14 January 1559 – The Coronation Procession of Elizabeth I
Posted By Claire on January 14, 2015
At 3pm on 14th January 1559, Elizabeth I, who had been queen since the death of her half-sister Mary on 17th November 1558, left the Tower of London in a litter of cloth of gold carried by two mules.
Sir John Neale wrote in the introduction to The Quenes Maiesties Passage through the Citie of London to Westminster the Day before her Coronacion, a primary source edited and published for the Elizabethan Club in 1960, of the pageants prepared for the procession by the people of London, who saw Elizabeth as “their Deborah […] the judge and restorer of the house of Israel”. He goes on to explain:
“In unmistakable language, verbal, pictorial, and symbolical, they proclaimed the new, revolutionary England which the citizens confidently expected her to inaugurate.”
He points out that the Biblical verses and imagery of Deborah used in the procession was rather prophetic, one verse telling of how Deborah “judged Israel till forty years were past”.
The procession was recorded for posterity in a pamphlet, The Quenes Maiesties Passage through the Citie of London to Westminster the Day before her Coronacion, which was printed on 23 January 1559, so just nine days after the procession. As Neale points out, Il Schifanoya, the Mantuan envoy, appears to have made use of the pamphlet when writing his long and detailed report of 23 January to the Castellan of Mantua. Henry Machyn gives a much shorter report in his diary:
“[The xiv day of January the Queen came in a chariot from] the Towre, with all the lordes and ladies [in crimson] velvet, and and ther horses trapyd with the sam, and [trumpeters in] red gownes blohyng, and all the haroldes in ther cottes armur, and all the strettes stroyd (strewed) with gravell; and at Grasyus strett a goodly pagantt of kyng [Henry] the viij and quen Ane ys wyff and of ther lenege, and in Cornelle (Cornhill) a-nodur goodly pagantt of kyng Henry and kyng Edward the vjth.; and be-syd Soper lane in [Cheap a]nodur goodly pagantt, and the condyth pentyd; [and] at the lytylle condutt a-nodur goodly pagant of a qwyke tre and a ded, and the quen had a boke gyffyn her ther; and ther the recorder of London and the chamburlayn delevered unto the quen a purse of gold fulle to the waluw of (blank); and so to the Flett strett to the condyt, and ther was a-nodur goodly pagantt of the ij chyrchys; and at Tempylle bare was ij grett gyanttes, the one name was Goott-magott (Gogmagog) a Albaon and the thodur Co(rineus).”
You can read more about the pageants at Gracechurch Street, Cornhill, Soper’s Lane and Cheapside in my article from 2014 – click here – and you can read more from the primary sources over at the Tudor Society, see www.tudorsociety.com/elizabeth-is-coronation-procession-primary-source-accounts/.
Notes and Sources
- The Quenes Maiesties Passage through the Citie of London to Westminster the Day before her Coronacion, ed. James M. Osborn, published for the Elizabethan Club, Yale University Press, 1960.
- The Diary of Henry Machyn Citizen and Merchant-Taylor of London (1550-1563), published by Camden Society, London, 1848, p184-201.