Letter from Queen Elizabeth I
Marriages in the 16th century were often alliances of property and prospects, and Bess of Hardwick was particularly skilled at securing advantageous marriage settlements. Bess and the Earl of Shrewsbury were married in 1567. The generous provision made by the Earl in 1572 was later disputed by him, when their marriage came under strain, caused in part by their role as custodians of Mary, Queen of Scots, from 1568 until her execution in 1587. The matter was finally settled in favour of Bess by order of Queen Elizabeth. In this letter Queen Elizabeth spells out to both parties, in no uncertain terms and however politely phrased, the need to obey her instructions.