Letter from Elizabeth I

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  • Intro

    Probably written in 1553, when the future Queen of England was 20 years old, Elizabeth’s letter reveals the personal costs behind the power struggles of the troubled Tudor dynasty. She tells her young half-brother, Edward VI, how she had tried to visit him during what would prove his final illness, but had been turned away. 

     

    The two had spent much of their early childhood together. Her disappointment is clear, as is the climate of fear prevailing at the Tudor court. In modernised spelling, Elizabeth’s letter begins: “Like as a shipman in stormy weather plucks down the sails turning for better winds, so did I, most noble King, in my unfortunate chance on Thursday pluck down the high sails of my joy and comfort and do trust one day that as troublesome waves have repulsed me backward, so a gentle wind will bring me forward to my haven.”

  • Transcript

    Letter from Elizabeth I

    [To the Kinges most excellent Maiestie.]

    Like as a shipman in stormy wether plukes downe the sailes tarijnge for bettar winde, so did I, most noble Kinge, in my vnfortunate chanche a thurday pluk downe the hie sailes of my ioy and comfort and do trust one day that as troblesome waues have repulsed me bakwarde, so a gentil winde wil bringe me forwarde to my hauen. Two chief occasions moued me muche and griued me gretly, the one for that I doubted your Maiesties helthe, the other bicause for al my longe tarijnge I wente without that I came for. Of the first I am releued in a parte, bothe that I vnderstode of your helthe, and also that your Maiesties loginge is far from my Lorde Marques chamber. Of my other grief I am not eased, but the best is that whatsoever other folkes wil suspect, I intende not to feare your graces goodwil, wiche as I know that I never disarued to faint, so I trust wil stil stike by me. For if your Graces aduis that I shulde retourne (whos wil is a commandemente) had not bine, I wold not haue made the halfe of my way, the ende of my iourney. And thus as one desirous to hire of your Maiesties helth, thogth vnfortunat to se it, I shal pray God for euer to preserue you. From Hatfilde this present Saterday.

     

    Your Maiesties humble sistar to commandemente

    Elizabeth.

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