ELIZABETHAN RECORDS THAT WERE “ALMOST UNTOUCHED”. Fifty years ago, I had concluded that scholars had gone through all the evidence in major archives so that the historian’s task was primarily interpretation. So it’s not surprising that I have posted a number of times about how pleased I am when there are new historical findings. For example, I posted here about a quote from the Shakespeare scholar Stanley Wells: “In fact, record offices are stuffed with unexamined documents of the period.” And I was delighted to read the text of Grace O’Malley’s responses to interrogatories from Lord Burghley (see here).
The Wall Street Journal called attention to a new book which uses unpublished letters from the Elizabethan period: ELIZABETH: THE FORGOTTEN YEARS by John Guy. This post on Guy’s blog says: “The book makes fresh use of 250,000 pages of primary documents from the era, not counting large parchment rolls (e.g. Elizabeth’s lord chamberlain’s accounts; only from these can her movements be worked out). While researching the book, Guy found that vast tracts of handwritten state papers to do with England’s relations with European powers remained almost untouched….he has used some thirty of Elizabeth’s unpublished letters and drafts of many more….”
In addition to documents from the English archives, “new documents in Brussels reveal that even after the 1588 Armada sailed, Elizabeth was grovelling for peace….”