West View of the Traitor's Tower. — George Cruikshank. Seventh instalment, July 1840 number. Fifty-fourth illustration and and thirty-first wood-engraving in William Harrison Ainsworth's The Tower of London. A Historical Romance. Illustration for Book the Second, Chapter XVII. 7.5 cm high x 9.5 wide, vignetted, top of p. 225: running head, "Gardiner's Advice to Mary." The tranquil scene of the Traitor's Tower in 1840 serves to re-introduce the political machinations surrounding Mary's engagement to King Philip II of Spain. [Click on the image to enlarge it.]

Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned the image and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]

Relevant Passage

As soon as it was known that the Princess Elizabeth and Courtenay were placed under arrest, the greatest consternation prevailed throughout the Tower. While some few rejoiced in the favourite’s downfall, the majority deplored it; and it was only the idea that when Mary’s jealous indignation subsided, he would be restored to his former position, that prevented open expression being given to their sentiments. On being made acquainted with what had occurred, Gardiner instantly sought an audience of the Queen, and without attempting to defend Courtenay's conduct, he besought her earnestly to pause before she proceeded to extremities, — representing the yet unsettled state of her government, and how eagerly advantage would be taken of the circumstances to stir up dissension and rebellion. Mary replied that her feelings had been so greatly outraged that she was resolved upon vengeance, and that nothing but the Earl’s life would satisfy her.

"If this is your determination, madam," returned Gardiner, "I predict that the crown will not remain upon your head a month. Though the Earl of Devonshire has grievously offended your highness, his crime is not treason. And if you put him to death for this offence, you will alienate the hearts of all your subjects." [Chapter XVII. — "Of the Conspiracy formed by De Noailles; And How Xit delivered a Letter to Elizabeth, and visited Courtenay in the Lieutenant's Lodgings" p. 225-26]


The headpiece for Chapter XVII signals a reversion to the political plot as Bishop Gardiner attempts to dissuade Queen Mary from executing both Elizabeth and Courtenay. Although neither prisoner of rank is occupying the Traitor's Tower, the illustration certainly captures Mary's intention to have them beheaded for treason, even though their personal relationship hardly constitutes anything more than personal disloyalty, and Courtenay's expressing his passion for Elizabeth (overheard by Mary and Renard) hardly constitutes treason. Mary wisely accepts Gardiner's not to raise the ire of the kingdom's Protestants by executing or imprisoning Elizabeth; rather, she accepts his counsel merely to restrain Courtenay for the time being in the Lieutenant's Lodgings, and dismiss Elizabeth from court.

When advised by Gardiner of the probability of Mary's having engaged herself to the King of Spain, the French ambassador, De Noailles, tries to formulate a plan to rescue Courtenay, in hopes that, when Mary's wrath has subsided, she will once again consider the handsome Englishman a suitable husband.


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Last modified 18 October 2017