested through van der Delft that he was reneging on the assurances given by Somerset, but her protests fell on deaf ears.

She also wrote forcibly to the ambassador of her fears: 'If my brother were to die, I should be far better out of the kingdom, because as soon as he were dead, before the public knew it, they would dispatch me too. There is no doubt of that, because you know that there is nobody in the government who is not inimical to me.'

Around this time, Mary received a proposal of marriage from the Margrave of Brandenburg, a Protestant prince. Fearful lest the Council consent to the match, she wrote saying that she considered the Emperor to be as a father to her and would do nothing without his consent. Yet, anxious in case this should not be sufficient reason to deter them, and desperate to escape by some means or other, she summoned van der Delft to visit her in late April at her modest manor house at Woodham Walter, two miles from Maldon in Essex, and asked his advice. He told her to wait and see what happened and to reflect on the matter at leisure. Mary felt this was not good enough, and reminded the ambassador sharply of the godlessness of the Council, saying she believed they meant to make a martyr of her.

'It is evident to all that such people fear no God and respect no persons, but follow their own fancy,' she cried vehemently. 'My cause is so righteous in God's sight that if His Majesty [Charles] favours me, I need take no further justification in delaying, until I am past all help.'

She revealed that 'some good friends' had warned her that she would shortly be forced to conform to the Act of Uniformity. She had resolved to refuse. 'When they send me orders forbidding me the mass, I shall expect to suffer as I suffered once during my father's lifetime.' She must escape soon because,

They will order me to withdraw thirty miles from any navigable river or seaport, and will deprive me of my confidential servants, and having reduced me to the utmost destitution, they will deal with me as they please. I will rather suffer death than stain my conscience. I beg you to help me, so that I may not be taken unawares.

I am like a little, ignorant girl, and I care neither for my goods nor for the world, but only for God's service and my conscience. If there is peril in going and peril in staying, I must choose the lesser of two evils.

Van der Delft marvelled at her 'wise and prudent' words, yet repeated all the Emperor's arguments in an attempt to dissuade her, though he soon realised it was useless and that 'she is quite determined not to wait here until the blow falls, for any consideration whatever'. He wondered if Charles V might be persuaded to reopen marriage negotiations with Portugal once more. Failing that, he agreed with Mary that she should be secretly 'evacuated' from England as a matter of urgency. As soon as she was safely in her cousin's dominions, Charles's agents could orchestrate a revolt in which the 'righteous' Catholics in England would overthrow Warwick and his evil associates. Van der Delft sympathised deeply with Mary's predicament; as he told the Emperor, she seemed to cling to him, and his chivalrous instincts were aroused. Before the audience had ended, he and the princess had worked out at least two plans for her escape.

It was almost fortuitous that van der Delft was to be recalled to Brussels as a result of declining health. Either Mary could find some means of sailing in disguise out to his ship, which would be waiting in the Thames estuary, or he could send a boat into Maldon, ostensibly for trading purposes, which she could board at a convenient time. Mary wanted to bring her ladies-in-waiting with her, but van der Delft vetoed this on the grounds that escaping would be dangerous enough without them.

The next day, van der Delft dispatched his secretary, Jean Dubois, to Woodham Walter to see if Mary was still firm in her resolve to escape. Dubois confirmed that she remained so, and the ambassador sent word at once to the Emperor, impressing upon him that Mary stood in real danger of persecution or even worse. Some days later, he heard again from Mary, who informed him that she was eagerly awaiting the arrival of the boat which he was sending to rescue her.

Eventually, the Emperor was persuaded, and reluctantly gave his consent to her escape. He also enlisted the aid of his sister, Mary of Hungary, Regent of the Netherlands, in consultation with whom it was decided that the second plan should be pursued as the one involving the least risk of Charles's ambassador being incriminated, should the escape plot be foiled.

Van der Delft was officially recalled in mid-May 1550. One imagines that he was relieved to be going home, not only on account of his health, but also because of the difficult nature of his duties in England. In 1550 he reported to Charles V that, although King Edward was 'naturally gifted with a gentle nature', he was being steadily 'corrupted' by extreme Protestant fanatics, whose views he was adopting with alarming fervour, by the scandalous behaviour of his self-seeking councillors, and by his helplessness to resist being manipulated by Warwick and his minions. He had been taught to 'say only what he is told to say', and was powerless to resist, even though there were occasions when he would clearly have liked to.

Roger Ascham saw Edward VI at this time and was vastly impressed by his intellectual powers.

The ability of our prince equals his fortune, and his virtue surpasses both. In eagerness for the best literature, in pursuit of the most strict religion, in willingness, in judgement, and in perseverance, he is wonderfully in advance of his years. I consider him fortunate in that he has had John Cheke as the instructor of his youth. Latin he understands and speaks, and writes with accuracy, propriety and ease. In Greek he has learned Aristotle's Dialectic, and now is learning his Ethics. He has made such progress in that language that he translates quite easily the Latin of Cicero's philosophy into Greek.

Yet the King's life was not entirely made up of academic pursuits. In April 1550 he recorded in his journal that he lost the challenge of shooting at rounds, and won at rovers'. The following month he was tilting at the ring, but the umpire acted unfairly, he felt, because 'my band touched often, which was counted as nothing, and took never, which seemed very strange, and so the prize was of my side lost'. Warwick took care to keep him entertained, with a military display on 19 June calculated to inspire in him a desire to excel at warfare, and a water tournament on the Thames, in which he saw 'the boar hunted in the river, and also wild-fire cast out of the boats, and many pretty conceits'.

On 30 May, van der Delft officially took his leave of Edward VI, intending to sail for Flanders at the beginning of June. However, this was not the best time to be planning an escape attempt, since the authorities in Essex had heard rumours that a local revolt was about to erupt, and had arranged for all coastal villages and towns to be placed in a state of alert, and ordered all householders to challenge anyone found on quiet back roads, especially at night. The country at large was still in a state of unrest, not only as a result of the recent rebellions, but also because of fears that the Emperor might be planning an invasion on Mary's behalf. Consequently there was a substantial military presence in East Anglia and an increased number of constables guarding the roads. Van der Delft was aware of these security measures before his departure, and regarded them as a serious threat to the escape plan. 'There were no roads or crossroads, no harbours or creeks, nor any passage or outlet that was not most carefully watched during the whole night,' he wrote. Mary shared his consternation, knowing that she had no choice but to walk to Maldon, heavily disguised, with her luggage and only one or two companions. She might be challenged at any time. Nevertheless, she did not shrink from the prospect.

Van der Delft had one last interview with Mary before his departure. He informed her that the new ambassador, a Fleming called Jehan Scheyfve, had been told nothing of the escape plan, so that he could truthfully plead ignorance of it if questioned by the Council. Mary seemed more than eager to leave, begging van der Delft to send any boat, even a fishing smack, to convey her out to sea. Promising to do this and to come back for her as soon as possible, the ambassador left for home.

Mary never saw him again. Almost as soon as he reached Flanders his health deteriorated alarmingly, and he died on 21 June, spilling out all the details of the escape plot in his delirium. On that same day the Emperor formally authorised the escape attempt. When he heard of van der Delft's death, he instructed the ambassador's secretary, Jean Dubois, who was about to return to England to serve Jehan Scheyfve in the same capacity, to carry out the plans laid by van der Delft, to which Dubois was privy. Dubois was well-known to Mary, and Charles had complete confidence in his discretion. The following July, Dubois wrote a full account of what followed, which remains the chief source for these events.

At the end of June, a small fleet of ships, comprising four great imperial warships and four smaller boats, under the command of the Imperial Admiral Cornille Scepperus and Vice-Admiral van Meecke-ren, sailed across the Channel in stormy weather and made for Harwich, ostensibly looking for pirates in the North Sea. On the evening of 30 June four of the smaller vessels dropped anchor off Maldon, whilst the larger ships, under the command of van Meecke-ren, lay off Harwich.

Dubois had disguised himself as the master of a merchant ship bringing corn from the Netherlands to Maldon, and sailing under the protection of the men-of-war because of threats from Scottish pirates. The plan called for Dubois to be rowed in one of the smaller ships, laden with corn, up the River Blackwater into Maldon, where he would sell his cargo, smuggle Mary on board, and return to the waiting fleet. The princess would then be conveyed to Antwerp or Brussels.

Late in the afternoon of 1 July, Dubois's boat glided along the Blackwater towards Maldon, preceded by a smaller boat carrying his brother-in-law, Peter Merchant, whose brief was to travel ahead to Woodham Walter and inform the Lady Mary that rescue was at hand.

Dubois arrived in Maldon harbour at two in the morning on 2 July. As soon as he docked he wrote a note to Mary's controller, Sir Robert Rochester, informing him that all was ready.

Mary, however, was not. She had not packed anything and had panicked at the thought of what lay ahead. She was also now beset by doubts as to whether she was doing the right thing. In an agony of indecision she sent a servant, Henry, to inform Dubois - under cover of buying corn for the household - that she was not leaving after all.

Dubois was plunged into consternation by this news, and wrote a further note to Rochester: 'I am obliged to write now to point out to you that there is danger in delay.' He had no choice, he said, but to sail with the next tide. If he remained any longer, he risked discovery. 'I must add that I see no better opportunity than the present one, and this undertaking is passing through so many hands that it is daily becoming more difficult, and I fear it may not remain secret.'

By dawn Henry was back with Rochester's reply. The controller wished to discuss matters with Dubois, and was on his way, wearing a disguise. Dubois was horrified; suspicion would certainly be aroused if people saw through the disguise and he was seen conferring with Rochester. If they were caught plotting Mary's escape, both would face the death penalty, Rochester as a traitor, Dubois as a spy. However, the servant was insistent, and at length Dubois consented to meet the controller in the yard of St Mary's Church in Maldon. From there the two men went into the house of a trusted contact of Rochester's called Schurts, who showed them into his garden, where they could talk undisturbed.

It soon became clear to Dubois that Rochester was opposed to Mary leaving the country, for the man made many difficulties, pointing out that the increased watch made the escape plan doubly dangerous, that he believed there were spies in Mary's household who had got wind of the plot, or were ever vigilant, even that escape was not really necessary because the princess was not in any imminent danger. He put forward the old argument that, by leaving England, Mary would forfeit her place in the succession. Astrologers whom Rochester had recently consulted had predicted that the King would be dead within the year, though of course it was treason to cast a royal horoscope or to speak openly of such matters. Dubois wanted to know if these concerns were shared by Mary. Rochester confirmed that they were, but the secretary was dubious, since Mary had seemed so anxious to leave the last time he saw her, before van der Delft's departure. His scepticism was obvious, for Rochester pleaded with him 'not to judge me thus, for I would give my hand to see my lady out of the country and in safety, as I was the first man to suggest it. If you understand me, what I say is not that my lady does not wish to go, but that she wishes to go if she can.'

Dubois pointed out that there was little time left for deliberation. Mary must make up her mind now whether to go or stay. And to help her do so, he sent one of his servants back with Rochester to urge her to make a speedy decision. He would not abandon the plan until the princess specifically commanded him to do so. Rochester assured Dubois that he would send for him when he knew her mind in the matter. The secretary then spent a tense hour bickering with customs officials over the clearance of his corn, for import and sale. Matters were amicably resolved when he reluctantly confirmed he had already sold the corn to Rochester for the Lady Mary's household. The officers then became quite friendly, saying they 'held my Lady Mary's Grace as high in esteem as the King's person'. Dubois then entered into a dispute with the bailiff of the port about the price of his corn, which lasted for several hours, during which time he became increasingly agitated about the tide turning.

Back at Woodham Walter, Mary had begun to pack at last, arranging for her belongings to be stowed into hopsacks, but this did not mean that she had finally made up her mind to go. She was well aware that any decision she made now was crucial, and was desperate for some good advice. She told Rochester to go and fetch Dubois. Perhaps he could allay her anxieties.

At sunset Rochester conducted Dubois 'by a secret way' to Woodham Walter. On the way the controller's behaviour was decidedly odd, and he dropped ominous hints. 'Neither [her Grace] nor you see what I see and know. Great danger threatens us,' he warned darkly, but would not be drawn further.

At the house, Dubois found Mary in a highly agitated state, still supervising her packing. However, observing protocol, she expressed the hope that the Emperor and the Regent Mary were in good health, and thanked Dubois for everything that he and Admiral Scepperus were doing on her behalf. However, she had not yet decided whether to go ahead with the escape plan. 'I am yet ill prepared,' she told him, indicating the hopsacks. 'I do not know how the Emperor would take it if it turned out to be impossible to go now, after I have so often importuned him on the subject.'

Dubois suspected that Rochester had, for good reasons of his own, put Mary off the idea of flight, but he merely answered that, if she was satisfied to stay, the Emperor would be content. If she did not wish to accompany him, he would leave England discreetly, but if she was coming, then she must not delay any further.

If he left without her, Mary asked, would he take her rings and jewellery with him to safety? 'You might as well go with them,' he answered.

At this point Rochester reminded Mary of the astrologer's prediction that her brother would soon be dead and that, if she was still in England then, she would become queen. Torn by indecision, Mary was distraught. She spent several minutes conferring with Rochester and Susan Clarencieux, who were keeping watch by the door, and then came back. She definitely wished to escape, she declared, but she was not ready yet. Could Dubois wait another two days, until Friday 4 July, when she could be waiting with her ladies on the beach at four a.m., when the watch went off duty and the coast would literally be clear? Knowing that this would be courting extreme danger, the secretary urged her to leave everything and come at once. The Emperor would provide all that was needful. Dubois had sold his corn and had no excuse for remaining in Maldon any longer. To do so would arouse the deepest suspicions. If the attempt was to take place at all, it would have to be now.

Mary considered. 'It is more than time that I was hence,' she said thoughtfully, 'for things are going worse than ever. A short time ago they took down the altars in the very house my brother lives in.'

At that moment there was a knock at the front door. Rochester left the room, then returned looking worried.

'Our affair is going very ill,' he announced. 'There is nothing to be done this time, for here is my friend, Master Schurts, who has ridden hard from Maldon to warn me that the bailiff and other folk of the village wish to arrest your boat, and suspect you of having some understanding with the warship,' now off nearby Stansgate.

Dubois was visibly shaken, as was Mary. 'What shall we do?' she cried. 'What is to become of me?'

'My friend here says there is something mysterious in the air, and that you had better depart at once, for these men of the town are not well-disposed,' replied Rochester. He suggested that Schurts escort Dubois back through the woods. There was no question now but that the escape attempt would have to be abandoned for the present.

'They are going to double the watch tonight,' Rochester went on, 'and post men on the church tower, whence they can see all the country round, a thing that has never been done before.' There were also plans to light a great beacon to warn the inhabitants of the surrounding countryside that there was danger afoot.

'What is to become of me?' Mary wailed again, and Dubois reminded her that he had risked his life to help her, and that the best way he could serve her now would be by leaving her house immediately. But still Mary delayed him, suggesting that another escape attempt take place after she had left for Newhall in a few days' time, and promising she would send a messenger to him with instructions to rendezvous with her at Stansgate. It was a wild, impossible plan, but Dubois was diplomatic. Promising that he would not abandon her, he made haste to depart, leaving her in tears and still repeating, over and over again, 'What will become of me?'

Having returned through the woods to Maldon with Schurts, and bribed a band of twenty watchmen to let them pass, Dubois was disconcerted to discover that there was no sign of hostility towards himself. The town was quiet and all seemed as normal. As he was rowed along the Blackwater, he looked back and discovered that there was no one in the church tower. He could only conclude that Rochester, in collusion with Schurts, had invented his tale in a final attempt to dissuade Mary from escaping. However, it was too late now to go back, and by morning he had rejoined van Meeckeren.

The Imperial fleet remained in the Channel, immobilised by storms, for five days. By the time the battered ships sailed to the Netherlands on 7 July, the Council had received reports of the foreign visitors to Maldon, guessed that an abortive escape attempt had taken place, and ordered that precautions be taken to ensure that the Lady Mary never left England. When Charles V learned what had happened, he too vetoed any further plans for her escape, deeming such a thing to be too fraught with danger to succeed. The Regent Mary drily expressed the hope that Mary would be sensible enough not to suggest it again.

Rumours of Mary's intended flight were circulating by the middle of July, and to calm the people the Council issued a statement saying that the Emperor, wishing to marry the heiress to the throne to his son Philip and so claim England for the Habsburgs, had indeed tried to kidnap Mary, but had failed in the attempt. The official stance was one of shocked incredulity that Charles should contemplate such a thing, and English ambassadors in Europe were ordered to express their indignation and the Council's justifiable anger at such dishonourable behaviour.

On 13 July, Sir John Gates rode into Essex with a band of armed horsemen 'to stop the going away of the Lady Mary'. A week later Sir William Petre and Lord Chancellor Rich were appointed to interview the princess. There followed a 'long communication' of letters between them, in which Rich constantly pressed her to come to court to discuss her recent conduct, and she, equally determined, declined to do so, having no intention of placing herself in Warwick's clutches. However, when she moved from Woodham Walter to Newhall an incident occurred that gave the Council the excuse they were looking for to move against her.

On the day of the move, Mary sent her chaplain, Francis Mallet, ahead to prepare to celebrate mass on her arrival. But she was delayed, and when she did not arrive he performed the rite without her, in the presence of most of her household. There were undoubtedly spies in Mary's entourage, and word soon reached the Council that the law had been flouted. William Parr, Marquess of Northampton, was also Earl of Essex, and in that capacity he constrained the Sheriff of Essex to have Mallet and another priest, Alexander Barclay, proclaimed offenders against 'the King's edicts and statutes concerning religion'.

Barclay ignored the Council and remained in Mary's household, saying mass as usual, but Mallet went to ground. The Council, however, had no intention of allowing matters to rest, and in August ordered the princess's chaplains to cease holding illegal services. They backed this up by a strong military presence in the vicinity of Newhall and an increased watch on East Anglian ports. The King of France was informed that the Council meant to guard Mary more strictly than before because, in the light of her recent conduct, her nonconformity would no longer be tolerated. 'She would have to put up with the new religion introduced by the King or she might rue it.'

Mary herself communicated her fears and her indignation to Jehan Scheyfve, the new Imperial ambassador, but he was hampered by his lack of English in his attempts to help her. 'The people fear that a war may follow,' he reported. 'Everybody is in great perplexity.' The Regent Mary warned him that rumours of war were being spread by the councillors themselves, to gain the people's approval for whatever action they planned to take against Mary. On 4 September the Emperor instructed Scheyfve to insist that the Council give an unconditional assurance that Mary be allowed to worship as she pleased: 'You will persist in your request at all costs. Give them plainly to understand that, if they decide otherwise, we will not take it in good part, or suffer it to be done.' The ambassador, however, made no headway at all with the Council.

Mary, meanwhile, had taken up the cudgels on her own behalf and demanded in a letter to Warwick that she be allowed to practise her faith, pointing out that she had received official permission to do so. Warwick denied that any such assurance had ever been made to her, which made her very angry, and Scheyfve cautioned her to write in a less imperious tone to the Lord President, but this only irritated her further. She was in the habit of writing 'roughly' to him, she declared; if she adopted a meeker approach, he might think she had capitulated.

In August 15 50, Warwick reorganised the Council - thereby subtly extending his power still further — and announced that Edward VI would attend its meetings. Edward was flattered that his youthful judgement and interests should be considered so important by Warwick: Somerset had never found time for archery practice with his nephew, but Warwick did, and Edward was captivated by the Duke's sporting feats and looked upon him as a hero.

Warwick's reorganisation of the Council led him to employ William Cecil as his secretary. This suited Elizabeth very well, for Mr Cecil was most zealous to do her service, and it was helpful to have a voice to speak for her in high places. However, she was still suffering from various ailments, and that autumn was so poorly that she could hardly wield a pen. When she wrote to Warwick to request permission to visit her brother, her handwriting was very uneven. She could not even scrawl a note to William Cecil. 'Write my commendations in your letter to Mr Cecil,' she told Parry, 'that though I send not daily to him, that he doth not daily forget me.'

The Dorsets also visited the King that October, whilst he was on progress at Oxford. They were staying at the homes of various friends, among them the Willoughbys at Tilty in Essex, where they remained for two months 'with all their train'. Whilst they were there the Lady Mary came to dinner, which was followed by a masque performed by strolling players and actors employed by the Earl of Oxford. Afterwards Mary invited the Dorsets to visit her. They could not go immediately, though, because Jane Grey was unwell.

After she had recovered, they proceeded to Newhall. All the party were of the reformed faith, but Jane in particular was appalled by the regular masses that were celebrated in the chapel there, regarding such practices as superstitious idolatry. One day, passing through the chapel, Jane watched one of Mary's ladies curtsey to the Host on the altar.

'Why do you do so?' she enquired. 'Is the Lady Mary in the chapel?'

The gentlewoman was astonished at such ignorance. 'No, madam,' she replied. 'I make my curtsey to Him that made us all.'

Jane could not restrain herself. 'Why, how can He be there that made us all, and the baker made him?'

The other was so shocked by this unpardonable rudeness that she reported it at once to Mary. Up until this time Mary had had a good opinion of Jane and had performed several kindnesses for her. Now she grew cool towards the girl, and 'thereafter did never love the Lady Jane'. Relations between them were only made worse when Mary learned that Jane had called the Catholic God 'a detestable idol, invented by Romish popes and the abominable college of crafty cardinals'.

The Council had not referred to Mary's abortive escape attempt, nor to her communications with the Emperor, yet pressure was still being brought to bear upon her to come to court. She had resisted it firmly, pleading chronic ill health; fortunately, her autumnal spells of sickness were notorious. In one of his many hectoring or cajoling letters, Lord Chancellor Rich urged Mary to co-operate with the Sheriffof Essex in bringing her chaplains, Mallet and Barclay, to justice for defying the law, but she replied that she and they had been given the Council's assurance that they might worship God as they pleased. Rich denied that any such assurance had ever been given, and repeated his demand that she come to court.

At length, Mary agreed to meet with him and Sir William Petre at the priory at Leigh-on-Sea. Here, the two men presented her letters of credence signed by both King and Council, guaranteeing her safety whilst at court. The Council felt it was imperative to move her away from the coast, in case she made another attempt at flight, but Mary was clearly unwell and quite adamant in her resolve to remain at Newhall.

Rich and Petre returned to court, but the Chancellor soon resumed writing to Mary, suggesting this time that a change of air might actually be beneficial to her health. Late in November she replied: "The truth is that neither the house nor air is herein to be suspected, but the time of the year being the fall of the leaf, at the which time I have seldom escaped the same disease these many years.'

Rich, having tried every other ruse he could think of, now thought to move Mary by kindness, visiting her at Newhall with his wife and taking her hunting with them. But when he invited her back to his own house, she refused to go, again citing her illness as an excuse. The Council, and - it seems - the King, now lost patience. On 1 December, as altars were removed from all churches in the land and the death penalty for heresy was reintroduced, Mallet and Barclay were summoned to appear before the Council.

Warwick had travelled far along the road of radical religious reform, ignoring all his critics, amongst whom Somerset was one of the most vocal. That year Dudley had the Anabaptist heretic Joan Boacher burned, much to the King's consternation. 'How can I send her to the Devil in all her error?' he cried, when Cranmer brought the death warrant for him to sign. It was not her torment in the fire that Edward shrank from, but the prospect of her never attaining Heaven.

Mary was determined to protect her servants from such persecution. On 4 December, she protested to the Council that the promises made to her encompassed her servants also. If the councillors did not recall such promises being made, she would know that they were liars: 'You, in your own consciences, know it also.' There was no question of her allowing her priests to appear before the Council and, anyway, neither were staying in her household at present.

On Christmas Day, the Council sent her a long, lecturing letter. They conceded that she had received some form of undertaking about her private worship, but insisted that it applied only to herself and a couple of servants attending mass in her closet or private chapel. It did not apply to the rest of her household, nor to services held in her absence, and if anyone flouted the rules they would be prosecuted. The letter ended with a summons to Greenwich Palace, which Mary knew she had no choice but to obey if she wished to protect her chaplains from persecution.

Just after Christmas Elizabeth arrived in London with a large retinue, escorted by a hundred mounted troops provided by the King. Scheyfve reported that 'She was most honourably received by the Council, who acted thus in order to show the people how much glory belongs to her who has embraced the new religion and has become a very great lady.'

Scheyfve had recently heard a rumour from a 'safe source' that Warwick was planning to 'cast off his wife and marry my Lady Elizabeth, with whom he is said to have had several secret or intimate personal communications, and by these means he will aspire to the crown'. However, nothing more is heard of this plan from any other source, and it seems that Scheyfve was either reporting mere gossip or got his facts wrong. The rumour, however, shows just how important Elizabeth had become and how her every act was invested with significance. Because she rarely showed herself in public the people nocked to see her, and they were impressed with what they saw.

At seventeen, Elizabeth was pale and dignified, wearing her hair loose and unadorned - John Aylmer praised her for so plain a style, unlike the crimped curls of the court ladies. She did not use any cosmetics, save a little marjoram scent, nor appear, as they did, 'dressed and painted like peacocks'. Instead she set an example for Protestant gentlewomen by wearing severely cut gowns in black and white, which made her look demure and meek. Her only vanity was her hands, with their long tapering fingers. Although one court wit had it that she was doing her best to live down the Seymour scandal, most people had forgotten her part in it, seeing only a virtuous, Protestant princess. Aylmer claimed that 'she never meddled with money but against her will, but thought to touch it was to defile her pure hands consecrated to turn over good books, to lift up unto God in prayer, and to deal alms to the poor'.

In fact, Elizabeth lived the life of a wealthy magnate, spending .£400 per annum on her servants' wages and indulging her own pleasures. Her account books show frequent payments to drummers, pipers, minstrels, lute players and harpists, and also to child actors and singers from the royal household. Although there were many abortive plans laid to marry her off to foreign princes, she kept herself aloof and steered clear of the company of men. And while many Protestants saw her as the hope of the future, she betrayed no interest in playing such a role. Although Elizabeth was high in the King's favour and corresponded with him regularly, relations between them remained formal, at least in public. He might still address her as his 'sweet sister Temperance' but she had to kneel or sit bolt upright in his presence, and always signed herself 'Your Majesty's most humble sister and servant'. Later Protestant writers would present the relationship between brother and sister as close and affectionate, based on shared religious interests, but this was an idealised picture. The gulf between monarch and subject was wider than that between princely siblings.

Elizabeth had no desire to become involved in the dispute between Edward and Mary, and as soon as the New Year festivities had ended she returned home. She cannot have been unaware that for some months now Edward had been in correspondence with his elder sister, urging her most forcefully to abandon her religion and conform to the reformed faith, as all his other true subjects had done. Mary did not believe that her brother was capable of writing such letters, and was persuaded that Warwick and his cronies had written them for him. The King's own journal shows otherwise, however, and even if he did not actually write his letters himself, he was fully in agreement with what was written in his name.

By now, Mary's attitude infuriated Edward. At thirteen, he considered himself old enough and wise enough to make his own decisions. Had he not recently offered - to Cheke's delight - to rewrite the new prayer book? Therefore, when some councillors suggested that his sister's disobedience be tolerated in order to pacify the Emperor, he retorted, 'Is it lawful by Scripture to sanction idolatry?'

A bishop replied, 'There were good kings, Your Majesty, who allowed the hill altars, and yet were called good.'

'We must follow the example of good men when they have done well,' the boy declared loftily. 'We do not follow them in evil. David was good but David seduced Bathsheba and murdered Uriah. We are not to imitate David in such deeds as these. Is there no better Scripture?'

The bishops looked blank.

'I am sorry for the realm, then, and sorry for the danger that will come of it,' concluded the King. 'I shall hope and pray for something better, but the evil thing I will not allow.'

At his insistence, the Council composed a letter to Mary condemning her 'wayward misunderstanding', to which he added some sentences in his own hand. Addressing her as 'our nearest sister' who should be 'our greatest comfort in our tender years', he denied that she had ever been granted official permission to continue attending mass in her house, and complained that, as his sister, her offence was the more heinous for she was setting a pernicious example to his people. He went on:

It is a scandalous thing that so high a personage should deny our sovereignty. That our sister should be less to us than any of our other subjects is an unnatural example. In our state, it shall miscontent us to permit you, so great a subject, not to permit our laws. Your nearness to us in blood, your greatness in estate, the condition of this time, maketh your fault the greater. To teach you and instruct you we will give order and so procure you to do your duty willingly, that you shall perceive you are not used merely as a subject, and only commanded but as a daughter, a scholar and a sister, taught, instructed and persuaded. You shall err in many points, such as our father and yours would not have suffered, whatsoever you say of the standing still of things as they were left by him. Truly, sister, I will not say more and worse things, because my duty would compel me to use harsher and angrier words. But this I will say with certain intention, that I will see my laws strictly obeyed, and those who break them shall be watched and denounced.

Mary was devastated to receive this stinging admonition, since it could only herald an end to her hopes that Edward would set matters right upon attaining his majority.

His cold and imperious tone made her feel bereft, and she did not hide her desolation in her reply, saying that his letter had occasioned her 'more suffering than any illness, even unto death'. She had never done him any harm, and would never bring injury upon himself or his kingdom. However, her first duty was to God: 'Rather than offend Him or my conscience, I would lose all I have left in the world, and my life too.' Death seemed a likely end to her troubles anyway, for her health was 'more unstable than that of any creature', and she felt so ill that she could barely lift the pen. His Majesty, she insisted, had been misled by wicked and vindictive advisers. 'Although, our Lord be praised, Your Majesty hath far more knowledge and greater gifts than other of your years, yet it is not possible that Your Highness can at these years be a judge in matters of religion.' He would know better when he reached 'ripe and fuller years'. In the meantime, she did not intend to rule her conscience according to the dictates of the Council.

Again, Mary appealed to the Emperor and to Mary of Hungary for help, though Scheyfve had advised her not to call the King's authority into question. Then, on 16 February 1551, acting on Charles V's instructions, he stood before the Council and demanded that they cease molesting Mary and permit her to celebrate mass with her household. After a long argument, in which the councillors insisted that the concession extended only to the princess and her personal chamber servants, the ambassador withdrew, defeated. In a letter to the Regent Mary, he confided his fears that Warwick intended to bring even greater pressure to bear on Mary.

Isolated in the country, Mary still received news of what was happening at court, and some of the things she heard disturbed her greatly. It was said, on good authority, that the Lady Elizabeth, whilst at court, had been made much of by Warwick. They had attended a bull-baiting with the French ambassador and the conversation between them had been so lively that they had seemed not to notice the sport. Warwick, Mary heard, had become so security conscious that he had increased the palace guard by over a thousand men; it was not that he feared for the King's safety, but for the continuance of his own power in the face of a growing opposition party at court, headed by the Earls of Derby and Shrewsbury and the Duke of Somerset. Mary feared she might be ousted from the succession as a result of a coalition between Warwick and Elizabeth, and for this reason, as well as the imperative of defending her faith, she decided at last to obey the summons to court.

On 15 March, Mary arrived at her London lodging, the Hospital of St John at Clerkenwell, attended by 'fifty knights and gentlemen in velvet coats and chains of gold afore her, and after her four score gentlemen and ladies, everyone having a pair of beads of black'. Not only had the princess come as a great magnate, but she was also — by ordering her attendants openly to carry their rosaries - proclaiming herself a defiantly Catholic one. As she neared the capital, throngs of citizens ranjoyfully to greet her. 'The people ran five or six miles out of town,' Scheyfve recorded, 'and were marvellously overjoyed to see her, showing clearly how much they love her.' Four hundred people followed her into the city.

Two days later she went in procession to Whitehall, where the King was in residence. Again, she caused such a stir among the people that she could hardly make any progress through the crowds. Warwick, angered by her popularity, was determined that her official reception should be modest, thereby reflecting official disapproval of her behaviour. At Whitehall Palace, Sir Anthony Wingfield, Controller of the King's Household, received her and escorted her to a gallery where Edward waited to receive her in the company of the entire Council. Here, Mary fell to her knees. She had been unable to come before, she explained, because of chronic ill-health. Edward raised her, kissed her, then replied pointedly that God had sent her illness whilst granting him health. He then led her into an adjoining chamber, followed by the councillors. The door closed in the face of Mary's ladies. She was alone.

For the next two hours she valiantly defended her views in the face of heated arguments. According to Scheyfve, Edward began by saying 'he had heard a rumour that Mary habitually heard mass'. She later told the ambassador that when she perceived 'how the King, whom I love and honour above all other beings, had been counselled against me, I could not contain myself and exhibited my interior grief. At the sight of her tears, Edward wept also, saying 'he thought no harm of her', but the religious gulf between them was so great that there was to be no common meeting ground. And the last thing the Council wanted was a reconciliation. One by one the councillors hectored Mary, accusing her of breaking the King's laws by maintaining the old faith; by defying her brother, she was told, she was disobeying the will of her father.

Mary, often weeping, repeatedly insisted that Protector Somerset had assured van der Delft that she might follow her religion within the privacy of her household, but her claims were as vigorously denied. Mary assured the councillors that there was no subject more humble or obedient than she was, but they must surely realise that the King could not expect her to change her religion at her age. Turning to her brother, she asked if he knew anything of Somerset's promise, and he had to say he did not since 'he had only taken a share in affairs during the last year'. In that case, Mary answered, he had not drawn up the ordinances on the new religion; therefore she was not bound to obey them. Nor had she infringed the terms of her father's will, which merely obliged her to consult the Council before marrying. It was Henry's executors, the councillors, who had betrayed him, for they had been enjoined to order two daily masses and four annual obsequies for his soul, and had failed to do so. Finally, she appealed to the King, begging him to allow the matter to rest until he was of an age to reach a mature judgement in matters of religion.

Edward, however, replied cuttingly that Mary too might have something to learn - 'no one was too old for that'. He was not so much concerned about her religion as her conduct, he went on. She was his subject and must obey him, lest 'her example might breed too much inconvenience'. He then informed her that his Master of Horse, Sir Anthony Browne, had just been incarcerated in the Fleet Prison for twice attending mass recently at her house. Unless he saw a change in her, he informed Mary, 'I could not bear it.' Mary answered that 'her faith she would not change, nor dissemble her opinion with contrary doings'.

By this time tempers were becoming rather short. Continuing to assert her view that the new laws were not of the King's making, Mary declared that her father had 'cared more for the good of the kingdom than all the members of the Council put together'. This was too much for Warwick.

'How now, my lady?' he growled. 'It seems that Your Grace is trying to show us in a hateful light to the King our master without any cause whatsoever.' That, replied Mary, was not her intention, but since they were pressing her, she had no choice but to tell the truth.

'There are two things only, body and soul,' she said. 'Although my soul belongs to God, I offer my body to the King's service; might it please him to take away my life rather than the old religion.'

Edward made a 'gentle answer', hastily assuring her that he had no desire for such a sacrifice, and told her she could go back to Clerkenwell whilst he discussed her case with the Council.

'Give no credit to any person who might desire to make Your Grace believe evil of me,' begged Mary, and assuring him that she 'would remain His Majesty's humble, obedient and unworthy sister', took her leave.

When she had gone and the King had withdrawn, the councillors broke into a heated debate. Many were for having her arrested and sent to the Tower, but were fearful of Edward's reaction, while others felt it might be politic to turn a blind eye to her disobedience for the present. In the circumstances they did not reach any agreement as to what they should do next.

The following day, Scheyfve received a letter from the Emperor, informing him that if Mary were forbidden to attend mass, he would declare war on England. Without delay, he laid this ultimatum before the Council. It was a bluff, because the ambassador knew very well that Charles was too busy suppressing heresy in Germany to start a war with England just then, but he knew also that the English were in no position to involve themselves in war either. Privately, the Emperor had told Scheyfve that Mary must be satisfied with hearing mass 'privately in her own house, without admitting any strangers; for her conscience cannot be hardened by submisson to outside violence'. Beyond that, she must obey the law.

'A good source' had confided to Scheyfve that many councillors 'intended to use [Mary] very roughly, keeping her here in this town if she refused to conform with the new religion, and taking away her servants, especially those whom she trusted, in whose place they would have set others of their way of thinking'. The princess herself was aware that, 'had the Council only had to deal with her, they would long ago have deprived her of the mass'. But now they had a threat of war on her behalf to contend with, and it was this, Scheyfve was convinced, that turned the tables in Mary's favour. Before the day was out, he was aware of a change in the Council's attitude.

In fact, because a war with the Emperor would prohibit access to a large arsenal of English weapons then in safe-keeping in Flanders, the councillors had hurriedly decided not to put any further pressure on Mary for the moment, while Sir Nicholas Wotton was to be sent to the Emperor with instructions to be conciliatory.

The only voice to be raised in protest was the King's. His tutors, he told the Council, had brought him up to believe that it was a sin to license a sin, and he would be committing a sin if he permitted his sister to continue hearing mass. Archbishop Cranmer, Nicholas Ridley, Bishop of London, and John Ponet, Bishop of Rochester, all assured him that the sin of attending mass might be 'winked at' if the overriding interests of the realm required it, and with that Edward had to be content, although he confessed to some moral reservations.

The following morning, Mr Secretary Petre waited upon Mary at Clerkenwell to inform her that she might leave court without hindrance and assure her of'the most cordial affection' of His Majesty and his Council. Mary, however, was unwell, confined to her bed with an illness that was almost certainly a nervous reaction to the strain of her visit to court. Petre informed her that the King would without doubt be distressed to learn of her condition, and would not wish to trouble her further. Nevertheless, he did ask again if she would give up the old faith, repeating all the arguments cited two days earlier.

'Pray excuse the brevity of my reply,' groaned Mary, raising herself on the pillows, 'but my soul is God's; my body is the King's to command.' Petre did not press her further, but respectfully withdrew. A few days later, Mary left London for Newhall.

Mary had been granted a few months' respite from persecution, but she felt bitter towards those who had subjected her to such an ordeal. Soon after her return home, she wrote to the Council, To the King's Majesty my brother I confess myself to be his humble sister and subject, but to you, my lords, I owe nothing beyond amity and goodwill, which you will find in me if I meet with the same in you.'

Thereafter she visited her brother but rarely. Whenever they did meet, Mary told Jane Dormer, Edward would 'burst forth in tears, grieving matters could not be according to her will and desire'. When he grew older, he promised, he would 'remedy all'. This interpretation of his words may have been wishful thinking on Mary's part, yet she was deeply touched by his concern for her, by his reluctance to say goodbye and his insistence on giving her some parting gift, such as a tiny jewel. It grieved him that he could not give her something more valuable. It was Mary's firm belief that the Council prevented them from meeting more often because she had been told that her presence 'made the King sad and melancholy, and affected him too deeply for his good'.

Mary might now be exempt from persecution, but her priests were not. Late in March, Robert Rochester was summoned to appear once more before the Council to answer questions concerning the activities of his mistress's chaplains. It had not been forgotten how Dr Mallet had celebrated mass in Mary's absence. Shortly afterwards a Master Benett of Ware told the Council that he had heard of a Catholic conspiracy headed by the Earl of Shrewsbury; he believed that the Lady Mary would join it. Mary, of course, was not involved, but the councillors were fearful that her house might become a focus for disaffected Catholic nobles. It was mainly for this reason that they did not want outsiders to be admitted to mass.

Late in April 1551, Dr Mallet was arrested and sent to the Tower. Mary wrote to the Council, demanding his release, but was told by way of reply, 'We are sorry to perceive Your Grace so ready to be a defence to one that the King's law doth condemn.'

Nothing daunted, she wrote again and again, but achieved nothing by it. Mallet remained a prisoner.

Edward VI, meanwhile, was growing up fast and excelled at riding, running and shooting, despite increasing short-sightedness. Consistently striving to emulate Henry VIII, he was becoming more and more like his father. Hands on hips, he would imitate Henry's straddling pose, and emit 'thunderous oaths' in his high, imperious voice. By calculated displays of wrath and coldness, he sought to make men fear him as they had his father. By now a fanatical Protestant, he was fond of lecturing those around him in the articles of his faith, a role which sat oddly with his youth. His councillors and courtiers were already in awe of him. 'He will be the wonder and terror of the world if he lives,' declared Bishop Hooper that year.

Of course, there was no reason to suppose that Edward would not live to beget a whole line of Tudor sovereigns, but throughout that summer England was in the grip of an epidemic called the sweating sickness, of which there were several visitations during the sixteenth century. The last great outbreak had been in the 15205, but this was worse. Fifty thousand people died in it, some of them servants, at Newhall, which caused Mary to uproot precipitately and move to another of her houses.

Marriage was also in the air that summer. On 19 July, the King signed a treaty with France, renouncing his betrothal to Mary, Queen of Scots, who was now affianced to the Dauphin, and contracting himself to marry the Princess Elisabeth of France, daughter of Henry II. Elisabeth was a Catholic but Edward doubtless believed he would be able to change her opinions.

The Lady Elizabeth's marriage also came under discussion. The French Duke of Guise suggested his brother as a possible husband, and Elizabeth arranged to have her portrait sent to him. Guise also suggested the sons of the dukes of Ferrara and Florence, but one was only eleven years old. Most councillors objected to these matches on the grounds that all these princes were Catholics; they were more amenable to a suggestion made later in the year that Elizabeth marry the King of Denmark's eldest son, who was a Protestant. Negotiations for this union were opened in November, but no one expected them to be speedily concluded.

The new French alliance meant that France was soon at war with the Empire and that there could be no question now of Charles declaring war on Mary's behalf. In June, he had told Wotton that he would not suffer her to be 'evil-handled' by the Council, but the truth was that he now had no means of preventing it. In July, at Augsburg in Germany, he used threatening language to the English ambassador, and said that 'If death were to overtake the princess for this cause, she would be the first martyr of royal blood to die for our holy faith.' He would never, he said, permit her to be deprived of the mass.

To Scheyfve, he wrote in a less intransigent manner. The ambassador must urge Mary not to provoke the Council too far. Even if her priests were forbidden to celebrate mass, even if she was forced to conform to the new laws, she would be committing no sin, because she would be doing so under duress. This view was reinforced by a letter from Mary of Hungary, who assured the princess that a 'victim of force' would be 'blameless in God's sight'. Mary, however, was preparing for martyrdom.

In August 1551, Edward VI began attending Council meetings on a regular basis. Already he was beginning to flex his political muscles and wield a degree of royal power, having his say in affairs and helping to make decisions. One of his first edicts was to order the name of his father's ship 'The Great Harry' to be changed to 'The Great Edward'. His tutors were dismissed that same month, which meant that his formal education was considered to be complete. He was now to devote his time exclusively to the learning of statecraft. Edward was interested in affairs of state and in the administration of government, and began by drawing up plans for improving the efficiency of the Council.

Foreign ambassadors were impressed, not only by the young King's command of Latin, French and Greek, but also by his intelligent grasp of affairs and his athletic accomplishments. It was noticed, however, that Edward did not excel in the tiltyard as his father had done, and for this reason there were few tournaments staged. Concern was also expressed for the King's 'thin and weak' physique, and Bishop Latimer was worried that he was coming too much under the influence of 'velvet coats and upskips' - frivolous and upstart courtiers who fawned upon the boy.

Perhaps influenced by the King, the Council decided, early in August, that it could 'wink at sin no longer'. On 9 August, the councillors reached a decision to prohibit Mary from attending mass at all. They summoned her servants Rochester, Englefield and Walde-grave, whom they considered to be 'the chief instruments and cause that kept the princess in the old religion'.

When the three men presented themselves before the Council at Hampton Court, they were ordered to convey the King's decision to Mary at her house at Copt Hall in Essex. From now on, her chaplains were forbidden to say mass, and everyone else was forbidden to hear it. Her officers were informed that it was their duty to persuade her to conform in her own interests. Rochester protested that in matters of religion, Mary 'asked nobody's advice and, what was more, not one of her ministers dared broach the matter in her presence'. It was not seemly for them, as servants, to instruct their mistress how to run her household. The councillors retorted that they were required to do as they were ordered upon their allegiance to the King, which no loyalty to Mary ought to obstruct.

On 16 August, Rochester, Englefield and Waldegrave arrived back at Copt Hall, where they sought out their mistress. Guessing what had happened, Mary forbade them to repeat anything of what had been said to them by the Council. If they did, she said, she would not listen. She then wrote to the King, complaining that the new constraints came not from him but from 'such as do wish those things to take place which be most agreeable to themselves'. As for the orders given to her officers, 'I find it very strange and unreasonable that my ministers and servants should wield such authority in my house'. She then sealed the letter and sent Rochester and the others back to Hampton Court with it.

As spokesman, Rochester told the Council that he and his colleagues dared not approach Mary with their orders a second time, for she would not listen to them. Asked if he was going to do as he had been commanded, he flatly refused. On the 23rd, he, Englefield and Waldegrave were committed to the Tower, while the King drafted a letter to Mary to say that Somerset's promise to van der Delft had only applied for a short time while she came to see the error of her ways. That time had now expired, and he required her to obey his laws like all other true subjects. If she and her chaplains broke the law, the same penalties would apply to them as to everyone else. Some councillors would have liked to summon Mary to London to answer personally for her disobedience, but most were fearful of provoking a Catholic demonstration. It was decided, therefore, to send a delegation to deliver the King's letter to her at Copt Hall.

On the 28th, Lord Chancellor Rich, Sir Anthony Wingfield and Sir William Petre rode into the courtyard there. Mary came out to meet them, her attitude defiant and cool, her tone high and harsh, so as (she later told Scheyfve) not to betray any womanly weakness. Her greetings, however, were mannerly, and she fell on her knees to receive the King's letter, 'saying she would kiss [it] because the King had signed it, and not for the matter contained therein, which was merely the doing of the Council'. She then rose and broke the seal, reading the letter there and then in the courtyard without asking the lords into the house. As she read, she murmured, 'Ah, good Mr Cecil took much pains here!' - making plain her belief that Edward had not composed the letter himself. Then she looked up.

'I am the King's most humble, most obedient subject and poor sister,' she declared, 'and will obey him in everything, my conscience saved,' but rather than adopt the reformed faith 'I will lay my head on the block and suffer death, although I am unworthy to die in so good a quarrel. When His Majesty is old enough to judge these things I will obey him in religion, but now, in these years, although he, good, sweet king, have more knowledge than any other of his years, yet it is not possible that he can be a judge in these matters.'

The councillors retorted that His Majesty's patience with his sister was exhausted. From henceforth, no service must be said in her house except that authorised by law. If she wished, they would tell her the names of those at court who were opposed to her celebrating mass.

'I care not for the rehearsal of their names, for I know they are all of one mind therein,' Mary cried. 'Rather than use any other service than that ordained during the life of my father, I will lay my head on the block.' If her priests were silenced, she would have no choice but to endure it, but 'none of your new service shall be said in any house of mine, and if any be said in it, I will not tarry in it an hour!'

Rich then informed her that her officers had been imprisoned. Astonished, she exclaimed that they were 'honester men' than she had believed them to be. It only went to prove how foolish it had been to send her own servants to browbeat her, 'for, of all persons, I am least likely to obey those who have been always used to obeying me implicitly'.

When the councillors attempted to clarify Somerset's assurances to her, Mary grew even more heated. She had in her possession a letter from the Emperor, she said, which made the position very clear, and she gave it more credence than any of their words. They professed scorn at this but Mary was undeterred.

'Though you esteem little the Emperor,' she went on, 'yet should you show more favour to me for my father's sake, who made the more part of you out of nothing.' The Emperor's ambassador 'shall know how I am used at your hands'.

Rich ignored this, choosing this moment to offer to appoint 'a trusty, skilful man', whom he had brought with him, as Mary's new controller. But she would have nothing to with this substitute.

'I will appoint my own officers for my years are sufficient for that purpose; and if you leave your new controller within my gates, out of them I go forthwith, for we two will not abide in the same house.' Then, as a parting rejoinder to the Lord Chancellor, she added, 'I am sickly, and yet I will not die willingly, but I will do the best I can to preserve my life. But if I should chance to die, I will protest openly that you of the Council be the causes of my death. You give me fair words, but your deeds be always ill towards me.' So saying, she turned round and swept past him, back into the house.

After he had composed himself, Rich summoned all the members of her household into the courtyard and informed them that mass was no longer to be celebrated in the Lady Mary's houses, on pain of imprisonment. Speaking to her three chaplains, he warned them that, if they used any prayer book but the Book of Common Prayer, they would be deemed guilty of treason. Fearfully, each priest promised to comply, though next day, Mary would dismiss them all from her service in order to spare them the agony of having to compromise their principles. Meanwhile, Rich's men were searching the house for another priest they believed to be hiding there, but he was nowhere to be seen.

Whilst the councillors were waiting for their men to return, Mary sent to us to speak one word with her at a window. When we were come into the courtfyard], notwithstanding that we offered to come up to her chamber, she would needs speak out of the window, and prayed us to speak to the lords of the Council, that her controller might shortly return, for, says she, 'Since his departing, I take the account myself of my expenses, and learn how many loaves of bread be made of a bushel of wheat, and ye wis my father and mother never brought me up with baking and brewing, and, to be plain with you, I am weary of my office, and therefore if my lords shall send my officer home, they shall do me pleasure. And I pray God to send you to do well in your souls and bodies too, for some of you have but weak bodies.'

So saying, she withdrew from the window, leaving the councillors to make their departure. When they had gone, Mary's fourth chaplain came out of his hiding place; having not heard Rich's announcement in the courtyard, he could truthfully say that he personally had never been forbidden to say mass. And say it he did, in the greatest secrecy, during the months and years to come, for the Council did not lift the ban on Mary's mass; it was she who defied it, choosing to live in fear of betrayal and punishment rather than be deprived of the consolations of her faith. 'Unknown to more than three of the most confidential persons at the utmost', according to Scheyfve, the princess continued to attend regular services in her private chamber, despite the danger.

Early in September, Nicholas Ridley, Bishop of London, was in residence at his manor house at Hadharn, three miles from Hunsdon, where Mary was staying, and took it upon himself to pay her a private visit. Despite their widely differing views on religion, Mary knew Ridley to be a sincere man, if somewhat ardent in his views, and a fine orator, and she welcomed him in a friendly and courteous manner, remembering how amiable he had been towards her during the years when he had served her father as chaplain.

For a while their conversation centred upon general matters, then Ridley, primed perhaps by the Council, offered to come to Hunsdon the following Sunday and preach to Mary's household. He also offered to lend her some reformist books and tracts.

Mary told him firmly that she would not listen to a Protestant sermon.

'Madam, I trust you will not refuse God's Word,' he replied.

Mary bridled. 'I cannot tell what ye call God's Word,' she retorted. 'That is not God's Word now that was God's Word in my father's days.'

'God's Word is one in all times, but hath been better understood and practised in some ages than others,' returned the Bishop smoothly.

'You durst, not for your ears, have avouched that for God's Word in my father's days that now you do!' exclaimed Mary. 'And as for your new books, I thank God I never read any of them. I never did nor ever will do.' So saying, she rose, indicating that the audience was at an end.

'My lord,' she said as they parted, 'for your gentleness to come and see me, I thank you; but for your offering to preach before me, I thank you never a whit.'

Scheyfve had wasted no time in reporting recent events to the Emperor and Charles instructed him once more to make a formal protest to the Council over their treatment of Mary. Warwick listened to this courteously enough, but then he said that he could not pronounce on so weighty a matter without laying it before the King. If his excellency would care to wait... So saying, he withdrew to the royal apartments and was gone for some time. When he returned, he said the King had insisted that his laws be obeyed; no one, least of all Mary, might be excepted. In his, Warwick's, judgement, the King had as much authority as if he were a man of forty. Scheyfve wisely pointed out that it was not his brief to discuss the King's authority.

Nevertheless, if the Council had learned what was going on in Mary's household, they did nothing. Fear of reprisal by the Emperor was still a consideration; whatever the extent of Charles's military commitments, he still had far greater resources than England and might choose to divert them there rather than against France if sufficiently provoked. There was, therefore, a tacit official assumption that Mary was obeying her brother's edicts and conforming to the law. In March 1552 Rochester, Englefield and Waldegrave were quietly released from the Tower and allowed to return to Mary's service. It was Mary's private belief, as she would confide to a future imperial ambassador, that Edward's Privy Council knew very well that she was continuing to attend mass.

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