Page 79. " Calvinists in Geneva "
John Calvin
Public DomainJohn Calvin - Credit: wikimedia commons

 Calvinists were members of the Reformed Churches formed by John Calvin during the Protestant Reformation. Calvinism was particularly strong in Geneva, where Calvin was active in reforming the Church. Calvinism spread to other areas in Europe, becoming strong in Scotland, the Netherlands and parts of Germany.

Page 81. " the St Bartholomew’s Day massacre of 1572, when ordinary Huguenot families were systematically slaughtered in their thousands by Catholic forces and the city’s gutters ran with Protestant blood. "

The St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre
Public DomainThe St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre - Credit: François Dubois
The St Bartholomew’s Day massacre was a spate of mob-fuelled killings and violence against the Huguenots. It began with the attempted assassination of an important and respected Huguenot leader, Admiral de Coligny. Coligny’s brother in law led a large army and camped outside Paris, demanding justice. The king, Charles IX, tried to reassure them that he would find the culprits, but fear grew that the Protestants would take revenge. Charles and his mother, Catherine de’ Medici, eventually decided to eliminate some of the Protestant leaders.

The Paris city gates were shut and the citizenry armed in case of a Protestant uprising. The Swiss Guard were sent to assassinate the leading Protestants, while Admiral de Signy was killed by a group led by the Duke of Guise. The violence soon spread as the city’s Catholic populace began to hunt and kill Protestants, including women and children. Bodies were collected in carts and thrown into the river. The king tried to stop it, but the massacre lasted three days. Afterwards, the king and court settled the official version of events, claiming that the massacre was ordered by the king to block a Huguenot plot against him. Similar events took place in twelve other French cities after the news of the Paris massacre reached them. Catholics and the Church interpreted the event as divine retribution.

Page 81. " close by the cock-pit on St Andrew’s Hill "
A cock-fight in India
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeA cock-fight in India - Credit: Thessaly La Force/wikimedia commons

 Cock-fighting is a betting sport in which two cocks (roosters) are put into a ring together and goaded to fight to the death. Cocks are naturally aggressive to other males of the species, and they were often bred for additional strength and stamina. Cock-fighting was a very popular form of entertainment in the Elizabethan period, and is still found in some parts of the world. The term cockpit came to be used for a place of frenzied excitement and entertainment. 

The cockpits found on planes and boats are thought to have a different derivation, stemming from the "coxswain's pit".

Page 82. " bright pictures proclaiming apothecaries, chandlers, barber-surgeons, merchants of cloth and wine "

Public DomainApothecary - Credit: Warja Honegger-Lavater
An apothecary was a person who sold medicine and medical supplies, and gave advice on them, similar to a modern pharmacist. They would also offer general medical advice.

A chandler made and sold candles.

In the Elizabethan period, surgery was usually performed by barbers rather than specialised physicians. Surgery was considered a trade rather than a skilled profession that required training. The traditional red and white stripes of the barbers’ poles is said to represent the blood and bandages used in surgery. Barbers also offered the services of teeth-pulling and bloodletting.


Page 86. " I take a wherry upriver to Whitehall "
An 18th century wherry
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeAn 18th century wherry - Credit: Motmit/wikimedia commons
A wherry is an English boat designed to carry passengers or goods on a river or canal. They were commonly used as taxis on the River Thames, especially in the Elizabethan period. They could carry up to five people at a time.



Page 87. " When hempe is spun, England’s done "
The Tudor line
Public DomainThe Tudor line - Credit: wikimedia commons

Francis Bacon, in his essay Of Prophecies, wrote that he heard this saying when he was a child in the Elizabethan period. He explains that the letters of the word ‘hempe’ refer to the monarchs of the Tudor line from Henry VIII to Elizabeth I: Henry, Edward, Mary and Philip (Mary’s husband, the Spanish King), and Elizabeth. The prophecy claims that when this line is finished, so is England. Francis Bacon speculates that this actually did come to pass, but not in the disastrous manner expected. At the end of Elizabeth’s reign, James VI of Scotland became King of England. He called himself King of Britain, unifying England and Scotland.


The image shows the ruling members of the Tudor line: Henry VIII (middle), Edward VI (to the right of Henry), Mary I and her co-regent Philip of Spain (left), and Elizabeth I (far right).

The Tudor family tree


Hemp is a strong and durable fibre from the cannabis plant. The fibre would be spun (twisted together) to make yarn. This was used historically in canvases, ropes, sacks, clothes and other materials.