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RichardB

"in My End Is My Beginning"

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Mary Queen of Scots

Meanwhile in the opposite chapel, underneath the monument to Queen Elizabeth I also raised by James, were found together in one grave the two daughters of Henry VIII, Mary Tudor and Elizabeth. Barren in life, they had been left to lie alone together in death.

Mary, however lies amid her Stuart posterity, her face locked in the marble of repose on the monument above, and her hands clasped in prayer, her body in the vault below which harbours so many of her descendants. She who never reigned in England, who was born a queen of Scotland, and who died at the orders of an English queen, lies now in Westminster Abbey where every sovereign of Britain since her death has been crowned: from her every sovereign of Britain since her death has been directly descended, down to the present queen, who is in the thirteenth generation.

As Mary herself embroidered so long ago at Sheffield on the royal cloth of state which was destined to hang over the head of a captive queen:

'In my end is my Beginning.'

More information/images sought.

Source but really from "Mary Queen of Scots" by Antonia Fraser.

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"Mary Queen of Scots" by Antonia Fraser is not really a good book for historical truth. She's the one that invented the story that George Talbot cried at Mary's execution. I suspect you wiil find out more in the book by James Mackay which uses the same title as your thread RichardB. It was also James who discovered the fact Antonia made up that tale of George. See P134 note 20 in that book.

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All updates to the good ! Thank you for the information History Dude.

I'd never heard of Antonia's book until I came across a copy in a secondhand bookshop.

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"Mary Queen of Scots" by Antonia Fraser is not really a good book for historical truth. She's the one that invented the story that George Talbot cried at Mary's execution. I suspect you wiil find out more in the book by James Mackay which uses the same title as your thread RichardB. It was also James who discovered the fact Antonia made up that tale of George. See P134 note 20 in that book.

I don't think we can dispute as to whether George Talbot cried at Mary's execution.

Who would know who is right and who is wrong, none of us were around in those days.

Sounds crazy to me to even suggest someone was right on this and someone was wrong. :huh:

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Historians are suposed to work from records of events. As James could find no record of the events mentioned by Antonia Fraser, the only conclusion is that Antonia made the evidence up. It's also extremley unlikly that the person in charge of the execution, which George Talbot was, would shed a tear. I don't think you would find many instances of judges (who condem people to death) cry over what they had done. Unless they thought the person was innocent. And George Talbot knew she was guilty, so that I think stops the notion.

However it wasn't a pretty sight. For Mary went into an uncontrollable panic (shaking from head to foot). So much so the highly trained executioner needed another man to hold her, but she still shaking, made him miss the mark and caused a botch job. So he had to strike again. And we know the body was shaking (apart from the need of another man to hold her) for when the head was lifted up the lips were still moving. As said at the time as if she was speaking.

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Historians are suposed to work from records of events. As James could find no record of the events mentioned by Antonia Fraser, the only conclusion is that Antonia made the evidence up. It's also extremley unlikly that the person in charge of the execution, which George Talbot was, would shed a tear. I don't think you would find many instances of judges (who condem people to death) cry over what they had done. Unless they thought the person was innocent. And George Talbot knew she was guilty, so that I think stops the notion.

However it wasn't a pretty sight. For Mary went into an uncontrollable panic (shaking from head to foot). So much so the highly trained executioner needed another man to hold her, but she still shaking, made him miss the mark and caused a botch job. So he had to strike again. And we know the body was shaking (apart from the need of another man to hold her) for when the head was lifted up the lips were still moving. As said at the time as if she was speaking.

That's interesting. For many years the Earl of Shrewsbury as Mary's gaoler had tried to get the Queen to relieve him of the burden. When she eventually did so it was to his great relief. I am surprised that you say he was in charge of the execution, and suggest that he was also the judge at her trial.

I would have thought that unlikely as he would also have been a key witness if called. Most authorities have the Lord Chancellor Lord Bromley and the Attorney General SirJohn Popham (who later became Lord Chief Justice.) as conducting the trial, and the Privy Council as having arranged the execution swiftly so that Elizabeth couldn't change her mind. It is however reported that the Earl was present at both.

Given that it is the trial and execution of a Queen that's at stake, surely neither would have been entrusted to an Earl, no matter how senior, and particularly one who, true or not, had been rumoured to have developed a close relationship with Mary.

As to Mary's demeanour at the execution, according to the contemporary account by Robert Wynkfield, she was composed throughout. Can you give a source for your version please?

Mackay's version of the story has to be read in the context in which he wrote it, namely to attempt to dispel the mythology around Mary engendered by both sides. Surely the fact he could find no record of the events described by Antonia Fraser, should lead only to the conclusion that he failed to find supporting evidence. The suggestion she therefore made it up is a matter of conjecture, not fact.

Historians work from records of events. However, where such records do not exist or are incomplete, it is valid and acceptable for them to build hypotheses based on what is known. They may not agree on others' interpretations, but that does not invalidate them. If it did, the whole study of paeleoanthropology and prehistory must be regarded as works of fiction.

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Once you know something of Mary Stuart's personality it becomes very clear why George wanted out. The story of the affair was traced back to an inkeeper in Islington who was prosecuted. However George was having an affair just not with Mary. It becomes very clear in the will. For Eleanor Briton (a cook), comes out very well from that piece of paper. He also spends a great deal of time with her over at Handsworth Hall, after his discharge from the service in August 1584.

It's worth mentioning also that he got the "service" because he was a happly married man. Though as with many Tudor marriages it was a property transaction, it's very clear that it was also a 'love' match too. For it becomes clear to the court that no single man or anybody whose marriage could be open to question, should be allowed near Mary. You can see why in Sir Francis Knollys letters to the court. I get the impression that Mary was one of these women that would get too close to any male she was talking to. Such as standing to close and a very touchy / feely sort of person. The other reason was Elizabeth said to him "I trust you as few I do". But even now love can break down so George fell out with his wife. Even Queen Elizabeth couldn't get them back together and she tried. Talbot was known for loyal service and if anyone gets a chance check out the translation of the tomb in Sheffield Cathederal, it shows how much he was trusted and important in the court of Elizabeth.

George was indeed at the trial of Mary. The trial could have been just a 12-man jury trial, but Elizabeth wanted the full works. Also present were foreign observers. There were also some known Catholics on the trial.

The evidence brought forward clearly convicts her, but she also does this in her own words. Mary's main defence is that she is is a Queen. But she resigned. And James was King now. So they could prosecute her. As for the Babbington plot. She says she has "never heard of him". Then says when pressed "only wrote to him to free me, who wouldn't in my circumstances".

After the trial, Mary could have been pardoned or banished by the Queen. But the rest of her court was calling out for execution. Eventually Elizabeth signs the death warrant. However even that is not good enough to carry the deed out. It must have the Great Seal attached to work it's magic. I think she signed it to stop anymore plots, and was intending to keep Mary ALIVE. However Walsingham was ill, so William Davison was acting Principal Secretary. I don't think he knew Elizabeth moods well, so he made a MASSIVE mistake and sent it to have the Great Seal attached. He showed it the Queen and she went potty with him. Afterwards he told William Cecil, he called the Council together. Cecil knew the law inside out, so he knew they did not need any contact with the Queen, plus there was nothing she could do to them in the law. Elizabeth was a stickler for that, so they sent it off without telling her a thing.

Afterwards Elizabeth tried her best to get them executed or prosecuted (but largely failed) however Davison went to the Tower. Cecil also lost his favour only getting her trust back during the Armada campaign.

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Once you know something of Mary Stuart's personality it becomes very clear why George wanted out. The story of the affair was traced back to an inkeeper in Islington who was prosecuted. However George was having an affair just not with Mary. It becomes very clear in the will. For Eleanor Briton (a cook), comes out very well from that piece of paper. He also spends a great deal of time with her over at Handsworth Hall, after his discharge from the service in August 1584. It's worth mentioning also that he got the "service" because he was a happly married man. Though as with many Tudor marriages it was a property transaction, it's very clear that it was also a 'love' match too. For it becomes clear to the court that no single man or anybody whose marriage could be open to question, should be allowed near Mary. You can see why in Sir Francis Knollys letters to the court. I get the impression that Mary was one of these women that would get too close to any male she was talking to. Such as standing to close and a very touchy / feely sort of person. The other reason was Elizabeth said to him "I trust you as few I do". But even now love can break down so George fell out with his wife. Even Queen Elizabeth couldn't get them back together and she tried. Talbot was known for loyal service and if anyone gets a chance check out the translation of the tomb in Sheffield Cathederal, it shows how much he was trusted and important in the court of Elizabeth. George was indeed at the trial of Mary. The trial could have been just a 12-man jury trial, but Elizabeth wanted the full works. Also present were foreign observers. There were also some known Catholics on the trial. The evidence brought forward clearly convicts her, but she also does this in her own words. Mary's main defence is that she is is a Queen. But she resigned. And James was King now. So they could prosecute her. As for the Babbington plot. She says she has "never heard of him". Then says when pressed "only wrote to him to free me, who wouldn't in my circumstances". After the trial, Mary could have been pardoned or banished by the Queen. But the rest of her court was calling out for execution. Eventually Elizabeth signs the death warrant. However even that is not good enough to carry the deed out. It must have the Great Seal attached to work it's magic. I think she signed it to stop anymore plots, and was intending to keep Mary ALIVE. However Walsingham was ill, so William Davison was acting Principal Secretary. I don't think he knew Elizabeth moods well, so he made a massive mistake and sent it to have the Great Seal attached. He showed it the Queen and she went potty with him. Afterwards he told William Cecil, he called the Council together. Cecil knew the law inside out, so he knew they did not need any contact with the Queen, plus there was nothing she could do to them in the law. Elizabeth was a stickler for that, so they sent it off without telling her a thing. Afterwards Elizabeth tried her best to get them executed or prosecuted (but largely failed) however Davison went to the Tower. Cecil also lost his favour only getting her trust back during the Armada campaign.

Could you offer some evidence of the personality you attribute to Mary? I would agree she would seem to have been manipulative, but standing too close, touchy/feely? Without it your statement is similar to Fraser's comment about the Earl's supposed tears which you dismiss. Or that he was given the job of Mary's gaoler because he was a happily married man? Most authorities believe it was his record of service to Elizabeth and his rank, combined with his ownership of several homes and mansions in what was a fairly remote part of the country, which faclitated being able to move Mary around, in an attempt to keep her whereabouts as confidential as possible to thwart attempts at her rescue.

Similarly, it is believed he wanted out because keeping Mary at Sheffield and elsewhere was costing him financially, as Elizabeth was very tight with money and did not always meets the costs. She also insisted he take personal charge of Mary, and even rebuked him for having absented himself for three days without her express permission. So for fifteen years he was a virtual prisoner in his own home, and paying for the privilege. No wonder he wanted out!

He always denied any affair with Mary, the rumour usually being attributed to the amount of time he spent in her company, which engendered the suspicion of his wife, to the extent that it effectively ended his marriage, but which is entirely attributable to his duties.

What would an innkeeper in Islington know about Mary's captivity, which was a closely guarded secret? Do you have any evidence for that either?

As to his relationship with Helena Britton; in his later years he was a man broken in spirit, estranged from his wife, in poor health, and spent most of his time at his small mansion at Handsworth. According to Hunter, it was here in the years of his dotage that he 'fell into the hands of a rapacious female domestic, Helena Britton, who had gained a strange ascendancy over him'. So a man approaching 60, a good age at the time, even for an aristocrat, in ill-health, broken in spirit, living a quiet life, has an affair with his cook? I would think the evidence points more to a forceful woman exerting influence over a weary man who just wants a bit of peace. As to the trial, surely a trial before a jury would be 'the full works'. . As long as Mary lived, she was a potential rallying point for the Catholic opposition, who were prepared to kill Elizabeth in order to place Mary on the throne and restore the Catholic Monarchy. Elizabeth's reluctance to actually order Mary's execution is attributable to her belief that to execute a Queen would set a dangerous precedent, not least for her own safety. The matter was therefore taken out of her hands, solving the problem while allowing her righteous indignation at it having been carried out without her direct involvement. Heads she wins, and Mary loses hers.

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Lets start with her first husband's death. William Cecil reports that she intends to get married within' a few days of his death. She should have seen no males for 40 days, 14 days later she's talking to a male. Oh she was "Maire" not Mary, she's a bit of a snob I think. She offered to marry Henry Curwen's son, when she landed at Workington. Curwen owned Workington Hall. Before she left she was talking about marrying a Hamilton.

And then Knollys says "Mary is bold, speaks too much and is too familiar". No doubt he came to this conclusion when she invited him to her bedroom, which she did. I take "familiar" to mean touchy etc.

Knollys would have been the source for most of the courts information. So if he makes it clear she's like that, then it would have to be somebody not prone to this 'charm' she can put out. Because Elizabeth still saw Mary as Royal, then also it would need someone with wealth so that is also true. However it was not the intention that she should move around from house to house. Tutbury was to be her home. But Mary hated the place, so they had to move, to keep her happy. Mary had a 12,000 allowance, her own money. She could pay for herself. She was using the cash to stir up trouble, hence the cuts to Talbot's fee. The English knew about her money. George sacked her servents that he was paying for instead. It wasn't Elizabeth that was causing George grief, but Mary. She even wrote to the Queen, that the midwife had burst in on her. She was there over a family birth, went into the wrong room and woke Mary up! Talbot had to answer if Mary complained to the Queen, but he did his best to try to meet her demands (Mary's not the Queen's). To stop her petty letters to the Queen. But George was clearly a moaner! His Sheffield accent by the way comes out in his letters. But he was the worse speller in the gentry (even worse than me he he ).

Mary's plan to marry the Duke of Norfolk, would have seen her change her religion, for the Duke was a protestant and not prepaired to change his. She had married Bothwell, another protestant, who was married already. That didn't go down well with the Pope!

Most of the Catholics extremists were using Mary for there own ends. Elizabeth knew that and a signed death warrant was just what she needed to stop these people. When she was executed it was a case of heads Elizabeth lost and tales Elizabeth lost.

The inkeeper reference is found in Leader's book on Mary P608. William Fleetwood writing to Cecil, Oct 1584.

The reason is that it was impossible to keep the location of Mary secret as she writes to whoever she pleases. Also the Scots people Mary had around her could not be housed in the same building as Mary and were lodge in the local areas, for instance in Sheffield town. It would be impossible to do.

Lastly Bess was also around Mary much of the time. Later she had a MASSIVE row with Mary. What about we do not know, but unlikely to do with any affair. After which Mary wanted her punished, even wrote a the "scandel letter" to see her punished. So bad that the later historians left parts in French :o

Marriage break ups are complex even today, so it would be a MASSIVE assumption to blame it on just one reason alone. But past historians have.

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Lets start with her first husband's death. William Cecil reports that she intends to get married within' a few days of his death. She should have seen no males for 40 days, 14 days later she's talking to a male. Oh she was "Maire" not Mary, she's a bit of a snob I think. She offered to marry Henry Curwen's son, when she landed at Workington. Curwen owned Workington Hall. Before she left she was talking about marrying a Hamilton.

Sounds more like a ruthless woman desperate to find supporters, having had to flee from her own country. I can't really comment as I don't know your source.

And then Knollys says "Mary is bold, speaks too much and is too familiar". No doubt he came to this conclusion when she invited him to her bedroom, which she did.

Source?

I take "familiar" to mean touchy etc.

Knollys would have been the source for most of the courts information. So if he makes it clear she's like that, then it would have to be somebody not prone to this 'charm' she can put out.

What Knollys actually wrote was "She seemeth to regard no ceremonious honour beside the acknowledgement of her estate regal. She showeth a disposition to speak much, to be bold, to be pleasant, and to be very familiar".

You have to read this in the context of nobility in the 16th century. It could mean that as a refugee under sufferance she would be better to keep quiet and keep her own counsel. Likewise, "too familiar" could simply be a reference to not keeping the distance expected of someone of her rank, perhaps not insisting on being correctly addressed, or being careful enough when addressing others correctly. Inviting someone to you bedroom at that time did not have the connotations it has today. It was quite acceptable for someone of rank to receive visitors while in bed. (Even Winston Churchill did it 400 years later!)

Because Elizabeth still saw Mary as Royal, then also it would need someone with wealth so that is also true. However it was not the intention that she should move around from house to house.

Leader et al state that one reason Elizabeth chose the Earl was because he owned a number of properties in the centre of England, away from the borders and the coast; his chief seat was Sheffield, a strong castle away from major highways; and his other house/castles were close by, all in areas over which he had strong influence.

Tutbury was to be her home. But Mary hated the place, so they had to move, to keep her happy.

Mary did hate the place, but she was moved after an abortive attempt at rescue, rather than to keep her happy.

Mary had a 12,000 allowance, her own money. She could pay for herself. She was using the cash to stir up trouble, hence the cuts to Talbot's fee. The English knew about her money. George sacked her servents that he was paying for instead.

As the widow of Francis II of France, Mary had a dowry of £12,000 per year. Most of this she spent buying influence and support in Scotland.It is on record that by 1583, because of financial mismanagement, this had dwindled to £1,200 per year.

Shrewsbury was originally given an allowance of £52 per week from the Exchequer for the expenses of Mary and her household. He didn't receive a fee. In 1573 it was proposed that Mary take upon herself the cost of what her household consumed. She agreed on condition that she be allowed more liberty, to which Elizabeth would not agree.

It wasn't Elizabeth that was causing George grief, but Mary. She even wrote to the Queen, that the midwife had burst in on her. She was there over a family birth, went into the wrong room and woke Mary up!

Source?

Talbot had to answer if Mary complained to the Queen, but he did his best to try to meet her demands (Mary's not the Queen's). To stop her petty letters to the Queen.

Mary wrote a number of letters complaining of her treatment. Many of these concerned the strictness with which Shrewsbury kept her confined. Since in this he was obeying Elizabeth's orders, they served to show he was doing his job, which Elizabeth appears to have understood.

If the Earl did his best to appease Mary within the restraints placed upon him, it was probably from concern at his own position. He was aware that at some time in the future Mary might well succeed Elizabeth, and as Mary pointed out to him when they argued, she 'would remember him another day', a thinly veiled threat.

But George was clearly a moaner! His Sheffield accent by the way comes out in his letters. But he was the worse speller in the gentry (even worse than me ).<BR style="mso-special-character: line-break"><BR style="mso-special-character: line-break">

George was in an unenviable position, supposedly trusted by the Queen but vulnerable to lies and rumours from his enemies; a virtual prisoner in his own castle, forbidden to leave without the Queen's express permission; out of pocket, and his own marriage under strain because of his duties; I think he was entitled to moan somewhat!

It's interesting that his accent comes out in his letters. As there was no set spelling at the time, people spelled phonetically, which looks strange to us, but once you're used to it, it makes things quite easy to read.

Mary's plan to marry the Duke of Norfolk, would have seen her change her religion, for the Duke was a protestant and not prepaired to change his.

The Howards, first Earls then Dukes of Norfolk, have been the foremost Roman Catholic family in England, up to the present day, even through the Protestant ascendancy under Henry VIII and Elizabeth.

She had married Bothwell, another protestant, who was married already. That didn't go down well with the Pope!

Most of the Catholics extremists were using Mary for there own ends. Elizabeth knew that and a signed death warrant was just what she needed to stop these people. When she was executed it was a case of heads Elizabeth lost and tales Elizabeth lost. <BR style="mso-special-character: line-break"><BR style="mso-special-character: line-break">

Sorry, I don't follow your logic. How would signing a death warrant stop the Catholic opposition from plotting against her? Suppose after signing Elizabeth had died or been assassinated? I think it's doubtful that anyone would have gone ahead and executed Mary, she now being the rightful Queen?

The inkeeper reference is found in Leader's book on Mary P608. William Fleetwood writing to Cecil, Oct 1584.

The Innkeeper was accused of having told his guests that George had fathered a child with Mary, and that he, the innkeeper knew where the child had been christened.

This was in 1584, after the Earl had been relieved of his irksome duties. But George had been fighting the rumour of an affair and others that he was known to favour Mary's claim to the throne above Elizabeth's, which were traced back to two of his own chaplains, Corker and Howard, who were arrested and punished ten years earlier in 1574.

The reason is that it was impossible to keep the location of Mary secret as she writes to whoever she pleases. Also the Scots people Mary had around her could not be housed in the same building as Mary and were lodge in the local areas, for instance in Sheffield town. It would be impossible to do.

Mary's letters were scrutinised before being sent. Secret letters were usually interecepted before they could be sent.

. Also the Scots people Mary had around her could not be housed in the same building as Mary and were lodge in the local areas, for instance in Sheffield town. It would be impossible to do.

They were housed in Sheffield, and forbidden to go further afield, on pain of not being allowed to return. As stated earlier when choosing Sheffield, it was far from main thoroughfares, and apart from thraffic between the Queen in London and the castle, few if any people would travel far. In addition, the local population were kept away from mary. If she ventured beyond the castle gate George had to ensure there were no people to see her.

Lastly Bess was also around Mary much of the time. Later she had a massive row with Mary. What about we do not know, but unlikely to do with any affair.

After which Mary wanted her punished, even wrote a the "scandel letter" to see her punished. So bad that the later historians left parts in French

Marriage break ups are complex even today, so it would be a massive assumption to blame it on just one reason alone. But past historians have.

Again, you're imposing present values on the 16th Century. It wasn't just that Bess suspected George of an affair, it was to do with his perceived neglect of her. As they drifted apart she spent a good deal of time at Chatsworth where the building work was her pet project. She wrote to George asking him to send building materials, and when he failed to supply them, wrote another stinging letter accusing him of neglect. George for his part complained that he wished he'd never heard of Chatsworth.

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Mary asked for Elizabeth's protection. She wrote a letter asking for precisely what the English dished out to her. I suppose the nearest thing today would be protectivty custody. But like many offered this it's sort of like being in prisoner. Which is true of Mary. She could have escaped to France. But by coming into England without waiting for permission from Queen Elizabeth, she was what we would call an Asylum Seeker. But as she was a Queen of another realm that was also wrong. Even today our Queen as to ask for permission to visit another country. It could be seen as an invaison otherwise ;-)

Mary did hate the place, but she was moved after an abortive attempt at rescue, rather than to keep her happy.

Not true. In fact I believe she went back there after Talbot's discharge. Which wouldn't make sense if that was the case.

Sorry, I don't follow your logic. How would signing a death warrant stop the Catholic opposition from plotting against her? Suppose after signing Elizabeth had died or been assassinated? I think it's doubtful that anyone would have gone ahead and executed Mary, she now being the rightful Queen?

Your not a woman! In Elizabeth's eyes the signing of the warrant, would put an end to plots by those who wanted a Catholic puppet on the throne. Because she would excute her. Thus ending any chance of a Catholic queen. Before Mary had even settled herself in Scotland she had requested to be name heir by Elizabeth. But after what she went through in her own life, Elizabeth wasn't interested in heirs to the throne. Infact she had no objection to Mary Stuart being the next Queen, just as long as she died a natural death. Mary's son surporters would have been very glad to get shut of Mary after Elizabeth had gone.

Mary's letters were scrutinised before being sent. Secret letters were usually interecepted before they could be sent.

It didn't stop them going to the recipents. They were passed on after being copied.

In Leader's book you will find a letter in reference to the King of Persia who says he wouldn't mind Royal Treatment, as he says Mary writes to whoever she pleases.

They were housed in Sheffield, and forbidden to go further afield, on pain of not being allowed to return. As stated earlier when choosing Sheffield, it was far from main thoroughfares, and apart from thraffic between the Queen in London and the castle, few if any people would travel far. In addition, the local population were kept away from mary. If she ventured beyond the castle gate George had to ensure there were no people to see her.

Gossip has a way of traveling great distances. The servants of Mary were so numerous they would be in close contact with those in the town. Those in the town would include alsorts of travling tradesmen. If you think about it that's how the plague travelled around. Sheffield was not as isloated as you seem to think, that's why it was impossible to control it.

Again, you're imposing present values on the 16th Century. It wasn't just that Bess suspected George of an affair, it was to do with his perceived neglect of her. As they drifted apart she spent a good deal of time at Chatsworth where the building work was her pet project. She wrote to George asking him to send building materials, and when he failed to supply them, wrote another stinging letter accusing him of neglect. George for his part complained that he wished he'd never heard of Chatsworth.

No I'm not. Realtionships break down for all sorts of reasons. This is true now as it would have been then. Back then he would have been seen as not been able to control his wife. However even that letter doesn't prove that the relationship broke down because of either rumours of an affair, or neglect of his wife. Just that they were not getting on well.

Past historians might be guilty of spreading the story that the marriage broke up due to the "charge". But you are equally guilty in sticking to the idea without any evidence. And George could be grumpy anyway. For instance when Elizabeth told him she trusted him. It was George who spoke first to the Queen. Not something he should have done! By telling her that the tenants in Bolsover would be causing trouble while he wasn't there.

The Howards, first Earls then Dukes of Norfolk, have been the foremost Roman Catholic family in England, up to the present day, even through the Protestant ascendancy under Henry VIII and Elizabeth.

Not true he was a Protestant. Otherwise why would Mary offer to change her religion?

It was quite acceptable for someone of rank to receive visitors while in bed. (Even Winston Churchill did it 400 years later!)

Yeah but even he didn't ask to marry anyone as much as she did :P

The midwife tale is in Leader.

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On the subject of Mary & her needlework - just been for a week to Norfolk and in Oxburgh Hall, not far from Kings Lynn, there are examples of her needlework (and that of Bess of Hardwick) on display.

Also a rather fine priest hole that you can climb into!

http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-oxburghhall

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