Hello and WELCOME BACK to the Shadow of Night Real-Time Reading! It took us a minute — but that’s because it takes Matthew and Diana a minute to get back from 16th century Prague to London. Today’s reading is tough — it’s arguably the climax of Diana’s character arc in Shadow of Night and the moment where Kit (and Louisa) are at their most despicable. Let’s go!
A blue-eyed beauty stepped forward and handed Her Majesty a cloth saturated with clove oil. With Matthew seething next to me, the spiciness in the room was already overpowering. Elizabeth placed the cloth delicately between her cheek and gums, and the woman stepped away, her green gown swishing around her ankles. It was an optimistic hue for this cloudy day in May, as if she hoped to speed summer’s arrival.
Elizabeth “Bess” Throckmorton, Lady Raleigh, was the wife of Sir Walter Raleigh. Bess and Walter met at the court of Elizabeth I, where Bess served as one of the Queen’s courtiers. Described as a “tall, unusual beauty” with a “long face, luminous eyes, and provocatively modest lips,” Bess attended on Elizabeth I as a Gentlewoman of the Privy Chamber. In the Tudor court, the Gentlewomen of the Privy Chamber attended upon and acted as companions for royal women. Ladies-in-waiting occupied positions of prestige; they partook of the Queen’s favorite pastimes and were expected to be well-educated in order to please her. Elizabeth I would reward her ladies-in-waiting for their service by arranging good marriages, however, she was extremely jealous and demanding and preferred for her courtiers not to have personal relationships.
By 1590, Bess and Walter Raleigh had become romantically involved. She became pregnant in 1591 and begged Raleigh to recognize her and ask the Queen’s permission to marry. He refused to ask the Queen’s blessing and instead married Bess in secret in November 1591.
Lady Raleigh gave birth to the couple’s son, Damerai, in March 1592. When Elizabeth I learned of the Raleighs’ betrayal, she had them both thrown in the Tower of London.
Elizabeth I reportedly expected Sir Walter and Lady Raleigh to sue for her pardon to be reinstated at court; they never did. Instead, Bess bore Walter a second son, Walter, in 1593.
King James I imprisoned Sir Walter in the Tower of London again in 1603 for his alleged participation in the Main Plot to remove James I from the throne. For the next thirteen years or so, Sir Walter lived in the Tower with Bess at his side. The couple’s third son, Carew, was born inside and christened in the Tower’s church, St. Peter ad Vincula.
King James I finally had Raleigh beheaded in 1618 at the behest of the Spanish ambassador, Count Gondomar. Allegedly, Bess carried his embalmed head around with her for the rest of her life.
For anyone who’s interested, the Outliers podcast recently published a short story about Bess Raleigh in their episode Fresh Sweat and Cloves.
“It is a miracle you have any teeth at all,” he said sternly. Elizabeth turned pink with irritation and struggled to reply.
Until I started scouring the internet in order to write today’s post, I thought that Elizabeth I’s dental issues were just a common historical anecdote trotted out every now and again to make us all shiver. Not so.
There’s some debate over how bad Elizabeth’s teeth actually were — Elizabeth I was notoriously vain and reportedly had more and more flattering portraits painted towards the end of her reign to satisfy both her ego and project the illusion of her continuing power. Did you know that Elizabeth I actually issued a “face template” for the portrait artists to follow so that she appeared consistently–and regally–in every painting? According to this article from the Smithsonian Magazine, Sir Robert Cecil once wrote,
“Many painters have done portraits of the Queen but none has sufficiently shown her looks or charms. Therefore Her Majesty commands all manner of persons to stop doing portraits of her until a clever painter has finished one which all other painters can copy. Her Majesty, in the meantime, forbids the showing of any portraits which are ugly until they are improved.”
Supposedly, Elizabeth I’s teeth rotted because her reign coincides with the introduction of refined sugar in Europe — Elizabeth I prized expensive ingredients, like sugar, and the availability of sugar from the New World in her court both satisfied her sweet tooth and gave her an opportunity to demonstrate her wealth and power.
There are, rather surprisingly, lots of articles in dental journals on Elizabeth I’s teeth and their notorious decay. Trust me, if they weren’t behind a paywall, I’d summarize them for you. In the meantime, I’ll provide you with a recipe for candied violets and other sugared flowers for appropriately Tudor entertainment.
“You’re writing about Hero and Leander.” It was not phrased as a question. Kit had probably been pining for Matthew and working on the epic love poem since we’d boarded ship at Gravesend back in January.
Marlowe’s poem Hero and Leander tells the story of Hero, a priestess of Aphrodite, and Leander, a young man from the opposite side of a strait in the Dardenelles. The legend of Hero and Leander says that Leander fell in love with Hero and swam across the strait every night to spend time with her, guided by the light of her lamp. The story ends in tragedy — after Hero and Leander spend a summer together, a winter storm blows out Hero’s lamp and Leander loses his way in the water. Leander drowns, Hero throws herself out of her tower to die with him.
The story was a popular subject for the School of Night — Marlowe wrote a poem about Hero and Leander falling in love, which George Chapman attempted to finish after Marlowe’s death. Sir Walter Raleigh also wrote of the myth in “The Ocean’s Love to Cynthia.”
Kit seemed to gather his control, though his hands were shaking as he stood. “I must go. I am to meet someone in the tiltyard. There is talk of a special pageant next month before the queen sets off for her summer travels. I’ve been asked to assist.”
As the text suggests, tiltyards were “a common feature of Tudor era castles and palaces.” Elizabeth I’s father, Henry VIII, constructed a tiltyard at Hampton Court palace for the viewing of jousts and tournaments. In 2015, archeologists excavating the site at Hampton Court found a green-glazed tiled floor thought to be part of Hampton Court’s Tiltyard Towers. Elizabeth I particularly liked to host tournaments and jousts on Accession Day, 17 November, to commemorate her accession to the throne in 1558.
“A hit!” Kit cried, “The witch is mine!”
“A glancing blow,” Louisa corrected. “You must seat the lance in her body to claim her as your prize.”
As originally practiced, jousting was practice for war. According to a reenactment group in New Zealand, there are two sports — the joust of war and the joust of peace. In the joust of peace, the opponents use blunt instruments and the goal is to “break a spear” on the opponent anywhere from the waist up. You can watch History.com’s video on the Rules of the Joust below:
The Daemons covered Chapters 33-34 of Shadow of Night in Take 59! The One with the Twisted Sister. They covered Chapter 35 in Take 61! The One with the Prophecy. We covered Chapters 34-36 of Shadow of Night in Episode 35 – Mischief Pansy.
We’ll be back shortly for Chapter 36 of Shadow of Night plus the release of our next Time’s Convert episode this Sunday! In the meantime, you can find us on Twitter @chamomilenclove and on our Facebook group, the Chamomile & Clove Clovers.
See you next time!
Cait and Jen