15th January 1559. Elizabethan Transition Time.
There was a need for Queen Elizabeth I to be crowned quickly as Queen ‘Bloody’ Mary had died the previous November and many contenders awaited in the wings.(1)
The coronation which took place Today, a Sunday, in Westminster Abbey, was the last occasion the Latin Mass was used and pointed the way to the Elizabethan Religious Settlement.
The bishops were unsure as to whether Elizabeth would follow the Catholic course and in the confusion it was only Bishop Oglethorpe of Carlisle who would agree to officiate, but by raising the chalice, implying the corporal presence of Christ, he upset the Queen.
Also in this transitional phase from Catholicism to Protestantism there was the problem who was to crown Elizabeth: Cardinal Archbishop Pole was dead as was Cranmer who would have crowned her as he did her mother, so it fell to Nicholas Heath, Archbishop of York as next senior.
Questions arise did she remain throughout or withdraw at the ‘Raising of the Host’, a sensitive time of the coronation-to the ‘traverse’- her private closet in St. Edward’s Chapel; did she in fact take part in the Mass?
The coronation saw a mixture of Protestants and Catholics present, but there was a shortage of dukes as Somerset, Northumberland and Suffolk had lost their heads, and only the young Norfolk was in attendance. He was to lose his twelve years’ later.
The Earl of Worcester, a Catholic carried the 3rd sword; the Earl of Westminster, carried the 4th sword, was also a Catholic, whilst the chief sword, of Curtana-blunt, symbolising mercy-was carried by Edward 3rd Earl of Derby.
The coronation proceedings were in four parts, before the actual ceremony and the Westminster Hall banquet: to ritually take possession of the Tower; to progress through the City to Westminster via Fenchurch and Cheapside, with City Corporation in their livery hoods and rich furs with banners and streamers in abundance.
All was accompanied by five pageants with the first stressing her Englishness rather the Spanishness of Mary. The second showed the Four Virtues; third the Lord Mayor granting a gift of gold, demonstrating interdependence of City and Westminster.(2)
One portrayed the decaying commonwealth of Mary and the resurgence of Elizabeth, with the last equating Elizabeth with the Old Testament prophet Deborah who rescued Israel in her 40 years rule.
Verses in Latin for the pageant were by Court Poets, John Leland and Nicholas Udal.
(1) On 17th November 1558.
(2) Including true religion; wisdom; justice and the fight against superstition and ignorance.
Ref: The Virgin Queen: The Personal History of Elizabeth. C Hibbert.
Ref: rmg/Pic of Queen on litter.
Ref: History Today, A L Rowse .Vol. 3 Issue 5. 1953. Coronation of Queen Elizabeth.Pic