The Spanish Armada 7 – Elizabeth I Visits Tilbury

Even though the remaining ships of the Spanish Armada were homeward bound, England was still expecting to be threatened by the troops of the Duke of Parma who could come across the English Channel as soon as the wind was favourable.

On the 8th August 1588, Elizabeth I decided to accept the Earl of Leicester’s invitation and visit the troops he had gathered near Tilbury Fort. Leicester had written a letter of invitation to the Queen on the 27th July in an attempt to stop her recklessly riding to the South Coast to meet Parma’s troops.He wrote of how she could visit Tilbury and bring comfort to the troops. Against the advice of her Council, who wanted her to remain in the safety of London, Elizabeth travelled from St James’s Palace to Tilbury by state barge on the 8th August.

On her arrival at Tilbury, the Queen reviewed her troops, who had gathered to greet her, and then spent the night at Saffron Garden, in Edward Ritchie’s manor house.

The Earl of Leicester must have been exhausted. Susan Frye, in “The Myth of Elizabeth at Tilbury”, writes of how he had quickly assembled the 8,000 men who were present on the 8th and 9th of August, he had organised a boom across the Thames and, as he complained to Sir Francis Walsingham in a letter dated the 4th August, “he was having to do everything – to be cook, caterer and huntsman”. All that and there were reports that the Armada had been sighted coming up the Channel. We can only imagine Leicester’s stress.

Find out tomorrow about Elizabeth I’s famous Tilbury Speech.

7 thoughts on “The Spanish Armada 7 – Elizabeth I Visits Tilbury

  1. Thanks, Claire, for your coverage of the news 400+ years ago! I presume that portrait is from Kenilworth Castle (thanks also for your report from there recently; it must be a wonderful place). There is quite a nice version of this portrait at:

    Leicester indeed had a tough job at Tilbury! But he was incredibly enthusiastic. He stresses that the troops (who were formed out of county militias) were incredibly high-spirited: “on their arrival they had not one barrel of beer nor one loaf of bread, enough after twenty miles’ march to have brought them to mutiny”! His two deputies had gone on a fun trip and there was no sign of them returning: “I assure you I am angry with Sir John Norris and Sir Roger Williams. I am here cook, caterer and huntsman. … but for a day or two I am willing to work the harder myself.”

  2. Wow, Elizabeth was so amazing. She cared so, so much about her people and soldiers to do this; basically, she risked her livelihood and safety to motivate them. Also, it was a politically good thing to do, because it rallied them to the cause and put them in a “we love our Good Queen Bess” state. Go Elizabeth!!!

  3. Hi Christine,
    You’re right, that portrait was at Kenilworth – I love that castle!
    Yes, poor Leicester, a man under immense pressure but who rose to the occasion.

    Hi Boleynfan,
    Yes, Leicester invited Elizabeth to Tilbury so that she wouldn’t go all the way to the south coast to meet the Armada! She had courage and wanted to be in the thick of things.

  4. Thank you so much for this website! I’m really enjoying history and learning. I never thought that it could be that entertaining!

  5. I am trying to find a good photograph of the area where Elizabeth made the speech. I loved the two films that Cate Blanchette made, she was great in the role.

  6. I’ve been to tilbury fort liasds of times use to live down the rd !! Cate blanchet is my fav Elizebeth fantastic performance by her I wish they had made no 3 right up to her death can’t understand why it was never completed !!!!

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