Saturday, April 08, 2006

Question from Lara (a different one!) - Lettice Knollys & Elizabeth in Tower

Does anybody know if Lettice Knollys was one of Elizabeth's ladies during her imprisonment in the Tower of London? I had always been under the impression that she and her family had fled to Germany during Mary I's reign, but the BBC drama "The Virgin Queen" and several historians claim that she had stayed in England with Elizabeth. So I was simply wondering if anybody really knows for sure or if its all conjecture. Is there any contemporary evidence to support either claim?


BritishNut56 said...

The only reference I can find to Sir Francis Knollys (and family) being in Germany during Mary I's reign is via Anne Somerset's wonderful biography "Elizabeth I". One can only assume that Lettice was there with her parents as well.

Lettice would have been 13 years of age when "Bloody Mary" came to the throne. Admitedly, not too young to be a lady-in-waiting to either Mary or Elizabeth. But, my feeling is that due to safety concerns for his daughter, a 'Protestant' under a Catholic monarch, Lettice would have left England with the rest of her family.

Upon Elizabeth's accession to the throne, the Knollys (who were first cousins of the new queen)returned to England and Sir Thomas was made a member of the council. Subsequently, Lettice was also made a maid-of-honor.

The program "The Virgin Queen", albeit fairly close to 'true' history, still needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Poetic license is felt to be needed to generate a good television program, or movie, when it comes to Elizabeth's life.

Anonymous said...

Lettice was most likely in Basel Switzerland, as her father and brother were listed as students at the university there during the period when the Knollys family fled England during the Marion Emigration.

(for more complete discussion of Lettice in general, see my discussion sections in the Wikipedia article)

--Sally Harms Brice