William Byrd was an English composer who lived between 1540 and 1623. In 1572 Byrd was given the high-status position of Gentleman of the Chapel Royal, the organist for the group of priests and singers who served the spiritual needs of their monarch. Byrd was popular with many, including Queen Elizabeth, but other Protestants considered his elaborate music a distraction from the proper worship of God.
The music of William Byrd:
Mary and James had two sons, but both died young. Their third child, Mary Stuart, survived, but King James died six days after her birth. At first Mary and her daughter lived at Stirling Castle while the 2nd Earl of Arran acted as regent. Henry VIII wished his son Edward to marry Mary Stuart, and he was led to believe that this would happen. When it became clear that it would not, war between England and Scotland broke out. Mary of Guise sent her daughter to France to live with her husband-to-be. She initially planned to sail with her, but was called to Edinburgh for a council meeting. She then travelled to inspect the progress of a siege at Haddington, came too close to the guns, and lost sixteen of her entourage.
When the war was over, Mary returned to France for a time. While accompanying her on her return to Scotland, her son Francis died, leaving Mary Stuart as her only remaining child. Mary now began to challenge the power of Arran, and in 1554 became regent of Scotland. At first she proved a capable ruler, but soon was drawn into religious troubles as Protestantism grew more popular in Scotland. When the Protestant Elizabeth came to the English throne, things only got worse. Mary began to show less tolerance, and rebellion ensued. Mary backed up her forces with French troops, and things were going badly for the Protestants until an English fleet arrived. A treaty was reached between the Scottish and the English, and the English now joined in the siege of the French. While fortifying Edinburgh Castle, Mary became ill and died of dropsy in 1560.
Somerset house was a luxurious house built by Edward Seymour, who became Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector when his nephew Edward VI came to the throne. It was an imposing two-storey building with a grand gateway and a quadrangle in the middle. When Seymour died it came into the possession of the Crown, and was used by Elizabeth as one of the Royal Palaces. The Tudor-period Somerset House no longer stands; a newer building erected in the 18th century has taken its place.
Savoy Hospital was founded by Henry VII on the site of the old Savoy Palace, a grand London residence that was destroyed in the Peasant’s Revolt of 1381. The hospital was the first to carry a permanent medical staff, and was opened in order to care for the poor. Only the chapel building remains today. Newer buildings on the site are named in remembrance of the hospital, such as the Savoy Hotel and the Savoy Theatre.
York Place was originally the house of the Archbishop of York, acquired by him in 1240 and named York Place. When it was taken from Wolsey by Henry VIII, it was renamed Whitehall (see bookmark for page 43).
Cardinal Thomas Wolsey was one of King Henry VIII’s most trusted advisors. At the height of his success he attained the position of Lord Chancellor for the king, became Archbishop of York, and was made a cardinal in 1515. However, when Wolsey failed to secure an annulment for Henry from his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, his popularity with the king plummeted. As the Pope delayed making a decision, Henry grew more convinced that Wolsey was deliberately delaying proceedings. He was stripped of his office and property, including York Place. Wolsey then travelled to York, but was called back on charges of treason. He became ill and died on his way back to London.
Anne Boleyn was Catherine of Aragon’s maid of honour, and the second wife of Henry VIII after he divorced Catherine. Anne Boleyn was the mother of Elizabeth, but failed to give Henry a male heir. After three miscarriages, Henry was courting Jane Seymour and wanted Anne out of the picture. He had her investigated for treason, and she was tried in the Tower of London on charges of adultery and incest. She was found guilty, and executed four days later by beheading. Most Catholics believed that since Henry’s divorce of Catherine was not sanctioned by the Church, he could not be properly married to Anne Boleyn. This meant that in their eyes, and the eyes of the Catholic Church, Elizabeth was illegitimate and so could not be heir to the throne.
Elizabeth is certainly shown wearing some very elaborate dresses in her portraits. Here are some examples:
Polyphonic music is made up of two or more independent melodic voices. This is different from a monophony, which has only one voice or melody, and a homophony, which is one voice accompanied by chords. Polyphonic music was popular in the late Middle Ages and Renaissance, and used commonly by the Catholic Church.
Here are two examples of polyphonic church music. The one on the right was written by William Byrd, an Elizabethan composer (see bookmark for page 134).