Tuesday 6th June. 1 PM – Brean Down, Somerset. Elizabeth arrives on horse back in full battle array to inspire the troops.
There are a number of sources for Elizabeth’s famous Tilbury speech, perhaps the most famous being Dr. Leonel Sharp’s 1623 letter to the Duke of Buckingham in which he recalls the events he witnessed that day back in 1588. As well as quoting the famous speech itself he tells us how the prisoner Don Pedro had been interrogated and told Burleigh that the armada ships were filled with wire and cord which were to be used to whip the English to death if their landing succeeded. He further gruesomely reveals that when Don Pedro was asked what would happen to English children they captured, he told them that those over seven would also be killed like their fathers whilst those younger would be branded with a ‘L’ for Lutheran and live in ‘perpetual bondage’.
Of course this was propaganda and Sharp eagerly passed it on to the troops in his next sermon to them. Such fears might well help them to fight the harder, knowing that the only alternative to victory was death.
Nothing however was as inspiring as the arrival of the Queen, who vowed to fight with them to the end. Seeing Cate crest the ridge of Brean Down on horseback, in the armour and mailcoat specially made for the film, the sea breeze streaming her red hair behind her, it’s easy to see what effect Elizabeth’s arrival must have had on this hopelessly outnumbered band of men. With the sun sparkling on her polished armour plates she must have looked more angel than human, and every man and boy there hoped she would prove to be an angel of victory.