81:  Of Wenches and War

Oh, what times we’ve had at our Field of late.  Nero is in a humour blacker than his coat.  He told me (privily) that his old master has been sick again, and like to die.

Nero fears he will be offered a place in Linkin’s house.  He swore he’d as lief drown hisself.

“There is a willow grows aslant our brook,” sayt he.  “I could climb it and cast myself in.  But water’s an element I’m native and indued to.”

Native and indued.  What fine words.

“Because you was birthed in Fence [Venice]?” I arrkst.

An early view of Venice, by Gabriel Bucelin (17th Century).
A view of Venice, by cartographer Gabriel Bucelin (17th Century). Via Wikimedia.

“And because I swim too well to drown,” sayt Nero, most tragickal.

“Then best you content yourself with making a scene for all to marvel at,” I sayt.  “Come floating by us decked with waterish weeds, and singing sad songs.”

Linkin told me (privily) that he does not fancie Nero as a chamber-fellow, but if his mistress wills such a thing then he must suffer it. 

Ophelia in her wet element.  From Sir John Millais' famous painting, held by Tate Britain.  Were Nero to attempt so tragickal a scene, he would probably have to put his feet as well as his paws above water, and his lack of tail might affect his balance.
Ophelia in her element, singing.  From Sir John Millais’ famous painting, held by Tate Britain.  Were Nero to attempt so tragick a scene, he’d probably have to put his feet as well as his paws above water.  Plus, his lack of tail might affect his balance.

I made all merry with my newes of the shameless Pusses I writ of previous.  And I told of another young wench that Queen Puss [Bess] does nowt but complain of.  Her name is Mary Howit [Howard].

“That very name,” sayt Linkin, “is trouble writ large.”

Nero let out a screech, and bristled up.  He believed Linkin spake against the Lord Admiral (another Howit) who is much loved by mariners.

Other cats called for peace.  They wisht to hear more scandal.  None of us loves Queen Puss.  Her very name is blasphemious.  ’Tis one of the names of the Queen Cat of Heaven, and we never heared that women may take it.

And all know Queen Puss distains our Earl.  It seems he can do nowt to please her.

Linkin told how Mary Howit attires herself most fine, hoping to take the eye of our Earl.  Some say she has received much favour and marks of love from him.

“Marks of love?” came a call.  “What are they?”

“Spittle on scruffs,” one cried.  All screeched so loud I feared we might be chased from our Field.

Queen Puss called Mary Howit an ungracious flouting wench.

Mary was unwilling to carry Her Majestie’s mantle when she took the air in her garden.  Nor was she ready in the Privy Chamber with Her Majestie’s cup.

An elegant but weary looking woman in silvery white, wearing magnificent jewels,
Queen Elizabeth in her sixties – from a portrait unlikely to have been seen by many before her death. The original is held by The Elizabethan Gardens in North Carolina. Visit them (or their website) for the whole painting and the story of its purchase and authentication.

In truth, she’s never where she should be for her duty to Queen Puss.

“She slips out to call for our Earl,” sayt a young queen cat.

“And he runs to her, as all lusty fellows should,” cried a stone-cat.

I sayt, “I hope she has a loud voice, for my lord will soon take ship against Spain.”

True.  He had leave to travel, but now I hear he will join our newest expedition.  Those Spanish rogues are making readie to come at us again, so we will strike at them.

All were mazed to hear of this.

“What?” they cried.  “Old Puss has oped the door?  Our Earl may go forth and fight any that seeks to come into our land?”

I sayt, “Old Lord Purrlie’s son Sir Rabbit [Robert] spake a word for him.”

At last my lord can prove his valour.  And keep hisself safe from the saucie strumpets that serve Queen Puss.

I pray he comes safe home.


Toutparmoi - Note from the EditorOn 23 May 1597 a William Fenton wrote to Queen Elizabeth’s godson John Harington (of water-closet fame) expressing his dismay at Lady Mary Howard’s attempts to “win” the “young earl.”

Mr Fenton appears to have been a friend of Mary’s, and was concerned that she might lose her place at Court.  He doesn’t name the earl.

I’m happy to take the cats’ word that it was Southampton.  Essex was a more frequent topic of gossip, but he was 31.  Not old, but unlikely to be specified as young.  Also, he was married.  Any winning of him would have been very temporary.

Not only had Mr Fenton attempted to placate the Queen, he also hoped John Harington might help smooth things over, and even arrange for a word on Mary’s behalf to be dropped in Lord Burghley’s ear.

Poor Lord Burghley.  Seventy-six years old and with deteriorating health, he’d have had more important things to worry about.  Such as: famine in parts of the country because of the bad harvests, the ongoing war with Spain, growing resistance in Ireland… 

76:  Of Lady Moll, and a Dog Collar

Gib, looking large-eyed and self important.I wisht to know why my lady Moll has been troubled of late.  I heared nowt from the common folks who serve me and keep this house for my lord.

So I hied me to Linkin’s house, because the London lawyer who was once his master oft visits and brings gossips’ talk.

Linkin was in the yard with Nero.  They was rejoicing in the victory of our heroick Earl of Essicks.  He has sacked the port of Cadiz!  I’ll tell more of this when next I write my diurnal.

A marble figure of a young Elizabethan woman kneeling in prayer.
An image of Mary beneath her father’s effigy on the Wriothesley Monument in St Peter’s Church, Titchfield. From a photo on Hampshire History.

First, I’ll set down what I learnt of the sorrows of my lady Moll.

Linkin sayt, “Your lady Mary’s husband Thoms [Thomas] is a Catlick clown.”

He told me Thoms lacked employment.  So his father gave him money and horses that he might aid the holy roaming [roman] Emperor in his fight against the Turks.

Queen Puss [Bess] permitted Thoms to go, even though she loves the Turks and will do nowt against them.

Nero sayt, “I too love the Turks.  A nation most civil to cats.”

The portrait show a solidly-built bearded nan with the long Habsburg chin.
Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II (1552-1612) – a portrail by Joseph Heintz the Elder, via Wikimedia Commons.

Thoms fought well in Hungrie [Hungary], and proved his valour.  The Emperor honoured him by making him an Earl.

Then Thoms sayt he would come home.

So his father writ to old Lord Purrlie’s wittie [clever] boy who has a good place in Her Majestie’s household. 

Thoms’ father begged that he be offered a position in the Queen’s service to keep him oversea.

He sayt the reason Thoms wisht to return was because his wife arrkst him to.

Thoms’ father feared some would say that his son lacked the courage for more fighting, or that he’d gone to the wars onlie to gull his father out of all his horses and eleven hundred pounds.

A thin-faced, bearded man in darl clothes, with papers and an official red, embroidered, dispatch bag beside him.
Old Lord Purrlie’s clever boy, better known as Sir Robert Cecil (1563-1612). This portrait is probably a copy of one by John de Critz the Elder. Via Wikimedia Commons.

But Thoms took ship for home, and was shipwracked.  “He lost all he had with him,” sayt Linkin.  “Horses, clothes, and money.”

“Had he a tail, he’d have lost that too,” added Nero.

“True,” sayt Linkin.  “He come ashore with nowt but a cold he caught in the sea.”

“Doubtless,” sayt Nero, “to the joy of his loving Dad.”

“And to the joy of his loving Queen,” sayt Linkin.  “She was much offended that he’d presumed to accept an honour from the Emperor.  As she has sayt before: My dogs wear my collars.”

Queen Puss sent Thoms to prison.  And writ to the Emperor to reprove him, but she spake of shepherds and their sheep.  Not of her dogs and his collars.

Lord Purrlie told Thoms that none can serve two masters.  And that it’s the custom in our country for stranger [foreign] Earls to be granted, in courtesie, a higher place than our own Earls.  Thoms being but a gentleman, that’s not fitting.

We cats know well how to serve more than one master or mistress.  But on the matter of place, I believe old Purrlie spake true.  I would not like to see Thoms sat higher than our Earl.

Nor would I wish to see another cat in a higher place than mine.

Next, some folk sayt that Thoms has been consorting with the Spanish and other wicked folks.  Which he denied, protesting his loyalty and the friendship he believes the Emperor has for Her Majestie.

“The Earl of Essicks examined Thoms,” sayt Linkin.  “Justly so, for then our fleet was making ready for Spain.  Essicks arrkst what informations about the Queen’s navy he gave them.  But Thoms denied all.  Now he’s banished from the court.”

I know ’tis wicked to take pleasure in the misfortunes of others.  And I do believe that Thoms loves the collar of an Earl Imperial as I love a good gravy.

But the tale of his woes made us merrie.

Then Linkin sayt that Thoms’ fool father has offered lodgings to Thoms and all his family, save his wife.  Her, his father will not have in his house.

Poor Lady Moll.  ’Tis a sorry thing to have no place in a household, as we cats know.

A face and shoulders made up of an array of fruits and vegetables.
In the absence of a portrait of Mary Arundell, I couldn’t resist another of Rudolf II as Vertumnus, a Roman god of the seasons.  He was an enthusiastic patron of the arts. By Guiseppe Arcimboldo (c.1526-1593). Via Wikimedia Commons.

Toutparmoi - Note from the EditorMoll/Mary’s husband Thomas Arundell (c.1560-1639) was probably too overtly Catholic to find favour with Queen Elizabeth.

Mary and he appear to have lived in various of the young Earl’s properties, e.g. Itchel Manor in Hampshire, and Southampton House in London where his father Sir Matthew Arundell described him disapprovingly as “solitary and studious”.

In 1595 Thomas was permitted to join Rudolf II’s campaign against “the Turks”.  Click on this link and scroll down to the map to see the size of the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century.

Queen Elizabeth herself maintained amiable diplomatic relations with “the Turks”, potential allies against Spain and a lucrative trading partner for England.

The saying “My dogs wear my collars” is believed to relate to Sir Nicholas Clifford, who accepted an honour from Henri IV of France as a reward for military service.  Another of Elizabeth’s courtiers, Sir Anthony Sherley/Shirley, did the same.  Elizabeth’s problem was that acceptance of these honours meant an oath of loyalty to Henri.

In vain did Thomas Arundell protest that being created an Earl Imperial (a Count of the Holy Roman Empire) involved no oath.  His letters to Sir Robert Cecil are preserved in the Calendar of the Manuscripts of the Marquis of Salisbury (“the Cecil papers”) Vol VI, available on line.

Mary also wrote to Sir Robert, asking him to intercede with her father-in-law on her behalf.  She attributes Sir Matthew’s refusal to let her live in his house, Wardour Castle, to “some unkindness that passed between us at my last being there…” and asks Sir Robert to “…assure him that I will not behave myself otherwise towards him than as shall become a kind and respective daughter-in-law…”