Thursday, 29 December 2011

New Work on the Wardrobe of Mary I

Over a year ago I posted a rather simplistic account of the fashion of Mary I. Very little had been done on this subject except Alison J. Carter’s ‘Mary Tudor’s Wardrobe of Robes: Documentary and Visual Evidence of Mary’s Dress Style as Princess, 1516-1553, and as Mary I, Queen of England’, MA thesis., (Coutauld Institute of Art, 1983). Now there is a new study and one available online. It’s Hilary Doda, ‘Of Crymsen Tissue: The Construction of a Queen. Identity, Legitimacy and the Wardrobe of Mary Tudor’, MA thesis, (Dalhousie University, 2011). According to the abstract:

‘Clothing, together with other bodily adornments, is a valuable tool for communicating loyalty, identity and status. The coded messages inherent in the interplay between garments, bodies and society play a fundamental role in political culture, and the early modern era was no exception. The example of Mary I of England and her wardrobe choices demonstrates precisely how useful this tool could be. Through examination of previously-unpublished warrants, information from Privy Purse records, contemporary accounts and portraiture, this thesis analyzes the contents of and changes in Mary I’s wardrobe through the course of her adult life. By examining what the queen wore and when, patterns emerge that correlate with important parts of her political strategies. The first queen regnant, Mary used her wardrobe as a vital tool in the construction of her identity and self-representation, and as a means of navigating through the political and domestic upheavals that threatened her authority.’ (p. ix)

You read the work here.

(Image - Design for a medallion with a representation of the Trinity by Hans Holbein the Younger, c.1532-43. Pen and black ink with green and red wash. Inscribed ‘TRINITATIS GLORIA SATIABIMUR’ (‘We will be filled with the glory of the Trinity’). The British Museum.

The inclusion of marigolds may indicate that the item was intended for Princess Mary. The 1542 inventory of jewels belonging to Mary recorded that she possessed ‘a grene Tablett garneshed with golde havyng the Picture of the trinite in it’).

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Review of Harry Kelsey's Philip of Spain, King of England: The Forgotten Sovereign (2011)

Harry Kelsey, Philip of Spain, King of England: The Forgotten Sovereign (London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 2011), 288pp. £18.99.

There have been several calls for a study of Philip of Spain’s time as King of England over recent years. This is hardly surprising. Present-day scholarship of Mary’s reign is continuously growing, drawing attention to remaining overlooked areas. Interest in queenship, especially during the Tudor period, has increased. Yet examinations of Mary’s status as England’s first crowned queen regnant can only progress so far without a comprehensive study of her consort. Research into the Marian Church is also somewhat affected by the lack of work on Philip. We have come to recognise the influence some within Philip’s retinue exerted. The decision to return to Rome under Mary was certainly not the policy of these men alone, nor were they chiefly responsible for the measures implemented by the queen and her government, but the case of Friar Bartolomé Carranza alone indicates the significant role some played.1 An oversight of a more important figure – Mary’s own husband – is nonsensical. Finally, Philip was England’s first king-consort. Matilda in the twelfth-century and Jane Grey/Dudley in 1553 both were married at the time they made a bid for the throne but neither were crowned and Jane, acknowledged as queen at one point, never conferred upon her husband the title of ‘king’. Philip, on the other hand, married Mary around year after she became queen, was acknowledged as her lawful husband and thus king by all. Yet he was also refused a coronation, faced numerous limitations on his powers and had a complex relationship with his new subjects the English that continued long after Mary’s death. This is interesting stuff and should be examined in its own right.

So Philip Kelsey’s study, Philip of Spain, King of England: The Forgotten Sovereign, should be a welcomed addition to the numerous works already published on Mary’s reign. Anna Whitelock’s review on the dust-jacket promises the book to be ‘a timely attempt to place him [Philip] centre stage’. Sadly I was unable to agree.

This is not an in-depth study of Philip’s role as King of England. The book is 162 pages long (of main text) and though book-lengths aren’t everything this is clearly a rather fast-paced observation. Often the basics are covered with little attempt to divulge further. An example of this can be found in Kelsey’s account of Mary and Philip’s wedding. It amounts to just four pages and is concerned chiefly with providing a literal description, from who said what to who stood where. Kelsey does not elaborate upon the fact that contemporary accounts state Mary was placed on the right and Philip on the left during the service – a reversal of the typical positions for bride and groom – and that Mary sat on a larger throne. As Alexander Samson put it, ‘the positioning of Philip and Mary in the church was designed to underline Mary’s continuous precedence over Philip as English sovereign, even in the context of her marriage to him, by placing her in the space traditionally reserved for a king and Philip in that of a queen consort’.2 Nonetheless there were similarities in their dress leading to the theory that ‘a kind of equality between them in terms of power’ was being suggesting here.3 None of this is discussed by Kelsey. He does mention in a footnote that ‘the various descriptions of the ceremony differ considerably. I have relied largely on Figueroa, who wrote his report the next day, while events were fresh in his mind’ (fn 12, p. 188). But he does not discuss why such contradictions existed; why English chroniclers suggesting one thing, and Spanish observers claimed another.

Kelsey’s rather constrained examination of issues regarding female rule at that time is evident throughout this book. Of Mary’s speech at the Guildhall, London in 1554, he provides the rudiments, namely Mary’s arguments that prospective husband Philip would be able to defend England against its foreign enemies (pp. 68-9). What he does not mention is arguably the most famous aspect of the speech – when Mary referred to herself as ‘wedded to the realm’, with her coronation ring being her ‘spousal ring’ signifying the enduring bond between herself and the people. Mary’s own perceptions about her upcoming marriage and the impact it would have upon her powers and relationship with her subjects is overlooked. References to studies on queenship are thin on the ground. The only two of significance used are Glyn Redworth, ‘‘Matters Impertinent to Women’: Male and Female Monarchy under Philip and Mary’, English Historical Review, 112, 447 (1997), pp. 597-613 and Judith Richards, ‘Mary Tudor as ‘Sole Queen’? Gendering Tudor Monarchy’, Historical Journal, 40 (1997), pp. 895-924.

This leads to a major issue of the book. When exactly was it written? It was published only last month (November 2011), though reads as if it was completed around five or so years ago. The bibliography only confirms this. The most up-to-date studies I could find there were Eamon Duffy and David Loades (eds.), The Church of Mary Tudor (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006) and Elizabeth Svoboda, ‘All the Signs of Pregnancy Except One: A Baby’, New York Times, 5 December 2006 (an article concerning pseudocyesis – ‘phantom pregnancy’ – a condition that Mary may have experienced twice). If this was completed around, let’s say 2006-8, then Kelsey may be forgiven for his overlooking recent works. I acknowledge that the gap in writing to publication may be out of Kelsey’s hands but surely concerns were raised about the status of the book in the wake of a spate of works into Mary and her reign? And, if we accept it was written just past the mid-2000s this still doesn’t explain why Kelsey ignored several studies, some dating to the 1990s, that are of vital importance to any historian writing on Philip as King of England. I am thinking mainly here of the research of Alexander Samson. Samson’s PhD thesis, ‘The Marriage of Philip of Habsburg and Mary Tudor and Anti-Spanish Sentiment in England’ (University of London, 1999) is undoubtedly useful, especially Samson’s diligent consultation of both Spanish and English sources. If Kelsey had issues in obtaining the thesis, this does not excuse the oversight of Samson’s article, ‘Changing Places: the Marriage and Royal Entry of Philip, Prince of Austria, and Mary Tudor, July-August 1554’, The Sixteenth Century Journal, 36, 3 (2005), pp. 761-84. There was also no reference to David Loades’s work on ‘Philip II as King of England’, nor to a collection of articles on Friar Bartolomé Carranza’s role in the Marian Church which provides evidence of Spanish influence in the English church naturally initiated by Philip’s marriage to Mary.4 Why ignore research with obvious relevance to your own study?

There were some other issues I had with particular details in the book. Apologises if this all sounds too pedantic...

Kelsey implies Mary was unused to government. After all, she had never been raised to be monarch; Henry VIII’s desire to produce a son and secure a male succession is well known. But Kelsey goes too far in asserting that Mary ‘was never allowed to participate in government or to learn the intricacies of court politics’ (p. 27). Mary may have not been granted political office during her father’s lifetime, but at a young age had been created as the de facto princess of Wales and made head of a vice-regal household sent to the Welsh Marches. Yes, Mary was young and not expected to govern independently, but the Crown was still to be represented through her person and Mary was to engage in a ceremonial and symbolic role. Ultimately it was a role, however confined that may be and, ironically, it was a greater experience in matters of government than her siblings received during their father’s lifetime. I also find it incredibly hard to assert that Mary was unused to the intricacies, and intrigues, of the court. An argument for Mary striving to keep in her father’s good graces unattached to any particular faction at court can be made for 1536 onwards, but the idea she was completely unused to the whole concept of court politics (which was in essence court life) makes little sense. Mary maintained a complex network of affiliates, with court reformers and conservatives alike, and was able to call upon the assistance of many of these individuals during her bid for the throne in July 1553. But simple, she was a witness and member of the Henrician court. She may have been barred from it during her years of disgrace (c.1533-6), but the 1540s was a different story. Kelsey even contradicts himself on this point. He later writes that ‘some historians now argue that Mary deliberately created much of her reputation as an ineffective ruler in order to achieve the goals she wanted, as well as to deflect attention from herself and blame others for the more intractable problems that plagued her government’ (p. 124). Admittedly I do not think this interesting argument is a credible one, but whether we wish to believe it or not it must be acknowledged that this strategy is highly calculating and impractical to carry though by someone unfamiliar to participation in government and ‘the intricacies of court politics’. Kelsey toys with the idea that Mary was astute and manipulative and in doing so makes her appear a far more impressive political player than he implies her education allowed her to be.

Kelsey notes that Henry VIII made the infant princess Elizabeth ‘Princess of Wales, reducing Mary to the status of lady-in-waiting’ (p. 29). Mary never occupied such a role; the imperial ambassador Eustace Chapuys gave raise to fears she would be made to be some servant to Elizabeth but this irrational accusation turned out to be false. Additionally Elizabeth was never officially created princess of Wales. Kelsey dates the third Act of Succession (that re-included Mary and Elizabeth into the line of succession) to 1543 when it was ratified in 1544 (p. 33). Philip’s fourth wife is named as his ‘cousin’ Anne of Austria, though she was his niece (p. 139). Kelsey mentions that Bishop Stephen Gardiner wanted Mary to marry an English candidate, including Cardinal Reginald Pole but this was not possible for by her accession Pole had received Holy Orders (p. 53). This seems highly unlikely. Gardiner’s support for Pole as archbishop of Canterbury at this time was begrudgingly given at best. Gardiner clearly favoured Edward Courtenay, earl of Devon as Mary’s prospective husband, not Pole. As one of Gardiner’s biographers put it, Gardiner was ultimately prepared to see Pole as the next archbishop for this ‘would have the added advantage of ensuring that he could not rival Courtenay as the indigenous candidate for Mary’s hand’.5 On the issue of Philip’s status upon his marriage to Mary, Kelsey notes that Charles V gave his son the kingdom of Naples and dukedom of Milan as wedding gifts (p. 77). Yet in a separate footnote, Kelsey mentions that around the same time Philip asked a herald not to mention his status as duke of Milan for he had been given it back in the early 1540s so it was ‘old stuff’ (fn 15, p. 189). He also mentions earlier on that Charles had named Philip the duke back in 1546 (p. 27). An explanation of the rather complicated history surrounding Philip’s investiture as duke of Milan is not provided for the reader. Philip had been invested with the title in 1541 and 1546 though Charles had not relinquished control over the duchy. It was transferred again to Philip in 1554 at the time of his marriage, though it was a title he regarded as having been his for some years.6 Finally, Kelsey mentions the possibility that Elizabeth I ‘suffered from Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome’, a condition whereby ‘a male child has the external features of a female but with shallow vagina and undeveloped ovaries’. Evidence for this, we are told, ‘is contradictory’ (p. 156). ‘Contradictory’ is too diplomatic a term; I would just go with ‘absurd’.

So far I have dwelled on the negatives, and in truth I believe they overwhelm the qualities of the book. However I take to heart the advice that if you do not have anything nice to say (or write) then say nothing at all! This isn’t all bad. Kelsey’s writing style is good; the reader is not faced with numerous grammatical mistakes or my pet hate – a string of very short paragraphs. Though I have issues with what he references, he does reference frequently so there is no chasing around for sources. There is a good selection of manuscripts used though often Kelsey cites from nineteenth-century transcripts like the State Papers, Foreign and Domestic, etc series. Kelsey gives due consideration to Philip’s personality and upbringing, and his romantic escapades. He cannot be accused of being either blind to Philip’s faults or neglectful of his qualities as many previous historians have been. I was especially interested in Kelsey’s observation of previous treaties between England and Spain, namely the 1542 one which promised aid to in times of conflict. Kelsey shows how this was raised during Mary and Philip’s marriage when the Spanish sought assistance in their war with the French. It is often implied that England entered war with France, and subsequently lost Calais, through the Spanish marriage alone, but the precedent for assistance between the Habsburgs and Tudors is emphasised here (pp. 118 and 129). The book does include illustrations though they are not of exceptional quality and are predominantly much later (including nineteenth-century) images. The maps are useful, but Kelsey fails to incorporate the illustrations into the text. They standalone which some may find absolutely fine, but I think if pictures are included there should be some purpose to them and not used in a decorative-like manner.

In 1570, some 12 years after Mary’s death, Philip claimed that he could give Pope Pius V ‘better information and advice on that kingdom [England], and on its affairs and people, than anyone else’.7 Clearly Philip believed he had not come away from the whole experience empty handed. His relationship with the English was at best complex but he took his role as King of England seriously and, as the quote suggests, believed himself to be an authority on that realm. This book has not proved to be a definitive or substantial account of Philip’s time as King of England. It covers briefly his involvement in the Marian Church and his influence over the direction of foreign policy, but there is no discussion of his improvements of the English navy (which of course backed fired on him in the end!), nor on his interest in another part of Mary’s realm – Ireland. It also suffers from a lack of discussion of recent works. As a result it seems distinct from current scholarship, in sharp contrast with John Edwards’ excellent Mary I: England’s Catholic Queen (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2011), which paid due consideration to Philip’s role, used an array of Spanish sources and up-to-date studies. As a result I would recommend Edwards’ biography of Mary over this book when it comes to the issue of Philip’s time as king-consort. More needs to be done though on the Habsburg who became England’s king. Popular knowledge of Philip’s later and troublesome relationship with the English and former sister-in-law Elizabeth I is well known. It is time to shed more light on the origins of that relationship, which was not as fruitless as the events of the 1580s would have us believe.

1 John Edwards and Ronald Truman (eds.), Reforming Catholicism in the England of Mary Tudor: The Achievments of Friar Bartolomé Carranza (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005).
2 Alexander Samson, ‘Changing Places: The Marriage and Royal Entry of Philip, Prince of Austria, and Mary Tudor, July-August 1554’, The Sixteenth Century Journal, 36, 3 (2005), p. 763.
3 Ibid, p. 765.
4 David Loades, ‘Philip II as King of England’, in C. Cross, D. M. Loades and J. J. Scarisbrick (eds.), Law and Government under the Tudors: Essays Presented to Geoffrey Elton (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), pp. 177-94. For the articles on Carranza see fn 1. Kelsey also ignores John Edwards’ work on Spanish influence in Marian England including Edwards, ‘A Spanish Inquisition? The repression of Protestantism under Mary Tudor’, Reformation and Renaissance Review, iv (2000), pp. 62-74.
5 Glyn Redworth, In Defence of the Church Catholic: The life of Stephen Gardiner (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1990), pp. 306-7. We also have to consider that Pole had no intention to marry Mary in 1553 nor was she interested in him.
6 M. J. Rodríguez-Salgado, The Changing Face of Empire: Charles V, Philip II and Habsburg Authority, 1551-1559 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), pp.103-6.
7 Philip II to Don Guerau de Spes, 30 June 1570, cited from Geoffrey Parker, ‘The Place of Tudor England in the Messianic Vision of Philip II of Spain’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 12 (2002), p. 185.

And on a completely unrelated note - Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

17 November 1558: The deaths of Mary I & Archbishop Pole

Funeral effigy of Mary I

On this day in 1558 Queen Mary I died at St James's Palace. She was 42 years old and had reigned for little over five years.

Details of the deathbed scene were provided by John Foxe in the second edition (1570) of the famous Actes and Monuments ('Book of Martyrs'). The 'great afflications fallyung vppon this Realme' under Mary, 'wherin so many mē, women, and children were burned, many imprisoned and in prisons starued, diuers exiled, some spoyled of goods and possessions, a great number driuen from house and home, so many weepyng eyes, so many sobbyng hartes, so many childrē made fatherles, so many fathers bereft of their wiues and children so many vexed in conscience' (you get the drift), came to an abrupt end in the winter of 1558,

'...after all this (I say) now we are come at length (the Lord be praysed) to the xvij. day of Nouember, day as it brought to the persecuted members of Christ, rest from their carefull mourning, so it easeth me somwhat likewise of my laborious writyng, by the death I meane of Queene Mary. Who beyng long sicke before, vpō the sayd xvij. day of Nouember, in the yeare aboue sayd, about iij. or iiij. a clocke in the mornyng, yelded her life to nature, and her kyngdome to Queene Elizabeth her sister.'

[Foxe, Actes and Monuments, 1570 edn., Book 12, p. 2336].

Foxe recorded that 'some said that she dyed of a Tympany', a diagnosis that has proved enduring though seems to have lost favor in recent years. But he also speculated whether 'by her much sighing before her death, supposed she dyed of thought and sorow.'

What of the famous tale that the dying queen declared that when she was gone, and her body opened, the word 'Calais' would be found engraved upon her heart? Here too Foxe comes to the rescue; the story is first mentioned in the second edition of Actes and Monuments. Though it is a highly improbable claim it nonetheless perfectly sums up popular perceptions of Mary and her reign. For subsequent centuries Mary has been regarded as an incompetent ruler - one of England's worst - best remembered for her spectacular failings in government, the church and in war. The loss of Calais, England's last remaining territory in France, in early 1558 has frequently been selected as a good example of how utterly disastrous her reign was. So why not incorporate it somehow into her deathbed speech? Especially as such a loss was for many of Mary's opponents, not least Foxe, explicit evidence of divine disapproval of this queen and her religious policies.

'Wherupon her Counsell seyng her sighing, and desirous to know the cause, to the end they might minister the more ready cōsolation vnto her, feared, as they sayd, that she tooke that thought for the kynges Maiestie her husband, which was gone from her. To whom she aunswering againe: In deede (sayd she) that may be one cause, but that is not the greatest woūd that pearceth my oppressed minde: but what that was she would not expresse to them. Albeit, afterward she opened the matter more playnely to M. Rise and Mistres Clarentius (if it be true that they told me, which heard it of M. Ryse him selfe) who then beyng most familiar with her, and most bolde about her, tolde her that they feared she tooke thought for king Philips departing frō her. Not that onely (sayd she) but when I am dead & opened, you shall find Calyce lying in my hart....'

[Foxe, Actes and Monuments, 1570 edn., Book 12, p. 2336-7].

Foxe and co had another cause of celebration. Christmas came early for the Protestants as Archbishop Reginald Pole died that same day. In a matter of hours England lost its last Catholic monarch who governed an England united with Rome (unlike James II) and its last Catholic archbishop of Canterbury. It would be complete wrong of me not to make some mention of the death of one of the most brilliant, albeit controversial and divisive, churchmen of the sixteenth-century, if not the early modern period.

Reginald Pole by unknown artist, c.1550? Lambeth Palace, London.

Like Mary, Pole had been suffering ill health since the late summer of 1558. Though Foxe claims Mary died sometime between 3-4am, we know from Alvise Priuli, Pole's close confidante who was with him to the end, that she 'died at 7 after midnight on 17th' [around 7am]. So she passed away before Pole who died at 7pm. News of the queen's death reached him though initially his attendants thought it best to keep the news secret lest it quicken his demise. As Priuli wrote to his brother on 27 November, someone went 'against this order' and all was revealed.[1] Naturally Pole was 'very worried about results of her death', but was nonetheless preoccupied with his own impending end.[2] With the support of attendants, Pole left his bed and bowed his head almost to the floor where he engaged in prayers.[3] He died a few hours later.

Three days before he died Pole wrote to Princess Elizabeth declaring that he thought it best 'to leave all persons satisfied of me especially you, thanks to God's providence' before making a futile plea for his chaplain to converse privately with her on religious matters.[4] For Elizabeth, the deaths of the Catholic sister and archbishop of Canterbury in rapid succession was a godsend. When the coup to place Jane Grey on the throne failed in July 1553 Mary was quick to declare God's hand in her succession. Like her namesake she was favored; God had established her on the throne so she may oversee the restoration of true religion. It was now Elizabeth's, and the Protestants', time to rejoice in the mercy of the Lord. Thus the new young queen when informed of her succession is supposed to have declared 'A Dominum factum est illud, et est mirabile in oculis nostris'. It is this the lord's doing and it is marvelous in our eyes.


2008 marked the 450th anniversaries of the deaths of Mary and Pole. Mary's demise went largely unmarked; Pole's ecclesiastical position appears to have secured him some recognition. For an example of this see the Requiem Mass 'offered for the repose of the soul of Reginald Cardinal Pole' held in the chapel of Magdalen College, Oxford (Pole's own college), in 2008:

[1] Priuli's letter to his brother Antonio, 27 November 1558. Thomas F. Mayer (ed.), The Correspondence of Reginald Pole: Volume 3. A Calendar, 1555-1558: Restoring the English Church (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004).

[2] Ibid.

[3] Priuli's letter to the archbishop of Toledo, aft. 15 December 1558. Ibid, pp. 588-90.

[4] Pole's letter to Princess Elizabeth, written from Lambeth, 14 November 1558. Ibid, p. 579.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

10 facts about Mary I’s coronation

Rejoice! On this day in 1553 Mary I became England’s first crowned queen regnant with her coronation in Westminster Abbey. Here are ten facts about this momentous occasion, not just for Mary, but for contemporaries who were evidently amazed at the sight of a woman being crowned as monarch.

1. Mary did not wish to be anointed with the holy oils consecrated by Edwardian ministers – men whose views she deemed as heretical. So she had the bishop of Arras in Brussels send ‘untainted’ oils. The bishop sent three lots though apologised about the rather plain vessels encasing them. Had I longer than three weeks to send them I would have commissioned some nicer cases, he told the Imperial ambassador Simon Renard.

2. The archbishop of Canterbury did not preside over the coronation ceremony, as was customary. Instead Stephen Gardiner, bishop of Winchester took lead. The reason? The current archbishop was her loathed enemy, Thomas Cranmer, then imprisoned in the Tower. Ally Gardiner was a safer bet.

3. Mary’s coronation was naturally unique given she was first woman crowned as monarch in her own right. So during the ceremony she held, as Gianfrancesco Commendone records, ‘in her hands two Sceptres; the one of the King, the other bearing a dove which, by custom, is given to the Queen [queen consorts]’. It would have been the same dove-topped sceptre her mother, Katherine of Aragon, held during her coronation alongside husband Henry VIII in 1509.

4. Mary’s crown was carried in the abbey by the aged Thomas Howard, 3rd duke of Norfolk (who had recently been released from the Tower). His steward was his grandson and heir, Thomas. The duke’s estranged wife, Elizabeth, helped carry the train of Mary’s magnificent coronation robes.

5. Mary progressed to the abbey under a ‘rich canapye of Bawdkyn’ carried ‘by the barouns of the v ports’ (i.e. the Barons of the Cinque Ports). This was completely in line with tradition and was identical to the one used in her father’s coronation in 1509.

6. In order to ensure the entire congregation could witness Mary’s crowning, a platform was erected within the abbey. It was twenty steps high, and Mary had to ascend a further ten steps to get to the throne situated on its own dais.

7. To the abbey Mary wore ‘her parlement robes of crymsyn veluit’ (as traditional) which covered her ‘gown of blew velvett’. During the ceremony she changed and wore a ‘mayntell of Crymsyn velvit bordered with Ermyn with buttons and tasiles of sylke and golde’.

8. Mary was the second (not the first as sometimes stated) English monarch to be crowned with three crowns. They included St Edward the Confessor’s crown, the imperial crown commissioned by Henry VIII, and a crown ‘purposlie made for her grace’. The first monarch crowned in such a manner was her predecessor, and brother, Edward VI.

9. The queen’s champion – the man whose task it was to boldly announce he would fight any man who refused to recognise Mary as the sovereign– was Sir Edmund Dymoke. He appeared during the coronation banquet on horseback dressed in full armour and flung down his gauntlet daring anyone to accept the challenge. In gratitude Mary gave him her gold drinking cup filled with wine.

10. 7,112 dishes were served at Mary’s coronation banquet. The lady herself was served over 312 dishes. Of these numerous dishes around 4,900 were listed in records as ‘waste’.

But before you shake your head at such excess and greed, it seems the remaining dishes were distributed to Londoners. And Londoners appreciated the freebies. There was a desperate scramble for the food (as there was for the bits of carpet Mary walked on and the rails constructed to keep the crowd in line). The kitchens were soon emptied. But not just of food. The celebratory mood caught fire and soon even bits of furniture were ripped from the kitchens. Such vandalising and looting in London! Thank goodness we live in more civilised times...

For more on the coronation see,

John Edwards, Mary I: England’s Catholic Queen (London and New Haven, Yale University Press, 2011), pp. 123-34.

Alice Hunt, ‘’What art thou, thou idol ceremony?’: Tudor coronations and literary representations, 1509-1559’, PhD thesis, Birbeck, University of London, 2005.

Alexander Samson, ‘The marriage of Philip of Habsburg and Mary Tudor and anti-Spanish sentiment in England: political economies and culture 1553-1557’, PhD thesis, Queen Mary, University of London, 1999), pp. 54-67.