PERSON OF THE MONTH
Francis Walsingham

Sir Francis Walsingham was one of Queen Elizabeth I's most important Privy Councillors - he also developed the sophisticated espionage system that protected her.

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  • On This Day 20th February 1547

    On 20th February 1547, Edward VI was crowned at Westminster Abbey. He was 9 years old. Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, officiated. As was customary, the day before the ceremony, Edward travelled through the streets of London in procession, greeted by various pageants and tableaux. On the coronation day, he was flanked by the conservatives, the Earl of Shrewsbury and Cuthbert Tunstall, Bishop of Durham, as well as the reformers, John Dudley, Earl of Warwick, the Marquess of Northampton (William Parr) and Sir Thomas Seymour. As Edward was so young, the ceremony was reduced in length from around 12 to 7 hours. A subtle change in the wording of the ceremony changed it from one in which the people signified their will to accept the monarch, to one in which the people confirmed they would serve the King. Edward was the first monarch crowned as Supreme Head of the Church, and again, the ceremony was altered to give him greater power than any previous King of England, all of whom had previously been subject, in ecclesiastical matters, to the Church.

    Picture is a copy of a mural once at Cowdray Castle. It is from the Oxburgh Hall collection © Oxburgh Hall

  • On This Day 19th February 1594

    On 19th February 1594, Anne of Denmark, wife of James VI of Scotland, gave birth at Stirling Castle, to a son, whom they named Henry, perhaps to please his godmother, Elizabeth I of England. It was customary for the King’s heir to be brought up by the Earl and Countess of Mar, but Anne complained bitterly about being separated from her son. When James inherited the English throne, Henry became Prince of Wales. He was considered a most promising youth, intelligent, accomplished and popular. Both nations mourned when he died young.

    Picture of Henry c. 1610 by Robert Peake the Elder.

  • On This Day 18th February 1516

    On 18th February 1516, a daughter, Mary, was born to Henry VIII’s wife, Katharine of Aragon at Greenwich Palace. Following a happy childhood, Mary’s life was turned upside down when Henry, eager to remarry to secure a male heir, had his marriage to her mother annulled. Mary, now considered to be illegitimate, was downgraded in rank and importance. She was eventually restored to the succession, and, on the death of her half-brother, Edward VI, fought off a rival claimant to become the first woman crowned as a Queen-regnant in England. During her short reign, she attempted to restore the Catholic religion, which had been banned during Edward’s reign, but, living only five years, and contending with other problems, her efforts failed.

    Read our in-depth feature on Mary here



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