Michael Linton's Bayeux Tapestry: 1066 - A Medieval Mosaic and Puzzles
HER MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTY
OUR SOVEREIGN LADY QUEEN VICTORIA,
The Lives of
The Queens of England
COMPILED FROM OFFICIAL RECORDS AND OTHER AUTHENTIC DOCUMENTS, PRIVATE AS WELL AS PUBLIC, BY AGNES STRICKLAND.
PRECEDED BY A BIOGRAPHICAL INTRODUCTION BY JOHN FOSTER KIRK. IN SIXTEEN VOLUMES. WITH PLATES.
Philadelphia: Printed only for Subscribers by George Barrie & Son.
This electronic edition
was prepared by
Michael A. Linton, 2006
MANY years have elapsed since the first volume of these royal biographies issued from the press: fresh impressions of every successive volume have been repeatedly required, yet it was not till the completion of the undertaking that the work could be reprinted with perfect uniformity as a whole.
A revised edition, embodying the collections which have been brought to light since the appearance of earlier impressions, is now offered to the world. Whatever improvements, however, may have been effected in the external form and fashion of our Queens, we never can contemplate them in their new costume with the same feelings with which we have been wont to recognize the well-thumbed copies of the first familiar editions, in the hands of gentle readers of all ages and degrees, on the decks of steamboats, in railroad carriages, and other places of general resort, where stranger links of the great chain of life and intelligence are accidentally drawn together for the journey of a day, never perchance to meet again. Not unfrequently on such occasions have we been obligingly offered a peep into "the new volume" by courteous fellow-travellers, unknown to us, who suspected not how intimately we were acquainted with its contents, far less how many a toilsome day and sleepless night it had cost us to trace out the actions and characteristics of many of the royal heroines of these biographies, of whom little beyond their names was previously known.
The personal histories of the Anglo-Norman, several of the Plantagenet, and even two or three of the Tudor and Stuart queen-consorts, were involved in scarcely less obscurity than those of their British and Anglo-Saxon predecessors. Dimly, however, as their memorials floated over the surface of general history, they afforded indubitable evidence that substantial matter connected with those shadows would, on diligent search, be discovered, as, indeed, the result has proved. Documentary historians alone can appreciate the difficulties, the expense, the injury to health, to say nothing of the sacrifice of more profitable literary pursuits, that have been involved in this undertaking. The hope that the Lives of the Queens of England might be regarded as a national undertaking, honorable to the female character, and generally useful to society, encouraged us to the completion of the task.
The historical biographer's business, however zealously and carefully performed in the first instance, when breaking unwrought ground, must be often repeated before all the widely-scattered and deeply-buried treasures of the past can be collected together. Truth lies not on the substratum, but, as the wisdom of ages bears testimony, in a well, which only those who will take the trouble of digging deeply can find, although it be easy enough to draw when once the sealed-up fountain has been discovered and opened. This observation is peculiarly applicable to those documents which, after slumbering forgotten for centuries in their secret depositories, are at last brought forward, like incorruptible witnesses in a perplexing trial, to confute the subtleties of some specious barrister who has exerted the persuasive powers of eloquent language to establish falsehood. "Facts, not opinions," should be the historian's motto; and every person who engages in that difficult and responsible department of literature ought to bear in mind the charge which prefaces the juryman's oath:—"You shall truly and justly try this cause, you shall present no one from malice, you shall excuse no one from favor," etc., etc.
To such a height have some prejudices been carried, that it has been regarded as a species of heresy to record the evil as well as the good of persons who are usually made subjects of popular panegyric, and authors have actually feared in some cases to reveal the base metal which has been hidden beneath a meretricious gilding, lest they should provoke a host of assailants. It was not thus that the historians of Holy Writ performed their office. The sins of David and Solomon are recorded by them with stern fidelity and merited censure, for with the sacred annalists there is no compromise between truth and expediency. Expediency! perish the word, if guilt be covered and moral justice sacrificed to such considerations!
Nothing has been more fatal to the cause of truth than the school of historical essay, which, instead of communicating information, makes everything subservient to a political system, repudiates inconvenient facts as gossip, and imposes upon the defrauded reader declarations about the dignity of history, instead of laying before him a digest of its evidences. But take the proceedings in a court of justice,—a trial for murder, for example,—how minutely is every circumstance investigated, what trifles tend to the conviction of guilt and the establishment of innocence. How attentive is the judge to the evidence, how indifferent to the eloquence of the advocate. He listens to the depositions of the witnesses, he jots them down, he collates them in his tablets, he compares the first statements with the cross-examinations, he detects discrepancies, he cuts short verbiage, he allows no quibbles or prevarication, but keeps every one to the point. In summing up, he proves that all depends on the evidence, nothing on the pleadings; if he condescend to notice the arguments of the rival counsel, it is only to caution the jury against being unduly biassed by mere elocution,—words, not facts. The duty of the historian, like that of the judge, is to keep to the facts, and not to go one tittle beyond the evidences, far less to suppress or pervert them.
Our Introduction contains brief notices of the ancient British and Saxon queens. Their records are, indeed, too scanty to admit of any other arrangement. This series of royal biographies is, however, confined to the lives of our mediaeval queens, commencing with the consort of William the Conqueror, occupying that most interesting and important period of our national chronology, from the death of the last monarch of the Anglo-Saxon line, Edward the Confessor, in the year 1066, to the demise of the last sovereign of the royal house of Stuart, Queen Anne, in 1714. In this series of queens, thirty have worn the crown-matrimonial, and four the regal diadem of this realm.
What changes—what revolutions—what scenes of civil and religious strife— what exciting tragedies are not involved in the details of those four-and-thirty lives! They extend over six hundred and fifty-two years, such as the world will never see again,—the ages of feudality, of chivalry, and romance—ages of splendor and misery, that witnessed the brilliant chimera of crusades, the more fatal triumphs of our Edwards and Henrys, in their reiterated attempts to annex the crown of France to that of England, and the national destitution and domestic woe that followed the lavish expenditure of English blood and treasure in a foreign land—the deadly feud of the rival Roses of York and Lancaster, which ended in the extinction of the name and male line of Plantagenet—the stupendous changes of public opinion that followed the accession of the house of' Tudor to the throne, effecting first the overthrow of the feudal system, then of the Romish theocracy, leaving royalty to revel unchecked in a century of absolute despotism. After the crisis of the Reformation and the emancipation of England from the papal yoke, came the struggle of the middle classes for the assertion of their political rights, overpowering royalty for a time, and establishing a democracy under the name of a Commonwealth; which ended, as all democracies sooner or later must, in a military dictatorship, followed by the restoration of the monarchical government and a fever of loyal affection for the restored sovereign. Then came the slow but sure reaction of democracy and dissent against royalty and the established church, assisted by a no-popery panic—the Orange intrigues, encouraged by a pope, against the Roman Catholic sovereign James II.—the conflicting passions of the revolution of 1688—the expulsion of the male line of Stuart—the triumph of an oligarchy—the Dutch reign, the era of continental wars, standing armies, national debt, and universal taxation—the contests between selfish parties and rival interests during the reign of Anne—and, finally, the happy establishment of a Protestant succession, in the peaceful accession of the illustrious House of Brunswick to the throne of the United Kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland.
With this progressive chain of national events and changes have the royal ladies in our series of queenly biographies been inextricably linked. To use the words of Guizot, "Great events have acted on them, and they have acted according to the events." Such as they were in life we have endeavored to portray them, both in good and ill, without regard to any other considerations than the development of the facts. Their sayings, their doings, their manners, their costume, will be found faithfully chronicled in this work, which also includes the most interesting of their letters: the orthography of these, as well as the extracts from, ancient documents, have been modernized for the sake of perspicuity.
The materials for the lives of the Tudor and Stuart queens are of a more copious and important nature than the records of the consorts of our Anglo-Norman and Plantagenet sovereigns. We miss, indeed, the illuminated pages, and the no less picturesque details of the historians of the age of chivalry, rich in their quaint simplicity, for the last of the monastic chroniclers, John Rous, of Warwick, closed his labors with the blood-stained annals of the last of the Plantagenet kings.
A new school of history commences with sir Thomas More's Life of Richard III.; and we revel in the gorgeous descriptions of Hall and Holingshed, the characteristic anecdotes of the faithful Cavendish, the circumstantial narratives of Stowe and Speed, and other annalists of less distinguished names. It is, however, from the acts of the Privy Council, the Parliamentary Journals, and the unpublished Regal Records and MSS. in the State Paper Office, as well as from the treasures preserved in the Bibliotheque du Roi, at Paris, and the private MS. collections of historical families and gentlemen of antiquarian research, that our most important facts are gathered. State papers, autograph letters, and other important documents, which the antiquarian taste of the present age has drawn forth from the repositories where they have slumbered among the dust of centuries, have afforded their silent but incontrovertible evidence on matters illustrative of the private history of royalty, to enable writers who, unbiassed by the leaven of party spirit, deal in facts, not opinions, to unravel the tangled web of falsehood. Every person who has referred to original documents is aware that it is a work of time and patience to read the MSS. of the Tudor era, Those in the State Paper Office and the Cottonian Library have suffered much from accidents and from the injuries of time. Water, and even fire, have partially passed over some; in others, the mildew has swept whole sentences from the page, leaving historical mysteries in provoking obscurity, and occasionally baffling the attempts of the most persevering antiquary to raise the shadowy curtain of the past.
The records of the Tudor queens are replete with circumstances of powerful interest, and rich in the picturesque costume of an age of pageantry and romance. Yet of some of these ladies so little beyond the general outline is known, that the lives of Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, and Katharine Howard were for the first time opened to the public in this work.
Our earlier queens were necessarily members of the church of Home, and there are only the biographies of five avowedly Protestant queens in this series. Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, and Anne of Cleves died in communion with the church of Rome. Katharine Parr is, therefore, our first Protestant queen, and the nursing mother of the Reformation. There is only another Protestant queen-consort, Anne of Denmark, in this series, and our three queens-regnant, Elizabeth, Mary II., and Anne. Undoubtedly these princesses would have been better women if their actions had been more conformable to the principles inculcated by the pure and apostolic doctrines of the church of England. Sincere friends of that church will not blame those who transfer the reproach, which political creedists have brought on their profession, from her to the individuals who have violated her precepts under the pretext of defending her interests.
The queens of England were not the shadowy queens of tragedy or romance, to whom imaginary words and deeds could be imputed to suit a purpose. They were the queens of real life, who exercised their own free will in the words they spoke, the parts they performed, the influence they exercised, the letters they wrote. They have left mute but irrefragable witnesses of what they were in their own deeds, for which they, and not their biographers, must stand accountable. To tamper with truth, for the sake of conventional views, is an imbecility not to be expected of historians. Events spring out of each other: therefore, either to suppress or give a false version of one leads the reader into a complicated mass of errors, having the same effect as the spurious figure with which a dishonestly disposed schoolboy endeavors to prove a sum that baffles his feeble powers of calculation. Ay, and it is as easily detected by those who are accustomed to verify history by the tests of dates and documents. It is, however, the doom of every writer who has had the fidelity to bring forward suppressed evidences, or the courage to confute long-established falsehoods, to be assailed, not only by the false but by the deluded, in the same spirit of ignorant prejudice with which Galileo was persecuted by the bigots of a darker age, for having ventured to demonstrate a scientific truth.
What was the result as regarded Galileo and his discovereries? Why, truly, the poor philosopher was compelled to ask pardon for having been the first to call attention to a fact which it would now be regarded as the extreme of folly to doubt! Neither the clamor of the angry supporters of the old opinion, nor the forced submission of the person who had exposed its fallacy, had in the least affected the fact, any more than the assertion that black is white can make evil good or good evil. Opinions have their date, and change with circumstances, but facts are immutable. We have endeavored to develop those connected with the biographies of the queens of England with uncompromising fidelity, without succumbing to the passions and prejudices of either sects or parties, the peevish ephemerides of a day, who fret and buzz out their brief term of existence, and are forgotten. It is not for such we write: we labor in a high vocation, even that of enabling the lovers of truth and moral justice to judge of our queens and their attributes,—not according to conventional censure or praise, but according to that unerring test, prescribed not by "carnal wisdom, but by heavenly wisdom coming down from above," which has said, "By their fruits ye shall know them."
We have related the parentage of every queen, described her education, traced the influence of family connections and national habits on her conduct, both public and private, and given a concise outline of the domestic, as well as the general history of her times, and its effects on her character, and we have done so with singleness of heart, unbiassed by selfish interests or narrow views. If we have borne false witness in any instance, let those who bring accusations bring also proofs of their assertions. A queen is no ordinary woman, to be condemned on hearsay evidence; she is the type of the heavenly bride in the beautiful 45th Psalm:—"Whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are holy, whatsoever things are pure, and of good report" in the female character, ought to be found in her. A queen-regnant occupies a still higher position,—she is God's vicegerent upon earth, and is therefore to be held in reverence by his people. In proportion to her power, so are her responsibilities. Of the four queens-regnant, whose lives are narrated in this series of biographies, one only, queen Elizabeth, was possessed of absolute power. Her sister Mary I. had placed herself under the control of a cruel and tyrannical husband, who filled her council and her palace with his creatures, and rendered her the miserable tool of his constitutional bigotry. The case of the second Mary was not unlike that of the first, as regarded the marital tutelage under which she was crushed. Anne, when she designated herself "a crowned slave," described her position only too accurately.
The Lives of the Tudor and Stuart female sovereigns form an important portion of this work; there is much that is new to the general reader in each, in the shape of original anecdotes and inedited letters, especially in those of the royal Stuart sisters, Mary II. and queen Anne. The biographies of those princesses have hitherto been written either in profound ignorance of their conduct on the part of the writer, or else the better to work out general principles, in the form of vague outlines full of high-sounding eulogiums, in which all personal facts were omitted. We have endeavored to supply the blanks, by tracing out their actions, and compelling them to bear witness of themselves by their letters,—such letters as they permitted to survive them. Strange mysteries might have been unfolded if biographers had been permitted to glance over the contents of those papers which queen Mary spent a lonely vigil in her closet in destroying, when she felt the dread fiat had gone forth:—"Set thine house in order, for thou shalt die and not live." The great marvel regarding the secret correspondence of royalty at such epochs is not that so much is destroyed, but that any should survive.
The materials for the biography of Mary Beatrice of Modena, the consort of James II., are chiefly derived from the unpublished documents of the period. Many of these, and indeed the most important, are locked up in the secret archives of France, papers that are guarded with such extreme jealousy from the curiosity of foreigners that nothing less than the powerful introduction of M. Guizot, when premier of France, could have procured access to that collection. Through the kindness and liberality of that accomplished statesman-historian, every facility for research and transcription was granted during our residence in Paris in 1844. The result was fortunate beyond our most sanguine expectations, in the discovery of a very important mass of inedited royal letters and contemporary records connected with the personal history of the expatriated Stuarts. Not the least curious of these are the disjointed fragments of a quaint circumstantial diary kept by one of the nuns of Chaillot, in the years 1711, 1712, 1713, and 1714, who, with minuteness and simplicity worthy of Samuel Pepys himself, has recorded the proceedings and table-talk of the exiled queen during her occasional abode in that nunnery. This "convent log-book," as it has been pleasantly termed by one of our talented reviewers, was, of course, never intended for Protestant eyes, for it admits us fully within the grate, and puts us in possession of things that were never intended to be whispered without the walls of that mysterious little world; and though, as a whole, it would be somewhat weary work to go through the detail of the devotional exercises, fasts, and other observances practised by the sisters of St. Marie de Chaillot and their royal visitor, it abounds in characteristic traits and anecdotes. Much additional light is thrown on the personal history of the exiled royal family by the incidents that have been there chronicled from the queen's own lips. The fidelity of the statements is verified by their strict agreement with other inedited documents, of the existence of which the sister of Chaillot could not have been aware. Besides these treasures, we were permitted to take transcripts of upwards of two hundred original autograph letters of this queen, being her confidential correspondence for the last thirty years of her life, with her friend Francoise Angelique Priolo, and others of the nuns of Chaillot. To this correspondence we are indebted for many touching pictures of the domestic life of the fallen queen and her children during their residence in the chateau of St. Germains. Some of the letters have been literally steeped in the tears of the royal writer, especially those which she wrote after the battle of La Hogue, during the absence of King James, when she was in hourly expectation of the birth of her youngest child, and, finally, in her last utter desolation.
The friendly assistance rendered by M. Michelet, in the prosecution of our researches in the Archives of the Kingdom of France, demands our grateful acknowledgments. We are also indebted, through the favor of M. Guizot, and the courtesy of M. Mignet and M. Dumont for inedited documents and royal letters from the Archives des Affaires Etrangeres; nor must the great kindness of M. Champollion, in facilitating our researches in the Bibliotheque du Roi, be forgotten, nor the service rendered by him in the discovery and communication of a large portfolio of inedited Stuart papers, from the archives of St. Germain's.
The lives of the queens of England necessarily close with that of queen Anne. She is the last queen of Great Britain of whom historical biography can be written,—at least, consistently with the plan of a work based on documents, and illustrated by original letters.
Grateful acknowledgments are herewith offered to the noble and learned friends who have assisted us in the progress of the Lives of the Queens of England, by granting us access to national and family archives, and favoring us with the loan of documents and rare books, besides many other courtesies, which have been continued with unwearied, kindness to the conclusion of the work. Among these we wish to notice in particular the names of our departed friends, the late sir Harris Nicolas, the historian of The Orders of Knighthood; Henry Howard, Esq., of Corby; the late sir William Wood, Garter king-of-arms; Mr. Beltz, Lancaster Herald; Sidney Taylor, Esq.; and Monsieur Buchon, the learned editor of the Burgundian Chronicles; sir Cuthbert Sharp; Alexander Macdonald, Esq., of the Register House, Edinburgh; R. K. Porter, and Miss Jane Porter.
Of those who happily still adorn society, we have the honor to acknowledge our obligations in various ways connected with the documentary portion of this work to the baroness Willoughby de Eresby, the dukes of Devonshire and Somerset, lady Mary Christopher, the countess of Stradbroke, sir John and lady Matilda Maxwell, of Polloc; lady Georgiana Bathurst, the lady Petre, dowager lady Bedingfield, sir Thomas Phillipps, Bart., of Middlehill; D. E. Davey, Esq., of Ufford; Dr. Lingard; the Rev. G. C. Tomlinson, the Rev. Joseph Hunter; John Adey Repton, Esq., James Orchard Halliwell, Esq., John Bruce, Esq., Thomas Saunders, Esq., City Comptroller; Rev. H. Symonds; Thomas Garrard, Esq., Town Clerk of Bristol; Madame Colmache; C. H. Howard, Esq., M.P.; John Kiddell, Esq., of the Faculty of Advocates, Edinburgh; Francis Home, Esq., Deputy Sheriff of Linlithgow; Miss Mary Home; Frederick Devon, Esq., of the Chapter-house; J. H. Glover, Esq., her Majesty's librarian at Windsor castle; sir F. Madden; sir Charles Young, Garter king-of-arms; W. Courthope, Esq.; and the Rev. Eccles Carter, of Bristol cathedral.
Nor must we omit this opportunity of returning thanks to our unknown or anonymous correspondents, who have favored us with transcripts and references, which have, occasionally, proved very useful; and if they have not, in every instance, been either new to us, or available in the course of the work, have always been duly appreciated as friendly attentions and tokens of good-will.
We cannot take our leave of the gentle readers who have kindly cheered us on our toilsome track by the unqualified approbation with which they have greeted every fresh volume without expressing the satisfaction it has given us to have been able to afford mingled pleasure and instruction to so extensive a circle of friends,—friends who, though personally unknown to us, have loved us, confided in our integrity, brought our Queens into their domestic circles, associated them with the sacred joys of home, and sent them as pledges of affection to their dear ones far away, even to the remotest corners of the world. We should be undeserving of the popularity with which this work has been honored if we could look upon it with apathy; but we regard it as God's blessing on our labors and their sweetest reward.
P.S.—I have used the plural we, because I speak not only in my own name, but in that of my sister, whose share in this work I am especially desirous to notice to the world, although she refuses to allow her name to appear on the title-page with that of