Death Cushions: the agonizing demise of Queen Elizabeth.

Any article from the Streets of Salem blog is a “win” for history buffs, but this one stuck out in my mind above others. I knew that the great Queen Elizabeth died in 1603 after a long and illustrious reign, but I knew nothing about the circumstances of her death. As it turns out it was quite poignant, and the subject of much cultural interpretation and depiction. Streets of Salem leverages historical data, eyewitness accounts and some great 17th century paintings to give us a picture of this sad event. Great job!

In the early morning of this day in 1603, the great Queen Elizabeth I died at Richmond Palace, in a great royal bed befitting her station in life and history. But this was not her chosen place of earthly departure: she was forced into it after days of lying upon a pallet of cushions laid out in her privy chamber by her ladies-in-waiting. The Queen’s death watch was very focused on these cushions, as recorded by the oft-cited account of Sir Robert Carey, and imprinted in historical memory by Paul Delaroche’s famous 1828 painting, The Death of Elizabeth I. According to Carey, on the Sunday before her death the Queen did not go to chapel; instead  she had cushions laid for her in the privy chamber hard by the closet door, and there she heard service. From that day forwards, she grew worse and worse. She remained upon her cushions four days and nights at the least. All about her could not persuade her, either to take any sustenance, or go to bed. The Queen grew worse and worse, because she would be so, none about her being able to persuade her to go to bed. My Lord Admiral was sent for, (who, by reason of my sister’s death, that was his wife, had absented himself some fortnight from court) what by fair means, what by force, he got her to bed. There was no hope of her recovery, because she refused all remedies.

Full Article: Death Cushions

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