Chidiock Tichborne was born in Southampton, England, to Roman Catholic parents. Though Catholicism was tolerated in England during Tichborne’s early years, when Queen Elizabeth I was excommunicated by the pope in 1570, she reinstated a series of anti-Catholic measures in retaliation. In 1583, Tichborne was interrogated about relics he had gathered while traveling abroad; three years later, he joined the Babington conspirators who were plotting to kill the queen. He was apprehended and held in the Tower of London, where he composed a letter to his wife with the stanzas—known as “Tichborne’s Elegy”—concerning his impending death. Tichborne and a number of his coconspirators were disemboweled before they were hanged, a practice Queen Elizabeth prohibited in future executions when she learned of it.

 

Poems by Chidiock Tichborne
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