Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Question from Faith - Elizabeth's tomb

Thanks so much for the responses to my question about Queen Elizabeth and Shakespeare. I was reading through the Q&A about the burial site of Elizabeth and Mary in Westminster Abbey -- I also visited there and have always been puzzled that Elizabeth's grave is not more prominent. Has her grave always been there? Was it moved at any point? Thank you


Elizabeth M. said...

King James I was responsible for Elizabeth's tomb. She and her sister Mary share a tomb. James it seems was more concerned about the reburial of his mother, Mary, Queen of Scots, than the distant cousin whose throne he inherited. (Elizabeth would have been his first cousin twice removed). Originally buried at Peterborough Cathedral many months after her beheading, James I had her remains moved in 1612 to Westminster Abbey and had a magnificent marble effigy erected over her tomb. Interestingly, Queen mary Tudor had wanted to be buried at Peterborough with her mother, Katherine of Aragon, a request her half-sister Elizabeth ignored, having her interred at Westminster instead. I do not know if Elizabeth had any plans drawn up for what she wanted for her funeral before she died. Does anyone know?

Anonymous said...

I think it is important too to remember that the tomb was, as Elizabeth M points out, created shortly after Elizabeth's death, and that Elizabeth was not as popular in her last years as she is today. There is an excellent book by Leanda de Lisle, "After Elizabeth," that describes just how unpopular Elizabeth was in the last decade of her reign and how much her councillors and people were looking forward to a new and younger ... and male ... monarch. England in the first years of James' reign was looking forward with expectation of the new, not backward in remembrance of the old. In that light, it is perhaps a little surprising that Elizabeth's tomb is as large and ornate as it is. Too, her tomb is considerably more prominent than those of her father and brother. Henry VIII's grave is marked by only a simple plaque on the floor at St George's Chapel, Windsor, while Edward VI was entombed with his grandfather, Henry VII, at Westminster and provided (like Henry VIII) with only a simple marker. Even the tomb of James I himself was so inconspicuous that no one knew where it was until the late 19th century (like Edward, James was buried in the Henry VII tomb at Westminster, but without a marker). Compared to the tombs of her predecessors and successors, Elizabeth's tomb is positively grandiose!

Anonymous said...

Thank you,that makes sense. I hadn't thought about it in that light. I'll try to find the de Lisle book.

Thanks for both responses! It would be interesting to know if Elizabeth had drawn up any plans for her funeral or memorial. Probably not -- she didn't like to think about it very much

Dr P said...

Whilst I realise this may not be viewed by you Elizabeth I had to reply to ascertain what the previous commentator phd (I use lower case deliberately)is talking about. What utter ROT irrespective of any comments in any book his doctorate must be in the psychology of plants !!. He says that Elizabeth was unpopular in the last decade of her reign, she was as popular with her people then as ever most of her subjects had never known any other monarch and the disdain that the people held James in was evident, at her funeral James was virtually ignored, the people who 'Looked forward' to James's reign were courtiers who were always on the look out for their own gain and many had fell out of favour with Elizabeth. regarding her tomb it was made 'Lavish' by James as he wanted his mother Mary to be entombed alongside Elizabeth, hence the description on the tomb. I suggest phd man is a bookshop owner or relative of the author and fantasist.
A TRUE Doctor of History

Lara said...

Dr. P - since I haven't seen you comment here before, I went ahead and posted this comment since you might not be familiar with the general tone of discussion on this blog. I almost didn't approve your comment since I would rather people keep the discussion civil, even when they disagree.

If you disagree with someone, offer evidence or reasoned arguments for why you disagree, not insults.

Regarding the last part of your comment -- I believe the inscription on Elizabeth's tomb is referring to Elizabeth and her half-sister Mary Tudor, not James' mother Mary Queen of Scots. Or were you perhaps referring to an inscription on Mary QOS' tomb? (I'm not as familiar with it.)

Jemma said...

i was just looking up a few things nd come across this i know it was years ago this was written but after the last comment i thought i would post that queen elizabeth 1 was buried with her half sister queen Mary 1 there is a video on youtube that has their tomb and insciptions saying their names here is the link
just so people can see for themselves :)

aeropagitica said...

I just came across this exchange while looking up something else. It's passing ironic that "PhD Historian" didn't bother to cite my years of dusty work in the Abbey Muniments Room when he/she summarized my work.

Julia Walker

“Reading the Tombs of Elizabeth I.” ELR: English Literary Renaissance 26 (1996) 510-30.

Chems said...

Elizabeth M -- Elizabeth I was not beheaded. I am not sure which Tudor Monarch you are referencing but your facts are skewed.

Also "PhD Historian", I disagree that Elizabeth was unpopular in her later years. She was immortalized in many period paintings as a young, virgin-esque queen. None of the paintings from her later years even depict her as an aged woman (like her tomb effigy). Judging by the remaining works of art and writings I have come across (albeit not at doctorate level) it would seem she was highly respected. Her death left England's treasury with a large surplus (compared to when she inherited the throne). 50 years after her death we start seeing Elizabethan cults rise, focusing on virtue and virginity in her footsteps.

I would like to read whichever study or historical document you are referring to in you comment.

Lara said...

Just to clarify Elizabeth M's original comment, I'm pretty sure she's referring to Mary Queen of Scots' beheading judging from the rest of the context.