bookpen.gif (2870 bytes)Dwight Peck's lengthy tales


faith and doubt in the time of Queen Elizabeth I

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a novel

"Then shall my enemies sink with shame, and
I depart out of the field with honor; and
whatsoever either malice hath unjustly built,
or a fool devised upon a false ground, must
play Castle-Come-Down, and dissolve to nothing."


The general period of the action of this story, which occupies the decade 1577-1587, is the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England, 1558 to 1603. The following background may be useful. Henry VIII, who had led England away from the church of Rome, was succeeded upon his death in 1547 by his son Edward VI, who ruled under the guidance first of his uncle the Protector Somerset, then (after Somerset’s fall) of John Dudley, the duke of Northumberland. Upon the boy’s death in 1553, and with the failure of Northumberland’s attempt to divert the succession to his own daughter-in-law Lady Jane Grey, Edward’s older sister Mary I ruled until 1558. Her death interrupted her attempt to restore the realm to the Roman Catholic faith.

Queen Elizabeth succeeded her sister and returned to an officially Protestant position. During her reign there were two particularly violent assaults upon her security, the Rebellion of the Northern Earls in 1569-70 and the attempted invasion of the great Spanish Armada in 1588. Upon Elizabeth’s death, the crown came peacefully to the next in blood, King James VI of Scotland. The king’s mother, the Catholic Mary, queen of Scots, had fled her rebellious subjects in 1568 and had lived as a political prisoner in England until her execution in 1587. James himself reigned in England until 1625 and was succeeded in turn by his son Charles I. This will supply a bare chronological context to the story.

There is a great deal in this tale that is embroidery and dramatization. Moreover, each of the events recounted is seen from the perspective of one or more interested parties in the narrative. But essentially the story behind this story is a true one, in the sense that nearly all of the major events did occur in something like the way I’ve tried to recreate them here, and that nearly all of the characters do survive in the records, if sometimes only in name. Thus in large part this is a fiction; in part also it is an attempt to understand the recoverable facts.

A few sections of dialogue, chiefly comprising anecdotes of the earls of Leicester’s and Oxford’s crimes, have been adapted from the book known as Leicester’s Commonwealth (1584) and other documents and letters, most of them associated principally with the pen of Charles Arundell.


gonext.gif (2192 bytes)Go ahead to Chapter I. In Flight (1583)

bookpen.gif (2870 bytes)Please do not reproduce this text in any form for commercial purposes. Historical references for events recreated in this story can be found in D. C. Peck, Leicester's Commonwealth: The Copy of a Letter Written by a Master of Art of Cambridge (1584) and Related Documents (Athens: Ohio University Press, 1985). Feedback and suggestions are welcome, . Written 1973-1989, posted on this site 10 June 2001.


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