The best actress in all of England

my friendMy friend Elizabeth Brydges had a most unusual job. She wore a very fancy blue dress and sat in an aviary day in and day out in making friends with wild birds that were brought from all over England. It was a large aviary and she had to sit in the middle of the aviary and feed the birds by hand and get bird droppings all over her. 

When she grew up Queen Elizabeth made her a Maid -of-honour for life as a reward for letting birds poop on her for about 12 years. Then when a woman asked what they had to do to become a maid of honor they were told they had to let a thousand birds poop on them for 12 years. It worked great and nobody wanted to be a maid-of-honour. I was looking at some paintings I found a painting of her  (large version). It shocked me to see such a familiar face on the internet and it  jolted me back 400+ years. That bird in the painting is a little touch of whimsy and so is the dog. That is the queen's dog and it loved her so much it would climb up on her whenever she sat down, even when sitting for a painting.  

I had to substitute for her a few times when she left town or her mother was sick. The dress looked a lot like this one.

Elizabeth and lute

It was more blue (however this could have been the same dress but the blue may have faded from this painting).

She had to change it after a few months and wear a dress that looked pretty similar to this one.

She had to wear a hat like this only it had flowers attached. It did keep her hair from being fouled with bird droppings.

The birds were all wild birds that were caught very young. There were hundreds and in the summers they hauled in a thousand or more. We just had to sit and let them get used to us.

They would land on us by the dozens and coat us in droppings. Now that was the important part. The landing on us was the important part (not the droppings). That way the birds would establish a relationship with the stately woman in that hat and dress.

There have been saints throughout the ages that could tame the wildest animals.

Since Daniel went into the lions den without being harmed, befriending wild animals has stood as one of the more credible proofs of a saintly person. If a wild animal doesn't fear someone then why should anyone else?

Saint Francis Assisi was one that befriended wild animals and many Christians prayed to him. Since he had been from wealth the royalty of Europe often related to him more than to other Saints who bled a stigmata at the drop of a hat. However, Saint Francis beat everyone on that score too. He was the one who actually started the whole stigmata fad.

The Spanish claimed that Queen Elizabeth was a witch. The inquisitors had hundreds of ways to turn anything you said or did back on you as proof that you were a witch. There was only one defense against witchcraft at the time and that was to be a saint. A person had to take the high road and leave the Catholic Church behind on the low one.

Thus royalty all over Europe wondered if Queen Elizabeth was a witch or if she was a saint, so she became a perfect saint for them. When they sent diplomats to England she would invite them to walk in the garden with her.

She would don a hat like this only it had flowers attached .

Elizabeth and lute

She would wear a special dress like this one but with more navy blue however she inadvertently started a fad and lots of women started wearing dresses like it and they complained of attracting birds.

She changed after a few months to wearing this kind of a dress when diplomats came to court. Nobody else was allowed to wear a multi colored dress like hers. After a few minutes in the garden she would make a very difficult diplomatic proposal that would never be accepted under normal circumstances. Then she would signal a person with her kerchief who might trigger up to three more people and then a man around the corner would open a cage and release 30-80 of those birds we had trained.

Suddenly she would be surrounded by at least a dozen ‘wild' birds and a few would land on her outstretched arm and she would ask an amazed ambassador if he had any food since the birds could communicate their hunger to her. (The Queen actually didn't like birds flying around her face and she never told anybody what made her that way but she was a really great actress and never showed her feelings towards the birds.)

Of course the birds would avoid the Ambassador even if he had food since they were not trained to trust him. Soon she would have to chase the birds off so that she could close the deal.

She almost always did and that is how she managed to get the best treaties made in spite of Spanish threats to all who made treaties with England. These included safe harbors all over Europe for English ships when they were being chased by the pesky Spanish.

Who could ever refuse Saint Queen Elizabeth's anything after that kind of a show? I hope this gives you an idea about this person who we called our queen.

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