Against Wyatt’s Rebellion
February 1, 1554 – The Guildhall, London, England
I am come unto you in mine own person, to tell you that which already you see and know; that is, how traitorously and rebelliously a number of Kentishmen have assembled themselves against both us and you. Their pretense (as they said at the first) was for a marriage determined for us: To the which, and to al the articles thereof ye haue bene made priuy. But sithence we haue caused certain of our priuy Coūsail to go again unto thē, & to demaund the cause of thys their rebellion: and it appeared then vnto our sayd Counsail, that þe matter of the mariage seemed to bee but as a Spanish cloke to couer their pretensed purpose against our religion. So that they arrogantly an trayterously demaūded to haue the gouernaunce of our person, the keeping of the Tower, and the placing of our Coūsailers. Now louing subiectes, what I am ye right well know. I am your Queene, to whō at my Coronation whē I was wedded to the Realme and lawes of the same (the spousall Ring whereof I haue on my finger, which neuer hetherto was, nor hereafter shall be left of) you promised your allegeaunce and obedience vnto me. And that I am the right and true inheritour of the Crowne of this Realme of England, I take all Christendome to wytnes. My Father, as ye all knowe, possessed the same regall state, which now rightly is descended vnto me: and to hym alwayes ye shewed your selues most faithfull and louing subiectes, and therefore I doubt not, but ye wil shew your selues likewise to me, and that ye will not suffer a vile Traytor to haue the order and gouernaunce of our person, and to occupy our estate, especially being so vile a Traitor as Wiat is. Who most certainly as he hath abused myne ignoraunt Subiectes, which be on his syde, so doth he entend and purpose the destruction of you, and Marginaliaspoyle of your goodes. And this I say to you in the word of a Prince: I can not tell how naturally the Mother loueth the Childe, for I was neuer the mother of any, but certainly, if a Prince and Gouernour may as naturally & earnestly loue her Subiectes as the Mother doth the Child, then assure your selues, that I being your Lady and Maistres, doe as earnestly and as tenderly loue and fauour you. And I thus louing you, can not but thinke that ye as hartely and faythfully loue me: & then I doubt not, but we shall geue these rebells a short and speedy ouerthrow.
As conceruing the mariage, ye shall vndrestand that I enterprised not the doing thereof without aduise, and that by the aduise of all our priuy Counsail: who so considered and weyed the great commodities that might ensue therof, that they not onely thought it very honorable, but also expedient, both for the wealth of our realme, and also of all you our Subiectes. MarginaliaAnd as touchyng my selfe, I assure you, I am not so bent to my will, neither so precise and nor affectionate, that either for myne own pleasure I would chuse where I lust, or that I am so desirous as needes I would haue one. For God I thanke hym, to whom be the prayse therefore, I haue hetherto lyued a Virgin, and doubt nothing, but wyth Gods grace am able so to liue still. But if, as my Progenitours haue done before, it might please God þt I might leaue some fruite of my body behinde me to be your Gouernour, I trust ye would not onely reioyce therat, but also I know it would bee to your great comfort. And certainly, if I eyther did thinke or know that this mariage were to the hurt of any of you my Commons, or to the empechment of any part or parcell of the royall state of this realme of England: I woulde neuer consent thereunto, neyther would I euer marry whyle I lyued. And in the world of a Queen I promise you, that if it shall not probably appear to all the Nobility and Commons in the High Court of Parliament, that this marriage shallbe for the high benefit and commodity of all the whole Realm, then I will abstain from marriage while I lie.
And now good Subjects, pluck up your hearts, and like true mē, stand fast against these rebels, both our enemies and yours, and feare them not: for I assure you, I feare them nothing at all, and I will leaue wyth you my Lord Haward & my Lord Treasourer, who shalbe assistentes with the Maior for your defence.
Source: John Foxe, The Actes and Monuments
Also published in Women at the Podium: Memorable Speeches in History. Ed. S. Michele Nix (New York: Harper Resources) pp. 14-16.