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Ruled Britannia
By Harry Turtledove

Discussed April 2006

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Historical Notes for Turtledove's Ruled Britannia

Lope de Vega (1562-1635) - pioneer of Spanish drama; volunteered for Armada (returned home penniless); many love affairs, resulting in prison/exile.

(pp. 8 ff) Edward Kelly (1559-1597) - associate of Dr. John Dee (Elizabeth's alchemist & court magician); died in prison in Bohemia.

Spanish Armada (1588) - novel's story opens in about 1597.

(pg 25) "over the reckoning in a little room" (how Marlowe actually died in 1593).

Thomas Phellippes - former code-breaker & forger for Sir Francis Walshingham (Elizabeth's spy-master until 1590), then worked for Earl of Essex - against Sir Walter Raleigh (for whom Marlowe worked) in struggle to be chief influence over Elizabeth; helped Walshingham with code-breaking correspondence in the Babbington Plot against Elizabeth (1586); Robert Cecil (son & successor of Baron Burghley) used him to help break the Gunpowder Plot against James I (1605).

(pg. 43) "None dare call it treason..." quotation from the Epigrams of Sir John Harrington (godson of Elizabeth; published posthumously in 1614).

Nick Skeres (pg. 44) - one of the men involved in Marlowe's murder in Deptford (1593), the other being Ingram Frizer.

Don Diego Flores de Valdez - accompanied Medina Sidonia on his flagship, the San Martin, in the Armada (1588); one of the most experienced naval officers in Spanish service.

Father ("Cardinal") Robert Parsons, SJ (1546-1610) - escaped the Elizabethan persecution of Catholics & spent the rest of his life on the Continent (died in Rome); may have been mastermind behind the Gunpowder Plot (1605); hoped to succeed Cardinal William Allen (created Cardinal 1587, at request of King Philip) as "Cardinal of the English" but didn't (created rector of the English College in Rome).

(pg 204) "By a knight of ghosts and shadows" - from poem "Tom o'Bedlam," written by an anonymous poet ca. 1600 (first presented at court in 1618); about a mendicant madman discharged as incurable from Bedlam (Bethlehem Hospital, which took in mental patients as early as 1403).

Constable Walter Strawberry - modeled on Constable Dogberry, from Much Ado About Nothing (garbled English, bumbling manner, etc.); Michael Keaton played Dogberry in Branaugh's 1993 film of the play.

(pg. 427) "Lord Westmorland being a proved traitor and Romish heretic who hath fled with the dons..." Charles Neville, 6th Earl of Westmorland (1543-1601) - Catholic noble; in 1569 (along with the Earl of Northumberland), led the unsuccessful "Rising of the North" against Elizabeth and in favor of Mary of Scotland; fled to Flanders in 1570; led a small force of 700 English fugitives in the attempted Armada invasion (afterwards received a small pension from King Philip and died penniless in Flanders).

Lord Chamberlain's Men ("Earl of Westmorland's Men") - most important acting company in Elizabethan times, with which Shakespeare was connected for most of his professional career; company's noble patronage by Henry Carey (son of Mary Boleyn and, officially, Sir William Carey - but probably of Henry VIII) and then his son George Carey, 1st and 2nd Barons Hunsdon (both became Lord Chamberlain for Queen Elizabeth); company changed to royal patronage under James I (1603) and became "the King's Men" (or "King's Company").

(pg 276) Sir Robert Devereaux, 2nd Earl of Essex (1566-1601) - Elizabeth's favorite courtier in the 1590's; a friend of Francis & Anthony Bacon, and a rival of Robert cecil for influence over the Queen; in 1596, commanded English land forces in the storming of Cadiz; in 1599, commanded the unsuccessful expedition to Ireland (disgraced for concluding an unauthorized truce with Tyrone and lost Elizabeth's favor); in 1601, led an unsuccessful coup against Elizabeth and was executed; The Private Lives of Elizabeth & Essex (1939 film) starred Bette Davis as Elizabeth and Errol Flynn as Essex.

Cicely Celles (Sellis) - found in A true and iust Recorde, of the Information, Examination and Confession of all the Witches taken at S. Oses [St. Osyth] in the countie of Essex, whereof some were executed, and other some entreated according to the determination of Lawe (London, 1582); she was served by several "imps," one of which was named "Puppet, alias Mommet."

(pp. 449 ff) ("Captain") Will Adams (1564-1620) - first Englishman to settle in Japan; in 1588, captained the Richard Driffield to carry supplies to the ships engaged against the Spanish Armada; in 1598, traveled to Holland when he heard about the Dutch East India Company's plans to send an expedition to the Far East; employed as Chief Pilot aboard the flagship of a fleet of five ships, De Hoop (Hope). Will was employed as Chief Pilot to the fleet (only one ship survived the voyage, and only 24 of its crew survived); in 1600, ended up in service to Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first Tokugawa Shogun. (Sound familiar?)

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