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August 3, 1553 – Mary Enters London as Queen

Mary’s Entry into London, by John Byam Liston Shaw, Palace of Westminster collection (public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

This was a huge moment – Edward had died close to a month before and this was the first time Mary was coming to London as his undisputed successor. It was her ultimate triumph and she was clearly savoring it.

Admittedly, this was at the end of a pretty long victory lap. She was proclaimed Queen on July 20, when she was still in East Anglia with her power base. It took a bit for all the traitors to be assembled and brought to the Tower: on July 25, Northumberland and sons John, Ambrose and Henry were imprisoned; then on the 26th, the Marquis of Northampton, Ridley Bishop of London, and Robert Dudley; and finally they were joined on July 27th by the Duke of Suffolk (Jane Grey’s father).

Then the real celebrations began. Courtiers started streaming to her to congratulate her and proclaim their loyalty. On July 30, Elizabeth travelled in state from her house to meet her sister and do the same. So by the time Mary made her way to London, she “thus entered the City with a numerous train.”

Machyn’s Diary has a wonderful description of the procession (yes, I’ve cleaned it up!):

The third day of August, the Queen came riding to London and so to the Tower. She made her entrance at Aldgate, which was hanged with a great number of streamers hanging about the said gate; and all the streets into Leadenhall and unto the Tower were laid with gravel, and all the crafts of London stood in a row, with their banners and streamers hanging over their heads. Her Grace came, preceded by the Mayor of London carrying the mace and the Earl of Arundel carrying the sword, and all the trumpets blowing. After the Queen came the Lady Elizabeth, and after her the Duchess of Norfolk, and after her the Marchioness of Exeter and other ladies. And after them the aldermen, and then the guard with bows and javelins, and all the rest who departed from Aldgate in green and white, and red and white, and blue and green, to the number of three thousand horses and spears and javelins.

Once she entered the City, she went straight to the Tower. For that description, let’s go to Strype’s Complete History of England:

There met her as humble supplicants the Duke of Norfolk, who had been a prisoner ever since his son the Earl of Surrey was put to death by King Henry the VIIIth; Edward Courtenay, son of the Marquis of Exeter who was executed in the year 1538; Gardiner, deprived of his Bishopric of Winchester about two years before; and the Dowager Duchess of Somerset, whose Lord had been beheaded. They presented themselves on their knees, and Gardiner in the name of them all, made a congratulatory speech to the Queen, who kindly raised them one after another, saluted them, saying they were her own proper prisoners and ordered their immediate discharge. The next day she restored Courtenay to the honor of his family. Gardiner not only obtained his bishopric again but on the 23rd of August following was made Lord Chancellor, even though he had formerly subscribed to the Sentence of Divorce against the Queen’s mother and had written in defense of King Henry’s proceedings.

In all, a real triumph for a woman who deserved it for all she had gone through…

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