Page 103. " It was like Achilles skulking in his tent. And Mary, too, had her myrmidons. "
Triumph of Achilles by Franz Matsch 1892
Public DomainTriumph of Achilles by Franz Matsch 1892 - Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Edward VI, in order to reinforce Protestantism had, in 1549, passed the Act of Uniformity making any form of worship other than with the new Protestant Prayer Book illegal.  Mary, as a Catholic, found this intolerable and continued to celebrate Mass in the conventional, Catholic manner.  It suited Elizabeth, on the other hand, perfectly.  Edward, losing patience with his sister Mary, summoned her to court.  The visit did not go well and Mary withdrew to her estate at New Hall in Essex, and there she remained, in the heartland of her estates, surrounded by her own supporters until the Council backed off and allowed Mary her Mass.


Achilles, according to Homer, was a prince of the Myrmidons and great warrior. He led his Myrmidons into battle against Troy with Agamemnon's armies but at one point, after being dishonoured by Agamemnon, refused to fight and instead remained in his tent. Without their greatest warrior, the battle turned in favour of the Trojans who were beating Agamemnon and the Greek armies back to their ships on the beaches, when a cousin of Achilles, Patroclus, donned Achilles's armour and rejoined the fighting, only to be killed in battle by Hector, the Trojan champion.  Enraged at his cousin's death, Achilles went back to fighting in vengeance and eventually killed, and dishonoured the body of, Hector.

Page 105. " Elizabeth planned another sojourn at St James's at Candlemas "
St James's Palace London 2005
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeSt James's Palace London 2005 - Credit: Steve Cadman

The Tudor gatehouse of Henry VIII's St James's Palace survives today.  The palace itself is one of the oldest royal palaces in London and although no reigning monarch has lived there for over two centuries, it remains the official royal residence.  Situated in Pall Mall, in the heart of the capital, it gives its name to the Royal Court, the Court of St James.

Candlemas is celebrated on 2 February in the Christian Church and relates to an event in the early life of Jesus, when he was presented at the Temple.

Page 109. " It would be a bonfire of the vanities "
Bernadino of Siena organising the vanities bonfire. Perugia by Agostino de Duccio1457-1461
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeBernadino of Siena organising the vanities bonfire. Perugia by Agostino de Duccio1457-1461 - Credit: Giovanni Dall'Orto

The bonfire of the vanities refers to the public burning of items deemed to be associated with sin.  Bernadino of Siena frequently held such bonfires to accompany his sermons in the 15th century; items thrown on the fires were usually such things as mirrors, combs, cosmetic and expensive clothes. 

Page 111. " The First Blast of the Trumpet "
The frontispiece from The First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regiment of Women
Public DomainThe frontispiece from The First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regiment of Women" written b John Knox in 1558 - Credit: Wikimedia Commons

John Knox, in his pamphlet, illustrates the then widely held belief that women were incapable of ruling a country.  The mere thought of a woman sitting on the throne in her own right was a break from tradition, as no woman until Mary I had ever been crowned Queen of England in her own right; from Knox's own theological point of belief, women were not capable of being both Head of State and Head of the Church of England. 

John Knox, a fervent Protestant Reformer, wrote his pamphlet primarily with Mary of Guise, Queen Dowager of Scotland and regent to her daughter, Mary, Queen of Scots, in mind.  Both women were Catholics.

He invoked the Bible as authority for his opinion as "God, by the order of his creation, has [deprived] woman of authority and dominion" and pointed to the historical tradition to back his argument up.  Unfortunately for Knox, Elizabeth, a Protestant herself, unsurprisingly disagreed with his views and her opposition to Knox severely hampered his influence with the Protestant movement in England after her succession.



Page 118. " to make England into a new Strasbourg or even a new Geneva. "
Reformation Wall in Geneva, Switzerland
Public DomainReformation Wall in Geneva, Switzerland - Credit: Ruth Nguyen

Geneva in Switzerland, and home of Calvinism, was one of the great centres of the reformation in Europe.  The city had declared itself a republic in 1536, after its Catholic bishop had been forced to leave in 1532.  John Calvin was based in the city from 1536 until his death in 1564.  The Reformation Wall, built into the old wall of the city, depicts Guillame FarelJohn Calvin, Theodore de Beze and John Knox.

Strasbourg too was a centre of the Reformation.  Largely Protestant, it was home to humanist scholarship and book-printing.  Both its intellectual and political influence contributed to the establishment of Protestantism in south-west Germany.

Page 121. " After all, she looked rather like Mark Smeaton, the musician executed for adultery with Anne Boleyn "

Mark Smeaton, a musician in the court of Henry VIII during his marriage to Anne Boleyn, was executed, along with four other men for treason, that is, adultery with the Queen, Anne Boleyn.  It is generally accepted that he, and the others, including Anne's own brother, George Boleyn, were used by Thomas Cromwell in order to bring Anne down and thereby free Henry VIII to marry Jane Seymour. 


Mary's attitude towards her younger half-sister Elizabeth hardened once she became Queen, convincing herself that Elizabeth was not the daughter of Henry but of Mark Smeaton, this in spite of the striking resemblance between Elizabeth and Henry.

Page 125. " a notable collection of tastefully pornographic paintings by Titian. "

Tiziano Vecelli, or Titian as he has come to be known, was one of the most important 16th century Italian painters of the Venetian School.  Born in 1488/90 he lived until 1576, a long life by the standards of the day, and produced many works.  For the last twenty years of his life he painted mainly for Philip II of Spain, husband of Mary.  Most of these works were sold by Philip's successors, with only two remaining in the Prado in Madrid.  Considered 'pornographic', or at least risque, by the standards of the day, these included some of his most famous works such as the series called 'poesie' depicting scenes from the Ovid.


The Rape of Europa 1562 by Titian
Public DomainThe Rape of Europa 1562 by Titian - Credit: Wikimedia Commons