Tuesday 16th May, 2006

3 PM – Winchester Cathedral, Hampshire. Back in the nave of Winchester cathedral for a sequence in which Elizabeth gives her orders to make England ready for the imminent Armada.

England at the time had no standing army but relied upon the system of commissions of array. In theory all her major lords were required to provide a given number of trained and armed men for the protection of the country as and when the need arose. This system also applied to the London guilds and filtered down right to parish level where each parish could be called upon to supply a handful of men when the order to muster was issued. This presented a number of problems for any monarch. Firstly the lords were relied upon to supply the men they owed at the time needed, which required their loyalty. Secondly the men had to be properly trained and armed although there was no standard which could be applied to ensure they all did the same things equally competently. Finally there was the logistical problem of getting the order out, mustering the men and then getting them and the food and transport they required to the place where they were needed.
This system was already antiquated in Elizabeth’s day having derived from the Norman system of ‘knight’s fees’ (where men received land in return for providing fighting men to serve the king) and mercenaries were a far better bet for war if you could stomach the cost and the other problems they brought with them. Elizabeth’s muster at Tilbury brought into sharp focus just how dated this system was. She found herself there with just four thousand men at her command. Across the Channel lay the Duke of Parma’s army – some sixteen thousand strong.

4 thoughts on “Tuesday 16th May, 2006

  1. Thank you for keeping fans like myself updated with this movie. Am a huge fan of Elizabeth and Cate Blanchett. She should’ve won the Oscar that year. Anyway, could you tell us more about the filming process and the actors’ performances so far. And the difficulties you’ve encountered during filming. I can’t imagine a better job than work with actors I so greatly admire and just do magic. Simply, magic.

  2. North – I think there are great similarities between then and now – indeed it is perhaps the empathy we feel with historical characters that ensures their stories still seem relevant to us. Much has changed since Elizabeth’s day, but the motivations of individuals and even whole states show many parallels. At one level this is a film about toleration and the lack of toleration – a theme that certainly is still with us today.

  3. Marmie – The filming process is painstaking and often seems slow but then when you work with a cast and crew who won’t ever settle for second best that’s hardly suprising. I think the only real difficulty so far has been the weather over the last few days. AS for the peformances, that’s really Shekhar’s area, save to say that from my perpective it’s simply a privilege to watch.

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