Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The New Queen Esther


King Henry grew increasingly horrified as he listened to the sermon by John Skipp, his wife Anne's Almoner, on Passion Sunday at Greenwich.  The man actually had the temerity to insult him! He had talked about King Solomon who was immoral in his last years and took 'wives and concubines'. There was no doubt that Skip was referring to Henry!

Thomas Cromwell was also extremely angry because the sermon was a thinly disguised attack on his bill for the dissolution of the smaller monasteries and it must have been approved by Anne herself. Skipp was obviously defending the clergy who he felt were treated as if they were all guilty. He compared them to the Jews in the Bible story who were persecuted by the evil and greedy councillor Haman.  This was certainly meant to be a reference to Cromwell.

The only one who may have been pleased was Anne who Skipp compared with the good Queen Esther who saved the Jews and hanged the mendacious Haman. Unfortunately, she had no way of knowing that her fight with Cromwell would be the beginning of her downfall.

Anne was angry about the dissolution of the monasteries because she had thought that that its purpose was reform and the bill referred to using the confiscated assets for the pleasure of Almighty God and to help maintain people of good learning and educational institutions. Instead, she discovered that Henry and Cromwell were selling the highly-valued assets to the Crown, selling off monastery land cheaply to nobles and merchants and using proceeds to shore up defences. Cromwell may also have siphoned some of the money for himself.

The Queen wanted the monasteries to be reformed or converted to educational foundations. She also wanted the money from any dissolutions to be committed to university bursaries and scholarships to train clergymen or given to the poor.  She may even  have personally requested the King to preserve Catesby Abbey but he refused because the nuns could not support themselves.  (However, Elizabeth Norton thinks that it was Jane Seymour who made the appeal).  She also gave English prayer books to the nuns at Syon Priory after giving them a lecture about using Latin primers.

According to Eric Ives, Chapuys wrote that Cromwell actually tried to conciliate Anne by moderating the dissolution, but Henry, seeing the coffers of gold, opposed this.  Cromwell's desire for an imperial alliance also boded badly for the poor Queen. The final straw was the King's liking for the quiet and sedate Jane Seymour.  Cromwell would have to choose...

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Happy Birthday!

It is the Queen's ninetieth birthday today! I am overseas but I hope to write more about this when I get back.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Monday, January 4, 2016

Monday, December 21, 2015

Princess Mary Enjoys Shopping At The Gold Coast

Princess Mary went shopping with her daughters at the Gold Coast the other day.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Great-grandson of Tsar Alexander III Dies in NT

It's sad that this member of the Russian royal family died so far from home in a caravan park! However, he was popular and he seemed happy, apparently.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Prince Albert Saves The Day!

The extremely handsome Prince Albert

When Queen Victoria read the ultimatum, she was horrified.  She didn't want to worry her sick husband, her beloved Prince Albert, but she desperately needed his advice.  She handed it to him along with a pencil so that he could make any necessary changes.

It was 1861 and tensions between the American North and the deep South had reached boiling point. The first shots had even been fired at the battle of Bull Run in July. The problem for the British government was that many people were sympathetic with the South and the seceding states wanted recognition and assistance.  Two diplomats, Mason and Slidell, were on their way to England on the British mail steamer the Trent to plead the case, along with their wives and children.

When Captain Wilkes of the American ship, San Jacinto, heard about this, he decided to intercept them off the coast of Cuba.  He fired two shots across the Trent's bow and boarded the ship without a fight, although he later said that Mrs Slidell had been furious and a very pretty girl had slapped First Lt Donald McNeill Fairfax across the face because he kissed her. He then imprisoned Mason and Slidell at Fort Warren near Boston. Wilkes was regarded as a hero by the North and paraded in New York from Broadway to Washington.

The British government was up in arms! How dare the Americans imprison innocent men travelling on a British ship flying the British flag! This was a violation of international law.  Palmerston, the British Prime Minister, ordered his Foreign Secretary, Lord John Russell, to write an ultimatum to the American government.  He demanded the immediate release of the prisoners and threatened to break off relations with the Americans in one week if this was not done.  He also ordered troops to be sent to Canada in case of war. Luckily, this document needed the approval of the Crown before it could be sent.

 Prince Albert didn't like this sort of confrontational language at all.  He had fought against slavery for a long time, and he didn't want the British to be associated with a war for the slave-owning South. He decided to tone down the language.  He changed the wording to indicate that the British believed that the insult to the flag was unintentional and that the government hoped that redress would be spontaneously offered.

This solved the situation between the British and the Americans.  Poor Prince Albert died of typhoid a very short time later.
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