Quarry the granite rock with razors, or moor the vessel with a thread of silk; then may you hope with such keen and delicate instruments as human knowledge and human reason to contend against those giants, the passion and the pride of man. — John Cardinal Newman

Story of the English - Helene Guerber




Death of Elizabeth

When Leicester grew too old to please Elizabeth, he presented to her his son-in-law, the handsome Essex. The queen lavished gifts of all kinds upon this favourite, and when Burleigh died, after serving her faithfully for forty years, she made Essex her principal adviser.

Trouble having arisen in Ireland, Elizabeth sent Essex thither to put down a rebellion headed by the Earl of Tyrone. But Essex had been spoiled by the favour shown him, and disobeyed the queen's orders. Hearing that she was angry, he came home without her permission, and forced his way into her presence all travel-stained.

The queen, who was already displeased, fancied that his soiled garments were a token of disrespect, and coldly bade him withdraw. This repulse was so unexpected that Essex fell ill; but when the queen heard he was suffering, she shed tears, and sent him soup from her own table.

Essex had made such grave blunders while in Ireland that a council was called to judge him; but he, thinking the queen had forgiven him, seemed not to fear a trial. He came about the court as usual, and when the queen refused to grant him a favour, he spitefully remarked that now she was an old woman she was as crooked in mind as in person. This speech was reported to Elizabeth, whose vanity was so hurt that she allowed the council to imprison and try her former favourite, and to sentence him to death for high treason.

But, according to one famous story, she fancied she could still help him, for she had once given him a ring, saying that if he should ever be in any trouble he need but send it to her and she would save him. Elizabeth felt sure Essex would make use of this ring to save his life, but it was not brought to her. Essex, on his part, could not believe that the queen would really allow him to die, and even on his way to the scaffold he kept watching for a messenger bringing his pardon.

Not very long after his death, the Countess of Nottingham begged the queen to come to her, as she wished to tell her something before she breathed her last. Elizabeth complied with this request, and then the dying countess confessed that Essex had given her a ring to carry to the queen, but that her husband would not let her do so. As she finished her confession she begged the queen to forgive her; but Elizabeth angrily shook her, saying, "God may forgive you, but I never can!"

Perhaps this romantic tale is true, and it was this confession she had just heard that embittered the rest of Elizabeth's life. Anyway, she soon became ill, took no food, and lay on the floor ten days, refusing to be moved. Her attendants supported her there with cushions, and when she became too ill to resist, they put her into her bed, where she died (1603).

Although Elizabeth was a tyrannical ruler for forty-five years, she had so many fine qualities that she was called, and is still known, as "good Queen Bess." She was the last of the five rulers of the Tudor line.



Contents

Front Matter
Review

Early Times
The Druids
The Britons
Caesar in Britain
Queen Boadicea
The Great Walls
The Great Irish Saint
The Anglo-Saxons
Brave King Arthur
The Laws of the Saxons
The Story of St Augustine
Three Great Men
The Danish Pirates
King Alfred and the Cakes
Alfred conquers the Danes
A King's Narrow Escape
The King and the Outlaw
The Monasteries
An Unlucky Couple
St Dunstan
King Canute and the Waves
A Saxon Nobleman
Lady Godiva's Ride
The Battle of Hastings
The Conquest
Lords and Vassals
Death of William
The Brothers' Quarrels
Arms and Armour
The "White Ship"
Matilda's Narrow Escapes
Story of Fair Rosamond
Thomas a Becket
Murder of Thomas a Becket
Richard's Adventures
Richard and the Saracens
The Faithful Minstrel
Death of Richard
The Murder of Arthur
The Great Charter
The Rule of Henry III
A Race
Persecution of the Jews
The Conquest of Wales
A Quarrel with France
The Coronation Stone
The Insolent Favourite
Bruce and the Spider
Death of Edward II
The Murderers punished
The Battle of Crecy
The Siege of Calais
The Age of Chivalry
The Battle of Poitiers
The Peasants' Revolt
Richard's Presence of Mind
A Tiny Queen
Henry's Troubles
Madcap Harry
A Glorious Reign
The Maid of Orleans
The War of the Roses
The Queen and the Brigand
The Triumph of the Yorks
The Princes in the Tower
Richard's Punishment
Two Pretenders
A Grasping King
Field of the Cloth of Gold
The New Opinions
Death of Wolsey
Henry's Wives
The King and the Painter
A Boy King
Lady Jane Grey
The Death of Cranmer
A Clever Queen
Elizabeth's Lovers
Mary, Queen of Scots
Captivity of Mary Stuart
Wreck of the Spanish Armada
The Elizabethan Age
Death of Elizabeth
A Scotch King
The Gunpowder Plot
Sir Walter Raleigh
King and Parliament
Cavaliers and Roundheads
"Remember"
The Royal Oak
The Commonwealth
The Restoration
Plague and Fire
The Merry Monarch
James driven out of England
A Terrible Massacre
William's Wars
The Duke of Marlborough
The Taking of Gibraltar
The South Sea Bubble
Bonny Prince Charlie
Black Hole of Calcutta
Loss of the Colonies
The Battle of the Nile
Nelson's Last Signal
The Battle of Waterloo
First Gentleman of Europe
Childhood of Queen Victoria
The Queen's Marriage
Wars in Victoria's Reign
The Jubilee