Sunday, April 8, 2018

Magdalen Browne, RIP, at "Little Rome"

Today, April 8, is the 410th anniversary of Magdalen Dacre Brown's death in 1608. She and her husband, Anthony Brown, First Viscount Montagu, were Catholics who survived the changes in religion during the Tudor era. She was a maid of honor at Queen Mary's wedding with Philip of Spain and was also favored by Elizabeth I--and she obviously survived in James I's reign. The portrait of her grandsons was featured on Michael C. Questier's study of the Browne family, Catholicism and Community in Early Modern England. (Well, step-grandsons, since they were the sons of her husband's son by his first wife, Jane Radcliffe!)

This website depicts her burial effigy, which has unfortunately been damaged (the hands cut off), as part of the Viscount's funeral monument:

On the lower stage, west of this, rest the effigies of his two wives, Jane Ratcliffe and Margaret Dacre, in mantles and kirtles; on the front of this stage, which is in the form of a chest tomb, are their epitaphs; at each end are small kneeling effigies of their descendants . . ., some headless (Salzman, 1953, 47-53).

Anthony, Viscount Mountague (died 1592) was a Roman Catholic who was nevertheless valued by Queen Elizabeth. She visited him on his sickbed in 1591. Jane Ratcliffe (his first wife) died in childbirth in 1552 aged 20; her funeral was on 4 August 1553. She had twins: a son who married Jane Sackville, the daughter of the Earl of Dorset and a daughter Mary, who married Henry Wriothesley, the second earl of Southampton. The son predeceased his father (in June 1592). Magdalen Dacre (born c1532) was Montague's second wife after her career as Maid of Honour to Queen Mary. Despite her Catholicism, she retained a friendship with Queen Elizabeth. She had six sons and three daughters. She died in 1608.

The monument builder was Richard Stevens of Southwark, who was also responsible for the Wriothesley monument at Titchfield, Hampshire (Pevsner and Nairn, 1965, 212). Sir Anthony's parents (Anthony and Alice Browne née Gage) are represented in effigy at Battle, Sussex (Mosse, 1933, 62).

Richard Smith, the Bishop of Chalcedon (Vicar Apostolic for England from 1625-1631), served from 1603 to 1609 as the chaplain (secretly and illegally) for Jane, Viscountess Montagu, the wife of Anthony-Maria Browne, Second Viscount Montagu, the First Viscount's grandson (his father had preceded his father by a few months). Smith wrote a life of Magdalen Dacre Browne, which Father Philip Caraman, SJ, references in his book The Years of Siege: Catholic Life from James I to Cromwell (London: Longmans, 1966). He provides details about her last sickness and death, including her devout preparations, attending Mass in her sick bed, and encouraging everyone in her household to remain true to the Catholic Church. (Caraman also cites Smith about Viscountess Montagu in his The Other Face: Catholic Life Under Elizabeth I (New York: Sheed & Ward, 1960).)

According to her obit, Magdalen died at Battle Abbey.

This should give us pause. Battle Abbey was founded after the Battle of Hastings, as Norman reparation for so many deaths in conquering England, as ordered by Pope Alexander II. William the Conqueror vowed to build Battle Abbey, dedicated to St. Martin of Tours.

The historic abbey was destroyed by Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries, organized, administered, and facilitated by Thomas Cromwell. And now it's a place to go on your holiday!

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