(For Three-Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "M" is for Mary Arden)
I began sifting through my rather limited cranial capacity, trying to think of a historical character who would be appropriate for such a topic.
And she had good reason.
It seemed quite possible that she was going to be charged as an accessory to an attempted assassination of Queen Elizabeth.
Let’s go back a bit.
As a teenager, it would have seemed that Mary Arden could have had her pick of the young fellows of her town for marriage; she came from a respected home, her father was a prosperous land-owner and she had an impressive dowry.
Yet many of that time were puzzled that the person she chose was not much more than a peasant. His background had been that he was barely (if at all) literate; he had had no money, no education, and a job of working in her father’s fields.
His name was John Shakespeare.
But you see, Mary Arden was one of eight daughters, the youngest of the eight. For eight daughters there weren’t all that many eligible bachelors available in that area. She settled for John.
John S.’s story is amazing – from illiterate sharecropper he had a brisk rise to mayor of the town of Stratford – but that’s for a different post. We’ll concentrate on his wife, Mary.
But first let’s do a smooth segue to the story of another woman of that era, Queen Elizabeth I.
She was in mortal danger. When? Every day of her life, from the moment she was born.
Every day that she was alive there were thousands of people who were dedicated to her assassination. She was Protestantism personified; Catholics in various parts of the world believed that England should return to the old religion and they were told they would be blessed if they killed her.
Another smooth segue and we come to the story of Margaret Arden, a dear cousin of Will Shakespeare’s mom.
Encouraged by a local priest, Margaret Arden and her husband had made the mistake of becoming involved with him in a plot to shoot Queen Elizabeth. They were all arrested and taken to London.
Anyone who planned such an act, or even knew about it, was punished. The punishment was severe. The men were hanged, drawn and quartered and Margaret was burned at the stake.
Suspicion shifted to Stratford and a key part of the investigation had to do with Mary Arden Shakespeare; had she known about this plot? For quite a while she, and her family, were in extreme peril.
Well, ultimately, things more or less blew over. Mary stayed alive, as did her family. However, Stratford was a dangerous place for a young guy whose family was under suspicion; Will Shakespeare detached himsself from the whole situation. He set up a strategic retreat, leaving town and heading for London.
1 year ago