Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Scandal Behind "Hey Diddle Diddle"

Chapter 6 - The Equality of the Arts


Hey diddle diddle,
The Cat and the fiddle,
The Cow jumped over the moon,
The little Dog laughed to see such sport,
And the Dish ran away with the Spoon 



 

Randolph Caldecott was an illustrator and artist from the 19th century. He was a well known children's book illustrator and typically his books cost a shilling a piece. The image to the left is based on the nursery rhyme, Hey Diddle Diddle. It is called "And the Dish Ran Away with the Spoon," and was produced by George Routledge and Sons in 1882.






The nursery rhyme, Hey Diddle Diddle, was written by the Ballard men during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I in England. For being a light and fun children's nursery rhyme, the true meaning behind it is powerful and dark. During the 16th century, there was a love triangle that was dark and criminal in matter; the end result was Elizabeth could not marry the man she loved. 

Queen Elizabeth
This dark love triangle was between Robert Earl of Essex, an English nobleman, and Lettice Knollys, the cousin of the Queen, and Queen Elizabeth herself. Lettice's grandmother, Mary Boleyn, was the sister of Anne Boleyn. Mary was the mistress of Henry VIII. During the reign of Mary I, the Knolly family lived in Germany and eventually returned to England to attempt to regain the thrown. Elizabeth was extremely loyal and loving to her family and gave much honor to the Knollys family. Elizabeth made Lettice a lady of the chamber; Elizabeth envied Lettice's beauty. Earl of Essex was originally named Robert Dudley and he came from a line of traitors. His father and grandfather were beheaded by the Tudor for treason. Elizabeth and Robert meant in the tower and instantly were attracted. Elizabeth ascended to the throne on November 17, 1558 and made Robert the Master of the House. 


Robert and Amy
Robert was married to Amy Robsart, even though he flirted and 'loved' the Queen. Elizabeth demonstrated the same actions as well but no one else would have ever dared to cheat on their husband or wife. One day Amy was found at the bottom of a staircase with a broken neck. Coincidence? The suspicion of a murder grew so Elizabeth and Robert had to grow apart. Robert had already a scandalous past with his father and grandfather. Elizabeth's true minister was Robert Cecil and urged her to stop this scandal. Years passed and Elizabeth still loved Robert, even though their love was forbidden. Robert started facing the truth that him and Elizabeth would never be able to marry.

Lettice Knolly




Eventually, Robert fell in love with Lettice. She was charming, seduction, and desperate to marry. Robert, now Earl of Lester, and Lettice wed in secret because of Elizabeth's temper. Elizabeth wanted Robert, even though they could never be.  The French ambassador told Elizabeth about the marriage, which led to Robert being banished and she refused to ever speak to Lettice ever again who she called She-Wolf.










So, how does this nursery rhyme tell this scandalous story? Let's break it down:
- The Dish was Robert
- The Spoon was Lettice
- The Dog was Robert Cecil 

- The Laugh was by pushing Amy down the stairs, Robert and Elizabeth could never be
- The Cow was the Queen 
- The Moon was forbidden love









 Works Cited
"Hey Diddle Diddle - Nursery Rhymes." Hey Diddle Diddle. Web. 3 Mar. 2012. <http://www.nursery-
      rhymes.info/Hey-Diddle-Diddle-nursery-rhymes.htm>.
"Hey Diddle Diddle Illustration." LEARN NC. Web. 3 Mar. 2012. <http://www.learnnc.org/lp/multimedia/11428>.
"Lettice Knollys." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 21 Mar. 2011. Web. 3 Mar. 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org 
      /wiki/Lettice_Knollys>.
"Queen Elizabeth I: Biography, Portraits, Primary Sources." EnglishHistory.net. Web. 3 Mar. 2012. 
      <http://englishhistory.net/tudor/monarchs/eliz1.html>.
"R.I.P. Amy Robsart - The Mystery of Her Death - The Tudor Enthusiast." The Tudor Enthusiast. Web. 3 Mar. 
      2012. <http://thetudorenthusiast.weebly.com/1/post/2011/9/rip-amy-robsart-the-mystery-of-her-death.html>.
Soen, Nicola Jane. "Hey Diddle Diddle." - English Culture. Asha Sahni, 2012. Web. 3 Mar. 2012.
       <http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art40881.asp>.


10 comments:

  1. are you kidding me....wow...interesting read...I love this little nursery rhyme always have...Mother Goose was and still is my favourite read to children

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  2. Our of curiosity ... who or what were the roles of the cat and the fiddle?

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  3. the story behind the poem just impressed me

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  4. I think it makes sense - so much scandal and love affairs gone wrong or forbidden...

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  5. I think it makes sense - so much scandal and love affairs gone wrong or forbidden...

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  6. the Boleyns are no relations to Elizabeth at all ..Really, try and rewrite history on that part to. bunch of liars.

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    Replies
    1. Well, except that Anne Boleyn was Elizabeth's mother. Which I think makes them slightly related.

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