Elizabeth I crowned
Mary I had died at St James's Palace on November 17 1558, but Elizabeth and her counsellors delayed her burial for almost a month, avoiding a great set-piece that might offer the opportunity for action against her - they were putting plans and people in place, and gauging the mood of the country. She had, after all, only shortly before spent a year under house arrest in Woodstock , having been interrogated in the tower following the failed accession of Lady Jane Grey , and could not be certain of the strength of her power base. And in the background stood Philip of Spain, Mary's husband.
By January, however, everything was prepared, and Elizabeth's coronation could proceed. The royal procession of January 14 and the coronation itself the following day were carefully stage-managed to convey messages to the City, the nobility, and the country's religious leaders.
During the royal progress from her royal apartments at The Tower to Whitehall , she was carried, dressed gaily and wearing dazzling jewels, on a golden litter, surrounded by brilliantly uniformed gentlemen-at-arms. A statement was being made: the dark and oppressive reign of Mary had ended; a new age was beginning.
Great crowds lined the streets, making equally colourful displays of flags and pennants. And during the daylong event five pageants were held before the young Queen: one stressed her wholly English parentage, distancing her from Mary; another symbolised her intention to be just and wise, to hold true to her religion, and to serve the people; the third offered the Lord Mayor the chance to present her with a gift of gold, linking crown and the merchant class, and promising prosperity; the last two promoted the ideas of religious truth - she received a bible in English - and a lengthy and dedicated reign. It was propaganda of the highest quality.
On January 15 Elizabeth I was crowned at Westminster Abbey : again everything was carefully staged. The Catholic bishop of Carlisle crowned her, but parts of the service were spoken in both English and Latin, signifying a wish to escape the persecution and disruption of Mary's brief reign.
After the service Elizabeth, her dress adorned with Tudor Roses to reinforce the message of unity and avoidance of renewal of the civil wars ended by Henry VII , appeared to the waiting crowds, music following her to enhance the occasion. The 25-year-old Queen made a huge impression, as was intended.
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