The Earlier Tudors, 1485-1558

By J. D. Mackie | Go to book overview
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XV
THE REIGN OF MARY

EDWARD died on 6 July 1553 and Northumberland at once attempted the coup d'état which he had so carefully prepared. The king's death was kept secret for three days. The lord lieutenancies, which carried the control of the shire levies, had already been entrusted to the duke's partisans; now Windsor was fortified and the guns in the Tower made ready. About the duke were collected many nobles whose titles, if some of them were new, were high-sounding, and a close touch with the French ambassador was maintained. On 10 July the Lady Jane was brought by water from Isleworth to Westminster and on to the Tower where she was greeted with a tremendous roar of artillery. When, later in the same day, she was proclaimed queen throughout the city it seemed that the stroke had succeeded, and the imperial ambassadors wrote at once to their master that there was little chance of Mary's mounting the throne of England.

Mary herself had other views. Mistrustful of Northumberland's blandishments, and forewarned, probably, of his designs, she had declined an invitation to be present at Edward's death-bed, and when Lord Robert Dudley arrived to take her at her dwelling at Hunsdon he found her already gone. Ships had been sent to intercept her if she fled to the Netherlands, but flight was not in her mind. She meant to be queen of England, and when she left Hunsdon, perhaps as early as 4 July,1 she had ridden hard for the Howard country. She encountered some perils in protestant East Anglia; the men of Cambridge assailed her company and even after she had gathered considerable strength her friends were refused admittance to Norwich; but she found refuge first at Kenninghall and later at Framlingham where her supporters rallied round her. Her party, as a Spanish observer noted, contained few persons of distinction, but its numbers increased surprisingly, and on the

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1
Antonio Guaras, The Accession of Queen Mary, ed. Richard Garnett, p. 89. Mary told the imperial ambassadors that she would declare herself queen on Edward's death; they had not approved, but on 7 July they knew that she had retired to Kenninghall on the pretext of illness among her servants; on Io July they still thought her chances small. Spanish Calendar, xi. 73-9.

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