This letter was written by Princess Elizabeth (later to become Elizabeth I) to her sister Mary I. Elizabeth was being kept at the Court of Westminster, following the Wyatt rebellion, when 3000 men had marched to the gates of London. They had wanted to remove Mary as queen, and put Elizabeth on the throne of England.
Elizabeth claimed that she hadn’t been involved in supporting the rebellion and had nothing to do with it. Her sister was less sure, and it was decided that Elizabeth should be sent to the Tower of London and kept imprisoned there. Elizabeth wrote this letter to Mary, determined to show that she was innocent and had done nothing wrong. The length of time it took Elizabeth to write the letter, meant that she managed to delay her journey to the Tower of London. But she was still sent there the following day.
EXT 11/25 Tide letter – Princess Elizabeth to Mary I
Extract One Transcript
I am by your counsel from you commanded to go unto the tower a place more wonted for a false traitor, than a tru subject wiche thogth I knowe I deserve it not, yet in the face of al this realme aperes that it is provid.
You have said that I must be sent to The Tower of London. This is a place for a traitor, not a place for a true subject [someone who is loyal to the Queen]. I do not deserve to be sent there, but you think I am guilty.
Extract Two Transcript
Also, I most humbly beseche your higthnes to pardon this my boldnes wiche innocency procures me to do togither with hope of your natural kindnis [kindness] wiche I trust wyl not se me cast away without desert,
I’m sorry for writing such a direct letter, but I am innocent. You are kind and I know that you will not have me sent away when I have done nothing wrong.
« Return to Letters
Ideas for your letter
This letter represents strength. Elizabeth was facing a very dangerous time in her young life, yet she showed great courage in writing to her sister and claiming her innocence. Can you think of a time during Lockdown when you had to be strong? Or did you see other people being strong during this difficult time? What were your thoughts and experiences at the time? What would you write in a letter of strength to someone about Lockdown?
What does this letter tell us?
What is this letter about? Read through the letter; can you work out what Elizabeth is telling her sister Mary and what she wants Mary to do?
In this letter, Elizabeth is reassuring her sister how loyal she is and how she would never plot against her.
At this point, the young princess Elizabeth is facing imprisonment in the Tower of London and even possible execution. In spite of how frightened and worried she must have been, she shows great strength in writing to her sister and asking for an opportunity to meet with her and tell her the truth.