History aspect for Gloriana
Understanding the history is vital to get the content right. At the first stage, I can work out the scale of my major project, such as what events should my four songs cover, what genres/instruments can fit to those events; what/who was involved that I would need to animate; and how to make use of the resources/facilities to provide an impartial perspective when telling the story based on such events.
The goal of Gloriana’s story really is to provide a balanced interpretation, explaining that the reality of what started of Britain’s ‘Golden age’ was lead, not by the traditional ‘good and bad sides’, but antagonistic and extrinsic events, which lead the characters depicted as being compelled to act for the survival of not just themselves, but for their own countries to develop and survive.
As ‘glue’ to the songs and the events they represent there will be the narration. This will be in the form of a fictional character that is Elizabeth’s favourite court musician. Elizabeth did have a passion for music, as well as being a musician herself, and there were actual well-known musicians favoured by Elizabeth such as William Byrd (1543-1623), which can be loosely based on. The story is about a biographical account of Elizabeth I, by the court musician as guest speaker presenting to the audience in the Globe Theatre, and being asked about Elizabeth during certain events.
The first chapter will discuss the four events in detail and how these events will link smoothly. However, it should be noted that there will be some songs that would be based on more than one event, although there could be a possible difference between them, as they might have happened at separate times, with the possibility of being a year gap between them approximately.
Through the naming of the songs, following songs are based on the events as follows:
As first song of the EP, it would make sense to apply the events of the Coronation of Elizabeth I and the new prayer book, as the project is meant to be about Elizabeth, and also for the coming events used in the other three songs. The new prayer book, is one of the passive antagonists as a symbolic object, due to the controversy it brought, although it was a compromise, some members of both religions did not want the compromise.
Elizabeth’s Coronation was a significant event. As the third Queen and the sole ruler of Britain, there was a lot of fear, as the predeceasing queens being Lady Jane Grey (only for 9 days) and then Mary I (1553 – 1558), 8 years before Elizabeth to be crowned were not popular, the public had mixed views of Elizabeth; some believed she was an illegitimate heir from being the offspring of Anne Boleyn, who the public saw as a mistress to her father Henry VIII. She was one of the most highly intelligent women of her time, from her vivid education, and her strong will, from the turmoil she had felt from the sexual abuse from Thomas Seymour, and the oppression under her half-sister Mary’s during her reign as queen as Elizabeth was a protestant.
The new prayer book is also important to include, previous events before Elizabeth as Queen of Britain. Britain had sharp changes to the nation’s religion, all which started from Henry VIII ‘break with Rome’ in order to marry Anne Boleyn. The extreme Protestant regime under Edward VI’s reign, than the extreme Catholic regime under Mary I, both had rebellions as a result. A new prayer book was made to compromise the two religions to be compatible, but importantly, to recognise Elizabeth as a queen rightfully and to be loyal to only her.
The Prayer book was controversial, to the fanatics of both sides, which also lead to catholic foreign, super powers, such as Spain to believe that Catholics in Britain, were being severely mistreated (this was not the case at this moment in time until later in Elizabeth’s reign).
The 2nd track reflects on Elizabeth’s personal life. The issue of marriage, as being a queen was that she needed a husband who would provide a male heir to succeed her. Although there were consequences to which she could pick, Robert Dudley was a good suitor, English and a close friend, but would upset the Catholics, and there was evidence to suggest he killed his own wife, to be with Elizabeth.
To marry a foreign king, would have cause even more dire consequences. He could make Britain a Protectorate, a puppet for a another country, even worse a highly religious catholic such as Philip II, evidenced by Mary I’s marriage to him, as the public did not like him, fearing Philip and Mary would impose extreme Catholicism on a freshly established Protestant country.
Elizabeth was made aware by a soldier, that Mary Queen of Scots had entered the country to seek refuge, and was captured. Narration hints that Mary is the biggest antagonist as it kicks off a series of large scale events.
The unnecessary martyr/Cousin under the axe
3rd track covers the biggest upset of the whole story, the execution of Mary Queen of Scots. The Narration will state, that Elizabeth did not want Mary to be executed, so for 19 years, Mary was to be prisoner to Elizabeth for her fear for Mary is intended to cause uprisings. Elizabeth’s hand was forced, the extrinsic events like the Black Death blighting Britain, as well as Crop failures and the need to expand control in the Netherlands proved costly. The situation was desperate, and the final nail in the coffin, came from the Babington plot with evidence to suggest that Mary was involved.
The execution scene, presents a defiant Mary, embracing death, while her servants wept, she tells them to rejoice, not to cry. While sat on a stool, Mary sat emotionless as the sermon was readout by Henry Grey, 6th Earl of Kent. (the man who proceeds her execution). However, Mary interrupts by praying loudly, this scene gets tenser with the audience joining to take sides, but Mary slips from her stool from when the climax peaks but then continues. Beale orders Mary to repent, but she reprimands clearly to him that she is not going to renounce her faith in Catholicism; a cowed Beale announces “so be it”. Her servants start disrobing her, whom the executioner lends a hand in also, the executioner suddenly ask for forgiveness, which she accepts. Once disrobed suitably, the audience were shocked at seeing how pale her skin was; she stood up for one last speech. Smiling she thanked her servants, wanted to wish her son well and hopefully be converted to Catholicism, and wanted Elizabeth to have a prosperous and long reign serving god and her people to the fullest.
Once finished, she placed her head on the block proudly with one of the maids wrapping her handkerchief around her eyes, the executioner got ready while Mary prays. He then strikes with his axe hitting the knot. Surprisingly, Mary did not scream in pain, a second chop came, but not fully clean cut. From a third slice from the axe, the head is fully severed and then is raised to the audience, executioner says “god save the queen!”. With nearly everyone weeping, it truly reflected a sad point in the story. Elizabeth is in her room, upset. Robert Beale (The one who organised the execution without Elizabeth’s command) enters, confirms the execution has happened, Elizabeth is in rage saying, “You carried out the death warrant without my consent, you will be taken to the tower!”
The narrator states that Elizabeth knew there were dire consequences ahead. As a result, Spain made a declaration of war with Elizabeth after hearing the news of Mary’s execution, Philip was upset when writing the declaration, as it was forced upon him to act.
The final song is based on the initial prelude to the Spanish Armada and aims to condense the many skirmishes that took place, under a single battle. Initially, before the battle begins, Elizabeth’s presents a speech to her navy. The battle shows the British ships charging towards the Armada’s crescent formation. Sir Francis Drake orders the setting ablaze the fire ships to kamikaze into the formation. This dislodges the Armada’s battle formation, allowing the British ships to attack one on one more easily. The British ships attack more at range, with more cannon firepower capacities to attack, and were smaller, therefore, faster to out manoeuvre the larger ships the Spanish had. The Spanish ships were more suited to boarding warfare. Few ships are lost on both sides. With the Armada being cut off from going back to Spain, they decide to retreat due to the loss of resources. The narration talks about the aftermath of the battle, the fate of the Spanish ships, and overview of Elizabeth’s final years as Queen until her death in 1603. The narrator concludes by saying “I’m off to perform for Shakespeare now… Good bye!”