Category Archives: Monarchy

Monarchy Murder

As sore a heart as I have

These fragments come from a contemporaneous account of the death of David Rizzio, favourite to Mary, Queen of Scots. Rizzio was an Italian courtier who had come to Mary’s court in the early 1560s.  An accomplished musician, he soon found favour with the queen, who appointed him her secretary to French affairs in 1564. The nature of their relationship was close, and there were rumours of an adulterous affair, despite the fact the queen was pregnant with James VI by 1566.  On 9th March of the same year, prompted by jealousy, Rizzio was brutally murdered by Mary’s husband, Henry, Lord Darnley, and his courtiers.  The queen was horrified by the ordeal. It is said Rizzio was stabbed over 56 times.

Upon Saturday the 9th day of March, as is conform to the King’s Ordenance and Device, the said Earl Morton, Lords Ruthen and Lindsey, having their Men and Friends in readiness, abiding for the King’s Advertisement; the King having supped, and the sooner for that Cause, and the Queen’s Majesty being in her Cabinet within her inner Chamber at the Supper, the King sent to the said Earl and Lords, and their Complices; and desired them to make haste and come into the Palace, for he should have the door of the Privy Passage open, and should be speaking with the Queen before their coming. Then the said Earl of Morton, Lord Ruthen and Lord Lindsey, with their Complices, passed up to the Queen’s Chamber; and the said Lord Ruthen passed in through the King’s Chamber, and up through the privy way to the Queen’s Chamber, as the King had learned him, and through the Chamber to the Cabinet, where he found the Queen’s Majesty sitting at her Supper at the middes of a little Table, the Lady Argile sitting at one end, and Davie at the head of the Table with his Cap on his head.

The King speaking with the Queen’s Majesty, and his hand about her Waiste, the said Lord Ruthen at his coming in said to the Queen’s Majesty, It would please your Majesty to let yonder Man Davie come forth of your presence, for he hath been over-long here. Her Majesty answered, What Offence hath he made? The said Lord replied again, that he had made great Offence to her Majesty’s Honour, the King her Husband, the Nobility and Commonweal of the Realm. And how? saith she. It will please your Majesty, said the said Lord, he hath offended your Majesty’s Honour, which I dare not be so bold to speak of.  As to the King your Husband’s Honour, he hath hindred him of the Crown Matrimonial, which your Grace promised him, besides many other things which are not necessary to be expressed.  And as to the Nobility, he hath caused your Majesty to banish a great part, and most chief thereof, and forefault them at this present Parliament, that he might be made a Lord.  And as to your Common-weal, he hath been a common destroyer thereof, in so far as he suffered not your Majesty to grant or give any thing but that which passed through his hands, by taking of Bribes and Goods for the same.

Then her Majesty rose on her feet and stood before Davie, he holding her Majesty by the plates of the Gown, leaning back over in the window, his Whiniard drawn in his hand. Arthur Erskin and the Abbot of Holyrood-house, with the French Apothecary, and one of the Grooms of the Chamber, began to lay hands upon the said Lord Ruthen, none of the King’s Party being present. Then the said Lord pulled out his Whiniard, and freed himself while more came in, and said to them, Lay not hands on me, for I will not be handled; and at the incoming of others into the Cabinet, the said Lord Ruthen put up his Whiniard.  And with the rushing in of Men the Board [table] fell to the wallwards, with Meat and Candles being thereon; and the Lady of Argile took up one of the Candles in her hand: and in the same instant the said Lord Ruthen took the Queen in his arms, and put her into the King’s arms, beseeching her Majesty not to be afraid; for there was no Man there that would do her Majesty’s Body more harm than their own Hearts; and assured her Majesty, all that was done was the King’s own Deed and Action.

Then the Gentlemen being in the Cabinet, took Davie out of the Window; and after that they had him out in the Queen’s Chamber, the said Lord Ruthen followed.  But the press of the People hurl’d him forth,where there was a great number standing, who were so vehemently moved against the said Davie, that they could not abide any longer, but slew him at the Queen’s far Door in the Chamber.

 Murder of Rizzio (Sir William Allen, 1833.  NPG)

In this mean time the Queen’s Majesty and the King came forth of the Cabinet to the Queen’s Chamber, where her Majesty began to reason with the King, saying, My Lord, Why have you caused to do this wicked Deed to me, considering I took you from a base Estate, and made you my Husband?  What Offence have I made you that ye should have done me such shame? The King answered and said, I have good reason for me; for since you Fellow Davie fell in credit and familiarity with your Majesty, ye regarded me not, neither treated me nor entertained me after your wonted Fashion; for every day before Dinner, and after Dinner, ye would come to my Chamber and pass time with me, and thus long time ye have not done so; and when I come to your Majesty’s Chamber, ye bear me little company, except Davie had been the third Marrow: and after Supper your Majesty hath a use to set at the Cards with the said Davie till one or two of the Clock after midnight; and this is the entertainment that I have had of you this long time.

 Rizzio (painted c.1620)

Her Majesty’s answer was, It was not Gentlewomens duty to come to their Husbands Chamber, but rather the Husband to come to the Wive’s Chamber, if he had any thing to do with her.  The King answered, How came ye to my Chamber at the beginning, and ever, till within these few Months past that Davie fell in familiarity with you?  Or am I failed in any sort of my Body? Or what disdain have you at me? Or what Offence have I made you, that you should not use me at all time alike?  Sseeing that I am willing to do all things that becometh a good Husband to do to his Wife. For since you have chose me to be your Husband, suppose I be of the baser degree, yet I am your Head, and ye promised Obedience at the day of our Marriage, and that I should be equal with you, and participant in all things. I suppose you have used me otherwise by the perswasions of Davie.  Her Majesty answered and said, that all the shame that was done to her, that my Lord, ye have the weight thereof; for the which I shall never be your Wife, nor lie with you; nor shall never like well, till I gar you have as sore a Heart as I have presently.

© 2009-2012 All Rights Reserved

Execution Monarchy

Does my hair trouble you?

These fragments come from an account of the execution of Charles I.  They take the curious form of part dialogue, part commentary.  Charles I was the first English monarch to be put on trial for treason. He was sentenced to death after being found a tyrant, murderer, traitor, and enemy to the good of the nation. His execution took place on Tuesday 30th January 1649, at Whitehall near the Banqueting House.

For clarification, the Dr Juxon who appears below was William Juxon (1582-1663), Archbishop of Canterbury.

Dr Juxon: Will your Majesty (though it may be very well known your Majesties affections to Religion, ye it may be expected that you should) say somewhat for the worlds satisfaction?

King: I thank you very heartily (my Lord, for that I had almost forgotten it).  Introth Sirs, My Conscience in Religion I think is very well known to all the world, and therefore I declare before you all that I die a Christian; according to the profession of the Church of England, as I found it left me by my Father, and this honest man, pointing to Dr. Juxon. Then turning to the Officers, said, Sirs, excuse me for this same, I have a good cause, and I have a gracious God, I will say no more. Then turning to Colonel Hacker, he said, Take care they doe not put me to pain, and Sir, this, and it please you. But then a Gentleman coming near the Axe, the King said, Take heed of the Axe, pray, take heed of the Axe. Then the King speaking to the Executioner said, I shall say but very short prayers, and when I thrust out my hands —

Then the King called to Doctor Juxon for his Night cap, and having put it on, he said to the Executioner, Does my hair trouble you? Who desired him to put it all under his cap, which the King did accordingly by the help of the executioner and the Bishop.  Then the King turning to Doctor Juxon said, I have a good Cause, and a gracious God on my side.

Doctor Juxon said, There is but one Stage more, this Stage is turbulent and troublesome, it is a short one: But you may consider, it will soon carry you a very great way: it will carry you from earth to heaven; and there you shall find a great deal of cordial joy and comfort.

The King said, I goe from a corruptible to an incorruptible Crown; where no disturbance can be, no disturbance in the world.

Doctor Juxon said, You are exchanged from a Temporal to an Eternal Crown, a good exchange.

The king then said to the executioner, Is my hair well? Then the King took off his Cloak and his George [a jewel which forms part of the insignia of the Order of the Garter], giving his George to Doctor Juxon, saying, Remember, it is thought for to give it to the Prince. Then the King put off his Doublet, and being in his Waistcoat, put his cloak on again, then looking upon the block, said to the executioner, You must set it fast.  The Executioner said, It is fast, Sir.

The King said, When I put my hands out this way, stretching them out, then—

After that, having said two or three words (as he stood) to himself, with hands and eyes lift up; immediately stooping down, laid his neck upon the Block: and then the Executioner again putting his hair under his Cap the King said (thinking he had been going to strike), Stay for the sign.  The Executioner said, Yes, I will and it please your Majesty.   And after a very little pause, the King stretching forth his hands the Executioner at one blow severed his head from his body, the head being off, the Executioner held it up, and shewed it to the people; which done; it was with the Body put in a Coffin covered with black Velvet for that purpose, and conveyed into his Lodgings there: And from thence it was carried to his house at Saint James’s, where his body was embalmed and put in a Coffin of Lead.

© 2009-2013 All Rights Reserved
Monarchy Parliament War

General Cromwell pursued with horse

These fragments come from an account of the battle of Naseby in 1645; a turning point in the English Civil Wars which effectively thwarted long-term Royalist hopes of victory.

Both Armies were drawne in Battle in a great field neere Knaseby by ten in the morning, each wing of both sides charged [the] other, with that eagernesse, that they had not patience to shoot of one peece of Ordnance. Our Dragoones begun the Battaile Flancking the right wing of the Enemies Horse as they charged our left wing. The Foot charged not each other till they were within twelve paces one of another, and could not charge above twice, but were at push of Pike.  The Enemies Foot gave a little backe, and so did some few of ours, and then the right wing of our Horse (wherein the Generall was in person) charged in the Flancke of the blue regiment of the enemies Foot, who stood to it, till the last man, abundance of them slaine, and all the rest surrounded, wounded, and taken. Being lost, Horse and Foot gave backe, we advanced on after them in order our Horse flancking our Foot, and after one charge more, became Masters of all their Infantry, and tooke about three thousand prisoners. The Enemies Horse ran a pace, but still our Horse, though one would have beaten ten, (such a feare was the Enemy possessed with all) would not pursue in heate but take the Foot to flancke them. The King cryed out, face about once and give one charge and recover the day. Our Men Horse and Foot came on with that courage, that before ever wee gave fire they faced about and ran clear away.

Happy was he that was best mounted, and Liuetenant Generall Cromwell pursued with the Horse after them about twelve or thirteen miles, within two or three miles of Leicester, and having taken eight peeces of Ordnance in the Field, whereof two were Demicannon, one whole Culverine, tooke all the rest of their Ordnance and their Carriages, Bag and Baggage· aboundance of Coaches, and rich Plunder, Carts with Boates and great store of Bisket and Cheese, (a seasonable refreshment for our souldiers that had marched so hard, and the night before had not a bit of Bread to a regiment for their refreshment).  The Foot and the Traine Marched this night to Harborough (foure miles) where our head quarter is. It becomes not me to say any thing of my Generalls, Major Generalls, or Livetenant Generall Cromwells carriage in this battaile, I leave it to all men on the place to relate it, who cannot but admire their valour, and thus hath the Lord gone along with this new moulded Army, so much contemned by many & left as sheepe to the slaughter by others, but from the beginning I was confident, a blessing from heaven did attend this Army, there were in it so many pious men, men of integrity, hating vice, fighting not out of ambitiousnesse or by ends, but ayming at Gods glory and the preservation of Religion, & Liberty, and the destruction of the Enemy which was never in so faire a way as now is, if peoples hearts would yet be moved to redeeme themselves from slavery and all ioyne as one man.

If this advantage be improved (as what a wearied out and tyred Army is able to doe, will be done) with the blessing of God, and an addition of some fresh horse, ours being worne off their legs, the Enemy in all probability will not this Summer get head againe, and I hope in the Lord, never more considerable in the field, some observations I had in the time of Battell in the carriage of things, that one great incouragement to the common Souldier to fall on, was the rich Plunder the enemy had (their purses also being full of Money, the Plunder of poore Leicestershire, God turned to be one meanes of their ruine, and indeed our souldiers got plenty, the Irish women brought on the field (wives of the bloody Rebels in Ireland) our souldiers would grant no quarter too, about 100 slain of them, and most of the rest of the whores that attended that wicked Army are marked in the face or nose, with a slash or cut. I viewed the dead bodies, from the Battell to Harborough, truly I estimate them not to be above 700, together with those slaine in the fields running away, but in pursuit between Harborough and Leicester, and by townes, conceived about 300 more slaine, and an abundance wounded.’

© 2009-2012 All Rights Reserved

Crime Monarchy Murder Politics

Kill him for the book he wrote

These fragments come from the published account of an attempted murder of the Reverend Samuel Johnson (1649-1703) a Whig pamphleteer. In 1682, Johnson published a political treatise, Julian the Apostate, which transformed him into an overnight sensation. The treatise drew parallels between the fourth-century apostate emperor, Julian, and James duke of York, the Catholic successor to the English crown. Johnson justified the efforts of the whigs to exclude James from the monarchy, and called on active resistance to James’s ascension to the English throne. As a result, Johnson was imprisoned for four years in the king’s bench. While in gaol, Johnson continued to write seditious material, and in 1686 he was convicted of high misdemeanour, sentenced to pay 500 marks, to stand in the pillory for three days, and to be flogged from Newgate to Tyburn. In the early 1690s, he wrote An Argument proving that the abrogation of King James by the people of England, which caused such a scandal that in November 1692, seven men broke into Johnson’s house near Piccadilly and attempted to kill him.

Upon the Sunday Morning (the 27th of November 1692) seven persons broke into the House of the Reverend Mr Samuel Johnson, in Bond-street near Piccadilly; and five of them with a Lanthorn came into the Room where Mr Johnson with his Wife were in Bed, and their young Son lying in a Bed by them. Mrs Johnson hearing them open the Door, cried out to her Husband (who was fast asleep) My Dear, Thieves, Thieves. The Villains instantly threw open the Curtains, three of them placing themselves by that side of the Bed where Mr Johnson lay, with drawn Swords, and Clubs in their Hands; and two at the Bed’s Feet with Pistols. Whereupon Mr Johnson started upon his Bed, and waved his Arms to keep off Blows, but gave them not one word.  One of the three who stood by the Bed-side, gave him a great blow on the Head with an Oaken-stick, with a great Knob on the top (which stick was left behind and there may be seen) that struck him back to the Bed, and then instantly clap’d on a black Vizor Mask. Upon which Mrs Johnson cried out, over and over again with great earnestness, How can you strike a sick Man? At which they stood pausing over him. Which she observing, said We have no Money, we have no Money.  One of the Miscreants then called to Mr Johnson, saying Hold up your Face. At which Mrs Johnson, jogging her husband said, My Dear they would Gag you; prethee be gagg’d, hoping that then they would leave him and rifle the House.

Some time after, the Rogues still standing over him, Mr Johnson sat upright again and roared out, not being able to speak. Upon which one of the Rogues said, Pistol him, kill him, kill him for the Book he wrote. And then cut him with a Sword over the Eye-brow. And those who stood with Pistols at the Bed’s Feet presented their Pistols towards him: Which Mrs Johnson seeing, cried out O Christ do not do it.  How can you use a sick Man thus? After this they stood sometimes as amazed, demurring over him; and at length one of them said to the rest, Draw him under the Bed. Then a little after another said, Damn, where’s his Breeches?  And Mrs Johnson replying, Upon the feet of the Bed. They not instantly finding them ask’d again for them, and she replying as before, they found them and carried them off with them, not ransacking further, nor taking any other thing out of the House, though a Chest of Drawers stood open by them.

When the bloody Villains went out of the Room, Mrs Johnson imagining they were gone up to the Room over their Heads, where her daughter with a Maid-Servant were in Bed, cried out to Mr Johnson, My poor Girls, what will become of them? Mr Johnson got out of Bed to Follow them, but Mrs Johnson begg’d him not to go, saying You will sure be killed, but can do them no service; go to the Window and cry out Thieves, which he did. And the Watch and others being by that time got to the House, found that instead of going up the Stairs, as Mr Johnson and his Wife imagined, they went down Stairs and made their Escape.

The two young Women at first hearing the Noise in the House got to their Chamber-Window and cried out Thieves, upon which two of the Rogues who were left Sentinels at the Street-door, held up two Blunderbusses, saying If you cry out we will shoot you. Upon which they pull’d in their Heads, but continued to cry as loud as they could; which being heard by the Watch they made towards Mr Johnson’s House, but came too late to seize any of the Assassins. A Chirurgion being called found Mr Johnson greatly bleeding from two Wounds, one a cross Wound to his Skull, three inches long and an inch and a half across; and the other a Cut with a Sword on his left Eye-brow. The Chirurgion also found his Head greatly bruised, and declared that he imagined that there might be more danger in the Bruises than the Cuts, but through God’s blessing there is good hopes of his Recovery.

Source for Johnson’s lifeL Melinda Zook, DNB

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