Chapter 8 : The End of an Era
In the year 1600, another quarrel broke out between the royal couple. The bizarre Gowrie plot caused a rupture between them, when Anne apparently refused to believe that Ruthven could possibly had meant to attack James. He was one of James’ attendants, and his sister, Beatrice, was one of her own favourite ladies. This was tantamount to accusing James of having murdered Ruthven, and, not surprisingly, James resented the implication. Matters further deteriorated when James discovered that Anne had secretly met Beatrice Ruthven, whom he had dismissed from her service, and given her money.
Eventually, he was persuaded that Anne’s motives for succouring her friend were innocent, although the Queen’s enemies suggested that she was involved in some dark and mysterious plot against her husband, so he forgave her. It is hard to believe that anyone could suppose Anne to be foolish enough to conspire against her husband when her oldest son was only six – even if she might have been tempted to in other circumstances, although that seems highly unlikely.
Harmony was restored when Anne bore a second son in the autumn of 1600. She was gravely ill after the birth and James rushed to Dunfermline to see her and the baby Charles, who, despite early fears as to his health, did survive. James gave the vast sum of £26 13s 4d Scots to the midwife personally, as well as a tip to the man who brought him the news. Anne herself received valuable jewellery for her New Year’s gift, to the value of £1,333 Scots.
It was in 1600 that Anne probably formally entered the Catholic Church. Her chaplain, whom she had brought from Denmark, became a Calvinist and was dismissed from her service. Robert Abercrombie, a Jesuit, was brought to her secretly to instruct her, and she accepted his teaching, taking Mass as a Catholic. This was a very dangerous proceeding. Jesuits were outlawed, and the punishment for harbouring one for three days or more was forfeiture, or even death.
James himself, finding out what Anne was doing, accepted her decision, apparently warning her to keep her faith secret, if she could not do without it, lest they all be endangered. All Anne’s children remained firmly Protestant, so she either did not try to influence them in religion, or their father’s and teachers’ influence was stronger.
A third son, Robert, Duke of Kintyre was born in 1602, and the event was commemorated for Anne with the gift of a diamond. The little boy died within six months.
As the sixteenth century drew to a close, James was certainly waiting impatiently for news from England that the old queen was dead. It is probably safe to infer that Anne, too, was looking forward to being queen of a richer, larger and more stable country. The news arrived within three days of Elizabeth’s death at the end of March 1603.
Within a few days, James set out for England, having bidden his subjects a fond farewell in St Giles Kirk, with the promise that he would soon return. Anne was not to travel with him, and they parted in tears.
James went on ahead to England for several reasons – first, to ensure that it was, in fact safe and that the English would accept him as king, second, he could travel more quickly without his queen, who was again pregnant, and third, until Elizabeth’s funeral was over, there would be no ladies available to attend Anne.