Shaker_coverA second child is born.

The youngest Tudor, Robert Devereux, was born in November 1567 as planned, a handsome, dark-eyed lad with curly dark blonde hair, who resembled his brother Francis as well as his mother. Elizabeth lived up to her promise, lending Walter Devereux £10,000 and furthering his career, but somehow Devereux never received as much as he had hoped. At an early age Robert showed the characteristics that would be his trademarks throughout his life, a short temper and an untameable thirst for daring adventure. Nasty rumours continued to circulate about the Queen, her secret marriage to Leicester and their two offspring. Even though it was a treasonable offence to say anything that could not be proven in public, the rumours persisted. When Robert was about two years old, Sir William Cecil requested a meeting to discuss the matter.
“Your Majesty,” opened Cecil, “the number of persons aware of your relationship with Leicester and the two boys seems to be on the increase. I have here the latest report, a man by the name of Marsham who has alleged in a Norfolk Court, quote, ‘My Lord Leicester had two children by the Queen’. Madam, I do not know from where he has the information, but this is treasonable by law, if not provable. The question is what penalty, if any, would be appropriate?”
“Send him to the Tower, like that Mother Dowe person. Why do you ask?” replied a clearly annoyed Queen.
“Because Madam, you may want to consider the consequences to yourself should you ever change your mind about recognising Francis and Robert. Do you see the problem? It could bounce back on you. Which brings me to a related issue. Parliament is now preparing to amend the Succession Act. The new Act would make it a penal offence to speak of a successor to the Queen other than the ‘lawful issue of her body’.”
“Lawful issue? Why?” said Elizabeth, obviously surprised. “Is this an attempt to block Francis, Sir William?” asked the Queen indignantly.
“Not necessarily, Madam. A number of the members simply want more clarity. They would like to make the succession clearer to avoid civil war. They would prefer you to marry a foreign prince, of course. Leicester does not have many supporters there,” said Cecil, who considered Leicester a potential disaster for the Queen.
“But how is ‘lawful’ defined? According to Lord Bacon, the legal case for Francis is not at all clear, while the case for Robert is better. Sir William, it seems to me this wording does not make things clearer at all for me, but rather muddier. I would like to keep all possibilities open regarding Francis and Robert. Who can tell what the future may bring? No. That wording is not acceptable. I insist on the phrase ‘natural issue’ rather than ‘lawful issue’. Then there can be no dispute. And the choice will be mine alone.”
Cecil nodded respectfully. “Very clever, Your Majesty. I see your point, and will convey it to the commons. However, if you have any intention of going public with your marriage to Leicester and the existence of two potential successors to the throne in the foreseeable future, then you had rather tread carefully with people like Mr. Marsham,” he warned.
“I have no such plans for the foreseeable future. The more distant future is another matter. Have his ears cut off,” said Elizabeth, getting annoyed with his interference.
“That would still be considered barbaric in some quarters if it should become public knowledge that he was telling the truth. Madam, he is not an enemy of the state, after all.”
“My dear Cecil, have you considered what the reaction might be if I were too lenient. People might then say it is because the rumour is true. Is that not so, Cecil?” asked the Queen curtly.
Cecil took a deep breath, “I get your point, Madam.”
“So cut off his ears and charge him one hundred pounds as well,” concluded the Queen. “And that is final.”
“Very well, Your Majesty,” said Cecil, who bowed and made his exit.