As civil war spread throughout the British Isles during the years 1642-4, an elderly nobleman, Lord Herbert of Cherbury, took refuge in Montgomery Castle and penned an account of his life as a courtier, soldier, diplomat and gentleman scholar in the early decades of the seventeenth century.¹ Like other autobiographers, he provides cameo descriptions of his ancestors, praising their physical courage, loyalty to the Crown, respect for the law and feudal munificence, before regaling us with details of his education and foreign travel, his duelling and military adventures, his courtly exploits and his embassies to France.² The differences in gentlemanly behaviour and lifestyle his account highlights between his own generation and that of his father and grandfather drive home to us the remarkable spread of Renaissance gentility from Court to County during the later decades of the sixteenth century. Faced with the emergence of a more centralised and powerful monarchy and wide-ranging economic and social change, a growing number of noble and gentry families looked to the continent for inspiration. They supplemented traditional aristocratic honour codes based on lineage, martial courage and generous hospitality with humanist notions of civic and personal virtue and secured classical educations, competed for public office in their locality and spent time more time in London and at Court.³My lecture today will explore the impact of European travel upon the spread of Renaissance gentility in England in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.
Renaissance gentility was a European phenomenon, hatched in Italy, nurtured in France and adopted and adapted in England and other European states. The Renaissance gentleman was both soldier and statesman, courtier and local governor, paterfamilias and personal friend. He was identified by his pedigree but honoured and respected more for his manly achievements and virtuous conduct than for the reputation of his ancestors. He was described and shaped by humanist writers such as Balthazar Castiglione and Sir Thomas Elyot, who demanded that their ideal courtiers and governors display a manly face and graceful athletic physique, exceptional horsemanship and weapon-handling skills, a classical education, the courtly skills of penning verse, making music and dancing and key moral virtues drawn from Christian teaching and Stoic writing.4
Renaissance gentlemen were expected to develop and exhibit six moral qualities or personal attributes. Prudence, or wisdom, enabled them to distinguish right from wrong and to manage their households, estates and public responsibilities. Fortitude, or courage, provided the strength of character they needed to take action in the face of death, danger or insult and to withstand pain and suffering. Their sense of justice, or integrity, drew upon their conscience and reputation to ensure their personal trustworthiness, their impartiality in legal decision-making and their fealty to the Crown. It was closely linked with temperance, or self-control, their ability to moderate their behaviour, bridle their emotions and disguise their feelings. Men were not fit to lead or govern others, it was believed unless they could govern themselves. The final moral virtues – civility and liberality – focused on self-presentation and concern for others. Civility promoted considerate and well-ordered conduct as one of the distinguishing characteristics of gentility and social superiority while liberality encompassed the calculated display of magnificence through appropriate expenditure on personal appearance, house and hospitality, and the provision of patronage to family, friends and dependents.5
By the late sixteenth century, Humanist notions of Renaissance gentility were being taught and demonstrated in elite households, classrooms and sporting venues and converted into practical guidance and behaviour codes by parental letters of advice and commercial conduct books.6 Although the English Court gradually embraced the cultural innovations of the French and Italian courts and fencing and riding schools sprang up in London, the belief grew that the acquisition of gentility demanded foreign experience.7 Aristocratic travel was not a new phenomenon at the turn of the seventeenth century but it began to assume the characteristics we associate with the Grand Tour in later centuries. Whereas in the medieval period, sons of the English nobility and gentry with an appetite for travel had seized opportunities to visit mainland Europe as soldiers, diplomats, pilgrims, and attendants, by the Elizabethan period, Sir Philip Sidney and others had begun to blaze tourist trails in southern and central Europe and to demonstrate the new ‘art of travel’ for enjoyment, education and elite socialisation.8 By the Jacobean period, encouraged by Europe’s return to peace and the cosmopolitan instincts of the new ruling house, overseas travel was becoming a rite of passage to be undertaken in the years between university and the assumption of estate, family and political responsibilities or the pursuit of a courtly, diplomatic or legal career.9 Elite travel itineraries emerged and travel guides and journals were published by Robert Dallington, Thomas Coryate and others.10 A period of residence in the Île de Paris or Venetia, a tour de France or giro d’Italia and a boat trip along the Rhine became common features of these gap year experiences.
The benefits of travel were promoted in family advice letters, courtesy books and travel treatises. These emphasised that time spent abroad in youth or young adulthood enabled the nation’s future governors to acquire knowledge and experience of other European states, courts and cultures and view the physical remains of classical civilisations while polishing their courtly manners, developing fluency in modern languages and improving their equestrian skills and swordsmanship.11 ‘Nothing’ wrote Henry Peacham in the Compleat Gentleman in 1622, ‘rectifieth and confirmeth more the judgement of a Gentleman in forreine affaires, teacheth him knowledge of himself, and settleth his affection more sure to his owne Country, then Travaile doth’.12 In a letter to his brother, forty-four years earlier, Sir Philip Sidney admitted that he and his friends only travelled abroad from ‘a certain tickling humour to do as another man had done’ but advised that Robert’s purpose as ‘a gentleman born’ was to furnish himself ‘with the knowledge of such things as may be serviceable to your country and fit for your calling’.13 He commended travel to France and also to Spain, the Low Countries and Germany but derided Italy for its tyranny and counterfeit learning, although he accepted the excellence of the peninsula’s horsemanship, weapon-handling and vaulting.14 Francis Bacon, Viscount St. Alban, in his essay, Of Travel, published in 1625, urged travellers to gain some fluency in foreign languages before travelling and to avoid the company of fellow countrymen to improve them further. He strongly discouraged travellers from engaging in quarrels and from going native: the evidence of travel, he advised, should be seen in discourse rather than in the foreign apparel and gestures satirised by playwrights from Shakespeare onwards.15
Although a growing number of aristocratic families embraced the opportunity to send their sons abroad to strengthen their character, or, in the case of boisterous offspring, to learn self-control and civility out of sight and mind of family and friends, fathers took steps to control the behaviour of their heirs from a distance. Wealthy families such as the Cecils, Howards and Sidneys appointed tutors or companions with experience of travel, command of several languages and impeccable reputation, to accompany their sons and guide their conduct.16 They also provided their sons with advice letters. When his erstwhile eldest son,
Thomas Cecil, later earl of Exeter, set off for France in 1561, Lord Treasurer Burghley set out detailed instructions for his son’s morning and evening prayers, study of the bible and attendance at Church of England Services and sermon. He required him to follow the counsel of his tutor, dress cleanly without taking excessive pride in his appearance and keep a journal of his travels.17 Families often demanded, though rarely received, regular letters from their sons.
All English travellers were required to obtain a signed licence from the monarch before making journeys into ‘foreigne partes’.18 Most cited the need to extend their education, gain experience, see other countries, cure their health or seek military employment. Thomas Hamilton, son of the earl of Melrose, obtained a licence in 1615 to travel abroad ‘as he shall thinke moste fitte for his instruction in literature, language and [the] custome of diuers nations’. 19 Thomas Howard, earl of Arundel secured permission in 1612 to take the waters at Spa in the Spanish Netherlands but from the outset clearly intended to avail himself of the cultural opportunities presented in Brussels.20 Permission to travel was withheld or revoked if subversive intent was suspected or reported. Sir William Button’s licence to travel overseas was cancelled soon after its issue in 1607 when the Privy Council discovered he was going abroad to fight a duel.21 Travel was a group activity. Wealthy young travellers were accompanied not only by tutors and companions but by friends and relations and by servants to look after them and their horses. Sir John Harington, set out on an eighteen-month European tour in 1608 with an entourage of ten gentlemen, his tutor, John Tovey, and numerous servants.22 The same year, Sir Edward Herbert, later Lord Herbert of Cherbury, took a companion, Aurelian Townsend, a man to wait in his chamber and two lackeys to France with him.23 More unusually, some men, including Sir Robert Drury and Thomas Howard, earl of Arundel, took their wives and family.24
Herbert’s satirical poem, Of Travellers, written in Paris in 1608, describes young men arriving in France incapable of communicating with their mocking foreign hosts and claims that after months of lessons in Blois or Orleans they remained more skilled in French disguisements and extravagant bowing than in deploying French phrases. 25 Other travellers, including Herbert himself, mastered the basics of French, Italian and Spanish before setting out for the continent and made impressive efforts to improve their language skills and pursue their wider education while travelling.26 William Cavendish , later earl of Devonshire, travelled in France and Italy with his tutor, Thomas Hobbes, in 1614-15. He acquired French and Italian primers before leaving England and in Venice not only translated Bacon’s Essays into Italian but cultivated the life-long friendship of Fulgenzio Micanzio, Paoli Sarpi’s assistant.27 The notebook of Thomas Wentworth, later earl of Strafford, who travelled in France in 1611-12, includes a list of some 60 literary, historical and theological texts he purchased and the notes he took from them in both French and English as he worked to improve his language skills and knowledge of French culture and history.28 Some English noblemen and gentlemen studied or attended lectures at continental universities and sought meetings with European scholars. Sir Philip Sidney met theologians, lawyers, poets, historians and other scholars during his extensive travels in western and central Europe in 1572-5 and frequented book fairs.29 Sir John Harrington attended lectures and met professors at the universities of Heidelberg and Basle in 1608 while Herbert records in his autobiography that he lodged with Isaac Casaubon, the renowned classical scholar and philologist, in Paris in 1608 and attended, albeit briefly, the lectures of Cesare Cremonini, the controversial professor of natural philosophy prosecuted by the Inquisition for atheism ten years earlier, in Padua in 1614.30
Though some young travellers made their way south from the ports of France and the Netherlands to Italy through the Low Countries and Germany, Paris drew Englishmen like a magnet and many spent the first six months or more of their European tour in the city. Indeed, some, including Herbert on his first visit to the continent, journeyed no further than the French capital and the royal palaces and noble houses located nearby. Travellers were much impressed by the energetic regeneration of Paris in the early seventeenth century – the newly extended Louvre and Tuileries Palaces of Henry IV, the Italianate Luxembourg Palace of Marie de Medici, the hôtels or townhouses of the nobility in the expanding Faubourg Saint-Germain and the ‘Italian-style piazzas’ with arcaded houses and shops created at the Place Royale and the Place Dauphine. They were not, however, so impressed that they neglected to complain about the dirt and stench of the city.31 Access to the French court was granted freely to any visitors of gentlemanly appearance enabling even travellers of modest wealth to frequent royal palaces and gardens, mingle with royalty and nobility, and queue for entry to royal entertainments. The cultural life of the city boasted balls, ballets, masques and plays in the evenings and informal social gatherings of the great and the good in salons, the Tuileries Gardens and the Bois de Vincennes during the afternoons. The enthusiasm for balls, ballets and fêtes encouraged by Francis I, Henri II and Catherine de Medici and her sons, was continued by Henri IV and his wives, Marguerite de Valois and Marie de Medici.32
Paris was seen as the ideal place to polish courtly manners and conversation but not the intellect. The French, advised the conduct book writer, Henry Peacham, placed little value upon learning and gifts of the mind and delighted instead in horsemanship, fencing, hunting and dancing.33 Needless to say, such activities were pursued enthusiastically by English travellers. Most were keen to learn the new horsemanship of haute ecole –dressage and mounted duelling – and to hone their skills with the rapier. Herbert writes that he spent three or four months in the Île de France learning ‘to ride the great horse’ and hunting boar and deer before returning to Paris to practise arms and take lute and singing lessons.34 Viscount Cranbourne reported to his father that he rode every day when he visited Paris in 1608 and 1609 and took lessons from officers at the royal stables near the Tuileries Palace.35 Some Englishmen attended the newly established riding academies founded by Antoine de Pluvinel and others in Paris and copied from Naples and Padua. These were essentially finishing schools for gentlemen and combined tuition in riding and arms with dancing, music, dress, deportment, languages and even mathematics and philosophy.36
While physical beauty was clearly an asset to the Renaissance gentleman he could not afford to neglect his self-presentation. Considerable emphasis was placed not only upon his choice of appropriate fashionable clothing but upon his posture, the way in which he walked, stood and sat, and upon the grace and assurance with which he bowed, doffed his hat or kissed the hand of a superior. English travellers booked dancing lessons in Paris, Padua and other French and Italian cities because French and Italian dancing masters were famed for their ability to teach men to walk with an elegant manly stride, to make a seemly entrance and to stand and sit gracefully in company as well as to perform the fashionable courtly dances of the period and take part in masques with artless, unaffected but technically perfect virtuosity.37 French singing and instrumental masters were also highly regarded by men seeking to improve their musical contributions at the supper parties held in great town and country houses.38 Henry Lord Clifford, Lord Salisbury’s son-in-law, and Sir Thomas Puckering registered at Pluvinel’s Academy in Paris in 1610.39 According to Thomas Lorkins, Puckering spent two hours each morning with a tutor reading French and rendering Latin authors into French, two hours practising dressage and a further hour learning to fence. In the afternoons, he attended dancing lessons and devoted two hours to private study preparing his next French translations.40
Surviving travel diaries demonstrate the gradual development of standard travel itineraries and the growing elite interest in viewing and collecting antiquities and art as connoisseurship was adopted as a gentlemanly accomplishment. Viscount Cranbourne’s diary, forwarded to his father, the earl of Salisbury, for inspection, describes in careful French his journey via Orleans and the Loire Valley to La Rochelle, along the Atlantic coast and to Bordeaux, across country via Montauban and Toulouse to the Mediterranean coast taking in Montpelier, Marseilles and Avignon before returning north east to Paris via Lyon and Geneva. 41 He would liked to have visited Switzerland and Germany but was reluctant to do so during the winter months. He dutifully admires the ports and fortifications, chateaux and ancient ruins he viewed between his regular lessons in French, Latin and logic. He called upon men of note, such as the Protestant governor of Saumur, Philippe de Mornay, seigneur du Plessis Mornay, and, in his absence, admired his library and castle fortifications. Four years later Lord Clifford made a similar journey in reverse, descending south via Troyes, Dijon and Macon.42
In his autobiography, Herbert describes a typical giro d’Italia, encompassing Venice, Florence, Siena, Rome, Ferrara, Bologna, Padua, Verona, Milan and Turin and recalls the highlights of his journey – the singing nuns in Murano and Milan, the newly completed Medici chapel in Florence, the antiquities of Rome, the villas of Tivoli and Frascati, and the famous carnival masques and balls in Turin.43 He returned to England via Switzerland, taking a boat along the Rhine from Basle to the Netherlands and stopping off in Heidelberg to visit the court of the Prince and Princess Palatine and view the castle garden and university library.44 Surprisingly for modern readers, he leaves no record of his response to the grandeur of the Alps and Rhine Gorge or to the aquamarine beauty of Italian and Swiss Lakes and appears to have avoided the temptation to invest in Venetian glassware and other artefacts like other travellers. Letters from and about the earl of Arundel similarly focus upon his exceptional interest in art, architecture and antiquity during his tour of Milan, Parma, Padua, Bologna, Florence, Siena, Rome and Naples. One of the leading courtly aesthetes and collectors of the period, Arundel not only sought out artists and commissioned and collected paintings and drawings but studied architecture with his companion Inigo Jones and spent several months conducting an archaeological dig in the forum at Rome.45
Spain was a far less popular destination for English travellers at the turn of the seventeenth century and indeed before the rise of mass tourism in the 1960s. It was geographically inhospitable, its climate was difficult and it was riddled with poverty. In the early modern period the Inquisition posed a more serious threat to Protestant visitors to Spain than Italy and its culture prestige was lower. The Iberian Peninsula enjoyed a brief period of popularity as a tourist destination in 1604 when the earl of Nottingham travelled to Madrid with a large train of gentlemen to sign the Anglo-Spanish peace treaty and again in 1622 when Charles, Prince of Wales made his madcap dash in heavy disguise across France with George Villiers, Marquis of Buckingham to claim the Spanish Infanta as his bride. Charles’s long and not wholly voluntary stay in Madrid encouraged a modest string of English gentlemen to follow in his wake to the Spanish capital and to join him in admiring the architecture, art and decorum of the Hapsburg Court.46 For those anxious to experience Spanish culture with minimal risk to life and conscience, the Spanish Netherlands, with the cultured cosmopolitan court of the Archdukes Albert and Isabella and the duchy of Milan were generally considered to more attractive destinations.
Tudor and Stuart governments liked to keep a close eye on English gentlemen travelling abroad. Travellers were encouraged to make themselves known to English ambassadors and agents and often lived near them, visiting their houses for social entertainment and attending Church of England services in their chapels. As part of their diplomatic duties, ambassadors were expected to welcome, socialise and protect the sons of England’s leading families and to provide assistance and hospitality to those of lower social rank. The reception granted was carefully graded according to status. During 1608-10, diplomatic correspondence describes Sir George Carew, the English Ambassador in Paris, introducing high ranking noblemen such as Robert Devereux, earl of Essex (a Howard brother-in-law) and Lord Cranbourne to Henri IV and accompanying them to major social events.47 His counterpart in Brussels, Sir Thomas Edmondes, introduced Sir John Harrington, favourite of
Henry , Prince of Wales, to the Archduke Albert and Archduchess Isabella and Sir Henry Wotton, the English ambassador in Venice, carefully introduced and commended the earnest young man to Doge of Venice.48 While Lord Cranbourne’s party visited the French court at Fontainebleau and hunted badgers with the dauphin, Herbert ‘s autobiography, records that he met the king informally in the Tuileries Gardens, attended royal balls and masques in the company of Queen Marguerite (Henri’s first wife), and enjoyed the hospitality of leading noblemen such as Henri, Duke of Montmorency, Constable of France.49
Travel inevitably incurred risks and dangers. Merely crossing the English Channel threatened life, limb and stomach. Winds and storms not only delayed journeys but required ships to anchor offshore and offload their passengers, horses, and luggage onto beaches rather than quaysides. If the travellers were lucky they were rowed ashore in small boats but it wasn’t unknown for them to drown attempting to wade ashore. Many travellers suffered severe sea sickness and Herbert vividly describes saving Sir Thomas Lucy from being trapped in his cabin when their boat was wrecked in Dover harbour as they attempted to return to England during a severe gale in January 1609.50 Travellers usually avoided touring Italy during the summer months, the English constitution it was generally agreed, being ill suited to hotter climates and the ‘greedinesse’ of Mediterranean ‘fruits and hotte wines’.51 The Alps were generally avoided during the heavy snowfalls of the winter months. Herbert relates being carried in a basket over the Col du Galibier pass (today, one of the ascents in the Tour de France) during the night of Maundy Thursday in March 1615 with the guide burning straw in bottles to light the way.52 Petty criminals posed a threat to travellers in major cities and brigands on country roads. Drunkenness, brawling and non-payment of debts could result in temporary imprisonment. Indebtedness also posed a threat to integrity and honour. Infectious diseases were common though serious injury and death were relatively. William Paulet, Lord St John arrived in Venice with a violent fever, probably some form of malaria in 1608; he survived but his tutor died.53 Robert Devereux, earl of Essex, was badly scarred by a severe attack of smallpox in 1608 in France.54 Lord Clifford suffered an eye defluxion in La Rochelle in 1612 which forced him to return to Paris temporarily blinded.55
New friendships and travel partnerships were often forged on the road or in foreign cities. Letters, diaries and autobiographies make frequent mention of fellow countrymen met, or narrowly missed, while journeying from place to place.56 Some encounters were serendipitous and the friendships lasted a lifetime but others caused alarm. Sir Thomas Puckering became friendly with William Cecil, Lord Roos, the disreputable grandson of the earl of Exeter, in Paris in 1612 and decided to join him on a trip to the Spanish Netherlands. Puckering’s tutor, Thomas Lorkins was obliged to accompany them and sent letters to Sir Adam Newton, tutor to the Prince of Wales, bewailing Roos’s Catholic sympathies, obscene language, gambling and extravagance and especially the blatant attempts made by men of his party to convert Puckering to Catholicism.57 Sources tend to be coy on the subject of sexual misdemeanours and love affairs. Though some parents worried their sons might visit brothels and famous courtesans, particularly when visiting Venice, Herbert’s satire, Of Travellers, suggests that many young men spent more time bragging about their sexual prowess than demonstrating it.58
The religious allegiances and activities of travellers caused rather greater concern for families and governments than their morals. Piety – or at least the display of piety through regular attendance at church services – was another essential attribute for the Renaissance gentleman. Protestant parents worried that their sons might be persecuted or proselytised in Catholic countries. Catholic families worried that their sons would be seduced by the experience of pursuing their faith openly in France and Italy and might settle abroad or be implicated in sedition. English travel licences prohibited visits to the city of Rome, but the ban was frequently disregarded. In 1608, Sir Henry Wotton wrote to Lord Roos, travelling in Italy with Lord St John, urging him to ‘unresolve [his] Roman journey’ and stressing the particular risks he was taking because of how he was ‘descended and allied’.59 The advice was ignored and six months later Wotton was constrained to advise the earl of Salisbury, that Roos’s tutor, John Mole, had been imprisoned by the Inquisition in Rome as an author of anti-Catholic works.60 The following year, he reported the detention of English tutors visiting the Papal States with Lord Wentworth and other gentlemen.61 Protestant travellers generally scurried down to Rome secretly while visiting Siena and entered the city discreetly for a short visit of a few days duration. Sir John Harrington abandoned a planned trip to Rome and, as a devout Calvinist, was highly critical of Catholic ceremony in the streets and
churches of Italy but wisely tempered his criticisms in a letter to Sir Adam Newton, discreetly explaining that he could send a wad of observations on the ‘trifles and trickeries of the false religion’ if there were no fear of interception.62
Though many Protestant travellers were similarly quick to denounce the idolatry and superstition they found in Catholic countries, there were a number of notorious conversions in the early seventeenth century. Toby Matthew son of the Archbishop of York, met English Catholics in Florence in 1605 who introduced him to Robert Persons, head of the English Jesuits in Rome. Two years later he converted to Catholicism and in May 1614 he was ordained a priest.63 The traffic to and from Rome was carefully monitored by English ambassadors in Venice. In 1611, Sir Dudley Carleton, Wotton’s successor, advised Lord Salisbury, that the sons of Sir Robert Dormer, a Catholic family, had visited Rome with their tutor, Francis Hore, and been received by Cardinal Bellarmine.64 Carleton kept a particularly close eye on the earl and countess of Arundel ‘the quality of their persons being so much above other travellers’ and reported their separate journeys via Siena to Rome and Naples.65 Arundel wrote touchingly to his wife wishing that she could accompany him to Rome for Holy Week and advising her of the discomfort she would endure when she journeyed to join him in ‘vile Hosteriass, one Mattresse and one blankette, and neyther any bolster…’.66
Since one of the key objectives of many young travellers was to become competent in arms in countries famed for their duelling as much as their swordsmanship, it is hardly surprising that some Englishmen became inflamed with the ‘duellary religion’ rampant in France and Italy.67 Despite the fierce warnings issued to them by their parents they became engaged in quarrels, mostly with their own countrymen, but sometimes with Scotsmen and other foreigners, and fought duels in an attempt to protect their honour and establish their martial prowess. Duels resulted from private disputes or personal affronts which became points of honour. They were regarded as a form of courtly civility and a means of asserting aristocratic independence in matters of reputation. They were organised according to strict rules and fought secretly and illegally.68 Herbert writes that the French thought there was ‘scarce any man worth the looking on that had not killed some other in Duel’ and records both his unsuccessful attempt to challenge a Frenchman he felt had affronted him in 1608 when the two clashed over a ribbon stolen from a nobleman’s daughter and standing second to Sir Thomas Lucy in 1609.69 In both cases the duels were forestalled by outside intervention. Diplomatic correspondence reveals that Lucy attempted to reschedule his duel at Rouen and that orders were issued for the pair to be escorted to port.70 Some English duelists fought to the death. Sir Edward Sackville, later 4th earl of Dorset, killed Lord Bruce of Kinloss in a duel at Bergen-op-Zoom in 1613, forcing him to go into voluntary exile on the continent during 1614-15.71 Little honour surrounded the death of Sir Julius Caesar’s eldest son in Padua in 1608. Sir Henry Wotton advised Lord Salisbury that he had been run through with a sword in the public street after ambushing a fencing usher with a pistol because the man had injured him in class while fencing the previous day.72
The enduring aristocratic preoccupation with honour ensured that noblemen and gentlemen were also committed to acquiring military experience in order to uphold the chivalric ideals of their lineage and demonstrate their courage and leadership on the battlefield. Since the campaigning season was short, war was often combined with travel. In 1610, noblemen and gentlemen flocked to Germany to join the latest clash between the Catholic Habsburgs and the Protestant princes of Europe over the possession of the state of Cleve-Julich-Berg. Some such as Herbert and Grey Brydges, Lord Chandos arrived as the English, Dutch, Protestant German Princes and French launched the siege of Jülich while others, including Theophilous Howard, Lord Walden, who was accompanied by his wife and brother, and Sir Thomas Somerset and Sir Henry Rich, arrived at the height of the siege and a mere five days before the surrender of the garrison.73 Afterwards, Lord Chandos, Sir Thomas Somerset, Sir Henry Rich, Sir John Sheffield and Sir J. Radcliffe travelled to Paris according to William Beecher , the English agent there.74 After returning to fight alongside the Dutch in Germany in 1614, Herbert set off to tour Italy where he refused a commission from Cosimo II, Duke of Tuscany, in January 1615 to fight the Turks, but two months later, accepted a commission from Victor Emmanuel II, duke of Savoy to levy 4000 Huguenots in the Languedoc to fight the Spanish in Piedmont.75
What conclusions, then, can we draw about the impact of overseas travel upon the fashioning of the Renaissance gentleman and his success at Court and in elite society? It has to be admitted that we don’t actually know how many noblemen and gentlemen travelled abroad during the period or how representative the sources that survive them are about their experiences. Inevitably the well-connected, the studious, the rascals, the religious converts and the victims of crime or illness appear most frequently in the records. Anecdotal evidence suggests that rising gentlemen benefited more from their travels and expose to European Courts and culture than the sons of leading courtiers. Harrington died early, Essex opted to pursue a military career after being humiliated by a high-profile divorce and none of the Cecil or Howard progeny achieved the political power exercised by their fathers, uncles and grandfathers. We might concede that connoisseurship and contacts in the art world the earl of Arundel developed on his travels earned him the reluctant favour of Charles I but they did not win him high office. Ambitious gentlemen travellers such as Herbert, Wentworth and Sir George Villiers fared better and secured not only courtly, diplomatic and ministerial careers but noble titles. It is highly unlikely that Herbert would have secured his embassy to Paris without his increased courtly sophistication, knowledge of European Courts and fluency in the French language and Wentworth’s self-confidence and knowledge of European states and government served him well as a royal minister. In the case of Villiers, his French courtly manners and appearance appear to have been as attractive and destructive to James I and Charles I as those of Ann Boleyn were to Henry VIII.
Dr Christine Jackson February 2016
University Lecturer in History and Fellow of Kellogg College
University of Oxford.
1 Mario M. Rossi, La vita, le opere, i tempi di Edoardo Herbert di Chirbury, 3 vols. (Firenze: G.C. Sansoni, 1947), III, pp. 80-200.
2 The life of Edward, first Lord Herbert of Cherbury, written by himself, ed. By J.M. Shuttleworth (London: Oxford University Press, 1976), passim. This is the most recent edition of Herbert’s manuscript.
3 Anthony Fletcher, Gender Sex and Subordination in England, 1500-1800 (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1995), pp. 126-40; Felicity Heal and Clive Holmes, The Gentry in England and Wales, 1500-1700 (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1994), pp. 20-33.
4 Balthazar Castiglione, Il Cortigione (Venice: Aldine Press, 1528); Thomas Elyot’s The Boke of the Governor (London, 1531).
5 Ruth Kelso, The Doctrine of the English Gentleman (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1929), pp. 76 -95.
6 See, for example, Louis B. Wright, Advice to a Son: Precepts of Lord Burghley, Sir Walter Raleigh and Francis Osbourne (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1962) and Henry Peacham, The Compleat Gentleman: fashioning him absolute in the most necessary & commendable qualities concerning minde or bodie that may be required in a noble gentleman (London: Francis Constable, 1622).
7 John Stoye, English Travellers Abroad 1604-1667, 2nd edn (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1989), pp. 9-10.
8Katherine Duncan-Jones, Sir Philip Sidney Courtier Poet (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1991) pp. 63-85.
9 Stoye, English Travellers Abroad, pp. 5-11.
10 Robert Dallington, A method for travel.: Shewed by taking the view of France. As it stoode in the yeare of our Lord 1598 (London: Thomas Creed, 1605); Thomas Coryate, Coryats crudities gobbled vp in five moneths travells in France Savoy, etc. (London: W.S., 1611).
11 The travellers themselves were probably more concerned to experience freedom, court adventure and acquire social cachet and peer advantage. Some men who were denied the opportunity to travel abroad as teenagers by parental caution or lack of funds took the opportunity to do so if they could in their late twenties and thirties. Sir Edward Herbert, later Lord Herbert of Cherbury, records in his autobiography that he aspired to make himself a citizen of the world while a student at Oxford but was only able to set off for Europe once he and his wife had produced heirs. Herbert, Life, pp. 17, 40-1.
12 Peacham, Compleat Gentleman, p. 200.
13 The Complete Works of Sir Philip Sidney, ed. by A. Feuillerat, 4 vols. (Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1926) III, pp. 124-5.
14 Ibid. pp. 126-7.
15 Sir Francis Bacon, Collected Essays, ed. by O. Smeaton (London: Everyman’s Library, 1606), pp. 54-6.
16 Stoye, English Travellers Abroad, pp. 22-30; Edward Chaney and Timothy Wilk, The Jacobean Grand Tour: Early Stuart Travellers in Europe (London: I.B. Tauris, 2014), pp. 63-74.
17 Wright, Advice to a Son, pp. 1-8.
18 The licences were issued by the Privy Council and had to be produced for inspection at European ports and city gates.
19 “Hamilton, Thomas, second earl of Haddington (1600–1640),” David Stevenson in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, eee online ed., ed. David Cannadine, Oxford: OUP, 2004, http://ezproxy-prd.bodleian.ox.ac.uk:2167/view/article/12127 (accessed August 10, 2016).
20 “Howard, Thomas, fourteenth earl of Arundel, fourth earl of Surrey, and first earl of Norfolk (1585–1646),” R. Malcolm Smuts in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, eee ed. H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison (Oxford: OUP, 2004); online ed., ed. David Cannadine, May 2015, http://ezproxy-prd.bodleian.ox.ac.uk:2167/view/article/13943 (accessed August 10, 2016).
21 “Button, Sir William, first baronet (1585–1655),” Henry Lancaster in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, eee ed. H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison (Oxford: OUP, 2004); online ed., ed. David Cannadine, January 2008, http://ezproxy-prd.bodleian.ox.ac.uk:2167/view/article/4238 (accessed August 10, 2016).
22 “Harington, John, second Baron Harington of Exton (bap. 1592, d. 1614),” Simon Healy in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, eee online ed., ed. David Cannadine, Oxford: OUP, 2004, http://ezproxy-prd.bodleian.ox.ac.uk:2167/view/article/12328 (accessed August 10, 2016).
23 Herbert, Life, 41.
24 “Drury family (per. 1485–1624),” Joy Rowe in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, eee ed. H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison (Oxford: OUP, 2004); online ed., ed. David Cannadine, January 2008, http://ezproxy-prd.bodleian.ox.ac.uk:2167/view/article/73909 (accessed August 10, 2016); Smuts, “Thomas Howard”.
25 The poems of Lord Herbert of Cherbury ed. by G.C. Moore Smith, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1923), pp. 14-16.
26 Herbert, Life, p. 17.
27 “Hobbes, Thomas (1588–1679),” Noel Malcolm in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, eee ed. H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison (Oxford: OUP, 2004); online ed., ed. David Cannadine, September 2010, http://ezproxy-prd.bodleian.ox.ac.uk:2167/view/article/13400 (accessed August 10, 2016).
28 Stoye, English Travellers Abroad, pp. 42-3.
29 Katherine Duncan-Jones, Sir Philip Sidney, pp. 76-84.
30 Herbert, Life, pp. 49, 75.
31 Coryate, Crudities, p. 21.
32 Margaret M. McGowan, Dance in the Renaissance: European Fashion, French Obsession (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2008) pp. 127-82.
33 Peacham, Compleat gentleman, p. 204.
34 Herbert, Life, pp. 42-9.
35 Stoye, English Travellers Abroad, pp. 28-30.
36 Stoye, English Travellers Abroad, pp. 33, 36-8.
37 Herbert, Life, pp. 31-2; Joan Wildeblood, The Polite World: A Guide to the Deportment of the English in Former Times (London: David-Poynter, 1973) pp. 64, 85, 95.
38 Herbert, Life, p. 49.
39 Stoye, English Travellers Abroad, pp. 31-2.
40 Ibid., p. 41.
41 Calendar of the manuscripts of the most Hon. the Marquis of Salisbury, ed. By G. Dyfnallt, 24 vols. (London: HMSO, 1970), XXI, no. 294, p. 104. The travel journal of William Cecil, Viscount Cranborne, July 29 1609.
42 Stoye, English Travellers Abroad, p. 34.
43 Herbert, Life, pp. 73-7.
44 Ibid., p. 85.
45 Smuts, “Thomas Howard”.
46Stoye, English Travellers Abroad, pp. 230-40; Herbert, Life, p. 38; Glyn Redworth, The Prince and the Infanta: The Cultural Politics of the Spanish Match (New Haven and London: Yale University press, 2003), pp. 95, 112-14.
47 Stoye, English Travellers Abroad, pp. 27-8.
48 The National Archives, SP 78/54, fos. 55 and 237; Ed Logan Pearsall Smith, The life and Letters of Sir Henry Wotton, 2 vols., (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1907) I, p. 441, n. 2.
49 Stoye, English Travellers Abroad, p. 28; Herbert, Life, pp. 41-50.
50 Herbert, Life, pp. 51-2.
51 Peacham, Compleat gentleman, p. 202.
52 Herbert, Life, p. 79.
53 Smith, Life and Letters of Sir Henry Wotton, vol. 1, p. 442
54 “Devereux, Robert, third earl of Essex (1591–1646),” John Morrill in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, eee ed. H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison (Oxford: OUP, 2004); online ed., ed. David Cannadine, January 2008, http://ezproxy-prd.bodleian.ox.ac.uk:2167/view/article/7566 (accessed August 10, 2016).
55 Stoye, English Travellers Abroad, p. 34.
56 See for example, Herbert, Life, pp. 73, 75 and 81.
57 Stoye, English Travellers Abroad, pp. 33-4.
58 Moore Smith, Poems of Lord Herbert, p. 16.
59 Smith, Life and Letters of Sir Henry Wotton, vol. 1, pp. 428-9.
60 Ibid., p. 442.
61 Ibid., pp. 456-7.
62 Healy, “John Harington”.
63 Stoye, English Travellers Abroad, pp. 76-7.
64 Ibid., pp. 80-1.
65 Edward Chaney, The Evolution of the Grand Tour (London and New York: Routledge, 1998), pp. 175-6.
66 Ibid., p. 177.
67 Sir Christopher Wandsforde’s Instructions to his Son and Heir, ed. by T. Comber (Cambridge, 1977), p. 33.
68 Markku Peltonen, The duel in early modern England: civility, politeness and honour (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), pp. 4-5, 80-93.
69 Herbert, Life, pp. 42-5, 50.
70 TNA, SP France 55/21, 23 January 1609, Sir George Carew to Lord Salisbury.
71 “Sackville, Edward, fourth earl of Dorset (1590–1652),” David L. Smith in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, eee ed. H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison (Oxford: OUP, 2004); online ed., ed. David Cannadine, January 2008, http://ezproxy-prd.bodleian.ox.ac.uk:2167/view/article/24444 (accessed August 10, 2016).
72Smith, Life and Letters of Sir Henry Wotton, vol. 1, pp. 410-11.
73 Herbert, Life, p. 53; TNA, SP 81/10, fo.113, August 10 1610, Winwood to Salisbury, and postscript.
74 Stoye, English Travellers Abroad, p. 33.
75 Herbert, Life, pp. 72-84.