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This Day in Elizabethan History

This Day In History: Another Journey From the Tower

Elizabeth I's Coronation Portrait

On this day in history, January 14, 1559, Elizabeth left the Tower of London under much happier circumstances than the ones she found herself in during the year 1554. Then, she was a suspected traitor, imprisoned by her sister the Queen, and released exactly eighteen years after her mother was executed following her own stay in the Tower (May 19th, 1536 and 1554). Now, Elizabeth was on her way to her own coronation, one that would mark her as Queen until the year 1603. Whereas Anne Boleyn’s experience with the Tower began with pageantry and ended in sorrow, Elizabeth’s two most famous visits to the structure would take a journey in the reverse.

In recognition of her status, Elizabeth received the well-wishes of the people, her counselors, and various foreign dignitaries. The summarized letter below, dated January 15, 1559 (Elizabeth’s coronation day), is from Dorothea, the Queen of Denmark and Norway. It is not a much remarked-upon letter in history books, but it does serve as a window into foreign views of Elizabeth, and into the religious alliances and expectations of the time period.

Rejoices to hear of her accession, so universally acceptable to all the people. The writer and her late husband have always been anxious to promote peace; hopes therefore that the Christian friendship which has existed between herself and the late King Edward will be renewed through the medium of these letters, which are presented by Johannes Spithovius, Elizabeth’s faithful minister. Kingdoms are to be preserved not so much by arms as by the friendship of neighbouring Princes, especially those who have the same religion. That her late husband was of this opinion is proved even by their enemies; who, when they were reduced to extremities and on the brink of destruction, were assisted by him and the writer. Elizabeth having very often informed her of the sincere love and ardent desire which she had for the true religion, the writer has no doubt that she will now follow the example of her brother Edward, and will expel from her kingdom the entire doctrine of Antichrist. In this the writer and her children will not only assist her, but enter into a league with her, thereby establishing a closer friendship, of which religion is the firmest bond. Audience to be given to the bearer.—Colding, 15 Jan. 1559. Signed: Dorothea, myr oggeur hant.

From The Calendar of State Papers Foreign, Elizabeth I, Volume 8, 1558-1559, accessed at British History Online

Even before the crown sat officially upon Elizabeth’s head, kings and queens who embraced the developing Protestant form of religion reached out to Elizabeth for her support. Religiously and politically, it would be a difficult path for her travel. But for the afternoon of January 14th, a path of celebration and welcome awaited her.

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