The Tower of London has held a number of notable prisoners, among them Sir Walter Raleigh, Samuel Pepys, and Anne Boleyn. A lesser known prisoner was Chidiock Tichborne, the author of our next poem, who achieved his fame not as a poet but as a member of a conspiracy to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I and enthrone Mary Stewart, Queen of Scots, in her place.
Church, State and Monarch in Elizabethan England were as consubstantial as the Trinity. To hold religious views that did not conform to the established religion was to court danger, disaster and death. The modern, secular distinction between a public and private sphere was unimagined, and outlawed rituals carried out within the walls of one’s own home were viewed as a direct threat to that trinity of the English state.