"Extremely addicted": References to Religion in the Biographies
NOTE:this site used direct quotes from the original texts, leaving in the original orthography, capitalization, and punctuation. Only in a few places were added notes for clarification. The italicized styling was removed from the original quotes, as it would be too confusing to modern readers. The quotes are hyperlinked to the corresponding passage within the primary source text.
As seen in the careers and fortunes of writers like George Buchanan, John Leslie, Fulke Greville, and Sir Robert Naunton, religious conviction played a part in political disgrace and removal from office. An investigation of the highly charged topic of religion, therefore, affords a clear example of the pattern for those biographical groupings.
Stow's rhetorical strategy, on the other hand, lifted his text above "the great religious debates of his day" ( Beer, "John Stow," 259), by stating matter-of-factly that religion was a factor in the Northumberland uprising and Wyatt rebellion, that all the "houses of Religion, erected by Quéene Mary" were suppressed under the reign of Elizabeth, and that "Edmond Bonar Bishop of London," not conforming to the new Anglican faith, "was depriued of his Bishopricke, for disobeying the Kings order in Religion." For his writings, Camden followed his friend Stow's pattern, and remained largely balanced in his descriptions (see Fig. 3). He introduced a unique word to describe people who were highly zealous and loyal to something, calling them 'addicted,' though he most often used this expression with reference to Catholics. He referred to Elizabeth as "truely godly, pious, and zealously deuoted" to God. She had "freed the Scepter from forraigne slauery of the Pope of Rome," even though she did not see "it fit to force the conscience" of English papists. He, at one point, said the Puritans seem to profess "the more pure Religion" and questioned "the Discipline of the English Church [...] as scenting too strongly of the Romane church," while new anti-Catholic laws elicited a pithy"So much for the Papists." Since during the Tudors two factions existed only for "Religons sake, and any other consideration…opposite to the Queen of Scots," Mary often was cast as the antithesis of Elizabeth and 'true religion.' Unlike Leslie and Buchanan, Camden did not use this conflict to favor a particular religion, no matter what his religious sympathies may have been. Instead, he picked rhetorical choices that balanced Mary and Elizabeth as his descriptions of Mary were either as a staunch Catholic with no negative reflection on Elizabeth, or as one 'loved' for religion's sake because her cousin Elizabeth was Protestant.
Upon entering the seventeenth century, though, despite the fact that many of the authors were considered Protestant to some extent, Greville and Naunton strongly so, they retained Camden and Stow’s strategy of rhetorically balanced comparisons. The trio of Bacon, Greville, and Naunton, though, altered this formula by omitting Mary, while Naunton went so far as to avoid Catholicism entirely (see Fig. 4). Bacon declared Elizabeth to be a "Prince...moderate in cause of Religion" and her opposition was priests, led astray by foreign Princes aid to "pernitiously [deprave] the minds of many Papists." Further still, Greville declared Elizabeth would not "seeke...rest...till she had repaired the precipitate ruines of our Saviors Militant Church" going so far as to call her a "She-David," in reference to the Biblical character who fought Goliath. He blamed Spain, Rome, and the Pope for the "Holy Fathers wind-blowne superstitions" with England's greatest political enemy, Spain, 'managing' the whole affair.
The last trio--Clarke, Sanderson, and Melville--broadened their discussion to include not only both queens, but also a more detailed examination of religious groups beyond the 'Protestant' and 'Catholic' dichotomy. For instance, Clarke noted that Elizabeth was "extreamly desirous of promoting the Protestant Religion," but that John Knox’s Reformed faith was responsible for 'flaming discontent' against the Scottish royal family, and that priests plotted the "Ruine of the [English] Queen and Kingdom." These comments covered the major religious factions active in the British Isles, while unfavorably displaying the people that had created problems for Elizabeth. This was clever as it hid Clarke’s convictions--nothing is absent or abnormal in its description since a queen, in this case Elizabeth, was favorably depicted.
Like Clarke, Sanderson did not think highly of Knox, whom he said acted "Pope-like." Nevertheless, Knox was apparently on his mind a great deal, as Sanderson mentioned him exponentially more than the other biographers did (see Fig. 5)."strain their pens to piece it with some Excuses." Elizabeth, though, did "not endur[e] Innovation" in any direction, and therefore even quelled the Puritans who caused an "infection of Schisms." On the other hand, Sanderson depicted Mary more favorably than Elizabeth, as Mary did not force those "of the Reformed Religion, which was mightily increased [during] Her absence, and brought in by tumult of the wild Presbytery" to revert to Catholicism, her religion.
Melville, too, examined the various branches of Protestantism and Catholicism. In a similar vein as Sanderson's depiction of Scotland's change to Protestantism, Melville noted that Mary's "Rebellious Subjects, who had at their own hands, without her Authority, changed Religion." Catholicism too received unflattering attention as the Pope tried to "bring back again to the Church, some Church Lands that his Predecessors had disposed to their Friends. As the common custom of Popes is, the one Pope dispones (sic) [dispenses] to his Bastards or Nephews, the next Pope revokes the Lands, pretending the same to be for the good of the Church, and gives them again to his Kindred and Friends." Melville also made note of a famous member of the Reformation, Martin Luther, and was the only biographer to do so.
When moving away from generalities and into high profile events, the infamous papal bull Regnans in Excelsis, along with Mary's trial and execution, stood out as key examples. These two events surfaced regularly in these texts but received less equitable treatment than that of the queens’ religious convictions.Annales (see Fig. 6), and Sanderson mentioned Regnans in Excelsis in addition to the only mention in these texts of its renewal by Pope Sixtus V in 1588.
This papal bull, issued in 1570 by Pope Pius V (January 7, 1566 - May 7, 1572) is often pointed as the impetus for the Ridolfi Plot, along with increased religious tension in England. It declared Elizabeth to be a heretic, and thus her subjects did not owe her allegiance and should rebel against her. Anyone who did not do so, and continued to obey her laws and orders, were also excommunicated.
Buchanan's work was completed by the York conference of 1568, and Leslie's work was published only a year after that, therefore, both were before the 1570 papal bull. However, Leslies' Defence changed from 1569 to the second edition that appeared after the papal bull. See Lockie, 104 and 109.
For the first group of Leslie and Buchanan, their texts fell prior to 1570 and thus did not cover Mary's execution in 1587. Even though the previous paragraphs showed the biographers treating the queens' personal beliefs equitably, however, examples increasingly appear for the rhetorical strategy of blaming a third party for the outcome of contentious situations where a queen would initially appear to be the person at fault. Therefore, the English and Scottish subjects' religious convictions quickly attained an unfavorable depiction. Camden in his 1624 History of...Mary Stuart said that Lords Buckhurst and Beale went to Mary to tell her to prepare to die, "insinuating, that as long as she liued the Religion receiued in England could not stand firme…[then she] reioycing to her selfe, that she was accounted an instrument for the re-establishment of Religion in this Island." Later the "Earle of Kent being fiery hot in Religion, turned vnto her, and amongst other words, broke out into these, Thy life will be the destruction of our Religion, as on the other side, Thy death will be the life of the same." Upon the moment of her death, Dr. Fletcher, Dean of Peterborough, said "aloud, 'So let the enemies of Queene Elizabeth perish,' the Earle of Kent saying the same." Not too surprisingly, as Camden’s 1624 work was focused primarily on Mary, that quote was the longest description of the events among biographies.
In his later 1625 Annales, Camden worded the scene more concisely. "Thereupon, the Earle of Kent (a zealous professor of our Religion) amongst his other speeches, vttered this: Your life will be the death; and your death, the life of our Religion" which she notes with joy to her physician later saying "Haue you not obserued how powerfull and great the Truth is. For (quoth she) the common report is, That I am to dye for conspiring the Queene of Englands death; but the Earle of Kent, notwithstanding, told me euen now, That the feare they haue of their Religion, is the cause of my death". Then "her Head at the second blow was cut off; the Dean crying aloud, and saying, So perish all the Enemies of Queene Elizabeth; to which, the Earle of Kent answerd, Amen.
In their monographs, Naunton, Bacon, and Greville of course omitted any mention of Mary's trial and execution along with who was to blame for any of these events. Greville, Naunton, and Bacon's studious avoidance of Mary and devotion to Elizabeth saved them from possibly betraying their anti-Catholic views as Mary's execution was one of the most critical moments in Catholic-Protestant contention in the British Isles. Clarke mentioned Mary’s death, albeit in a short paragraph, as opposed to the many pages Camden wrote. Clarke stated that "Commissioners were appointed to admonish her to prepare for Death; which News, she received without any change of Countenance, or shew of Passion. And having that Night made her Will, she, with great Courage and Devotion, prepared her self to dye the next day, and was then accordingly beheaded, in the six and fortieth of her Age, and seventeenth year of her Imprisonment in England." Melville briefly stated that Elizabeth and her secretary Davidson deceived by the Council, who had already delivered the death warrant to execute Mary "in the morning." Mary was "conveyed out of her Chamber to the great Hall where the Scaffold was prepared, she took her death patiently, and constantly, couragiously ending her life, being cruelly handled by the Executioner, having received divers stroaks of the Ax."