A Venetian at the court of Elizabeth I.

February 19, 1603. Giovanni Carlo Scaramelli, Venetian Secretary in England, reports to the Doge and Senate on his audience with Elizabeth I.

The Queen and Council being fully informed both by Paul Pinder, an intimate of Secretary Cecil, and by me of the deliberations taken by your Serenity, and of the causes for my visit to England, my audience of the Queen was fixed for Sunday, the sixteenth of this month. On Saturday evening one of the Queen’s fifty pensioners came to me and informed me that by her Majesty’s commands he was to fetch and escort me to her presence the following day at two o’clock in the afternoon.

When the hour for starting came, which the pensioner and I had awaited all Sunday morning, I went to Richmond in spite of the bad weather. I was received at the foot of the stairs by several gentlemen who made use of courteous expressions out of regard for your Serenity. At the top of the stairs the Lord Chamberlain awaited me and introduced me into the room they call the Presence Chamber, and immediately after that into the room where her Majesty was.

The Queen was clad in taffety of silver and white, trimmed with gold; her dress was somewhat open in front and showed her throat encircled with pearls and rubies down to her breast. Her skirts were much fuller and began lower down than is the fashion in France. Her hair was of a light colour never made by nature, and she wore great pearls like pears round the forehead; she had a coif arched round her head and an Imperial crown, and displayed a vast quantity of gems and pearls upon her person; eyen under her stomacher she was covered with golden jewelled girdles and single gems, carbuncles, balas-rubies, diamonds; round her wrists in place of bracelets she wore double rows of pearls of more than medium size. Her Majesty was seated on a chair placed on a small square platform with two steps, and round about on the floor and uncovered were the Archbishop of Canterbury, Metropolitan of England, the Lord Chancellor, the Lord Treasurer, the Lord High Admiral, the Secretary of State and all the Privy Council; the remainder of the Chamber was all full of ladies and gentlemen and the musicians who had been playing dance music up to that moment.

At my entry the Queen rose, and I advanced with reverences made in due order, and reaching her was in act to kneel down upon the first step and to kiss her robe, but her Majesty would not allow it, and with both hands almost raised me up and extended her right hand, which I kissed with effusion, and at the same moment she said, “Welcome to England, Mr. Secretary. It was high time that the Republic sent to visit a Queen who has always honoured it on every possible occasion.”

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