HISTORIC The Wars were known as the Cousins’ War in their own day. Shakespeare’s scene in the Temple garden is pure fiction.
This watergate was the main entrance to the Tower of London in medieval times. It is known as Traitors’ Gate because of the large number of political detainees who arrived here on route to imprisonment or execution.
According to one account (but see next post), a 20-year-old princess was brought here on 18 March 1554 for allegedly plotting against the Queen. Terrified that she would be taken straight to the scaffold, the young woman refused to get out of the boat:
‘At landing she first stayed, and denied to land at those stairs where all traitors and offenders customably used to land, neither well could she, unless she should go over her shoes. The lords were gone out of the boat before and asked why she came not. One of the lords went back again to her and brought word she would not come.
Then said one of the lords, which shall be nameless, that she should not choose. Because it did then rain, he offered to her his cloak, which she, putting it back with her hand, refused. So she coming out, having one foot upon the stair, said “Here landeth as true a subject, being prisoner, as ever landed at these stairs”.’
HISTORIC LONDON: X MARKS THE SPOT. Question 23. Lady Jane Grey (see Question 8) had been executed five weeks earlier. The young princess had every reason to be terrified. Who was she?
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