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.