Peck's lengthy tales
and doubt in the time of Queen Elizabeth I
shall my enemies sink with shame, and
I depart out of the field with honor;
whatsoever either malice hath unjustly built,
or a fool devised upon
a false ground, must
play Castle-Come-Down, and dissolve to nothing."
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 Somersets fall) of
John Dudley, the duke of Northumberland. Upon the boys death in 1553, and
with the failure of Northumberlands attempt to divert the succession to
his own daughter-in-law Lady Jane Grey, Edwards older sister Mary I ruled
until 1558. Her death interrupted her attempt to restore the realm to the Roman
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 Elizabeths death, the crown came peacefully
to the next in blood, King James VI of Scotland. The kings 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.
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 Ive 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.
few sections of dialogue, chiefly comprising anecdotes of the earls of Leicesters
and Oxfords crimes, have been adapted from the book known as Leicesters
Commonwealth (1584) and other documents and letters, most of them associated
principally with the pen of Charles Arundell.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ahead to Chapter I. In Flight (1583)|
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.