Friday, February 1, 2013
The Virgin Queen (Virginia) - Elizabeth I 1588 speaks to her army at Tilbury
The English forces were gathered to fight the Spanish Armada; their unlikely victory was one of the great highlights of Elizabeth's reign.
"I remember in '88 waiting upon the Earl of Leicester at Tilbury camp, and in '89, going into Portugal with my noble master, the Earl of Essex, I learned somewhat fit to be imparted to your grace.
"The queen lying in the camp one night, guarded with her army, the old treasurer, Burleigh, came thither and delivered to the earl the examination of Don Pedro, who was taken and brought in by Sir Francis Drake, which examination the earl of Leicester delivered unto me to publish to the army in my next sermon. The sum of it was this.
"Don Pedro, being asked what was the intent of their coming, stoutly answered the lords: What, but to subdue your nation and root it out.
"Good, said the lords, and what meant you then to do with the catholics? He answered, We meant to send them (good men) directly unto heaven, as all that are heretics to hell. Yea, but, said the lords, what meant you to do with your whips of cord and wire? (Whereof they had great store in their ships.) What? said he, we meant to whip you heretics to death that hare assisted my master's rebels and done such dishonour to our catholic king and people. Yea, but what would you have done, said they, with their young children? They, said he, which were above seven years old should hare gone the way their fathers went, the rest should have lived, branded in the forehead with the letter L for Lutheran, to perpetual bondage.
"This, I take God to witness, I received of those great lords upon examination taken by the council, and by commandment delivered it to the army.
"The queen the next morning rode through all the squadrons of her army, as armed Pallas, attended by noble footmen, Leicester, Essex, and Norris, then lord marshall, and divers other great lords. Where she made an excellent oration to her army, which the next day after her departure, I was commanded to re-deliver to all the army together, to keep a public fast.
"Her words were these.
"My loving people, we have been persuaded by some that are careful of our safety to take heed how we commit ourself to armed multitudes for fear of treachery; but I assure you, I do not desire to live to distrust my faithful and loving people. Let tyrants fear. I have always so behaved myself that, under God, I have placed my chiefest strength and safe guard in the loyal hearts and good will of my subjects, and therefore I am come amongst you, as you see, at this time, not for my recreation and disport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live or die amongst you all, to lay down my life for my God and for my kingdom and for my people, my honour, and my blood, even in the dust. I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and a king of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe should dare to invade the borders of my realm; the which, rather than any dishonour shall grow by me, I myself will take up arms, I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field. I know, already for your forwardness, you have deserved rewards and crowns; and we do assure you, in the word of a prince, they shall be duly paid you. In the meantime my lieutenant-general shall be in my stead, than whom never prince commanded a more noble or worthy subject, not doubting but by your obedience to my general, by your concord in the camp, and your valour in the field, we shall shortly have a famous victory over those enemies of my God, of my kingdom, and of my people."
From a letter by Dr. Leonel Sharp to the Duke of Buckingham after 1623 (spelling & grammar somewhat updated)