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5. The Return ofthe l(ing In January 1575 Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury, learned from the dean ofWestminster ofa young man named William Cartwright. Cartwright , a "vain young stripling," claimed in a frenzy that he was the rightful heir to the lands of the realm and that Elizabeth kept him from his proper place. Cartwright was temporarily lodged in the gatehouse at Westminster until it could be decided what should be done about him. While some of Parker's colleagues wanted to send him to the Privy Council , Parker believed this to be unnecessary. Describing Cartwright in a letter to Burghley as one whose "wit is so foolish and so simple," Parker suggested the best way to handle the situation until Cartwright's wits returned was to have him committed to Bridewell or Bedlam unless his friends, under bond, would agree to care for him at home. Parker wanted to let Burghley know he was aware of the delicate political ramifications to this case because Cartwright happened to be the brother of the Puritan Thomas Cartwright. It was, suggested Parker, important that "his brother, and such precisians, should not think that we deal hardly with this young man, being in this foolish frenzy, for his brother's sake, whose opinions have so troubled the state of the realm." Indeed, the treatment meted out in this instance appears particularly lenient, as we shall see in this chapter. Young William Cartwright never did recover. Thirty years later, in his last will written in 1603, the year of his death, Thomas Cartwright provided 4-0 shillings to be paid yearly in order that William "be kepte from wandring and rainginge abroad from place to place." 1 A man might imagine that he is the true king, viciously kept from his rightful place, in any reign, but since it occurred while Elizabeth was ruling , we might well believe that the fact of a woman on the throne might lend itself to such a delusion. The view that a woman could not legitimately rule was so strong it could have led a foolish, simple person to believe that he, as a man, had the better claim. Thomas Cartwright's criticism of the religious settlement might well have added to his brother's beliefin Elizabeth's illegitimacy. In 92 Chapter 5 Figure 6. Artist unknown, Tudor family group, 1597 (by permission ofthe Art Institute of Chicago) the medieval and early modern period the "mock king" appeared often in festivals and riots and served both as a safety valve for discontent and as an element of inversion that could be used to express disatisfaction in a culturally accepted mode. William Cartwright's delusion took the idea of the mock king one step further, into an individual's fantasy life.2 While Cartwright claimed to be the true king, he did not express an identity to go along with it. But in the reigns of both Mary and Elizabeth anumber of people claimed that Edward VI had survived, and in each reign at least one man appeared claiming to be Edward. What follows is an examination of certain related aspects of the insecurity caused by women 's rule, especially in a time of religious upheaval: rumors of the survival of the last Tudor king and male impostors and incidents that did not name Edward VI but also suggested the lack of legitimacy of the female sovereign.3 The Return ofthe King 93 I am not arguing that these rumors and impostures appeared only in the reigns ofwomen rulers. There were similar occurrences at other times in English history, when kings were on the throne. They do, however, appear with some regularity at times when the legitimacy ofthe sovereign is in question. Given sixteenth-century beliefs in the sanctity of the king, the fact of a queen regnant was in itselfenough of a departure from what was perceived to be the proper form of rule to bring about such phenomena . The desire for a king was a very powerful emotion. We can see it in the problems ofthe succession in the Middle Ages, and in the religious aspects ofmonarchy in the medieval and early modern period. The pressure on both Mary and Elizabeth to marry and have a son, or at least (in Elizabeth's case) to name a male heir, was intense. Mary attempted to fulfill these expectations; she married (though disastrously) and pathetically hoped for a child, a son. Elizabeth, however, refused this role. By not...


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