4.4.2. Book the first, 1066-1576




































"I confess to your Lordship I do honour him (Lord Oxford) so clearly from my heart as I do my own son, and in any case that may touch him for his honour and weal, I shall think him mine own interest therein. And surely, my Lord, by dealing with him I find that which I often heard of your Lordship, that there is much more in him of understanding than any, stranger to him would think. And for my part I find that whereof I take comfort in his wit and knowledge grown by good observation."

Lord Burghley to the Earl of Rutland, 1571.


"I am one that count myself a follower of yours now in all fortunes; and what shall hap to you I count it hap to myself; or at least I will make myself a voluntary partaker of it. Thus, my Lord, I humbly desire your Lordship to pardon my youth, but to take in good part my zeal and affection towards you, as on whom I have builded my foundation either to stand or to fall ... so much you have made me yours. And I do protest there is nothing more desired of me than so to be taken and accounted of you."

Earl of Oxford to Lord Burghley, 1572.


"Howsoever my Lord of Oxford be for his own part (in) matters of thrift inconsiderate, I dare avow him to be resolute in dutifulness to the Queen and his country."

Lord Burghley to the Earl of Sussex, 1574.


"I hope your Lordship doth account me now-on whom you have so much bound-as I am: so be you before any else in the world, both through match-whereby I count my greatest stay-and by your Lordship's friendly usage and sticking by me in this time, wherein I am hedged in with so many enemies."

Earl of Oxford to Lord Burghley, 1583.


"Who, in all my causes, I find mine honourable good Lord, and to deal more fatherly than friendly with me, for the which I do acknowledge- and ever will-myself in most especial wise bound."

Earl of Oxford to Lord Burghley, 1590.


"I am sorry that I have not an able body which might have served to attend Her Majesty in the place where she is [i.e. Theobalds, where she was staying with Lord Burghley], being especially there, whither, without any other occasion than to see your Lordship, I would always willingly go.

Earl of Oxford to Lord Burghley, 1597.








"What is the most memorablest and most glorious Sun which ever gave light or shine to Nobility ? Our Veres, from the first hour of Caesar to this present day of King James (which is above a thousand seven hundred years ago) never let their feet slip from the path of nobility, never knew a true eclipse of glory, never found declination from virtue, never forsook their country being wounded, or their lawful King distressed, never were attainted, never blemished, but in the purity of their first garments and with that excellent white and unspotted innocency where-with it pleased the first Majesty to invest them, they lived, governed, and died, leaving the memory thereof on their monuments, and in the people's hearts; and the imitation to all the Princes of the World, that either would be accounted good men or would have good men to speak good things of their actions."

GERVASE MARKHAM, in Honour in his Perfection, 1624.





No family has contributed more to English history than

the de Veres. For twenty generations, covering a period

of nearly six hundred years, they handed on the Earldom

of Oxford in unbroken male descent. It is outside the

scope of this volume to give an adequate account of this

great family; but a brief outline is, perhaps, desirable

in order to see what manner of men they were, with their

proud motto Vera nihil verius.

The de Veres, although of French origin, settled in Eng-

land before the Norman Conquest. Alberic or Aubrey de

Vere held land under King Edward the Confessor.1 He

evidently sided with his fellow-countryman William the

Conqueror in 1066; for in the distribution of land that

followed the Saxon defeat at Hastings, Aubrey de Vere

p. 3


1 Register of Colne Priory, fol. 18b, quoted in a MS. volume written circa 1826 and entitled, An Account of the Most Ancient and Noble Family of the de Veres, Earls of Oxford, now preserved in the Colchester Public Library (p. 4).

received many estates, notably Chenesiton, now Kensing-

ton.1 He must have been in great favour with the

Conqueror, for he married his half-sister Beatrix, niece

and heiress of Manasses, Earl of Guisnes.

His grandson, also named Aubrey, took part in the first

Crusade, which commenced in 1097:

In the year of our Lord, 1098, Corborant, Admiral of

the Soudan of Perce, was fought with at Antioch and

discomfited by the Christians. The night coming on in

the chase of this battle, and waxing dark, the Christians

being four miles from Antioch, God willing the safety

of the Christians showed a white Star or Molette of five

points on the Christian host, which to every man's sight

did light and arrest upon the standard of Albry the third,

there shining excessively.2

From this legend arose the origin of the Vere arms:

Quarterly gules and or, in the quarter a mullet argent.‘3

When Aubrey returned to England he founded, soon

after 1100, the Priory of Colne in Essex, and thus began

the long territorial connexion between the Earls of Oxford

and that county. He ultimately became a monk in his

own religious house, and was buried in the church at

Earl's Colne. He was also in high favour with his sovereign

King Henry I., the youngest son of the Conqueror, who

created him hereditary Lord Great Chamberlain of England.

This office, not to be confused with that of Lord Chamber-

lain, is still in existence to-day. The only duties it

involves are in connexion with coronations. It remained

in the de Vere family until 1625, when, on the death of

the eighteenth Earl of Oxford, it passed through a sister

of the seventeenth Earl, into the family of Bertie, Earls

of Lindsey. It was probably the religious Aubrey's son,

p. 4


1 A full account of the de Vere family, from which this outline is taken, will be found in Dugdale's Baronage (1675), vol. i, p. 188. It is interesting that names like Aubrey House and Aubrey Walk, found to this day on Camden Hill, Kensington, doubtless owe their origin to Aubrey de Vere.

2 Leland, Itinerary, vol. vi, p. 40.

3 The "mullet argent" is a silver five-pointed star; the word "mullet," from the French "molette," being literally the rowel of a spur.

the fourth successive Aubrey, who was created first Earl

of Oxford in the reign of King Stephen. He died in the

reign of King Richard I.

From Richard I. to Edward IV. is a far cry; and

though every generation is a history in itself, we must

now pass on to the days when England, torn and bleeding,

was in the throes of the Wars of the Roses. The Earls

of Oxford were strong supporters of the House of Lan-

caster; and when Edward IV., a Yorkist, obtained the

Crown, one of his first acts was to attaint and execute

John the twelfth Earl, and his eldest son, Aubrey. His

second son, also John, then aged eighteen, was restored to

the Earldom, but he was always looked on with suspicion

by the Yorkists. With Warwick, the King maker, he

helped to bring about the restoration of King Henry VI.

in 1470.

The following year Edward landed in England, and was

met by the Lancastrians under Warwick and Oxford at

Barnet. Just when defeat seemed certain for the Yorkists

a curious accident changed the fortunes of the day. All

Oxford's soldiers wore as a distinguishing mark the Vere

"mullet argent." The Yorkists carried the insignia of

Edward, a sun. In response to a call for assistance from

Warwick, Oxford, who had routed the Yorkist left, led

his men over to help. It was a misty day, and Warwick's

men, mistaking the Oxford star for the Yorkist sun,

attacked them. The Earl and his followers, imagining

themselves. deserted, fled.

For fourteen years Lord Oxford remained an outlaw

on the Continent. In 1485 he accompanied the Earl of

Richmond, afterwards King Henry VII, when he landed

in England; and it was largely due to Oxford that the

Lancastrians triumphed at the battle of Bosworth field.

The new sovereign showered favours on his staunch

lieutenant to whom he owed so much. He was appointed

Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard, Lord Admiral of

England, Constable of the Tower of London, and Keeper

of the Lions. In 1491 he had the honour, together with

p. 5


Peter Courtney, Bishop of Winchester, of standing god-

father to Prince Henry, afterwards King Henry VIII.,

when he was christened in the Parish Church at Greenwich.1

John, the fourteenth Earl, accompanied King Henry

VIII. in 1520 to the field of the Cloth of Gold. He

was just twenty-one at the time, and his retinue, we

are told, consisted of three chaplains, six gentlemen,

thirty-three servants, and twenty horses.2 He married

Anne Howard, daughter of the Duke of Norfolk, but

died without issue at the age of twenty-seven. His

Countess survived him, and was buried on February 22nd,

1558-9, at Lambeth.3 He was known as "Little John

of Camps," because he resided chiefly at Castle Camps

in Cambridgeshire. At his death in 1526 the Earldom

passed to the fourth successive holder of the name of John.

The fifteenth Earl, who was born about 1490, was

descended from an uncle of the hero of Bosworth field.

He was elected a Knight of the Garter in 1528, and

carried the Crown at the coronation of Queen Anne Boleyn

on June 1st, 1533; and at the dinner after the ceremony--


on the right side of her chair stood the Countess of

Oxford, widow, and on her left side stood the Countess

of Worcester all the dinner season, which divers times in

the dinner time did hold a fine cloth before the Queen's

face when she list to spit, or do otherwise at her pleasure;

and at the table's end sat the Archbishop of Canterbury,

on the right of the Queen; and in the middest, between

the, Archbishop and the Countess of Oxford, stood the

Earl of Oxford, with a white staff all dinner time; and at

the Queen's feet under the table sat two Gentlewomen

all dinner time.


He was buried in 1540 in the chancel of the parish church

I of Castle Hedingham beneath a black marble monument.

On the top of the tomb is a has-relief representation of

p. 6


1 Colchester MS. (cit.), pp. 99-114. Cf. Lysons, vol. iv, p. 430. He died in 1513 without leaving an heir, and was succeeded by his nephew John.

2 Colchester MS. (cit.), p. 120.

3 Lysons, Environs of London, vol. i, p. 297.

4 Stow, Annals (ed. 1631), p. 567.

the Vere arms, and beneath them the Earl himself kneeling

opposite his wife Elizabeth Trussell, the only daughter

and heiress of the wealthy Edward Trussell, who died

a minor shortly after her birth in 1496. On his right arm

is carved the Garter, and on either side of the tomb are

represented their four sons and four daughters. They

were John, afterwards sixteenth Earl of Oxford; Aubrey,

ancestor of the nineteenth Earl; Robert, who died in

1598 1; and Geoffrey, father of Francis and Horatio Vere,

two famous soldiers in the reign of Queen Elizabeth.

The daughters were Elizabeth, who married Thomas

Lord Darcy; Anne, who married Edmund Lord Sheffield;

Frances, who married Henry Howard, the poet Earl of

Surrey; and Ursula.




John, the sixteenth Earl of Oxford, married first,2 about

1537, Dorothy Neville, a sister of the fourth Earl of

Westmorland. By her he had one daughter, Katherine,

who was afterwards the wife of Edward, third Baron

Windsor. He married secondly Margaret Golding, as is

evidenced by the following entry in the Parish Register

of Belchamp St. Paul's, Essex:


Ao. Domini 1548. The wedding of my Lord John de

Vere, Earl of Oxenford, and Margery, the daughter of

John Goulding Esquire, the first of August.


By her he had two children, Edward and Mary. We

shall meet Lady Mary Vere, who was younger than her

brother, later on as the wife of Lord Willoughby de Eresby;

while Edward is the subject of this biography.


The evidence afforded as to the second marriage of the

p. 7


1 A brass in Charlton Parish Church records that "here lyeth buried Robert Veer Esquire, third son of John de Veer, Earl of Oxford, which said Robert deceased the 2nd April 1598", (Mill Stephenson, A List of Monumental Brasses in the British Isles (1926), p. 214). By his will, proved May 27th, 1598, he left all his property to "Jone Veer my well beloved wife," but makes no mention of any children. (P.C.C. 36 Lewyn.)

2 Colchester MS. (cit.), p. 126.

Earl of Oxford on August 1st, 1548, is important as it

enables us to clear Edward and Mary from a charge of

illegitimacy which was brought against the former by

Edward, the third Baron Windsor, some time during

Edward de Vere's minority and Wardship at Cecil House,

and again by Thomas, the seventh Baron Windsor in

1660. Why the former raised the question is not clear,

but Thomas, Lord Windsor in 1660 petitioned the Crown

for the office of Lord Great Chamberlain on the ground

that the sixteenth Earl's second wife had not been lawfully

married to him, so that he had left "Katherine his only

daughter and heir (by Dorothy, daughter of the Earl of

Westmorland, his only lawful wife) who was married to

Edward, Lord Windsor, great grandfather of the Peti-

tioner." 1

A letter dated June 27th, 1547, from Lord Oxford's

brother-in-law Sir Thomas Darcy to William Cecil 2 enables

us to see how the scandal first arose. A love affair was

apparently in progress between Lord Oxford and a certain

"gentlewoman ... Mistress Dorothy late woman to

my Lady Katherine his daughter." Banns had been

already twice called in church, but Sir Thomas Darcy

thought it very expedient to put a stop to it. He seems to

have succeeded, as there is no record of a marriage having

taken place; and indeed the evidence of Lord Oxford's

marriage to Margery Golding on August 1st, 1548, is fairly

conclusive proof that no marriage to Mistress Dorothy

everdid take place. It would seem that the tradition of

a previous marriage was handed down in the Windsor

family, and that they were unaware of the record of the

Golding marriage preserved in the Parish Register at

Belchamp St. Paul's. It is curious to see how scandal

accompanied Edward de Vere into the world; and we

shall find as the story develops that the voice of scandal

steadily pursued him throughout his life, and has continued

to pursue his memory during the three hundred years

that have elapsed since his death. One of the results of

p. 8


1 The Ancestor, January, 1903, p. 28.

2 Ibid., p. 24.

examining the contemporary documents dealing with

his life is to show the utter baselessness of all these insinua-

tions. It is therefore satisfactory at the very outset of his

career to be able by means of an official entry in a Parish

Register to nail the first of these lies to the counter, and

thus to clear the way for the record of his life.

Edward de Vere, afterwards the seventeenth Earl of

Oxford, was born on April 12th, 1550, at Castle Hedingham

in Essex.1 The name Edward, which is unique in the

Vere family, was probably given to? him as a compliment

to King Edward VI., who was then reigning. He was

styled Viscount Bulbeck, one of the subsidiary titles

borne by the Earls of Oxford. His father, who took

little part in Court life during the troublous reign of

Queen Mary, was an enthusiastic sportsman. An amusing

story, illustrative of his prowess in the hunting field, is

told of him when he was in France in 1544:


“By reason of his warlike disposition, we read, he was

invited to the hunting of a wild boar, a sport mixed with

much danger and deserving the best man's care for his

preservation and safety. Whence it comes that the

Frenchmen, when they hunt this beast, are ever armed

with light arms, mounted on horseback, and having chasing

staves like lances in their hands. To this sport the Earl

of Oxford goes; but no otherwise attired than as when he

walked in his own private bedchamber, only a dancing

rapier by his side; neither any better mounted than on

a plain English Tracconer, or ambling nag. Anon the boar

is put on foot (which was a beast both huge and fierce),

the chase is eagerly pursued, many affrights are given,

and many dangers escaped. At last the Earl, weary of

the toil or else urged by some other necessity, alights from

his horse and walks alone by himself on foot; when

suddenly down the path in which the Earl walked came A

the enraged beast, with his mouth all foamy, his teeth

whetted, his bristles up, and all other signs of fury and

anger. The gallants of France cry unto the Earl to run

aside and save himself; everyone holloed out that he was

lost, and (more than their wishes) none there was that

p. 9


1 Hatfield Mss. Cal. (XIII. 142)

durst bring him succour. But the Earl (who was as

careless of their clamours as they were careful to exclaim)

alters not his pace, nor goes an hair's breadth out of his

path; and finding that the boar and he must struggle

for passage, draws out his rapier and at the first encounter

slew the boar. Which, when the French nobility perceived,

they came galloping in unto him and made the wonder

in their distracted amazements, some twelve times greater

than Hercules twelve labours, all joining in one, that it

was an act many degrees beyond possibility. ... But the

Earl, seeing their distraction, replied: "My Lords, what

have I done of which I have no feeling ? Is it the killing

of this English pig ? Why, every boy in my nation would

have performed it. They may be bugbears to the French:

to us they are but servants." ... And so they returned

to Paris with the slain beast, where the wonder did neither

decrease nor die, but to this day lives in many of their

old annals." 1


With such a father we may he sure that riding, shooting,

and hawking were among the earliest accomplishments

learned by the young Lord Bulbeck. But Lord Oxford's

interests were by no means confined to out-door recrea-

tions. His family circle linked him with many of the

most famous scholars and poets of the day! Arthur

Golding was his brother-in-law and his son's tutor: Sir

Thomas Smith, the well-known statesman, scholar, and

author, was another of his son's tutors: one of his sisters,

Frances Vere, married the poet Earl of Surrey, and herself

wrote verse 2: another sister, Anne Vere, married Lord

Sheffield.3 And he was, at this time, one of the small

but ever increasing band of noblemen who kept a company

of actors. In the summer these men would travel round

the country making what money they could by giving

performances in the courtyards of inns. But in the winter,

p. 10


1 Gervase Markham, Honour in his Perfection.

2 Cf. Surrey’s Poetical Works, J. Yeowell (1908), p. xxiv.

3 Lord Sheffield (1521-1549) became the Earl of Oxford's ward in 1538. "Great his skill in music, who wrote a book of sonnets according to the Italian fashion." (Fuller: cf. D.N.B., art. Sheffield, Sir Edmund). His sonnets are all apparently lost. He was killed while helping to suppress Ket's rebellion.


particularly between Christmas and Lent, they would be

at Castle Hedingham helping to provide entertainment

for the long evenings.

These facts tell us quite plainly that the sixteenth Earl

of Oxford and his family circle took an unusual interest

in literature and the drama. It was among people of

this calibre that the young Lord Bulbeck was brought up.

Youthful impressions rarely die; and when in after-years

we find him becoming famous as a poet and a dramatist

we may safely trace back his artistic ability and interest

to these early years at Castle Hedingham.

With the accession of Queen Mary the sixteenth Earl

of Oxford, who remained true to the Reformed Faith, was

obliged to retire from Court life and live in seclusion at

Castle Hedingham. Even so he narrowly escaped being

compromised in the anti-Catholic conspiracy of 1556,

for his name heads a list of Noblemen "vehemently

suspected" of complicity in that plot.1 It was, no doubt,

during this period that Sir Thomas Smith, another staunch

Protestant, became for a time the young Lord Bulbeck's

tutor. We may therefore safely surmise that Edward de

Vere's early upbringing was in the tenets of the Reformed


In November 1558, while still in his ninth year, Edward

de Vere matriculated as an "impubes" fellow-commoner

of Queens' College, Cambridge. This quite exceptional

precocity was but a foretaste of what was to come. It

was principally to his uncle Arthur Golding, who with

Sir Thomas Smith had been responsible for his early

education, that he owed the grounding in scholarship

that this achievement implies. Golding's place in Eliza-

bethan literature is too well known to need repeating

here. His most famous work was a translation of Ovid's

Metamorphoses, which Shakespeare drew on largely in

after-years. Edward de Vere must, therefore, have made

an early acquaintance with his tutor's favourite Latin

author. 1

p. 11


1 S.P. Dom. Mary, VII. 24.

In the same month Queen Mary died; and with the

passing of the Catholic reaction the Earl of Oxford

emerged from his enforced retirement. He was one of

the peers who accompanied the Princess Elizabeth from

her semi-prison at Hatfield to her throne in London on

November 23rd. At the same time Margery, Countess

of Oxford, was appointed Maid of Honour to the new

Queen; and she and her husband seem to have spent the

year 1559 at the Court.1

Lord Oxford was now in high favour, and in the autumn

of this year he was chosen to meet the Duke of Finland,

second son of the King of Sweden, who had come to

England to attempt to negotiate a marriage between

Queen Elizabeth and his elder brother, Prince Eric. The

Duke landed at Harwich-

about the end of September, and was there honourably received by the Earl of Oxford and the Lord Robert Dudley, and by them conducted from thence to London. He had in his own train about fifty persons well mounted; the Earl of Oxford also, and the Lord Robert Dudley were followed with a fair attendance both of gentlemen and yeomen.2

The Swedish Royal family at this time were Protestants,

and the fact that Lord Oxford was selected to meet the

Duke Of Finland shows that he was a recognised pillar of

the Reformed Church.

In 1561, a year before his death, the Earl of Oxford

entertained the Queen for five days at Castle Hedingham.3

Lord Bulbeck was then aged eleven, and it must have

been a thrilling experience for the boy to see the young

Queen who had so honoured his father and mother, and

about whom he had heard so much. She was then twenty-

eight, and her beauty and accomplishments made her one

p. 12


1 Nichols's Progresses, vol. i, p. 37.

2 Sir John Hayward, Annals of Queen Elizabeth (Camden Soc., 1840), p. 37.

3 Nichols's Progresses, vol. i, pp. 92-104. The Queen was at Castle Hedingham from August 14th to 18th.

of the most striking personalities in Europe at that time.

The great procession of suitors had already started

arriving-and going away empty-handed. In response

to a request from her first Parliament that she should

marry, she had graciously replied that she would consider

it; but she had added that as Queen she was already

wedded to her country. She was never tired of saying

that she gloried in being "mere English," a phrase which

delighted the vast majority of her loyal subjects who were

weary of a half foreign Queen and a totally foreign King-

Consort. "Mere English" she was indeed-a Tudor

on her father's side and a Boleyn on her mother's. With

her youthful vivacity and freshness, with her love of all

English outdoor sports, and with her quick wit and deep

learning, she was, in 1561, the very embodiment of that

wonderful spirit of nationalism, which, under her stimulus,

was to break the power of Spain, and create that glorious

wealth of literature that can never grow old or be forgotten.

We are not told what entertainments were provided for

her Majesty; but we may be certain that hunting and

hawking figured largely in the outdoor programme, while

in the evenings the guests were no doubt diverted with

masques and stage plays. All this young Edward saw,

and must have thought how wonderful it was.

But he was not destined to live much longer at Castle

Hedingham; for he left it in the following year, to find

new friends and new surroundings in the stately West-

minster home of his father's friend Sir William Cecil.


p. 13






"Such virtues be in your honour, so haughty courage joined with great skill, such sufficiency in learning, so good nature and common sense, that in your honour is, I think, expressed the right pattern of a noble gentleman."

Thomas Underdowne to the Earl of Oxford, 1569.


"Your Honour hath continually, even from your tender years, bestowed your time and travail towards the attaining of learning: as also the University of Cambridge hath acknowledged in granting and giving unto you such commendation and praise thereof, as verily by right was due unto your excellent virtue and rare learning."

John Brooke, of Ashe, to the Earl of Oxford, 1577.





ON August 3rd, 1562, the sixteenth Earl of Oxford died

at Castle Hedingham; and on the—


31st day of August was buried in Essex the good Earl

(of Oxford) with three Heralds of Arms, Master Garter,

Master Lancaster, Master Richmond, with a standard

and a great banner of arms, and eight banner rolls, crest,

target, sword and coat armour, and a hearse with velvet

and a pall of velvet, and a dozen of scutcheons, and with

many mourners in black; and a great moan (was) made

for him.1


In his will, dated July 28th, 1562, after various legacies

to his family, he leaves "ten pounds and one of my great

horses" to "my very good Lord Sir Nicholas Bacon,"

and the same to "my trusty and loving friend Sir William

Cecil," and asks them to assist his executors. It seems

not unlikely that when the Queen was entertained at Castle

Hedingham in the previous year the question of young

Edward's future as a Royal Ward in Sir William Cecil's

p. 14


1 Machyn's Diary (ed. Nichols, Camden Soc., 1848).

household, in the event of his father's death, had been

discussed. Cecil had just been appointed Master of the

Wards, and Machyn in his Diary tells us that:


On the 3rd day of September came riding out of Essex

from the funeral of the Earl of Oxford his father, the

young Earl of Oxford, with seven score horse all in black;

through London and Chepe and Ludgate, and so to Temple

Bar ... between 5 and 6 of the afternoon.


And for the next eight and a half years we shall find him

in Cecil House in the Strand. It is perhaps worth mention-

ing that this ride up to London was very likely made in

the company of George Gascoigne, the poet, who was

connected with Lord Oxford by marriage. We shall

come across these two-Gascoigne and the young Earl--

many times in the course of the next fifteen years; and

it may perhaps have been from Gascoigne that Oxford

first received the poetic and dramatic impulse in this

very year.1

Cecil House stood on the north side of the Strand

almost opposite the site of the present Hotel Cecil, and

half a mile or so outside the City walls.2 In those days the

river was the main traffic highway, and most of the great

houses situated along its north bank had private water-

gates and stairs at which to embark and land. Here the

public "watermen" in their boats plied for hire exactly

as taxis do in the London streets to-day. Cecil House,

however, had no outlet on to the river; but it was situated

only a few hundred yards from the public wharf at the

bottom of Ivy Lane.

Let us pause for a moment and picture the dwelling

in which Lord Oxford was destined to spend the remainder

of his minority.


p. 15


1 This argument will be found set out at length in my introduction to the 1926 edition of A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres.

2 It is interesting to see how this corner of London from Whitehall to the Temple, then a separate town called Westminster and quite distinct from the City, is a reflection of the sixteenth century. The Cecil Hotel, Somerset House, Surrey Street, Norfolk Street, Arundel Street, and Essex Street are all named after the houses of the Tudor nobility.

Cecil House sometime belonged to the parson of St.

Martin's-in-the-fields, and by composition came to Sir

Thomas Palmer, knight, in the reign of Edward VI., who

began to build the same of brick and timber, very large

and spacious; but of later time it hath been far more

beautifully increased by the late Sir William Cecil, baron of

Burghley. ... Standing on the north side of the Strand,

a very fair house raised with bricks, proportionably

adorned with four turrets placed at the four quarters of

the house; within it is curiously beautified with rare

devices, and especially the Oratory, placed in an angle

of the great chamber.1


One of the chief features of Cecil House was its garden.

The grounds in which the house stood must have covered

many acres, and were more extensive than those of any

of the other private houses in Westminster. John Gerard,

well known as the author of Herbal, or General History of

Plants (1597), was for twenty years Sir William Cecil's

gardener 2; and Sir William himself evidently took a

great pride in his garden, because he had his picture

painted riding in it on his "little Mule." 3 Indeed, it

is not unlikely that he deliberately chose an inland site

Without a water-gate because the congestion of existing

houses along the river bank only allowed of comparatively

small and narrow strips of garden.

Although no description of the garden at Cecil House

has come down to us, there exists a contemporary account

by the German traveller, Paul Hentzner, of the grounds at

Theobalds, Cecil's country seat. The garden here was

also laid out by John Gerard, and was, no doubt, similar

in many respects to that at Cecil House.

We left London in a coach -writes Hentzner- in order

to see the remarkable places in its neighbourhood. The

first was Theobalds, belonging to Lord Burghley, the

Treasurer. In the Gallery was painted the genealogy of

p. 16


1 Wheatley, London Past and Present (1891). Quoting from Stow and Norden.

2 The Shakespeare Garden, Esther Singleton, p. 33.

3 Now in the Bodleian Library.

the Kings of England. From this place one goes into the

garden, encompassed with a moat full of water, large

enough for one to have the pleasure of going in a boat and

rowing between the shrubs. Here are great variety of

trees and plants, labyrinths made with a great deal of

labour, a jet d'eau with its basin of white marble and

columns and pyramids of wood and other materials up

and down the garden. After seeing these we were led by

the gardener into the summer-house, in the lower part

of which, built semi-circularly, are the twelve Roman

Emperors in white marble and a table of touch-stone.

The upper part of it is set round with cisterns of lead,

into which the water is conveyed through pipes so that

fish may be kept in them, and in summer time they are

very convenient for bathing. In another room for enter-

tainment near this, and joined to it by a little bridge,

was an oval table of red marble.1

Cecil imbued his sons and the Royal Wards under his

charge with his own keenness in horticulture. Sir Robert

Cecil, who was afterwards created Earl of Salisbury,


placed his splendid garden at Hatfield under the care of

John Tradescant, the first of a noted family of horti-

culturalists. John Tradescant also had a garden of his

own in South Lambeth, "the finest in England" every

one called it.2


And Lord Zouch, who was a Royal Ward from 1569 to

1577, filled his garden at Hackney with plants he had

collected while travelling in Austria, Italy, and Spain.

N0 record has survived to tell us what Lord Oxford's

gardens in London and Hackney were like, but we may

conjecture that they bore the stamp of his nine years'

wardship at Cecil House.

On July 14th, 1561, just a year before Lord Oxford's

arrival in London, the Queen had honoured her Principal

Secretary by supping at Cecil House "before it was fully

finished"; so that when the young Earl came to live there

it must have been one of the most up-to-date mansions in

p. 17


1 Singleton, op. cit., p. 27. Hentzner's account was written in 1598.

2 Singleton, op. cit., p. 35.

Westminster. Sir William, we are told, maintained a

household of eighty persons "exclusive of those who

attended him at Court," and his expenses were £30 a week

in his absence, and between £40 and £50 when he was

present. His stables cost 1,000 marks a year.1

The story of Queen Elizabeth's great minister, Cecil,

is too well known to need more than a passing reference

here. For forty years he was her constant and most

trusted adviser. The vast collection Of papers and letters

preserved in the family seat at Hatfield bears eloquent

testimony to his untiring diligence and sagacity. But

the very success of his unique career has somewhat weak-

ened our appreciation of the fierce struggle he went through

to retain his Sovereign's confidence at the beginning of

her reign. When Lord Oxford came to London in 1562

the Privy Council was sharply divided into two groups.

On the one side were ranged most of the members of the

old aristocracy who adhered to the traditional English

foreign policy of friendship with Spain against the old

enemy, France. Opposed to them stood two men only,

Cecil and Bacon, who advocated an alliance with France,

open war with Spain, and active support of the Reformed

Church, both at home and on the Continent. That two

self-made men, with nothing but their own abilities

behind them, should have dared to oppose all the hereditary

leaders of England is a sufficient proof of their courage

and patriotism. Although the aristocracy had lost ground

under the first four Tudors, the country folk still looked

on the great families like the Howards, the Fitzalans, and

the Stanleys as their natural leaders. And they, in turn,

despised and detested the new men, who, borne on the

p. 18


1 Wheatley, op. cit. A mark was about 138. 4d.; Cecil's stables, therefore, ran him up a bill of over £600 a year. It must be remembered, however, that as Principal Secretary he was one of the Queen's most responsible and confidential servants, which made it necessary for him to keep a stableful of horses and messengers ready at a moment's notice to take Her Majesty's despatches to all parts of the kingdom. So that part. at least, of the expenses of his stables and household would have been home by the Exchequer.


crest of the wave of the Reformation, were now steadily

working their way into the most confidential positions

round the Queen. The old families, moreover, were nearly

all either openly or secretly Catholics. This was not so

much for reasons of conscience, but from the natural

antipathy with which any ruling class regards a change.

Over these two warring factions presided the enigmatic

figure of the Queen. Still under thirty, she had inherited

the immense personal power that her father had wrenched

from the aristocracy and invested in the Crown. It was

impossible to say how she would shape her policy. So

far on one point only had she given a decision. This

was that in matters of religion England was to be neither

Catholic nor Genevan, but, with herself as supreme head

of the Church, toleration and moderation were to be the

watchwords. It has become the practice among many

modern historians to decry Elizabeth, and attribute all

her successes to her ministers, and all her failures to her

own weakness and vacillation. There can be no doubt

that at times her capriciousness was the despair and

exasperation of the Council; but to assume that England's

achievements during her reign were due to them and in

spite of her, is to commit a grave injustice. No com-

mander-in-chief can win a battle without loyal and skilful

subordinates; but to transfer the honour of the victory

from the leader to the lieutenants is to ignore the fact

that it is on the commander alone that the responsibility

of choosing, training, and issuing orders to his subordinates

rests. Moreover, he is a poor psychologist who can imagine

a Tudor meekly taking orders from servants. The

daughter of "King Harry the Eighth of glorious memory"

may have had her faults and weaknesses, but she was

emphatically mistress of England, of her Government,

and of her own mind and inclinations.

Lord Oxford's daily routine as a minor in Cecil House

has been preserved for us in a document entitled "Orders

for the Earl of Oxford's exercises." In it we read that

p. 19

he is to "rise in such time as he may be ready to his

exercises by 7 o'clock." The hours of work were:


7 - 7.30. Dancing,

7.30 - 8. Breakfast,

8 - 9. French,

9 - 10. Latin,

10 - 10.30. Writing and Drawing.

Then Common Prayers, and so to dinner.

1 - 2 Cosmography,

2 - 3. Latin,

3 - 4. French,

4 - 4.30. Exercises with his pen.

Then Common Prayers, and so to supper. 1


On Holy Days this was modified, for we are told that

he is to "read before dinner the Epistle and Gospel in

his own tongue, and in the other tongue after dinner.

All the rest of the day to be spent in riding, shooting,

dancing, walking, and other commendable exercises,

saving the time for Prayer."

His tutor at Cecil House was Lawrence Nowell, Dean

of Lichfield, brother of the learned Alexander Nowell,

Dean of St. Paul's. In June 1563 Lawrence Nowell

wrote a Latin letter to Lord Burghley, drawing his atten-

tion to the slip-shod manner in which the cartographers

and geographers of England were doing their work. "I

have, moreover, noticed," he writes, "that those writers

who have taken up the work of describing the geography

of England have not been satisfactory to you in any way";

the reason being "that without any art or judgment ...

they jumble up together haphazard in their maps imaginary

sites of localities." He goes on to ask Lord Burghley

that to him may be entrusted the task of compiling an

accurate map because "I clearly see that my work for

the Earl of Oxford cannot be much longer required." 2

That a scholar of Lawrence Nowell's attainments should

speak thus of his pupil, then aged 13 1/2, argues a precocity

p. 20


1 S.P. Dom. Eliz., 26. 50.

2 Lansdowne MSS., 6. 54.

quite out of the ordinary. This is further borne out

by a letter dated August 23rd, 1563, written to Lord

Burghley in French by Lord Oxford:



Monsieur, j'ai reçu vos lettres plaines d'humanité

et courtoisie, et fort resemblantes à votre grand amour

et singulier affection envers moi, comme vrais enfants

devement procrées d'une telle mère pour laquelle je me

trouve de jour en jour plus tenu à v.h. vos bons admoneste-

ments pour l'observation du bon ordre selon vos appointe-

ments. Je me délibére (Dieu aidant) de garder en toute

diligence comme chose que je cognois et considere tendre

especialment à mon propre bien et profit, usant en celà

l'advis et authorité de ceux qui sont aupres de moi, la

discretion desquels j'estime si grande (s'il me convient

parler quelquechose à leur avantage) qui non seulement

ils se porteront selon qu'un tel temps le requiert, ains que

plus est feront tant que je me gouverne selon que vous

avez ordonné et commandé. Quant à l'ordre de mon

étude pour ce qu'il requiert un long discours a l'expliquer

par le menu, et le temps est court à cette heure, je vous

prie affectueusement m'en excuser pour le present, vous

assurant que par le premier passant je le yous ferai savoir

bien au long. Cependant je prie à Dieu vous donner




In the spring of this year Lord Burghley and the other

trustees of the late Earl of Oxford's will had written to the

Dowager Countess, enquiring as to the reason for the delay

in obtaining probate. To this she replied on April 30th:


I gathered generally that complaints had been brought

to my Lord of Norfolk's grace and to my Lord Robert

Dudley [who were supervisors of the will] by sundry,

that the only let why my Lord's late will hath not been

proved or exhibited hath been only in me and through

my delays.


p. 21


1 Lansdowne MSS., 6. 25.

She then goes on to excuse herself:


I confess that a great trust hath been committed to me

of those things which, in my Lord's lifetime, were kept

most secret from me. And since that time the doubtful

declaration of my Lord's debts hath so uncertainly fallen

out that ... I had rather leave up the whole doings thereof

to my son (if by your good advice I may so deal honour-

ably) than to venture further, and uncertainly altogether,

with the will. ... And what my further determination

is touching the will, yet loth to determine without your

good advice, for that I mean the honour or gain (if any

be) might come wholly to my son, who is under your



This mention of "my son, who is under your charge,"

Without any message of love or affection, seems to indicate

that the widowed Countess handed him over to Cecil as a

Royal Ward without a pang; and her anxiety to be

cleared of all responsibility in her late husband's affairs

can be explained by her marriage shortly after his death

to Charles Tyrrell, one of the Queen's Gentlemen Pen-

sioners. The allusion to the late Earl's legacy of debts,

and the significant hint contained in the words "the

honour or gain if any be," should be remembered when we

deal with Lord Oxford's financial embarrassments, which

began from the day he took over his patrimony on coming

of age.




Lawrence Nowell's statement, already quoted, that

Lord Oxford would soon be ripe for new tutors was no

exaggeration; for a year later we find him receiving his

degree at Cambridge University, at the early age of 14 ½

years. This event occurred on August 10th during the

Queen's progress to the University.2

That he left his mark on the University as a student

of considerable ability we have on the testimony of John

Brooke, himself a graduate of Trinity College:


p. 22


1 Lansdowne MSS., 6. 20.

2 Nichols's Progresses, vol. i, p. 180.

I understanding right well that your honour hath

continually, even from your tender years, bestowed your

time and travail towards the attaining of [learning], as

also the University of Cambridge hath acknowledged in

granting and giving unto you such commendation and

praise thereof, as verily by right was due unto your

excellent virtue and rare learning. Wherein verily Cam-

bridge, the mother of learning and learned men, hath

openly confessed: and in this her confessing made known

unto all men, that your honour being learned and able to

judge, as a safe harbour and defence of learning, and

therefore one most fit to whose honourable patronage

I might safely commit these my poor and simple labours.1


We read in Nichols's Progresses that the Earl of Oxford was

lodged at St. John's College. It is natural that as a Royal

Ward he should have studied there because his guardian,

Sir William Cecil, had been at that College from 1535

to 1541.

In View of Lord Oxford's subsequent interest in the

drama, it is worth recording that the first entertainment

in honour of Her Majesty's visit was the acting of the

Aulularia of Plautus in King's College Chapel.2

Earlier in the same year, while Lord Oxford was up at

Cambridge, his uncle and erstwhile turor, Arthur Golding,

dedicated to him Th' Abridgement of the histories of Trogus

Pompeius, published in May:


It came to my remembrance [writes the translator

of Ovid] that since it hath pleased Almighty God to take

to his mercy your noble father (to whom I had long before

vowed this my travail) there was not any who, either of

duty might more justly claim the same, or for whose

estate it seemed more requisite and necessary, or of whom

I thought it should be more favourably accepted, than of

your honour. For ... it is not unknown to others, and I

have had experience thereof myself, how earnest a desire

your honour hath naturally graffed in you to read, peruse,

and communicate with others as well the histories of ancient

p. 23


1 The Staffe of Christian Faith . ... by John Brooke of Ashe next Sandwiche ... K1577. (BM. 3901, b. 19.)

2 Nichols's Progresses, vol. i.; and The Times, March 11th, 1924.

times, and things done long ago, as also of the present

estate of things in our days, and that not without a certain

pregnancy of wit and ripeness of understanding. The

which do not only now rejoice the hearts of all such as

bear faithful affection to the honourable house of your

ancestors, but also stir up a great hope and expectation

of such wisdom and experience in you in times to come,

as is meet and beseeming for so noble a race.


He goes on to quote the examples of Epaminondas,

Prince of Thebes, and Arymba, King of Epirus, who

cultivated not only the martial arts of war, but also

excelled in learning and the arts of peace:


Let these and other examples encourage your tender

years ... to proceed in learning and virtue ... and yourself

thereby become equal to any of your predecessors in

advancing the honour of your noble house: whereof, as

your great forwardness giveth assured hope and expecta-

tion, so I most heartily beseech Almighty God to further,

augment, establish and confirmate the same in your

Lordship with the abundance of his grace.

Your Lordship's humble Servant,



It is interesting to learn from his own uncle that Lord

Oxford took especial delight in history, both past and

present.' It may therefore help us better to understand

his character if we consider for a moment the events which

were then taking place in Europe.

In England, after the quiet transition from Catholicism

had been effected, the great question of the moment was

that of the Royal succession. Unless the Queen were to

have a direct descendant of her own, it seemed as if at

her death the horrors of civil war must start afresh.

We find, for example, on January 12th, 1563, Parliament

presenting a petition to the Queen begging her to marry.

It was one of many such appeals.

We are, perhaps, inclined to forget that the Englishman

of the fifteen-sixties was not gifted with prophetic vision.

He could hardly in his most optimistic moments imagine

p. 24

that his frail Queen, who was continually falling sick,

would outlast the century. To him the prominent and

fascinating Mary Stuart, the Countess of Lennox, and the

heads of the great houses of Hastings, Seymour, and

Stanley, were centres round whom the future Wars of

the Roses would be fought. This was the burning question

of the hour; and it was not till the next decade, when the

Catholic plots began to be discovered, that the religious

controversy superseded in importance that of the succession.

In France, the first War of Religion had come to an end

by the Peace of Amboise in March 1563. By the murder

of the Due de Guise in the previous month, Catherine de

Medici had become the mistress of the Catholic Party.

Against her stood Admiral Coligny, the Huguenot leader.

The stage was now set for the miserable tragedy of an

endless succession of civil wars and hollow truces, only

to culminate in that veritable holocaust on St.

Bartholomew's Day in Paris in 1572.

In Scotland equally important events were taking place.

In 1561, on the death of her husband, Francis 11., King

of France, Mary Stuart returned to Scotland to take up

her queenly heritage. During the next two years, in

spite of her determination to reintroduce Catholicism,

she gradually won favour with the nobility and the people;

and in 1563 she sent Maitland to London to claim her

right of succession after Queen Elizabeth. Elizabeth's

reply was to propose the Earl of Leicester as her husband.

Mary pretended to interest herself in the proposal, but in

1565 she married the Earl of Darnley. Two years later

he was murdered, and Mary married the Earl of Bothwell,

thus losing at a blow all the popularity she had so labori-

ously built up. The following year, 1568, defeated and

deserted, she took refuge in England, where she remained

a prisoner until her execution in 1587.

In Central Europe the dominating feature was the

struggle of the Empire against the ever-increasing encroach-

ments of the Turks. Year by year the Crescent was

steadily pushing the Cross westwards; but eight years

p. 25

later, in 1571, the position was materially eased by the

complete defeat of the Turkish navy by Don John of

Austria at Lepanto.

Most ominous of all to England, however, was the

gradual shaping of Spain's policy under her vigorous

King, Philip II. Almost alone of all the European kings

and princes, Philip saw his objectives clearly. These

were the counter Reformation, and the development of

the Spanish Empire in the New World. We shall see, as

the years unfold, how the attention of England was

riveted more and more on to Spain. For the moment

the Spanish threat had hardly begun to make itself felt.

The first move took place in 1567, when Philip sent the

Duke of Alva to the Netherlands with definite orders to

re-establish the Roman Church. How this led, step by

step, to the defeat of the Armada in 1588, and finally to

the Peace in 1604, must be told as the story unfolds.

Such was the state of Europe as Lord Oxford saw it as

he studied history at St John's College in his fifteenth


During the next eighteen months nothing definite is

known as to his movements beyond the fact that in 1565

he and his fellow Royal ward and cousin, the Earl of

Rutland,1 acted as pages at the wedding of Ambrose

Dudley, Earl of Warwick, and Lady Anne Russell, eldest

daughter of the Earl of Bedford:


For the honour and celebration of this noble marriage

[writes Holinshed] a goodly challenge was made and

observed at Westminster; at the tilt, each one six courses:

at the tournay, twelve strokes with the sword and three

pushes with the puncheon staff: and twelve blows with

the sword at barriers, or twenty if any were so disposed.


p. 26


1 Edward Manners, 3rd Earl of Rutland (1549-87), came as a Royal Ward to Cecil House on the death of his father in 1563. He had a distinguished legal career, and would have succeeded Sir Thomas Bromley as Lord Chancellor but for his sudden death six days after Bromley's. Camden describes him as "a profound lawyer and a man accomplished with all polite learning," which is in itself a tribute to the excellent education Lord Burghley provided for the Wards under his charge.

No doubt he spent this year partly at Cecil House in

London and partly at Oxford University; for in 1566 we

find him in the train of Her Majesty during her progress

to this University. It was here, on September 6th,, in

company with other "nobles and persons of quality,"

that he was created Master of Arts in a convocation held

in the public refectory of Christ Church College, in the

presence of Robert, Earl of Leicester, Chancellor of the



His university studies completed, the law next claimed

his attention; and in a list of members admitted to

Gray's Inn in 1567 we find the names of Lord Oxford,

Philip Sidney, and John Manners, a younger brother of

the Earl of Rutland.2 This brought him into touch once

more with George Gascoigne, who in addition to studying

for the bar was occupying his leisure time with the drama.

Two of his plays were acted about this time by the Gentle-

men of the Inn: The Supposes, a translation from the

Italian of Ariosto, which was the first prose play repre-

sented in English, and afforded the foundation for part

of The Taming of the Shrew; and Jocasta, from the

Phoenissae of Euripides, in which Gascoigne collaborated

with two other fellow students, Francis Kinwelmersh

and Christopher Yelverton. This was the first adapta-

tion of a Greek play to the English stage.3 The

exact date of these performances is not known; but

fleay conjectures that the expression "St. Nicholas'

feast" (Supposes, Act 1., Scene 2,) points to a Christmas

performance. If this be so, the plays were acted only

about five weeks before Lord Oxford's admission to Gray's

Inn. It is probable that he actually saw the performances;

but, at any rate, he would certainly have heard all about

them from his old friend the author.

p. 27


1 Nichols, Progresses, vol. i, p. 215; Anthony Wood, Fasti Oxonienses, vol. iii, col. 178. 1

2 Harleian MSS., 1912. Lord Oxford's admission is dated Feb. 1st, 1566-7.

3 Cf. Fleay, Chronicle History of the London Stage, p. 65.

4 Fleay, Chronicle of the English Drama, vol. ii, p. 238.


To Gray's Inn Burghley introduced his two sons, Thomas

and Robert, founders of the noble houses of Exeter and

Salisbury; his sons-in-law, Lord Wentworth and Edward

de Vere, Earl of Oxford 1; while Nicholas Bacon brought

his five sons, all of whom had distinguished careers before

them, and one, the youngest of the family, was destined

to be the most famous man of his time. Around this

family circle Burghley grouped within the walls of Gray's

Inn the most brilliant young men of that day, every one

of whom played some part, small or great, in that age of

adventures which so often ended in tragedies. Two

of them lost their lives by being involved in the cause of

Mary, Queen of Scots- Thomas Howard, fourth Duke

of Norfolk, and Henry Percy, eighth Earl of Northumber-

land. More fortunate was the lot of Sir Philip Sidney,

who came to the Inn with a double tie, for he was the son

of Sir Henry Sidney, and the son-in-law of Sir Francis

Walsingham. After him came Henry Wriothesley, third

Earl of Southampton, Roger Manners, Earl of Rutland,

and William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke. These names

brought the Inn into touch with Shakespeare, who borrowed

hints from Sidney's Arcadia, and is believed to have taken

Southampton, Rutland, and Pembroke as the models

whom he reproduced under the names of Bassanio,

Gratiano, Romeo, Benedict, Florizel, and Valentine.2


"About this time," writes Burghley in his Diary, under

date July 1567, "Thomas Brincknell, an under-cook, was

hurt by the Earl of Oxford at Cecil House in the Strand,

whereof he died; and by a verdict found felo-de-se

with running upon a point of a fence sword of the

said Earl's." 3




When Charles the fifth, Holy Roman Emperor, old

and broken in health, surrendered the sovereignty of the

p. 28


1 Actually at the time Lord Oxford was Burghley's Ward, not son-in-law, because he did not marry Anne Cecil till 1571.

2 Lectures on Gray's Inn, by Sir D. Plunket Barton, late Judge of the High Court of Justice, Ireland, and Treasurer and Resident Bencher of Gray's Inn, 1922. Reported in The Times, May 26th, 1925.

3 Murdin, State Papers, p. 764.

Spanish Netherlands to his son Prince Philip at Brussels

in 1555, it is said that tears sprang to the eyes of the Dutch

nobles and deputies as they listened to their beloved

sovereign reading his abdication. While he was speaking

he rested his arm affectionately on the shoulder of a young

man of twenty-two. The name of this young man was

William of Nassau, afterwards Prince of Orange. A

dozen years later these two Princes, to whom the care and

government of the country had been entrusted, were

mortal enemies. ...


It was in 1567 that Philip, now King of Spain, deter-

mined to stamp out heresy in his Dutch dominions. He

committed this task to the foremost Spanish soldier, the

Duke of Alva; but before Alva reached Brussels the

Prince of Orange had withdrawn to one of his German

estates at Dillenburg near Cologne. He was outlawed

and his Dutch estates confiscated; to which he replied

by raising troops in Germany and attacking Alva. The

long struggle against Spanish tyranny, to which he was

to devote the rest of his life, had begun.


These events were watched with the keenest interest

at Cecil House, the headquarters in England of the

"Common Cause" of Protestantism against the Roman

Church; and it was no doubt with the object of securing

first-hand information of the doings of the Prince of

Orange that we find Thomas Churchyard, then in the

Earl of Oxford's employ, being sent to Dillenburg by his

master's orders.1 We do not know when Churchyard

first became attached to Lord Oxford's household. He

was now nearly fifty, having started life as a page in the

service of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, Oxford's uncle

by marriage. After Surrey's execution he led an adven-

turous life as a soldier of fortune in Scotland, Ireland,

and France until 1564. He returned from his mission to

Dillenburg after a few months' absence, when a breach

p. 29


1 Churchyard, A True Discourse Historical, 1602, p. 10. As Oxford was only seventeen years old, it is probable that Cecil was the real instigator of Churchyard's mission, though he would not be unwilling that the expense should be borne by his Ward.

occurred between him and the young Earl.1 In 1570 he

was employed by Cecil to report on the movements of

Catholic recusants at Bath.2 His pen was busy on a

wide range of subjects for the next twenty years, and he

was patronised by many courtiers, including Sir Christopher

Hatton. In 1590 we shall meet him once again in Lord

Oxford's employ.


On December 2nd, 1568, "Margaret, widow of John,

16th Earl, wife of Charles Tyrrell, Esq., and mother of the

17th Earl," died and was buried at Earl's Colne.3 Her

husband did not long survive her, for he died in the spring

of 1570. Although in his will 4 he bequeaths "unto the

Earl of Oxford one great horse that his lordship gave

me," the fact remains that never in after-years did Lord

Oxford mention his stepfather other than contemptuously.

Tyrrell seems to have been an insignificant character, and

he took no part, great or small, in the life and activities

of the Court. It is safe to assume that his mother's second

marriage offended her son, who saw in it perhaps a slight,

not only to the memory of his father, but also to the great

de Vere lineage, to which he was so proud to belong.


In 1569, just before the Rebellion in the North, Thomas

Underdowne 5 dedicated "To the Right Honourable

Edward de Vere, Lord Bulbeck, Earl of Oxenford, Lord

Great Chamberlain of England," his translation of An

Aethiopian History, from the Greek of Heliodorus:


I do not deny [he writes] but that in many matters,

I mean matters of learning, a nobleman ought to have a

sight; but to be too much addicted that way, I think it

is not good. Now of all knowledge fit for a noble gentle-

man, I suppose the knowledge of histories is most seeming.

For furthering whereof I have Englished a passing fine and

witty history, written in Greek by Heliodorus; and for

p. 30


1 Churchyard, A General Rehearsal of all Wars, 1579.

2 Lansdowne MSS., 11. 56.

3 Philip Morant, History of Essex, vol. ii.

4 P.C.C. 15, Lyon.

5 Thomas Underdowne was a poet and translator; he published The excellent history of Theseus and Ariadne, 1566; Heliodorus' Aethiopian History, 1569; and Ovid Against Ibis, with an appendix of legends, 1569.

right good cause consecrated the same to your honourable

Lordship. For such virtues be in your honour, so haughty

courage joined with great skill, such sufficiency in learning,

so good nature and common sense that in your honour is,

I think, expressed the right pattern of a noble gentleman.

... Therefore I beseech your honour favourably to

accept this my small travail in translating Heliodorus,

which I have so well translated as he is worthy, I am per-

suaded that your honour will well like of. ... 1


Lord Oxford was now nineteen; and it is clear from

Underdowne's outspoken caution against noblemen becom-

ing too addicted to learning, that the young Earl's interests

were becoming more and more centred in books and study.

This is just what we should expect from the report of his

doings at the two Universities; and ten years later we

shall find him being reproved for the same tendency by

his old friend Gabriel Harvey, the Cambridge scholar and





An interesting side light on the customs of the time is

to be found in a document endorsed in Lord Burghley's

own handwriting, "A summary of the charges of the

apparel of the Earl of Oxford, 1566." It is in reality Lord

Oxford's tailor's bills for the first four years of his ward-

ship. The total amount -over six hundred pounds- is

most remarkable. In later years we shall find Lord

Burghley continually upbraiding Lord Oxford for his

extravagance. When he does so, it will be well for us

to remember these bills-vouched for by Burghley him-

self-which were incurred by Oxford when he was between

the ages of twelve and sixteen. As Lord Burghley allowed

his ward to spend about £1,000 a year, expressed in terms

of modern money, on his clothes, it is hardly reasonable

for him to complain that when he grew up he had developed

extravagant habits. The document runs as follows:

p. 31


1 "The first edition of Underdowne's translation is undated ... (but) it is conjectured to be the end of the 10th Book of Heliodorus' Aethiopian History, which Francis Caldecke obtained a licence "to print in 1569." (The Abbey Classics, vol. xxiii.)



For the apparel, with Rapiers and Daggers, for my Lord

of Oxenford, his person, viz:


1562 and 63- In the first year and twenty-six

odd days, beginning the 3rd of September,

and ending the 28th of September, Anno

Reginae Elizabeth 5th ...
154 5 6



1563 and 64- Item, in the second year, begin-

ning on the 29th of September, Anno 5th,

and ending 30th of September, Anno 6th ...
106 15 11



1564 and 5- Also in the third year beginning

the last of October, Anno 6th, ending the

29th of September, Anno 7th ...
191 108



1565 and 6- More for the 5th year beginning

the 30th Day of September, Anno 7th,

and ending the 28th Sept. Anno 8th ...
175 12 1




1566- Sum of these 4 years ...
£ 627 15 0



Before we leave Cecil House and follow Lord Oxford

to the wars, let us linger for a moment over another

old account book where various sums of money paid on

behalf of the Royal Wards were recorded. It is headed

"Payments made by John Hart, Chester Herald, on

behalf of the Earl of Oxford from January 1st to September

30th, 1569/70." 2 The following extract is from the

first quarter's account:


To John Spark, draper, for fine black [cloth]

for a cape and a riding cloak ...
6 5 0


To Myles Spilsby, tailor, for one doublet of

Cambric, one of fine canvas, and one of

black satin; and the furniture of a riding

cloak ...
12 13 0


To John Martin, hosier, for one pair of velvet

hose black ...
10 9 2


To Philip Ewnter, upholsterer, for one fine

wool bed bolster, and pillows of down ...
2 7 0


To Brown, my Lord's servant, for ten pairs of

Spanish leather shoes, and three pairs of

Moyles ...
1 5 0


To John Maria, cutler, for a rapier, dagger and

girdle ...
1 6 8


p. 32


1 S.P. Dom. Eliz., 42. 38.

2 S.P. Dom. Add., 19. 38.


To William Seres, stationer, for a Geneva

Bible gilt, a Chaucer, Plutarch's works in

French, with other books and papers ...
2 7 10


To George Hill, saddler, for collars and girths

for my Lord's horse ...
5 0


To Riche, the apothecary, for potions, pills

and other drugs, for my Lord's diet in

time of his sickness ...
15 15 4


To William Bishop, for wood and coals for

Victuals for my Lord and his men in the

time of his said diet, for a comocase fur-

nished, for two Italian books, for house

rent, for the hire of a hothouse, for horse

hire, boat hire, carriages and other ...
30 16 0


To Chester Herald, for six sheets of fine hol-

land, six handkerchiefs and six others of

cambric, and for four yards of velvet, and

four others of satin, for to guard and bor-

der a Spanish cape ...
15 10 8


More to him for certain other articles for my

Lord, during his being sick at Windsor,

for rewards to his physician, and others,

for servants' wages ... and for the

charges of keeping in the stable and

shoeing of four geldings for my Lord's

service ...
36 5 4


And for the board and diet of my Lord with

his tutors and servants at Cecil House for

14 days of this quarter at £3 a week ...
6 0 0



Summa Totalis ...
145 17 4


In the next quarter we find an item:


To William Tavy, capper, for one velvet hat,

and one taffeta hat; two velvet caps, a

scarf, two pairs of garters with silver at

the ends, a plume of feathers for a hat,

and another hat band ...
£ 4 6 0


In the third quarter his library is further

because a payment is made:


To William Seres, stationer, for Tully's and

Plato's works in folio, with other books,

paper and nibs ...
£ 4 6 4


p. 33

From his portraits and these two quaint old account

books we can picture very vividly the nineteen-year-old

Earl of Oxford when he lived at Cecil House in the Strand

in the year 1569. Rather below medium height, he was

sturdy with brown curly hair and hazel eyes. On his

head a velvet cap with a plume of pheasants' feathers

fastened on one side. A black satin doublet, velvet

breeches, and silk stockings supported by silver buckled

garters. On his feet the broad-toed, flat-footed, soft

leather shoes of the period. At his side a light rapier,

passed through a Silver-studded belt. Thus clad he

would be taken by his guardian down to the river stairs

at the bottom of Ivy Lane. The liveried watermen would

be ready waiting at the steps with the canopied barge.

And so they would go upstream, perhaps, to the Palace at

Richmond, where the Queen had sent for "her Turk,"

as she playfully called Lord Oxford, to dance with her,

or to play on the virginals.


On another morning perhaps he would order one of

his "four geldings," and having discarded the Court

silks and satins for the more serviceable cloths and cam-

brics, he would ride out from Cecil House westward along

the Strand past St. Martin's Church, with a hawk on his

wrist. Here he would canter along the soft turf at the side

of the narrow country lane till he came to the little village

of Kensington. An hour's hawking, with its wild gallops

over fields and through woods; and so back to London

with the bag of partridges and herons tied to his saddle.


And then in the evening, tired with the day's chase,

we may picture him in his library surrounded by the books

he loved so well. His uncle, Arthur Golding, had no

doubt introduced him to Plato, to Cicero, to his own

translation of Ovid, and to the Geneva Bible, for Golding

had strong Calvinistic leanings. But we may be sure that

his active mind was more attracted by the wealth of

Renaissance literature that was then beginning to flood

England. In later years Lord Oxford spent many months

travelling in Italy; and his enthusiasm for that country

p. 34

originated no doubt from the Italian books he had read,

perhaps surreptitiously, while he was a Royal Ward.




Although, as we have seen, the transition from Catholi-

cism to Protestantism had been carried out in 1559 almost

Without incident, the position by 1569 had materially

altered. At the Court, the Feudal aristocracy whose

sympathies were mainly Catholic, led by the Duke of

Norfolk and the Earl of Arundel, was numerically far

stronger than the Protestants under the leadership of

Sir William Cecil. In the country, and particularly in the

north, Catholicism was daily growing in strength. More-

over, the King of Spain's policy in the Netherlands,

coupled with the Scottish Queen's flight into England

the previous year, had led the Catholics to believe that

the moment had come to strike a blow.


Elizabeth and Cecil, however, were not caught napping.

In March 1569 Mary had been removed from the north

to Tutbury, where she was placed under the charge of

George Talbot, sixth Earl of Shrewsbury. In May a

commission was sent to the Sheriffs of Counties to prepare

"muster rolls" of all able-bodied men fit to bear arms,1

and the loyal Earl of Sussex, one of the ablest soldiers in

the country, was appointed Lord-Lieutenant of the North.

On October 25th Mary was again removed secretly by night

from Tutbury to Coventry, so that she should be well

out of the reach of any insurgents from the north. While

these preparations were being carried out, the Catholic

leaders were engaging in secret intrigues. Their design

was to seize the Queen of Scots, marry her to the Duke

of Norfolk, and place her on the English throne. The

Earls of Northumberland and Westmorland were to raise

the revolt in the north, Lord Derby was to join them from

the north-west, the Duke of Norfolk from the east, and

it was confidently hoped that Southampton and Montague

p. 35


1 S.P. Dom. Eliz., 49. 71.

would also assist. Unfortunately for them their leader, the

Duke, was a poor conspirator. He was more than once

on the verge of launching the enterprise when, he drew back

in fear. Thus the summer wore on, and opportunity after

opportunity slipped through the grasp of the Catholics.


Early in November the Earls of Northumberland and

Westmorland, tired of waiting for the Duke, raised the

standard of revolt on their own account. Gathering

round them about four thousand of their retainers, they

celebrated a solemn Mass in Durham Cathedral and

marched south towards Tutbury. For a time the position

was serious. Sussex, too weak in cavalry to meet them

in the field, was obliged to remain behind the walls of

York. The ill-concerted rebellion, however, collapsed

as dramatically as it had begun. The followers of the

two Earls, seeing that the midlands were not going to

rise, melted away; and Northumberland and Westmor-

land, deserted by all but a handful of men, fled across the

Border, pursued by the Lord-Lieutenant.


Meantime the Queen and Cecil had not been idle.

Directly news reached London that the revolt had begun,

the machinery prepared in May was set in motion. Three

thousand horse and twelve thousand foot, all from the

more dependable and populous southern counties, were

called up and mobilised. They were placed under the

orders of Charles Howard and Edward Horsey respectively,1

and divided into two columns which were gradually con-

centrated; at Leicester and Lincoln, under arrangements

made by the Earl of Warwick and Lord Clinton,2 who

p. 36


1 S.P. Dom. Eliz., 59. 68. Charles Howard (1536-1624) was the eldest son of William, Lord Howard of Effingham, who was at this time Lord Chamberlain. He was a brilliant soldier, sailor and statesman, his greatest achievement being the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588. Edward Horsey (died 1583) was at this time Captain of the Isle of Wight, where many of the levies were raised. He was knighted in 1577.

2 Ambrose Dudley, Earl of Warwick, was the elder brother of the famous Robert, Earl of Leicester. He had seen service in France against the Catholics, and was at this time about forty years of age. Edward Fiennes, Lord Clinton, was a man of nearly fifty, and one of Elizabeth's most trusted warriors. He had been appointed Lord Admiral on her accession. He was created Earl of Lincoln in 1572.




p. 37

were appointed joint commanders of the Army of the

South by Royal Commission on November 29th.1 The

concentration was completed early in December, and on

the let Warwick and Clinton joined forces near Durham.2


But the Army of the South was never called upon to go

into action, for while it was marching north the rebellion had

collapsed. The energetic measures taken by the Earl

of Sussex against the remnants of the rebel army had cowed

the northern counties and completely restored order. It

was with justice that Lord Hunsdon could write to



If ever man deserved thanks or reward at Her Majesty's

hands it is the Earl of Sussex, for if his diligence had not

been great Her Majesty had neither had York nor York-

shire at this hour at her command. ... I wish Her

Majesty knew of all his doings and then she would repose

in such a faithful and discreet officer. 3


Accordingly Warwick and Clinton informed the Privy

Council on December 22nd:


In our opinion we see no great cause to keep any great

numbers here now ... [but] seeing that the rebels are

not yet so thoroughly chased nor suppressed ... we

think it necessary that for a time some sufficient garrison

be left in these parts for the better security of all things,

p. 38


1 S.P. Dom. Eliz., 59. 53.

2 S.P. Dom. Eliz., 60. 34.

3 S.P. Dom. Add., 15. 49. Henry Carey, Lord Hunsdon, was a nephew of Anne Boleyn and the Queen's cousin. He was a great favourite of Elizabeth's, and was now about forty-five years old. He was Warden of the East Marches, but on the outbreak of the Rising he had been in London. He hurried back to his post, arriving at York on November 24th. The last remark in his letter was made with the intention of trying to dispel Elizabeth's suspicions as to the integrity of his chief. It had come to her ears that Sussex had been secretly advocating the marriage between the Duke of Norfolk and the Queen of Scots, a charge from which Sussex was easily able to clear himself later. (S.P. Dom. Add., 17. 94, 95, 96.) On top of this, however, news had arrived that Egremont Radcliffe, a younger brother of Sussex, had joined the rebels, a fact which did not help to decrease the difficulties of the Lord-Lieutenant.

which we refer to your Lordships' better order and judge-



Elizabeth was nothing 10th to save the heavy charges

of maintaining an army in the field, and orders were issued

for its discharge. At the same time it was left to the

discretion of the commanders on the spot to retain any

men who might be required for garrison duty. By

December 30th over half the army had been disbanded, and

Warwick and Clinton were able to inform the Privy



Whereas once the Lord of Sussex required of us certain

companies of Shot 2 to be bestowed in sundry places, after-

wards, upon intelligence of the Earl of Northumberland's

taking, and the dispersing of all the rest, he wrote unto

us that it should be unneedful to leave any garrison at all;

whereupon we resolved to discharge our whole force, except

four or five hundred Shot to attend upon us till we be

going hence.3


By the middle of January, their commissions ended and

their men disbanded, Warwick and Clinton returned to

their homes.

While these events were in progress Lord Oxford had

been sick, for on November 24th he writes thus to Cecil:


Sir, Although my hap hath been so hard that it hath

Visited me of late with sickness, yet, thanks be to God ...

I find my health restored, and I find myself doubly beholden

unto you both for that and many good turns which I have

received before of your part. ... I am bold to desire

your favour and friendship that you will suffer me to be

employed, by your means and help, in this service that is

now in hand.


He goes on to remind his guardian that it has always been

his wish to see "the wars and services in strange and

p. 39


1 S.P. Dom. Eliz., 60. 45. Froude, always anxious to belittle Elizabeth, has asserted that she ordered the disbanding of the Army of the South against the advice of Warwick and Clinton, a statement that is completely at variance with the facts.

2 I.e., arquebusiers.

3 S.P. Dom. Eliz., 60. 61.

foreign parts," and asks him to "do me so much honour

as that, by your purchase of my licence, I may be called

to the service of my Prince and country, as, at this present

troublous time, a number are." 1


His request was not granted immediately; but on

March 30th, 1570, Cecil wrote to Sir William Dansell, the

Receiver-General of the Court of Wards and Liveries:


"... As the Queen's Majesty sendeth at this present

the Earl of Oxford into the north parts to remain with my

Lord of Sussex, and to be employed there in Her Majesty's

service; these are to require you to deliver unto the said

Earl ... the sum of £40. ..." 2


As Lord Oxford took part in Sussex's campaign in

Scotland in April and May, some account of it will be of

interest here.


When the Army of the South had been disbanded Sussex

was left once more with the normal garrison to guard the

frontier. His headquarters were at York, and his forces

were organised into three commands: the East Marches

under Lord Hunsdon at Berwick, the Middle Marches

under Sir John Forster at Alnwick, and the West Marches

under Lord Scrope at Carlisle.3 The only remaining

storm centre on English territory was Naworth Castle

in Cumberland, the home of Leonard Dacre, the last male

representative of the great northern family of that name.4


p. 40


1 Lansdowne MSS., 11. 121.

2 S.P.Dom.Add., 19. 37.

3 Sir John Forster, then aged about fifty, was a veteran of the Border, having fought at Solway Moss and Pinkie, and having been Warden of the Middle Marches since 1560. Henry, Lord Scrope (1534-92) was another experienced frontiersman, having been Warden of the West Marches since 1562. His son and successor married Lord Hunsdon's daughter, Philadelphia Carey.

4 His nephew, George Lord Dacre, had died at the age of nine in May 7 1569. Camden says that Leonard "stomached it much that so goodly an inheritance descended by law to his nieces, whom the Duke of Norfolk their father-in-law had betrothed to his sons, and had commenced a suit against his nieces: which, when it went not to his desire, he fell to plotting and practising with the rebels." He died an exile in Flanders in 1573.

For some time he had been a confederate of the Earls of

Northumberland and Westmorland, who confidently ex-

pected his support when they launched their enterprise;

but instead Of joining them he went to London and placed

himself at the Queen's command. He was given a com-

mission to raise men and oppose the rebels, which he under-

took to do. There can be little doubt, however, that he

was really acting treacherously and intended to use the

men he raised to further the rising. Unfortunately for

him, the rebellion had collapsed before he could return

north; and he therefore shut himself up in Naworth

Castle, which he put in a state of defence.


The task of rounding him up was entrusted to Lord

Hunsdon and Sir John Forster, and Sussex was sent

for to London to make his report. Hunsdon arrived at

the Castle at dawn on February 20th with 1,500 Horse and

Foot. Dacre's force was drawn up outside, and Hunsdon's

reconnaissance showed him that he was outnumbered by

two to one. He accordingly decided to retire on Carlisle,

about ten miles distant, and gather reinforcements from

Lord Scrope; but Dacre, seeing his advantage, followed

and attacked. Hunsdon's account of the ensuing action

is brief but graphic:


His footmen gave the proudest charge upon my Shot

that ever I saw. Whereupon, having left Sir John Forster

with five hundred horse for my back, I charged with the

rest of my horsemen upon his footmen, and slew between

three and four hundred, and have taken two or three

hundred prisoners, such as they are. And Leonard Dacre

being with his horsemen, was the first man that flew,

like a tall gentleman, and, as I think, never looked behind

him till he was in Liddlesdale; and yet one of my com-

pany had him by the arm, and if he had not been rescued

by certain Scots, whereof he had many, he had been



This brilliant little exploit overjoyed the Queen. "I

doubt much, my Harry," she wrote, "whether that the

p. 41


1 SP. Dom. Add., 17. 107.

victory which were given me more joyed me, or that you

were by God appointed the instrument of my glory." 1

By the middle of the next month it was becoming more

and more apparent that the position across the Border

was taking a turn for the worse. Since the assassination

of the Regent in January 2 the supporters of Mary Queen

of Scots had become bolder, and had made many daring

raids into the northern counties, burning and destroying

villages, and carrying off cattle. Their numbers had been

increased by the English rebels, who, having fled across

the Border and hearing of the severity with which their

comrades had been treated, dared not return to their

homes. Moreover, on March 2nd, Sir Thomas Gargrave,

Sussex's second-in-command at York, had reported:


Lord Hume has forsaken religion and hears two or three

Masses daily with Lady Northumberland; so being

revolted and joined with Buccleugh and the Carrs, Lords

Maxwell and Herries may join them, and with the assistance

of the rebels, they will hurt the frontiers unless prevented.3


Sussex was still in London, and at a meeting of the

Privy Council held there on March 14th, it was decided

that the Border garrisons should be reinforced by 1,000

horse and 3,000 foot, with which Sussex should make an

extensive raid into Scotland. There was ample justifica-

tion for this action. It was an open secret that many

of the Scottish lairds who dwelt near the Border had been

harbouring the English fugitives, and had been the

instigators of the raids into England. Sussex was there-

fore enjoined to proclaim that the invasion of Scotland

was being undertaken with the double purpose of appre-

p. 42


1 S.P. Dom. Add., 17. 113.

2 James Stuart, Earl of Moray, half-brother of Mary, Queen of Scots. He had been appointed Regent of Scotland in the name of Mary's infant son, James, in 1567. He was a Protestant and a staunch friend of Elizabeth's. He governed Scotland with a Council known as the "King's Lords," so called because their policy was to replace Mary on the throne by Prince James. Opposed to them were the "Queen's Lords," who supported the cause of the captive Mary Stuart.

3 S.P. Dom. Add, 18. 2.

bending the fugitives and avenging the damage done

in England.1

Ten days later Sussex was back at York, and Lord

Hunsdon was disgusted to hear that Elizabeth was. still

harbouring suspicions about her Lord-Lieutenant:


I am sorry to see [he wrote bluntly to Cecil], my Lord-

Lieutenant come down with no countenance; for his

lieutenancy, it is for her [the Queen's] service. I assure

you it rather hinders her service than furthers it; for I

know the world looked for his being of the Privy Council

at the least, which had been more beneficial to her service

[than] any commodity to him. ... God send her many

so well able to serve her in all respects, whereof she surely

hath small store.2


Sussex was too good a soldier to take offence at the mean

way he had been treated in London, and at once set about

the task before him. On April 5th he held a conference

with his three Wardens at Newcastle, when the plan of


campaign was decided on. On the 10th he wrote to Cecil

to say that he trusts -


before the light of this moon be past to leave a memory

in Scotland whereof they and their children shall be

afraid to offer war to England.3

By the 17th the preliminary moves had been completed;

and that night the army crossed the Border simultaneously

at three places.

The main column consisted of 700 horse and 1,700 foot,

and was under the personal direction of Sussex himself,

with Hunsdon as his lieutenant. They entered Scotland just

east of Kelso, and marched up the valley of the Teviot-


burning on both hand at the least two mile, leaving neither

Castle, town, nor tower unburnt till we came to Jedburgh.4


This district belonged to Buccleuch: one of Mary's adherents;

p. 43


1 Cal. S.P. Scot, pp. 95 & 115.

2 S.P. Dom. Add., 18. 15.

3 Cal. S.P. Scot, p. 110.

4 Sharpe, Memorials of the Rebellion, p. 238.

and among other places they destroyed a "proper tower" of Buccleuch's called "Mose Howse."


We had that day only three small skirmishes ... the

Lord Hume and Leonard Dacre were in the field but durst

not come near.1


Meanwhile, a second column under Sir John Forster,

consisting of 200 horse and 800 foot, had crossed the Border

at the source of the River Coquet. He moved down the

valley of the Oxnam, burning and destroying as he went,

and joined Sussex on the evening of the 18th at Jedburgh.

An early start was made the next morning on either bank

of the Teviot towards Hawick. Sussex's column took the

north side, and destroyed three castles belonging to three

of the "Queen's Lords"-Ferniehurst, Huntly, and

Bedroul. Sir John Forster followed the right bank and

rejoined his chief that night at Hawick. As they ap-

proached the town the inhabitants, in order to forestall

them, took the roofs off their houses and themselves set

fire to the inflammable thatch, hoping by this means to

save their town. Sussex, however, was in time to quench

the flames, and by using the unconsumed thatch succeeded

in burning the whole town with the exception of one


The following morning the foot-soldiers, who had

marched over thirty miles in less than forty-eight hours,

were rested; while Sussex with a band of horsemen rode

over to Branxholme, Buccleuch's principal mansion.

finding it also burnt before his arrival, he completed its

destruction by blowing up the walls with gunpowder,

and cutting down the fruit-trees in the orchard. That

afternoon the whole army marched back to Jedburgh.2


Next day, the 21st, Sussex and Hunsdon returned to

Kelso, where they spent the night. A few miles to the

north was situated Hume Castle, the stronghold of Lord

Hume, one of the most active supporters of the Queen of

p. 44


1 Sharpe, Memorials of the Rebellion, p. 238.

2 Cal. S.P. Foreign, p. 228.

Scots. Sussex had intended to assault it on the 22nd,

but owing to a miscarriage of orders the artillery had

returned to Berwick. Sussex, however, profited by this

mistake, which may indeed have been a deliberate ruse.

He was particularly anxious to capture the many refugees

that Hume was sheltering; but he knew that unless he

could come upon them by surprise they would elude him

by scattering in the country. Accordingly he sent Hume

a message to say that although he had it in his power to

take the castle, he would forbear to do so, in the hope

that by this act of clemency Hume might be persuaded

"to amend his fault." Having thus lulled the defenders

of the castle into a sense of security, he made his way

back ostentatiously to Berwick.1

The third column of 100 horse and 500 foot under Lord

Scrope had passed into Scotland by way of Carlisle on the

evening of the 17th. He marched to within a mile of

Dumfries, burning and destroying the towns and villages

on his way. Here he encountered the principal landowner,

Lord Maxwell, at the head of a greatly superior force. A

sharp skirmish ensued in which the English horse were

roughly handled. The timely arrival of reinforcements in

the shape of 150 shot, however, enabled him to extricate

his cavalry. He saw it would be dangerous with his

small numbers to linger on Scottish soil, and therefore

returned to Carlisle on the 21st.2

On the morning of the 28th, Sussex, by means of a night

march, appeared again suddenly outside Hume Castle

with his siege train, and opened a bombardment. At

one o'clock in the afternoon Lord Hume sent out a request

for a parley. Sussex, whose powder was beginning to run

short, consented to meet his envoy; and an agreement

was arrived at by which the defenders were permitted to

retire unmolested, provided they laid down their arms

and left all their belongings in the castle. A garrison of

200 men was left there, pending Elizabeth's decision as to

p. 45


1 Cal. S.P. Scottish, p. 115.

2 Ibid., p. 130.

its ultimate fate.1 Before returning to Berwick, another

stronghold belonging to Lord Hume, Fast Castle, was

captured and destroyed.

While these operations were in progress, the Earl of

Lennox, who was on his way from London to Edinburgh to

take over the Regency, was lying ill at Berwick. By the

12th May he was sufficiently recovered to resume his

journey; and on the 13th, escorted by a detachment of

English troops under Sir William Drury, Marshal of

Berwick, he entered Edinburgh. Although Drury's mission

had been solely to convey Lennox in safety to the Scottish

capital, he was persuaded to accompany the Earls of Morton

and Mar, who were on the point of setting out to relieve

Glasgow. After assisting them in this and other services,

he returned to Berwick on June 2nd.2

Meanwhile the news of these doings in Scotland had

reached Paris, Where it aroused considerable indignation.

The King of France, through his ambassador La Mothe

Fénelon, requested Elizabeth to withdraw her troops,

and behind this request a veiled threat was plainly dis-

cernible. Now the one thing Elizabeth dreaded above

all others was lest her policy should drive France and Spain

into alliance with each other against her. At this time she

was by way of being on friendly terms with the "most

Christian King," Charles IX. Although she returned a

typically evasive answer to Fénelon, she deemed it advis-

able to order Sussex with some asperity to recall Drury

immediately 3; but as soon as she had soothed the French

King, she disclosed her real feelings in a letter to the Lord

Lieutenant dated June 11th:


Right trusty and well-beloved cousin, we greet you well.

Although we have not in any express writing to you declared

our well liking of your service at this time, yet we would

not have you think but we have well considered that

therein you have deserved both praise and thanks. For

indeed we have not known in our time, nor heard of any

former, that such entries into Scotland, with such acts

p. 46


1 Cal. S.P. Scot., pp. 145 and 197.

2 Ibid.,p. 198. 3 Ibid., p. 183.

of avenge have been so attempted and achieved with so

small numbers, and so much to our honour, and the small

loss or hurt of any of our subjects; therefore we have

good cause hereby to continue and confirm the opinion

we have of your wisdom in governing ... of your

painfulness in executing the same, and of your faith-

fulness towards us in your direct proceeding to make all

your said actions to end with our honour and contenta-

tion. And as we know that in such causes, the foresight

and order is to be attributed to a general, so we are not

ignorant that the concurrency of the wisdom, fidelity

and activity of others having principal charge with you,

has been the furtherance of our honour; and therefore

knowing very well the good desert of our cousin of Hunsdon,

we have written at this time a special letter to him of

thanks. And, for the Marshal to whom you committed

the charge of the last entry into Scotland, we now see him

by his actions both in fidelity, wisdom and knowledge

to be the same that we always conceived to be, and think

him worthy of estimation and countenance; and so we

pray you to let him understand of our allowance of him,

and to give the others who now served with him in our

name such thanks as we perceive they have deserved, and

especially (besides other their deserts) as they have so

behaved themselves in Scotland- as by living in order

without spoil of such as are our friends -they have given

great cause to have our nation commended, and our

friends to rest satisfied.1

That Elizabeth, who was seldom fulsome in her thanks

or praise, should have written in this strain to her Lord-

Lieutenant is an eloquent testimony to the greatness of

the service he had rendered his country. Modern historians

almost unanimously describe Sussex's campaign in Scot-

land as "wanton" and "brutal"; but even if we cannot

wholly endorse the suffering he inflicted on hundreds of

innocent people, we can at least endeavour to picture the

Scottish problem as it appeared in the eyes of the Eliza-

bethans. To us the Tweed is just a river, to be crossed in

a train or a motor-car. To them it was a curtain behind

which lurked marauders, bandits, and the Queen's enemies;

p. 47


1 Cal. S.P. Scot, p. 205.

and through which at any moment a French army might

appear. Sussex had made no idle boast when he said on

April 10th that he intended to leave such a memory in

Scotland that "they and their children shall be afraid to

offer war to England." By his energy and generalship he

did for Elizabeth's turbulent frontier what another English

general, Lord Roberts, did for another English Queen in

India over 300 years later.

We do not know for certain what part Lord Oxford

played in the campaign; but his rank and his youth make

it probable that he served on Lord Sussex's staff. We do

know, however, that for the next thirteen years he was

the staunchest supporter Sussex possessed at Court.

He was to Sussex what Philip Sidney was to the Earl of

Leicester. The long and bitter feud between the two older

men, that more than once brought them to blows in the

Council-chamber, was pursued on one memorable occasion

with no less intensity by Oxford and Sidney.

It is not always easy to follow the tortuous intrigues of

the various factions at Gloriana's Court. Alliances were

made, broken, and mended again, friends became foes,

and foes were reconciled. But throughout it all two

men remained constant enemies-Sussex and Leicester.

To Sussex the swarthy Leicester was the Queen's evil

genius, who did not scruple to play upon her passions in

order to raise himself to the position of King-Consort.

The family stamps the man, and Sussex may have de-

tected in Robert Dudley the mirror of his father, the

Duke of Northumberland, who had been brought to the

scaffold in 1554 for seeking to become the father-in-law

of a Queen. It is possible for us to look back, after the

passage of ten generations, and admire the qualities of both

men; but with them it was war to the knife. When, in

1583, Sussex lay dying of consumption brought on by the

rigours and hardships of his campaigns, his last words

were: "Beware of the Gipsy; you do not know the beast

as well as I do." 1

p. 48


1 Naunton, Fragmenta Regalia.

How long Lord Oxford remained on the Border is not

known, but he probably returned to London in the late

summer or early autumn. It may have been on the

occasion of his home-coming that Stow describes him

riding into London -


and so to his house by London Stone, with four score

gentlemen in a livery of Reading tawny, and chains of gold

about their necks, before him; and one hundred tall yeo-

men in the like livery to follow him, without chains, but

all having his cognizance of the Blue Boar embroidered

on their left shoulder.1


London Stone is probably a fragment of the old Roman

defences of the City, and is still in existence, having been

built into the south wall of St. Swithin's Church, just

south of the Mansion House.

Holinshed (who was followed by Shakespeare in 2

Henry VI., Act IV, scene 6) tells us that when Cade, in

1450, forced his way into London, he first of all proceeded

to London Stone, and having struck his sword upon it

said, in reference to himself and in explanation of his

own action, "Now is Mortimer lord of this city." 2

The house Stow refers to was called Vere House, and he

tells us that it was--


A fair and large built house sometime pertaining to the

prior of Tortington in Sussex, since to the Earl of Oxford,

now to Sir John Hart, alderman. Which house hath a

fair garden thereunto, lying on the west side thereof.3


It was Lord Oxford's principal London dwelling until

1589, when Sir John Hart bought it. It had been origi-

nally granted in 1540 to the sixteenth Earl by King Henry

VIII. on the dissolution of Tortington Priory; and in

1573 the Queen renewed the grant to the seventeenth

Earl in consideration of a yearly rent of thirty shillings.4

During this winter Lord Oxford made the acquaintance

p. 49


1 Stow, Annals (ed. 1631), p. 34.

2 Encyc. Brit, vol. xvi, p. 956.

3 Cf. Wheatley, London Past and Present, vol. ii, p. 620.

4 Pat. Roll. 1101, mem. 31, 15 Eliz.

of Dr. Dee, Queen Elizabeth's famous astrologer. The

details are not known, but in 1592 Dec published A Com-

pendious Rehearsal, which was in reality his defence against

charges of witchcraft and sorcery that had been preferred

against him. His defence took the form of citing the many

noblemen and gentlemen who had patronised him; and

among them he quotes "the honourable the Earl of

Oxford, his favourable letters, anno 1570." Dec used

to be consulted in his astrological capacity by many of the

highest people in the land. Elizabeth herself had gone to

him when Queen Mary had died and had asked him to

choose an hour and a date for her coronation when the

stars would be favourable. We, living in a more sophisti-

cated age, may be inclined to smile at this; but we must

at least admit the coincidence that Gloriana's reign did

turn out to be one of the most successful in our history.

The Earls of Leicester and Derby, and Sir Philip Sidney

were among his many patrons.

While on the subject of astrology it may be worth

mentioning that Lord Oxford certainly practised this

ancient science. In a small volume of doggrel poems

entitled Pandora, published by John Soowthern 1 and

dedicated to the Earl of Oxford in 1584, he speaks of his

patron thus:

For who marketh better than he

The seven turning flames of the sky ?

Or hath read more of the antique;

Hath greater knowledge of the tongues ?

Or understandeth sooner the sounds

Of the learner to love music ?

The "seven turning flames of the sky" are of course the

planets; and we may conjecture that it was in 1570, that

he studied astrology under Dr. Dee. We shall meet

these two again in later years working together as "ad-

venturers," or speculators, in Martin Frobisher's attempts

to find a North-West Passage to China and the East Indies.


p. 50


1 John Soowthern was probably a Frenchman who had settled permanently in England. He was at this time in the household of the Earl of Oxford.



Monday, April 2nd, 1571, was a great day in London,

for the Queen was to open Parliament in State. There

had been no session for five years, during which time many

notable events had occurred that were bound to loom large

at discussions in both Houses. Foremost, of course, was the

question of the Queen of Scots; then there was the Bull

of Excommunication that Pope Pius V. had pronounced

against Elizabeth; and lastly the great Catholic rising, so

long threatened, had come and gone with the complete

discomfiture of the rebels. But these matters alone would

not have been sufficient to induce the Queen to call her

Parliament together. With true Tudor distaste for all

forms of democracy, she never summoned Parliament unless

compelled to do so. But in one respect she was in their

hands. She was dependent on their good-will for the

replenishment of her depleted Treasury. The ordinary

revenues of the State had proved inadequate to bear the

heavy charges of the Northern Rising, the war in Ireland,

and the maintenance of the Navy. She was therefore

reluctantly compelled to call upon her Lords and Commons

to make some additional provision to meet these liabilities.

The procession to Westminster was led by the fifty

Gentlemen Pensioners all mounted and carrying their gilt

battle-axes. After them followed, in order, the Knights

of the Bath, the Barons of the Exchequer, the Judges, the

Master of the Rolls, the Attorney and Solicitor-General,

the Lords Spiritual, the Lords Temporal, and finally the

Archbishop of Canterbury. Then came the Officers of

State; the Marquess of Northampton with the Hat of

Maintenance; Lord Admiral Clinton, who was acting

Lord Steward for the day; the Earl of Oxford, Lord Great

Chamberlain; and the Earl of Worcester, who deputised

as Earl Marshal in the enforced absence of the Duke of


Her Majesty sat in her coach in her imperial robes, with

a wreath or coronet of gold set with rich pearls and stones

p. 51

over her head; her coach drawn by two palfreys, covered

with crimson velvet, drawn out, embossed and embroidered

very richly.1


Behind the coach rode the Earl of Leicester, who, as

Master of the Horse, led Her Majesty's palfrey. And

finally the Maids of Honour, also mounted, with the

Bodyguard riding on either side of them.

After attending a service in Westminster Abbey the

Queen, with her train borne by the Earl of Oxford, was

conducted to the House of Lords. Behind her followed the

Lords Spiritual and Temporal, who took their places accord-

ing to their degree. The order of precedence of the great

Officers of State had been laid down in 1540:


The Lord Vice Regent shall be placed on the Bishop's

side above them all.

Then the Lord Chancellor,

   the Lord Treasurer,

   the Lord President of the Privy Council,

   the Lord Privy Seal.

These four being of the degree of a Baron or above shall

sit in the Parliament, in all assemblies of Council, above

Dukes not being of the Blood Royal, viz. the King's brother,

uncle, or nephews, etc.

And these six:

   the Lord Great Chamberlain of England,

   the Lord High Constable of England,

   the Earl Marshal of England,

   the Lord Admiral of England,

   the Lord Great Master or Steward of the King's House,

   the Lord Chamberlain of the King's Household.

These six are placed in all assemblies of Council after

the Lord Privy Seal, according to their degrees and estates:

so that if he be a Baron, to sit above all Barons; and if

he be an Earl, above all Earls.2


The Lord Chancellor and the Lord Treasurer were Sir

Nicholas Bacon and Lord Burghley respectively.3 The

p. 52


1 D'Ewes, Journals, p. 136.

2 W. Segar, Honor Military and Civil (1602), p. 243.

3 Sir Nicholas Bacon was officially known as "Lord Keeper of the Great Seal," but his duties were those of Lord Chancellor.

latter had received his Barony two months previously; and

the power that his position now gave him, ranking as he

did above all the rest of the nobility, may well be imagined.

The offices of Lord President of the Council and Lord Privy

Seal appear to have been in abeyance, but in 1572 Lord

Howard of Effingham was given the latter appointment.

Lord Oxford was the Great Chamberlain, by virtue of

which he took precedence above all Earls. There was no

High Constable, the Duke of Norfolk was Earl Marshal,

Clinton was Lord Admiral, and seems also to have acted as

Lord Steward,1 and Lord Howard of Effingham, father

of the hero of the Armada, was Lord Chamberlain.

When all were assembled the Queen called on her Lord

Keeper to read the Speech from the Throne. My Lord

Keeper, with the memory of the crushed rebellion behind

him, was in fighting mood, and did not spare the feelings

of the many Catholic Lords who faced him. He referred

in general terms to the great benefits that the Queen had

conferred on the country for upwards of ten years, three of

which he dealt with in greater detail. first, and in his

opinion most important, was that "we are delivered and

made free from the bondage of the Roman tyranny."

Secondly the earnestness with which Her Majesty had

sought peace, "the richest and most wished-for ornament

of any public weal." But, he added, "the same might by

God's grace have continued twenty years longer had not

the Raging Romanist Rebels entertained the matter. ..."

Lastly, the great benefit of clemency and mercy. "I

pray you," he asked the House, "hath it been seen or read

that any Prince of this Realm, during whole ten years'

reign and more, hath had his hands so clean from blood ?

If no offence were, Her Majesty's wisdom in governing

was the more to be wondered at; and if offences were,

then Her Majesty's clemency and mercy the more to be


p. 53


1 Cal. Rutland MSS., I. 92. The Lord Stewardship was vacant from the death of the Earl of Pembroke, in 1570, until the appointment of the Earl of Derby in 1585.

He then drew attention to the heavy expenses that had

been incurred of late- expenses, he was careful to point

out, that were solely due to the rebellious behaviour of

the Queen's disloyal subjects in England, Scotland, and

Ireland. He called upon both Houses to seek some way

of providing for the replenishment of the empty Treasury.1

But if the Upper House seemed to exhibit too great a

partiality towards Catholicism, it soon became apparent

that the Lower House threatened to go too far in the

opposite direction. A significant step was taken on

April 4th when, from the Bar of the House of Lords,

Christopher Wray, who had just been elected Speaker in

the Commons, appealed to Her Majesty to grant them the

privilege of free speech. To this request the Lord Keeper

gave a somewhat reluctant consent; but at the same time

he warned them "that they should do well to meddle

with no matters of State but such as were propounded

unto them"; and advised them to "occupy themselves

in other matters concerning the Commonwealth." 2

But the Commons were in no temper to heed warnings

or to take advice. They at once brought forward seven

bills all advocating a further reformation of the Church

so as to bring it more into line with Geneva, and a more

Vigorous policy against the Catholics. The Queen, who

was trying to steer a middle course between the extremists

of both parties, was most indignant, and affected to see

in their proceedings an insult to her supremacy as head

of the Church. She accordingly ordered the arrest of

one of the most outspoken members. The Commons,

however, were in no mood to submit, and succeeded in

securing his release. But at the dissolution, which took

place on May 29th, they were severely informed by the

Lord Keeper that "the Queen's highness did utterly

disallow and condemn their folly in meddling with things

not appertaining to them, nor within the capacity of their

understanding." 3


p. 54


1 D'Ewes, pp. 137-139.

2 Ibid., p. 141.

3 Lingard, History of England, vol. iii, p. 123.

Although Lord Oxford took no part other than in the

ceremonial of this Parliament, the speeches and proceedings

which he listened to and voted on form part of the frame-

work in which his life must be set. His first attendance

at Parliament was of itself an important event in his

career. But more important still perhaps is the fact that

he was witnessing the opening scenes of the great struggle

that finally culminated in the Civil War and the Puritan

Revolution. As a member of the old aristocracy his

instincts would be all on the side of feudalism and the

ancien régime. As a member of Sir William and Lady

Mildred Cecil's household his education had been con-

ducted entirely on pro-Reformation lines. More and more

the Reformation was coming into conflict with the feudal

ideals. The descendants of the hereditary nobility-the

Howards, the Fitzalans, the Percys, and the rest-were

being elbowed out of the government by the new men

like Cecil and Bacon. In spite of the admiration that

we know he had for his guardian, we shall see later that

for a time his instincts won the day, and he broke away

from his Cecil associations, and chose the more congenial

companionship of men like Lord Surrey, Lord Henry

Howard, and Lord Lumley.

It was probably about this time that Edmund Elviden

dedicated The most excellent and pleasant Metaphoricall

Historie of Peisistratus and Catanea to the Earl of Oxford.

He apologises for having "boldly or rather impudently

offered to your honour this present rude and gross conceit

. . . for your honour's recreation and avoiding of tedious

time, after your weighty affairs finished ... sufficiently

intending to satisfy the humour of your wise dis-


There is no date on the title-page of the book, which is

"set forth this present year," but as Elviden is only known

to have written two other books, The Closit of Connsells in

1569, and A Neweyeres gift to the, Rebellions Persons in the

N 07th partes of England in 1570, it seems not unlikely

that the Metaphoricall Historic belongs to the same period.1


p. 55


1 I am indebted to the Librarian of the Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, California, for the foregoing information about the Metaphoricall Historie. So far as is known, there is no other copy of this book. Nothing is known of Edmund Elviden beyond the fact that he was the author of the three books given above.

But it is time now to pass from the stern work

of Parliament and watch the younger members of both

Houses at play.




The first, second, and third of May 1571 was holden at

Westminster, before the Queen's Majesty, a solemn joust

at the tilt, tournay, and barriers. The challengers were

Edward Earl of Oxford, Charles Howard, Sir Henry Lee,

and Christopher Hatton, Esq., who all did very valiantly;

but the chief honour was given to the Earl of Oxford.1


These tournaments, which were such a feature of

Elizabeth's reign, had been revived in 1562 by Sir Henry

Lee, who had established himself as Her Majesty's

champion against all comers. Sir William Segar, Garter

King at Arms, in his Honor Military and Civil (1602),

gives an account of what were probably the five greatest

tournaments held under Gloriana's auspices. They were

all held in connexion with some special celebration, and

were additional to the Annual Accession Day tournaments

on November 17th, at which Sir Henry Lee, and later the

Earl of Cumberland, acted as the Queen's champions.


The following is Sir William Segar's list:


1. (January 1st ?) 1559. To celebrate the Queen's

accession. The challengers were the Duke of Norfolk,

the Earl of Sussex, Lords Scrope, Darcy, and Hunsdon,

and Lords Ambrose and Robert Dudley.

2. May 1st to 3rd, 1571.

3. June 1572. To celebrate the installation of the Duc

de Montmorency as a Knight of the Garter. The chal-

lengers were Walter Earl of Essex, and Edward Earl of

Rutland. Lord Oxford took no part in this tournament,

his share in helping to entertain the Queen's French guests

p. 56


1 Stow, Annals (ed. 1631), p. 669.

being the organisation of a display of Arquebusiers and

Artillery in St. James's Park.1

4. January 1st, 1581. In honour of Elizabeth's suitor

the Due d'Anjou, who had recently arrived in England.

The challengers were Anjou himself, the Prince d'Ausine,

the Comte St. Aignon, MM. Chamvallon and de Bacque-

Ville; and the Earls of Sussex and Leicester.

5. January 22nd, 1581. To celebrate Philip Howard

Earl of Surrey's succession to the Earldom of Arundel.

He himself, assisted by Sir William Drury, was the

challenger. The prize was given to the Earl of Oxford,

who was one of the defendants.


There was also the famous "triumph"- not described

by Segar- which was held on May 15th and 16th, 1581,

probably also in honour of the Due d'Anjou.2 The

challengers were the Earl of Arundel, Lord Windsor,

Philip Sidney, and Fulke Greville. This was perhaps

the occasion on which Philip Sidney won the prize, as he

tells us in one of his Sonnets:


Having this day my horse, my hand, my lance,

Guided so well that I obtained the prize,

Both by the judgment of the English eyes,

And of some sent by that sweet enemy France.


Lord Oxford at the time was in the Queen's disfavour.

It is a remarkable tribute to Lord Oxford's skill at arms

and horsemanship that he was given the prize at the only

two great tournaments in which he was a competitor.

Let us then pause for a moment and hear from the lips

of Sir William Segar, who was afterwards Garter King-

at-Arms, how these festivities were conducted.

The King's pleasure being signified unto the Constable

and Marshal, they caused Lists, or rails, to be made;

and set up in length three score paces, and in breadth

forty paces. ... At either end of the Lists was made a

p. 57


1 Agnes Strickland, Queens of England, vol. vi, p. 361. François de Montmorency was elected K.G. May 16th, landed at Dover June 9th, and was installed at St. George's Chapel, Windsor, June 18th (Camden, p. 187; Holinshed, p. 284).

2 An account is given by E. K. Chambers, Elizabethan Stage, vol. iv, p. 63.

gate . . . with a strong bar to keep out the people. ... One

gate opened towards the east, and the other towards the

west, being strongly barred with a rail of seven foot long,

and of such height as no horse could pass under or over

the same.

Before the tournament began the pledges, or hostages,

of the Challengers and Defendants were brought in and

placed below the royal box, where they remained until

redeemed by the valour of their champion.


The Challenger did commonly come to the east gate of

the Lists. ... Beholding the Challenger there, the Constable

said: "For what cause art thou come hither thus armed ?

And what is thy name ?" Unto whom the Challenger

answered thus: "My name is A.B. and I am hither

come armed and mounted to perform my challenge against

C.D., and acquit my pledges." ... Then the Constable did

open the visor of his headpiece to see his face, and thereby

to know that man to be he that makes the challenge.


The same ceremony took place at the west gate when

the Defendant appeared; after which the Constable

measured their lances, and administered the first oath:


The Constable, having caused his clerk to read the

Challenger's bill ... said: "Dost thou conceive the effect

of this bill ? Here is also thine own gauntlet of defiance.

Thou shalt swear by the Holy Evangelists that all things

therein contained be true; and that thou maintain it

so to be upon the person of thine adversary, as God shall

help thee and the Holy Evangelists."

When both Challenger and Defendant had taken the first

oath, the Constable administered the second oath, which

was to the effect that they had not brought into the Lists

any illegal "weapon ... engine, instrument, herb, charm,

or enchantment"; and that neither of them should put

"trust in any other thing than God."

The Heralds then cleared the Lists, and warned the

crowd against uttering "any speech, word, voice, or

countenance, whereby either the Challenger or Defendant

p. 58

may take advantage. The Constable then did pronounce

with a loud voice, ‘ Let them go, let them go, let them

go.' “ 1


The rules as to scoring, and the award of the prize, were

those laid down by John Tiptoft, Earl of Worcester, in

the reign of Edward IV.:


First, whoso breaketh most spears, as they ought to

be broken, shall have the prize.

Item, whoso hitteth three times in the height of the

helm shall have the prize.

Item, whoso meeteth two times, cournall to cournall

(i.e. parry and return), shall have the prize.

Item, whoso beareth a man down with the stroke of a

spear, shall have the prize.


The method of scoring "broken spears" was as follows:


First, whoso breaketh a spear between the saddle and

the charnell of the helm (i.e. a body thrust) shall be allowed

for one.

Item, whoso breaketh a spear from the charnell upwards

(i.e. a head thrust) shall be allowed for two.

Item, whoso breaketh a spear so as he strike his adversary

down ... shall be allowed as three spears broken.


Then follow the disqualifications for fouls:


First, whoso striketh a horse shall have no prize.

Item, whoso striketh a man his back turned, or dis-

garnished of his spear, shall have no prize.

Item, whoso hitteth the tilt three times shall have no


Item, whoso unhelmeth himself two times shall have no

prize, unless his horse do fail him. 2


In the Tournament held in May 1571 the Defendants

opposed to Lord Oxford were, Lord Stafford, Thomas

Cecil, Henry Knollys, Thomas Knyvett, Robert Colsell,

Thomas Bedingfield, and Thomas Coningsby.3


p. 59


1 Sir William Segar, Honor Military and Civil, 1602, p. 132.

2 Ibid.

3 Harleian MSS., 6064. 87.

This Triumph continued three days. The first at Tilt;

the second at Tournay; and the third at the Barriers.

On every of the Challengers Her Majesty bestowed a

prize, for the receiving whereof they were particularly

led, armed, by two ladies into the Presence Chamber;

Oxford himself receiving a tablet of diamonds.1


Lord Oxford's display in this famous tournament was

the subject of much comment at the Court. In a letter

to the Earl of Rutland, George Delves, himself one of the

Defendants, says: "Lord Oxford has performed his

challenge at tilt, tournay, and barriers, far above expecta-

tion of the world, and not much inferior to the other

three challengers," a handsome tribute seeing that Oxford

was a novice, while the other three were not only older

men, but were veterans at the game. "The Earl of

Oxford's livery," Delves continues, "was crimson velvet,

very costly; he himself, and the furniture, was in some

more colours, yet he was the Red Knight. ... There is

no man of life and agility in every respect in the Court

but the Earl of Oxford." 2

A graceful tribute to the young Earl's skill in horseman-

ship was paid to him by Giles Fletcher in Latin verses:


But if at any time with fiery energy he should call up a

mimicry of war, he controls his foaming steed with a light

rein, and armed with a long spear rides to the encounter.

Fearlessly he settles himself in the saddle, gracefully

bending his body this way and that. Now he circles

round; now with spurred heel he rouses his charger. The

gallant animal with fiery energy collects himself together,

and flying quicker than the wind beats the ground with

his hoofs, and again is pulled up short as the reins control


Bravo, valiant youth! 'Tis thus that martial spirits

pass through their apprenticeship in war. Thus do

yearling bulls try the feel of each other's horns. Thus

too do goats not yet expert in fighting begin to butt one

p. 60


1 Harleian MSS., 6064. 87; Segar, The Book of Honour, 1590, p. 94.

2 Cal. Rutland MSS., George Delves to the Earl of Rutland, May 14th and June 24th, 1571.

against the other, and soon venture to draw blood with

their horns.

The country sees in thee both a leader pre-eminent in

war, and a skilful man-at-arms. Thy valour puts forth

leaves, and begins to bear early fruit, and glory already

ripens in thy earliest deeds.1


But for the moment other thoughts were beginning to

fill his mind, for next month he became engaged to be

married to Anne Cecil, the eldest daughter of his guardian,

who had been created Baron Burghley earlier in the year.




As early as 1569 the project of a match between Anne

Cecil and Philip Sidney, then aged thirteen and fifteen

respectively, had been mooted. Sidney's uncle, the Earl

of Leicester, whose fortune, in default of an heir of his

own, would descend to his nephew Philip, had been a prime

mover in the proposals. He had, moreover, promised to

endow the couple handsomely. It is not clear why these

negotiations came to nothing. It may, perhaps, be

attributable partly to the well-known enmity between

Leicester and Burghley, partly to a financial deadlock,

and partly to the extreme youth of the parties concerned.

But the death-blow to the proposals was finally delivered

in the summer of 1571, when Burghley accepted on his

daughter's behalf a marriage proposal from the Earl of


Let us listen to what Burghley and the Court have to

say about this engagement.

The first intimation we get is in a letter written by Lord

St. John to the Earl of Rutland, who was in Paris:


The Earl of Oxford hath gotten him a wife- or at the

least a wife hath caught him; this is Mistress Anne

Cecil; whereunto the Queen hath given her consent, and

the which hath caused great weeping, wailing, and sorrowful

cheer of those that had hoped to have that golden day.

p. 61


1 Eclogue, In nuptias clarissimi D. Edouardi Vere. Hatfield MSS. (Cal. XIII. 109).

Thus you may see whilst that some triumph with olive

branches, others follow the chariot with willow garlands.1


This piece of gossip must have been of particular interest

to Rutland, who, a year older than his cousin Lord Oxford,

had also been a Royal Ward at Cecil House, and of course

knew both bride and bridegroom intimately. We may

well picture the "sorrowful cheer" of the disappointed

Maids of Honour, many of whom, no doubt, had secretly

aspired to marry the popular young courtier.

A fortnight later Burghley sends the news officially to

Lord Rutland:


I think it doth seem strange to your Lordship to hear

of a purposed determination in my Lord of Oxford to marry

with my daughter; and so before his Lordship moved it

to me I might have thought it, if any other had moved it

to me himself. For at his own motion I could not well

imagine what to think, considering I never meant to seek

it nor hoped of it. And yet reason moved me to think well

of my Lord, and to acknowledge myself greatly beholden

to him, as indeed I do. Truly, my Lord, after I was

acquainted of the former intention of a marriage with

Master Philip Sidney, whom always I loved and esteemed,

I was fully determined to have of myself moved no marriage

for my daughter until she should have been near sixteen,

that with moving I might also conclude. And yet I

thought 'it not inconvenient in the meantime, being free

to hearken to any motion made by such others as I should

have cause to like. Truly, my Lord, my goodwill serves

me to have moved such a matter as this in another direction

than this is, but having more occasion to doubt of the issue

of the matter, I did forbear, and in mine own conceit I

could have as well liked there as in any other place in

England. Percase your Lordship may guess where I

mean, and so shall I, for I will name nobody.2 Now that

the matter is determined betwixt my Lord of Oxford and

me, I confess to your Lordship I do honour him so dearly

p. 62


1 Cal. Rutland MSS., July 28th, 1571.

2 Query, is this a reference to Rutland himself, who may have formed a boy-and-girl attachment with Anne, during his seven years' wardship in Cecil House?

from my heart as I do my own son, and in any case that

may touch him for his honour and weal, I shall think him

mine own interest therein. And surely, my Lord, by

dealing with him I find that which I often heard of your

Lordship, that there is much more in him of understand-

ing than any stranger to him would think. And for my

own part I find that whereof I take comfort in his wit

and knowledge grown by good observation.1


It was evidently expected that the marriage would take

place in September, for on the 21st Hugh Fitz-William

writes from London to the Countess of Shrewsbury:


They say the Queen will be at my Lord of Burghley's

house beside Waltham on Sunday next, where my Lord

of Oxford shall marry Mistress Anne Cecil his daughter.2


The Queen and Court were in progress at this time,

and reached Theobalds, Lord Burghley's country house,

on the 22nd; but the wedding was postponed, perhaps

in order to wait until the Court returned to London.

Lord Hunsdon, who had been on service against the

northern rebels with Oxford, evidently approved, for he

writes to Lord Burghley that he is "glad to hear of the

Earl of Oxford's marriage." 3

On Wednesday, December 19th, the marriage took place

in Westminster Abbey, the Queen herself being present;

and in the afternoon a great feast was held at Cecil House.


"Last Tuesday," writes de la Mothe Fénelon to the

King of France, "I had audience with the Queen; and

on Wednesday she took me with her to dine with Lord

Burghley, who was celebrating the marriage of his daughter

with the Earl of Oxford." 4


At this dinner, he tells us, he met the Earl of Leicester,

and had a long talk with him about the proposed marriage

between the Queen herself and the Due d'Anjou; all of

p. 63


1 Cal. Rutland MSS., August 15th, 1571.

2 Joseph Hunter, Hallamshire, p. 83.

3 Cal. S.P. Foreign, November 22nd, 1571.

4 Correspondance ... de Bertrand de Salignac de la Mothe Fénelon (1840), vol. iv, p. 315.

which goes to show that the wedding was an unusually

brilliant one, graced as it was by the presence of the Queen

and her chief Courtier. And, of course, being Elizabethans,

the ceremony would not have been complete without a

rhapsodist, who composed, and perhaps recited, an Eclogue

in Latin hexameters:


Fortunate art thou as a father-in-law, witnessing the

marriage of thy daughter, and happy art thou as a son-

in-law, and thou maiden in thy husband, and, last of all,

happy bridegroom in thy bride. Not as an oath-breaker

doth Hymen join these bands, for both the bridegroom and

the bride possess that which each may love, and every

quality which may be loved. For like a river swelling its

banks, by means of intercourse and sympathy love will

arise, and the glory of rank, and children recalling the

qualities of both parents; for the valour of the father

and the prudence of the mother will come out in the

offspring. ... Hail to thee, Hymen, hail! 1


In the evening Lord Burghley, tired but happy, wrote

a long letter to Francis Walsingham, who was then Ambas-

sador at Paris. His obvious pleasure at the success of

the whole ceremony is well expressed in his own words:


... I can write no more for lack of leisure, being

occasioned to write at this time divers ways, and not

unoccupied with feasting my friends at the marriage of

my daughter, who is this day married to the Earl of

Oxford, to my comfort, by reason of the Queen's Majesty,

who hath very honourably with her presence and great

favour accompanied it.2


p. 64


1 Hatfield MSS. (Cal. XIII. 109). The writer, Giles Fletcher the elder, held several civil appointments in Elizabeth's reign. He went as envoy to Russia in 1588. He was the father of two poets- Phineas and Giles the younger- and uncle of John Fletcher, the dramatist. The latter is well known as the collaborator with Francis Beaumont in many plays, and with Shakespeare in King Henry VIII.

2 Sir Dudley Digges, The Compleat Ambassador, p. 164.






"I overtook, coming from Italy,

In Germany, a great and famous Earl

Of England; the most goodly fashion'd man

I ever saw: from head to foot in form

Rare and most absolute; he had a face

Like one of the most ancient honour'd Romans

From whence his noblest family was deriv'd;

He was beside of spirit passing great,

Valiant and learn'd, and liberal as the sun,

Spoke and writ sweetly, or of learned subjects,

Or of the discipline of public weals;

And 'twas the Earl of Oxford."

GEORGE CHAPMAN, in The Revenge of Bussy d'Ambois.





Mention has already been made of the Catholic plot, the

first act of which was played in the northern counties in

November 1569. The premature rebellion of the Earls

of Northumberland and Westmorland had been stamped

out; but the Catholics, though momentarily off their

balance, were not disheartened. Throughout 1571 the

Duke of Norfolk and the Queen of Scots had carried on

a secret correspondence, the purport of which was still

their marriage, and the establishment of Mary on the throne

of England. In justice to Norfolk it must be said that at

his trial he stoutly denied any intended treason against

Her Majesty. But he was found guilty, and in January

1572 was sentenced to death. For five months Elizabeth

kept on signing his death warrant, and then at the last

moment revoking it. finally she made up her mind and

on June 2nd he was executed.

This execution had a profound effect on Lord Oxford,

who was not only Norfolk's first cousin but one of his

p. 65

greatest friends. For after his conviction Norfolk wrote

as follows to his eldest son, Philip Howard:


Although my hap hath been such that my kin have had

cause to be ashamed of me, their kinsman; yet I hope

when I am gone nature will so work in them that they

will be in good will to you, as heretofore they have been

to me. Amongst whom I will begin as high as I unworthy

dare presume, with my cousin of Oxford.1


On December 10th, 1571, the French Ambassador sent

the Sieur de Sabran to Paris with secret despatches.

Some of the information was too secret to be committed

to writing, as the following extract shows:


The good affection that the nobility of this realm bear

towards the King [of France] will be shown in a letter

that one of them, Sr. Lane, wrote to me in

Italian, the contents of which, as well as certain other

matters Sr. Lane confided in me, will be explained to the

King by de Sabran; and he will also tell him of a certain

proposal recently made by the Earl of Oxford to some of

his friends,2 and what came of it. 3


Now the Duke of Norfolk had been arrested in

September; and although Lord Oxford's "proposal"

was not on this occasion committed to writing, the whole

story leaked out two years later in an unexpected way.

In 1574 a petition was submitted to the Privy Council

headed "A poor woman's complaint"; and in it we read

the following curious account of a plot engineered by Lord

Oxford having as its object the rescue of the Duke of

Norfolk from his prison:


Certain conspiracies that of force I have been acquainted,

touching Your Majesty. ... At the time that the late Duke

of Norfolk was removed out of the Tower to the Charter-

house, my husband being prisoner in the fleet, the Earl

of Oxford provided a ship called "The Grace of God,"

and £10 was earnest thereupon, and £500 more was to be

p. 66


1 Catholic Record Society, vol. xxi, p. 7, January 28th, 1572.

2 ... ce que le comte d'Oxford a naguères proposé en une compagnie où il estoit. ..."

3 Correspondence ... de la Mothe Fénélon. Tome Quatrième (1840), p. 311-12. Ralph Lane was afterwards the first Governor of Virginia.

paid to me, my husband's' liberty granted, and the ship to

be given him with £2,000 in ready money, the one half to

be paid here, the other to be delivered to him at the

arrival of the Duke in Spain. My husband opened these

dealings to me, and offered me £900 of the first payment.

... But I utterly refused such gain to receive; I had a

care of the duty I owe to your Majesty, as also I feared it

would be the utter destruction of my husband. ... And so

that enterprise was dashed.1


From the foregoing it seems probable that Lord Oxford's

"proposal" mentioned in Fénelon's letter was nothing

more nor less than the forcible rescue of his cousin the

Duke, and his conveyance to Spain. That he regarded with

contempt Norfolk's tame submission in allowing himself

to be arrested instead of putting up a fight is borne out

by another document in the Public Record Office. It is

a long rigmarole purporting to be indiscreet statements

made on various occasions by Lord Oxford for many years

past; the object of its compilers, Lord Henry Howard and

Charles Arundel, being to endeavour to incense Her

Majesty against the Earl. The following extracts speak

for themselves:


Railing at my Lord of Norfolk for his coming at the

Queen's commandment, contrary to his (Oxford's) counsel

as he said in a letter he wrote.

Continual railing on the Duke for coming up when he

was sent for.

My Lord of Norfolk worthy to lose his head for not

following his counsel at Lichfield to take arms.2


At any rate we know that the attempted rescue, which

probably took place in November 1571, failed; and in

December Oxford's mind was occupied with his marriage.

The political significance of this marriage, as well as of

another that took place about the same time, was not lost

on Guerau Despes, the Spanish Ambassador. He also

was deeply implicated in the Ridolphi plot, and was eventu-

ally expelled from England; but before this occurred he

wrote thus to the King of Spain:


p. 67


1 S.P. Dom. Eliz., 95. 92.

2 Ibid., 151. 46-49.

Lord Burghley is celebrating with great festivity at

the palace the marriage of his daughter with the Earl of

Oxford. The son of the Earl of Worcester is married also

to the sister of the Earl of Huntingdon, which means

taking two families away from the Catholics. 1


But if these celebrations appeared to the Spaniards to

presage the loss of two English families to Catholicism, to

Lord Oxford his union with the daughter of the Queen's

Secretary of State seemed like the key with which to

release his cousin Norfolk from the Tower; and as soon

as the wedding was over, he begged Burghley to intervene

and save the Duke's life:


The Papists in the Low Countries-writes one of

Burghley's agents, John Lee, from Antwerp on March 18th,

1572-hope some attempt shortly against the Queen, for

they hear that the French King has manned twenty ships

of war, and that the Duke of Alva has sent into Germany

to take up bands of Horse and Foot. They further affirm

that there was like to have been a meeting there the 27th

of last month, when it was thought that the Duke of Nor-

folk should have passed 2; so that they be fully persuaded

that the Queen dare not proceed further therein, and also

affirm that the Duke has secret friends and those of the

best, and such as may do very much with the Queen; and

that the Earl of Oxford (who has been a most humble

suitor for him) has conceived some great displeasure

against you for the same, whereupon he hath, as they say

here, put away from him the Countess his wife.3


p. 68

1 Cal. S.P. Spanish (1568-79), 358. Edward Somerset (1550-1628) succeeded his father as fourth Earl of Worcester in 1589. He married Elizabeth Hastings, fourth daughter of the second Earl of Huntingdon. The Hastings family was so strongly Protestant that, like the Cecils, Don Guerau despaired of their ever being induced to return to the old faith. Lord Worcester was elected KG. in 1593, was appointed Deputy Master of the Horse in 1597, and Master of the Horse and Earl Marshal in 1601.

2 I.e., been executed.

3 SP. Dom. Add., 21. 23. Dugdale in his Baronage has elaborated this story by saying that the Earl, in order to revenge himself on his father-in-law, dissipated his heritage by selling it at ludicrously low prices, thus ruining himself and his wife. That this idea is pure invention can be seen by a reference to Appendix B, where a complete list of all sales of land he made during his lifetime is given. It will be seen that out of 56 sales only two occurred before 1576, the earliest taking place in 1573.

Bitter as Oxford's feelings undoubtedly were against his

father-in-law, he quickly realised that there was nothing

further to be done. And we shall next meet him in happier

circumstances accompanying the Queen in her progress

through Warwickshire two months later.




Be it remembered [writes a contemporary chronicler]

that in the year of our Lord 1572, and in the fourteenth

year of our Sovereign Lady Queen Elizabeth, the 12th day

of August in the said year it pleased our said Sovereign

Lady to visit this borough of Warwick in her person.1

On the appointed day all the chief citizens were assembled

outside the town:--


in order, first the bailiff, then the recorder, then each of the

principal burgesses in order kneeling; and behind Mr.

Bailiff kneeled Mr. Griffyn, preacher.


About three o'clock the procession approached;


Her Majesty in her coach, accompanied with the Lady of

Warwick in the same coach ... the Lord Burghley, lately

made Lord Treasurer of England, the Earl of Sussex,

lately made Lord Chamberlain to Her Majesty, the Lord

Howard of Eflingham, lately made Lord Privy Seal, the

Earl of Oxford, Lord Great Chamberlain of England, the

Earl of Rutland, the Earl of Huntingdon, lately made

Lord President of the North, the Earl of Warwick, the

Earl of Leicester, Master of the Horse, and many other

lords, bishops, and ladies.


The Recorder then made a long speech about the history

of Warwick, and recited certain Latin verses, composed

by Mr. Griffyn. When this was finished--


the Bailiff, Recorder, and principal burgesses, with their

assistants, were commanded to their horses ... and in

order rode two and two together before Her Majesty ...

till they came to the Castle gate, where the said principal

burgesses and assistants stayed ... making a lane ...

p. 69


1 Black Book of Warwick. Printed in Bibliotheca Topographica Britannica, vol. iv.

where Her Majesty should pass; who, passing through

them and viewing them well, gave them thanks, saying

Withal: "It is a well favoured and comely company."


For a week the Queen was in the neighbourhood, spending

her time partly with the Earl of Leicester at Kenilworth

Castle, and partly with Thomas fisher at Warwick Priory.

On Sunday, August 18th, the Queen having returned to

Warwick Castle:


it pleased her to have the country people resorting to see

her dance in the Court of the Castle ... which thing, as

it pleased well the country people, so it seemed Her

Majesty was much delighted, and made very merry.

In the evening, after supper-

there was devised on the Temple ditch a fort, made of

slender timber covered with canvas. In this fort were

appointed divers persons to serve the soldiers; and there-

fore so many harnesses as might be gotten within the town

were had, wherewith men were armed and appointed to

shew themselves; some others appointed to cast out

fireworks, as squibs and balls of fire. Against that fort

was another castle-wise prepared of like strength, whereof

was governor the Earl of Oxford, a lusty gentleman, with

a lusty band of gentlemen. Between these forts, or against

them, were placed certain battering pieces, to the number

of twelve or fourteen, brought from London, and twelve

fair chambers, or mortar pieces, brought also from the

Tower, at the charge of the Earl of Warwick. These

pieces and chambers were by trains fired, and so made a

great noise, as though it had been a sore assault; having

some intermission, in which time the Earl of Oxford and

his soldiers, to the number of two hundred, with calivers

and arquebusses, likewise gave divers assaults; they in

the fort shooting again, and casting out divers fires, terrible

to those that have not been in like experiences, valiant

to such as delighted therein, and indeed strange to them

that understood it not. For the wild fire falling into the

river Avon would for a time lie still, and then again rise

and fly abroad, casting forth many flashes and flames,

whereat the Queen's Majesty took great pleasure. ... At

the last, when it was appointed that the over-throwing

p. 70

of the fort should be, a dragon flying, casting out huge

flames and squibs, lighted upon the fort, and so set fire

thereon, to the subversion thereof; but whether by

negligence or otherwise, it happened that a ball of fire fell

on a house at the end of the bridge. ...


A man and his wife were asleep in this house and were with

difficulty rescued by the Earl of Oxford and Fulke Greville,

who seems to have been his opponent in the mimic battle.


And no small marvel it was that so little harm was done,

for the fire balls and squibs cast up did fly quite over the

Castle, and into the midst of the town; falling down some

on the houses some in courts ... and some in the street. ...

Four houses in the town and suburbs were on fire at once,

whereof one had a ball come through both sides, and made

a hole as big as a man's head, and did no more harm.


It is comforting to read, a little further on, that the poor

man whose house on the bridge was burned down received

£25 123. 8d. from the Queen and her Courtiers on the

following morning.

In September the Court returned to London. But

in the meantime news had reached England of the massacre

of St. Bartholomew. The horror with which all English-

men regarded this ghastly orgy is brought out in a letter

endorsed September 157 2 from Lord Oxford to his father-

in-law. The letter begins with certain business details

regarding his property; and it is noteworthy that the

Earl's anger over Norfolk's execution seems to have quite

blown over, for he assures Burghley that "both in this

[i.e. matters relating to his estates], as in all other things,

I am to be governed and commanded at your Lordship's

good devotion."


I would to God [Lord Oxford continues] your Lordship

would let me understand some of your news which here

doth ring doubtfully in the ears of every man, of the

murder of the Admiral of France, and a number of noble-

men and worthy gentlemen, and such as greatly have in

their lifetime honoured the Queen's Majesty our Mistress;

on whose tragedies we have a number of French Aeneases

in this city that tell of their own overthrows with tears

p. 71

falling from their eyes, a piteous thing to hear but a cruel

and far more grievous thing we must deem it then to see.

All rumours here are but confused of those troops that are

escaped from Paris and Rouen where Monsieur hath also

been, and like a Vesper Sicilianus, as they say, that

cruelty spreads all over France, whereof your Lordship

is better advertised than we are here. And sith the world

is so full of treasons and vile instruments daily to attempt

new and unlooked for things, good my Lord, I shall

affectionately and heartily desire your Lordship to be

careful both of yourself and of her Majesty, that your

friends may long enjoy you and you them. I speak

because I am not ignorant what practices have been made

against your person lately by Mather, and later, as I

understand by foreign practices if it be true. And think

if the Admiral in France was an eyesore or beam in the

eyes of the papists, that the Lord Treasurer of England

is a blot and a crossbar in their way, whose remove they

will never stick to attempt, seeing they have prevailed

so well in others. This estate hath depended on you a

great while as all the world doth judge, and now all men's

eyes not being occupied any more on these lost lords are,

as it were on a sudden bent and fixed on you, as a singular

hope and pillar, whereto the religion hath to lean. And

blame me not, though I am bolder with your Lordship than

my custom is, for I am one that count myself a follower

of yours now in all fortunes; and what shall hap to you

I count it hap to myself; or at least I will make myself a

voluntary partaker of it. Thus, my Lord, I humbly desire

your Lordship to pardon my youth, but to take in good

part my zeal and affection towards you, as one on whom

I have builded my foundation either to stand or to fall.

And, good my Lord, think I do not this presumptuously

as to advise you that am but to take advice of your Lord-

ship, but to admonish you, as one with whom I would

spend my blood and life, so much you have made me yours.

And I do protest there is nothing more desired of me than

so to- be taken and accounted of you. Thus with my

hearty commendations and your daughter's we leave you

to the custody of Almighty God.

Your Lordship's affectionate son-in-law,



p. 72


1 Harleian MSS., 6991.5.

The next letter, written shortly afterwards, is in the

same friendly strain. The letter is addressed "To my

singular good Lord the Lord Burghley, and Lord Treasurer

of England, give this at the Court," and is endorsed

September 22nd, 1572:


My Lord, I received your letters when I rather looked to

have seen yourself here than to have heard from you; sith

it is so that your Lordship is otherwise affaired with the

business of the Commonwealth than to be disposed to

recreate yourself, and repose you among your own, yet

we do hope after this-you having had so great a care of

the Queen's Majesty's service-you will begin to have

some respect for your own health, and take a pleasure to

dwell where you have taken pains to build. My wife,

whom I thought should have taken her leave of you if

your Lordship had come, till you would have otherwise

commanded, is departed unto the country this day: [and

my]self as fast as I can get me out of town to follow. If

there were any service to be done abroad, I had rather

serve there than at home, where yet some honour is to

be got. If there be any setting forth to sea, to which

service I bear most affection, I shall desire your Lordship

to give me and get me that favour and credit that I might

make one. Which, if there be no such intention then I

shall be most willing to be employed on the sea coasts to

be in a readiness with my countrymen against any invasion.

Thus remembering myself to your good Lordship, I

commit you to God; from London this 22nd of September,

by your Lordship to command.



Lord Oxford's keenness to serve in the Navy was due

no doubt to the comparatively recent discovery of the New

World, and to the possibilities it had opened up. The sea

made a vivid appeal to the more imaginative and adven-

turous young men in Elizabethan England. But it was

not until 1588, when the Spanish Armada was sailing up

channel, that Oxford's wish to see service afloat was



p. 73


1 Lansdowne MSS., I4. 84.




At this point a new character, Christopher Hatton,

steps on to the scene; and as he will occupy a prominent

position for many years to come, it will be well to say a

few words about him.

Born in 1540 in Northamptonshire, he was ten years

older than Lord Oxford. He came to London with the

object of studying for the bar about 1560, and in 1564

was made one of the Queen's Gentlemen Pensioners.

Attracted by his handsome figure and graceful bearing,

the Queen kept him by her side and showered favours

on him. Sir John Perrot, her Majesty's half-brother,

said of him that "he danced his way into the Queen's

favour in a galliard." In 1571 he became a Member of

Parliament, and the next year was appointed Captain

of the Bodyguard. This rapid rise had fired his ambition,

and he consulted Edward Dyer, the poet, and friend of

Philip Sidney, as to the best way of maintaining and

improving his position at Court.


The best and soundest way in my opinion [Dyer

replied on October 9th] is ... to use your suits towards

Her Majesty in words, behaviour, and deeds; to acknow-

ledge your duty, declaring your reverence which in heart

you bear, and never seem to condemn her frailties, but

rather joyfully to commend such things as should be in

her, as though they were in her indeed: hating my Lord

of Crm in the Queen's understanding for affections sake,

and blaming him openly for seeking the Queen's favour.

... Marry, thus much would I advise you to remember,

that you use no words of disgrace or reproach towards

him to any; that he, being the less provoked, may sleep,

thinking all safe, while you do awake and attend to your



In the following year Hatton, pursuing Dyer's tactics,

wrote one of his curious love-letters to the Queen. He

was then on the Continent convalescing after an illness,

p. 74


1 Harleian MSS., 787. 88. Printed by Sir H. Nicolas, Life and Times of Sir Christopher Hatton (1847), p. 18.

and had evidently just received a present from his Royal



God bless you for ever; the branch of the sweetest bush

I will wear and bear to my life's end: God witness I feign

not. It is a gracious favour most dear and welcome

unto me: reserve it to the Sheep, he hath no tooth to bite,

where the Boar's tusk may both raze and tear.


The "Sheep" was the Queen's nickname for Hatton,

while the "Boar" obviously refers to Oxford, the de Vere

crest being a Blue Boar. This unmistakeable reference

to the existence of rivalry between Hatton and Oxford

enables us to identify the Earl as "my Lord of Crm" in

the previous letter with some confidence.1

We shall see later that Hatton carried out Dyer's cynical

piece of advice with conspicuous success. But the chief

interest in the letter lies in Dyer's reference to the Earl of

Oxford. Hatton is advised to cultivate a deliberate and

secret enmity against him, for no reason apparently other

than that Oxford stood high in Her Majesty's favour, a

position coveted by Hatton himself. These Machiavellian

tactics, as we shall see, were to lead later into a welter of


The falsity of the legend that the execution of the Duke

of Norfolk on June 2nd, 1572 caused a permanent breach

between Lord Burghley and his son-in-law is clearly shown

by the affectionate tone of Lord Oxford's letters to his

father-in-law in the following September. But two men

so different in outlook and character, could not exist for

long without some misunderstandings and differences

arising between them. The following letter addressed to

"The right honourable my singular good Lord, the Lord

Treasurer," and endorsed 1572, shows Oxford protesting to

p. 75


1 It may be pointed out that Dyer's letter of October 9th, 1572 containing the phrase "my Lord of Crm" is only preserved in a copy in Hatton's letter-book. Is it possible that the original may have been badly written and that Hatton's secretary, in making the transcript, read "Crm" for "Oxon"? They would not be dissimilar in badly written script. "My Lord of Crm" was evidently some name in the original, and I can think of no better explanation for this apparently meaningless phrase.

his father-in-law that he should not be too ready to believe

sinister reports about himself:


My Lord, Your last letters, which be the first I have

received of your Lordship's good opinion conceived towards

me, which God grant so long to continue as I would be

both desirous and diligent to seek the same, have not a

little, after so many storms passed of your heavy grace

towards me, lightened and disburdened my careful mind.

And, sith I have been so little beholden to sinister reports,

I hope now, with your Lordship in different judgment, to

be more plausible unto you than heretofore; through my

careful deeds to please you, which hardly, either through

my youth, or rather my misfortune, hitherto I have done.

But yet lest those, I cannot tell how to term them but

as backfriends unto me, shall take place again to undo your

Lordship's beginnings of well meaning of me, I shall most

earnestly desire your Lordship to forbear to believe too

fast, lest I, growing so slowly into your good opinion, may

be undeservedly of my part voted out of your favour-the

which thing to always obtain, if your Lordship do but

equally consider of me, may see by all the means possible

in me, I do aspire. Though perhaps by reason of my

youth, your graver and severer years will not judge the

same. Thus therefore hoping the best in your Lordship,

and fearing the worst in myself, I take my leave, lest my

letters may become loathsome and tedious unto you, to

whom I wish to be most grateful. Written this 31st day

of October by your loving son-in-law from Wivenhoe,



This bearer hath some need of your Lordship's favour

which when he shall speak with your Lordship, I pray you

for my sake he may find you the more his furtherer and

helper in his cause. 1


Thus closed the first year of Lord Oxford's married life.

It was not an auspicious beginning. Almost before the

wedding bells had ceased chiming, a rift caused by Norfolk's

execution had opened between the Earl and his father-

in-law; and although this rift was not so wide and per-

manent as has been generally supposed, it is clear that

two such men as Burghley and Oxford could not live in

p. 76


1 Lansdowne MSS., 14. 85.

close proximity and at the same time in complete harmony

with one another for more than a very short period.

If Oxford could have realised his desire to see active

service abroad, things might have turned out much more

happily; but he was destined to kick his heels idly at

home. Not that opportunities for active service were

lacking. The massacre of St. Bartholomew, and the King

of Spain's ferocious policy against the Protestants in the

Low Countries, had intensified the already bitter religious

hatreds. The first band of English volunteers under

Sir Roger Williams had landed in the Netherlands, ‘and were

measuring their strength with the Spanish army, in "His

most Catholic Majesty's" dominions. The Spanish menace

had begun. Small wonder that Lord Oxford was urging

his father-in-law to obtain for him some service "in defence

of his Prince and Country."

So, too, thought his uncle, Arthur Golding, for in 1571

he had translated and published John Calvin's version of the

Psalms of David, which he dedicated in the following words

to his nephew:


But you, perchance, according to the noble courage and

disposition of your years, do look I should present unto

you some History of the Conquests and affairs of mighty

Princes, some treatise of the Government of Common

Weals, some description of the platte of the whole Earth,

or some discourse of Chivalry and Feats of Arms. These

things are indeed meet studies for a nobleman, and in

their season right necessary for the Commonwealth: but

as now I present unto your honour much greater things:

that is to wit, true Religion, true Godliness, true virtue,

without the which neither force, policy, nor friendship

are of any value, neither can any Commonweal, any City,

any household, or any company be well governed or have

any stable and long continuance. These be the things

wherein your Lordship may do God, your Prince, and your

Country best service, and which do give true nobility, or

rather are the very nobility itself. The greater that you

are of birth and calling, the more do these things belong

unto you. The greater gifts of Nature, the more graces

of mind, the more worldly benefits that God hath bestowed

p. 77


upon you, the more are you bound to be thankful unto

him. But thankful you cannot be without the true

knowledge of him, neither can you know him rightly but

by his word. For his word is the lantern of your feet, and

the light of your steps. Whosoever walketh without it

walketh but in darkness, though he were otherwise as

sharp-sighted as Linceus or Argus, and had all the sciences,

arts, cunning, eloquence, and wisdom of the world. 1


This preface was dedicated to Oxford by his uncle and

former tutor on October 20th, 1571, a few weeks before

his marriage in December of that year. It would seem to

have been a last effort on the part of his tutor to influence

his pupil in the direction of Puritanism. But such efforts

were doomed to disappointment. The movement of the

time that appealed to Oxford was not the Reformation but

the Renaissance, not the ideals of church government pro-

pounded by John Calvin but the ideals of honour, justice,

and chivalry so eloquently preached by Balthasar

Castiglione in his treatise on the Perfect Courtier.




Lord Oxford's request to be employed on active service

was refused, and once again the old round of court life

begins anew.


My Lord of Oxford is lately grown into great credit

[writes Gilbert Talbot to his father the Earl of Shrewsbury

on May 11th], for the Queen's Majesty delighteth more

in his personage and his dancing and his valiantness than

any other. I think Sussex doth back him all that he can.

If it were not for his fickle head he would pass any of them

shortly. My Lady Burghley unwisely hath declared her-

self, as it were, jealous, which is come to the Queen's ear:

whereat she hath been not a little offended with her, but

now she is reconciled again. At all these love matters my

Lord Treasurer winketh, and will not meddle in any way.2


p. 78


1 The Psalms of David, Arthur Golding, 1571.

2 Illustrations of British History, Lodge, 1791, vol, ii. p. 100. Lord Shrewsbury was then employed in guarding Mary, Queen of Scots; his son was aged twenty, and at the Court.

But the Court with its dancing, feasting, and revelry,

was far from fulfilling Lord Oxford's ideal of life; and as

he had perforce to remain in London, we find him beginning

to seek a new outlet for his activities. This outlet,

destined to play so great a part in his life, was literature.

That he should have turned to literature when active

service abroad was denied him was natural. We have

seen him taking his degree at Cambridge when only four-

teen and a half; and we know that by the time he was

twenty his library included the works of Chaucer, Plutarch,

Cicero and Plato, besides "other books and papers."

We have also seen, on the evidence of his tutor Arthur

Golding, that he took a keen interest in "the present

estate of things in our days, and that not without a certain

pregnancy of wit and ripeness of understanding." It is

therefore not surprising to find him eager to support and

encourage writers whose enthusiasms corresponded with

his own.

All the great movements of the sixteenth century had

by this time fully declared themselves. The Courtier, by

Castiglione,1 was published at Venice in 1528; The Prince,

by Machiavelli, in 1532; Calvin's Institutes of the Christian

Religion appeared in 1536, and in 1541 he had been recalled

from exile to direct the Puritan State of Geneva. In that

same year, 1541, Ignatius Loyola was elected General of

the new Society of Jesus. Castiglione had been the

friend of Raphael, and of Cardinal Bembo, the Platonist

and finished Latin scholar. He represented the aesthetic

side of the Renaissance, to which he added all that was

best in the old mediaeval tradition of chivalry and honour.

Machiavelli, on the other hand, had little sympathy with

the past; he freed the State from moral law, and advo-

cated the use of force and fraud as essential elements of


Calvin looked upon the State as a divine institution, and

Geneva was ruled in accordance with Christian principles

p. 79


1 Baldassare Castiglione (1478-1529) was an Italian statesman and man of letters.

with a rod of iron. Ignatius Loyola represented the


Oxford's upbringing in Burghley's Protestant household

had failed to influence him in the direction of Puritanism,

and left his mind open to the ideas of the Counter-Reforma-

tion, to which a few years later he succumbed for a time.

The real influence which his university career and sub-

sequent reading had left upon his mind was, however,

the glory of the classical languages, more especially of

Latin, and the beauty of the old ideas of aristocracy and

chivalry. In a word, the movements represented by

Machiavelli and Calvin did not interest him at all; and

although later on he was destined to feel some sympathy for

the old form of religion which had been in vogue during his

youth, it was to Balthasar Castiglione that his heart really

went out. When, therefore, he found his old Cambridge

tutor, Bartholomew Clerke, engaged on a translation from

Italian into Latin of his much-admired author, he took the

greatest interest in the progress of the work, and decided

on the occasion of its publication to give it as powerful a

send-off as possible by contributing an appreciative and

enthusiastic preface. As this preface seems to have been

Oxford's first serious incursion into literature, and as he

never seems to have deserted the principles here enunciated

by him, it is important that it should be given in full. The

following is a translation of this eloquent piece of Latin



Edward Vere, Earl of Oxford, Lord Great Chamberlain

of England, Viscount Bulbeck and Baron Scales and

Badlesmere to the Reader-Greeting.

A frequent and earnest consideration of the translation

of Castiglione's Italian work, which has now for a long time

been undertaken and finally carried out by my friend Clerke,

has caused me to waver between two opinions: debating

in my mind whether I should preface it by some writing

and letter of my own, or whether I should do no more than

study it with a mind full of gratitude. The first course

seemed to demand greater skill and art than I can lay claim

to, the second to be a work of no less good-will and applica-

p. 80

tion. To do both, however, seemed to combine a task of

delightful industry with an indication of special good-will.

I have therefore undertaken the work, and I do so the

more willingly, in order that I may lay a laurel wreath of

my own on the translation in which I have studied this

book, and also to ensure that neither my good-Will (which

is very great) should remain unexpressed, nor that my skill

(which is small) should seem to fear to face the light and

the eyes of men.

It is no more than its due that praises of every kind

should be rendered to this work descriptive of a Courtier.

It is indeed in every way right and one may say almost

inevitable that with the highest and greatest praises I

should address both the author and translator, and even

more the great patroness of so great a work, whose name

alone on the title-page gives it a right majestic and honour-

able introduction.

For what more difficult, more noble, or more magnificent

task has anyone ever undertaken than our author Castig-

lione, who has drawn for us the figure and model of a

courtier, a work to which nothing can be added, in which

there is no redundant word, a portrait which we shall

recognise as that of the highest and most perfect type of

man. And so, although nature herself has made nothing

perfect in every detail, yet the manners of men exceed in

dignity that with which nature has endowed them; and

he who surpasses others has here surpassed himself,

and has even outdone nature which by no one has ever

been surpassed. Nay more, however elaborate the cere-

monial, whatever the magnificence of the Court, the splen-

dour of the Courtiers, and the multitude of spectators,

he has been able to lay down principles for the guidance

of the very Monarch himself.

Again, Castiglione has vividly depicted more and even

greater things than these. For who has spoken of Princes

with greater gravity? Who has discoursed of illustrious

women with a more ample dignity ? No one has written

of military affairs more eloquently, more aptly about

horse-racing, and more clearly and admirably about

encounters under arms on the field of battle. I will say

nothing of the fitness and the excellence with which he has

depicted the beauty of chivalry in the noblest persons.

Nor will I refer to his delineations in the case of those

p. 81

persons who cannot be Courtiers, when he alludes to some

notable defect, or to some ridiculous character, or to some

deformity of appearance. Whatever is heard in the

mouths of men in casual talk and in society, whether apt

and candid, or villainous and shameful, that he has set

down in so natural a manner that it seems to be acted

before our very eyes.

Again, to the credit of the translator of so great a work,

a writer too who is no mean orator, must be added a new

glory of language. For although Latin has come down to

us from the ancient city of Rome, a city in which the

study of eloquence flourished exceedingly, it has now given

back its features for use in modern Courts as a polished

language of an excellent temper, fitted out with royal

pomp, and possessing admirable dignity. All this my good

friend Clerke has done, combining exceptional genius with

wonderful eloquence. For he has resuscitated that

dormant quality of fluent discourse. He has recalled those

ornaments and lights which he had laid aside, for use in

connexion with subjects most worthy of them. For this

reason he deserves all the more honour, because that to

great subjects-and they are indeed great-he has applied

the greatest lights and ornaments.

For who is clearer in his use of words ? Or richer in the

dignity of his sentences? Or who can conform to the

variety of circumstances with greater art? If weighty

matters are under consideration, he unfolds his theme in

a solemn and majestic rhythm; if the subject is familiar

and facetious, he makes use of words that are witty and

amusing. When therefore he writes with precise and

well-chosen words, with skilfully constructed and crystal-

clear sentences, and with every art of dignified rhetoric,

it cannot be but that some noble quality should be felt to

proceed from his work. To me indeed it seems, when I

read this courtly Latin, that I am listening to Crassus,

Antonius, and Hortensius, discoursing on this very theme.

And, great as all these qualities are, our translator

has wisely added one single surpassing title of distinction

to recommend his work. For indeed what more effective

action could he have taken to make his work fruitful of

good results than to dedicate his Courtier to our most

illustrious and noble Queen, in whom all courtly qualities

are personified, together with those diviner and truly

p. 82

celestial virtues? For there is no pen so skilful or powerful,

no kind of speech so clear, that is not left behind by her

own surpassing virtue. It was therefore an excellent dis-

play of wisdom on the part of our translator to seek out

as a patroness of his work one who was of surpassing virtue,

of wisest mind, of soundest religion, and cultivated in the

highest degree in learning and in literary studies.

Lastly, if the noblest attributes of the wisest Princes,

the safest protection of a flourishing commonwealth, the

greatest qualities of the best citizens, by her own merit,

and in the opinion of all, continually encompass her around;

surely to obtain the protection of that authority, to

strengthen it with gifts, and to mark it with the super-

scription of her name, is a work which, while worthy of all

Monarchs, is most worthy of our own Queen, to whom alone is due all the praise of all the Muses and all the glory of literature.

Given at the Royal Court on the 5th of January

1571. 1


This preface was reprinted in all subsequent editions of

Clerke's translation of The Courtier. It must have been

well known to all educated Elizabethans, to whom Latin

was a perfectly familiar language. Six years later- in

1578- Gabriel Harvey alludes to it as a well-known example

of Oxford's literary eminence. "Let that courtly epistle,

more polished even than the writings of Castiglione himself,

witness how greatly thou dost excel in letters." 2

But it is not only remarkable as an eloquent piece of

Latin prose. It seems to indicate a determination on the

part of its author to do something more for literature than

merely to accept dedications from authors. For the first

time in our annals we find a nobleman taking immense

trouble to recommend a book in which he is interested.

We shall find Oxford in the following year not only doing

the same thing again, but actually paying for the publica-

tion of the book himself. Here was a literary patron

indeed, and there would seem to be little doubt that the

initial impulse came from the Queen who is so magnifi-

cently eulogised in the closing words of the Preface.


p. 83


1 I.e., 1572, New Style

2 Gratulationes Valdinenses, lib. iv, 1578.



The following year, 1573, we find that a sum of £10 113. 8d.

is due to the Hospital of the Savoy "from Edward, Earl

of Oxford" on account of "part rent of two tenements

within the Hospital." 1 The Savoy at this time was a well-

known haunt of literary men, who were given rooms in it

by their patrons. We shall meet here, later on, such men

as Gabriel Harvey and John Lyly, the latter in his capacity

of secretary and actor-manager to Lord Oxford's company

of players, and the former as the Earl's friend and con-

temporary at Oxford University.

Other writers were seeking his patronage, among them

Thomas Twyne 2; not, as the following dedication shows,

merely because he was a rich nobleman, but because, as

Twyne puts it, "your honour taketh singular delight" in

"books of Geography, Histories, and other good learning."

But we must read it all, and not in extracts, in order to

appreciate it to the full.


To the Right Honourable Edward de Vere, Lord Bulbeck,

Earl of Oxford, Lord Great Chamberlain of England: Tho.

Twyne wisheth long life, perfect health, increase of honour,

and endless felicity.

Nobility is a precious gift, which so glittereth in the eyes

of all men, that there is no one corporal thing in this world

whereof we make a greater account. For so it is esteemed

of all, desired of all, and reverenced by all virtue, saith

Tully, and before him Plato: if it might be seen with our

bodily eyes doubtless it would procure marvellous love,

and good liking unto itself, the show thereof would appear

so fair and amiable.

The uniting of which two most noble graces, with all

other furniture of Nature and Fortune within your person,

Right Honourable and my very good Lord, hath so bent

my judgment, and brought me into such liking and

p. 84


1 W. J. Loftie, Memorials of the Savoy (1878), p. 125.

2 Thomas Twyne (1543-1613), physician; Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, 1564; M.A. 1568; M.D. Oxford 1593; M.D. Cambridge; practised at Lewes; author of several works. He completed Phaer's translation of the Aeneid into blank verse.

admiration thereof, that I have rested no small time, not

only not satisfied in being one of the admirators, but also

desirous to be one of the participators of those your honour's

most laudable dispositions, whereunto I do now humbly

submit myself. And in token of my dutiful meaning

herein, am so hardy as to present your honour with this

simple travail, which I so term, in respect of my pains in

translating the same. Howbeit I am persuaded that it

cost Master Lhuyd, who first and not long since wrote the

same in Latin, no small labour and industry in the gathering

and the penning.

Regarding your honour to be among the rest a very

fit person for it, in consideration that being, as yet, but in

your flower and tender age and generally hoped and

accounted of in time to become the chiefest stay of this your

commonwealth and country you would receive into your

safe tuition the written name and description of that

Britain, which, as it is in part your native soil, so your duty

biddeth you to defend and maintain it. Hereon, when your

honour shall be at leisure to look, bestowing such regard as

you are accustomed to do on books of Geography, His-

tories, and other good learning, wherein I am privy your

honour taketh singular delight, I doubt not but you shall

have cause to judge your time very well applied. And so

much the rather for that in the study of Geography it is

expedient first to know exactly the situation of our own

home, where we bide, before that we shall be able to judge

how other countries do lie unto us, which are far distant

from us, besides that it were a foul shame to be inquisitive

of the state of foreign lands and to be ignorant of our

own. As your honour being already perfectly instructed

is not now to learn at my hand. But for my part it shall

be sufficient that your honour should deign to accept this

small present, or rather therein my hearty good will, which

being no otherwise able to gratify the same, shall never

cease to pray to God that he would always direct you in the

commendable race of your virtue and learning which you

have begun, augment your honour, with many degrees,

and in the end reward you with immortal felicity.


Your honour's most humble at commandment,



p. 85


1 The Breviary of Britain. Written in Latin by Humphrey Lhuyd ... and lately Englished by Thomas Twyne, gentleman, 1573.

Another of Lord Oxford's friends in the literary world

was Thomas Bedingfield.1 They had known each other

some time before this date, because, it will be remembered,

Bedingfield had been one of the Defenders opposed to

Oxford in the Tournament of 1571. Just before this

Tournament Bedingfield had completed the manuscript

of his translation of Cardanus' Comfort. Lord Oxford had

evidently asked to be allowed to read it; for in his covering

letter sending it to him, Bedingfield says:


My good Lord, I can give nothing more agreeable to

your mind and fortune than the willing performance of

such service as it shall please you to command me unto.

And therefore rather to obey than to boast of my cunning,

and as a new sign of mine old devotion, I do present the

book your Lordship so long desired, ... because most

faithfully I honour and love you.


He goes on with a playful allusion to the title of the



A needless thing I know it is to comfort you, whom

nature and fortune hath not only inured but rather upon

whom they have bountifully bestowed their grace: not-

withstanding sith you delight to see others acquitted by

[of] cares, your Lordship shall not do amiss to read some

part of Cardanus' counsel: wherein considering the

manifold miseries of others, you may the rather esteem

your own happy estate with increase of those noble and

rare virtues which I know and rejoice to be in you. Sure

I am it would have better beseemed me to have taken

this travail in some discourse of arms (being your Lord-

ship's chief profession and mine also) than in philosopher's

skill to have thus busied myself: yet sith your pleasure

was such, and your knowledge in either great, I do

(as I will ever) most willingly obey you. And if

any either through skill or curiosity do find fault with

me, I trust notwithstanding for the respects aforesaid

p. 86


1 Thomas Bedingfield (d. 1613) was a son of Queen Elizabeth's jailer, Sir Henry Bedingfield. He was a Gentleman Pensioner, and the author of various miscellaneous works.

to be holden excused. From my lodging this first of

January, 1571. 1

Your Lordship's always to command,



Although at the moment other matters were occupying

his attention, Lord Oxford did not forget the manuscript

he had read and enjoyed. And it happened that when he

turned his whole attention in 1573 to literature, he remem-

bered Bedingfield's work, and decided to undertake its

publication in defiance of its author's wishes. In due

course it appeared, the title-page reading, Cardanus' Com-

forte, translated into Englishe. And published by com-

maundement of the right honourable the Earle of Oxenforde.

Anno Domini 1573.


Oxford himself wrote a prefatory letter and a poem,

which appeared in the book, both of which are given



To my loving friend Thomas Bedingfield Esquire, one of

Her Majesty's Gentlemen Pensioners.


After I had perused your letters, good Master Beding-

field, finding in them your request far differing from the

desert of your labour, I could not choose but greatly

doubt whether it were better for me to yield to your desire,

or execute mine own intention towards the publishing

of your book. For I do confess the affections that I have

always borne towards you could move me not a little.

But when I had thoroughly considered in my mind, of

sundry and diverse arguments, whether it were best to

obey mine affections, or the merits of your studies; at

the length I determined it were better to deny your

unlawful request than to grant or condescend to the

concealment of so worthy a work. Whereby as you have

been profited in the translating, so many may reap

knowledge by the reading of the same that shall comfort

the afflicted, confirm the doubtful, encourage the coward,

and lift up the base-minded man to achieve to any true

p. 87


1 Although it might appear at first sight that this date should be 1572 New Style, 1571 is probably correct, because January 1st was spoken of as New Year's Day. Compare the lists of New Year's presents given to the Queen on January 1st every year. (Nichols, Progresses.)

sum or grade of virtue, whereto ought only the noble

thoughts of men to be inclined.

And because next to the sacred letters of divinity,

nothing doth persuade the same more than philosophy,

of which your book is plentifully stored, I thought myself

to commit an unpardonable error to have murdered the

same in the waste bottom of my chests; and better I

thought it were to displease one than to displease many;

further considering so little a trifle cannot procure so great

a breach of our amity, as may not with a little persuasion

of reason be repaired again. And herein I am forced,

like a good and politic captain, oftentimes to spoil and

burn the corn of his own country, lest his enemies thereof

do take advantage. For rather than so many of your

countrymen should be deluded through my sinister means

of your industry in studies (whereof you are bound in

conscience to yield them an account) I am content to make

spoil and havoc of your request, and that, that might have

wrought greatly in me in this former respect, utterly to be

of no effect or operation. And when you examine your-

self, what doth avail a mass of gold to be continually

imprisoned in your bags, and never to be employed to your

use ? Wherefore we have this Latin proverb: Scire tuum

nihil est, nisi te scire hoc sciat alter. What doth avail

the tree unless it yield fruit unto another ? What doth

avail the vine unless another delighteth in the grape?

What doth avail the rose unless another took pleasure in

the smell? Why should this tree be accounted better

than that tree but for the goodness of his fruit? Why

should this rose be better esteemed than that rose, unless

in pleasantness of smell it far surpassed the other rose ?

And so it is in all other things as well as in man. Why

should this man be more esteemed than that man but

for his virtue, through which every man desireth to be

accounted of ? Then you amongst men, I do not doubt,

but will aspire to follow that virtuous path, to illuster

yourself with the ornaments of virtue. And in mine

opinion as it beautifieth a fair woman to be decked with

pearls and precious stones, so much more it ornifieth a

gentleman to be furnished with glittering virtues.

Wherefore, considering the small harm I do to you, the

great good I do to others, I prefer mine own intention to

discover your volume, before your request to secret same;

p. 88

wherein I may seem to you to play the part of the cunning

and expert mediciner or physician, who although his

patient in the extremity of his burning fever is desirous

of cold liquor or drink to qualify his sore thirst or rather

kill his languishing body; yet for the danger he doth

evidently know by his science to ensue, denieth him the

same. So you being sick of so much doubt in your own

proceedings, through which infirmity you are desirous to

bury and insevill 1 your works in the grave of oblivion:

yet I, knowing the discommodities that shall redound to

yourself thereby (and which is more unto your country-

men) as one that is willing to salve so great an inconvenience,

am nothing dainty to deny your request.

Again we see, if our friends be dead we cannot show or

declare our affection more than by erecting them of tombs,

whereby when they be dead in deed, yet make we them

live as it were again through their monument. But with

me behold it happeneth far better; for in your lifetime I

shall erect you such a monument that, as I say, in your

lifetime you shall see how noble a shadow of your virtuous

life shall hereafter remain when you are dead and gone.

And in your lifetime, again I say, I shall give you that

monument and remembrance of your life whereby I may

declare my good will, though with your ill will, as yet

that I do bear you in your life.

Thus earnestly desiring you in this one request of mine

(as I would yield to you in a great many) not to repugn

the setting forth of your own proper studies, I bid you

farewell. From my new country Muses of Wivenhoe,2

wishing you as you have begun, to proceed in these virtuous

actions. For when all things shall else forsake us, virtue

will ever abide with us, and when our bodies fall into the

bowels of the earth, yet that shall mount with our minds

into the highest heavens.

From your loving and assured friend,




The labouring man that tills the fertile soil,

And reaps the harvest fruit, hath not indeed

The gain, but pain; but if for aLl his toil

He gets the straw, the lord will have the seed.


p. 89


1 From the French ensevelir, meaning "to bury."

2 Wivenhoe is on the Essex coast, at the mouth of the river Colne.

The manchet fine falls not unto his share;

On coarsest cheat his hungry stomach feeds.

The landlord doth possess the finest fare;

He pulls the flowers, the other plucks but weeds.


The mason poor that builds the lordly halls,

Dwells not in them; they are for high degree;

His cottage is compact in paper walls,

And not with brick or stone, as others be.


The idle drone that labours not at all,

Sucks up the sweet of honey from the bee;

Who worketh most to their share least doth fall,

With due desert reward will never be.


The swiftest hare unto the mastiff slow

Oft-times doth fall, to him as for a prey;

The greyhound thereby doth miss his game we know

For which he made such speedy haste away.


So he that takes the pain to pen the book

Reaps not the gifts of golden goodly muse;

But those gain that, who on the work shall look,

And from the sour the sweet by skill shall choose;

For he that beats the bush the bird not gets,

But who sits still and holdeth fast the nets.


It is not difficult when we read these two eloquent

pieces of prose in The Courtier and Cardanus' Comfort to

see that literature was already bidding fair to become the

master passion of Lord Oxford's life. His new home by

the sea in Essex has been christened his "new country

Muses," and literary men were already finding in him not

merely a patron willing to be the passive recipient of a

dedication, but one who took a keen interest in reading

their manuscripts. Best of all, he was ready to pay for

the publication, for this is the only construction we can

put upon the phrase "published by commandment of the

right honourable the Earl of Oxenford."


In May we hear of three of Lord Oxford's men holding

up two of their former associates on Gad's Hill, near

Rochester. The two latter submitted a complaint, which

is sufficiently curious to warrant inclusion. It is addressed

p. 90

"to the Right Honourable the Lord Burghley, Lord

Treasurer of England," and endorsed "Fawnt and Wotton,

May 1573 from Gravesend."


The dutiful regard we owe to your honour, and the due

confidence we have in this case, doth stay us to address

our complaint to any but to your lordship, because the

matter doth near touch the honour of my late good Lord

and master, of whom publicly to hear complaint of raging

demeanour would grieve your honour and myself to make

it, if there were any other means for our security. So it

is, Right Honourable, Wootton and myself riding peace-

ably by the highway from Gravesend to Rochester, had

three calivers charged with bullets, discharged at us by

three of my Lord of Oxford's men; Danye Wylkyns,

John Hannam, and Deny the Frenchman, who lay privily

in a ditch awaiting our coming with full intent to murder

us; yet (notwithstanding they all discharging upon us

so near that my saddle having the girths broken fell with

myself from the horse and a bullet within half a foot of

me) it pleased God to deliver us from that determined

mischief; whereupon they mounted on horseback and fled

towards London with all possible speed. The considera-

tion hereof doth warn us to provide for our safety, insomuch

as we plainly see our lives are sought, for otherwise the

forenamed parties would not have pursued us from London.

Who in like manner yesterday beset our lodging, for which

cause and to preserve my 'Lord's favour in time, we left

the city and chose the country for our safeguard, where we

find ourselves in no less peril of spoil than before; and now

seeing that neither city nor country is a sufficient protection

from their malice, humbly appeal to your honour, whom

we never knew but a maintainer of justice and punisher

of abuses (. . .) generally to the counsel as your honour

liketh best, they (have now) given us great advantage of

them, which surely we would pursue to the uttermost of

it, wer't not in respect of our late noble Lord and master,

who with pardon be it spoken, is to be thought as the

procurer of that which is done. And so consider, Right

Honourable, if we have offended the laws of the realm or

our late noble Lord, as (which we have not) we remain here

in Gravesend to abide condign punishment, from whence we

dare not depart before we be assured of our security, and

p. 91

order taken for them. Thus beseeching God to preserve

your Honour; from Gravesend this present Thursday.

By your Honour's ever to command,



Towards the end of the year Oxford's old longing to

see "strange and foreign parts" broke out afresh. We

cannot say actually how near he was to going; but we

know that Sir William Cordell, the Master of the Rolls,

was told to settle the necessary financial arrangements,

which he did on September 2nd. The biggest problem

was the question of the Earl's debts. "To determine

what my debts are certainly," Lord Oxford replied to one

of Cordell's interrogations, "it is not possible, and because

as yet I cannot have the right of them all; but my debts

to the Queen's Majesty are these which I have gathered

together considered. I have just cause to think that the

sum of my debts will be £6,000 at the least." For the

payment of this sum he agrees to set aside between £400

and £500 a year. He then goes on to outline his family

arrangements. "For my wife to live on during my absence

I have assigned £300; and for her jointure £669 65. 8d. ...

For myself, to serve my turn beyond the seas, £1,000;

. . and for my sister £100." 2

Nothing, however, came of this project and he continued

at Court for the remainder of the year, both the Queen and

Lord Burghley being, as we know, very much opposed to

the idea of foreign travel.




The opening month of 1574 brings us in touch once more

with Ralph Lane. The French Ambassador had in 1571

associated him with Lord Oxford, in connexion with the

scheme to rescue the Duke of Norfolk from the Tower.

On January 17th Lane wrote to Burghley about various

matters, including "the protection of Portugal's traffic."

This was no doubt a proposal to bolster up Portugal against

the ever-increasing power of Spain- a proposal which was

p. 92


1 S.P. Dom. Eliz., 91. 36.

2 Hatfield MSS. (Cal. II. 58).

fully justified by after-events. For six years later Spain

absorbed Portugal, thus at one stroke almost doubling her

Empire, her Navy, and her Mercantile Marine.

There is no clue as to Oxford's connexion with this pro-

ject beyond the endorsement of Lane's letter in Burghley's

own hand, which runs, "17th Jan. 1573[-74]. Raff Lane;

Er. Oxf: L. Edwd. Sem; Guerras." 1


In March Oxford accompanied the Queen when she visited

the Archbishop of Canterbury, for on the 19th he vacated

his quarters at Lambeth Palace, which were then allotted

to Christopher Hatton.2

On June 27th Lord Burghley wrote to the Earl of Sussex,

who was Lord Chamberlain:


My good Lord, I heartily thank you for your gentle

remembrance of my daughter of Oxinforde, who, as I

think meaneth as her duty is, to wait on Her Majesty at

Richmond, except my Lord her husband shall otherwise

direct her. And so I take my leave.

Your Lordship's assuredly



Sussex, as Lord Chamberlain, was responsible for the

allotment of rooms when the Court was situated in one of

the Royal Palaces. It was no doubt on this account that

Lord Burghley wrote on behalf of his daughter and his


Suddenly, in the midst of all this peace and quiet, a

bombshell was exploded in the Court. We hear of it in

a letter from Henry Killigrew, then Ambassador at

Edinburgh. He wrote to Walsingham on July


My Lord of Oxford and Lord Seymour are fled out of England, and passed by Bruges to Brussels.4


p. 93


1 Hatfield MSS. (Cal. II. 68). [See 7.2.1 Oxford and the ships for Spain]

2 E.K.Chambers, Elizabethan Stage, vol. iv, p. 90.

3 Quoted in Colchester MS. (cit.), p. 150. No authority is given, and the original seems to have disappeared.

4 Cal. S.P. Foreign. Oxford had been abroad at least three weeks before this letter was written. [See 7.2.3 Oxford in Flanders, July 1574]

The consternation this news caused at the Court can well

be imagined when we remember that the Earl of Westmor-

land, who had been attainted for his part in the rebellion

of 1569, was then an exile in Brussels. It must have

seemed, in the absence of definite news, that the Lord

Treasurer's son-in-law had thrown in his lot with the

Queen's enemies.


There was a great triumph among the northern rebels ...

when they heard of the Earl of Oxford's coming over;

it was said that he was flying, and that the Earl of South-

ampton had fled to Spain. In a council held at Louvain,

it was concluded that the Earl of Westmorland should

ride to Bruges to welcome him, and persuade him not to

return; but the Earls did not meet. It were a great pity

such a valiant and noble young gentleman should com-

municate with such detestable men.1


The Queen was furious and instantly despatched Thomas

Bedingfield with orders to fetch him home. On July

15th Lord Burghley wrote anxiously to the Earl of Sussex,

who, as Oxford's friend, was trying to smooth the troubled


I most heartily thank your Lordship for your advertisements of my Lord of Oxford’s cause, wherein I am sorry that her Majesty maketh such haste and so to answer him, as I fear the sequel may breed offence, if he shall be evil counselled. My Lord, how so ever my Lord of Oxford be for his own private matters of thrift, inconsiderate I dare avow him to be resolute in dutifulness to the Queen and his country.2


Lord Burghley proved right; within a fortnight Oxford

was back in England.


Of my Lord of Oxford's return [writes Sir Walter

Mildmay on July 27th] I am glad to hear. I trust this

little journey will make him love home the better hereafter.

It were a great pity he should not go straight, there be so

many good things in him, to serve his God and Prince.3


p. 94


1 Cal. S.P. Dom. Add. Edward Woodshaw to Lord Burghley, September 3rd, 1574; from Antwerp.

2 Cotton MSS., Titus B. 2. 298.

3 Queen Elizabeth, Wright (1838), p. 507.

On July 29th Lord Burghley and Lady Oxford went to

London to meet the Earl, and the following day all three

went down to Theobalds. Here they waited to hear Her

Majesty's pleasure. The Court was then in progress and

by August 1st had reached Woodstock. On this date

Sir Francis Walsingham wrote to Lord Burghley:


I find Her Majesty graciously enough inclined towards

the Earl of Oxford, whose peace I think will be both easily

and speedily made, for that Her Majesty doth conceive

obedience in his return hath countered the contempt of his departure; and the rather than avow his honourable and dutiful carriage of himself towards the rebels and other undutiful subjects of her Majesty’s in that country: an argument of his approved loyalty which, as opportunity shall serve, I will not fail to lay before her Majesty by acquainting her with your Lordship’s letters.1


Burghley replied at some length in an earnest appeal

to Walsingham on behalf of his son-in-law:


Sir, Yesternight your letters came to Master Benigfeld 2

and me signifying Her Majesty's pleasure that my Lord of

Oxford should come to Gloucester now at Her Majesty's

being there. Whereof he being advertised by us was very

ready to take the journey, showing in himself a mixture of

contrary affections, although both reasonable and com-

mendable. The one, fearful and doubtful in what sort he

shall recover Her Majesty's favour because of his offence

in departure as he did without licence; the other, glad

and resolute to look for a speedy good end because he had

in his abode so notoriously rejected the attempts of Her

Majesty's evil subjects, and in his return set apart all his

own particular desires of foreign travel and come to

present himself before Her Majesty, of whose goodness

towards him he saith he cannot count. Hereupon he and

Master Benigfeld departed this afternoon to London,

where the Earl, as I perceive, will spend only two days or

less to make him some apparel meet for the Court, although

I would have had him forbear that new charge, considering

his former apparel is very sufficient, and he not provided

to increase a new charge.

I must be bold by this my letter ‘to require you in my

name most humbly to beseech Her Majesty that she will

p. 95


1 Harleian MSS., 6991. 50. [corrected version]

2 Thomas Bedingfield.

regard his loyalty and not his lightness in sudden joy over

his confidence in her goodness and clemency, and not his

boldness in attempting that which hath offended her.

And finally so to order him both in the order and speed

of his coming to Her Majesty's pleasure, that Her

Majesty's enemies and rebels which sought by many

devices to stay him from returning, may perceive his

returning otherwise rewarded than they would have had

him imagined, and that also his friends, that have advised

him to return, may take comfort thereof with himself, and

he not repent his dutifulness in doing that which in this

time none hath done--I mean of such as have either gone

Without licence, and not returned in their due time. ...

I think it is sound counsel to be given to Her Majesty,

that this young nobleman, being of such a quality as he is

for birth, office, and other notable valours of body and spirit,

he may not be discomforted either by any extraordinary

delay or by any outward sharp or unkind reproof ...

and that her favourable accepting of his submission may

be largely and manifestly declared unto him, to the con-

firmation of him in his singular loyalty. ... If he shall

not find comfort now in this amendment of his fault, I fear

the malice of some discontented persons, wherewith the

Court is overmuch sprinkled, [may] set to draw him to a

repentance rather of his dutifulness in thus returning, than

to set in him a contentation to continue in his duty. ...

I cannot well end, neither will I end, without also praying

you to remember Master Hatton to continue my Lord's

friend, as he hath manifestly been, and as my Lord con-

fesseth to me that he hopeth assuredly so to prove him. ...

I pray you so to deal with my Lords that are to deal with

my Lord of Oxford, that this my letter to you prove as

an intercession to them from me for my Lord; and I

doubt not but Master Secretary Smith will remember his

old love towards the Earl when he was his scholar.1


The reference to Hatton is interesting. It is clear that

neither Burghley nor Oxford had any idea that Hatton was

secretly jealous of the Earl's high favour, or that Dyer

in 1572 had advised him to "use no words of disgrace or

reproach towards him to any; that he being the less pro-

voked may sleep, thinking all safe, while you do awake and

p. 96


1 S.P. Dom., 98. 2.

attend to your advantages." Hatton's apparent befriend-

ing of Lord Oxford at this juncture need not therefore

surprise us. It was quite in accordance not only with

Dyer's cynical advice, but also with the time-honoured

methods adopted by the court "reptilia," as Lord

Willoughby called the social climbers who were seeking

their own advancement.

By August 7th Lord Oxford had made his peace with

the Queen. A copy of a letter exists in the Domestic

State Papers in which the writer says:


... I am sure you are not inadvertised how the Earl

of Oxford is restored to Her Majesty's favour, in whose

loyal behaviour towards Her Majesty's rebels in the Low

Country who sought conference with him, a thing he utterly

refused, did very much qualify his contempt in departing

without Her Majesty's leave. The desire of travel is not

yet quenched in him, though he dare not make any motion

unto Her Majesty that he may with her favour accomplish

the said desire. By no means he can be drawn to follow

the Court, and yet there are many cunning devices used

in that behalf for his stay. ...1


The Earl, however, did stay at the Court during the

progress, for Burghley notes that from August 5th to

September 16th "he was absent in the Progress." On this

latter date he returned to Theobalds, where many supper

parties were held, among the guests being Lady Lennox, the

Earl and Countess of Northumberland, and Lady Hunsdon.2

Three days before Lord Oxford arrived at Theobalds the

Countess of Oxford wrote to Lord Chamberlain Sussex:


My good Lord, Because I think it long since I saw Her

Majesty, and would be glad to do my duty after Her

Majesty's coming to Hampton Court, 3 I heartily beseech

your good Lordship to show me your favour in your order

to the ushers for my lodging; that in consideration that

there is but two chambers, it would please you to increase

p. 97


1 S.P. Dom. 98. 5. The Calendar, noting that it is only a copy, suggests Walsingham as the writer.

2 Hatfield MSS. (Cal. XIII. 144).

3 The Queen returned to Hampton Court on October 1st.

it with a third chamber next unto it, which was reserved last

time for my Lord Arundel's men, and, as I was informed

by my Lord Howard, he had it when he lay in the same

lodging. I shall think myself greatly bound to you for

it, for the more commodious my lodging is the willinger I

hope my Lord my husband will be to come thither, thereby

the oftener to attend Her Majesty. Thus trusting in

your Lordship's favourable consideration I leave to trouble

your Lordship any further, with my most hearty com-

mendations to my good Lady your wife.1 From my

father's house at Theobalds.

Your lordship's poor friend



This curious little appeal by the Countess of Oxford in

order to make court life more attractive to her husband is

most interesting. It shows us clearly that the Earl had

little inclination for court routine, but preferred his "new

country Muses" and his "lewd friends," as Lord Burghley

called his literary companions. It is not recorded whether

the Countess was granted her request, but it is probable;

for Burghley in his diary tells us that the Earl and his

Countess spent October at Hampton Court.

Lord Oxford's brief trip to the Low Countries had coin-

cided with an important military operation in the war

between the Dutch and the Spaniards. Bommel was a

place of great strategical importance, forming an outpost

in the defence of Flanders. From June till October 1574

a Spanish force under Hierges laid siege to it, but it was

successfully defended by van Haeften, who eventually

forced the enemy to raise the siege by cutting the dykes.

Lord Oxford, as we have seen, was deeply interested in

all military matters, and he must have visited the Spanish

lines outside Bommel in July. He took great delight in

after years in recounting this adventure, and, when

flushed with wine, allowed his imagination to run riot in

p. 98


1 Lady Sussex was Sir Philip Sidney's aunt, and the foundress of Sidney-Sussex College.

2 Quoted in Colchester MS. (cit), p. 150. No authority is given. From internal evidence, and from its being placed next to Lord Burghley's letter quoted from this MS., it evidently belongs to this year.

the most fantastic, but nevertheless amusing way. Refer-

ence has already been made to the attempts in 1581 on

the part of Charles Arundel to disgrace the Earl in the

Queen's eyes. This he did by collecting all the scandal

and slander he could lay hands on. One of these items

was headed "details of three notable lies." As they throw

an illuminating light not only on Oxford's after-dinner talk

but also on his escapade in the Low Countries, the first

of these, as recounted by Charles Arundel, is given below:


At his [Oxford's] being in Flanders, the Duke of Alva,1

as he [Oxford] will constantly affirm, grew so much to

affect him for the several parts he saw in him, as he made

him his Lieutenant General over all the army then in the

Low Countries, and employed him further in a notable

piece of service, where according to his place he com-

manded and directed the Ambassador of Spain 2 that is

now here, Mondragon, Santio d'Avila, and the rest of the

captains; but these who I have named, as he will say of

all others, were most glad to be commanded by him.

And so valiantly he behaved himself as he gained great

love of all the soldiers, and in less admiration of his valour

of all sorts. And in this journey he passed many straits

and divers bridges kept by the enemy, which he let them

from 3 with the loss of many a man's life. But still he

forced them to retire, till at the last he approached the

place that he went to besiege; and using no delay the

cannon was planted and the battery continued the space

of ten days, by which time he had made such a breach as

by a general consent of all his captains he gave an assault,

and to encourage his soldiers this valiant prince led them

thereto, and through the force of his murdering arm many

were sore wounded, but more killed. Notwithstanding

being not well followed by the reiters [and] others, he was

p. 99


1 The Duke of Alva. (1508-4582) was sent by Philip II. to the Low Countries in 1567 with orders to restore the Catholic religion. But the determined resistance offered by the Burghers was too much for him, and he returned to Spain, a broken man, in December 1573. It will therefore be seen that he was not actually in the Netherlands at the time of Lord Oxford's visit, which makes it all the more incomprehensible why Charles Arundel should have put forward this story seriously.

2 Bernardino de Mendoza.

3 I.e., captured from them.

repulsed, but determining to give a fresh and general

assault the next day Master Beningefeld, as the devil

would have it, came in upon his swift post-horse, and

called him from this service by Her Majesty's letters, being

the greatest disgrace that any such general received. And

now the question is whether this noble general were more

troubled with his calling home, or Beningefeld more moved

with pity and compassion to behold this slaughter, or his

horse more afeared when he passed the bridges at sight

of the dead bodies-whereat he started and flung in such

sort as Beningefeld could hardly keep his back. Whether

this hath passed him I leave it to the report of my Lord

Charles Howard, my Lord Windsor, my Lord Compton,

my Lord Harry Howard and my Lord Thomas Howard,

Rawlie, George Gifford, Waddose, Neell and Southwell,

and divers other gentlemen that hath accompanied him.1

And if in his soberest moods he would allow this, it may

easily be gathered what will pass him in his cups.2


It seems ludicrous in the extreme that Arundel should

have brought forward this story seriously, as it is so obvi-

ously reminiscent of a convivial evening. But we must

remember that Arundel was fighting for his life. Oxford

had accused him of complicity with Spain, an accusation

that proved in the end to be correct. By bringing a host

of frivolous counter-charges, mostly imaginary, against

his accuser he secured for himself breathing space; and

so contrived to escape to Paris, where he joined the English

fugitives and was paid as a spy by the King of Spain.




By this time it must have been abundantly clear to the

Queen and Lord Burghley that they could no longer deny

Lord Oxford his wish to travel on the Continent; and so

at last Her Majesty gave the long-sought-for licence per-

mitting the Earl to leave England and journey overseas.

By the New Year all family and financial arrangements

had been completed. A fresh list of his debts was com-

piled, a modification in the entail of his property was laid

p. 100


1 I.e., dined with.

2 S.P. Dom. Eliz., 151. 45.

down, so as to prevent, in case of his death, the whole

estate passing to his sister Mary, and the "impoverishment

of the ancient Earldom." 1 To this end certain lands

were to be set apart for his cousins, among whom we

find the names Francis and Horatio Vere, who have come

down in history as "the fighting Veres," because of their

long and devoted service in the Queen's armies in the


On January 7th Lord Oxford took his leave of the

Court with Paris as his first destination; and he took with

him in his retinue "two gentlemen, two grooms, one

payend, a harbinger, a housekeeper, and a trenchman,"

as we know from a note in Lord Burghley's own hand.2

By March 7th he had already been some time in Paris,

for on that date, in a letter to Burghley, Valentine Dale,

the English Ambassador, says:


... I presented my Lord of Oxford also unto the

King and Queen, who used him honourably. Amongst

other talk the King asked whether he was married. I

said he had a fair lady. "Il y a donc ce," dit-il, "un beau

couple." 3


Paris was only a temporary resting-place on the way to

the greater attractions of Italy, the home of the Renais-

sance, and the centre of culture and learning. Just a

week later we find Dr. Dale writing to the Lord Treasurer:


... I had all passports and commissions for post-horses

and letters for my Lord of Oxford that he could require;

and indeed he was well liked of, and governed himself very

honourably while he was here. I got the Ambassador of

Venice's letters for him, both unto the State, and unto the

Ambassador's particular friends. He did wisely to cumber

himself with as little company as he might.4


But before he could leave Paris important news reached

the Earl from his father-in-law. This was that the Countess

p. 101


1 Hist. MSS. Comm., 14th Report.

2 Hatfield MSS. 146. 13.

3 S.P. Foreign, 33. 38 (Cal. 1575-7, p. 25).

4 Ibid., 33. 45 (Cal. 1575-7, p. 29).

of Oxford was about to have a child. To this Lord Oxford

answered in great spirits on March 17th:


My Lord, Your letters have made me a glad man, for

these last have put me in assurance of that good fortune

which you formerly mentioned doubtfully. I thank God

therefore, with your Lordship, that it hath pleased Him

to make me a father, where your Lordship is a grandfather;

and if it be a boy I shall likewise be the partaker with you

in a greater contentation. But thereby to take an occasion

to return I am off from that opinion; for now it hath pleased

God to give me a son of my own (as I hope it is) methinks

I have the better occasion to travel, sith whatsoever

becometh of me I leave behind me one to supply my duty

and service, either to my Prince or else my country.


Lord Burghley, who was always opposed to foreign travel,

had evidently urged Oxford to return on account of his

wife's pregnancy. The Earl's reply makes it clear that he

will not be denied the long-wished-for journey to Italy.


For fear of the inquisition [the letter continues, after

thanking his father-in-law for sending him money] I dare

not pass by Milan, the Bishop whereof exerciseth such

tyranny; wherefore I take the way of Germany, where

I mean to acquaint myself with Sturmius, with whom-

after I have passed my journey which now I have in hand

--I mean to pass some time. I have found here this

courtesy: 'the King hath given me his letters of recom-

mendation to his Ambassador in the Turk's Court; like-

wise the Venetian Ambassador that is here, knowing my

desire to see those parts, hath given me his letters to the

Duke 1 and divers of his kinsmen in Venice, to procure

me their furtherances to my journey, which I am not

yet assured to hold; for if the Turks come-as they be

looked for-upon the coasts of Italy or elsewhere, if I

may I will see the service; if he cometh not, then perhaps

I bestow two or three months to see Constantinople, and

some part of Greece.


No doubt as he wrote this Lord Oxford was thinking

of the great battle of Lepanto, which had taken place in

p. 102


1 Doge.

1571, and hoping that it might be his good fortune to

take part in such another sea-fight against the Infidel

while he was in Venice.


The English Ambassador here [he continues] greatly

complaineth of the dearness of this country, and earnestly

hath desired me to crave your Lordship's favour to con-

sider the difference of his time from them which were

before him. He saith the charges are greater; his ability

less.1 The account announces long and oft the causes of

expense augmented; his allowance not more increased.

But as concerning these matters-now I have satisfied his

desire-I refer them to your Lordship's discretion, that is

better experienced than I, perhaps, informed in the [difficult

negotiations of Ambassadors.


We may sympathise with Dr. Dale, who was by no means

the only sufferer from Queen Elizabeth's parsimony.

History does not relate if his request was conceded, but

it is unlikely. The letter concludes with an appeal for

more money:


My Lord, whereas I perceive by your Lordship's letters

how hardly money is to be gotten, and that my man writeth

he would fain pay unto my creditors some part of that

money which I have appointed to be made over unto me;

good my Lord, let rather my creditors bear with me awhile,

and take their days assured according to that order I left,

than I so want in a strange country, unknowing yet

what need I may have of money myself. My revenue is

appointed, with the profits of my lands, to pay them as I

may; and if I cannot yet pay them as I would, yet as I

can I will, but preferring my own necessity before theirs.

And if at the end of my travels I shall have something

left of my provision, they shall have it among them;

but before I will not defurnish myself. Good my Lord,

have an eye unto my men that I have put in trust. Thus

making my commendations to your Lordship and my Lady,

I commit you to God; and wherever I am I rest at your

Lordship's commandment. Written the 17th March from




p. 103


1 I.e., his ability to meet the cost.

In a postscript he adds:


My Lord, this gentleman, Master Corbeck, hath given

me great cause to like of him both for his courtesies he hath

shown me in letting me understand the difficulties as

well as the safeties of my travel, and also I find him affected

both to me and your Lordship. I pray your Lordship

that those who are my friends may seem yours, as yours

I esteem mine.1


A few days later Lord Oxford left Paris for Strasburg,

and Dr. Dale, who had evidently been favourably impressed

by the young Earl, wrote thus to Lord Burghley:


... I will assure your Lordship unfeignedly my Lord of

Oxford used himself as orderly and moderately as might

be desired, and with great commendation, neither is there

any appearance of the likelihood of any other. God send

him a Raphael always in his company, which I trust he

verily so hath, for Mr. Lewyn is both discreet and of good

years, and one that my Lord doth respect. ... If the skill

of this painter here be liked, I suggest he would be induced

to come thither, for he is a Fleming, and liketh not over

well of his entertainment here. It seemeth to us he hath

done my Lord of Oxford well. My Lord's device is very

proper, witty and significant.2


The last paragraph is presumably a reference to a picture


of himself that the Earl had painted in Paris, and sent to the

Countess; for in a note in his own hand Burghley remarks:


March 17th. The Earl departed from Paris and wrote

to his wife, and sent her his picture and two horses.3


At Strasburg Lord Oxford visited the famous Sturmius, 4

p. 104


1 Hatfield MSS. (Cal. II. 29).

2 S.P. Foreign, 33. 47 (Cal. 1575-7, p. 32).

3 Hatfield MSS. (Cal. XIII. 144).

4 John Sturmius (1507-89) was Rector Perpetuus of Strasburg University. In 1578 this University comprised more than a thousand scholars, including three Princes, and two hundred of the nobility. It included students from all parts of Europe, such as Portugal, Poland, Denmark, France, and England. Robert Sidney, the younger brother of Sir Philip Sidney, was for some years placed under the charge of Sturmius. "The method of Sturmius's teaching became the basis of that of the Jesuits, and through them of the public school instruction of England" (Encyc. Brit., 11th ed., vol. xxvii, p. 763). "His Latin Gymnasium at Strasburg became the model which the German schools of Protestant Europe strove to imitate" (Ibid., vol. viii, p. 958).

and was much impressed, but only two connexions between

them have come down to us. Two years later Sturmius wrote

Lord Burghley a letter, in which he makes the remark:


"... As I write I think of the Earl of Oxford, and his

Lady too understands Latin, I think." 1


The other connexion is in a letter from William Lewyn to

Sturmius, in which he says that the Earl of Oxford "had

a most high opinion of you, and had made most honourable

mention of you: which things afforded me the greatest

pleasure." 2

On "April 26th the Earl of Oxford departed from

Strasburg" 3; and in May "the Earl left Germany accom-

panied by Ralph Hopton, a son of the Lieutenant of the

Tower" 4; and later in the same month reached Padua.


I sent a gentleman of mine [writes Sir Richard Shelley

to Burghley from Venice in May] with a letter to him

[Lord Oxford] to give him hora buona of his welcome and

safe arrival, offering him then a house furnished that

should have cost him nothing, and to have provided him

with the like against his coming hither to Venice, with all

the fervour that I was able. ... His Lordship thanks me

by a letter for my courtesy, praying me nevertheless very

earnestly to forbear the sending of him either letters or

messages, till he should know how I was thought of by

the Queen's most excellent Majesty; which affection and

wariness, albeit I liked very well in so great a subject,

yet on the other side it appalled me much that I, for all

my wariness and fidelity, should be in jealousy, as it were

of a fugitive.5


p. 105


1 Cal. S.P. Foreign, 1577-8, p. 350.

2 Zurich letters, 2nd Series (1845), September 8th, 1576.

3 Hatfield MSS. (Cal. XIII. 144).

4 Cal. S.P. Spanish. The Calendar says "left for Germany"; clearly a misprint.

5 Harleian MSS., 6992. 4. The letter is not the original, but is a copy made in 1582, when it was evidently used as evidence to prove Shelley's loyalty to the Queen. He was not without justice suspected of being a Catholic. "There met at Rome the year of Jubilee, which was 1575, divers Englishmen to treat of their common cause, as namely Sir Richard Shelley, ... etc. ... etc. ... All these wished well the conversion of their country, but agreed not well in the means or manner of consultation." (Cath. Rec. Soc., 1906, vol. ii.)

William Lewyn had, in the meantime, for some reason

not known, become detached from the Earl's retinue,

for in July he writes to Lord Burghley that he does not

know whether Lord Oxford has started for Greece, or

whether he is still in Italy, but that he understands there

is an English nobleman at Venice who has a companion

who was with Sir Philip Sidney. These, he adds, may be

the Earl and Ralph Hopton.1

From the above it seems not unlikely that Oxford, on his

way out, met Sidney on his way back. This may well

have happened at Strasburg, for we know that Philip's

brother, Robert, was later confided to Sturmius's care.

I At any rate, Ralph Hopton seems to have left Sidney's

entourage and joined Lord Oxford's.

By September the Earl had reached Venice. There had

evidently been some hitch in the payment of his money,

which was to have been sent out from England every six

months. This appears in a letter to Lord Burghley

from Clemente Paretti, a banker, to whom Lord Oxford's

money had been consigned:


Right Honourable, My most humble duty remembered.

I am sorry that afore this time I could not, according to

duty, write to your honour of my Lord's success and good

disposition in this his travel. But my daily and continual

service about my Lord hath rather hindered than furthered

my good intention and service which always hath been and

is employed to obey your honour's commandment. At this

present your honour shall understand my Lord's better

disposition, God be thanked, for now last coming from

Genoa his Lordship found himself somewhat altered by

reason of the extreme heats; and before his Lordship

hurt his knee in one of the Venetian galleys, but all is past

without further harm. Of any other reports that your

honour hath understood of my Lord, no credit is to be

given unto. It is true that a while ago at Padua were

killed unawares (in a quarrel that was amongst a certain

congregation of Saffi and students) two noble gentlemen of

Polonia, and the bruit ran Gentiluomini Inglesi. ... 2


p. 106


1 Cal. S.P. Foreign, 1575-7, p. 80.

2 Hatfield MSS. (Cal. II. 114. September 23rd, 1575).

The next day, September 24th, Lord Oxford received

letters from England acquainting him, amongst other

things, that on July 2nd the Countess, his wife, had given

birth to a daughter. He wrote the following long letter to

his father-in-law on the same day:


My good Lord, Having looked for your Lordship's letters

a great while, at length when I grew to despair of them,

I received two packets from your Lordship. Three packets,

which at sundry times I had sent this summer towards

England returned back again, by reason of the plague being

in the passages none were suffered to pass, but as they

came were returned back; which I came not to the know-

ledge of till my return now to Venice, where I have been

grieved with a fever; yet with the help of God now I have

recovered the same, and am past the danger thereof, though

brought very weak thereby, and hindered from a great deal

of travel, which grieves me most seeing my time [is] not

sufficient for my desire; for although I have seen so much

as sufficeth me, yet would I fain have time to profit



He goes on to answer his father-in-law's questions about



Your Lordship seems desirous to know how I like Italy,

what is mine intention in travel, and when I mean to return.

For my liking of Italy, my Lord, I am glad I have seen it,

and I care not ever to see it any more, unless it be to serve

my Prince and country. For mine intention to travel,

I am desirous to see more of Germany, wherefore I shall

desire your Lordship, with my Lord of Leicester, to procure

me the next summer to continue my licence, at the end

of which I mean undoubtedly to return. I thought to have

seen Spain, but by Italy I guess the worst. I have sent

one of my servants into England with some new disposition

of my things there, wherefore I will not trouble your Lord-

ship in these letters with the same. If this sickness had

not happened unto me, which hath taken away this

chiefest time of travel at this present, J should not have

written for further leave, but to supply the which I doubt

not Her Majesty will not deny me so small a favour.


Then follow more financial troubles and difficulties:

p. 107


By reason of my great charges of travel and sickness I

have taken up of Master Baptiste Nigrone five hundred

crowns, which I shall desire your Lordship to see them

repaid, hoping by this time my money which is made of the

sale of my land is all come in. Likewise I shall desire

your Lordship that whereas I had one Luke Atslow that

served-who is now become a lewd subject to Her Majesty

and an evil member to his country-which had certain

leases of me-I do think according to law he loseth them

all to the Queen, since he is become one of the Romish

Church, and there hath performed all such ceremonies

as might reconcile himself to that charge; having used

lewd speeches against the Queen's Majesty's supremacy,

legitimation, government and particular life; and is here,

as it were, a practiser upon our nation. Then this is my

desire: that your Lordship--if it be so as I do take it-

would procure those leases into my hands again, where, as

I have understood by my Lord of Bedford, they have hardly

dealt with my tenants. Thus thanking your Lordship for

your good news of my wife's delivery, I recommend myself

unto your favour; and although I write for a few months

more, yet, though I have them, so it may fall out I will

shorten them myself. Written this 24th September, by

your Lordship's to command,



A curious little relic, which belongs to this date, is pre-

served among the Hatfield MSS. 2 It is a Latin poem of ten

lines, stated to have been copied from the fly-leaf of a

Greek Testament, once in the possession of the Countess

of Oxford. It is addressed "To the illustrious Lady Anne

de Vere, Countess of Oxford, while her noble husband,

Edward Vere, Earl of Oxford, was occupied in foreign

travel." The poem, which is mainly a series of puns on

the words Vera and veritas, may be translated as follows:


Words of truth are fitting to a Vere; lies are foreign to

the truth, and only true things stand fast, all else is

fluctuating and comes to an end. Therefore, since thou,

a Vere, art wife and mother of a Vere daughter, and seeing

that thou mayest with good hope look forward to being

p. 108


1 Hatfield MSS. (Cal. II. 114).

2 Ibid. (Cal. XIII. 362).

mother of an heir of the Veres, may thy mind always glow

with love of the truth, and may thy true motto be Ever

Lover of the Truth. And that thou mayest the better attain

to this, pray to the Author of all Truth that His word

may teach thee; that His Spirit may nourish thy inner

life. So that, thus alleviating the absent longings of thy

dear husband, thou, a Vere, mayest be called the true glory

of thy husband.


In view of Lord Oxford's great desire to have a son

expressed in a previous letter, it seems not improbable

that he wrote the lines himself in a Greek Testament when

he heard of the birth of his daughter Elizabeth. This is

of course surmise, as the Testament has been lost; but

the nature of the poem makes the Earl's authorship seem

not unlikely.

By November Lord Oxford had reached Padua, whence

he wrote a hurried note to Lord Burghley about the sale

of his lands:


My Lord, having the opportunity to write, by this

bearer, who departeth from us here in Padua this night,

although I cannot make so large a write as I would gladly

desire, yet I thought it not fit to let so short a time slip.

Wherefore, remembering my commendations to your good

Lordship, these shall be to desire you to pardon the short-

ness of my letter, and to impute it at this present to the

haste of this messenger's departure. And as concerning

mine own matters, I shall desire your Lordship to make no

stay of the sales of my land; but that all things-according

to my determinating before I came away with those that I

appointed last by my servant William Booth- might go

forward according to mine order taken without any other

alteration. Thus recommending myself unto your Lord-

ship again, and to my Lady your wife, with mine, I leave

further to trouble your Lordship. From Padua 27th

November, your Lordship's to command,



On December 11th Lord Oxford received his money from

Pasquino Spinola at Venice, and left for Florence on the

p. 109


1 Hatfield Mss. (Cal. II. 122).

following day. Meanwhile, his creditors at home were

proving recalcitrant, and it is in a despondent mood that

we find him writing to Lord Burghley on January 3rd

from Siena:


My Lord, I am sorry to hear how hard my fortune is in

England, as I perceive by your Lordship's letters; but

knowing how vain a thing it is to linger a necessary

mischief— to know the worst of myself, and to let your

Lordship understand wherein I would use your honourable

friendship- in short, I have thus determined. That,

whereas I understand the greatness of my debt and greedi-

ness of my creditors grows so dishonourable and trouble-

some unto your Lordship, that that land of mine which in

Cornwall I have appointed to be sold, according to that

first order for mine expenses in this travel, be gone through

and withal. And to stop my creditors' exclamations—

or rather defamations I may call them-I shall desire

your Lordship by the virtue of this letter, which doth not

err, as I take it, from any former purpose-which was that

always upon my letter to authorise your Lordship to sell

any portion of my land 1 that you will sell more of my

land where your Lordship shall think fittest, to disburden

me of my debts to Her Majesty, my sister, or elsewhere I

am exclaimed upon.


He goes on to ask Burghley, in conjunction with Lewyn,

Kelton, and the auditor, to make a "view" of the lands

he inherited, and also to discharge from his service one

Hubbard, who has been defrauding him, and who "de-

serveth very evil at my hands."


In doing these things [the letter continues] your

Lordship shall greatly pleasure me, in not doing them you

shall as much hinder me; for although to part with land

your Lordship hath advised the contrary, and that your

Lordship for the good affection you bear unto me could

not wish it otherwise, yet you see I have no other remedies,

I have no help but of mine own, and mine is made to serve

me and myself, not mine.


p. 110


1 A marginal note in Lord Burghley's hand beside this reads: "no such authority."

His determination not to be drawn from his travel by

these difficulties is brought out in the next paragraph:


Whereupon, till all such incumbrances be passed over,

and till I can better settle myself at home, I have deter-

mined to continue my travel, the which thing in no wise

I desire your Lordship to hinder, unless you would have

it thus: ut nulla sit inter nos amicitia. For having made

an end of all hope to help myself by Her Majesty's service-

considering that my youth is objected unto me, and for

every step of mine a block is found to be laid in my way—

I see it is but vain calcitrare contra li busse; and the worst of things being known, they are the more easier to be pro-

vided for to bear and support them with patience. Where-

fore, for things passed amiss to repent them it is too late

to help them, which I cannot but ease them. That I am

determined to hope for anything, I do not; but if anything

do happen preter spam, I think before that time I must be

as old as 1 my son, who shall enjoy them, must give the

thanks; and I am to content myself according to the

English proverb that it is my hap to starve while the grass

doth grow.


After hoping that plain speaking may clear up all mis-

understandings he concludes:


Thus I leave your Lordship to the protection of Almighty

God, whom I beseech to send you long and happy life, and

better fortune to define your felicity in these your aged

years 2 than it hath pleased him to grant in my youth.

But of a hard beginning we may expect a good and easy

ending. Your Lordship's to command during life. The

3rd of January from Siena.



For the next three months his movements are not

known; but he seems to have visited Sicily, probably via

Rome, as the following extract from a book published

fourteen years later plainly shows:


Many things I have omitted to speak of, which I have

seen and noted in the time of my troublesome travel. One

p. 111


1 I.e., that.

2 Burghley was only forty-nine!

3 Hatfield MSS. (Cal. II. 83).

thing did greatly comfort me which I saw long since in

Sicilia, in the city of Palermo, a thing worthy of memory,

where the Right Honourable the Earl of Oxford, a famous

man of Chivalry, at what time he travelled into foreign

countries, being then personally present, made there a

challenge against all manner of persons whatsoever, and

at all manner of weapons, as Tournaments, Barriers with

horse and armour, to fight a combat with any whatsoever

in the defence of his Prince and Country. For which he

was very highly commended, and yet no man durst be so

hardy to encounter with him, so that all Italy over he is

acknowledged the only Chevalier and Nobleman of

England. This title they give unto him as worthily



One other item of interest which belongs to this period

is to be found in a play written by George Chapman. The

play itself was not published till 1613, though it was

written some years before; but Chapman, who evidently

knew Oxford, must have been thinking of the Earl's

travels on the Continent when he put the following

eulogy into the mouth of one of his characters, Clermont




I overtook, coming from Italy,

In Germany, a great and famous Earl

Of England; the most goodly fashion'd man

I ever saw: from head to foot in form

Rare and most absolute; he had a face

Like one of the most ancient honour'd Romans

From whence his noblest family was deriv'd;

He was beside of spirit passing great,

Valiant and learn'd, and liberal as the sun,

Spoke and writ sweetly, or of learned subjects,

Or of the discipline of public weals;

And 'twas the Earl of Oxford. 2


Some time in March Lord Oxford was at Lyons, at

Carnival time, on his way home, and on March 31st

p. 112


1 The Travels of Edward Webbe (1590). Edward Webbe was a Master Gunner. This appointment was one of importance, as its holder was a senior officer in the Army, and consequently a man of standing and repute.

2 The Revenge of Bussy d'Ambois.

Dr. Dale reported his arrival in Paris, together with a

certain William Russell, to Lord Burghley.1 The Venetian

Ambassador also reported his arrival to the Signory:


The Earl of Oxford, an English gentleman [he writes],

has arrived here. He has come from Venice, and according

to what has been said to me by the English Ambassador

here resident 2 speaks in great praise of the numerous

courtesies which he has received in that city; and he

reports that on his departure from Venice your Serenity

had already elected an Ambassador to be sent to the

Queen, and the English Ambassador expressed the greatest

satisfaction at the intelligence. I myself, not having

received any information from your Serenity, or from any

of my correspondents, did not know what answer to give

concerning the matter. From Paris, April 3rd, 1576. 3


We must now leave Lord Oxford for the moment in

excellent spirits in Paris; and turn our attention to

certain events which had in the meantime been happening

in England.




The Countess of Oxford, as we have seen, gave birth

to a daughter on July 2nd, 157 5. Lord Oxford's two letters,

the first from Paris when he heard she was about to become

a mother, and the second from Venice when he had heard

of her safe delivery, have been quoted in full. They both

express his whole-hearted joy at the news. There is no

hint of suspicion or mistrust from beginning to end. These

letters are important in view of subsequent developments,

and should be borne in mind.

We must now go back to London. On the very day -

March 7th, 1575-that Lord Oxford was being introduced

to the King and Queen of France, and receiving their

congratulations on behalf of himself and his wife; on that

very day Queen Elizabeth was holding an audience with

one of her physicians, Dr. Richard Masters, in the presence

p. 113


1 Cal. S.P. For, 1575-7, p. 294.

2 Dr. Dale.

3 Cal. S.P. Venetian, 1558-80, p. 548.

chamber at Richmond. Masters wrote a full account of

his interview in the evening to Lord Burghley, and the

purport of this letter is so remarkable that we must read

it in his own words:


To the right honourable the Lord Burghley, the Lord

Treasurer of England.

After my duty it may please your Lordship to understand

that having Her, Majesty this Monday morning in the

chamber at the gallery and next to the Green sitting alone,

I said "Seeing it hath pleased your Majesty oftentimes

to enquire tenderly after my Lady of Oxford's health, it

is now fallen out so (God be thanked) that she is with child

evidently; and albeit it were but an indifferent thing for

Her Majesty to hear of, yet it was more than indifferent

for your Lordship to signify the same unto her." Here-

withal she arose, or rather sprang up from the cushion,

and said these words: "Indeed, it is a matter that con-

cerneth my Lord's joy chiefly; yet I protest to God that

next to them that have interest in it, there is nobody that

can be more joyous of it than I am." Then I went forth

and told her that your Lordship had a privy likelihood of

it upon your coming from the Court after Shrovetide,1

but you concealed it. ...

Her Majesty asked me how the young lady did bear the

matter. I answered that she kept it secret four or five

days from all persons and that her face was much fallen

and thin with little colour, and that when she was com-

forted and counselled to be gladsome and so rejoice, she

would cry: "Alas, alas, how should I rejoice seeing he that

should rejoice with me is not here; and to say truth I

stand in doubt whether he pass upon me and it or not";

and bemoaning her case would lament that after so long

sickness of body she should enter a new grief and sorrow of

mind. At this Her Majesty showed great compassion

as your Lordship shall hear hereafter. And repeated my

Lord of Oxford's answer to me, which he made openly in

the presence chamber of Her Majesty, Viz., that if she were

with child it was not his. I answered that it was the com-

mon answer of lusty courtiers everywhere, so to say. .

Then she asking and being answered of me [who] was in

the next chamber, she calleth my Lord of Leicester and

p. 114


1 Lord Oxford left England over a month before Shrovetide.

telleth him all. And here I told her that though your

Lordship had concealed it awhile from her, yet you left it

to her discretion either to reveal it or to keep it and lose.

And here an end was made, taking advantage of my last

words, that she would be with you for concealing it so long

from her. And severally she showed herself unfeignedly

to rejoice, and in great offence with my Lord of Oxford,

repeating the same to my Lord of Leicester after he came

to her. Thus much rather to show my goodwill than

otherwise desiring your Lordship, that there may a note

be taken from the day of the first quickening, for thereof

somewhat may be known noteworthy. From Richmond

the 7th of March, 1574 [i.e., 1575 New Style].

By your Lordship's most bounden,



How can we reconcile the statement made by Dr.

Masters that Lord Oxford had denied the parentage of

the child with the Earl's own obvious pleasure when he

heard a few days later that the Countess was about to

become a mother? Moreover, Masters insinuates that

Oxford had denied the parentage of the child before he

went abroad on January 7th; and yet Masters himself,

Lady Oxford's own physician, only discovers on March 7th

that she is going to have a child. Clearly someone is

spreading scandalous reports. Who is it ?

The seeds of suspicion had now been sown in the minds

of the Queen and Lord Burghley, and as is customary with

weeds, they quickly took root and flourished.

Meanwhile, in July the child had been born, and in

September the Earl wrote to his father-in-law expressing

his pleasure at his wife's safe delivery.

On January 3rd, 1576, the poison was once more at work

in Burghley's mind. He was puzzled, and to help him clear

his thoughts, he took pen and paper. This is what he



He [Oxford] confessed to my Lord Howard that he lay

not with his wife but at Hampton Court, and that then the

child could not be his, because the‘ child was born in July

which was not the space of twelve months. 2


p. 115


1 Lansdowne MSS., 19. 83.

2 Hatfield MSS. (Gal. XIII. 144).

The reasoning is certainly peculiar, but the appearance

of Lord Henry Howard is interesting. When did Oxford

make this "confession" to Lord Henry ? Not before

he went abroad in January, because it was not till

March that the Countess was found to be with child.

Lord Henry, moreover, was in England all this time, so

they cannot possibly have met after January. Then

again, why should Oxford make this obviously untrue

"confession" to Lord Henry ? It may help us to under-

stand the case better if we examine for a moment this new

character who has stepped on to the stage.

Lord Henry Howard was the second son of the poet Earl

of Surrey, and therefore Oxford's first cousin. He was

now thirty-five years old. His many-sided personality

makes him one of the most remarkable, and at the same

time sinister, figures in Elizabethan England. He shared

with Lord Lumley the distinction of being the most learned

nobleman of his day. He made little or no attempt to con-

ceal his pro-Spanish and Catholic leanings, nor his support of

the Queen of Scots. This attitude was plainly incompatible

with genuine loyalty to his sovereign; and although he

repeatedly expressed his entire devotion to the person of

Elizabeth, this was mere lip service, and it is not surprising

that he spent many years either in prison or under restraint.

But he was a master of subtle intrigue and dissimulation,

and it is not the least remarkable of his achievements that

he succeeded in avoiding anything worse than imprison-

ment between 1570 and 1587. He was a bitter and lifelong

enemy of Lord Burghley.

His relations with Lord Oxford are less easy to define.

Their mutual love of literature and learning generally

would naturally cause them to gravitate together. It seems

probable that prior to 1576 they had been fairly close

friends. But any sympathy Oxford may have had for

Lord Harry in the past was turned to hatred and disgust

when he heard of the latter's vile lies and insinuations about

the Countess. His opinion of him after this particularly

foul behaviour is terse and to the point. We are told that

p. 116

he was wont to "affirm to divers that the Howards were

the most treacherous race under heaven"; and that "my

Lord Howard [was] the worst villain that lived in this

earth." 1

There is little doubt that in Lord Henry Howard we

have found the Iago of the piece. But Burghley at the

time evidently believed Lord Henry, for he continued to

puzzle it all out on the bit of paper before him. This is

what he wrote:


Anno XVI Eliz. (1574) 29th July. Lord Burghley went

to London with his daughter, the Countess of Oxford.

30th July. Earl of Oxford went to Theobalds with his


3rd Aug. Earl of Oxford at the hunting of the stag.

1574. 16th Sept. Earl of Oxford at Theobalds when

the Progress from farm ties [sic].

19th Sept. Sunday. Lady Lennox, Earl of Oxford,

Lord Northumberland, Lady Northumberland.

20th Sept. Monday. Lady Margaret Lennox, Earl of

Oxford, Lady Lennox, Lady Hunsdon.

21st Sept. Lady Lennox, Lord Northumberland, and

my Lady.2

October at Hampton Court. The Countess fell sick at

Hampton Court. (Afore November.)

7th Jan. [1575] The Earl departed overseas.

6th March. The Earl presented to the French King.

17th March. The Earl departed from Paris and wrote

to his wife and sent her his picture and two horses.

26th April. The Earl of Oxford departed from Strasburg.

2nd July. The Countess delivered of a daughter.

24th Sept. The letter of the Earl by which he gives

thanks for his wife's delivery. Mark well this letter.

3rd Jan. The Earl wrote to me. 3


Lord Burghley was puzzled. And in the meantime

Oxford without a shadow of suspicion, was eagerly

anticipating the wonders of Rome, as he journeyed south

from Siena.

p. 117


1 S.P. Dom., 151. 46.

1 These notes, I imagine, refer to dinner or supper parties.

3 Hatfield MSS. (Cal. XIII. 144).

Before this digression we left Lord Oxford, it will be

remembered, on April 3rd, 1576, at Paris on his way home.

He seems to have been in excellent spirits, and to have

visited both Dr. Dale and the Venetian Ambassador.

'Next day the bomb exploded.

In an overwhelming passion he started for England at

once; on the way over his ship was attacked by pirates

and all his goods stolen; he refused to land at Dover, where

his brother-in-law, Thomas Cecil, had gone to meet him,

and he landed in the Thames with Gascoigne's old com-

panion in arms, Rowland Yorke, and was met by Burghley

and the Countess of Oxford; he refused to speak to them,

and brushing them aside, he went straight to the Queen.

This was on April 20th. 1

Lord Burghley was staggered.

By April 23rd he was desperate. He had drawn up,

and now submitted to the Queen, a piteous appeal:


Most sovereign lady, As I was accustomed from the

beginning of my service to your Majesty until of late by

the permission of your goodness and by occasion of the

place wherein I serve your Majesty, to be frequently an

intercessor for others to your Majesty, and therein did

find your Majesty always inclinable to give me gracious

audience; so now do I find in the latter end of my years

a necessary occasion to be an intercessor for another next

to myself, in a cause godly, honest and just; and there-

fore, having had proof of your Majesty for most favours

in causes not so important, I doubt not but to find the like

influence of your grace in a cause so near touching myself

as your Majesty will conceive it doth. ...

To enter to trouble your Majesty with the circumstances

of my cause, I mean not for sundry respects but chiefly

for two; the one is that I am very 10th to be more cumber-

some to your Majesty than need shall compel me; the

other is for that I hope in God's goodness, and for reverence

borne to your Majesty, that success thereof may have a

better end than the beginning threateneth. But your

Majesty may think my suit will be very long where I am

so long ere I begin it; and truly, most gracious sovereign

p. 118


1 Hatfield MSS. (Cal. II. 131).

lady, it is true that the nature of my cause is such as I

have no pleasure to enter into it, but had rather seek

means to shut it up for them to lay it open, not for lack

of the soundness thereof on my part, but for the wickedness

of others from whom the ground work proceedeth.

My suit therefore shall be presently to your Majesty

but in general sort, that whereas I am, by God's visitation

with some infirmity and yet not great, stayed from coming

to do my duty to your Majesty at this time, and my

daughter, the Countess of Oxford, also occasioned to her

great grief to be absent from your Majesty's Court, and

that the occasion of her absence may be diversly reported

to your Majesty, as I said before, by some of ignorance by

some percase otherwise, it may please your Majesty--

because the ground and working thereupon toucheth me as

nearly as any worldly cause in my concept can do-of

me as of an old worn servant that dare compare with the

best, the greatest, the oldest and the youngest, for loyalty

and devotion, giving place to many others in other worldly

qualities, as your Majesty shall prefer any before me;

and of my daughter, your Majesty's most humble young

servant, as of one that is towards your Majesty in dutiful

love and fear, yea, in fervent admiration of your graces

to contend with any her equals, and in the cause betwixt

my Lord of Oxford and her, whether it be for respect of

misliking in me or misdeeming of hers whereof I cannot

yet know the certainty, I do avow in the presence of God

and of his angels whom I do call as ministers of his ire,

if in this I do utter any untruth.

I have not in his absence on my part omitted any

occasion to do him good for himself and his causes, no,

I have not in thought imagined anything offensive to him,

but contrariwise I have been as diligent for his causes to

his benefit as I have been for my own, and this I pronounce

of knowledge for myself, and therefore if, contrary to my

desert, I should otherwise be judged or suspected, I should

receive great injury for my daughter, though nature will

make some ... to speak favourably; yet now I have

taken God and His angels to be witnesses of my writing,

I renounce nature, and protest simply to your Majesty.

I did never see in her behaviour in word or deed, nor ever

could perceive by any other means, but that she hath

always used herself honestly, chastely, and lovingly

p. 119

towards him; and now upon expectation of his coming

so filled with joy thereof, so desirous to see the time of

his arrival approach, as in my judgment n0 young lover

rooted or sotted in love of any person could more exces-

sively show the same with all comely tokens; and when,

at his arrival, some doubts were cast of his acceptance of

her true innocency, seemed to make her so bold as she

never cast any care of things, but wholly reposed herself

with assurance to be well used by him. And with that

confidence, and importunity made to me, she went to him,

and there missed of her expectation, and so attendeth,

as her duty is, to gain of her hope some recompense.

And now, lest I should enter further into the matter,

and not meaning to trouble your Majesty, I do end with

this humble request; that in anything that may hereof

follow, whereof I may have wrong with dishonesty offered

me, I may have your Majesty's princely favour to seek

my just defence for me and mine; not meaning for

respect of my old service, nor of the place whereunto your

Majesty hath called me (though unworthy) to challenge

any extraordinary favour, for my service hath been but a

piece of my duty, and my vocation hath been too great

a reward. And so I do remain constant to serve your

Majesty in what place so ever your Majesty shall command,

even in as base as I have done in great. 1


Two days later he had partially recovered, and

characteristically sat down and wrote out three pages of

notes "touching the Earl of Oxford." The story as told

by Burghley is just what we should expect: that the

Countess was financially embarrassed during her husband's

absence; that the Earl expressed his pleasure on receiving

the news of his daughter's birth; that he suddenly changed

in Paris on April 4th; that he refused to speak with any

of his wife's family when he landed in England; and

finally that Lord Henry Howard was keeping Burghley in

touch with Lord Oxford's actions.2

These notes are disjointed, and evidently written under

stress of great emotion, but the last item is particularly

p. 120


1 Lansdowne MSS., 102. 2. Unsigned, but in Lord Burghley's hand. Endorsed, "A copy of a letter delivered by Mr. Edw. Cavir of the Chamber."

3 Hatfield MSS. (Cal. II. 131).

illuminating. Lord Henry Howard's intervention can

only have been in the direction of mischief-making, for

although he seems to have succeeded in deceiving Lord

Burghley, we may easily guess the part this subtle intriguer

was playing.

Two days later, on April 27th, Burghley received his

first communication from his son-in-law since the bursting

of the storm:


My Lord, Although I have forborne in some respect,

which should [be] private to myself, either to write or

come unto your Lordship, yet had I determined, as

opportunity should have served me, to have accomplished

the same in compass of a few days. But now, urged thereto

by your letters, to satisfy you the sooner, I must let your

Lordship understand this much: that is, until I can better

satisfy or advertise myself of some mislikes, I am not

determined, as touching my wife, to accompany her. What

they are- because some are not to be spoken of or written

upon as imperfections- I will not deal withal. Some that

otherwise discontented me I will not blaze or publish until

it please me. And last of all, I mean not to weary my life

any more with such troubles and molestations as I have

endured; nor will I, to please your Lordship only, dis-

content myself.


The fact that Lord Oxford distinctly states that his

anger arises from more than one cause is important. It

is reasonable to suppose that Lord Henry Howard's cruel

slanders about the Countess affected him most deeply.

But there were also other reasons not without their

significance. Annoyance with Lord Burghley (quite un-

just perhaps) for his slowness in raising ready money;

misunderstandings between them over the question of

certain of the Earl's followers; failure to have his licence

to continue travelling renewed; and, most important of

all, Oxford's discovery of the plot against his book, A

Hundreth Sundrie Flowres.

The letter continues:


Whereforemas your Lordship very well writeth unto

p. 121

me- that you mean, if it standeth with my liking, to

receive her into your house, these are likewise to let your

Lordship understand that it doth very well content me;

for there, as your daughter or her mother's, more than my

wife, you may take comfort of her; and I, rid of the

cumber thereby, shall remain well eased of many griefs.

I do not doubt but that she hath sufficient proportion for

her being to live upon and to maintain herself.

This might have been done through private conference

before, and had not needed to have been the fable of the

world if you would have had the patience to have under-

stood me; but I do not know by whom, or whose advice

it was to run that course so contrary to my will or meaning,

that made her so disgraced to the world [and] raised

suspicions openly that, with private conference, might

have been more silently handled, and hath given me more

greater cause to mislike.

Wherefore I desire your Lordship in these causes- now

you shall understand me- not to urge me any further;

and so I write unto your Lordship, as you have done unto

me, this Friday, 27th April. Your Lordship's to be used

in all things reasonable,



Modern historians unanimously characterise Lord

Oxford's treatment of his wife in 1576 as "brutal,"

"ill-tempered," "churlish," and many similar epithets.

Further, they all echo each other in attributing all the

trouble to the Earl and his "ungovernable temper";

while Lord Burghley and the Countess become the

objects of sympathy and pity. But is this view borne

out by the facts, many of which are published here for the

first time ?

Let us look back at the matter from Lord Oxford's

point of view. He had never really got on well with Lord

Burghley, and he cordially detested his mother-in-law.

He had had an exasperating time with financial and other

petty affairs while he was travelling. And now, on April

4th at Paris, he hears that the English Court is laughing

at him for a cuckold. Surely it is hardly surprising that

p. 122


1 Hatfield Mss. (Cal. II. 132).

he displays a considerable outburst of rage. His wife has

disgraced him; therefore he washes his hands of her for

ever; that is his line of argument. Hasty and harsh

perhaps, nevertheless intensely human.

This uncompromising letter from his son-in-law left

Lord Burghley no nearer the solution of the mystery.

The Earl said practically nothing definite except the fact

that he flatly refused to have anything to do either with

his father-in-law or his wife. But almost immediately

afterwards Lord Burghley seems to have received another

letter, this time with definite allegations against his

parents-in-law. The letter has been lost; but we can

reconstruct its contents from a page of notes written by

Burghley on April 29th, and endorsed, "The communi-

cation I had from my Lord of Oxford."

The allegations against Lord Burghley are: not

providing him with sufficient money; ill-treating his

followers; purposely rousing the Queen's indignation

against him (Oxford); while Lady Burghley is accused

of having declared she wished him dead; of undermining

his wife's affection for him; and of slandering him. But

as for Lady Oxford, Lord Burghley writes that the Earl

"meaneth not to discover anything of the cause of his

misliking"; and that "until he understand further of it,"

he "meaneth not to visit her."

With this Lord Oxford relapsed into stony silence.

May wore on into June, and still the Lord Treasurer of

England was peremptorily forbidden to bring his daughter,

the Countess of Oxford, to the Court.

On June 12th Lord Burghley broke the silence. The

letter he wrote has been lost, but a rough draft in his own

hand has been preserved, from which we may gather its

gist. It is headed "12th June, 1576. To be remembered."


The time now past [is] almost of ,two months without

certainty whereupon to rest arguments of unkindness both

towards my daughter, his wife, and me also.

Rejecting of her from his company.

Not regarding his child born of her.

p. 123

His absence from the Court in respect to avoid his offence,

and her solitary lying.


He goes on to declare that there is "no proof nor parti-

cularity advanced" by the Earl in his accusations against

him. On the contrary, he calls to witness "my care to

get him his money when his bankers had none; my en-

deavour to have his land sold to the truest advantage,

or else not to be sold; my dealing with his creditors to

stay their clamours for their debt; and my particular suits

to Her Majesty for his advancement to place of service,

namely to be Master of the Horse, as Her Majesty can


There was also the old question as to Lord Oxford's

legitimacy, and Burghley points out that "I preferred his

title to the Earldom, the Lord Windsor attempting to have

made him illegitimate." He also points out that "I did

my best to have the jury find the death of the poor man,

whom he killed in my house, se defendendo."

Lord Burghley concludes his notes as follows:


I desire that his Lordship will yield to her, being his

wife, either that love that a loving and honest wife ought

to have, or otherwise to be so used as all lewd and vain

speeches may cease of his unkindness to her. And that,

with his favour and permission, she may both come to his

presence and be allowed to come to do her duty to Her

Majesty, if Her Majesty shall therewith be content; and

she shall bear, as she may, the lack of the rest, or else

that his Lordship will notify some just cause of her not

observing such favour, and that she will be permitted to

make her answer thereto, before such as Her Majesty may

be pleased to appoint.1


Still there was no answer from Lord Oxford.

On July 10th Lord Burghley made another appeal, his

rough draft once again being our only authority:


Although I both hope and assure myself that my Lord

of Oxford doth now understand that the conception which

he had gathered to think unkindness in me towards him

was grounded upon untrue reports of others, as I have

p. 124


1 Hatfield MSS. (Cal. II. 170-171).


manifestly proved them, yet because I understand that

of late the same untruths are still continued in secret

reports to others-whereby some which have no cause to

speak amiss of me may, by giving credit to the same,

think otherwise of the truth than I deserve, or than one of

my place or fealty ought to be thought of without manifest

cause known-upon such report, I hear, is lately made

untruly and falsely; I do as followeth not only avow the

same to be untruths, but the maintainers and devisers of

them to be liars and malicious backbiters, and such as

will so lightly credit such slanders of me to be light in

consideration and judgment, and if they will not hear the

trial of the falsehood thereof, I must think them furtherers

of untruths, and unworthy for my poor good will or

friendship. 1


This paragraph is most interesting, for here we have

the first indication that not only Lord Burghley, but his

son-in-law also, have at last recognised that "the untrue

reports of others" are at the bottom of the whole trouble.

Although no names are mentioned, we may be sure that

Lord Harry Howard was in Burghley's mind as he wrote

these words.

The letter continues with a refutation of the same

allegations that we have heard before. He denies that he

prevented the enrolment in Chancery of Lord Oxford's

book of entail; and he asserts, no doubt with truth,

that so far from stopping the Earl's money when he was

abroad, he advanced over £2,000 of his own, when the

former's resources ran dry.

To this appeal Lord Oxford responded so far as to

interview Burghley on July 12th. At this meeting he

agreed, with certain reservations, to allow his father-in-law

to bring the Countess to Court. The following day he wrote

to Lord Burghley:


My very good Lord, Yesterday, at your Lordship's

earnest request, I had some conference with you about

your daughter. Wherein, for that Her Majesty had so

often moved me, and that you dealt so earnestly with me,

to content her as much as I could, I did agree that you

p. 125


1 Hatfield MSS. (Cal. I. 474, where it is wrongly dated 1570).

could eft bring her to the Court, with condition that she

should not come when I was present, nor at any time have

speech with me, and further that your Lordship should

not urge further in her cause. But now I understand that

your Lordship means this day to bring her to the Court,

and that you mean afterwards to prosecute the cause

with further hope. Now if your Lordship shall do so, then

shall you take more in hand than I have, or can, promise

you; for always I have, and I will still, prefer mine own

content before others. And observing that wherein

I may temper or moderate for your sake, I will do [so] most

willingly. Wherefore I shall desire your Lordship not to

take advantage of my promise till you have given me your

honourable assurance by letter or word of your performance

of the condition; which being observed, I could yield, as

it is my duty, to Her Majesty's request, and I will bear

with your fatherly desire towards her. Otherwise all that

is done can stand to no effect.

From my lodging at Charing Cross this morning.

Your Lordship's to employ,



Though this eased a situation that threatened to become

well-nigh intolerable, the wound was by no means healed.

The shock that the scandal had caused left Lord Oxford

stunned. He absolutely declined to live with his wife.

Arrangements were drawn up for her separate maintenance.

The Earl allowed her their country house at Wivenhoe

and her lodgings in the Savoy; and in Lord Burghley's own

words, "hath promised the Queen's Majesty to be wholly

advised by me." Lord Burghley also says in the same

letter, "I perceive he would make the sons of the younger

uncle 2 his heirs male if he could, which I think he cannot,

of the Earldom." 3

Francis and Horatio Vere were then aged sixteen and

eleven respectively, and it is interesting that Lord

Oxford attempted to make them his successors in the

p. 126


1 Hatfield MSS. (Cal. II. 135).

3 Francis and Horatio, afterwards famous as "the fighting Veres," sons of Geoffrey de Vere.

3 Hatfield MSS. (Cal. II. 170). The letter is undated, but it probably refers to 1576, and not 1577, as conjectured in the Calendar.

Earldom, to the exclusion of the descendants of his elder

uncle, Aubrey.1 We know that Francis and Horatio were

his favourite cousins, and that they continued to be so

to the end of his life. It was to Francis that he en-

trusted the administration ‘of his estate, and Horatio-

then known as Sir Horatio Vere-took charge of the Earl's

son Henry, while campaigning during King James's reign

in the Palatinate and Low Countries.

In time Lord Oxford and his wife became reconciled.

Two more daughters were born, and outwardly they seemed

to have quite forgotten the terrible days of April and

May 1576. But beneath this outward display, it is safe

to say that never again were relations quite the same

between husband, wife, and father-in-law.

This domestic tragedy had its reaction on Lord Oxford's

literary activities. Up till now his writings-both prose

and verse-had been care-free and serene. But his poems

of 1576 show a very different temper. Loss of good name

and irretrievable disgrace are the themes he harps on now.

The example given below is taken from The Paradyse of

Dainty Devises, which was published in this year.


Fram'd in the front of forlorn hope past all recovery

I stayless stand, to abide the shock of shame and infamy.

My life, through ling'ring long, is lodg'd in love of loathsome ways;

My death delay'd to keep from life and harm of hapless days.

My sprites, my heart. my wit and force, in deep distress are drown'd;

The only loss of my good name is of these griefs the ground.


And since my mind, my wit, my head, my voice and tongue are weak,

To utter, move, devise, conceive, sound forth, declare and speak,

Such piercing plaints as answer might, or would my woeful case,

Help crave I must, and crave I will, with tears upon my face,

Of all that may in heaven or hell, in earth or air be found,

To wail with me this loss of mine, as of these griefs the ground.


Help Gods, help saints, help sprites and powers that in the heaven do dwell,

Help ye that aye are wont to wail, ye howling hounds of hell,

Help man, help beasts, help birds and worms, that on the earth do toil;

Help fish, help fowl, that flocks and feeds upon the salt sea soil,

Help echo that in air doth flee, shrill voices to resound,

To wail this loss of my good name, as of these griefs the ground.

E. O.


p. 127


1 This attempt failed, because ultimately Aubrey's grandson succeeded as 19th Earl of Oxford.

Although Lord Oxford's Italian trip had ended so

disastrously, the memory of it had its lighter side, with

which it may be fitting to conclude this chapter. The

same vivid imagination that had transformed his fortnight

in the Low Countries into a military campaign of unsur-

passed ferocity and excitement was busy conjuring up

marvellous stories about his doings in Italy. We are

told that, under the heightened exhilaration of wine and

company, he would dilate on the mythical wonders of

the home of the Renaissance. Not the least amusing

part of these stories is the fact that they were brought up,

in all seriousness, by Charles Arundel, when he was defend-

ing himself against a charge of treason preferred against

him by Lord Oxford.


I have heard him often tell [relates Arundel] that

at his being in Italy, there fell discord and disunion in

the city of Genoa between two families; whereupon it

grew to wars, and great aid and assistance [was] given to

either party. And that for the fame that ran throughout

Italy of his service done in the Low Countries under the

Duke of Alva, he was chosen and made General of 30,000

that the Pope sent to the aid of one party; and that in

this action he showed so great discretion and government

as by his wisdom the matters were compounded, and an

accord made; being more for his glory than if he had

fought the battle.

His third lie [continues Arundel] is [about] certain

excellent orations he made, as namely to the state of

Venice, at Padua, at Bologna, and divers other places in

Italy, and one which pleased him above the rest [was] to

his army, when he marched towards Genoa; which,

when he had pronounced it, he left nothing to reply, but

everyone to wonder at his judgment, being reputed for

his eloquence another Cicero, and for his conduct a Caesar.


Arundel then calls on Lord Henry Howard, Francis

Southwell, William Vavasour, and others to bear witness.

"Let these examples plead!" he cries indignantly:


That the cobblers' wives of Milan are more richly

dressed every working day than the Queen at Christmas.

p. 128

That St. Mark's Church is paved at Venice with diamonds

and rubies.

That a merchant at Genoa hath a mantle of a chimney

of more price than all the treasure of the Tower.1


One cannot help feeling sorry that Charles Arundel

should have seen fit shortly afterwards to run away to

the Continent, and in the service of the King of Spain

to take up arms against his fellow-countrymen. His

delightfully ingenuous manner makes him one of the most

interesting witnesses we have as to Lord Oxford's person-

ality. Unfortunately, like most people devoid of any

sense of humour, he soon becomes tedious, and his state-

ments degenerate into weary reiterations of scurrilous


One other incident in connexion with Lord Oxford's

travels in Italy may be noted here. We read in Stow's

Annals (p. 868) that at this time—


Milliners or Haberdashers had not any gloves em-

broidered, or trimmed with gold or silk, neither gold

nor embroidered girdles and hangers, neither could they

make any costly wash or perfume; until about the

fourteenth or fifteenth year of the Queen the right honour-

able Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, came from Italy, and

brought with him gloves, sweet bags, a perfumed leather

jerkin, and other pleasant things; and that year the Queen

had a pair of perfumed gloves trimmed only with four

tufts, or roses of coloured silk; the Queen took such

pleasure in those gloves that she was pictured with' those

gloves upon her hands, and for many years after it was

called the Earl of Oxford's perfume.


p. 129


1 S.P. Dom., 151.46.