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Thursday 3 am .. 24 March 1603 .. death of Queen Elizabeth I ..

Allegorical portrait of Elizabeth, c.1610

On the eve of Elizabeth’s death John Manningham, a student at the Middle Temple in London, visited the court at Richmond. His record of the event is earnest, his information taken from one of the queen’s chaplains, Dr Henry Parry, who was with Elizabeth until the end.

Manningham provides the most famous quote on Elizabeth’s death: “This morning about three at clocke, hir Majestie departed this lyfe, mildly like a lambe, easily like a ripe apple from the tree”. The latin phrase that follows (cum leve …) I cannot source [edit: translation here]. The reference to the rings on April 3 is interesting – but that’s the subject of another post.

From the diary of John Manningham, 1602-03 – original spelling (pp.145-147, 159):

March 23. I was at the Court at Richemond, to heare Dr. Parry, one of hir Majesties chaplens preache, and to be assured whether the Queene were living or dead. I heard him, and was assured shee was then living. His text was out of the Psalme [cxvi. 18, 19]  “Nowe will I pay my vowes unto the Lord in the middest of the congregacion,” &c. It was a verry learned, eloquent, relligious, and moving sermon: his prayer, both in the beginning and conclusion, was soe fervent and effectuall for hir Majestie that he left few eyes drye …

… I dyned with Dr. Parry in the Privy Chamber, and understood by him, the Bishop of Chichester, the Deane of Canterbury, the Deane of Windsore, &c., that her Majestie hath bin by fits troubled with melancholy some three or four moneths; but for this fortnight extreame oppressed with it, in soe much that she refused to eate anything, to receive any phisike, or admit any rest in bedd, till within these two or three dayes. Shee hath bin in a manner speacheles for two dayes; verry pensive and silent; since Shrovetide sitting some-tymes with hir eye fixed upon one object many howres togither; yet shee alwayes had hir perfect senses and memory, and yesterday signified by the lifting up of hir hand and eyes to heaven, a signe which Dr. Parry entreated of hir, that shee beleeved that fayth which she hath caused to be professed, and looked faythfully to be saved by Christes merits and mercy only, and no other meanes. She tooke great delight in hearing prayers, would often at the name of Jesus lift up hir handes and eyes to Heaven. Shee would not heare the Arch[bishop] speake of hope of hir longer lyfe, but when he prayed, or spake of heaven and those ioyes, she would hug his hand, &c. It seemes she might have lived yf she would have used meanes; but shee would not be persuaded, and princes must not be forced. Hir physicians sayd she had a body of a firme and perfect constitution, likely to have lived many yeares. A royall maiesty is noe priviledge against death.

March 24. This morning about three at clocke, hir Majestie departed this lyfe, mildly like a lambe, easily like a ripe apple from the tree; cum leve quadam febre, absque gemitu [with some light fever, and without groaning]. Dr. Parry told me that he was present, and sent his prayers before hir soule; and I doubt not but shee is amongst the royall saints in Heaven in eternall joyes.

April 3. Dr Parry told me the Countess Kildare assured him that the Queene caused the ring wherewith shee was wedded to the crowne to be cutt from hir finger some 6 weekes before hir death, but wore a ring which the Earl of Essex gave hir unto the day of hir death.

Next …

Scaramelli’s Story


Wax effigy from Elizabeth’s funeral hearse (recreation from 1760)