Speech of Mary I, 1554

This is the speech that Queen Mary I made at the Guildhall, on 1st February 1554, as recorded in Holinshed’s Chronicles. London was threatened by the rebel army of Thomas Wyatt, which had arrived at Southwark. Wyatt and his men of Kent had been remarkably successful; a force brought by the Duke of Norfolk had deserted him and joined the rebels. Wyatt had captured some guns and taken Cowling castle; London was in a ferment, and Mary’s Councillors told her that she must flee, to Windsor castle maybe, and safety.

Mary  knew better, and knew that London must not fall and would be more likely to do so without her presence there.  So she told her Council to come with her from Westminster to the heart of the City of London, to the Guildhall. As the procession passed along the Strand, the crowd gathered, eventually to be calmed by the Lord Mayor. And Mary spoke:


I am (quoth she) come unto you in mine own person, to tell you that which already you do see and know, that is how traitorously & seditiously a number of Kentish rebels have assembled themselves together against both us and you. Their pretense (as they said at the first) was only to resist a marriage determined between us and the prince of Spain. To which pretended quarrel, and to all the rest of their evil contrived articles ye have been made privy. Since which time, we have caused diverse of our privy council to resort [unclear] to the said rebels, and to demand of them the cause of their continuance in their seditious enterprise. By whose answers made again to our said council, it appeared that the marriage is found to be the least of their quarrel. For they now swearing from their former articles, have betrayed the inward treason of their hearts, as most arrogantly demanding the possession of our person, the keeping of our tower, and not only the placing and displacing of our councillors; but also to use them and us at their pleasures.

Now loving subjects, what I am, you right well know. I am your queen, to whom at my coronation when I was wedded to the realm and to the laws of the same (the spousall ring wereof I have on my finger, which never hither to was, nor hereafter shall be left off) ye promised your allegiance and obedience unto me. And that I am the right and true inheritor to the crown of this realm of England; I not only take all Christendom to witness, but also your acts of parliament confirming the same. My father (as ye all know) possessed the regal estate by right of inheritance, which now by the same right descended unto me. And to him always ye shewed your selves most faithful and loving subjects, and him obeyed and served as your liege lord and king: and therefore I doubt not but you will shew your selves likewise to me his daughter. Which if you do, then may you not suffer any rebel to usurp the governance of our person, or to occupy our estate, especially being so presumptuous a traitor as this Wyatt hath shewed himself to be; who must certainly, as he hath abused my ignorant subjects to be adherents to his traitorous quarrel; so doth he intend by colour of the law, to subdue the laws to his evil, and to give scope to the rascally and forlorn persons, to make general havoc and spoilation of your goods.

And this further I say unto you in the word of a prince, I cannot tell how naturally a mother loveth her children, for I was never the mother of any, but certainly a prince and governor may as naturally and as earnestly love subjects, as the mother doth her child.  Then assure yourselves, that I being sovereign lady and queen, do as earnestly and as tenderly love and favour you. And I thus loving you, cannot but think that ye as heartily and faithfully love me again: and so loving together in this know of love and concord, I doubt not, but we together shall be able to give these rebels a short and speedy overthrow. 

And as concerning the case of my intended marriage, against which they pretend their quarrel, ye shall understand that I entered not into the treaty thereof without advise of all our privy council; yea, and by assent of those to whom the king my father committed his trust, who so considered and weighted the great commodities that might inuse thereof, that they not only thought it very honourable, but expedient, both for the wealth of our realm, and also of all our loving subiects. And as touching my self (I assure you) I am not so desirous of wedding, neither so precise or wedded to my will, that either for mine own pleasure I will choose where I lust; or rise so amorous as needs I must have one. For God I thank him (to whom be the praise thereof) I have hitherto lived a virgin, and doubting nothing but with Gods grace shall as well be able so to live still. But if as my progenitors have done before, it might please God that I might leave some fruit of my body behind me to be your governor, I trust you would not only rejoice there at, but also I know it would be to your great comfort. And certainly if I either did know or think, that this marriage should either turn to the danger or loss of any of you my loving subjects, or to the detriment of impairing of any part or parcel of the royal estate of this realm of England, I would never consent there unto, neither would I ever marry while I lived. And in the word of a queen I promise and assure you, that if it shall not probably appear before the nobility and commons in the high court of parliament, that this marriage shall be for the singular benefit and commodity of all the whole realm; that then I will abstain, not only from this marriage, but also from any other, whereof peril may ensue to this most noble realm.

Wherefore now as good and faithful subjects pluck up your harts, and like true men stand fast with your lawful prince against these rebels, both our enemies and yours, and fear them not: for assure you that I fear them nothing at all, and I will leave with you my lord Howard and my lord Treasurer to be your assistants, with my lord Mayor, for the defense and safeguard of this city from spoil and sacking, which is only the scope of this rebellious company.

Leave a Reply